The House resumed at 8:02 p.m.
CO-OPERATIVE CORPORATIONS AMENDMENT ACT
Mr. Pope, on behalf of Hon. Mr. Drea, moved second reading of Bill 122, An Act to amend the Co-Operative Corporations Act, 1973.
Mr. Speaker: Does the honourable parliamentary assistant have an opening comment?
Mr. Pope: No, thank you very much, Mi. Speaker. I believe the principles were enunciated in first reading by the minister. I have nothing to add.
Mr. Breithaupt: It is a pleasure to speak in favour of this bill, particularly as the amendments which are suggested have resulted from lengthy discussions with various active components of the credit union movement within Ontario.
When this bill was first introduced just six months ago, the minister at the time, the member for St. Andrew-St. Patrick (Mr. Grossman), shared with the critics in this area items of correspondence he had received and which had suggested a variety of amendments, most of which appear in the legislation before us this evening.
This series of amendments does give us the opportunity of speaking with respect to all credit union movement activity within Ontario. We are advised that in a province like Ontario about one in three of our residents are members of credit unions. The day may well come when that will increase across Canada to be perhaps one in every two of our Canadian citizens.
In my own community of Kitchener, credit unions have been active for a number of years, and there are now some 28 within the cities of Kitchener and Waterloo alone. The activity they have developed is certainly of great use and interest to us in the various financial aspects which credit unions bring to the people of the province.
There are a great number of particular items in this bill that have resulted from the discussions with members of the credit unions. I must say that over the past six months that the bill has been on the order paper there has been a variety of comments made with respect to seeking support for the bill. The large number of amendments, I think, will be useful in the additional development of credit union activities within the province. We certainly are supportive of the bill.
Mr. M. N. Davison: I rise on behalf of my party to express the support of the NDP for this bill. Before I enumerate the reasons why we’re supporting it, however, I have one minor criticism, or, perhaps more appropriately, a matter on which I would seek an explanation.
The bill was proclaimed, as I recall, on March 31, 1974. However, almost immediately afterwards, certainly within 12 months of that date, various people involved in the co-op movement began to make suggestions to the ministry regarding parts of the bill that weren’t terribly workable; or parts of the bill that needed to be cleaned up or in some way reformed and revamped.
The correspondence alluded to by the member for Kitchener starts at about the time I was elected to this assembly in the fall of 1975. That is, the correspondence from the United Co-operatives of Ontario, as well as other submissions. I’m a little bit curious as to why the amendments have been so long in coming.
I realize that it’s not the most simple piece of legislation. I realize there is always some difficulty in preparing the amendment, from the conceptual draft stage to the point in time at which it’s ready for debate in the assembly. But that seems like an exceedingly long time -- over three years from the time the original problems were pointed out to the ministry.
The legislation, of course, resolves a number of problems that perhaps weren’t terribly apparent when the bill was first passed. What catches my eye is the way in which the ministry has been able to resolve the new reality of the nursery school co-op by changing the legislation to allow for a definition that included greater than 15 members. I think that is a particularly useful initiative on the part of the government. It shows a willingness to respond to changes in the day-care and nursery school world. I think that should be applauded.
The other thing for which I have some support is in the area of the increase on interest and dividend rates. It had been suggested by some people, from within and without the co-op movement, that the government should go to a system that would allow the cabinet, in effect, to change the rate through regulation. I think that the government’s desire to stay with a system requiring legislative change for such rate alterations is commendable. So often it seems that this is a place of regulation, not legislation. It’s nice to see that, in some small way, the government has managed to withstand its own stampede!
Finally: I also like very much the government’s emphasis on the incorporators of the co-op being not promoters but the users of the service or product; and, as well, members, full members in the co-op. I think that needed to be restated. It had to be said as an expression of our confidence in the co-op movement in Ontario. I commend that also.
As I said earlier, my party will support this bill on second reading enthusiastically. Indeed, we would have supported it much earlier than this late date near Christmas.
Finally, as the NDP critic, we see no need for this bill to go to committee and we have no amendments for it.
Mr. Speaker: Does any other member wish to speak to Bill 122? If not, the honourable the parliamentary assistant.
Mr. Pope: I will be brief. The honourable member is quite right. There was some correspondence in September 1975 from the United Co-operatives. A submission was also received on January 16, 1976, from the Ontario Co-operative Development Association. The reply to the United Co-operatives was dated February 19, 1976, and to the Ontario Co-operative Development Association, June 1, 1976.
In addition, there were some other issues that arose during the period of the ministry’s consideration of these amendments. We received several letters in April 1977 and also in February 1978 with respect to the nursing school problem to which the honourable member alluded.
Perhaps it is possible that the bill could have been brought forward earlier. Some of the problems that arose with respect to promoters incorporating co-operatives have arisen quite recently. Perhaps that is one of the reasons why this bill wasn’t proceeded with as expeditiously as it might have been -- acknowledging that for the honourable member.
I would thank the honourable members for their comments and their support of this bill.
Motion agreed to.
Ordered for third reading.
CORPORATIONS INFORMATION AMENDMENT ACT
Mr. Pope, on behalf of Hon. Mr. Drea, moved second reading of Bill 187, An Act to amend the Corporations Information Act, 1976.
Mr. Speaker: Does the honourable member have an opening statement?
Mr. Pope: No, I do not, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Breithaupt: There are a number of items which are amended in the changes proposed to the Corporations Information Act. The only one of particular consequence deals with the matter of directors of related corporations.
You will recall, Mr. Speaker, that when this act was debated some time ago, some proposals were made and approved at that time.
Hon. Mr. Davis: Give me a cigar. Congratulations!
Mr. Breithaupt: I’ll be glad to give the Premier a cigar.
Hon. Mr. Davis: I don’t smoke them any more, but congratulations anyway.
Mr. Breithaupt: If that’s the case, I’ll just give you a wrapper. In any event, the matter of dealing with directors of related companies has come before the House within the last three years. We are advised the difficulty in producing this additional item of information, as required on the annual returns, is because the information has not been sought. Also it appears to be more of a nuisance to provide than its value warrants.
As a result, we are prepared to accept the changes which are proposed by the ministry in removing this ongoing commitment for these returns.
The other items, as I’ve said, are routine. We will support them.
Mr. M. N. Davison: I don’t think anybody is going to object to the changes to the amendments to the bill. On the other hand, I don’t think that the parliamentary assistant or the government should accept support of the amendments as support of the act itself. It’s certainly not the kind of Corporations Information Act that will exist on that happy day when the New Democratic Party forms the government in this province -- not too far from now.
I would just like to explain to the parliamentary assistant, and to anybody else who cares to listen. One of the problems with this legislation, as amended and before it was amended, is that the government takes information and sticks it in a file drawer and that’s the end of it. It’s not terribly aggressive about following up on it.
In this province, we’re going through a fairly important case involving a company by the name of Bestline. I’m sure the parliamentary assistant is fully aware of this. Let me tell you something about that company. It is virtually identical, in terms of the people behind it, in terms of the product, in terms of its location in this city, to another company called, as I recall, Golden Canada Products Limited.
Golden Canada Products Limited was such a dastardly company they were raided by the Metro police and closed down. A short time later they changed the name on the sign in front of the building. The government had no problem with it, and away they go doing the same kind of things, until we get to the point where we are at it again today -- trying to get rid of this company.
It seems to me the government should be a bit more aggressive in reading the documents it gets, which I understand is hard in some cases. For example, in the case of Bestline they managed to destroy three or four years of the company’s records by accident. They were on their way to the filing cabinet and they ended up in the paper shredder. I realize that if one manages to destroy the records, the government is going to have some trouble reading them. But it should take a look at those that manage not to get lost, on occasion. It should check out some of these companies. I think it will find, in the Ministry of Consumer and Commercial Relations, that would be a particularly splendid idea so it could do something to protect consumers before the fact rather than after the fact.
Mr. Lawlor: Just very briefly: I would have thought that the government would like coming through the information act as much diverse information as was relevantly possible with respect to the corporate structure as operative in this province. I would have thought also there would be an expansion of that form of information rather than a contraction and for many reasons -- for reasons the members opposite would espouse in terms of laissez-faire, in terms of corporations working in a competitive market and the provisions made in numerous statutes of recent years with respect to related corporations, the intricacy of the definition, the fact that has been redefined several times in the last decade. That is a relatively new area of law, ongoing and developing, related to insider trading and related to monopolistic practices, related to devices to escape taxation.
Without having investigated the matter, can the government assure us -- and this is the gist of this statute -- that the requisite information is nevertheless, despite the deletion here, readily recoverable and at the government’s fingertips though computers or otherwise with respect to the Corporations Tax Act? This is an enormous problem as to the interpenetration and interrelationships, the insider concept, the whole business of insiders or individuals basically.
This is the related concept at the level of the abstract corporation, the interleaving of corporations -- now we know that the capitalist system has evolved in a direction of cascading, interrelated, multiple corporations, extremely difficult to trace through. If the government can pinpoint who the directors are readily, and have it at its fingertips, even if it didn’t make it public -- although I think it should be completely public -- at least it would have that information in the event of various types of fraud, in the event of attempts to subvert or escape or avoid or evade the Income Tax Act.
In any number of instances, criminal and civil, this type of information I thought would have been of value to the government. In other words, I am suggesting that what is being proposed is a retrograde step and that it should be rethought.
Mr. Pope: I thank the honourable members for their comments. I concede that for the members in the New Democratic Party this would not be the bill that they would enact if they were the government. I have read the debates of 1976 and before that so I understand the issues that were in their minds when this issue was originally dealt with. I do think the amendments that we are introducing to this act this evening come as the result of numerous requests from people who have to deal on a day-to-day basis with the filling out of these forms. It has to do also with the usefulness --
Mr. Lawlor: I can imagine that. If I am a director of a related corporation I don’t want you to know.
Mr. Pope: It also relates, I might add to the honourable member who has interjected, to the usefulness the members of this assembly have found in that information, through their own contacts with the corporations branch of the ministry. And it relates also to the provision by companies and the directors of what we consider to be relevant, possible information to obtain from the companies.
If we are worried about possible criminal activities or possible civil proceedings, if there is any suspicion that there is some conspiracy, either in civil or criminal terms, and we know the names of the companies involved, then we do have at our disposal the means of ascertaining the names of the individuals who are directors of those companies. I think that remains in the Corporations Information Act, and that, I might add, is the main use to which many individuals put the Corporations Information Act.
Motion agreed to.
Ordered for third reading.
PLANNING AMENDMENT ACT
Mr. Hodgson, on behalf of Hon. Mr. Bennett, moved second reading of Bill 183, An Act to amend the Planning Act.
Mr. Hodgson: Mr. Speaker, we are presenting for second reading a series of amendments to the Planning Act. They are designed to provide some immediate help in improving the local planning process while work proceeds to complete the government white paper on the Planning Act, which I hope will be ready for publication by the end of February 1979.
Although most of the items can be considered as of housekeeping nature, I would like to indicate briefly how the existing sections are being amended.
Section 19: This section presently states that no public work may be undertaken or bylaw passed by a municipality that does not conform to the official plan. The proposed amendment allows a municipality to take preliminary steps such as carrying out technical investigations where it contemplates undertaking a public work that would not conform to the official plan. The provisions, however, would still not allow any public work to be actually undertaken until the official plan is amended.
Section 29: Four amendments to this section are proposed. First, a new subsection 4b has been added to provide that once consent has been given to the conveyance of a parcel of land the same parcel may subsequently be conveyed without requiring a further consent. In other words, a consent is only needed once, even if the abutting land is owned by the same owner. The provision is being made retroactive so that past consents can be included. However, to allow municipalities time to pass a bylaw to designate specific lands they may not want the provision to apply to, the subsection will not come into effect until June 30, 1979.
Second, a new subsection 4d is proposed which states that once a legal parcel of land has been created by consent, plan of subdivision, or with a registered description under the Condominium Act, it will not be necessary in subsequent transactions to examine behind that approval to determine if the same lands had in the past been the subject of a legal sale.
If a new parcel of land is considered appropriate from a planning point of view it should simply not matter what occurred in the past in regard to the ownership.
Third, a new subsection 5f is proposed to prohibit schemes that have recently come to light which appear purposely to avoid the municipal review of the planning application under section 29 of the Planning Act. Under such schemes, reference plans have been prepared with each part of the plan held by two persons as tenants in common. A checkerboard pattern of ownership is then created by one person, subsequently conveying his interest in every alternative lot to the other party. As the province considers this a violation of the spirit of the act, such transactions are being made illegal as of the date of the first reading of this bill.
Finally, section 29 of the act is being clarified to state that a municipal council may pass a bylaw deeming a registered plan not to be a registered plan for the purposes of subdivision control, under the new subsection 4c, without holding a hearing in advance. Notice, however, must be given within 30 days of the passing of either type of bylaw and the council must hear any person who wishes to state his objections to the bylaw.
Section 32: An amendment is being proposed to allow a minister’s zoning order to be lodged rather than registered in the property registration or land title office. This is to make it clear that such orders need not be registered against each and every parcel.
Section 33: Municipalities may presently request up to five per cent of the land as park conveyance in connection with the approval of a plan of subdivision. The sale of such lands and the use of funds received in lieu of such dedication for other than park purposes, presently requires the approval of the Minister of Housing. Consistent with the government’s objective to remove the need for unnecessary regulations of municipal action, it is proposed that the requirement of the Minister of Housing’s approval for the sale of such lands be removed.
The amendment also allows the municipality to spend cash in lieu of funds without the approval of the minister, but requires that such funds only be used for purposes directly related to parks and recreation.
Section 35: All municipal zoning bylaws under section 35 of the Planning Act must presently be submitted to the Ontario Municipal Board for approval, even though no objections may be received. Provision is now contained in section 35 to issue regulations that would allow bylaws, without objection, to come into effect without the approval of the OMB. These regulations will shortly be issued. Any such bylaw would then conclusively be deemed to be in conformity with the official plan in effect in the municipality. This amendment should help speed up the local planning approval process.
Section 43: This section has been amended to permit a planning board to seek restraining action against a contravention of a minister’s zoning order within the unorganized parts of the planning area. This amendment is specifically to allow such planning boards the same authority as the minister or a municipality in those instances where the Minister of Housing has designated administration of zoning orders to the planning board.
Section 44: This section has been amended by adding the powers of the minister under section 163 of the Land Titles Act to the list of powers that may be delegated to municipal councils. This requires the minister’s approval before a judge may issue an order to alter a registered plan of subdivision previously approved by the minister.
Mr. Speaker, I wish to remind the House that these amendments are not the result of the Planning Act review. The government, as I said earlier, will be presenting a white paper on this matter in the new year. It will contain a draft bill that will be a comprehensive and fundamental review of the Ontario planning legislation.
I also wish to inform the House that I intend to move an amendment to this bill in connection with the specific problem on land severances. It has come to my attention only within the last few days.
Mr. Speaker: The honourable member for Lincoln.
Hon. Mr. Davis: Ross, this your maiden speech.
Mr. Nixon: Now you will hear something.
Hon. Mr. Henderson: One of the first times around.
Mr. Conway: And now the truth.
Mr. Hall: Were I to make a maiden speech I would not pick this complicated topic. I have struggled and I am completely convinced that this planning legislation is more of a sentence than anything else. Defeated Tory candidates are forced to work on these amendments as penance for losing past elections.
Mr. Speaker: I would like to hear the member for Lincoln, if you please.
Mr. Hall: Suffice to say, though, that we understand there is a desire to improve the Planning Act and clarify various sections. The Liberal Party will be supporting the principle of the bill. The principle of the bill, frankly, is a little hard to determine and difficult to figure out, because it addresses itself to completely different problems in different sections.
When we get to the clause-by-clause consideration we will be raising some concerns, but I think it suffices for now, though, to move along and wait until we get into the details of it, because although the presenter of the bill has spoken at some length, there are many unanswered questions of a detailed nature. We want to measure their effect in local government and in the legal fraternity, which I know the Premier is very concerned about.
Hon. Mr. Davis: It’s not a fraternity.
Mr. Ruston: A union?
Mr. Nixon: It’s not a fraternity except in Mississauga.
Mr. Hall: That is all I have to say at this time.
Mr. Swart: Mr. Speaker, I say immediately we are going to support this bill on second reading.
Hon. Mr. Davis: We are going to reassess that right away.
Mr. Swart: I ask that it go to committee, I must say I hope the Premier is just leaving for a moment, because I wanted to --
Hon. W. Newman: Oh, listen, he can only stand you for so long, Mel.
Mr. Swart: -- get a view from him perhaps, on the comment made by his Minister of Housing pertaining to a section of this act. I will be there in just a moment or two, Mr. Speaker.
In introducing this bill, the parliamentary assistant read a statement of explanation which indicated in his view what the bill would do. I suggest this bill, although it does incorporate several amendments which plug loopholes and thus are needed, contains some pretty fundamental changes in the present planning procedures. I suggest it might have been wise to have left them, and perhaps the government will want to do this, until the comprehensive amendment initiated by the Comay report comes in, maybe next year.
I would expect the parliamentary assistant is aware of what can take place because of some of the amendments in this bill, but I do want to point them out to him and to the party on the right, so before the amendments come up in the committee of the whole, perhaps some thought can be given to them.
The first section of this bill, as stated by the parliamentary assistant, gives the right to municipalities to take some preliminary steps with regard to the installation of services and public works in an area which is zoned contrary to what will be the case when those works go in. We support this, Mr. Speaker.
But I question, in fact, whether the Minister of Housing really supports this amendment which states clearly, “but nothing in this subsection authorizes the actual undertaking of any public work that does not conform with an official plan.” I would hope the parliamentary assistant might discuss this with the minister and I would like to leave with him and perhaps with the Premier a few views of the Minister of Housing in this regard.
In the estimates of the Minister of Housing, which we discussed just over a month ago, the issue was raised of the expenditure of $335,000 in works which had taken place in Niagara-on-the-Lake. These were works on roads in an industrial subdivision owned by the municipality. The works comprised roads and water and sewer systems which were put in an area which the official plan designated as agricultural.
I brought this rather forcefully to the attention of the Minister of Housing. Perhaps I should report his comments on it at that time from Hansard. He stated: “I look at Niagara-on-the-Lake where they would like to get on with a certain industrial park where the land has been industrially zoned for a time” -- which is incorrect. “Who is holding it up?” Then he goes on to say it’s myself and the Preservation of Agricultural Land Society.
I then pointed out to him that the Virgil industrial park was held up for one reason, namely, council did not get an official plan change as they are required to do before they put in $335,000 worth of services. Then he said to me: “You can find all the excuses in the world, but we know very well that the land has to eventually go into industrial use because investments are in place. Now we are going to get into a technicality, but we won’t let them go ahead and develop.”
He calls a technicality the act which we have before us which prohibits a municipality from proceeding to spend $335,000 of public funds on services in an area which the official plan designates as agricultural.
My question to the parliamentary assistant to that minister is -- is that his attitude towards his own laws? What meaning is this kind of an amendment going to have if that is going to be his attitude and those are the kinds of statements he made on Niagara-on-the-Lake relating to this?
Who will enforce this? Is the minister going to say to the municipalities, “Oh, yes, we have an act but we don’t mean it”? Or are we actually going to enforce the bill we have before us?
This amendment is a reasonable one and we will support it, but I suggest it has to be enforced. It has no meaning unless it is going to be enforced. I would have expected at least that the minister would have said that they have contravened the act in Niagara-on-the-Lake and they cannot proceed until that official plan is changed. Instead he says that those people out there, including myself and the Preservation of Agricultural Land Society, are using a technicality now to hold up the development of this industrial park.
I say if the minister is not prepared to see that his own laws are enforced, which are good laws in that particular instance, then the rest of us on all sides of the House will have to take the responsibility which he has abdicated. Some of us are prepared to do that.
The part of this bill which concerns me most is section 2. I have had some rather lengthy discussions with a number of people with regard to this. I think that we should be clear on what the passage of this section will mean to local governments, to land division committees and to committees of adjustment in this province. I am sure the parliamentary assistant knows and probably the members of this House know -- most of us at least -- that at the present time if there are two parcels of land abutting, the owner may not sell off one parcel of land without getting consent from the land division committee or the committee of adjustment or, in the case of unorganized territories, from the minister.
Over the last 10, 20 or 30 years, all kinds of consents have been given to transfer property from one owner to another for a variety of reasons; maybe to make a larger farm. That parcel which is transferred, and the minister may know this, becomes part of that farm even though it is a separate parcel. It cannot be sold off without, again, getting a consent.
There are thousands of those in this province. They are in the rural areas; they are in the semi-rural areas. What this bill says is that once a consent has been given that land can then be transferred, can be conveyed at will, and is in fact a separate parcel of land for all purposes. This simply means that this bill will create hundreds or thousands of new parcels of land in this province, most of which can then be built on. It will just aggravate the spotty development in the rural areas.
That is what this bill does.
Mr. Kerrio: They’re going to move an amendment now.
Mr. Swart: It in fact creates hundreds and thousands of new lots, many of them out in the rural areas. And if they decide to sell them off, they will then have the permission to sell them off.
Mr. Kerrio: Going to move an amendment, Mel? Going to take care of it?
Mr. Swart: There is a section here which says the council of the municipality may provide a bylaw, and that subsection 4d does not apply to such conveyances made before June 30, 1919, as are designated in the bylaw.
There may be some municipalities that will take the initiative and pass it. But municipalities up to this time have left -- and I think all of us in this House would agree -- the matter of severances to committees of adjustment, to land division committees. They realize this is a difficult political problem; they have left it to these groups.
I suggest to the parliamentary assistant that when they are not prepared to deal with just one, when it comes to dealing with 20 or 30 or 40 or 50 of them in their municipalities, with the pressure of that many owners on them they are going to buckle under and they won’t pass that bylaw. Whether it is not passed by intent, or whether it is not passed because they won’t know about it, or are just lax in their operations, there is going to be only a small fraction of the municipalities that will pass that bylaw.
And even if they do pass it, it doesn’t do anything for the severances that will take place after June 30, 1979. It should be pointed out that a great many of these severances were given because -- I feel the parliamentary assistant knows this -- many of these severances were given to convey land to another person, to add to the land which he already had, because they knew he would have to get another consent. He wouldn’t be able to sell it off for another building, or whatever use the buyer wanted to make of it, unless he got another consent.
So, in fact, the committee of adjustment used that factor in a very substantial way, particularly in the rural areas, in making their determination on whether to give that consent. Now by this bill, with a stroke of a pen, the government wants to wipe all that out. There will be a very detrimental effect in the future if this goes through, because the committees of adjustment or the land division committees will take a look at that severance requested, perhaps to transfer to somebody else, not just in the light of whether it is going to increase the size of the farm and make that farm more viable, if that is where it is being transferred, but they will also look at the fact that it can be and will be another new lot which can be built on, in most of the municipalities.
I say very sincerely that this is a major change, a very major change in the planning in this province. It should be considered at least at the time the government brings in the comprehensive bylaw after the Comay report and not bring it in in this bill which is largely considered a housekeeping bill.
It is my hope that the parliamentary assistant will discuss this with the minister and perhaps withdraw this section. But if it goes to committee without being withdrawn, then we will be forced to move an amendment to delete the section because we think that this has not been properly thought out.
I know the reasons for doing it. Sometimes there have to be two or three consents where consents should be given. There are additional costs involved and it takes additional time. But there are committees of adjustment and land division committees to look at this kind of thing. They will make a determination on whether it should be given and perhaps what costs should be involved with it.
To give this blanket approval so that all of these severances that have been given at any time in the past and have been attached to other properties can now be sold off without going to anybody, and to say in the future that all severances, once they’re made, can be transferred willy-nilly from one person to another and used for any purpose that their zoning bylaw allows, I suggest destroys the work that the land division committees and the committees of adjustment have been doing over the years.
It’s been a major factor, and now the minister is pulling the rug right out from under those committees. I say he shouldn't do it to them. It’s almost an insult to the land division committees. That’s what we have before us at this time.
The third item, which I want to mention briefly and which we feel should not be incorporated in this bill, is section 5(2). It states: “Any bylaw approved by the municipal board under this section and any bylaw that comes into effect under subsection 25 shall be conclusively deemed to be in conformity with the official plan then in effect in the municipality.”
This section refers to land use, to the zoning bylaws in municipalities. Most of them go to the Ontario Municipal Board; in fact, all of them do at the present time. But subsection 25 permits a municipality, if there’s no objection, to approve that bylaw, and it shall become law without going to the Ontario Municipal Board.
It has never to this date been used, though there have been perhaps one or two or three occasions, because there was always the danger that if this zoning bylaw contravened the official plan of the municipality, somebody could take action and could upset the person who was getting a permit to build something or other because it wasn’t in conformity. The purpose of putting this section in is just the part that states “shall be conclusively deemed to be in conformity with the official plan then in effect in the municipality.”
What bothers me about this is that even if it’s directly contrary to the official plan of the municipality, it can be deemed to be in conformity with it and the safeguards of seeing that it is in conformity are removed. I’m quite willing to admit that in most instances no problem will arise from this, but there are areas where problems will arise and major problems can arise.
I mentioned in this House during the Housing estimates and I mention again tonight what took place down in Niagara-on-the-Lake. I used this as an example because the same thing can apply in this instance. The escarpment commission turned down a request for a permit for a large commercial development in an agricultural area because it was designated agricultural in the regional official plan and also in the local official plan of Niagara.
The municipality of Niagara, after being approached by the developer, decided it would like to have this land used for that purpose. Even though it was contrary to the zoning bylaw and contrary to the official plan, they went to the region of Niagara, got its concurrence without its ever being referred to the planners there, then went to the escarpment commission and had it overthrown.
A municipality that will do that sort of thing to break its own bylaws could very well pass a zoning bylaw which was directly contradictory to its official plan. It could pass a zoning bylaw that permits industrial development in a rural area, if it had a particular industry that wanted to locate at that time, without ever having to amend its official plans. Therefore, I think it is important that there be some check on this. That check is at the present time the Ontario Municipal Board. Even though a hearing is not held, the Ontario Municipal Board has to approve it, and that’s a check. We’re going to bypass the Ontario Municipal Board if this amendment goes through. I suggest that that should not be done.
The rest of the bill contains needed amendments and we will be supporting them.
I would ask the parliamentary assistant to give very serious consideration to those two sections of the bill I have brought before him. I am convinced that they can substantially upset the planning process we have at the present time. While many of the other sections in here plug minor loopholes, here he is opening up two that are the size of battleships. I suggest to him that it will to a large extent destroy the work of the land division committee and the committees of adjustment. I ask him to give serious consideration to that.
Mr. Nixon: I have been waiting for amendments to the Planning Act which would be designed, without interfering with the rights of individual land owners and their neighbours, to cut down on the work of the Ontario Municipal Board. The delay in appeals to the OMB has been a matter of major concern to members on all sides.
I’m sure we have all received the most strident complaints from constituents who on relatively minor matters have found that any initiative they might have has been held up for weeks, months, and in some instances, years.
I’m not at all sure that the amendments before us are going to accomplish that in the way we would have hoped. I am very grateful to my colleague, the member for Lincoln, and other speakers for assisting in giving us clearer understanding of what this blooming thing means.
I have a great respect for the parliamentary assistant and it could well be that when he concludes this debate my understanding of it will be clearer than it is now. I sincerely hope so.
I have already expressed my concern with the delays in matters which, although they may be seen to be of relative unimportance to outside observers, are of great importance to the individuals directly concerned -- the land owners who have found that appeals beyond the local committee of adjustment have led to hearings of the municipal board and, in some strange, weird, outlandish cases, appeals to the cabinet itself, which have delayed these matters for an unconscionable period of time.
I will say that the mental set of the members of this party is to be as co-operative as we can in removing at least a reasonable number of appeals, if we can be assured that the rights of the individuals concerned and those who may object to certain applications are not going to be unnecessarily infringed upon.
My own feeling -- and I’ve expressed it before and never interested too many people with it -- is that in the minor variances that have come before committees of adjustment, that rather than be put on the train or put into the hopper that leads directly, after many, many months, to a possible cabinet review and in some instances a cabinet reversal of decisions taken by local boards and the semi-autonomous municipal board, if an individual is not satisfied with a decision taken by a local committee of adjustment, which is an emanation of a locally-elected council, we ought to consider having an appeal directly to that council and making that the end of it. I suppose the appeal beyond that is through the ballot box to the citizens of the municipality itself.
I see, with gratification, the parliamentary assistant nodding his head. But he and I have an experience that some people might call somewhat unsophisticated when it comes to planning matters. My own area is quite rural; I know the honourable member’s was rural, but it has undergone a tremendous growth and is continuing to grow at a rate faster than almost any municipality anywhere.
I think that is where the appeal should be. I suppose to be fair many elected municipal councillors do not want to make such tough decisions affecting their neighbours. There have been instances that I am sure you have been made aware of, Mr. Speaker, where local councillors have been very glad indeed that the tough final decision even on what might seem to be a minor variance is made by nameless, faceless officials many miles away who can be cursed by the local officials who thank their lucky stars that they did not have to make a decision.
I personally believe that those people elected to municipal councils should be making those decisions. It might be that under certain circumstances an appeal from them to the courts might be possible on matters of law. That’s really what I would prefer. I said as clearly as I can that I believe the answer to the jam-up at the municipal board level is not the appointment of more platoons of good and faithful Tories, with minor exceptions, to pad and expand.
Mr. MacDonald: Vern Singer.
Mr. Nixon: I said with minor exceptions. Why call him a major exception in case he reads the Hansard?
Mr. Makarchuk: Do you call that a minor exception?
Mr. Nixon: However, as I say, it is not the answer simply to expand the municipal board in some unlimited way so that these people can peregrinate around the province hearing these really ridiculous cases of an appeal from a local committee of adjustment, which I believe should be the prerogative of the local council. I don’t know what is going to come of that.
The other thing that concerns me is this procedure of appeal to the cabinet. I really am quite concerned that we have been advised by Mr. Justice McRuer in no uncertain terms that there must always be a political person making the final decision -- either that or the courts. If you are going to keep these matters out of the courts and run them through appointed boards, then there has got to be some political person at the end who is going to have to stand the gaff, either in this Legislature or before the electorate. Somehow or other it concerns me that minor variances in west Oxford county -- or there is another very classic case north of Oshawa, where the local committee had turned down an application. The municipal board had turned it down as well. Then the appeal comes before the cabinet with the initials of the Honourable Lorne Henderson in the corner and the cabinet members throw up their hands and say, “If Lorne says it is okay, then it must be okay.” Lorne is sort of acting like the warden of the whole province. I have a feeling that he is running it like he used to run Lambton county.
Mr. Deputy Speaker: I presume you are referring to the Minister of Government Services.
Mr. Nixon: I believe there has to be in the end a political appeal, I just hope that we are successful in bringing to the attention of the people of this province that it is not precisely the kind of political appeal we had in mind. I hope the cabinet ministers who are so impressed by those magic initials or the guttural comments that come on these matters will be sure that they know what they are about.
I am very sorry that the Premier (Mr. Davis) left the House. I see that the young people from Brampton have left and there may be a relationship there; they are probably out discussing policy at this moment.
Hon. Mr. Henderson: Young Tories.
Hon. W. Newman: Come on, talk to the bill.
Mr. Nixon: I brought to the Premier’s attention by personal letter the circumstances whereby decisions taken by local planning bodies have eventually been reversed by the cabinet, without any kind of hearing other than we suspect, the opinion of the Minister of Government Services, a man in whom I have a great deal of confidence but he is hardly the chairman of the Supreme Court --
Mr. Makarchuk: The chief planner for the province.
Mr. Nixon: -- although he is chairman of cabinet. I haven’t been favoured with a reply from the Premier as yet, as to how he sees this new procedure, but as soon as I do hear from him, I might be able to contribute to this debate even further -- and perhaps more precisely, in order, Mr. Speaker!
Mr. Lawlor: Three comments, Mr. Speaker: What my colleague has said about the second section, which is the guts of this bill -- that is with respect to consents and the issuance of a consent in a single instance being binding into the future; in the broad picture I think he is probably right, and that section is going to be used by the government very adroitly.
In a later section the government tries to get some checkmating to cover an area that the legal profession has been able to get around, but it is opening up another possible loophole here. I will speak very narrowly on the issue.
There is an area which has irritated me, and I am sure many people involved in this for many years. That is the case where an individual holds a lot, gets a severance, conveys the property -- we’ll call them lot A and lot B; conveys lot A and then by some route it comes back to him at subsequent date. If he wants to resell it he has to go back through the whole process. That occurs in the single kind of holding. I think my colleague is talking about much broader holdings of land which are being split or segmented and the effects of this legislation upon the recognition of that in perpetuity.
In the narrow sense, this solves a difficulty which has involved a great deal of -- I’ll even say anguish and certainly costs, to many individuals in this particular regard.
My second remark has to do precisely with cost in a somewhat more general way. In here there is the parks estimate, the five per cent taken by municipalities with respect to granting subdivision approvals and that sort of thing. This is beginning to escalate into something of a scandal in this province. Municipalities have found a means of enlarging their revenues by imposing exorbitant charges under the Planning Act all along the line.
Even if you write an ordinary letter to Pickering now asking what the zoning requirements are for the area in which you are involved, the cost of getting a reply to that simple letter has now reached $25. In other municipalities of the province, I understand that a simple query about zoning restrictions costs $35. Once the municipalities find out -- smell the blood involved in that sort of thing -- the practice proliferates across the province and the cost escalates.
An application to a planning board is different in different areas of the province. In every county, and even in smaller units, municipalities have their committees of adjustment. I was dealing with one in the Parry Sound area the other day. It cost $100 and this was one of those re-severances with regard to an estate situation. The property was to fall back to the person who had originally sold it off. It came back the other way. One hundred dollars on a piece of raw land which is selling at $2,500 is a fair sum of money!
In the Oshawa area -- the Newman area too -- the ripoffs that are taking place with municipalities with respect to lot levies, with respect to levies on units going into condominiums and into new apartment buildings, are so exorbitant as to act as a real brake upon the construction of new housing units in those areas. At some point along the road, the minister and this ministry are going to have to take account of that.
It is all right to weep crocodile tears and say that municipalities should be left to their own devices, but when they exploit that device to the detriment of the province generally, and to housing conditions, by charging exorbitant fees simply because that area has been left wide open, then the ministry is going to have to take a look at it.
One final thing: There is a retroactive feature written into this legislation with respect to the chequer-board clause. I think that has to be thoroughly justified. Of course, that can be done in committee. The date is set for November 23. It may be that the reason for doing so is that particular gross occurrences with respect to the conveyancing of joint tenancies and tenancies in common, which the clause is designed to prohibit and certainly restrict, have come to the minister’s attention and he wants to cut it off at that point. But it is an extremely dangerous principle to have retroactive features, particularly in this kind of legislation. People are conducting themselves with respect to land alienations according to what the extant law is. If you bounce back at them on a subsequent date, I don’t think it’s the end of the world but it’s a thing that has to be looked at severely. New laws governing land transfers and alienations can’t be set up after the event. That may be what is being done here. I have little doubt that there is adequate justification, in the circumstances. I would only like that to be spelled out.
Mr. Conway: The master has arrived.
Mr. Hodgson: Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the member for Lincoln (Mr. Hall) for his kind remarks. I would also like to thank the member for Brant-Oxford-Norfolk (Mr. Nixon) for his remarks. I’m sure this bill is just the first approach to what he would like to see, the perfect legislation as far as the Planning Act is concerned in the future. This gives more power, which he intimated he wanted to see, to local councils and more power to the individual.
Mr. Nixon: Did you say the perfect act is on its way?
Hon. Miss Stephenson: In the fullness of time.
Mr. Hodgson: Yes, it’s coming.
Mr. Conway: Don’t you think millionaire landholders shouldn’t be talking about this kind of thing?
Mr. Hodgson: Multi-millionaire landholders? I wish I were one.
Mr. Conway: On all sides of the House.
Mr. Acting Speaker: Order.
Mr. Hodgson: The member for Welland-Thorold brought up some very good points.
I realize his concern, being an old councillor and also an old county councillor --
Mr. Kerrio: The first part is right.
Mr. Hodgson: -- I’m sure he realizes that those old councillors, and the old county councillors, the people who were making decisions in the past and giving land severances -- that happened mostly from the local council when we used to have the old planning boards -- those people knew their areas very well. They didn’t give out land severances frivolously; they gave it every consideration. I have no worry whatsoever as far as the consents that were granted in the past are concerned. I think they should be recognized. There have been too many individuals who had to suffer financial loss when severances were cancelled because they had adjoining property.
Mr. Swart: There are hundreds in the Niagara Peninsula.
Mr. Hodgson: I don’t think the member has anything to worry about as far as this legislation is concerned, it will be discussed more thoroughly when we get into committee of the whole. I think after the discussion he will realize that we are taking a step at the present time to give the councils more authority, the regions more authority, and to give the little guy who has had those consents a little bit of a privilege which he hasn’t had for many years. Once that Planning Act was passed, if you owned adjoining land it was cancelled out; now he has the privilege of going back and getting that through this legislation.
Mr. Swart: They are selling thousands in Ontario.
Mr. Hodgson: There could be thousands; if there were a thousand granted throughout the province, it was the councils and the planning boards of the day that granted them. They granted them in their very own wisdom.
Mr. Swart: But often on the condition that they were going to add it to a farm or some other piece of property.
Mr. Acting Speaker: Order.
Mr. Hodgson: I had just as much faith in the councils and the planning boards of the past as I have today. I think, as the member for Welland-Thorold said, we should be giving more power to our local elected representatives, and that is what we are trying to do in section 2 of this bill.
On section 1 the member mentioned his concern about how a council can go in and investigate. All they are doing is investigating to see if they conform with an official plan. Supposing it is a landfill site? You can’t, at the present time, go in and even investigate whether that would be suitable land -- without --
Mr. Swart: I agree.
Mr. Hodgson: Okay, we agree on it. I thank the member for his support. If he is going to bring up some amendments, I am sure they will be well thought out and they will be very intelligent, because I know he has been concerned in a local capacity for many years, and his heart is still there.
The member for Lakeshore was concerned about severances as well, but I think he is concerned on our side. He thinks they should be granted. According to his remarks tonight, anything that was granted should be recognized. Going back to retroactivity of the bill, I think there are urgent situations at the present time that have happened in the province --
Mr. Lawlor: There is a reservation there on landholdings of a certain size.
Mr. Hodgson: -- which may be brought out when we get to committee of the whole.
We had that chequer-board situation, which is no good for the community in which it happened in years past. Today there are some very clever lawyers, you know, who make laws; and then other lawyers are hired to see how they can get around them. I think a few of them have been around and this is why it has been retroactive; to curtail some development that is not desirable in the local community.
I have no more remarks at this time. There will be more discussion when it gets to committee of the whole.
Motion agreed to.
Ordered for committee of the whole House.
ONTARIO LAND CORPORATION AMENDMENT ACT
Hon. Mr. Bennett moved second reading of Bill 184, An Act to amend the Ontario Land Corporation Act, 1974.
Hon. Mr. Bennett: Very distinctly and clearly, the Ontario Land Corporation which used to answer to the Ministry of Treasury, Economics and Intergovernmental Affairs, has been transferred to the Ministry of Housing. Its main idea was to try and make sure that all land holdings of the province of Ontario, whether it happens to be North Pickering, Edwardsburgh or even the Ontario Housing Corporation, would be transferred under one commission, body or authority. That board or authority would have the right to move, as it sees fit, with the approval of cabinet and so on, to dispose and sell off land where necessary, or for that matter to develop it if that should be the case.
The bill is brought forward to try and consolidate, under the Ministry of Housing and under the Ontario Land Corporation, all of the landholdings we presently hold as the government of Ontario.
I have placed the bill for second reading and would appreciate comments of members of the other parties.
Mr. Hall: In connection with Bill 184, it is unfortunate, but the bill doesn’t indicate the principle the minister has just expressed very clearly in my mind at all. It talks about consolidation of organizations, but I don’t get that too easily from the explanatory notes.
The Ontario Land Corporation is an entirely government-owned body with appointed members. The best thing about it, I think, is the man who heads it up, Mr. McDonald, who I have had some contact with in estimates in connection with the mortgage corporation. I hold him in high regard. I do feel though, despite what the minister has just briefly said with regard to the principles, that we don’t know whether it’s all partly just to get out of the jackpot John White and other people got us into at an earlier stage.
Mr. Conway: And what a jackpot.
Mr. Hall: We are talking about the idea of possibly streamlining --
Mr. Peterson: They’ll never get this province back on track.
Mr. Hall: -- these various bodies, such as the Pickering corporation and the Townsend corporation -- or the Edwardsburgh corporation of which the minister is very fond -- we are talking about streamlining these so they have to cope with fewer boards and fewer people. The area of concern is whether indeed we are about to throw good money after bad.
Servicing can cost a great deal more than the acquisition of the land itself. I don’t want to discourage good moves. Who knows, the government might just make a good move; considering their past track record on handling land it’s about time their lucky number came up and something worked for them.
As I interpret the bill it not only addresses itself to matters such as the form of oath or affirmation a director or officer or employee should take, it moves on to give the corporation the opportunity to develop land instead of merely acquiring and disposing of land. I interpret this as a much broader circumstance, which conceivably could involve the expenditure of a great deal of money.
It could be argued that the Legislature, through the system of estimates, would have an opportunity to comment on expenditure of money for services before it happens, but a couple of things would concern me about that. For one thing, in the development of land it might be necessary to move faster than the estimates would permit. Secondly, this Legislature never had much of a chance to discuss the acquisition of this land. We would read about it in the first instance in the Globe and Mail, after weeks of rumours about some realtor doing a land acquisition on behalf of unknown parties. I am not too confident that information with regard to servicing would be made available in advance to permit us to assist and guide the government.
I’m not unsympathetic to the need to utilize some of the substantial holdings that are in different corporations, which hopefully could be brought under the Ontario Land Corporation itself. I am sure in certain circumstances private enterprise or municipalities themselves might not be able to make the investments without financial assistance from the province, because of matters of scale and the co-operation necessary on any manner of items that come into large scale development. On their past performance, before allowing the government to have carte blanche to spend what could be considerable amounts of money to development, I would like to see more indication from them of what their plans are, a lot more details as to what is being held and a program of planning step by step where they want our co-operation in the spending of this money.
They have told us very little. I would have to reserve my judgement until I find out more.
Mr. Dukszta: Land is very important on a number of counts and land should be in the control of people generally and not of private enterprise. It should be in the control of the community at large, or of the state or a representative of the government. In our party, we are in agreement that there must be some kind of government land corporation which is in the hands of the elected officials who ultimately control crown land. Not only is it important to control the land use, but it is also important to buy land, to bank land and to develop land. In that sense, the small addition to this bill that the government proposes to develop land is useful, and we will support that point.
The criticism is that it is done in such a peripheral, such specious and such a minute fashion that in effect the Ontario Land Corporation itself is ineffectual and cannot do it. Ultimately, any government which has a sense of responsibility towards the community in the sense of controlling land price, in terms of controlling housing costs and in terms of controlling land use must move towards controlling the land. You don’t have to have a nationalization of land, that’s not the way to do it.
Mr. Conway: It sounds like it to me.
Mr. Dukszta: What you have to do is to have a control over land-use planning. I will explain to the member for Renfrew North (Mr. Conway) one day the difference between nationalization and control over land-use planning the way it is done right now in England, in which no decision is ever made or given --
Mr. Nixon: Even an NDP government is not going to nationalize the land, unless this member happens to be the Premier.
Mr. Dukszta: I specify quite clearly that an NDP government would not nationalize land. We don’t need to. But we need to make sure there is government control over land-use and planning the way it has been done in England. Though I do want to tell members that in some parts of Europe, land is indeed controlled by the municipality or by the government. I always give the example of Amsterdam where 75 per cent of the land is now controlled by the municipality. This allows much cheaper housing and it allows controls. People would finally have an affordable housing, if our government was prepared to move into some kind of control over land.
Sometimes I wish the minister would give some explanation as to exactly where he is going in his Gadarene rush to dismantle the minute amount of power that he has over land at the moment. That is all I can say about this bill. It is nothing.
Mr. Makarchuk: I wish to congratulate the minister for introducing this piece of socialist legislation which permits the government to embark on or be involved in land development and housing and gives the powers necessary for government to co-operate with other community agencies, including private enterprise, in order to build housing.
It should be recognized by the minister that in Ontario at this time there is no way we are going to get housing at prices that people can afford unless this government gets involved in housing. One of the ways it has to get involved in housing is through the use of the land banks it has at this time, through acquisition of other land and through servicing it and putting it out at cost. As a result of that, the government will be in a better position to control the cost of housing.
I think we should point out to the minister that in other communities, for example, Lethbridge, Saskatoon and Regina where the governments have been actively involved in assembling land for purposes of housing, housing costs are generally anywhere from a third to a quarter less in comparison to housing in areas where housing is strictly dependent on the so-called private enterprise system.
We should look at that very closely. We have statements like that made by the recently elected mayor of Mississauga, Hazel McCallion, who said the land up there is all tied up by two or three major corporations which have enough approved lots for housing that they could possibly use in the next few years. Really, what they’re doing in effect is holding the land and putting it out at a fixed price to ensure they make an exorbitant profit. The result, of course, is that people have to pay higher costs for the housing.
This is the same situation that exists in most other major communities in Ontario. If members look at the land holdings there, they will find that the land is generally tied up by two or three major companies. Again, they are in a position to administer the price of the land and consequently we have exorbitant housing costs. We have hardships, we create problems in terms of families trying to make ends meet; we have, in fact, if members look at some of the situations very closely, family breakdown resulting from the inability to meet the payments to which they’ve become obligated; payments which they undertook at a time when perhaps both had been working and were able to make those payments.
The other result of this is that there are major landholding companies which have made exorbitant profits. The government has allowed them to make exorbitant profits on housing. The net result is that a lot of that capital is leaving the country. The capital that is leaving the country is being taken from people who can hardly afford to pay for it.
The other consequence that flows from that is that these people, instead of having some surplus capital to invest in consumer goods, which would provide work for Canadian workers, we find that most of the money is being transferred out of their paycheque into a corporation which ships it across the border. Consequently, there is pressure on the Canadian dollar, lowering its value.
I hope this corporation is an energetic corporation and that it really seriously looks at the whole housing situation in Ontario. If the minister is serious about resolving the housing problem in Ontario, he has in this bill and in the powers given to the Ontario Land Corporation, a very useful instrument to try to deal with the problem and to bring some competition into the housing market.
The competition is not in the final product. The competition is in the land that goes into the housing. In the final product the costs are relatively the same in terms of what it costs to build a house no matter who does it and what the profits are. They’re generally not that great, or just in a reasonable basis. Builders who have to buy the land from the developers, and I’m talking about the smaller builders, find that they have to compete. It’s the developers who do not have to compete.
Again, Mr. Speaker, perhaps the minister would care to comment in his windup statement on what he plans to do with the Townsend site, whether he intends to go ahead with that development. Again, it seems to me that if he looks closely he will find that the government would be in a position there, in that community, to demonstrate to the developers and to the people of Ontario that they can put housing on the market at prices anywhere from $10,000 to $25,000 less per unit than the local developers are charging the people.
I’d also like to bring to the minister’s attention the fact that in the Brantford area and Brantford township, that’s the area we intend to annex, the Ontario Housing Corporation --
Mr. Nixon: Where does he learn that sabre rattling?
Mr. Makarchuk: -- has a thousand acre site of land which the planners of Brantford township -- the intelligent planners of Brantford township, I might add -- have zoned agricultural. I may add that that’s about the only parcel of class 3 agricultural land in the township, but that has been zoned agricultural. The land that is class 1 and 2 agricultural has been zoned commercial because the people who own that land have a vested interest as to what happens up there.
I may add that in this situation, the municipality of Brantford has indicated that it’s interested, when and if the annexation goes through, in acquiring some of that land, or perhaps exchanging some of the existing land that the municipality has, for purposes of developing it into industrial and residential sites. Hopefully, the Ontario Land Corporation will be in the position to facilitate some of these transactions, which would be of use to the community and would provide the kind of growth and the kind of jobs that every community desires and every community needs.
I would like to say we will support this bit of socialist legislation and I hope the minister doesn’t change his mind at the last moment and retract it.
Mr. Conway: I want to say a few words about Bill 184. I am happy the Treasurer (Mr. F. S. Miller) is here because some of what I have to say will deal with the ministry in which he is now ensconced, for however long remains to be seen. I want to begin my remarks and indeed contain my remarks to an area of agreement -- few as they are -- between myself and the member for Ottawa South and deal specifically with the principal landholding of the Ontario Land Corporation in eastern Ontario. That is the Edwardsburgh site, the Edwardsburgh swamp, the Edwardsburgh industrial complex to be or whatever.
I want to say something that the member for Lincoln has said.
Hon. Mr. Maeck: Why repeat it if he said it?
Mr. Conway: I think it is important to give this debate at least an eastern Ontario flavour. As the member for Lincoln so well pointed out, those of us in this particular party are reluctant, to say the least, to give this corporation and this government further authority to proceed with planning and development in this area based on their past performance.
Hon. Miss Stephenson: O ye of little faith.
Mr. Conway: The member for York Mills says, “O ye of little faith.” I want to say back in 1973, when the member for York Mills was still a Liberal --
Hon. Miss Stephenson: I have never been a Liberal.
Hon. Mr. Walker: You can’t malign a person like that.
Mr. Breaugh: Withdraw that.
Mr. Conway: -- those of us in eastern Ontario watched what this government did. I speak specifically to the principle of this bill which gives this corporation and this government the further authority to develop certain of these sites in an industrial way. I well remember what the member for Ottawa South (Mr. Bennett) said about the move by the then Treasurer, the Honourable John White, to buy that swamp in south Grenville county to develop there an industrial site that would be the envy of this province. That’s what we were told in eastern Ontario.
Hon. Miss Stephenson: You were in grade 10. You can’t possibly remember.
Mr. Conway: That’s what we were told. Do you know, Mr. Speaker, what the member for Ottawa South said so very properly and so very wisely then? He said that the government and the Treasurer must surely -- and I think I quote him accurately when I recall the words -- be off their collective stick to buy such an acreage for such a stated purpose. He was right. He was more prescient than he had ever been before.
That land in its hundreds and thousands of acres stands undeveloped today. The last I heard of it from the previous Treasurer is that they were going to take those thousands of acres and allow a forest development to occur. That is now what we have before us in terms of this particular landholding in eastern Ontario.
We were promised an industrial development the like of which we have never seen before in 1973. And what were we told five years later by the then Treasurer, the predecessor of the present Treasurer and member for Muskoka? We were told: “No, you can’t have industrial development on that swamp, but we will give you another forest development.”
As someone who knows something about the eastern Ontario forest industry and --
Hon. Mr. Walker: Is that when you used to be a lumberjack?
Mr. Conway: -- as someone who feels strongly that the forest industry in eastern Ontario needs to be protected and advanced, in spite of this government, I want to say that the Edwardsburgh example, the Edwardsburgh swamp, is the kind of planning that alarms me.
I know the Minister of Housing agrees with me because I stand here today and repeat what he told all who would listen five years ago.
Hon. Mr. Bennett: I didn’t think you were listening.
Mr. Conway: I was listening. I must say that I have not too often agreed philosophically with the member for Ottawa South, but on that he was deadly accurate. Now what am I asked to do in Bill 184? I am asked to give this government, these children of John White in a political sense, if I might allow it --
Mr. Makarchuk: Legitimate or otherwise.
Mr. Conway: I am being asked to give to these profligate progeny the right to go forward and presumably spend millions more on that kind of development.
Hon. Mr. Bennett: I’ll go forward.
Hon. Miss Stephenson: Your vocal chords are going to be blown out, Sean.
Mr. Conway: I must ask the member for Ottawa South before I can positively consider voting for this bill what it is he specifically has in mind for the development of the Edwardsburgh land site. Are we now to receive five years after the fact that industrial site that has somehow eluded us? Are we to receive today the jobs in the industrial and manufacturing sector that successive generations of Tory governments in this province, fed by I don’t know how many faithful constituencies in eastern Ontario, have continuously and religiously refused to give us?
If Bill 184 contains the germ of such promise, then indeed I can consider its support. But if we are going to get more of the diet of economic neglect that has kept jobs and industrial progress away from rural and small town eastern Ontario, then I must say I cannot consider positively the support of Bill 184.
I want to remind the Treasurer, the Minister of Housing and other Tories in the House that we were promised certain things in that land development six years ago and some of us have not forgotten. I do think it is incumbent upon this government, and certainly this minister, to somewhere in this debate specify exactly what he has in mind for the development in that particular site, as difficult and as trying as I know the history of the Edwardsburgh development has been. We were promised the moon and so far, we have not yet so much as a thin slice of rancid cheese.
As I await from the Treasurer the jobs that he is promising in the near future, I wait to see what it is that I and the people of eastern Ontario can expect in the one principal area of this bill’s concern for us at least, and that’s the Edwardsburgh development -- sometimes irreverently called the “Edwardsburgh swamp.”
Hon. Mr. Maeck: You didn’t get the last promise but you are willing to accept another promise, is that it, Sean?
Hon. Miss Stephenson: Not again.
Mr. Nixon: I appreciate the honourable Minister of Education saying “not again.” At least she is paying attention.
Hon. Mr. Maeck: She is actually the Minister of Colleges and Universities tonight. Today she was Minister of Education.
Mr. Nixon: After the speech made by my colleague from Lincoln, where he indicated his view; and the oratory of my colleague from Renfrew North --
Hon. Miss Stephenson: The diatribe.
Mr. Nixon: -- I can only say that I echo the concern they have expressed about the Ontario Land Corporation and the government’s intention to give them these further powers. Undoubtedly when the bill passes, the corporation will have the responsibility to go out and raise funds on the credit of the province and under the direction of the minister for certain developmental programs which will make the property easier to sell.
A very well-known financier, when I was discussing this matter with him, said that one of the basic tenets of any kind of common-sense business is not to throw good money after bad. Probably at least the government knows enough about that when it comes to Edwardsburgh, the area my colleague from Renfrew North was just talking about. The Minister of Housing knows what the capability of that area is. He was a minister of the crown representing eastern Ontario when I believe he said that any government which thought they would buy that property for industrial purposes ought to have their heads read. Was that the quote?
Hon. Mr. Bennett: That is very close, but not quite.
Mr. Nixon: Close enough. Or did you say they were nuts? Something like that.
Hon. Mr. Bennett: Not quite, but getting close. I even left out “industrial,” Bob.
Mr. Nixon: When he opened the Journal the next day there, by golly his colleagues had proved how nuts they were and they had bought the land for that very purpose. To at least be fair to the minister and his former colleagues, there was a cuckoo in the nest. Without any kind of approach to the Legislature for authorization of funds; without any kind of legislation permitting him to buy these vast expanses of territory in the province, he went out and did so on his own hook. Only he did it with the connivance of the Premier. Is that word unparliamentary? I don’t think it is unparliamentary at all.
Hon. Miss Stephenson: Yes. Bob, it is borderline.
Hon. Mr. Bennett: I think it is, Bob.
Mr. Nixon: Because the two, and nobody else, circumvented the cabinet, the Legislature, the sensible taxpayer and even the present Minister of Health who is striving to move to the front row.
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order, I would suggest to you that the use of those words does, in fact, impute certain motives which are unparliamentary. The member should be asked to withdraw it.
Mr. Breaugh: Nonsense. Absolute nonsense. Not only parliamentary, but correct.
Mr. McClellan: Schemed?
Mr. Deputy Speaker: The member for Brant-Oxford-Norfolk used the word “connivance”; possibly he could find a better word.
Mr. Breaugh: Plotted?
Mr. Deputy Speaker: Would the honourable member withdraw that word and use a better word?
Mr. Nixon: Certainly, at your direction, Mr. Speaker. Although I would submit that we are getting a list of perfectly good Anglo-Saxon words that should be a part of the debating procedure of this House which you are proscribing.
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: Like crud?
Mr. Nixon: And I am very much concerned about that, so I withdraw the word connivance.
Mr. Breaugh: Double dealing?
Mr. Nixon: And would say that only one other member of the cabinet knew about the Honourable John White’s weird schemes; about the fiascos he got into. The only person who knew about these weird fiascos was the present Premier. Nobody else knew. They used some of the large real estate firms in this province to option these lands, to buy the lands, and there they sit. If the government is lucky, they have been able to lease the lands back to local farmers. If they are unlucky -- and they have been unlucky in many cases -- they are just sitting there growing goldenrod.
The Minister of Housing’s predecessor gave us all of the projections of the great urban areas which would be extant, for example, in the towns and area by 1978 and 1979. There is not a blooming thing there at the present time, Mr. Speaker. And, although the government has assured us of their plans, certainly there is no indication that the development is going to be directed anywhere other than at the communities already in operation.
An even more glaring example than Townsend is probably South Cayuga where even the exuberant Minister of Housing cannot give us any indication that that property is going to do anything but lie idle or be leased back to certain farmers.
It could very well be that there will be some purpose for it in the future. But I submit to you, Mr. Speaker, that the private sector is really where that land should be.
The North Pickering example has been debated here and in the royal commission on the Ombudsman’s charges in that connection -- perhaps more than is even necessary. I understand that, in the original plan, as it was described to me, Mr. Speaker, the Ontario Land Corporation would simply be a holding body.
My colleague from Lincoln has been very effusive in his words about the present chairman. If my colleague from Lincoln thinks he is a great man that is certainly enough for me, I’ll tell you that I have a high regard for my colleague from Lincoln, at least.
But, in fact, the Ontario Land Corporation was at one stage a group of competent civil servants who simply had the legal power to hold that property until they were told what to do with it by their masters. At one stage their masters, at least with a change in the Treasury, were looking forward to putting that land back in the hands of private developers, if it were possible. It hasn’t been possible because the land has not been attractive enough in its present form to do so. Because of the costs and the carrying charges could not be met by any kind of rational or reasonable sale.
I would hope that certain emanations of the government would have the power and responsibility to work with sharing municipalities in developing sites for industrial development. The member for Brantford (Mr. Makarchuk) has already rattled his annexation sabres again, as he does every time he rises to his feet. The classic case of Brantford and Brantford township is one that has already been debated here, Mr. Speaker, in your presence. That is one instance, surely, where property jointly held by more than one municipality, and perhaps even with the assistance of the government of Ontario, could be used for joint development. That is something I would favour.
I would agree with many of the speakers of the Liberal Party that this particular statute gives powers to a board -- I can’t vouch for this but certainly as it was set up originally -- of civil servants who would simply be echoing, as they must and as they should, the policies laid before them by, in the old days, the Treasury, but now by the Ministry of Housing. It doesn’t make much difference because the policy in this instance has been simply to try to cover up -- if that word is not unparliamentary -- the embarrassment that has attended the extremely bad political judgement that has resulted in the formation of the land corporation holding these parcels now over these many years.
I’m not at all convinced the bill is supportable. My colleague from Lincoln has indicated the information provided with it is certainly inadequate. The fact the member for Brantford thinks it is a socialistic bill certainly gives me pause, and frankly it ought to give pause to every other honourable member in the House. I wouldn’t for a moment oppose it only on the basis that the honourable member is supporting it, but that takes me half way at least to that decision.
I am concerned about the bill. I would hope that when the minister sums up after this debate is completed, and there certainly may be other members to speak, he will indicate what the prospects are for the authority of the board to spend public funds for development. Is it only so the properties can be made saleable? Does it mean we are granting new powers that do not lie with the government now? After all, the Treasurer went out and bought these lands without a scribble from anybody, with only the Premier knowing what his decision was, so they must share the blame for this continuing fiasco. I would say the answers the minister gives in this connection are paramount as far as we in the Liberal Party are concerned. How can we vote for this, because in the present stance it looks like a power we do not feel should be conveyed any further than the government or its representatives?
Mr. Kerrio: Especially when we have a triple-A rating to borrow money.
Mr. G. I. Miller: Mr. Speaker, it gives me a great deal of pleasure to get up and speak on Bill 184, An Act to amend the Ontario Land Corporation Act, 1974. As the member for the riding of Haldimand-Norfolk, I too, am concerned. I support my colleagues’ stand on an explanation from the Minister of Housing and of his anticipation of the need for the change in the bill.
I would just like to bring his attention to the fact that I hope he is not utilizing this to force the municipality of Haldimand-Norfolk to accept the water and sewers to the Townsend town site just to justify the expenditure that has been made on that particular site. It may well turn out to be the price they paid for this land will be cheap as far as agricultural purposes are concerned. I think it has been brought out in this House today, as a matter of fact, that in Kent land is selling for $4,000 and $5,000 an acre for agricultural purposes. I would like to indicate this particular land in the Townsend town site and the South Cayuga town site could well be utilized for agriculture until it is needed for the housing that was designated back in 1973 by the then Treasurer of Ontario, the Honourable John White. He painted a picture of a city of something like a million people on the two sites, and that probably by the year 2000 this would come about. Up to this present time, the economy has changed, and the pressure for housing is not there. As the member for Brantford has indicated, they could have put houses on the market for $10,000 to $25,000 cheaper. I would just indicate to the member for Brantford that houses in Port Dover are now selling for a little over $40,000.
Mr. Makarchuk: They should be selling for about $34,000.
Mr. G. I. Miller: I say it’s just not possible to put houses on the market for $10,000 to $25,000 less than that.
Mr. Makarchuk: I’ve done it
Mr. G. I. Miller: It’s just not possible.
Hon. Mr. Bennett: In 1947, yes.
Mr. Makarchuk: In 1975.
Mr. G. I. Miller: It is just not possible for them to put houses on the market any cheaper. There is an abundance of lots, there is an abundance of developable land in Port Dover, in Simcoe, in Jarvis, in Hagersville and in Caledonia. If that water line were extended to those areas, so they could develop when pressure was applied to existing municipalities from a development point of view and there was a need for the towns and town sites, I would be the first one to support it. Up to this point I cannot see the need. I can just see the minister or his civil servants trying to sell and justify the expenditure that has already been made in the area.
I support my colleagues and again I would like to point out that there are excessive school facilities, excessive municipal facilities, recreation and otherwise, that are going to be sitting empty if we don’t expand the existing municipalities.
We want to make sure that our money is spent wisely and therefore I support the stand of my colleagues.
Mr. Breaugh: I want to speak briefly to this bill and indicate that I support the bill, although somewhat reluctantly.
I think the errors of the government in the past in attempting to do something like this have been rather thoroughly documented this evening. Whether you want to go to the Edwardsburgh industrial park cum tree farm cum swamp, or whether you want to talk about the Townsend site whenever and as whatever that might be developed, they point out the difficulties the government has had in functioning in this way.
To be blunt about it, the most tragic case has to be North Pickering. Virtually everything that a government could do wrong, they did wrong. We now have purported to put before this House another act replacing a current act which would hopefully at some time in the future provide for the development in North Pickering.
I spent some time on the municipal council in that area as the government was acquiring the property for North Pickering, attempting to devise a plan for North Pickering and attempting to set up a North Pickering Development Corporation.
The problem with North Pickering Development Corporation is that no one, including the people on the board, knew what the purpose of the exercise was or what to do thereafter. Quite rightly, I guess, the Premier, in the spring of this year, decided that since they had money in the bank and people on the board who couldn’t decide what to do with themselves, it ought to be eliminated. Out of that comes this proposal for this new Ontario Land Corporation Act.
I don’t take exception to what the act purports to do. I simply express that I have absolutely no faith that this government will ever be able to do it.
I look at the North Pickering site which is closest to my own municipality and constituents. I look at it and see that we have gone the whole gamut of setting up a very expensive planning procedure for nothing; we have involved the people in that area in a long, drawn-out battle for nothing. We will be fighting the legal battle around North Pickering for some time yet to come. We have occupied the attention of committees of this House and the Ombudsman who was set up by this House at considerable expense and for a considerable length of time. At the end of all this we disband the North Pickering Development Corporation.
That is frankly because the government had an idea which was basically sound, but didn’t know what to do with it. Now the government puts before this House legislation which purports to say that it will correct its faults. I wish I could express even a glimmer of hope that the government would actually do it. Frankly, I do not think this government has the intestinal fortitude to do what it set out to do so long ago and I cannot see any turnaround in the minds of the government and particularly in the track record of the present Minister of Housing to actually implement what was set out so long ago.
Even after we have spent all that money in acquiring the property; even after we spent all the money planning; even after we spent all that time in legal costs battling with the residents, I still don’t think the government can do it. I still don’t think this government has the direction or the intestinal fortitude to implement the plan at North Pickering.
Mr. Speaker, I support this legislation. I think it is best described as desperation time. What do they do with all of this property they have acquired? I have virtually no hope that this government will reverse its previous track record; that it will actually implement, in a sensible way, measures to put houses on the market that people can afford; to put industrial development around Ontario in areas where it is so desperately needed.
Mr. Speaker, I would now like to put on the record my fear that this development corporation act, this Ontario Land Corporation Act, will simply turn out to be a mechanism to turn that land over to the private sector -- after the public sector has absorbed the cost; after the public service has paid the price for the planning; after the public service has absorbed the legal costs involved. After we have, in fact, absorbed all the pain and expense possible, the government will sell out to whoever in the private sector wants to develop that land and make money.
Mr. Speaker, I would even be prepared in an awkward way, to accept that if I really thought that the government would implement an industrial strategy. The problem is that it hasn’t got one to implement. Even if it had one, it probably wouldn’t be willing to do it.
Mr. Speaker, this is indeed a sad day when this House has to see this kind of legislation. It is the last glimmer of hope provided to the House that we would actually find our way out of the rather embarrassing bind of having done all of those things for nothing. It will be up to the government to convince me, as one member of this House, that it actually has the intestinal fortitude to implement a plan that was envisaged some time ago, a plan that the government has been sitting on now for almost 10 to 15 years. I don’t really think the government is going to do that. I am prepared to support this bill on the off-chance that it might slip up again and actually accomplish something.
Mr. Deputy Speaker: Is there any other honourable member who wishes to speak to this bill? If not, the honourable minister.
Hon. Mr. Bennett: Mr. Speaker: first of all, to the general debate of the bill, I appreciate a great number of the comments. Sometimes confession is good for the soul.
Mr. T. P. Reid: We will be here all night if we are hearing yours.
Hon. Mr. Bennett: That’s right, Patrick. Let me tell you it would be wrong, Mr. Speaker, if I didn’t --
Mr. Nixon: Go and sin no more.
Hon. Mr. Bennett: Well, okay. I will tell the member that sometimes governments go along, making mistakes, and I admit that we have made some mistakes along the way.
Mr. Foulds: Like Cantrakon?
Hon. Mr. Bennett: And I said it personally and the member for North Renfrew has already quoted it and the member repeated it. I am willing to admit the fact that my personal opinion about Edwardsburgh at the time was very clear and distinct.
Mr. T. P. Reid: You are living proof of that.
Hon. Mr. Bennett: We have made a mistake in Edwardsburgh and we hope, as a result of transferring its responsibility --
Mr. Nixon: First time in 35 years anybody’s ever admitted it over there.
Hon. Mr. Bennett: -- to the Minister of Natural Resources for the development of hybrid poplar, that we might just be able to make some positive use of it in the eastern part of the province of Ontario. Regarding the lands we own in the Edwardsburgh project adjacent to the St. Lawrence River: we are continuing, with the municipality, the county and various representatives down there, to try and find a type of industry appropriate to large tracts of land; industry that would not be acceptable and I am talking about rendering plants and a few things of that nature --
Mr. Nixon: The former mayor of Prescott had a marvellous place completely established before you people up here ever heard of Edwardsburgh.
Hon. Mr. Bennett: I must admit that Don had some very positive ideas about Edwardsburgh and still does. He’s one of the people who is working with us on the committee to make sure we find the right solution to the problem.
Mr. Nixon: I think that is why he got out of here. He couldn’t stand these --
Hon. Mr. Bennett: Edwardsburgh, Mr. Speaker, might be considered a mistake and I have never retracted my remarks made some five or six years ago. There might be people on this side of the House who would likely not get up and cheer because I make that particular remark. But, as I said, confession sometimes is great for the soul. It’s a wonder you fellows don’t do it the odd time over there just to show us that you do make a mistake the odd time, even though you would never recognize it as that until some time later.
Hon. Mr. Bennett: Let the member for Rainy River wait until his brother starts confessing all his sins on behalf of the Liberal government in Ottawa. It will take him the rest of his life to do so, I can tell you.
An hon. member: He’s in trouble.
Mr. T. P. Reid: He doesn’t have to take responsibility up until now.
An hon. member: All those guys in Ottawa have been irresponsible anyway.
Mr. Speaker: Order. It would be a lot easier if the minister just ignored the interjections and spoke directly to me.
Hon. Mr. Bennett: It is very difficult, Mr. Speaker, to do that with such intelligent interjections that really only belong in a comic strip. So, I would really want to respond to it.
Mr. Speaker, the member for Lincoln who spoke on the bill made some comments relating to the past performance of the government in relation to the purchasing and acquiring of land by various corporate structures of this government across the province. That includes the Ontario Land Corporation itself; the Ontario Housing Corporation; North Pickering Development Corporation. Large tracts of rather important land in some communities have cost a great deal of money. The member for Brant-Oxford-Norfolk said that good money should not be sent after bad money to try to entrench yourself in a position that is worthwhile.
Mr. Speaker, I would never suggest to this government, or to any government or to any businessman, that he should send good money after bad to try to save his position. I think what we are trying to do tonight, clearly, is to give to the land development corporation some authority that has been vested in the Ontario Housing Corporation over the years; that is the right to buy and develop land under housing projects.
Our ownership of land in this province consists of many acres. I say clearly and distinctly to this House that I have been going over this particular part of my portfolio rather carefully in the last number of months. I hope that in the next few weeks I will be in a position to put forward to my colleagues in cabinet some very positive recommendations on some of the land holdings we do possess in the province of Ontario.
I would say clearly that the act gives the power to the Ontario Land Corporation to develop the land, such as Townsend, which we hope to get on stream some time in late 1979 or early 1980, and North Pickering, which we hope will come on stream in 1982 or 1983.
You might say that’s a long way down the road, Mr. Speaker. The fact is we have to wait until there is some market demand requiring that kind of development without the impetus of building an airport. And obviously there is the official plan of Durham which has provided for certain developments on the lands we have acquired in the North Pickering project
That was supposed to be discussed here Thursday afternoon, if I read the order paper correctly, and I will wait to hear the very intelligent remarks of the member for Mississauga.
I don’t think the bill will give the Ontario Land Corporation far-flung powers at all. It really starts to consolidate some of the landholdings. It gives them some of the authority now in the hands of the Ontario Housing Corporation and really puts it into one landholding corporation to allow them to do that development.
Certainly, it would be well if I could say to the members that we had X million dollars today that would allow us to move forward on the Townsend project in which the member for Brant-Oxford-Norfolk is interested, and in which I am interested. I think it will be a very successful project
To answer the member for Brantford’s comments, I think it will afford us the opportunity, in conjunction with the private sector, to put a variety of housing on this market at what I think will be reasonable prices. It will also afford us the opportunity to produce some public housing, senior citizens’ housing and those rent-geared-to-income in the nonprofit and co-op sector of the economy we are dealing with at this time. So it will give us a very broad opportunity to deal with land and its development in this province.
Mr. Nixon: Well, the member for York North (Mr. Hodgson) was sort of the father of that development.
Hon. Mr. Bennett: The member for York North has done very well in life. I compliment him. He has been successful in most of his callings in life, including politics, including running a farm and now being in the Legislature representing a very honourable party. I give him full marks for that.
Mr. Nixon: So there has not been any development so far.
Hon. Mr. Bennett: He is not ashamed of the success he had, nor should the member for Brant-Oxford-Norfolk be ashamed of the success he has had --
Mr. Speaker: Order, order.
Hon. Mr. Bennett: -- as a farmer from his particular area, who has been successful in the Legislature to a degree as well.
Hon. Mr. Maeck: Those soybeans this year, Bob are really good.
Hon. Mr. Bennett: The member for Parkdale said that land should be under the control of government with an agreement with the Land Corporation to afford them the opportunity to buy and sell. That’s exactly what this act will do for us. As I said, it will help us to try to develop major projects, in some cases with a variety of housing to accommodate the people of the various communities we will become involved with.
It would be wrong for me to imply that we are rushing into the dismantling of any of our corporate structures. We are approaching the matter, I think, very logically and sensibly to try to find the best solution. The advice, guidance and expertise that Mr. McDonald, assistant deputy minister in the land division of the Ministry of Housing, who is with the Ontario Mortgage Corporation, has applied to this particular portion of the Ministry of Housing in the last number of months has been very beneficial. I am sure that as time goes on his advice and guidance will continue to help us to resolve some of the problems.
I won’t try to comment on all the remarks that were made about some of the sites, but I want to make it very clear that not all of the land that we happen to own can be used at this time for development of housing or industrial purposes.
It would be wrong for this house to go away with the idea that the lands that we hold could be used in a relatively short period of time. Some of it will likely have to remain in the ownership of government in its present use, whether that be agricultural or for other purposes such as growing poplar trees for the wood industry for some period. I would have to indicate clearly to the House that the land corporation, with the opportunities that we’ve explained in Bill 184, will afford a new life, a new opportunity to move forward with the development of the lands that we do own.
I only want to take exception to one or two remarks made by the member for Brantford. I don’t agree with his socialist legislation for a moment. I would have a hard time --
Mr. Conway: I’m sure you don’t.
Mr. Kerrio: It must have given you cause for concern.
Hon. Mr. Bennett: You can say that again. I admit that.
Mr. Makarchuk: You’re sure going to check your staff on that one.
Hon. Mr. Bennett: It would be real cause for concern, as the member for Niagara Falls would suggest to me --
Mr. Conway: Are those horrible socialists giving you an ulcer yet?
Hon. Mr. Bennett: Not yet, but mind you, they’ve only been in office a short time. I think they’re giving a few people ulcers already without any understanding. It’s a great thing to be able to hire executive assistants at some astronomical rate. It’s okay in the socialist field but no other field.
We will develop some of the land with major corporations. Some of the land will be developed and subdivided and smaller companies that wish to build in this province will be afforded that opportunity. I suppose, not to be argumentative tonight but to be more positive and factual, it’s so simple to talk about major companies monopolizing vast amounts of land in this province. I would trust that the members from the third party have taken the opportunity to read the Greenspan report which clearly and distinctly indicates --
Mr. Makarchuk: As I said before, it should have been printed up in thick scrolls.
Hon. Mr. Bennett: -- that across the major cities in this country -- not only in Ontario, but in this country -- there are no monopolies whatsoever in the land control position.
Mr. Makarchuk: That’s nonsense.
Hon. Mr. Bennett: None, none. Laugh if you wish, which is appropriate for the symbol of your party, I suppose. Mr. Speaker, clearly this government with its ownership in some areas does have a monopoly in land control. I don’t think any of the major developers have a monopoly in land control, particularly in those areas that are at present zoned for residential or industrial development.
In the 10 months that I’ve been minister I’ve had the opportunity of meeting with a number of people. My last defence of the land development business, is that while the third party might condemn them, I think they’re people who have committed themselves to try to assist in the economy and the housing problems of the province of Ontario and indeed in other communities.
Mr. McClellan: Give them some more land.
Hon. Mr. Bennett: We’re not going to give them land, but I’ll tell you what we’ll do --
Mr. Breaugh: Straight cash this time? That’s a little bold for you, isn’t it?
Hon. Mr. Bennett: We won’t give them straight cash, which is a policy that maybe your government would follow in other provinces, but in this one we don’t. There’s a thing known as co-operation. Co-operation sometimes produces a very fine end result which satisfies the market position, indeed the public of this province.
Mr. Foulds: Why don’t you say three “Hail Marys” and sit down?
Hon. Mr. Bennett: Mr. Speaker, clearly the development corporations -- and I have talked to many of them in the last few months --
Mr. Breaugh: I’m sure you have.
Hon. Mr. Bennett: Yes, and I make no apologies for it. It might do your heart some good to have a chat with them, because they do believe in the word --
Mr. Speaker: I wish the honourable minister would just ignore the interjections and speak to the principle of Bill 184.
Hon. Mr. Bennett: It does relate to Bill 184, because --
Mr. Speaker: Not the interjections. The interjections are out of order and any response to the interjections is similarly out of order.
An hon. member: They shouldn’t go in Hansard then.
Hon. Mr. Bennett: I am told the Attorney General (Mr. McMurtry) wants a few minutes to discuss glands before we’re finished and I would be delighted to see there are five minutes allowed for him at the end of this interesting debate.
Mr. Speaker, in winding up by my remarks, I accept the comments made by the members on the opposite side, understanding some of their concerns for things that have gone on in the past. I would hope and honestly say to you that it’s not my intention as the Minister of Housing of this province to suggest to my colleagues in cabinet that we continue to expand the land-banking process as we presently know it.
Mr. Breaugh: Why don’t you nationalize --
Hon. Mr. Bennett: Certainly we will try to put some of it under development -- Townsend, North Pickering and a few of the other projects. We’ll be recommending some of the other lands to various bodies and organizations for their disposition. I don’t know whether it will be back into the field of agriculture, as the member for Brant-Oxford-Norfolk has mentioned this evening. He knows very well about what I speak. I think he had some personal interest in some of the lands at one time or another.
Mr. Conway: In Edwardsburgh the poplars grow, row by row.
Hon. Mr. Bennett: I want to say clearly that what we’re asking for here is an opportunity to give the Ontario Land Corporation the powers to go along to develop lands, dispose of them, and make the best possible use we can of what we presently have under the ownership of the crown.
Motion agreed to.
Ordered for third reading.
CORONERS AMENDMENT ACT
Hon. Mr. McMurtry moved second reading of Bill 186, An Act to amend the Coroners Act.
Mr. M. Davidson: I will be brief in my remarks because I know we are pressed for time.
I would imagine I should congratulate the government for putting this bill before us. However, I think we’re all aware why it is before us, that is, it is the result of the placing of Bill 149 and the public pressure that developed as a result of that. I would, however, like to express my gratitude to the Solicitor General for seeing his bill was brought forward so quickly. In keeping with his participating and moving his bill forward as fast as he possibly could, I do not intend to hold this bill up.
I think we’re all aware of the reasoning behind Bill 186. It was debated here on Thursday. I think the remarks that were made at that time by members of all parties that participated in the debate were appropriate. We in this party feel there really is no need or necessity to continue or prolong the debate on this issue.
It’s an important issue, one that should be dealt with readily. For that purpose, Mr. Speaker, I would like to place the support of myself and my colleagues in the New Democratic Party behind Bill 186. We support it on second reading and see no reason why it shouldn’t go to committee, although I understand it probably will.
Mr. Nixon: Mr. Speaker, we’re supporting the bill as well, just as we supported the bill brought forward by the honourable member in private members’ hour last Thursday. I think the Attorney General has been sufficiently apprised of the opinion of the opposition members. I would simply say I agree with the opinions previously expressed.
I would have thought the Attorney General might very well have come into private members’ hour last Thursday and indicated the government was going to accept the principle of the bill and offered an amendment which he knows, and knew then, would have been accepted by all sides. It doesn’t make that much difference since we’re going to get the legislation anyway, but with a person as upwardly mobile as the Attorney General, it probably marks some kind of milestone.
I hope my colleague, the member for St. George (Mrs. Campbell), has an opportunity to speak on this bill as well, although the hour for adjournment draweth nigh. I know she is doing her duty in the committee dealing with residential tenancies, which has been a very --
Hon. Miss Stephenson: Is that what you are temporizing about?
Mr. Nixon: -- onerous responsibility for many members of this House for many hours
I, along, with other members, do not want to delay the passage of an important piece of legislation. As the member for Essex South said just a moment ago, it’s a shame it wasn’t law 20 years ago.
I know there has been some concern, particularly from some religious groups within the community, that the removal of this gland without positive permission would be a substantial concern as far as those groups were concerned. The Attorney General is as sensitive to those matters as anyone I know, and I feel sure the bill has been worded in such a way that those groups whose feelings we certainly want to respond to have been satisfied that the bill is acceptable as far as their principles are concerned.
I am glad the government is bringing in the bill and supporting the previous initiative that I hadn’t even heard about -- this being a medical problem, obviously. I think it is the kind of initiative that members on all sides are glad to support.
Mr. Rotenberg: Mr. Speaker, we are now speaking on the principle of the bill on second reading. The main principle of the bill of course is to get more pituitary glands for those youngsters who suffer from dwarfism. I don’t think there is anyone in this House who wouldn’t support that principle, who wouldn’t support ways and means of having these youngsters assisted and having this disease cured.
Mr. Breaugh: There are 20 who rose to block it.
Mr. Conway: W5 thinks the Attorney General is a hero.
Mr. Rotenberg: That is the principle of the bill and I certainly support that principle of the bill. I must say the bill is a considerable improvement over the bill we had the other day. I don’t want to take anything away from the member for Cambridge because he certainly indicated on Thursday he would consent to some form of amendment to his bill which would try and look after the concerns of some members of certain religious groups. I would point out to the member for Brant-Oxford-Norfolk that the bill as it is now printed does not satisfy those concerns.
So I am quite content to support the principle of the bill on second reading. However, I think the improvement the Solicitor General has made on the bill for the member for Cambridge can be improved even more. Therefore, I would like this to go to committee of the whole to move an amendment and I will make my remarks at that time.
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: Mr. Speaker, I would just like to indicate to the opposition that I appreciate very much their support. I once again say to the member for Cambridge, I think his initiative in this area was very important and the support and the attention he is responsible for directing to this very serious problem is appreciated on all sides.
I simply reiterate that this is very important legislation. There are a number of children who are going to benefit by this legislation. I am absolutely delighted that all sides of the House are supporting very progressive, humane legislation.
In respect to the very legitimate concerns that have been expressed by certain religious groups, I have great respect for these concerns. I would simply assure the members of the House that any religious groups who have concerns about the use of the pituitary gland will have these concerns honoured. It is inconceivable to me from a practical standpoint that any religious groups who are affected, in relation to an autopsy performed upon a deceased person, would not have knowledge of this fact and would not be in a position to express their concern about the use of the pituitary gland. I am absolutely confident those wishes would be respected, indeed that they would be honoured. This legislation should not be regarded as treading lightly or heavily on the rights of any religious or minority group that has concerns in this area.
I will once again state that I know the concern that is felt on all sides of the House about these children who need this help very badly.
Motion agreed to.
Mr. Speaker: My understanding is the bill is to go to committee of the whole House?
Mr. Nixon: On a point of order, did the minister indicate the bill should go to the committee of the whole House?
Mr Speaker: No, he did not.
Mr. Nixon: Who did?
Mr. Rotenberg: I did.
Mr. Speaker: The member for Wilson Heights.
Mr. Nixon: Is that the way the rule works, Mr. Speaker?
Mr. Speaker: If there is anybody in the House who would like to address himself to the bill in committee, then it is up to the minister to decide which of the committees it should be referred to, whether it is a standing committee or the committee of the whole House.
Mr. Breaugh: Did he do so?
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: Committee of the whole House, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Speaker: So agreed.
Mr. Nixon: On a point of order, I thought, Mr. Speaker, you had indicated from the chair that we were going to have a vote at 10:15.
Mr. Speaker: We are going to committee for that express purpose.
Mr. Nixon: Good.
House in committee of the whole.
UNIVERSITY OF TORONTO AMENDMENT ACT (CONCLUDED)
Resumption of consideration of Bill 147, An Act to amend the University of Toronto Act, 1971.
Mr. Chairman: There was one amendment stacked during the committee of the whole House.
Mr. Cooke moved that section 2(5)(b) of the bill be struck out and the following substituted therefor:
“(b) appoint, promote, suspend and remove the members of the teaching and administrative staffs of the university and all such other officers and employees, including pro tempore staff appointments, as the governing council considers necessary or advisable for the purposes of the university or University College, but no member of the teaching or administrative staffs except the president shall be appointed or promoted unless recommended by the president or such other officer or employee of the university designated therefor by the president under section 5(4)(a), and no member of the teaching or administrative staff except the president shall be suspended or removed unless recommended by the president.”
The committee divided on Mr. Cooke’s amendment, which was negatived on the following vote:
Ayes 25; nays 62.
Section 2, as amended, agreed to.
Bill 147, as amended, reported.
On motion by Hon. Mr. Grossman, the committee of the whole House reported one bill with amendments.
Motion agreed to.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: Mr. Speaker, I might ask at this time the unanimous consent of the House to revert to “Motions.”
PRIVATE MEMBERS’ PUBLIC BUSINESS
Hon. Mr. Grossman moved on Thursday, December 7, following routine proceedings, ballot item 44 be considered before ballot item 43.
Motion agreed to.
STANDING SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT COMMITTEE
Hon. Mr. Grossman moved that the social development committee be authorized to travel to the city of Ottawa on Wednesday, December 6, for the purpose of holding hearings on Bill 163, An Act to reform the Law respecting Residential Tenancies.
Motion agreed to.
On motion by Hon. Mr. Grossman, the House adjourned at 10:36 p.m.