The House met at 10:03 a.m.
STATEMENTS BY THE MINISTRY
Hon. Mr. Drea: Mr. Speaker, earlier this week, my ministry issued a cease-and-desist order under the Business Practices Act against a Montreal outfit, CCCL, Canadian Consumer Company Limited, charging them with a number of false, misleading or deceptive and unconscionable consumer representations.
The company is in the mail-order business and advertised gift boxes which purportedly contain an assortment, and I quote, “of outstanding name-brand products.”
These gift boxes are available in two sizes, and again I’ll quote from the advertisement: “10-product gift box worth over $25 for only $4 plus 50 cents postage and handling,” and “20-product gift box worth over $50 for only $8. (We pay all postage and handling.)”
The advertisement was illustrated with a photograph of a substantial wooden crate, partially filled with excelsior or some such substance, upon which rested a number of personal care and household products, most of them bearing readily --
Mr. S. Smith: It’s a bit like a parchment charter that doesn’t contain what you think it does.
Hon. Mr. Drea: If the Leader of the Opposition would like a little cease-and-desist order on remarks like that, I would be prepared to issue that right now.
Mr. Ruston: Trying to get your picture in the paper again.
Hon. Mr. Drea: A number of personal care and household products most of them bearing readily recognizable brand-name labels, in addition to boxes surrounded with similar well-known articles.
Well, Mr. Speaker, we received some complaints from customers who sent away for these so-called gift boxes, and if there ever was a case where consumer complaints are justified, this is it.
This 3½ in. by 4 in. by 8 in. box I’m holding now is the 20-product gift box, supposedly worth over $50. There are indeed 20 products in it, but after that, all similarity with the advertised claim stops.
Mr. Deans: This is like the Tory policy book.
Hon. Mr. Drea: Quite frankly, the contents are pathetic. Perhaps only a dozen of the products are what could be described as name-brand items. Quantities are generally minuscule and in some instances the product is marked with words such as “sample,” “trial size not for resale,” and “physician’s sample,” or words of a like nature.
We estimate that the probable retail value of the products in the package is no more than $6.27, although some of the items do not have a real retail price or value since the size, quantity or amount of product is so small as to be almost negligible.
Now, $6.27 is a far cry from the claimed retail value of over $50. Similarly, we calculated that the retail value of the 10-item package would be no more than $4.79 at most.
Some hon. members: Shame.
Mr. Kerrio: What are you telling us about it for? Why don’t you do something about it?
Hon. Mr. Drea: In some cases, Mr. Speaker, the labelling on the items does not even indicate the nature of the product, the purpose for which it is to be used, or the manner in which it is to be used. One of the items in the gift boxes is a product known as Neosporin Ointment, which contains the ingredient neomycin.
Mr. S. Smith: Why didn’t the former minister know anything about this?
Hon. Mr. Drea: Neomycin is prohibited in Canada under the Food and Drug Act unless prescribed by a qualified medical practitioner.
Mr. Speaker: Order.
Hon. Mr. Drea: This promotion is reminiscent of the worst carney cons of a couple of decades ago. Unfortunately, it is probably particularly effective in Ontario where consumers are spoiled because of the large number of legitimate product promotions which give tremendous value for money.
Mr. Sweeney: They used to believe in what you told them, that’s why they buy that.
Hon. Mr. Davis: You people will buy anything.
Hon. Mr. Drea: By issuing this order, we have served notice to CCCL not to try any more stunts in Ontario, but the issue goes a little further than that.
Although the company is based in Montreal, the gift boxes received by Ontario residents bear the words “Gift Box, US Bulk Rate, Stamford, Connecticut.” The boxes appear to have been assembled in the United States and one of the officers of the company resides in Long Island.
Mr. MacDonald: Free enterprise.
Hon. Mr. Drea: This is the third time we have had to take action against either the Canadian subsidiary of a US mail order business or, in this case, a Canadian operation distributing a package which appears to have originated in the United States.
Mr. McClellan: Another blow against international capital.
Mr. Laughren: Intervening in the market place.
Hon. Mr. Drea: Accordingly, I have written a letter to the chairman of the US Federal Trade Commission, a Mr. Michael Pertschuk, in order to open a dialogue which we hope will lead to common action in this province and in the United States to eliminate further problems. I have pointed out to the commissioner the dual problems of jurisdictional conflict and the difficulty of dealing with US publications which move freely across the 49th parallel. And I have suggested that the way in which certain of these operations conduct their business calls for closer attention by the respective regulatory agencies having jurisdiction.
Mr. S. Smith: Stand on guard for us.
Hon. Mr. Drea: I look forward to Mr. Pertschuk’s response which I hope will mark the beginning of a successful dialogue in this field.
THE JESUS TRIAL
Hon. Mr. Baetz: There has been considerable controversy and concern expressed about the film production, The Jesus Trial, which is produced by OECA and will appear on TV Ontario in a four-part series commencing Sunday, November 5. I therefore wish to advise all members of this House of the developments that have led to this decision.
In September the OECA invited members of the interfaith group, consisting of respected church leaders, to a screening of the film. The interfaith group then prepared a detailed brief which they presented to the board of the OECA clearly outlining their concerns. At this meeting the board indicated that the committee of the whole board’s recommendation to proceed would not be finally confirmed until the board meeting of November 2, but that there was little doubt that the film would go ahead.
In these circumstances the board raised with the interfaith group their possible participation in the presentation of the series. I subsequently met with the interfaith group and they presented me with a copy of the brief and discussed it in detail with me.
As a result of these representations, I arranged to see the five-hour presentation. Having reviewed the film with special care, I can say without reservation that, whatever its artistic merits may be, I can personally share with these leaders in our religious community the major concerns about the accuracy and divisive aspects of this film. Clearly, these latter concerns impact directly on the educational aspects of this film.
As I was aware of the intention of the OECA to proceed, I therefore advised the acting chairman of the board of my concern, and followed that with a confirming letter to the board for consideration at their meeting of November 2.
Before proceeding further with the specific developments in this matter, I wish to address the relationship of this Legislature and the government to the Ontario Educational Communications Authority.
When the Legislature established the Ontario Educational Communications Authority, it was clearly understood that it must be an independent agency and that the government would not assume an active role or participate in programming. The government is in a position of trust when dealing with a publicly funded communications body, and this trust is a fundamental principle in governing our relationship.
As a minister of the crown, it is essential that I make a firm distinction between my right to disapprove as a citizen and the temptation to censor as a politician. The responsibility to protect and to honour this distinction is vital in a free and democratic society. While we practise legal censorship in our society, it is nevertheless administered at great distance from the political arena and is seen as a limited device or, indeed, perhaps as a necessary evil.
Any action by me as Minister of Culture and Recreation to attempt to block this film would, I feel, constitute political censorship, and this is an option that has not been granted to me by this Legislature. Any action in this direction would, I feel, constitute a breach of trust.
Government financing of the arts and broadcasting remains a matter of ongoing legislative scrutiny. In fact, study by the Legislature of the efficacy of such activities is essential and valuable. However, if public financial involvement leads to an obligation on or a right of ministers of the government to participate in programming and artistic decisions, then it seems to me it would be safer to withdraw from all such activities entirely.
I am sure all members would agree that neither extreme would be acceptable to our society. In these circumstances, I felt it was both my duty and an appropriate action to express clearly to the OECA board my concern, and that of the government, that the very deep concerns expressed by many outstanding people who had witnessed the film were not to be taken lightly. When such basic matters affecting our social fabric as race relations and religious prejudice become primary concerns, we all have a clear responsibility to err on the side of caution.
In this context, I urged the board to postpone the showing of the film until they had more formally consulted with a number of representative groups of our community, such as civil libertarians, human rights activists, journalists, legislators and others, in order to have their assessment of the potential impact of this film. At the worst, had the board taken this advice, they would have faced delay in the presentation of the film; at best, they would have gained invaluable insight into the manner in which this very delicate and divisive matter might be handled.
Yesterday I was advised by the board that they had confirmed the decision to proceed and that they were satisfied they had consulted enough people in their normal procedures, including the types of groups I had suggested, except for legislators; and they were satisfied that they have made changes to deal very satisfactorily with the concerns that are raised with them.
If satisfactory changes have been incorporated, why has the OECA not taken the opportunity to screen these changes to allay the concerns of these informed critics? I am frankly angered by the insensitivity of the board of the OECA in turning down what was a reasonable request from the government to exercise some caution before proceeding with a production that many responsible leaders in our community see as creating serious social and religious problems.
The board, I feel, has responded with arrogance when it was asked only to provide the community with greater assurance. The series begins on Sunday night and I can only hope that the viewers exercise a higher degree of tolerance and understanding than is evident in the behaviour of the OECA.
I will table at the end of the question period the relevant correspondence with the board of the OECA for members’ information. I trust this will bring the members up to date on the events relating to this film.
Hon. Mr. Bennett: Mr. Speaker, I stated in this House yesterday that if requested I would be pleased to facilitate a meeting of the interested parties on the Cantrakon decision, in particular with the development company itself and the ratepayers’ groups, to look at another site or sites recommended by the ratepayers.
This morning I received a letter from the legal staff representing the developer requesting that I do just that. I will read parts of the letter for the Legislature and then table the entire letter.
In the letter it says: “It is our belief that the proposed conference centre is the type of development which will be an asset to the province of Ontario. However, we are most concerned that the community and the surrounding area understand the concept of the conference centre and our reasons for choosing this particular location. We would also like to point out that we have always been and continue to be prepared to consider any other site which can be found to meet all of the criteria which we find to be necessary for the type of development proposed.
“For example, a suitable site must be in close proximity to the airport and provide a cloistered retreat-like setting. On this basis we would respectfully request at this time that a meeting be arranged under the auspices of your office at which we could discuss any other sites which are available. We are willing to meet at your convenience to discuss alternative sites with yourself and all interested parties. However, we would expect that if an alternative site which meets our criteria and requirements is not found you will ensure that the matter be expedited in order that we may proceed without undue delay with the proposed conference centre development as presently approved.
“Your co-operation in this matter is greatly appreciated.” Signed by Robert E. Jarvis, the solicitor for the company.
Because of the importance of the matter, and the obvious willingness of the company to co-operate with the municipality of Caledon, the Niagara Escarpment Commission, the ratepayers’ group and all other interested groups, I will certainly comply with the request and contact all parties to establish such a meeting.
PLANT LOCATION INCENTIVES
Mr. S. Smith: A question for the Minister of Industry and Tourism: It regards an article which he may have seen in today’s Globe and Mail on the financial page in which the deputy minister, Mr. L. R. Wilson, said in an interview he’s ready to start bidding to attract investment here much as was done when the Ford company came to Ontario.
May I ask the minister therefore whether the government has now decided, as this article would indicate, to make a policy of using cash incentive grants to attract industry to Ontario? And will it do so alone or only in concert with the federal government, as happened in the Ford situation?
Hon. Mr. Grossman: I think it is to read it a little more aggressively than was intended by Mr. Wilson, or as I read the article as well, to suggest that we are now prepared as of today’s date to go out bidding, as the Leader of the Opposition put it.
Mr. S. Smith: I was quoting the article.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: I think it is fair to state, as I have stated previously, that we understand it is a competitive market out there and that the Ford type situations, where we create a lot of jobs, are situations which we have to be willing to look at. I think it’s fair to state that we are prepared to look at those sorts of situations.
I think it’s also fair to state that the government wishes to be in a position to approach any new situations which may develop in a co-ordinated and organized fashion. We’d do this so that we would be able to assess the proposals well, so that we’d know exactly what the competitive situation is, so that we can get to the heart of the request for some assistance, and indeed so we can make an accurate assessment of the value of the incentive in terms of jobs for Ontario. That being the case, there’s no question that one of my early priorities is to meet with my colleagues and see if the government can’t develop some sort of mechanism to deal with that situation.
We are anxious to be in a position to recognize that we are in a competitive situation for industries. What the ultimate mechanism might be, how much money might be involved and the extent to which we are going to get into this game is still very much in the discussion stages.
I would hope to be in a position to report more fully to the House with regard to our intentions before this session is completed.
Mr. S. Smith: By way of supplementary, accepting that Ontario must be competitive with other jurisdictions in terms of tax incentives and various trade arrangements that encourage export-oriented industries and all the other things that the other states have, does the minister not share with me a certain concern that if Ontario offers cash incentives of its own, rather than acting in concert with the federal government, even though it may not be the intention to bid against other provinces of Canada, that in fact will be the net result and other provinces will be forced to follow with their own cash incentives to attract industry?
Would it not be better to work in concert with the federal government, as happened with Ford, so that a firm on the international level may be approached, but the decision as to where to locate is made at a more central level, rather than done province by province in a competitive way?
Hon. Mr. Grossman: If one looks back on the Ford situation where it was very much the desire to have some federal involvement in the situation, the Leader of the Opposition will understand it is not our intention to get involved in any way in a competitive situation with our sister provinces. It is this province that has been most careful not to even appear to be in that situation.
For all those reasons, I will be looking forward to pursuing this discussion, both at the meeting of industry ministers next Tuesday in Ottawa and at the first ministers’ conference on the economy at the end of this month.
It is only after we have had an opportunity to argue that case and put the case to the federal government with regard to the need for a co-ordinated national program of this sort that Ontario will be coming forward with some specifics as to how we are going to react in a sensible and reasoned fashion to what the federal government indicates its intentions are. To deal with the concern expressed by the Leader of the Opposition, that is precisely the reason we don’t have specifics now and why we aren’t talking in much detail about any program we might have. We think it’s most important that it be nationally co-ordinated.
We will be waiting until after that series of meetings.
Mr. Laughren: Does the minister not think that in view of the fact he’s going to attend a conference with his other provincial counterparts and the federal minister next week, he should share with us some of his views and perhaps even go so far as to table the submission his ministry made to the Reisman commission, rather than having the policy of his ministry dribble out from deputy ministers or by way of conflicting statements made by the Premier (Mr. Davis), the former Treasurer and the present Treasurer (Mr. F. S. Miller)?
Does he not think there is something wrong when his deputy minister states that the grants are going to be done on a very informal basis with no criteria laid down? Why is he not sharing this with his colleagues in the Legislature and why doesn’t he table these reports going to the federal government?
Hon. Mr. Grossman: To deal with the submission to the Reisman commission, we have taken the position that the submission we have made as far as this province is concerned is confidential at this stage.
According to our latest information, the Reisman report will be out in a couple of weeks or perhaps a month. I’d be pleased at that time to get into an extensive dialogue with regard to our submission and send a copy of our submission at that stage to the member.
The deputy minister indicated quite clearly in the article that this was an interim situation. We didn’t want to be in a position where we were going to say to people coming to us in the interim, “I’m sorry, we have no program in place as yet; therefore, would you please go away.”
Mr. Laughren: The government is playing poker with our money.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: What he is clearly saying, which accurately reflects our policy, is that obviously we don’t have the details of the program in place, the criteria aren’t there, but we are encouraging those people not to go away but to enter into serious discussions with us at this time. I think that’s the sort of response which is appropriate in this interim period.
Finally, may I say that the member rises almost every day now to suggest that there are inconsistencies between the leaked paper and the Premier’s position. All I can do is say that I, too have read back on the Premier’s remarks yesterday and last week and there is, with respect, no conflict between what he has said on both of those occasions and our submission of which that party has an alleged copy. There really is no conflict.
What we are saying through that piece is that there are structural problems that we must deal with and that the federal government is not moving quickly enough to move into the post-MTN phase of adjustment. We are urging them to deal with that problem in a specific way, whereas they see that adjustment period in a different way.
Mr. Wildman: Supplementary: Can the minister square for us the apparent inconsistencies between the statements in the article and his statement this morning and those statements made by the Premier and the minister’s predecessor that the grant to Ford was not a precedent and the beginning of a fool’s game, as expressed by the previous Treasurer? Is this a precedent or not?
Hon. Mr. Davis: If we could get another Ford, yes.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: That’s right, as the Premier points out, if we could be fortunate enough to create that many jobs with that amount of money obviously we would consider it. I thought it was interesting, for example, to note the comments of the member for Scarborough West (Mr. Lewis) when he pointed out that the government of Great Britain had recently laid out $100 million to get a pharmaceutical plant, I think, into the United Kingdom to create 1,600 jobs.
Hon. Miss Stephenson: That’s right, and it’s a Labour government.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: I think the member for Scarborough West was careful not to say that he disapproved of that sort of initiative. Clearly, all governments are realizing the competitive situations that their jurisdictions are in and that their industries are in, and I think a responsible government must be willing to move into the breach when those situations occur. We’d be happy to do it again if we could be that successful again.
Mr. S. Smith: I’d like to ask a question of the Minister of Housing regarding the statement he made this morning on his willingness to meet and the willingness of the legal representative for Cantrakon to have such a meeting.
Is the minister aware that Mr. John Alexander, the head of the ratepayers’ association in Caledon, has authority to speak with the minister about three particular properties, alternative sites, in the Caledon area, one which Mr. Alexander refers to as superior to the present site and the other, to his view, equal? They offer, in his opinion, serenity and a retreat-like environment, but, of course, they do not offer a view of Toronto, for whatever that might be worth.
Mr. Nixon: It overlooks Brampton.
Hon. Mr. Davis: How about a view of Sault Ste. Marie?
Mr. S. Smith: He also has a site in Toronto, on the lakeshore.
Mr. Speaker: Order. I don’t think members need get exercised over a statement like that.
Mr. S. Smith: I could see it if there was a view of Hamilton to be offered. I could well understand the reluctance to make a change.
Mr. Speaker: Back to the question period now.
Mr. S. Smith: Is the minister aware that Mr. Alexander has called the minister’s office this morning to advise him of this fact and was not able to arrange a meeting -- he was able only to speak to the minister’s secretary -- and that he is now awaiting a call from the minister? Given that these alternatives appear to be worth studying, is the minister aware of Mr. Alexander’s interest in these properties? How does the minister intend to respond?
Mr. Martel: You are squirming now.
Hon. Mr. Bennett: I think that my statement this morning and the statement in the letter that I enclosed to the Leader of the Opposition clearly indicates that they are very receptive to discussing any alternative sites they might have. Obviously Mr. Jarvis doesn’t even get to the point of saying whether they have the authorization or not to sell it. He is prepared to discuss sites in a very general way with the people in Caledon, the ratepayers, the Niagara Escarpment Commission, the council of Caledon and so on.
Very obviously, if Mr. Alexander has the authorization to negotiate the sale of lands in the Caledon area, so be it. I must say that his call did not come to me this morning but I have been in meetings since 8:45 on this and other issues relating to other regions in the province of Ontario.
Mr. Lewis: You have been working very hard.
Hon. Mr. Bennett: I am not aware of Mr. Alexander’s call but he had all day yesterday as well to get hold of me.
Mr. Lewis: This is a matter of confidence. Take it seriously.
Mr. S. Smith: By way of supplementary, is the minister prepared at this time, pending the outcome of these meetings and the examination of these additional, apparently reasonable, properties -- as I say, with all the properties of the original except for the matter of its height and its view -- is in fact the minister prepared to rescind his decision, pending the outcome of these meetings?
Hon. Mr. Bennett: I think that question speaks for itself. The fact is that they have said that they are prepared in good faith to sit down and negotiate other sites.
Mr. Bolan: Are you going to rescind it? Yes or no?
Hon. Mr. Bennett: I am not prepared at this time to put the development company or anybody else in the position of having everything withdrawn and having no position, other than people to back away from whatever offers they might make at a later point.
Mr. Dukszta: I hope that I am not misunderstood, for my question to the Minister of Housing is not from my other professional capacity, but I would like to ask the minister why he has exhibited for such a long time such a high degree of instinct of self destruction? Why has he not listened to the member for Ottawa Centre (Mr. Cassidy) and others and given in and called that meeting before?
Hon. Mr. Bennett: Obviously, Mr. Speaker, I’ve said that if there was an interest in having a meeting that I would facilitate that meeting if requested to do so. I have been asked to do that at this point and I am now following along those very lines.
Mr. Martel: To the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations: In view of the fact that consideration of the residential tenancy bill will not commence until November 14, will the minister consider short-term legislation allowing the rent review act in existence at the present time to continue for at least another three months while the other bill is being given careful consideration?
Hon. Mr. Drea: I would prefer not to. I realize that from November 14 to November 30 isn’t a great period of time, but also by the same token, there were very extensive committee hearings on the green paper. The Residential Tenancies Act is almost identical to those recommendations --
Mr. Laughren: No, it is not.
Hon. Mr. Drea: Now wait, I said almost.
Mr. Laughren: We read the bill. We know it’s 99 per cent Grossman, but read the bill anyway.
Mr. Speaker: Order.
Hon. Mr. Drea: I have read the bill at great length. I have also read all of those committee reports. It seems to me there has been an extremely long preparation for this bill. It is not something that has just been handed in. There is control of the situation. At that time, if people feel that it cannot possibly be done by November 30 then obviously, by the time of the 30th, there is going to have to be an extension.
Mr. Laughren: Do it now.
Hon. Mr. Drea: But after reading the statement of the member’s leader, that he found a lot in there that would immediately improve the lot of the tenant, I would like to see if we cannot get it done as quickly as possible. Human nature being what it is, if we extend it by 90 days, the member knows full well that everybody will just about use those 90 days. So we are holding off that additional form of tenant protection as long as that extension is required.
Mr. Martel: Supplementary, Mr. Speaker: In view of the fact the bill is going to go to committee; in view of the fact that much of the content of the new bill was not in the green paper and was not discussed at the committee; in view of the fact that many people have already requested of this party an opportunity to make representation; and in view of the fact that there is no committee at this time which can study the bill in committee, because the government decided when it would call the House back, then let the minister tell me what he intends to do when that bill doesn’t get completion within the week left after the start of the hearings, which can’t even start until the third week of November at the earliest? What does the minister intend to do then?
Hon. Mr. Drea: I think at the moment there is time. I would like to see how that time is used: Let’s be honest about it. If it is dragged out in here, obviously there has to be an extension or the whole rent review process goes. So let’s see how it goes.
Mr. MacDonald: One week isn’t a drag-out.
Hon. Mr. Drea: It doesn’t take very long if we have to extend it. But I think the honourable member would agree with me, this is a very significant bill; there is a great deal of additional protection. I don’t think anybody wants the existing statute to continue one more day than necessary. So let’s see if we can’t get it done. If we can’t, then there will have to be other steps.
Mr. Breithaupt: Supplementary, Mr. Speaker: Is the minister stating quite clearly to the House that the bill is, without question, to go outside of the House to committee?
Hon. Mr. Drea: No, I am not. That was the member for Sudbury East’s suggestion. I think that is a matter for the House leaders to decide.
Mr. Dukszta: Supplementary, Mr. Speaker: In view of the fact that the bill deals with matters in a different way than the general government committee recommended, will the minister send copies of the new bill -- or has he sent them already -- with its sweeping changes in tenants’ rights, to the persons who submitted almost 100 briefs and 150 letters to the general government committee, which met for two and a half months this spring to consider this in more detail?
Hon. Mr. Drea: Quite frankly, we have advised everyone -- a great many of those people. I don’t know if all the 100 groups, or who they are, have contacted us. We made provisions right from the beginning. I gave my own copy of the bill to the Metro Tenants Federation. The rest of them are available in the Ontario government bookstore, through the clerk and so forth.
Mr. Martel: Mr. Speaker, I have a question of the Provincial Secretary for Resources Development.
In view of the fact that there were two spills of PCBs at Falconbridge in the last two years; in view of the fact that statistics indicate that those spills involved 35 barrels of highly contaminated PCBs and 415 barrels of less contaminated PCBs; in view of the fact that we haven’t found the solution to this problem; and in view of this statement in a letter I received just recently from the minister’s colleague -- “Recent information made available as a result of our continuing supervision of the project would indicate that the original calculations presented by Falconbridge were in error” -- can the minister tell me what the new figures are for the amount of contamination and what the government proposes to do after two years nearly of having that material sit in barrels in a yard in the Falconbridge holdings?
Hon. Mr. Brunelle: I would be pleased to take that question under advisement and let the honourable member know next week.
Mr. Martel: Supplementary, Mr. Speaker, so that the minister might look at a couple of other things; Can he assure the House that he will not, in any circumstances, allow the PCBs to be dumped in a tailings area, whether dry or wet? And can he indicate what plans he has? I am told that it will not be possible to ship PCBs into the United States as of the new year; and, if he is going to resolve this problem, he has less than two months to make that resolution.
Hon. Ms. Brunelle: I can assure the member that we also are as much concerned as he is on the question of the quality of the environment, and we will be pleased to take that into consideration.
Mr. Kerrio: Mr. Speaker, I have a question of the Minister of Culture and Recreation.
Since we are on the eve of Ontario’s newest lottery, Lottario -- a legitimized version of the numbers game -- I wonder if the minister has figured out where he expects the $45 million lottery income to be allocated, and should we presume that the millions will again be put towards questionable use? If this is not the case, when will the minister finally be able to arrive at a decision that he can share with this House and the ticket-buying public?
Hon. Miss Stephenson: Look at the member for Victoria-Haliburton (Mr. Eakins); he’s having fits, near-fits.
Mr. Bradley: Bring out the slot machines!
Hon. Mr. Baetz: Mr. Speaker, the new lotteries game is operating under the same piece of legislation as does Wintario, unlike The Provincial lottery which operates under the Interprovincial Lottery Corporation. Because the new lotteries will be operating under the same mandate, the revenues therefrom are earmarked for the same purposes for which Wintario funds have been earmarked.
Mr. Deans: How many more lotteries are we going to get?
Hon. Mr. Baetz: I will be making a statement on this in the House next week, but my ministry will be doing a province-wide inventory of cultural, sports and recreational facilities; at the end of that time, I am sure we will have a better idea as to just where we stand in this province on the needs for more of these facilities. In the meantime, we will continue to direct these funds along the same lines as Wintario funds.
Since the member suggests that perhaps the funds have been used for questionable purposes -- I was not aware of that -- I will certainly be watching particularly any requests coming from the member’s riding to make sure that in fact they are being used for proper purposes.
Mr. Kerrio: Mr. Speaker, I would like to direct a supplementary to the minister and maybe inject some kind of thinking into this whole gambling picture.
Since most responsible groups respond to needs such as health-related problems and community requirements, what triggers the mechanism over there for all these new-style lotteries? What triggers it?
Mr. Martel: Maybe you should auction off the odd old minister.
Mr. Kerrio: What prompts the government to begin to go in all these directions and start new lotteries, and is the minister considering some more new games?
Hon. Mr. Norton: The member for Victoria-Haliburton wants new seats in the arena up in Little Britain.
Hon. Mr. Baetz: Mr. Speaker, I am planning to make a statement on all of the lotteries next week in this House and, frankly, I would not like to get into a detailed discussion at this particular time. But in partial response at least to the question as to why we got into the new game, the Lottario as it is called --
Mr. Kerrio: The numbers game; that’s what it is.
Hon. Mr. Baetz: The numbers game, yes. In response to that specific question, if we had not gone into that, the federal government would have. We simply felt that we could use the revenue just as well as the federal government could, and I’m sure we all agree that that’s the case.
Mr. Bradley: You’re all the same bunch.
Mr. Mancini: Supplementary, Mr. Speaker: Could the minister inform the House why he would start this new lottery at a time when the revenues for Wintario are dropping? And does he have any calculations as to how much this will cost the actual Wintario revenues?
Hon. Mr. Baetz: Mr. Speaker, as I indicated, the timing was really determined by the decision of the federal government --
Mr. Deans: Everything is.
Hon. Mr. Baetz: -- to go ahead with their numbers game; and that plan now has been dropped, because we have taken over that lottery. So the timing really was not ours. At this point it is still very difficult to determine and assess what negative impact, if any, the new numbers game will have on the Wintario revenues.
Mr. Bolan: Can’t you do anything on your own?
Mr. Sweeney: Is that an example of the new sharing of powers?
Hon. Mr. Baetz: The revenue for Wintario, as I will be reporting more fully next week, is not dropping all that much.
Mr. Bradley: You’re the minister of gambling.
Ms. Bryden: Supplementary, Mr. Speaker; The press release on the new Lottario lottery says that the decision has not yet been made about the use to which the proceeds will be put; and I understand they are estimated at $45 million a year.
Will the minister undertake to give this Legislature the opportunity to discuss the purposes to which these new funds will be put, if he is going to keep on proliferating lotteries?
Secondly, under what authority does the Ontario Lottery Corporation have the power to divert money from recreation and culture to setting up a new lottery, without going through the Treasurer and getting a loan from the Treasurer, in which case we might have some input as to whether such a loan should be made? Under what authority does the lottery corporation make loans to buy the hardware for a new lottery? Is that recreation and culture?
Hon. Mr. Baetz: The lottery is a corporation. It has its own existence, its own identity, and it finances itself. The revenue comes in to this government.
I will be reporting in greater detail on the whole question of the use of lottery funds next week because there are three lotteries we have to consider, Wintario, The Provincial and now the new Lottario. I would like to give this House a full report on the revenues coming in from these various lotteries and the uses to which these funds are being put.
Mr. Grande: I think you missed the point of the question.
FIRESTONE TIRE HAZARD
Mr. Swart: My question is to the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations and it concerns the fault-ridden Firestone 500 steel-belted radial tires. In my letter of October 23, I expressed my concern to him that Firestone might not do a full recall here due to the almost unbelievable statement by an official of the federal Transport ministry in which he criticized the forced recall of the 10 million tires in the United States. My concern and the concern of many owners of those tires is growing because although Firestone promised a statement early last week, no statements have yet been made. As a result of my letter, has the minister looked into this and is the recall going to be made to the same degree in Canada as it is being made in the United States?
Hon. Ms. Drea: Unfortunately, because of a consumer problem beyond anybody’s control, namely the strike in the post office, I haven’t got the member’s letter yet.
Mr. Swart: It was delivered to the minister’s office.
Hon. Mr. Drea: Well, I haven’t got it; I just told the member that.
Mr. Swart: The minister should ask his official because it was delivered.
Mr. Speaker: Order, order.
Hon. Mr. Drea: Mr. Speaker, I am today writing to Mr. Allmand, the federal Minister of Consumer and Corporate Affairs.
Mr. McClellan: Better have somebody else’s office deliver it.
Hon. Mr. Drea: And it won’t be sent through the mail, it’s going by courier or he’ll never get it. I want to know exactly what the position of the federal government is because this recall is really their jurisdiction. I want to know what Firestone intends to do and I want to see what the federal government intends to do, other than have civil servants make silly announcements that only confuse the public.
Mr. Bolan: As silly as the announcements of the minister.
Hon. Mr. Drea: I have received a large number of individual complaints from very concerned owners of Firestone 500 tires They don’t seem to be able to get any answers.
Mr. Laughren: I am sending you three of mine by mail, Frank.
Hon. Mr. Drea: Hopefully the federal minister will be able to tell this government what he intends to do. At that point, I will share the information with the members and we shall see where we go. But I remind the member we have precious little jurisdiction in the field.
THE JESUS TRIAL
Mr. Hennessy: I’d like to ask my question of the Minister of Culture and Recreation.
Mr. Hennessy: Now, pay attention, pay attention. I’d like to ask a question on The Jesus Trial. I’m concerned because it makes a mockery of religion and you have to stand up and be counted to some extent.
Mr. Speaker: Question. What is your question?
Mr. Hennessy: Is the minister going to look into the possibility that things of this nature will not occur in the future? It is very well to say that our hands are tied, but it only leaves the door open for other things to take place. When something like this attacks the foundation of things that I and other people live for, such as religion, which is the only thing you really have when things are tough, when taxpayers’ money --
Mr. Speaker: Question.
Mr. Hennessy: -- is abused, in all due respect, a committee should be formed or something should be brought in to give this government some legislation, some authority to stop such trash.
Hon. Mr. Baetz: As I tried to indicate in my statement to the House, I had to distinguish very sharply and clearly between my feelings as a citizen, which I share with my colleague, and my responsibilities as a minister of the crown in this case.
If it is so indicated in this House by members of all sides, if members of this House wish to pursue this matter further, I think it might be appropriate to have this subject referred to the standing committee on social development, at which time the legislators would not only be able to screen the film, but have an opportunity to hear from the board of OECA and the concerns of others on the role of OECA. As programming on a publicly funded communications agency is not a matter of control by the government, I think we have to distinguish sharply between the role of the government here and the role of this Legislature.
I feel, frankly, that it would be more appropriate for a committee of the Legislature to serve as a forum for this kind of examination of OECA and what it is doing and so on.
I certainly share with my colleague from Fort William the concerns he has expressed, but I would also again remind all of us that we do have roles here as ministers and citizens to distinguish between the role of government and the role of this Legislature.
I stand open to suggestions from any side of this House to know how we as a Legislature could most effectively deal with very sensitive subjects like this.
Mr. Lewis: Supplementary: Accepting the distinctions the minister has made, do we take it that he doesn’t intend any aggressive retaliatory move toward the board of OECA, despite branding them arrogant and other expletives? Is it the intention of the government not to proceed to take action in any other route -- budget cutting, alteration of the complement of the board or whatever -- as a result of the showing of The Jesus Trial?
Hon. Mr. Baetz: I certainly don’t think so. I think I have stated my case here. If we want to take any further action with OECA I think one route would be the standing committee on social development. Certainly I don’t want to be threatening and appear to be punitive or to take --
Mr. Lewis: It sounded a little.
Hon. Mr. Baetz: I don’t think it did. I don’t think it did at all
Mr. B. Newman: I have a question of the Minister of Correctional Services. Has the minister had an opportunity to review the recent disturbance at the Windsor Jail, and can he assure us that disturbance was not as a result of conditions in the jail, even although the last four grand jury reports -- and I refer to the four prior to the abolition of the grand jury in 1977 -- have distinctly stated that the 53-year-old building was too crowded and recommended expansion?
Hon. Mr. Walker: I would reply to the member for Windsor-Walkerville and indicate that this 1925 building is, among other buildings, relatively speaking rather up-to-date. At least it has been built in this century. I would have to say that from the overcrowding point of view, generally speaking the capacity of Windsor Jail has been far in excess of the number of people therein lodged during most of the time. There are times when the figures go up and go down and, of course, that has some bearing on the number of people the police arrest overnight, the number of people remanded, and the number of sentences meted out. By and large, the capacity exceeds the number of people there.
With respect to the incident in the Windsor Jail last week, I would indicate to the member there were five cells in that area and four of them were occupied by single prisoners, so it certainly wasn’t overcrowded. There was some $3,000 damage done there and I would have to say we take a very dim view of this wanton destruction of government property. We have requested the Attorney General to impose the strongest charges on these individuals and to ensure that public property is protected in the future.
Mr. Bradley: Supplementary: Would the minister draw the conclusion from this disturbance at Windsor, and others at Barrie, Guelph, and Toronto West, that correctional officers do not feel they have the necessary authority and ministry backing to deal with disturbances of this kind? In this connection, would the minister explain his comment on October 30 in answer to my question similar to this: “My suspicion is that it’s a prelude to the discussion of Bill 70”?
Hon. Mr. Walker: To answer the last question first, I would indicate that had nothing to do with the Windsor Jail. It was related to a disturbance in the Toronto West jail when there was a walkout by some of the guards whom we would consider to be irresponsible for their walkout. There should be no cessation of services at any institution under the Ontario Ministry of Correctional Services.
Secondly, with respect to the question involving the Windsor incident, I would have to say that the correctional officers there are of a sufficient number and I do not have any information that would suggest that there is any feeling of understaffing from the Windsor Jail.
Mr. Wildman: I have a question for the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations. Is the minister aware that RCA Limited, Philips Electronics Limited, Canadian General Electric Company Limited, Westinghouse Canada Limited and Sylvania Electric Canada Limited do not warranty receiving tubes for television sets? And is the minister prepared to require these manufacturers to test tubes prior to distribution in order to give consumers and small TV sales and repair businesses the protection they require?
Hon. Mr. Drea: I will look into it, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Speaker: The member for Simcoe Centre.
An hon. member: Ah, not again. He should cross the floor.
An hon. member: They could get another seat there.
Mr. G. Taylor: Mr. Speaker, a question to the Minister of Correctional Services --
Mr. Eakins: Aren’t you glad you came in this morning?
Mr. G. Taylor: -- in regard to the suspended guards at the Barrie Jail: Would the Correctional Services minister look into the fact that although they are being suspended, they should be suspended with pay? It may be that the correctional services unit there, the Barrie Jail, is the cause of it. Why should the workers be penalized for something that is the responsibility of Correctional Services, to provide a better jail for the area?
Mr. Kerrio: A help to your right-to-work bill?
An hon. member: He’s on your side.
Hon. Mr. Walker: Mr. Speaker, the Barrie Jail incident arises out of allegations that certain of the correctional officers used a large water hose to quell some disturbance on the part of some of the prisoners who were setting off smoke detectors.
Mr Kerrio: Warm water?
Hon. Mr. Walker: These people were soaked by the water hose early in October and were left as such for about eight hours before being permitted to dry out themselves and their individual clothing and bedding. The officers involved were suspended at the time with pay, and in the usual practice the suspension is with pay until such time as it is determined that it is a serious matter. When that is determined, the officers then go on suspension without pay until some form of hearing is held to clear the matter.
In this case, the last of the meetings with the superintendent was held on Wednesday of this week. A decision will be rendered by the ministry within about two or three days. The decision at that time may be to reinstate the individuals with or without pay, and there may be disciplinary awards or there may even be a dismissal.
Mr. Sweeney: A question to the Minister of Colleges and Universities, Mr. Speaker: Given that the Hathaway study which was conducted on behalf of this ministry has now reported that at least one third, and in some courses up to one half, of all apprentices drop out before they complete their programs, and given that the report states the main reason for this is that the program is so badly organized that the students feel they’re being exploited, what specific steps is the ministry now taking to remedy this?
Hon. Miss Stephenson: The Hathaway report is not complete as yet. I expect that we will be receiving it by the end of the year. There are some statements alleged to have been made by Mr. Hathaway which were in a newspaper article. I would have to disagree with the tenor of some of the statements Mr. Hathaway has made, for example, about the value of the counselling services provided.
I can say that the rate of dropout from apprenticeship programs is about the same as it is from other kinds of post-secondary educational programs and that, indeed, it has to do more with the changing of decisions of the student or the apprentice rather than anything else. In many instances, the apprentices move from the apprenticeship program to a community college, or vice versa, and they are considered dropouts in both modes when that happens.
As the honourable member is aware, the Ministry of Colleges and Universities has been making a concerted effort in the direction of employer-sponsored training, attempting to overcome some of the resistance which has been visible in this country for many years, but which is now beginning to break down, of employers against being involved in apprenticeship programs.
The response to the blitz has been most encouraging and pilot projects are now under way in several areas of the province, specifically related to machine tool trades, which I think will give us some very good experience in the kind of program we are attempting to encourage and develop.
Mr. Sweeney: Supplementary: The minister’s own officials have admitted that they have only 78 counsellors for something like 30,000 apprentices, and given that those same officials indicated that when the employer-sponsored training program is launched, this is only a modest pilot program and that the basic apprenticeship program will continue, does she not feel that just isn’t solving the problem? We don’t have the forces to deal with the problem. The alternatives aren’t going to meet the problem.
Hon. Miss Stephenson: In spite of all the doom and gloom expressed by the honourable member and by certain newspaper reporters, there has been an increase in the number of apprentices over the last six years from 20,000 to 30,000 in the province. I don’t think that spells any degree of total dissatisfaction with the apprenticeship program. It needs to be expanded and that is precisely what it is we are trying to do in the most appropriate way possible.
We do not want to make horrendous errors in the development of employer-sponsored training. That is why we are moving, I suppose one might consider it cautiously, with pilot projects in certain areas in order to ensure that the programs we develop are appropriate, will provide the right kind of training for the apprentices and will, indeed, satisfy the employers’ needs.
Mr. Dukszta: A question to the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations: In view of the fact the Federation of Metro Tenants’ Associations, on behalf of its 80 associated tenant associations, called upon the minister on Wednesday to give ample time for full public review of the bill, and has expressed, unlike what he has said, opinion that the bill diminishes tenant rights; in view of the fact the Residential Tenancies Commission fails on legal grounds to protect tenants in several aspects; and in view of the fact the standing general government committee recommends that the commission keep records of rent increases, why does the minister recommend that landlords keep the records and how does the minister expect to police this system, especially when it is now estimated that 15 per cent of all rents in this province are illegal?
Hon. Mr. Drea: First of all, I don’t think it is the time today to discuss the bill clause by clause.
Secondly, I would tell the honourable member that he makes a bit of an overstatement by saying no records will be kept. It is a question of where those records will be kept and how available they are to the tenant. I think the proposal we have in the bill is far more adequate and far more practical than what the federation is proposing. It is that simple.
Mr. Dukszta: Will the minister change the law so that the records could be kept by the Residential Tenancies Commission and will the minister consider making hearings mandatory for all applications that may lead to eviction?
Hon. Mr. Drea: Mr. Speaker, at the time of committee, or even on third reading, I will be prepared to consider a great many things. Until then, quite frankly, I think what is now in the bill represents government thinking. Of course, it can always be improved. I think it is up to the member to show up on time and to submit suggestions for my consideration at the appropriate time.
THE JESUS TRIAL
Mr. Sterling: I have a question of the Minister of Education: Whereas it now has been indicated by the Minister of Culture and Recreation that it is the intention of Ontario educational TV to show The Jesus Trial on Sunday, I would like to ask the minister if she has any intention of formulating a policy with regard to the distribution of this film to schools under her jurisdiction?
Hon. Miss Stephenson: Because of my concern that this film, if distributed to schools, exhibited before young people who have had less opportunity than their parents and others to examine this material with the kind of critical wisdom and judgement which I believe any such film requires, on Friday last I sent a directive to OECA telling them that the primary and secondary schools of the province of Ontario would not be permitted to show the film, The Jesus Trial, within any of their facilities or to any of the school children under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Education in the province of Ontario.
ST. CATHARINES COURT FACILITIES
Mr. Bradley: My question is for the Premier, in the absence of the Minister of Government Services (Mr. Henderson). On his visit to the city of St. Catharines on December 4, does the Premier intend to announce the commencement date for construction of the much needed courthouse facility to serve the city of St. Catharines and Niagara north, particularly in the light of the fact that the Minister of Government Services has cancelled the tender for the leasing of 15,000 square feet of space for provincial court purposes?
Hon. Mr. Davis: Mr. Speaker, the very distinguished member for Brock (Mr. Welch), who continues to take a very active interest in parts of, in fact some days all of, the city of St. Catharines, has constantly reminded the Minister of Government Services, the Premier and his cabinet colleagues of the desirability, the necessity and the real need for a new facility in St. Catharines, which of course will serve other communities in that area. I can only assure the member for St. Catharines that the member for Brock does not let us forget this situation, almost on a daily basis, and while I cannot predict what I may say in St. Catharines when I have the honour to visit that great community some few days hence, if I have something relevant to say I am sure the honourable member will be there to hear it. If he isn’t, he can pick it up from the member for Brock, who as I say maintains that ongoing interest in that great community.
Mr. Bradley: A quick supplementary, Mr. Speaker: Having said that about the member for Brock, does the Premier agree with the member for Brock that it’s essential to begin the actual construction in the very near future?
Hon. Mr. Davis: Mr. Speaker, since my many days in the Legislature I have had very few occasions to disagree with the point of view of the member for Brock --
Mr. Nixon: And we know why.
Hon. Mr. Davis: Well the former leader of the Liberal Party used to express his great support and affection for the --
Mr. Nixon: I very rarely disagree with him.
Hon. Mr. Davis: That’s correct; that goes back to the member’s days at McMaster, if memory serves me correctly; only that his present leader had the same wisdom and judgement, life in this Legislature would be much easier.
Mr. Nixon: His judgement is superb.
Mr. Kerrio: Was the Premier’s answer yes or no?
TORONTO WEST DETENTION CENTRE
Mr. Philip: A question of the Minister of Correctional Services, if I can get his attention: Can the minister explain why, in spite of the promise by his predecessor that 350 new correctional officers would be hired, only about 200 have been hired between September 1977 and September 1978? Can he explain why conditions have been allowed to deteriorate to the point that at Metro Toronto West Detention Centre one officer is reported to have worked 160 hours overtime in one month, and other officers are similarly working very long hours of overtime at that centre?
Hon. Mr. Drea: Come on, the member knows that’s not right.
Hon. Mr. Walker: The first question asked by the member for Etobicoke relates to restraint and can be tied to that entirely.
On the second question, relating to Metro west centre, I would indicate to the member that staffing at Metro Toronto West Detention Centre is considered to be adequate and is reasonable, and in fact is in excess of that at other centres of a similar nature when it comes to actual staff members.
There’s been some allegation of overcrowding, but the overcrowding in the period of January through October averages out to something like five per cent difference, and in fact during the month of October it was eight per cent higher in terms of overcrowding. All that means is that it has a rated capacity and sometimes more people turn up on the doorstep than would normally be expected, due to police activity, court activity and sentences, and we don’t like to turn anyone away.
Mr. Philip: In the light of the restraints that the minister has expressed so much concern with, and that we of course would agree with, can the minister inform the House whether he has done any cost comparison between the cost of hiring new officers and the cost of the tremendous amount of overtime that is being done at the Metro west detention centre? Can the minister tell us what action he plans to take to protect both the officers and the public now that Local 517 has decided to refuse any further overtime at this centre?
Hon. Mr. Walker: There was a rather intensive study on that question last year. As a result of that additional staff were hired, and it is my understanding from the former Minister of Correctional Services (Mr. Drea) that the union is quite content and happy.
Mr. Kennedy: I have a question of the Solicitor General. With respect to the recent fire at the Texaco refinery in Port Credit and citizens’ concerns about that, would the Solicitor General clarify the roles of the Ontario Fire Marshal and the dominion fire marshal with respect to safety in construction, operations and occupational safety of the employees?
Mr. Deans: And would he do it in 10 seconds or less?
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: I will do my best to clarify these roles and report back to the member and the Legislature as soon as possible.
Mr. Ruston: I have a question of the Solicitor General. Would the Solicitor General be aware that among the oral questions asked of applicants for the OPP is one that asks, “What is your political party affiliation?” and, “Do you believe in capital punishment?”
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: I would be very surprised if those questions were asked. If this has been alleged, and this is the member’s information, I certainly will make inquiries immediately.
SUDBURY LIQUOR STORE
Mr. Germa: A question of the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations: Is the minister aware of the practice of the Liquor Control Board of Ontario whereby they are moving store 171 in Sudbury to a new location with two years still left in the lease? I am advised by the board that it is standard practice for the new lessor to absorb the cost of this unexpired lease. Does the minister not suspect that money is in fact being laundered by including the cost of that lease in the new lease by the liquor control board?
Hon. Mr. Drea: I am not aware of the particular transaction involving the transfer of -- what was it, store 171? Where is that?
Mr. Germa: On Hemlock Street.
Hon. Mr. Drea: Where are they moving it?
Mr. Germa: To Notre Dame Street.
Hon. Mr. Drea: The movement of store 171 in the municipality of Sudbury, I am not aware of the transaction --
Mr. Breaugh: I don’t understand how the minister missed that one.
Hon. Mr. Drea: I am not aware of the transaction. I will discuss it with the liquor control board. However I would caution the member about using the word “laundering,” that connotes a very serious matter and a criminal offence and I don’t really think he meant it in exactly the way he expressed it. I will report back to him.
THE JESUS TRIAL
Mr. Rotenberg: I have a question for the Minister of Culture and Recreation. Further to the minister’s statement on the OECA, in which he indicated that the OECA had consulted just about everyone before they made their decision, could he indicate to the House whether OECA have their own religious advisory committee, and if so whether OECA consulted that committee?
Hon. Mr. Baetz: It is my understanding that OECA does have a religious advisory committee. It is my further understanding that that committee was not consulted in the development of this film.
GLANBROOK LANDFILL SITE
Mr. G. I. Miller: I have a question for the Minister of Agriculture and Food. With respect to the Glanbrook landfill site being proposed on 540 acres of prime grade one and two agricultural land, removing it from active use and changing the zoning from agricultural to industrial use; this will be happening in one of the few areas in southwestern Ontario where agriculture is still the principal industry of the area. The site is located on the headwaters of the Welland River. Has the Minister of Agriculture and Food, on behalf of the province of Ontario, any comments on this proposed site? Will the guidelines of the green paper on agriculture be enforced or used in these recommendations?
Hon. W. Newman: Is the hearing going on right now?
Mr. Deans: No, but the judgement is pending. It is before the OMB.
Hon. W. Newman: It’s before the OMB?
Mr. Deans: Yes.
Hon. W. Newman: If comments regarding landfill sites in the province are requested from my ministry, or if anybody wants to subpoena one of my staff to make comments on the classification of the land, we will be glad to do just that.
I would point out to you that when the Environmental Assessment Board, or in this case the Ontario Municipal Board, is having hearings on landfill sites, it’s very possible to get expertise and opinions from my ministry on the classification of the soil.
As far as the food land guidelines are concerned, we have been using the green paper as a guideline for some time. Any landfill site, wherever it may be, is controversial, but there will be hearings and all the facts will be brought out. My people are available to give evidence at any one of these hearings when they’re so requested.
Mr. Cunningham: Supplementary: I would like to ask the minister if he recalls, during his tenure as Minister of the Environment, he made a commitment to establish --
Mr. Speaker: This is a supplementary?
Mr. Cunningham: Yes, sir -- recycling plants across the province. Would he not agree that the time has come to discontinue our preoccupation with landfill sites and to live up to the promise he made in 1974 as Minister of the Environment?
Hon. W. Newman: Mr. Speaker, I would love to answer that question. I would really like to tell him he doesn’t know what he’s talking about. It should be redirected to the Ministry of the Environment.
Mr. Cunningham: You said it in 1974.
Mr. S. Smith: You were a great Minister of the Environment.
Mr. Cunningham: Of course it’s right. It was a big announcement. You were going to build a plant.
Mr. Breaugh: I have a question for the Minister of Education. I’m sure the minister is aware of a decision by the Durham board of education to close the school known as Mary Street School in Oshawa and that surrounding that there is a proposal by the community and by the municipality to incorporate a community school in its downtown redevelopment program.
Does the ministry have an official position on that particular project and on community schools in general? I would remind the minister that the ministry has participated in other municipalities in developing this community school concept.
Hon. Miss Stephenson: I am not fully aware of all the issues related to the Mary Street School, but I shall investigate them and report back to this House.
Mr. Laughren: What do you mean not fully aware? You have no idea.
SELECT COMMITTEE ON HEALTH CARE FINANCING AND COSTS REPORT
Hon. Mr. Welch moves that on Thursday evening next the House will consider sessional paper 195, the final report on the select committee on health care financing and costs.
Motion agreed to.
ORDERS OF THE DAY
REORDERING OF ESTIMATES
Hon. Mr. McCague moved resolution 19:
That the estimates of the Ministry of Treasury, Economics, and Intergovernmental Affairs now before the House be considered by the House as estimates of the Ministry of Treasury and Economics and the Ministry of Intergovernmental Affairs, as set out in the schedule. (See Votes and Proceedings.)
Resolution concurred in.
House in committee of supply.
ESTIMATES, MINISTRY OF HOUSING (CONCLUDED)
On vote 2101, ministry administration program; item 1, main office:
Mr. Chairman: Before recognizing the honourable member I would like to advise the committee there is one hour and 24 minutes left for these estimates.
Mr. S. Smith: I rise to address the committee with regard to the matter of the proposed Cantrakon development and the actions of the Ministry of Housing in overruling his various officials; overruling the Niagara Escarpment Commission; overruling his own hearing officer and in singlehandedly giving permission for the construction of a very large hotel and retreat complex on the very lip of the escarpment.
I think you know that the site has been one of the very prime sites on the escarpment. In fact, the history of it goes back quite a time.
If you look at the Globe and Mail of 1963 -- and the Brampton Conservator of 1959, for that matter -- they were attempting in those days to promote the idea of a park at that very site. In fact, it’s of interest to note, from a historical point of view, from the Brampton Conservator of October 22, 1959: “Fresh hope that a provincial park may yet be located at the Forks of the Credit area is inspired by the current efforts of the Credit Valley Conservation Authority, with the co-operation of Bill Davis, MPP for Peel.”
Mr. Breithaupt: Now he wants to pave it over.
Mr. S. Smith: The history goes back a long way.
I think you know we are of the opinion that the minister has mishandled this case very badly. He was given advice when he was Minister of Industry and Tourism that the proper way to proceed in this matter would be to seek an official plan amendment which ultimately would come to the government for a governmental decision, rather than for a singlehanded decision by one person acting alone. He rejected that advice and has acted in a way which has brought the entire question of protecting the escarpment under very serious and sceptical review.
It is interesting that the architect for the Cantrakon project -- a person I think is one of the great living Ontarians -- a genius in architecture -- has himself suggested that the same building or a similar one could be built in another suitable site and that he would be willing to do so.
It is interesting to recognize the stubbornness with which the Minister of Housing has refused over the weeks to make the slightest concession to the possibility that he has made an error and that the complex could be better located in another place.
I remind the committee that our words on this matter, when we heard of the action of the minister, were simply that the Cantrakon idea was an excellent idea; it just happened to be in the wrong place. If some other site could be found, surely that is the way we should proceed.
It seems to me if anybody could draw up plans that would be less destructive of the environment the architect Eberhard Zeidler is the man who could do it. But the main issue is not whether the plans are more or less destructive of the environment; the main issue is whether the whole complex could be located in some other place and this prime portion of the escarpment saved for the greater use of the greater public.
Furthermore, I think the issue has always been how we can possibly get people living along the full length of the escarpment to accept government regulations, government bureaucracy, when they want to build a barn or a playroom on their house, yet at the same time have the prime piece of escarpment go by the decision of one person, overruling the entire Niagara Escarpment Commission, all his own advisers, his own senior housing hearing officer -- one person, acting alone, without even the clear support of the government itself -- how one person could simply give the prime piece of the Niagara Escarpment to a very large development of this kind. How can the minister then go to ordinary citizens and ask them to respect anything to do with the Niagara Escarpment Committee when we have that sort of thing happening?
I think it is clear from our recent press release and announcements that we are extremely unhappy with the behaviour of the minister in this regard.
Mr. Pope: It is clear that he saw both sides of this issue.
Mr. S Smith: We have today, however, a new initiative, a clear movement on the part of the minister. A man who has previously refused to consider alternative sites has today made a statement in the House which not only agrees to consider alternative sites but also removes the concern which he expressed in the past that an equivalent site would also have to have a similar view.
Mr. Havrot: Then why don’t you sit down? What are you trying to tell us?
Mr. S. Smith: Of course, we’re just not going to find a place with a similar view anywhere within an hour of the airport. However, in today’s statement, and in the letter which accompanies today’s statement, it is very clear that there has been movement by the government and by the minister. It is clear that the minister now is willing to sit down with those who feel there are other cloistered settings, other proper retreats of this kind, where we can create the jobs, where we can have the development, where we can have the economic boost to our tourist industry -- all things that are surely desirable -- without having the terrible precedent of one minister, one person, being able to decide totally on his own that a certain site must be accepted simply because, in his view, that is the only way to create jobs. How can we possibly have the escarpment concept respected when we have that kind of single-minded attitude on the part of the minister?
Mr. Pope: You are backing off from a confrontation.
Mr. S. Smith: However, there has been movement. It is clear now that there is a willingness -- the letter given to us by the minister is dated today, delivered by hand, which is clearly a gesture on the part of the government, indicating movement and a desire to meet the requirements which we had announced previously in the House.
It seems to me that the two opposition parties have made very clear their views on this matter. The government now has moved. Serious consideration now will be given, as there should have been in the first place, to alternative sites. The jobs can be created just as well -- and better even -- on alternative sites, and that portion of the escarpment can be saved.
The question is: Is this just a ruse? Is all this a farce of some kind, just a game to be played to avoid the vote which could happen on the estimates here in committee?
Mr. Havrot: You’re playing the game; you ought to know.
Mr. S. Smith: Of course, there is no real way of telling that. We know that Mr. Alexander of the citizens’ association is quite prepared to sit down and offer other sites; he is authorized to do so. We know now that the company is greatly interested in hearing about them. We know now that the minister is willing to sit down and encourage this kind of development. We also know that the requirement that the other site have a view has been left out of this particular letter.
So it’s possible that some alternative site can be found for this particular Cantrakon development, which in itself will be a great asset to Ontario -- and we have never suggested otherwise.
However, if it turns out that in fact the minister is making a farce out of this and that these meetings turn out to have no real substance to them, there is still the possibility to amend the actual motion for the estimates which comes at the very end of consideration of all estimates. It is still possible to put forward a motion amending it at that time. So we’ll have some opportunities to see whether the movement which seems apparent by the government today is serious.
In this regard, it seems to me the proper thing to do is to allow the estimates discussion to carry on and not to present the amendment which we had previously announced. I have requested my colleague from Waterloo North (Mr. Epp) to allow this new development to take place, to allow the possible finding of another site to occur. We will withhold the motion which we otherwise planned to present as an amendment. We still retain the right to present such an amendment when all the estimates are represented to the House at the final sitting.
Mr. Pope: Unbelievable. What a game -- what hypocrisy.
Hon. Mr. Davis: Mr. Chairman, I don’t normally participate in the estimates discussion, but in that the Leader of the Opposition has shown his great interest in the escarpment and in this particular project, I think it is only appropriate that as the former member from that area and one who knows it perhaps as well as the Leader of the Opposition -- who I know has examined the site himself extensively, is totally familiar with the Forks of the Credit, Belfountain, the whole history of Caledon and the preservation of the escarpment -- while I bow to his superior knowledge of the area, I thought it would be proper for me to make an observation or two.
The Leader of the Opposition, really after the leader of the New Democratic Party raised this initially, somehow has been able to convince his colleagues that preservation of the escarpment has now become relevant.
Mr. Martel: It certainly wasn’t in May and June.
Mr. Swart: Some of his colleagues.
Hon. Mr. Davis: I find it very intriguing because I have reread some of the material from when we were debating his colleague’s private bill on the Niagara Escarpment. I recall very vividly the desire of the Liberal Party of Ontario to limit extensively --
Mr. S. Smith: Hear, hear, that is right. That is right.
Mr. Pope: The Liberals are on both sides of the issue as usual.
Hon. Mr. Davis: -- the power, the authority and the planning process of the Niagara Escarpment Commission.
Mr. Nixon: Twelve miles from the escarpment.
Hon. Mr. Davis: I find it not only contradictory, I find it a shade hypocritical to suggest that this government is any less interested in the escarpment than you people are. This government made the decision to preserve the escarpment. We’re doing it; were doing it very well.
Mr. S. Smith: The Minister of Housing is destroying it.
Hon. Mr. Davis: For you people to suggest today that because of a particular interest in the town of Caledon you have a greater interest in the escarpment --
Mr. Breithaupt: There is no question about it.
Hon. Mr. Davis: -- is so much hogwash. You people have tried to suggest we aren’t interested in the preservation of the escarpment.
Mr. Pope: Go ahead, take it to the people.
Mr. S. Smith: We never suggested that.
Hon. Mr. Davis: Oh, of course you have.
Mr. S. Smith: What interest in Caledon? Come clean. Come on, what is your suggestion about an interest in Caledon?
Hon. Mr. Davis: I didn’t say you had an interest in Caledon.
Mr. S. Smith: You just did.
Hon. Mr. Davis: I did not.
Mr. S. Smith: You did so.
Hon. Mr. Davis: I did not. Yes, I hope you have an interest in the escarpment. All I am saying is, where was that interest when we were debating your private bill? Where was the interest then?
Mr. S. Smith: Do you want an answer on that? Would you like an answer to that? If you narrow the range there is some real chance of success.
Hon. Mr. Davis: The suggestion by the Leader of the Opposition that my colleague the Minister of Housing maybe was going through some gymnastics, that he wasn’t totally sure he was operating in a way that was fair and reasonable in terms of arranging these meetings, that they might be cosmetic, I don’t think is worthy of the Leader of the Opposition in this province.
Mr. S. Smith: We will wait and see. We will wait and see.
Hon. Mr. Davis: You are the one who is making the suggestion; you are the one who is sort of threatening the House. You are the one who is saying to the public of Ontario --
Mr. S. Smith: You are threatening the election. You are threatening the election, no one else.
Hon. Mr. Davis: -- if I, Stuart Smith, don’t get my way we will force the people of this province into an election. That’s really what you are saying.
Mr. Breithaupt: You certainly know how to be gracious in a situation like this.
Hon. Mr. Davis: Come on, let’s strip away all of the rhetoric.
Mr. Chairman: Order.
Mr. Sweeney: If you strip it away, you’d have nothing left.
Hon. Mr. Davis: I would say to the member for Kitchener-Wilmot that I have got more to strip away than you have. I certainly do.
Mr. Chairman, I just want to add my own assurances in terms of the meetings and the discussion of this issue. I read the letter from the solicitor for the developer of this proposed conference centre. I too know some of the people who are opposed to this. I happen to know some of them rather better than the Leader of the Opposition. I also know, and he should know this, that there are people who are in favour of this who happen to be as strong an environmentalist as he is -- in fact I would say even stronger, with the record of that particular party in the field of some environmental concerns.
Mr. Breithaupt: Some people would make it a provincial park.
Mr. S. Smith: Run on your record on the environment.
Hon. Mr. Davis: No, I have no intention of it. If you people want to, that’s your decision. You people have been the ones who have been threatening. You people have been the ones who have been playing games for the last 48 hours.
Mr. S. Smith: Oh, what nonsense.
Hon. Mr. Davis: Mr. Chairman, I just say this to the Leader of the Opposition, once again going back to my involvement. You talk about the speech of the member for Peel in 1959; I remember it very well. It was a long speech. It was probably a dull speech.
Mr. Kerrio: Filled with platitudes.
Hon. Mr. Davis: Yes, it was. It was full of total endorsation of the government of Mr. Leslie Frost and all of those things.
Mr. Sweeney: Haven’t changed in 20 years.
Mr. Breithaupt: All those good things.
Mr. Nixon: It is known as polishing the handle on the front door.
Hon. Mr. Davis: But Mr. Chairman, I made two requests of the government as all private members do in throne speeches, particularly their first one. I urged on the then Minister of Education that the associations, as they then existed, for the education of the mentally retarded be included within the public educational system and the separate educational system.
Mr. S. Smith: Are you going to repeat your whole speech from 1959?
Mr. Breithaupt: Excellent idea.
Hon. Mr. Davis: As we used to say in the good old days, it was done.
Mr. Peterson: That was your last good idea.
Hon. Mr. Davis: A second personal project of mine was the development of a public area at the Forks of the Credit. That too has been done.
Mr. Peterson: You haven’t done anything since then.
Hon. Mr. Davis: Come with me to Belfountain; one of the lovely rural communities; very small; great Tory vote --
Mr. S. Smith: Is there a relationship between those two items, by the way?
Hon. Mr. Davis: -- and I will show you where we have met that second promise.
Hon. Mr. Davis: In fact, Mr. Chairman, I have become so enthused I may even join in some of those meetings. But I can assure the Leader of the Opposition that not only are we as interested in the right answers, but we are more capable of finding the right answers than he or his party will ever be.
Mr. Chairman: Order.
Mr. Martel: I have a distinct fear for the health of one of these Liberals, because one of these days --
Mr. Eakins: You are saved again.
Mr. Martel: -- as they try to straddle the fence and be on both side of an issue at the same time, one of them is going to suffer a hernia.
Mr. Makarchuk: Whereabouts, Elie?
Mr. Martel: You can’t have your friend McKessock bring in crowded audiences here --
Mr Eakins: That was a nomination meeting.
Mr. Martel: -- to watch the destruction, and advocate the destruction of the escarpment --
Mr. Kerrio: That was his nomination meeting.
Mr. Martel: -- and then come in this week piously, sanctimoniously prepared to move a no confidence motion to save it. You people have more nerve than a canal horse.
Mr. Kerrio: Elie, you are an expert.
Mr. Peterson: I don’t think that is the expression, Elie.
Mr. Breaugh: We know which end of that canal horse too.
Hon. Mr. Welch: Give us a hint.
Mr. Martel: In fact, for the last six months, as I have watched this motley group, they have not only put Xaviera Hollander to shame for positions, but Masters and Johnson.
Mr. Peterson: That is a catch phrase. Have you ever used that before, Elie?
Mr. Martel: I want to talk to my friend the minister for a few minutes. I want to talk to the Minister of Housing.
Mr. Kerrio: Take your horse back to the barn.
Mr. Martel: This situation would not have reached this point if the minister had shown just a little flexibility a week ago. This minister took it upon himself, in face of all the advice, in face of all the investigations, to alter that advice and make a decision on his own, and the government really shouldn’t be very proud of the way the minister handled it. I hope next week when they are so gung ho, they will come in and support the private bill presented by my colleagues the member for Etobicoke and the member for Welland, which will not give the minister as much power as he now has. He has too much and like other bills there should be appeals against a decision of that sort. I would hope that side of the House won’t veto that bill but allow it to go to a vote --
Mr. Breithaupt: At least we don’t have to block the bill to be afraid of a vote.
Mr. Martel: -- so we will see where these fellows are going to stand. For a change, the government might consider --
Mr. Sweeney: You are the guys who stand up and block votes.
Mr. Martel: At least we don’t get up and pretend --
Mr. Stong: Don’t say it, Elie, don’t say it.
Mr. Kerrio: You have so many positions, Elie, you have to brace yourself in the posterior.
Mr. Chairman: Order, order.
Mr. Martel: I want to tell you something. When we present a bill the intent will really be there, it won’t be disguised.
Mr. Chairman: Order, order. Would the member for Sudbury East address the chair on vote 2101?
Mr. Martel: When you present a bill and then explain that it’s really different to what you mean, that’s misleading.
Mr. Breithaupt: Afraid to vote.
Mr. Eakins: That’s not a very good after-breakfast speech.
Mr. Martel: Yesterday I indicated what we wanted. We wanted the government to show a little flexibility --
Mr. Breithaupt: And they have.
Mr. Martel: -- and they have, they have.
Mr. Nixon: I guess you are the one with a hernia.
Mr. Chairman: Order, order.
Mr. Martel: It is interesting that the member who has now commented refused to indicate what they wanted. The member for Brant-Oxford-Norfolk said, “Well, I can’t say what we want.” They didn’t want to indicate --
Mr. Kerrio: You’re floundering again.
Mr. Martel: They didn’t want to indicate --
Mr. Kerrio: You’re going down for the third time.
Mr. Martel: They weren’t prepared to indicate what type of resolution to this problem, this impact, would be needed so we could get on with looking at the estimates of the Ministry of Housing. They were more interested in grandstanding.
They, as a party, had two no-confidence motions they could use and if they wanted to bring in a genuine no-confidence motion, they would have moved it. They wouldn’t have played games, they would have brought in their no-confidence motion and dealt with the Cantrakon issue. They didn’t want to deal with the issue. They ignored their two no-confidence motions and preferred to play little games, as they’re wont to do. They didn’t use the rules at all.
Mr. Bradley: A little persuasion.
Mr. Martel: I’m glad to see the government has moved over, as was indicated by the Premier. The issue was first raised by the leader of this party, in a constant position taken by this party, not the continuing flip-flop position taken by the party over there. We told that party earlier if they wanted to bring in a no-confidence motion to deal with Cantrakon, bring it in.
Mr. Breithaupt: We will if we want to.
Mr. Martel: Well, bring it in. Don’t play little games.
Mr. Chairman: Order. Disregard the question put by the member for Kitchener.
Mr. Martel: I’m trying to find the odd note I’ve made. They’re here somewhere.
Mr. Nixon: Oh, you’re looking for your notes.
Mr. Martel: I would like to ask the minister, in view of the statement which he made this morning, how long has he been aware that the company was prepared to look at an alternative site?
I’d also like to make the point that yesterday during the questioning I was somewhat disturbed by the minister’s response. When we suggested that there was possibility he might have asked his staff to look around, we didn’t suggest that the ministry should be telling some corporation where it must locate. If I had been in this dilemma with all the advice he had received, surely as minister I would have told the staff to look around to see if there’s an alternative.
That doesn’t mean to say that you’re forcing anyone to buy something they don’t want. But because of what the commission had said and because of the resentment and hostility in the area, the minister might have taken that much initiative and said let’s look around, instead of simply taking the position that he only looks at what’s put before him.
If you only look at what’s put before you and if there was such an outcry against your decision, I would have thought that as minister to ease the concern you might have had your staff look around within that vicinity outside the escarpment to see if it were possible to come up with an alternative site, particularly if you knew some time in advance that the corporation was prepared to relocate within the vicinity, providing certain things were met. I would ask the minister to clarify that. Also, I think that as a minister of the crown you simply can’t take the intransigent position you took yesterday that it’s not your responsibility to look for an alternative.
Mr. Bradley: That changed this morning.
Mr. Martel: If you want to speak, you can have an opportunity afterwards. I would have thought as a minister of the crown he would have in fact gone that far to see if there was a possibility of resolving it before we reached the type of impasse and hassle that’s gone on for the last couple of weeks or months.
The minister might also indicate to me if it’s possible for him to expedite this meeting. I think it’s now before the court because I believe a couple of weeks ago the minister indicated that he couldn’t say much because it was -- what’s the term we use? -- sub judice. I would ask the minister if it’s possible for him to move at this time or if he’s bound by any of that, so that we can be assured that the government is acting. I take the minister at his word when he said he’s going to initiate the meetings which might lead to an alternative site -- hopefully, it will -- and a resolution to this problem.
I simply want to reiterate that we’re not asking you to find a site. We’re hoping that through the meetings that will occur something will come to the fore, because again I make this point that while that necessarily isn’t the minister’s responsibility, the hard line the minister put yesterday was simply unacceptable to all of us. Finally, once again I urge my friends over there to come next week and to support my colleague’s bill which will remove some of the power from the ministry to make these unilateral decisions without recourse to some form of appeal. Then you’ll show your true colours.
Mr. J. Reed: I’ll certainly be brief. The Niagara Escarpment, as you know, runs kitty corner right through my riding in quite a broad band from the northeast to the southwest. The changes that are taking place in areas on the escarpment are of particular concern to me, even if they are outside the riding because they do give an indication as to what may happen in other areas of the escarpment.
First of all, I should express tribute to the caucus and to my leader for taking a strong position on this particular issue, inasmuch as he has been able, through taking that position, to bring the minister to a point of greater flexibility. I think that that’s very necessary.
I should point out that the minister, of course, is charged with making decisions of this nature and it’s quite within his power to do so, but very often one questions the reasoning that goes on behind those decisions. I’ll just bring one to the attention of the House. This summer, the minister approved the building of hydro towers along the Niagara Escarpment, against the wishes of the Niagara Escarpment Commission and against the wishes of the people. It was approved, I believe, on July 24. I should advise the House that this particular matter now is going to the Ombudsman, as being the final arbiter, since we understand that a decision of the minister is final.
One of the big concerns -- and I hope this message comes home to the minister -- is how the people see a decision to favour this kind of construction. Of course there are reasons for and against, and I won’t get into the arguments that have taken place to this point, but when the average land owner, the fellow who owns a lot and a house, looks upon a decision of this nature, he says, “Why can the minister make an approval like this when I can’t even get an approval for a carport or a barn?” The inequity is what comes home to those people.
I can understand the opposition in that particular area, because I have the same kind of problem in my own riding. I say in all earnestness that there is a feeling that the minister would deal with one set of values for a large development project and with another set of values for an independent individual.
Perhaps it is probable that many of the applications for small developments or small types of construction have been approved ultimately by the ministry. But these are two examples: the approval of the hydro corridors against the wishes of the NEC and, of course, this approval.
I just point out that that feeling of inequity and unfairness is one of the basic feelings among the people on the escarpment. I hope the minister will take that into consideration in the future.
Mr. Swart: Mr. Chairman, we have spent a good deal of our time in these estimates focusing on the Cantrakon issue. It has been the subject of all of the debate which has taken place this morning. Perhaps that is as it should be. But it is only one item in which the principles and the purposes and objectives of the Niagara Escarpment Planning and Development Act have been seriously violated. It is only one of the matters in which the Niagara Escarpment Planning and Development Act and the planning and development of this province have been violated.
It was mentioned by the member for Sudbury East that the member for Grey (Mr. McKessock) had large delegations here, undoubtedly partly on his initiative, to attack the Niagara Escarpment Commission and, through it, the preservation of the escarpment. As such, the Liberals were successful in having the planning area of the escarpment reduced by at least 50 per cent. They can’t ignore their responsibility for that.
It’s equally true, although the members across the House applauded very vigorously when the member for Ottawa East (Mr. Roy) pointed out what the Liberals have done in this regard, that those across the floor can’t escape responsibility either, because they were the ones who caved in and permitted the escarpment planning area to be reduced by more than 50 per cent. There is shame on both their houses.
The Cantrakon issue is sort of typical of what has happened to the escarpment. We know that something like 85 per cent of all the development permits which have been requested have been given. Eighty-five per cent of all the applications for development on the escarpment have been given. I want to go into this: The Niagara Escarpment Protection Act has been used by developers and others to circumvent the planning to preserve the escarpment in this province. Along the escarpment in general there have been, often in a perverse way, measures used to develop in the development control area of the escarpment which could not have taken place if it had not been for the Niagara Escarpment Protection Act.
In Niagara, in lot 1, concession 10 of the municipality of Niagara-on-the-Lake, an area bounded by the Queen Elizabeth Way and the escarpment, only a few hundred feet from the escarpment, an application was made by Walker Real Estate to permit a development, a three-storey office complex, in the development control area. Application was made to the Niagara Escarpment Commission for this building on a 28-acre parcel of land which is centrally located on another 250 to 300 acres of land. That building would have housed some 300 persons. It would have had some 400 parking spaces there on the unique land, on land which is 70 per cent class one, 30 per cent class three, and is unique in that it is capable of growing almost anything in the line of fruit and grapes. The application was made and it was turned down by the Niagara Escarpment Commission.
In the interests of brevity, I won’t read the report of the Niagara Escarpment Commission, which I have, but I want to assure the member for Brock, because this is in his area --
Hon. Mr. Welch: When is the last time there was an orchard on that land? When is the last time that land produced anything?
Mr. Swart: That land is still prime agricultural land which was placed outside the urban boundaries by the Niagara region, which was placed outside the urban boundaries by Niagara-on-the-Lake, and an application was made to the Niagara Escarpment Commission to permit that development on that land. The Niagara Escarpment Commission turned it down.
Mr. Grande: Now you understand.
Mr. Swart: The Niagara Escarpment Commission gave very solid reasons why it should be turned down, because it contravened the Niagara Escarpment Protection Act, it contravened the official plan of the Niagara region, and it contravened the official plan of Niagara-on-the-Lake.
Subsequent to it being turned down, Niagara-on-the-Lake, which, of course, has no responsibility for the administration of the Niagara Escarpment Protection Act, went to the region of Niagara and asked it to support a presentation to the Niagara Escarpment Commission to reverse its decision and to give approval of that development permit.
The Niagara region, without even consulting its planners on this -- who had developed the regional plan and had left this land cut in the rural area -- passed a motion in support of Niagara-on-the-Lake.
Hon. Mr. Welch: Very sensible.
Mr. Swart: They went to the Niagara Escarpment Commission. The Niagara Escarpment Commission said, “My God, if the municipalities which have passed their official plans aren’t even interested in saving this, and with the attacks we are under, we’ll reverse it,” and they did reverse it and a permit has been issued, contrary to the official plans, using the Niagara Escarpment Protection Act to destroy the planning along the escarpment.
That’s only one. There was another one above the escarpment, in the city of Niagara Falls, 64 acres of land, again in the development control area, where some parks developers wanted to establish a major recreational complex. Again this was outside the urban boundaries. The land was designated agricultural by the city of Niagara Falls and by the regional municipality of Niagara.
Originally, when the application was made to the Niagara Escarpment Commission for this, they too turned it down. They gave again all of the same reasons: that it was outside the urban area; had been designated agricultural class one and class two land; was capable of growing grapes; the Ontario Federation of Agriculture opposed it, and both the Niagara south and north branches of the federation of agriculture opposed it. The Niagara Escarpment Commission turned it down.
Then there was an appeal made by the developers in which of course the city of Niagara Falls supported them. The region took a hands-off position. The appeals officer, in the most perverse kind of report I have ever seen, gave approval for that development permit. Of course, that would have ended up in the minister’s hands and there has been no indication, certainly, that he is going to reverse that decision.
Mr. Warner: He’s not interested in the escarpment.
Mr. Swart: Yes. Here again is an instance of the Niagara Escarpment Planning and Development Act being used to destroy the very purpose and the objectives stated in that act. I suggest that it is almost unbelievable. Perhaps I should go on and report others.
Mr. Hodgson: Go on. We like listening to you.
Mr. Swart: Perhaps I should.
Mr. Warner: By popular demand.
Mr. Gregory: We have nothing else to do. If we had something else to do, anything at all, we wouldn’t be here.
Mr. Swart: We have another instance of the mayor of Niagara Falls and others, real estate people and Brights Wines, who own some very excellent grape land just on the brow of the escarpment. In fact some of it is so good that they use it as an experimental ground for trying new kinds of grapes. Whatever the background is, whatever went on behind the scenes, there was eventually an agreement before the city of Niagara Falls that Brights would donate 28 acres of land for a regional headquarters if the city of Niagara Falls would use its influence to get the other 96 acres put inside the urban boundaries.
The value of that 26 or 28 acres was about $195,000; the city of Niagara Falls had an evaluation done on it. The value of the other 96-acre parcel was about $650,000. But if that is put inside the urban boundaries, the real estate people in Niagara Falls tell me, and I contacted two different groups there, that it will be worth over $2 million. Here you have landowners who are willing to donate land worth $195,000 to the municipality to get another parcel in where they can make a profit of $1.3 million.
There is terminology, I guess, that could be used about those kinds of deals, but here once again you have land in the development control area on which agreement has been reached with the city of Niagara Falls to put it inside the urban boundaries for a certain gift. You have the proposal to locate the regional headquarters where you have a regional plan in Niagara that says they will preserve the prime agricultural land in Niagara as the first objective. You have the city of Niagara Falls, and perhaps the region -- I shouldn’t accuse the region yet, they haven’t made a final decision on that headquarters --
Mr. Chairman: Order. I would just like to advise the member that we now have 40 minutes left. The expenditures in this estimate total approximately $250 million and I just don’t see where this comes in under the main office vote.
Mr. Swart: May I humbly suggest to you, Mr. Chairman, that we spent some hours discussing OHRP under the main office vote. I will conclude very shortly, but I understand there was some agreement that we would continue on number one rather than go to vote number two which would have been development. This certainly comes under the planning and development section of the vote.
But there are other instances. There’s Stella Paxis Investments Limited in the city of Niagara Falls, and there are others where the procedures under the Niagara Escarpment Planning and Development Act have been used to circumvent the local planning. That is one of the reasons we will have the bill before this House a week yesterday to make amendments to the Niagara Escarpment Planning and Development Act. There is a contradiction between the local planning and the Niagara Escarpment Commission. There is overlapping. There is a route whereby they can circumvent it and get almost anything they want, and this is what exactly has taken place.
The bill we will be debating a week from today on the Niagara Escarpment --
Mr. Chairman: Order. According to the standing orders, you can’t speak about anything you are anticipating on the order paper.
Mr. Swart: -- will include with the planning which will be provided in that proposal as put before this House, that we be given the opportunity to see whether we want the planning of --
Mr. Chairman: Order.
Mr. Swart: I am now talking about the planning of this province which comes under the Minister of Housing. Would he determine whether the planning is going to be effective. The planning in this province, including the escarpment commission, to date is in a mess, particularly in the escarpment commission area. We will have the opportunity to tighten that up and we will see if there is really the desire to do just that.
Mr. Sweeney: Mr. Chairman, realizing the time is short, I have one short question for the minister. I am referring back to a discussion between his predecessor and myself with respect to lands which are owned and developed by his ministry. I am referring here to overall policy direction which I understand comes under this particular program.
The previous minister had agreed to re-examine the policy of the ministry with respect to the selling of those lands. The minister might remember that the particular case in point was a very large block of land in my riding which had cost the ministry, taking all factors into consideration -- that’s the raw cost, the servicing cost, the carrying cost, everything else -- approximately $20,000 an acre. That land was now being sold at that time for about $80,000 an acre.
The proposal made to your predecessor was that the land should be sold at cost, given that the original intent of the ministry in buying blocks of land like this was to put on the market developmental land at the lowest possible cost. A further part of the recommendation was there would be an agreement within that sale that if the purchaser wanted to attempt to make a profit on it, it would revert back to the ministry as the owner at the same cost.
The previous minister had indicated that he was prepared to re-examine that proposal and to come before this House some time and give an answer to it. I am wondering that since you are now the minister responsible whether or not that question has been examined, whether or not you are now in a position to give us some kind of a response, and whether or not your own particular philosophy as the new minister with respect to the dispersal of lands under your jurisdiction would be along those lines. I would appreciate an answer from the minister on that, if he so deems.
Ms. Bryden: Mr. Chairman, I have just a few comments on the change that has occurred this morning in the minister’s attitude regarding the carrying out of his responsibility under his overall planning responsibilities in this province.
He has finally stopped acting more like a kangaroo court judge, making unilateral decisions under the legislation on the basis of his own predilections --
Hon. Mr. Bennett: That authority wasn’t given to me by this Legislature.
Ms. Bryden: -- and now is prepared to play the role of an honest broker in carrying out his planning responsibilities. I think he should have been doing this all along.
His responsibilities, of course, extend particularly to the Niagara Escarpment. While we object to the minister having this unilateral power and intend to move that it be cut off next Thursday, I think the way he has exercised it in this case is completely indefensible. As has been pointed out in previous debate, he has gone against the recommendation of the Niagara Escarpment Commission. He has gone against the findings of the hearing officer who reviewed the commission’s recommendations. He has gone against the proposals of the official plan of the town of Caledon. He has gone against the strongly stated views of the Caledon ratepayers’ organizations.
He has also gone against the public’s need for preservation of a unique recreational and ecological resource in the province. Anyone who has visited the Forks of the Credit, particularly in the fall, knows the unique beauty of that particular area and the great use it has for recreational purposes. Why should a large section of the public be shut off from enjoyment of a particular area for the benefit of people who can afford to go to a high-priced conference centre on expense accounts?
While we welcome the reluctant move by the minister to bring the parties together to look at alternative sites, I wonder if he is the best broker to chair such a meeting. If he has so little respect for the preservation of the environment as he has shown by his unilateral decision, can we expect him to urge the selection of a site that will fit in with stated provincial planning policy to protect the entire escarpment?
We have nothing against the development of a new conference centre and hotel, if they are needed and if they will create employment. But the location of such facilities must be subject to overriding considerations of preserving our unique geological and recreational areas, of protecting our environment, and of preserving our agricultural land.
We are convinced that the minister, in his personal planning for this conference complex, is not yet conditioned to take these questions into his consideration. We argue that he cannot fulfil his responsibility as Minister of Housing if he does not take them into consideration. We urge him to act more like a planning minister and less like the embodiment of his former portfolio, the Minister of Industry and Tourism.
If he wears his proper hat, I believe he can still come up with a site which will be close to the airport and which will be suitable for this facility. But he must start out with the premise that he is not simply locating a business and seeing that it has proper road access and proper sanitation facilities. He must start from the premise that he is responsible to the people of Ontario for the preservation of their environment, for meeting their recreational needs, and for overall land-use planning in this province.
I hope that it is with those premises in mind that he will sit down with the other parties and plan the location of this site.
Hon. Mr. Bennett: First of all, Mr. Chairman, the member for Halton-Burlington made a remark this morning regarding the hydro towers that were approved, which implied that I had made the decision on the location of the hydro towers on the escarpment. May I inform the House that the approval was given by the Niagara Escarpment Commission and appealed by the ratepayers. The hearing officer was assigned to the review. The hearing officer upheld the commission with conditions. When it was presented to me as the minister I accepted the hearing officer’s position on the issue. It was not a unilateral decision by me.
I’ve been interested in some of the remarks this morning in relation to Cantrakon. We wandered into a number of areas. One or two members said the minister was inflexible and that they had brought me to a different position. I think if the House would assess the situation carefully, the minister made a decision. The developer and the architects in yesterday’s Globe and Mail clearly indicated they were prepared to discuss other suitable locations. Then there was some indication in the press report of the day that the president of the ratepayers’ association had an alternative site. I think he went into some detail in indicating what the site happened to be.
To my knowledge that was the first time someone had come along and said they could offer an alternative site. Let me only add this: that the development corporation, Cantrakon Limited, had looked at other sites over the past few years in the general vicinity of Caledon and in proximity to the airport. It wasn’t a matter that this was the only site that they’d ever put their minds to, or made an assessment or an appraisal of, or evaluated as far as their business was concerned or should be concerned.
I recognize the fact that some think the minister is inflexible. That’s fine. This Legislature, as I said two or three times, in the act gives the minister the authority to make some decisions. The interesting thing is that when the minister doesn’t make a decision, people on that side of the House at times become very critical. When the minister does make a decision he’s also vulnerable to criticism, and I don’t expect any more in the provincial Legislature than I experienced when I was in municipal government.
When a decision is rendered by a politician -- praise heaven that politicians should make decisions, and not the civil servants or the advisory councils or committees or boards -- the fact is that I don’t expect when I make a decision to get unanimous acceptance in Ontario. Regardless of what the issue happens to be there will always be parties with different views, and that’s the way the system happens to function.
I made the decision here and I said yesterday that I would facilitate the arrangement of a meeting between the interested parties. The member for Beaches-Woodbine said there might be some degree of conflict or an impediment in my open-mindedness in assessing the situation when a meeting is held.
Mr. Swart: That’s not exactly what she said. She said there might be no desire on your part to make a change.
Hon. Mr. Bennett: I said I would facilitate a meeting and I think the best situation is the minister try to arrange it, but I think others maybe should be chairing it, because eventually if there happens to be a relocating --
Mr. Nixon: The Premier offered.
Hon. Mr. Bennett: He offered to be there. He’s not to chair it. Careful, careful.
Mr. Nixon: He would if you asked him.
Mr. Hodgson: Maybe we should get Stuart Smith?
Mr. Nixon: Stuart will chair it, yes.
Mr. Pope: Heaven help them. They’d never resolve anything.
Hon. Mr. Bennett: What I did say is that he might meet --
Mr. Nixon: I don’t want to, but I know a farm up in South Dumfries that’s available. Quite a view. A lot of hydro towers, though.
Hon. Mr. Bennett: I tell you, Robert, he might meet a few of his very personal Liberal friends sitting around the table in the negotiations as well.
Mr. Gregory: You’ve got too much bull on that farm.
An hon. member: Got a great pool and a landing strip.
Mr. Nixon: For a helicopter.
Hon. Mr. Bennett: I’ve said, and I’m sincere in it, I think Mr. Jarvis, who’s the legal counsel for Cantrakon, is prepared to bring his best efforts forward in full view of the people in Caledon or whatever other area they might have under consideration. He’s prepared with his people to sit down and discuss it. I’ve confirmed that Mr. Alexander, the president of the ratepayers’ association of Caledon, did call my office some time this morning after I had left my office, and said that he was in a position to sit and discuss with the principals at least three locations. I understand my office has already been in touch with Mr. Alexander and Mr. Jarvis and one or two others to try to arrange for a time for the meeting.
Ms. Bryden: Why wasn’t that done before?
Hon. Mr. Bennett: The member for Sudbury East said he would like to know something about timing of a meeting, how quickly could the minister put a meeting together. I will try to expedite the meeting but I think it would be rather an awkward time between now and November 13 to try to bring together the representative on the Niagara Escarpment Commission from Caledon and the mayor of Caledon, who are now both seeking the same position of mayor of that community. I will certainly make the proposition to them to see what date would suit all parties to converge on this subject to try to find a solution if possible.
Ms. Bryden: You should have done that before your original decision.
Hon. Mr. Bennett: The member for Beaches-Woodbine says it should have been before my decision. It’s interesting that that kind of comment should come from the third party. The member for Welland-Thorold just finished a few moments ago. If you sit down and analyse what he said, then no one should make a decision. You criticize the fact that 85 per cent of the applications in relation to the Niagara Escarpment are approved, but 92 per cent of the applications that are made are approved by the Niagara Escarpment Commission, not by the hearing officer and not by the minister.
Then you went on to your second case and you criticized the fact that the hearing officer gave approval. You said that wasn’t right and that shouldn’t happen. Then you come to Cantrakon and you say, “Mr. Minister, you shouldn’t make a decision on Cantrakon.” I ask the members of this House if the hearing officer can’t make a decision, the Niagara Escarpment isn’t to make a decision and the minister isn’t to make a decision, are you really trying to tell this House that every appeal -- and there have been some 3,000 or better -- should be shipped off to the Ontario Municipal Board?
I want the member for Brant-Oxford-Norfolk to tell me that he would accept that. He’s one who’s been complaining of the fact that the OMB is tied up in too many trivial matters.
Mr. Swart: You can’t make a decision.
Hon. Mr. Bennett: I’m sure the NDP group isn’t quite sure who should make decisions. They’d like to think they’re going to make them, but they’re a hell of a long way from ever getting into that position.
Mr. Swart: If they keep you in that office it won’t be long.
Mr. Hodgson: They’ve tried for seven years. It’s going to be 700.
Mr. Warner: The longer you are there the easier it gets.
Hon. Mr. Bennett: At the rate you fellows did down in Chatham, you certainly didn’t win any great amount of victories.
Mr. Swart: What about the popular vote?
Hon. Mr. Bennett: Ask your leader for me how well he did in his riding at the federal by-election when Robert Rene de Cotret went in for the Conservative Party to the federal House.
Mr. Pope: Ask about St. Vincent’s Hospital.
Hon. Mr. Bennett: Where did we gain the ground as Tories federally? Right in the heart of the leader of the NDP’s riding, right in his solid ground. He’s losing it. He should be somewhat concerned.
Mr. Swart: Tell us the percentage increases in our vote federally.
Hon. Mr. Bennett: No wonder he’s out in BC with the rest of the socialist groups, trying to see what he can do to make his fortunes a little better in Ontario. I’ll tell you, that it ain’t going to happen.
Mr. Gregory: The member for Welland-Thorold is next.
Hon. Mr. Bennett: With regard to the escarpment, I have as much and as deep a respect for the preservation of the environment and the escarpment and other assets in this province as anyone.
Mr. Warner: Prove it. Those are hollow words.
Hon. Mr. Bennett: You fellows would take it that the millionaire acres on the escarpment are supposed to be sacred territory and nobody but nobody should walk upon it.
Mr. Warner: You’d pave it from one end to the other if you had the chance.
Hon. Mr. Bennett: The act is known as the Niagara Escarpment Planning and Development Act and I would think the word “develop” means that we are anticipating some development.
Mr. Warner: Why don’t you put a highway in there? Put a four-laner right across the top.
Hon. Mr. Bennett: There are days I would like to run that four-laner in another direction, and I’m looking at it.
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: Sideways.
Hon. Mr. Bennett: One way would be sufficient.
Mr. Warner: Too bad you wouldn’t be mayor of Ottawa.
Hon. Mr. Bennett: You’ve never had the privilege of even being close to it. At least, I had the chance of being the acting mayor for a long time. I say to the member that I’ve at least been elected for 18 consecutive years in some political position in this province, with an increasing majority. I hope you can always say that, but I doubt it very much. After the next election you’ll be in the reverse direction.
Mr. Warner: Don’t put any loose change on it.
Hon. Mr. Bennett: I want to make one further comment to the member for Welland-Thorold about 85 per cent of the approvals. Perhaps he would look at what those approvals are that the Niagara Escarpment Commission happened to give. I would say that virtually every member who has the escarpment running through his constituency has had cases where Mr. and Mrs. Smith or the Browns or somebody has come to him and said they wanted to add a certain operation to their home or expand some business in the business community that lies within the development area and could they get support for it.
I’ve had members from the NDP, members from the Liberal Party and people from my own party as well who have come and asked me to be very considerate when the review of the hearing officer’s report winds up on my desk. I have as much compassion for the needs of individuals as anyone. I also have a degree of respect for that thing known as an economy in Ontario -- somebody better be working to try to improve it, not at the sacrifice of or detriment to the environment or any other aspect of Ontario, but what is profitable and productive.
You mentioned about the sport centre in Niagara Falls. It really confuses me because the escarpment was meant to try to develop things that would bring more people to that beauty spot of our province. Here’s a case, supported by the local members, that this project should go ahead. It accomplishes a great number of things for which the escarpment act was put in place.
Mr. Swart: Buildings and all?
Hon. Mr. Bennett: We’re not trying to isolate the escarpment from everybody and everything.
Mr. Swart: Why did the escarpment commission say on their ruling it was contrary to the purposes and objectives of the act?
Mr. Pope: We’ll send you a Xerox copy of the act.
Hon. Mr. Bennett: That depends. There are interpretations, as I said earlier. There are great differences. The member and his pals would love to put urban boundaries around the municipalities as they presently exist and forget about any further development to this province or this country.
Mr. Swart: We never promoted that. On a point of order, Mr. Chairman, a point of privilege.
Hon. Mr. Bennett: You’re getting close to it.
Mr. Deputy Chairman: On a point of order.
Mr. Warner: You enjoy twisting words.
Hon. Mr. Bennett: Nobody can twist better than you, Warner.
Mr. Deputy Chairman: Order. On a point of privilege.
Mr. Swart: I have never proposed that the urban boundaries be placed so there was no development. We have asked that the 7,500 acres be reduced to 4,000 acres. We have never been opposed to some development.
Mr. Deputy Chairman: Order.
Mr. Hodgson: You’ve never asked but just talked about it.
Hon. Mr. Bennett: They’ve never asked, they just appeal it. That, I suppose, is the difference between asking and appealing.
Mr. Dukszta: Apologize.
Mr. Warner: Just apologize and get it over with.
Hon. Mr. Bennett: I look at Niagara-on-the-Lake where they would like to get on with a certain industrial park on land which has been industrially zoned for a time.
Mr. Pope: Who is holding it up?
Hon. Mr. Bennett: Who is holding it up? The member is afraid to say who is holding it up because the people at Niagara-on-the-Lake are getting fed up with that kind of nonsense.
Mr. Deputy Chairman: Order.
Mr. Swart: Mr. Chairman, I rise again on a point of order. One reason it is being held up is because the council did not get an official plan change as they are required to before they put in $335,000 worth of services.
Hon. Mr. Bennett: Mr. Chairman, you can find all the excuses in the world but we know very well that the land eventually had to go into industrial use because the investments are in place. We’re going to get into a technicality but we don’t let them go ahead and develop. We let the $335,000 sit for another couple of years and accrue interest, which means the land goes up in value and the chances of industry going in are reduced.
Mr. Swart: They have done it illegally.
Hon. Mr. Bennett: I want to read into the record a few statistics that might be of interest to members.
Between October 1975 and September 1978, the Minister of Housing received 514 reports from the hearing officers’ decisions of the Niagara Escarpment Commission. The minister concurred with the hearing officer on 472 of these appeals, or 92 per cent of the time. The minister made a decision contrary to the recommendations, and I underline the word “recommendations,” of the hearing officer on the remaining 42 appeals. The analysis of these 42 files revealed the following facts:
The minister’s decision has supported the Niagara Escarpment Commission. That’s the body you were talking about just a few moments ago. On 18 of the appeals, or 43 per cent of the time, the minister’s decision has supported the local municipality, who do have a degree of confidence in trying to administer the affairs of their community. The member should know since he was on council in his community. They do have a degree of confidence. They’d like to think they have some degree of autonomy too. The great third party is always saving, “Give the municipalities the autonomy.” Give it to them but don’t give it to them is likely the secret they have. I agreed with the local municipalities in 32 of the 42 appeals, 76 per cent of the time. The minister’s decision has conformed with the official plans on 26 appeals or 62 per cent of the time. The minister’s decision has been opposed by ratepayers on 18 appeals or 43 per cent. Only two of these involved organized ratepayers’ groups. It’s rather interesting information.
I want to read into the record one other item. It’s been raised on one or two occasions.
Mr. Swart: Mr. Chairman, I would like to ask a question at this time.
Mr. Deputy Chairman: Order.
Hon. Mr. Bennett: No, I haven’t finished my remarks, Mr. Chairman. I’ll finish my remarks then, if he has a question, he can ask it.
The fact is that on two occasions it has been mentioned in this House there were minutes of a meeting on April 21, 1977, which related to a meeting between the Minister of Industry and Tourism at that time -- which happened to be myself -- members of my staff, and people from the Cantrakon development -- architects, planners and so on. Indeed, it included a representative of the chairman of the Niagara Escarpment Commission, one Mr. Ken Kelly.
It has been said there were minutes of that meeting, and that I should have apprised myself of those minutes prior to making any decision in August of this year relating to that very same project.
I want to make it clear on the record that there were no minutes of the meeting. It was an informal meeting held in my office for a presentation when I was the Minister of Industry and Tourism. It was held on the advice of my people in the tourist division, as I held meetings with many people in that portfolio and in this portfolio. Regardless of whether some people in this House think I should or should not, I will continue to meet with them, because that is one way a minister has an opportunity of broadening his understanding of problems that exist in his province.
I want to make it clear that there were no minutes of that meeting. The leader of the NDP party --
Mr. Grande: NDP party! Come on! What does the “p” stand for?
Mr. Warner: It’s not the New Democratic Party party.
Hon. Mr. Bennett: The third party. Fine, thank you. Isn’t it interesting how sensitive they become? They hate a double “p,” but maybe they play at home with them.
Mr. Deputy Chairman: Order.
Mr. Havrot: You can describe them as born losers.
Hon. Mr. Bennett: I would say that the leader of the Liberal Party also read from this particular script yesterday but without indicating clearly what it happened to be. It was not minutes retained by any government ministry.
Mr. Pope: No, just insinuation.
Hon. Mr Bennett: It was a memo or a note taken by the official planner, chief planner Ken Kelly, representing the Niagara Escarpment Commission chairman at that particular event.
Mr. Nixon: Was it incorrect?
Hon. Mr. Bennett: I am not in a position to say whether it was or not, but let me say to the member that it was never circulated to anybody but the Niagara Escarpment Commission --
Mr. Nixon: No, it was a note to file so that his memory would be accurate.
Hon. Mr. Bennett: A note to file; that’s correct. It took him two weeks after the meeting to write the note to file. I can only say that these memos were never circulated to the Ministry of Industry and Tourism, to the Ministry of Housing or to any of those others that were present at that meeting.
Mr. Nixon: Are you implying that it was incorrect?
Hon. Mr. Bennett: I am not implying that.
Mr. Nixon: Well, what are you talking about?
Hon. Mr. Bennett: I am implying that they said to me yesterday that I should have apprised myself of the minutes that were in the ministry. I have to say clearly that this was a memo filed by the Niagara Escarpment Commission’s planner. That’s it. Never was I privy to what he had said --
Mr. Nixon: A responsible person.
Hon. Mr. Bennett: -- although I must admit that the research officer for the NDP and, I think, the Liberal research officer were kind enough to forward us a copy of what I suppose somebody from the Niagara Escarpment Commission sent to them.
Mr. Pope: No one else was, though.
Mr. Worton: Was it in a brown envelope?
Hon. Mr. Bennett: I suppose it really didn’t have to be in a brown envelope this time.
The member for Kitchener-Wilmot asked about the land policy of the ministry. As he knows, it was only this year that all the lands owned by the Ontario Land Corporation and by the Ontario Housing Corporation were consolidated and transferred to the Ministry of Housing.
Mr. Nixon: Yes, a lot of that’s been unloaded.
Hon. Mr. Bennett: Well, my friend might like to take some of it over for farm purposes.
Mr. Nixon: I am sure you’d love to get rid of some of it.
Hon. Mr. Bennett: I am sure he would do a much better job at farming. We could occupy his time there.
Mr. Nixon: How much are you paying for that Townsend site every year?
Hon. Mr. Bennett: We’re going to build it this year. We’re going to get on with it this year.
Mr. Nixon: Yes, you and your predecessor have been saying that for five years
Hon. Mr. Bennett: Let me tell my friend who will be there when the first sod is turned this coming year. I’m looking at him. My friend will be in the front lines, telling us what a great project it’s going to be and what an enhancement it will be for that end of the province. Oh, I can see it. The day Cantrakon opens, I’d like to see how members of this Legislature -- when they are invited -- will be there to say that it’s a great thing, it contributes to the economy and we’re delighted to have you with us in Ontario.
Mr. Nixon: Your friends always show up for a free lunch.
Hon. Mr. Bennett: In my days on municipal council I experienced how many people talked against projects but were always there at the official opening. Maybe they project the image of politicians; they love to be something that doesn’t cost a great deal.
Mr. Nixon: I certainly wouldn’t want to go to Townsend, because it has cost a great deal.
Hon. Mr. Bennett: I wasn’t referring to my friend as an individual; I was referring to him as a member of the Legislature.
Mr. Nixon: When are you going to open Edwardsburgh?
Hon. Mr. Bennett: Edwardsburgh? We are going to try developing it as a poplar farm, with the new species which can be developed and grown to maturity in a period of five to seven years. We will then reap the crop and start to use it in the mills of the province of Ontario; it might be very good value for this province. Experiments, yes, no doubt about it.
Mr. Nixon: No government in its right mind would be in the wood business.
Hon. Mr. Bennett: But government’s responsibility is to try some experiments on the odd occasion and see how things work out. Let me come back to the land: There is a great deal of land in the member’s riding. He spoke about what our land purchases amounted to and the number of dollars involved per acre.
Both the provincial and federal governments now agree that the land should be sold at the low end of market price, not just related to what our investment happens to be and the incurred costs of maintaining it, whether it be taxes, interest and so on, but at the low end of market price. Obviously, if we sell at the low end of market price, in some cases -- I wish I could say in all cases -- we will likely experience what is known as a profit. In others we are likely to experience what is known as a loss.
We believe that if there is a profit to be made, and because the land is available to people who can afford that type of price, and government should not be trying to re-establish market prices at lower than what somebody else has bought across the street for it -- and I am talking about individuals in this case, not developers or any of that group -- but where there is an opportunity to make a profit then we have to replay that back through the system in trying to subsidize land where our public housing and other types of subsidized housing can he provided.
We are trying to be realistic in the disposal of land, and I suppose some could find it easy to criticize the policy that we have adopted, but it is an agreement with our friends at the federal level. Unless I have missed it, it would appear, Mr. Chairman, that I have responded to the remarks made by the various members.
Mr. G. I. Miller: Mr. Chairman, I have a couple of questions I would like to put to the minister. I think he is aware it is in regard to senior citizen housing. In my riding we have had considerable trouble in a couple of areas getting this accommodation off the ground. I think it started back in 1971 in Cayuga and Port Rowan. At that time there seemed to be a need, and there were enough people who could qualify, but since the program has been delayed and delayed it has come to the point now where there doesn’t seem to be enough interest put forth by the people in the community.
I think the statistics indicate that there are more eligible people in this class as the years go by, and yet because of the fact they own homes they can’t qualify under the point system. I would like to give you an example: I was in an elderly person’s home the other day. She is 65 years old and unmarried and she would love to have some accommodation, but there is nothing available.
I was wondering if the minister would give some consideration to changing the point system for qualification for senior citizen housing in order that they could be provided with this facility in some of the rural areas, even if they do have to pay more towards the cost of the housing. I see you have indicated in your opening statement that rent geared to income is increasing every year, and I think perhaps this could be reviewed and would provide a much-needed service, rather than encouraging people to give their money or their homes to their children or other members of the family, if they were to be encouraged to maybe pay a little more for senior citizen accommodation. Again, I think it is good to have these senior citizens together as they get older, where they can assist one another. It is better than having them go into lodges or old age centres. They can have a sense of having their own home, they can go and come as they like, and I think it would take away some of the pressure on old age home facilities.
So that is one point, Mr. Minister. The second one is what programs are available for urban development? I notice in the report in the opening statement on October 23 that you do have programs available. Are there any programs available for communities such as Dunnville where we have had a serious fire roughly in the area of $1 million? Are there any programs to assist in developing this area? If so, at what interest rates? Maybe you could give a few details on that.
Hon. Mr. Bennett: My understanding, Mr. Chairman, is that we have made a couple of assessments of the need in Cayuga. We’ve tried to meet whatever need happens to be there, but it’s not sufficient to require us to go into a senior citizen development at this time. We have been looking at the possibilities of trying to bring two or three communities together to build one senior citizen apartment unit. That has not altogether met with favourable reviews. Some members of a community may not wish, at their senior age in life, to go and live let’s say in Cayuga, where they would have to move a distance from home.
But we are at this time reviewing the point system we have in Ontario in relationship to applicants for senior citizens and family housing as well. I said the other night one of the things we have been able to do in the development of OHC, and more specifically with the senior citizens, is develop a social atmosphere with the common rooms that we have in each one of these particular apartment buildings. People find themselves comfortable with their friends and find the facilities adequate -- small maybe to some but certainly a size that is suitable for their type of living they wish to conclude with.
I can’t say much more about the points at this time. One of the things I would draw to the member’s attention, we can talk about the point rating system and the adjustment of it on a constant basis. If we reduce the point system you can bring into being a whole new area of responsibility that I don’t think provincial and federal governments at this time are prepared to get involved in, financially. We try to provide for the needs of those less fortunate in securing a position through life. I will tell you sincerely we are looking at it and we will try to make some adjustments in the point system but also keep a degree of realism in mind, because costs at the other end are becoming astronomical.
I just draw to the attention of the House that the shortfall in public housing this year, between rents and operation, will amount to about $235 million. It’s not that many years ago that the shortfall in Canada was something in the range of $20 million. I realize 50 per cent of Ontario’s shortfall is picked up by the federal government, but it’s still tax dollars, and it is still a reduction in the ability to go into some other programs.
In relation to the last question about programs for redevelopment, while we have never specifically developed a program of downtown revitalization or business improvement area that would answer an emergency such as the one you are referring to with the fire in the community, we do have a downtown revitalization program and a business improvement area program that have been well accepted and used by a number of communities across this province -- Sault Ste. Marie, Sarnia, Cornwall, Barrie, and various others. We’ve gone through a fair amount of money, and we still have nine or more communities that have applications presently before the minister for some funding under this program. I would hope that we might very well find some extra dollars over the period of the next two or three years that would continue to expand that program.
We have the downtown revitalization conference that will be held in the late days of November and the early days of December at the Inn on the Park. I would hope at that time that we can get a more general expression of opinion from people from municipalities, industry and governments at various levels in Ontario, the rest of Canada and the United States as to where we might even further improve and expand the program. Mind you, it will be all determined by the number of dollars that eventually the Treasurer puts at our disposal.
Mr. Deputy Chairman: The time for consideration of these estimates is now completed. I have to put the vote on each item.
Votes 2101 to 2107, inclusive, agreed to.
On motion by Hon. Mr. Welch, the committee of supply reported certain resolutions.
On motion by Hon. Mr. Welch, the House adjourned at 12:46 p.m.