The House met at 2 p.m.
PUBLIC OPINION POLLS
Mr. Speaker: If I could, I would like to have the attention of all honourable members for a moment or two.
On Thursday last, June 7, the member for Rainy River (Mr. T. P. Reid) asked me to consider as a point of order whether the government was, in fact, complying with standing order 32(c) in not tabling as part of the compendia on the introduction of government bills those opinion polls which the various ministries have had taken from time to time.
I have considered the question very carefully and I fail to see how I can be expected to know what was, or what was not, the background information considered by a minister and his staff when preparing legislation. The minister tables what he considers to be the compendium required by the standing order, and there is no way that I can look behind his decision.
PHOTOGRAPHIC GUIDE TO THE LEGISLATURE
Mr. Speaker: I would also like to bring to the attention of all honourable members that this coming Thursday morning between the hours of 11:15 and 11:45, I have arranged for a photograph to be taken on the front lawn of all members and staff who work in this Legislative Building. Her Honour has graciously consented to take part, as has the Premier (Mr. Davis), the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. S. Smith) and the leader of the New Democratic Party. This photograph will be used in the first photographic guide to be produced on the Legislature, which will be released early in October. I am enthusiastic about this event, and I think all those employed in this building will want to be a part of this permanent record.
I would also like to point out that official photographs for the handbook will be taken during question period in this chamber on Thursday afternoon from a number of vantage points, and I would suggest that all members be present, if humanly possible, at that time.
Mr. S. Smith: May I rise on a matter of privilege, please, Mr. Speaker?
Mr. Speaker: I don’t know how your privileges could have been abrogated by either of those statements, but go ahead.
Mr. S. Smith: Just thinking of that mass of people on the front steps shook me.
Mr. S. Smith: Mr. Speaker, I rise because I understand that today is the 20th anniversary of the election to this House of certain members. In particular, to begin with, I want to mention the member for Windsor-Walkerville (Mr. B. Newman), who is celebrating his 20th anniversary. I want simply to say that member has been a very forthright and forceful representative for his constituents and has conducted himself in this House, and in his personal relationships with members of all parties, in a very gentlemanly way and has been a real credit to the entire political process in the province of Ontario.
As members know, he is a man who contributed greatly to our country in the training of gymnasts as well as in his educational career. While not wishing to take excessive time to go into all his contributions, I want simply to say that he has served Windsor well, he has served Ontario well, he has served Canada well, and we trust he will have many more years to serve all of us in this Legislature.
While I am on my feet, may I also say a word about two members opposite who are also celebrating their 20th anniversary. We certainly want to wish both of them very well. One is the member for Hastings-Peterborough (Mr. Rollins), who is in his seat. The other is the member for Brampton (Mr. Davis), who is not here at the moment, but who we all wish only the best at this time.
Mr. Cassidy: Mr. Speaker, as a student of the classics, I am sure you know that when great events occur there are signs and portents, usually meteorological portents. Anyone who experienced the rain storms of last night or the tornado that occurred over Brampton will know that there was some kind of a heavenly commemoration of the event that occurred 20 years ago to the member originally for Peel and now for Brampton.
I might say, in congratulating him on his 20 years of service, along with the member for Windsor-Walkerville, that of course that does not necessarily mean we wish him as many years in the future as we have wished him well for the past.
Mr. Breaugh: Twenty and out.
Mr. Cassidy: That’s right. That’s a good slogan.
I do want to say, though, that since he has been in the House for only 20 years we resolve not to hold him responsible for everything that has been done by the Conservatives over the time they have been in power.
While I am on my feet, I might mark the fact that Saturday last was the 24th anniversary of the election to this Legislature of my friend and colleague and our former leader, the member for York South (Mr. MacDonald), along with the member for Wellington South (Mr. Worton). They have spent 24 years in the House.
Mr. Yakabuski: Mr. Speaker, on this occasion when we are recognizing the anniversaries of certain members elected to this Legislature, I think we are also recognizing the birthday of probably the oldest living former member of this Legislature, the former member for Renfrew South, the Honourable Thomas P. Murray, who celebrated his 99th birthday yesterday.
Mr. Murray happens to be the grandfather of the member for Renfrew North (Mr. Conway). Just Thursday morning last we were at Sutton Place at the Ontario Forest Industries Association meeting. They remarked in their opening talks that morning that because of conditions in the industry back in the early forties that association had been formed.
I have before me the minutes of the meeting that took place on March 12, 1940, at which the Honourable Peter Heenan, then Minister of Lands and Forests, and other notable members of the Legislature, including Mr. Murray, and representatives of various forest industries were present. At that time, they discussed the many problems facing the industry. From that meeting was born, I believe, the Ontario Forest Industries Association. I am sure Mr. Murray played some part in that. Yesterday the honourable gentleman celebrated his 99th birthday.
Hon. Mr. Henderson: On rising today on behalf of the government, I would first have to concur with the remarks of the Leader of the Opposition, the leader of the New Democratic Party and my good friend from Renfrew South.
On this side of the House, we feel very proud that 20 years ago this particular election took place. I would have to say I was quite actively involved in that election on June 11, 1959.
Mr. Breaugh: For which party?
Hon. Mr. Henderson: The House would really not believe me if I openly admitted to them that I worked for all the parties on that particular day.
Mr. Breaugh: That doesn’t surprise me a bit.
Hon. Mr. Henderson: I was the returning officer. I would have to admit that I did have some personal feelings with respect to it.
Mr. McClellan: Recount.
Hon. Mr. Henderson: The Premier of Ontario was elected to the Legislature at that time. Since his election there have been many changes in Ontario and he has played an active role in those changes. We in this party, as part of the government, believe our Premier will continue serving, serving, and serving again. When one looks back over at these three members who were elected 20 years ago, one sees they have now successfully completed six elections. That in itself is a record. We are very proud, first of our Premier, but also of all three of them. We offer our congratulations to all of them on the service they have given to the people of Ontario and to their own home ridings.
Hon. Mr. Davis: I would like to thank the Leader of the Opposition. I heard some of his comments through one of those mechanical devices and I do say to him that they were probably the most objective observations he has made in recent years.
As I was moving through the offices, I heard through another speaker the observations of the member for Ottawa Centre. I do thank the two leaders opposite for their kind words. I thank my colleague, the former returning officer in Lambton county.
Mr. Nixon: He is the returning officer in Peel.
Hon. Mr. Davis: No, although I would say to the former leader of the Liberal Party during my first election, thinking back, I wish the member for Lambton had been the returning officer in Peel.
I also want to extend my best wishes to those others who share this anniversary with me on both sides of the House. I know I speak for them when I say it seems most days like only yesterday. Other days, it seems like quite a bit longer.
I would also like in this House, Mr. Speaker, through you, to say a word of appreciation to the citizens of the now city of Brampton, the then county of Peel for the support I have enjoyed from them for this relatively short period of time. I listened carefully to the observations of the Minister of Government Services. While no one can predict with any degree of accuracy how long one stays in public life, I can only say while there are some days I maybe feel a little differently, I have always enjoyed the fellowship in this House, the spirit of competitiveness and the fair play usually demonstrated by the members opposite. I wish to express my appreciation to them on this occasion.
Twenty years in any person’s lifetime is a substantial part thereof, and yet I think I can speak for every member in this House when I say I can’t think of many other professions, callings or vocations where one gets the same sense of satisfaction as one does in public service. I really have very few, if any, regrets for the time I have spent in public life. I say that on a personal basis. It doesn’t necessarily reflect the views of my wife, my five children, or the two dogs.
Through you, Mr. Speaker, to the members opposite, my appreciation.
Mr. B. Newman: On this most important day in my life, I would like to first thank my leader, the member for Hamilton West, for his kind comments as well as the leader of the third party, the member for Ottawa Centre, and the other two members who have had the opportunity of making a few comments.
Not like the member for Lambton who was once a returning officer, I happen to be very fortunate in being a returning member, for which I thank the good citizens in the great riding of Windsor-Walkerville.
When one looks back at political life, I could say I’m one of the successful failures. In 20 years I’ve been successful at elections but never have been successful in taking those 15 or 20 steps over to the other side of the House.
Mr. Nixon: Next time.
Hon. Miss Stephenson: Oh come on Bernie, any time. Any day.
Hon. Mr. Norton: Then it would be the most important day of your life.
Mr. B. Newman: But hope springs eternal in the human breast and I know in the not too distant future the good citizens of Ontario will see that not only myself but the rest of us here in the Liberal caucus have that opportunity of seeing what it is like over there and looking at our counterparts on this side of the House.
Mr. Bradley: In fact, you will want to join us then.
Mr. Hennessy: I’ve got my own party.
Mr. B. Newman: One of the nice things in public life is that you have the opportunity of meeting so many nice people on a personal basis. You meet citizens who may have problems and others who may not and as a result of one’s political position, be quite often able to render them assistance.
Another very pleasant thing is you meet so many nice ladies and gentlemen right here in this Legislature.
Mr. Nixon: That covers about 10 per cent.
Mr. B. Newman: I want to thank each and every one of them for the kindnesses they have extended to me in the past and for the kindnesses I know each of them will extend in the future.
Mr. Rollins: I would like to take this opportunity of thanking the Leader of the Opposition and our Premier for their kind remarks.
My riding was Hastings East when I started. Later it was Hastings, and at the present time it’s Hastings-Peterborough. I have been very fortunate to have the support of the good people of those rural ridings. It has been a pleasure working with elected members of different political views, always with the one objective of working on behalf of the people of Ontario in a progressive way. After all, how could they do anything else under the leadership we have had from the previous Premiers of Ontario for that last 20 years?
I can only say that being elected here has given me a lot of experience. I have tried to serve the rural people, and sometimes I believe the Premier wonders what will happen next in the rural ridings. However, rural municipalities and the positions they take have been an objective of mine and will continue to be so.
I would like to thank you for this opportunity of saying a few words on this very memorable day and what it means to me after being elected at the same time as our Premier. I have had the greatest respect for his views and the objectives he’s had for the people of this province and I will continue to do so.
Mr. Cassidy: I have two brief points of privilege I would like to raise in the House. Last Friday, the Minister for Industry and Tourism (Mr. Grossman) stated that Ministry of the Environment officials had visited, three times, the company Canadian Applied Technology, about whose loss of contract we were inquiring in the Legislature. The minister said all of their products were seen both in preparation and under test prior to delivery, so the site was visited on three occasions.
We have talked to the company and to their knowledge, neither during nor before the final award of that contract were there any such visits to their premises by officials of the Ministry of the Environment.
X-RAY EQUIPMENT OPERATORS
Mr. Cassidy: Also on a point of privilege, last week the Minister of Health (Mr. Timbrell) responded in writing to a question which came from me about operators of X-ray equipment in the ministry’s chest X-ray clinics. The minister said in his written reply that discussions are underway with the Ontario Society of Radiological Technicians to find a method of upgrading the unregistered employees to enable them to become members of the OSRT. The response indicated that all but nine of those employees are now unregistered.
We have spoken to the president of the Ontario Society of Radiological Technicians who tells us that no such discussions of the kind mentioned by the Minister of Health are taking place with respect to upgrading unregistered employees. A training course offered by the ministry to those employees is not recognized by the society and will not be accepted by them. This is a misstatement by the Minister of Health.
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: Mr. Speaker, I will be glad to document the dates of meetings that were held. I know that within the last month or so, Dr. Rorabeck wrote to the society to confirm various discussions. I will be glad to document dates to confirm this.
The understanding of the people who advise me is that they are to come back to us with a proposal as to how to assist those people who meet the present regulation but who are not registered in the society to become registered.
STATEMENTS BY THE MINISTRY
EMISSIONS OF TRITIUM
Hon. Mr. Auld: I would like to deal with the questions raised in this House on May 31 concerning the level of tritium in the drinking water of the town of Pickering. I would also like to deal with some additional questions which members have had and may have concerning emissions of tritium from Rolphton, Pickering A, Bruce A and Douglas Point. Before dealing with these questions, however, I would like to provide members with some background information concerning tritium.
Tritium is a type of radioactive hydrogen which emits very weak radiation and which interacts with the tissues of the body only if it is inhaled or ingested. Of all the radioactive substances known, tritium is considered the most innocuous, for the following reasons:
1. The amount of radiation released when it undergoes radioactive decay is less than that released by any other nuclide;
2. It does not constitute an external radiation hazard, because its radiation does not penetrate the skin;
3. It is eliminated from the body rapidly -- one half is eliminated every 10 days; and
4. It does not concentrate in any particular organ of the body.
Tritium is produced in nature by the interaction of cosmic rays with the earth’s atmosphere and, therefore, is found naturally, in varying quantities, in air, water and vegetation. Naturally-occurring tritium is one of many radioactive substances which emit ionizing radiation to which mankind is constantly exposed.
Nuclear generating stations can and do emit tritium into the environment, in both airborne and water effluents. These emissions are the result of very small but unavoidable heavy-water leaks. The result is slightly higher levels of tritium than would otherwise be the case from naturally occurring tritium alone.
To protect the public, the Atomic Energy Control Board has established two types of limits: one dealing with the maximum levels of radioactive materials in any effluents emitted from nuclear generating stations (these are called “derived emission limits”); the other dealing with the maximum level of radiation which a member of the public can be exposed to as a result of the operation of nuclear generating stations (this is called “the maximum permissible dose of ionizing radiation”).
The derived emission limits set by the AECB for tritium are as follows.
1. For tritium contained in airborne effluents, an annual average of 0.3 nanocuries per litre; and
2. For tritium contained in water effluents, an annual average of 5,500 nanocuries per litre with no short-term emissions to exceed 10 times the annual average.
For honourable members’ information, nanocuries per litre is a measure of the level of radioactivity in a litre of air or water; a nanocurie is one billionth of a curie.
The maximum permissible dose of ionizing radiation set by the AECB is 500 millirem per year. This is about five times the level which would be received from naturally occurring ionizing radiation in Ontario. In some areas of the world, the level which would be received from naturally occurring ionizing radiation is 5,000 millirem per year or even higher.
As members are aware, Ontario Hydro has established an operating target for its nuclear generating stations. That operating target is to remain within one per cent of the annual derived emission limits and the maximum permissible dose of ionizing radiation set by the AECB.
Ontario Hydro monitors the airborne effluents and water effluents from its nuclear generating stations to determine the level of any emissions of radioactive materials, including tritium. Airborne effluents are sampled continuously and measured daily. Water effluents which are likely to have become radioactive in the course of normal operations are sampled and measured before, and continuously during, their release. Water effluents which are not likely to have become radioactive in the course of normal operations are sampled continuously and measured weekly. In addition to its station activities, Ontario Hydro monitors the drinking water of the Bruce nuclear power development and the towns of Deep River and Pickering and just recently commenced monitoring the drinking water of the towns of Port Elgin and Kincardine. At Pickering, Port Elgin, Kincardine and the Bruce nuclear power development, the drinking water is sampled weekly and measured monthly. At Deep River, the drinking water is sampled and measured on a spot basis, but no less frequently than monthly.
I have attached to this statement a series of tables showing the following:
1. The average annual emissions of tritium in airborne and water effluents from Rolphton since 1973; Pickering A since 1971; Bruce A since 1976; and Douglas Point since 1973;
2. The average annual level of tritium in the drinking water of the town of Deep River since 1975; the town of Pickering since 1973; and the Bruce nuclear power development since 1975;
3. The average level of tritium in the drinking water of Port Elgin and Kincardine for the first quarter of 1979; and
4. The level of tritium in Lake Ontario at various times over the past 30 years.
As members will note, none of the average annual emissions of tritium from Rolphton, Pickering A, Bruce A or Douglas Point A has exceeded Ontario Hydro’s operating target of one per cent of the AECB derived emission limits. As members will also note, the average annual level of tritium in the drinking water of the towns of Deep River and Pickering over the period 1973-78 did not exceed two nanocuries per litre. To put this into perspective for members, a person would have to drink the towns’ water for about 450 years to receive a level of radiation equal to a single chest X-ray.
Mr. S. Smith: Which X-ray machines are you speaking of?
Hon. Mr. Auld: Finally, members will note that the level of tritium in Lake Ontario has varied over the past 30 years. For example, prior to the commencement of the foreign nuclear weapons testing programs in the 1950s, the level of naturally occurring tritium in Lake Ontario water was about 0.02 nanocuries per litre. These nuclear weapons testing programs raised this level to about 10 nanocuries per litre in the early 1960s. However, by the late 1960s, the level had receded to about 0.75 nanocuries per litre, and today the level varies from 0.25 to 0.50 nanocuries per litre, depending on where one takes samples.
I should point out to the members that the figures for the emissions of tritium in the airborne and water effluents of Ontario Hydro’s nuclear generating stations, shown in the attached tables, are annual averages. Over the course of a year the levels of the emissions can and do fluctuate. Normally, these fluctuations are small. However, there can be, and sometimes are, short-term emissions which are higher. For example, during the period of the recent and much publicized heat exchanger leaks at Pickering A earlier this year there were short-term emissions of higher concentrations of tritium in the station’s water effluent. One of these emissions -- in fact, the only one in the history of Pickering A -- exceeded the AECB’s short-term release limit of 10 times the annual derived emission limit.
That emission occurred during an 80-second period on February 28, 1979, when the level of tritium in the station’s water effluent reached 40 times the AECB’s short-term emission limit. I should emphasize to the members, however, that both before and after this 80-second emission the level of tritium in the station’s water effluent was less than one per cent of the AECB’s short-term emission limit.
For members’ information, Ontario Hydro sampled and measured the drinking water of the town of Pickering for a period after this short-term emission. The samples showed that the level of tritium in the drinking water of the town of Pickering rose to a level of 60 nanocuries per litre, or about one per cent of the AECB limit, for about six hours. This compares with the average level of tritium in the town’s drinking water for the first quarter of 1979 of 2.6 nanocuries per litre, or about 0.05 per cent of the AECB limit.
Ontario Hydro has advised me that it notified AECB of the short-term release promptly after it happened. As is Hydro’s usual practice, details of the release will be made public in Pickering’s quarterly report for the first quarter of 1979, which will be released soon.
Finally, I would like to describe briefly to the members the level of radiation from tritium to which a person residing in the vicinity of one of Ontario Hydro’s nuclear generating stations is likely to be exposed. There are three ways in which a person living in the immediate vicinity of a station can receive a radiation exposure from tritium: in the air he or she breathes; in the water he or she drinks; and in the food he or she eats.
Ontario Hydro estimates that a person who resided continuously at the boundary of Pickering A during 1978, drinking only the town of Pickering’s water and eating foodstuffs grown in the immediate vicinity of Pickering A, would have received a radiation exposure from tritium of less than two millirems, and a total radiation exposure from all radioactive emissions of between two millirems and three millirems.
Again, to put this into perspective for the members, this would be a radiation exposure equivalent to the additional radiation exposure a person would receive during a one-way jet flight from Toronto to Vancouver.
Finally, I would like to advise the members that extensive research has been carried out on the relative biological effects of tritium, both in Canada, at the Chalk River and Whiteshell nuclear establishments, and in other countries. A bibliography of this research is attached to the statement.
VICTIM AID SERVICE
Hon. Mr. Walker: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to announce that beginning this month, your government, through the Ministry of Correctional Services, in co-operation with various community agencies, will be piloting a new service to help the victims of crime. The region of Peel has been selected as the test area for this victim aid service.
I am confident all members agree on the need for such a service. For too long, people who have had crimes committed against them have often been the forgotten losers in our criminal justice system. Our discussions with various groups in Peel, ranging from police and judges to the volunteer bureau and the local social services department, confirm strong community support for this new initiative.
For $40,000 in its one-year trial period we will be able to offer direct, concrete help to victims through community resources, rather than inventing a new government bureaucracy at great expense to the taxpayer.
Robert Thompson, a former United Church minister, and a Brampton probation/parole officer, will be the project co-ordinator. Working with him will be 20 people from the Brampton Volunteer Bureau, who will be able to assist up to 250 victims of crime over the next 12 months.
The Peel regional police will let our coordinator know, on a 24-hour basis, when assistance is needed. The trained volunteer aides will then provide a number of vital community services. These include cleaning up property damage, rescuing victims’ homes, contacting friends and relatives and, in certain instances, providing crisis counselling to ease emotional stress.
They will steer victims through appropriate government agencies for assistance in temporary housing or babysitting services. They will disentangle financial problems by contacting creditors if debt payments will be delayed. They will contact employers if victims require time off work. They will help to file insurance claims. And, in incidents of personal injury, they will assist victims in filing applications to the Criminal Injuries Compensation Board.
The project will offer aid in the trial process, where victims will be counselled on such matters as subpoenas, and their responsibilities as witnesses. Referrals for legal assistance will be expedited when required, volunteers will offer transportation to and from courts, an escort service during court proceedings, and will help collect witness fees or arrange child-care services. If a judge orders an offender to repay the victim, the volunteer will facilitate the collection of restitution money.
This project is consistent with other efforts by the Ministry of Correctional Services to recognize the rights of victims. Our probation and parole service has extensive community involvement and, as project coordinator, is a logical bridge between the criminal justice system and the volunteer movement in helping victims through the trauma and disruption of being robbed or vandalized.
If the new victim aid service is as successful as the agencies in Peel and this government believes it will be, we will extend the program to other Ontario communities.
Experience shows that the most effective and human way of delivering justice to the victims of crimes is through community participation. Common-sense caring by qualified volunteers can transcend bureaucratic or legalistic technicalities. Consequently, the Peel victim aid service is another important step by this government in attempting to ensure a fairer balance of justice for both offender and his victim.
Mr. S. Smith: I have a question for the Minister of the Environment on the subject of the company, Canadian Applied Technology, whose bid was turned down by his ministry in favour of Radian Corporation of Texas.
The minister received a letter from the company, dated April 24, 1979, which itemized seven items and contained 12 questions. The minister should know while he was absent, the Minister of Industry and Tourism offered to make public the reasons why this company was turned down but suggested he would rather just tell the leader of the third party and myself privately, because it might hurt the reputation of the company.
Does the minister know we’ve been in touch with the company and they are quite willing to have any statement the minister might wish to make made publicly, provided the minister does them the courtesy of answering their seven items and their 12 questions, all of which seemed quite reasonable to me? Will the minister, therefore, undertake to provide those answers and also to make public the reasons why this bid was turned down?
Hon. Mr. Parrott: When I was away staff did follow up on the question. I think the situation, as I understand it, is as follows: The company is quite prepared for that information to be released on a confidential basis to the member and the leader of the third party; at the moment, there is not full agreement to releasing it publicly. The member and I may not hear exactly the same thing from the company.
On that basis, I think we’d be wise to get permission from the company in writing to be sure there can be no doubt about it. I have no reason why we wouldn’t release it to the public, but I do think it’s only fair that the company should so direct.
While I am on my feet, Mr. Speaker, and subsequent to the point of privilege raised by the leader of the third party, I think perhaps the point of privilege should be responded to in this fashion: I didn’t have the information at that precise time, but as I understand it the evaluation team, as opposed to people from the ministry, is perhaps our area of disagreement. It is perhaps correct that the evaluation team per se did not visit the company, but there is no doubt the staff of both our ministry and of the Ministry of Government Services did indeed, visit with the company, so I don’t think there is any doubt the company has had a visit by our staff and MGS staff during the tendering process, on three occasions.
Mr. S. Smith: By way of supplementary: It’s obvious the minister is correct that we’ll have to get something in writing because he and I differ. Is the minister interested in knowing that an hour ago the company informed us they are quite willing to have the matter made public if he gives them an answer to items one to seven and questions (a) to (l)? I’ll table this document if the minister likes so all members can have access to it.
Will the minister provide precisely those answers of which the company has spoken, in which case I am quite certain the matter could then be discussed in public instead of in a private huddle with the leaders of the two opposition parties and the minister?
Hon. Mr. Parrott: Certainly I’ll review that file. I am not at all sure many of those answers weren’t given during our visit. I can’t recall instantly whether that letter was prior to or post our visit. Certainly, when that information is there, we don’t worry about making it public. If that’s the member’s concern, it’s no problem at all.
Mr. Cassidy: Supplementary, Mr. Speaker: Can the minister explain why this Canadian company, which is already well established, should have been turned down only two and a half months after the report by the Minister of the Environment called the Pollution Control Equipment Industry in Ontario, recommended specifically a review of government purchasing power? It contained a report on the possibility of import replacements and a directive to the Ministry of the Environment to further support the Canadian pollution control equipment industry. Does this contract mean the minister has just simply tossed this report out the window or is there a commitment in his ministry to ensure the development of a Canadian pollution control equipment industry?
Hon. Mr. Parrott: No, we did not toss that report out; and yes, there is a commitment in our ministry, a very significant commitment. Since the member is asking for the information that really is relevant to the answer I have given to the leader of the Liberal Party, we’ll supply that at the same time.
PUBLIC OPINION POLLS
Mr. S. Smith: I have a question of the government House leader, the Deputy Premier. Does the government House leader know how many government bills and policy statements have been brought before this session of the Legislature which have been based in whole or in part on public opinion polls paid for by the taxpayers of Ontario? Why were these polls not mentioned in the compendium of background information which, according to our rules, accompanies each bill or policy statement?
Hon. Mr. Welch: Mr. Speaker, the House leader knows of no such bills that have come before the House or statements based on any information derived in that way.
Mr. S. Smith: It’s interesting that the House leader would say that, considering that the Chairman of Management Board (Mr. McCague) suggests that these are very fundamental matters and that half a million dollars has now been spent on 23 different polls, all of which have been totally irrelevant to anything that was brought before the House this session by way of bill or policy statement. That’s quite a remarkable admission.
Let me ask the Premier, by way of supplementary, since the government has published studies and reports by professional consultants from time to time, when it consults the public through opinion polls, why does it feel that it has to stamp the results “secret”? What’s the distinction between professional consultants and consulting the public of Ontario?
Hon. Mr. Davis: Mr. Speaker, I think the Leader of the Opposition really knows the answer to that question himself. There is a very real distinction in terms of getting a consultant, say, in the health field or the engineering field to give some advice on a specific subject that relates to his professional competence. The Leader of the Opposition, perhaps better than some, must know through his personal practice that he can give professional advice to either a patient or to an institution which might not represent his point of view as it relates to other issues.
I think there is a very real distinction between the retention by government or government ministries of consultants -- which we don’t do very often, incidentally -- to advise on a specific and sometimes technical subject, and the sampling of the public point of view on sometimes sensitive issues which, as the House leader points out and which I say most sincerely, does not really find its way into specific legislation. I have to I say to the Leader of the Opposition that I see a very real distinction. I really don’t see a parallel at all.
Mr. Cassidy: I have a supplementary of the Premier. Will he say what mechanism exists in government in order to make sure that the results of these public opinion surveys about what people in Ontario think about major political issues are not transmitted to the Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario either directly or by government ministers who may have had access to those opinion polls?
Hon. Mr. Davis: I guess the best answer to that is that it’s no secret. The member’s own party does a certain amount of sampling of public opinion on occasion.
Mr. Cassidy: And we pay for it, net the people of Ontario. It’s not out of the public purse.
Mr. Hennessy: Hopalong Cassidy.
Hon. Mr. Davis: If the member would just be patient for a moment or two, I was going to explain something else.
Hon. Miss Stephenson: He can’t. The motor in his mouth doesn’t shut off.
Hon. Mr. Davis: I happen to know very factually that the Liberal Party of Ontario on occasion samples public opinion on issues, et cetera.
Mr. S. Smith: Of course we do and we pay for it.
Hon. Mr. Davis: I want to tell both parties opposite that the Progressive Conservative Party also does the same thing, for which we pay. We pay for it out of party revenues. We don’t use public funds.
Mr. MacDonald: You ignored the question totally.
Mr. Peterson: Supplementary: Since the Premier and his deputy have admitted in this House that none of those polls found its way into this Legislature either by way of policy statement or by way of legislation, would he not agree then that this has been a total waste of the public money and would he discontinue this practice immediately?
Hon. Mr. Davis: I’m never totally familiar with the private sector experience of the member for London Centre. I understand that he has some. Whether it is marketing or trying to understand what the public is thinking as it relates to his product, et cetera, I don’t know. But I’ve got to tell him that it is a practice in many institutions and in many organizations to try to determine the attitudes of people. To say that this investment is a waste is a fallacy.
I think it’s also important to understand -- and this is what makes it difficult in government -- that government policy has to be predicted too on the basis of what government feels is right. This could be totally contradictory on occasion to what might be indicated by a poll where the various issues aren’t properly explained. All of us have sufficient experience with polling to understand that it is not an exact science. A lot depends on the way a question or series of questions is worded. While they can be helpful, at the same time they aren’t necessarily definitive.
This is why the House leader said what he did. It is also why I would reiterate that any government which predicates its policy or its legislation on the results of specific poll information, I think, is making a strategic error, apart from any other rationale. I think it would be unfortunate for the member for London Centre to say government ministries don’t have an obligation to get some sense of how various programs within those ministries are impacting upon the public. That is part of our responsibility. It is something that is not unique to this government. It is done by the vast majority of governments --
Mr. Peterson: Why don’t you share it then?
Hon. Mr. Davis: Because it is confidential. When we poll people, or when whoever does it, it is not done on the basis of the information becoming public, nor is it our intention to make it public.
Mr. Cassidy: I want to return to the question I raised a minute ago. Since it is the taxpayers of Ontario who are paying half a million dollars for these various opinion polls whose titles have been given to us in reply to written questions, can the Premier say what mechanism, if any, exists to ensure the Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario doesn’t benefit from those surveys, either by getting direct access to the results or by getting indirect access through what it is told by government ministers who see them? I think it’s a very important question.
Hon. Mr. Davis: I can give the honourable member this very simplistic answer. I don’t say this in any sense that would be provocative. Having been involved in what our party does -- and I don’t say this to belittle in any fashion the polls that have been done for government -- the polls we do are, I think it’s fair to state, primarily issue-oriented and primarily or fundamentally far more comprehensive than the polls done for various government ministries.
I can’t say whether subconsciously the information one gathers from whatever source doesn’t have an impact on a person, but I can tell the member this: In terms of the Progressive Conservative Party, our determinations are made in a political sense on the basis of the polls we conduct. As I said, by and large these are more comprehensive than anything done by the ministries of this government.
Mr. S. Smith: By way of supplementary, since the Premier states the reason these polls are confidential is because the data is collected under some assurance being given that these matters would be kept confidential -- that’s what I understood the Premier to say --
Hon. Mr. Davis: No, not solely.
Mr. S. Smith: That’s one of the reasons then. Allegedly the data was collected with an assurance the matter would be kept confidential. What does the Premier think of the fact that one of those polls was used by the Minister of Health (Mr. Timbrell) in his speech material and was in fact released to the public? Was that a breach of confidentiality?
Hon. Mr. Davis: There are some polls -- there are some on that list -- where one could say releasing the information would be quite appropriate. I don’t intend to start differentiating among the various polls. Our policy and our posture are very simple: We’re going to debate -- and I think it will be an interesting debate -- that these are done for purposes of government; they are not done for any partisan reason, I can assure the members. Some day I will show the members opposite our party polls and just how comprehensive they are. We don’t need the polls done by government, we really don’t.
Mr. Eakins: You skate like Otto Jelinek.
Hon. Mr. Davis: I happen to know some of the people who do the polling for the party across the House; I happen to know some of the results, and I happen to know they don’t need to know any of the information contained in these polls either for the purposes of their activities. I know what that party does need in its polls. I do know what it does need, and that is a little better results. I understand that.
Mr. MacDonald: A supplementary question, Mr. Speaker: May I ask the Premier, since in reply to questions he has twice felt unwilling or unable to give an explicit assurance that the results of those polls do not go directly or indirectly to the Conservative Party, can one assume that they do?
Hon. Mr. Davis: Mr. Speaker, the member for York South is too experienced to make that sort of assumption. He knows full well they do not.
Mr. Cassidy: Mr. Speaker, I just want to mark the presence in the gallery today of Bob Rae, the new MP for Broadview.
Mr. MacDonald: And he won’t be an overnight guest either.
Mr. Cassidy: That’s right; he is going to be around for some time.
WINDSOR METROPOLITAN HOSPITAL
Mr. Cassidy: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Minister of Health. In Windsor last Friday the coroner, Dr. D. J. Broadwell, stated the bed situation was a factor in the death of Anthony Turski, who died shortly after being refused admittance to the Metropolitan General Hospital. Now that the independent coroner’s inquest has finally got to the bottom of this case, does the Minister of Health agree with the coroner’s conclusion?
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: Mr. Speaker, I have before me a copy of the verdict of the coroner’s jury. In point of fact, in the two pages before me they do not find a cause-and-effect relationship between the unfortunate and untimely death of Mr. Turski and the bed situation.
Secondly, it does not indicate to me -- and, of course, I do not have the transcript in front of me, as it only happened Friday -- at least I understand the testimony of the two doctors indicated that the gentleman’s condition was not of an emergent type that required either holding at the hospital or phoning one of the other four hospitals to try to find a bed in the community.
Beyond that, the overall question of beds, particularly in that community with respect to that one hospital and its relationship to the total hospital community, is a matter that is before the courts and one which I do not intend to prejudice in any way by making comments which would in any way prejudice the outcome of that once the application has been heard, and it has not been heard to date.
Mr. Cassidy: A supplementary question, Mr. Speaker: I gather from the minister’s reply that he rejects the comment of the coroner, who said in summarizing the evidence to the jury that the bed situation was a factor in Mr. Turski’s death.
I would like to ask the minister, will he accept the coroner’s jury recommendation in this case that there should be further study as to why beds are being closed across the province? Will the minister undertake to perform such a study to determine whether there are other hospitals across the province where a situation like Mr. Turski’s could occur again, and will he undertake to halt the cutback in hospital beds across the province to prevent similar terrible cases occurring?
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: So far in all this debate of the last 10 days only one side has been heard. Of course, the purpose in asking for the adjournment last week was to ensure that there would be an opportunity to see to it, through affidavits and cross-examination and examination of same, that all the facts on both sides would be put forward and would have their airing.
Beyond that I really cannot comment further, except to say I am eager that this matter get before the Supreme Court at the earliest opportunity in order that these concerns can be cleared up.
Mr. B. Newman: A supplementary question, Mr. Speaker: Is the minister aware that Dr. Yomjinda. who attended Mr. Turski, stated he would have admitted a high-risk patient such as Mr. Turski if a bed had been available, and that apparently there is some discrepancy as to whether beds are or are not available? Would the minister have some set guidelines implemented by the hospitals throughout Ontario indicating clearly that there are or are not beds?
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: The honourable member is getting, in no small way, into the area of medical judgement. Second, with regard to the question of bed availability, not just in that hospital but in that community, these are matters which will be explored in depth in the examination of existing affidavits and in the provision of other affidavits in the matter before the Supreme Court. That’s why I say only one side has been heard from to date and it’s quite important none of us in any way prejudice the outcome of the matters that will be heard by the tribunal.
Mr. Warner: They have to fight you in court to get decent health care.
Hon. Miss Stephenson: You don’t even know what health care is.
Mr. Warner: I do; this government doesn’t.
Mr. Cooke: I’d like to ask the minister if he is aware this death occurred in Metropolitan General Hospital before the 25 beds were closed at Metropolitan on April 1, thereby making the situation worse? Second, I would like to point out to the minister, I attended the coroner’s inquest. The statements made by the coroner were very clear. The lack of hospital beds was the reason this man was not admitted into hospital and it was a contributing factor to this man’s death. It’s about time the minister took responsibility for his own actions.
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: I really don’t need the lecture of the latter part from the honourable member.
Mr. Swart: You sure do.
Mr. McClellan: You certainly do.
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: The facts speak for themselves. The coroner’s jury report does not make the comment which the honourable member attributes to the jury in his statement of today. He said in his statement of today that the jury said that; the jury did not say that. There is the coroner’s jury report; there is the report.
Mr. Warner: Your irresponsibility, your cruel cuts are hurting people and you know it.
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: Mr. Speaker, I don’t think they will listen to the member anyway.
Mr. Warner: They obviously don’t listen to you down there either.
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: This is an extremely serious matter. It is one that I would like to debate today, but given the fact the matter is before the Supreme Court, that is the forum chosen by a particular party in which to have all the facts examined, and that is where the facts will be disclosed.
Mr. Cassidy: On a point of privilege Mr. Speaker: I want to point out to the minister that the coroner’s jury said and I quote: “High risk patients should routinely be admitted to hospital.” I’m sorry, this is a summary. “High risk patients like Mr. Turski should routinely be admitted to hospital.” It made that recommendation in addition to recommending more beds. I think the minister’s statements are not correct at all when he tries to suggest the coroner’s jury did not put its finger on the lack of beds as contributing to this death.
Mr. Speaker: Order.
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: Mr. Speaker, I would like to speak to the point of privilege.
Mr. Warner: You are a disgrace to this House.
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: I beg your pardon?
Mr. Warner: You are a disgrace to the people of Ontario, an absolute disgrace.
Mr. Speaker: Order. The member for Scarborough-Ellesmere will please stop interrupting. While your colleague from Windsor-Riverside was trying to place his question you interjected four or five times and that’s completely unnecessary.
Mr. Villeneuve: Make him withdraw what he said.
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: The fact of the matter is that in identifying the cause of death, it was listed as heart attack and the means was listed as hardening of the arteries. In fact, in identifying the cause of death, the jury did not connect the death with the bed situation. Now, let’s be factual.
MINIMUM WAGE DIFFERENTIAL
Mr. Cassidy: I have a question for the Minister of Labour. Since the provision of tips is given as the reason for lower wages under Ontario’s minimum wage laws for waiters and waitresses in the food and entertainment industry, and in view of the arbitrator’s findings that the waiters and waitresses at Noodles and the Courtyard Cafe have had to give 20 per cent of their tips to other employees in those establishments, will the minister now end the discriminatory provisions of the minimum wage laws that keep waiters and waitresses to a minimum wage of only $2.50, which is well below what’s paid to other people working in industry in Ontario?
Hon. Mr. Elgie: First of all, the member for Ottawa Centre should also point out that the arbitrator in that particular case specified that the situation of the restaurant was peculiar, that in other situations it wasn’t 20 per cent but the nature of the trade in that restaurant, to his mind, that justified that particular allocation.
I would remind the honourable member that the question of the minimum wage is constantly under review, and when that issue comes up again I will be pleased to review it and give it some consideration. But he well knows the reasons for the tip differential that were given the last time the minimum wage was revised.
Mr. Cassidy: Since there are certain establishments here in Metropolitan Toronto where as much as 50 per cent of the tips given to waiters and waitresses has to be passed on to other employees within the establishment, won’t the minister recognize that in fact waiters and waitresses don’t benefit from the tips in the way that the minimum wage laws presume? Why will he not, therefore, act now in order to eliminate the differential and ensure that people working in the hospitality industry are able to get decent living wages on which to survive?
Hon. Mr. Elgie: Again, the member well knows that the question of the distribution of tips among other employees who assist in the service of food is a custom in the trade. As to the question of the tip differential, as I mentioned, that’s a matter that will be reviewed when we review the minimum wage again.
Mr. Mackenzie: Is the minister aware that in some restaurants in Toronto, cooks are subsidized by the waitresses by as much as $300 a month, and does the minister not recognize that this undermines the very principle he is trying to establish in terms of a lower wage for waiters and waitresses because they get the tips or are supposed to get the tips? Further, in some restaurants, there is no accurate record kept of the total amount of the tips and the waiters and waitresses are not aware of whether they are getting 40 per cent, 50 per cent, or more or less of the money. How can we have effective collective bargaining when it is undermined by this kind of transfer of moneys to other occupations that were not meant to be covered by the tips?
Hon. Mr. Elgie: Mr. Speaker, information of that sort is always of value when one goes to review the matter of the minimum wage and I will be pleased to receive validated comments and supported statements to that effect.
GLENLEA CLINIC CLOSURE
Mr. J. Reed: My question is for the Minister of Health. Is the Minister of Health aware that the Glenlea Clinic in the town of Acton will be closing its doors permanently on June 22, which will leave approximately 6,000 people, or half of the population of the town of Acton, without medical care?
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: Mr. Speaker, I have not been made aware of that. I would be glad to discuss it with the member. I am not aware of the circumstances as to why they are closing. I don’t know the physicians who operate that centre.
Mr. J. Reed: By way of supplementary: The minister, then, is obviously not aware of a letter to the patients of Glenlea Clinic from the doctors, which was reported in the press as saying that the costs of running the medical centre were escalating faster than the increases paid by OHIP and that was the reason for the closure. May I ask the minister as well if he has any mechanism in place to deal with the situation which will become an emergency by the end of the month?
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: Mr. Speaker, first of all, in the two most recent sets of negotiations with the Ontario Medical Association for the period from May 1 to December 31, 1978, and for 1979, in both cases the schedule of benefits was weighted in favour, relative to other sections of medicine, of the general practitioners. Secondly, if the member is saying that there’s a practice of 6,000 people waiting, I really wouldn’t think there would be much difficulty in attracting other general practitioners to that community. I will be glad to sit down with the member and discuss this with him and take it up with representatives of organized medicine in that regard, but I really don’t think that such a large potential clientele, as it were, is going to go unattended for very long.
Mr. Renwick: Mr. Speaker, I have a question of the Premier. My question relates to my continuing concern about the fate of public transit in Metropolitan Toronto. I rather think since the Premier seldom answers an original question I will go directly to my supplementary question.
My supplementary question is: As the ghost at the bargaining table, what arrangements is the Premier going to make to provide the kind of funds to the public transit system in Toronto that will permit both fair fares and fare wages to be paid by that commission?
Hon. Mr. Davis: Mr. Speaker, I do appreciate the member for Riverdale’s going to his supplementary question prior to the rhetoric of his opening question. His supplementaries are usually more relevant than the opening question, so my answer will try to be the same.
I am not at the bargaining table. I have made it very clear that I am hopeful that these negotiations will be carried out to a successful conclusion in a spirit of goodwill, good faith, et cetera. I make it quite clear that in no way is the government involved, except through the auspices of the Minister of Labour (Mr. Elgie) and those people who are qualified and competent to assist in the negotiations.
Mr. Laughren: A ghost is there.
Mr. Martel: Is Michael Warren not going to be there?
SCHOOL BOARD FUNDING
Mr. Conway: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Education and it concerns the unhappy state of educational finance in Renfrew county. Given the sparseness of the population and the remoteness of schools in that county, and given the fact that at least one of the boards, the separate school board, has had to engage in a very large- scale layoff of teachers, can the minister indicate whether or not she will consider giving that particular board and the boards in the county of Renfrew a special designation, such as a northern board or small board, to alleviate the burdens which are theirs as the result of their peculiar geographic and demographic situation?
Mr. Breithaupt: The Parry Sound syndrome.
Hon. Miss Stephenson: Mr. Speaker, as I am sure the honourable member knows, we have already estimated a special weighting factor for boards of a certain size or smaller, where the decline in enrolment is greater than the provincial average. That weighting factor will be available to boards in that category. Certainly that is the first step in a number of steps which I hope we will be able to take in the not-too-distant future in order to try to relieve some of the problems which are facing small and remote boards particularly, but indeed some larger boards as well, in meeting the twin challenges of declining enrolment and limited access to financial resources in order to provide for their needs during the period of declining enrolment.
Mr. Conway: Appreciating what the minister has said, but recognizing, as the local trustees and others have, that the weighting factors that have already been introduced will not be sufficient to deal with the problems which threaten quality education in my county --
Mr. Foulds: Your county?
Mr. Peterson: Grit county.
Mr. Conway: -- I am wondering whether or not the minister might more fully act upon a criterion which, for example, in the ministry’s young travellers’ program designates all of the county of Renfrew as a northern board, and whether she might not extrapolate that criterion more generally to the financial transfers for my county and the boards therein.
Hon. Miss Stephenson: Mr. Speaker, that is an interesting suggestion. I will very seriously consider it, yes.
Mr. Mackenzie: I have a question of the Minister of Labour. Is the minister aware that this very evening, after five weeks in Canada with two different families, an English nanny, Lorraine Sears, leaves for England on British Airways? Is he aware that the reason for her going, very disillusioned with Canada, is the clear exploitation of working conditions -- long hours and wages more than 25 per cent less than she was promised before she left for this country -- and two nights literally of terror, which saw her threatened with rape and assault and led to the police being called?
Will the minister not agree that labour rights cannot be separated from human rights? In view of the support for those rights expressed by all members of this House last Friday, will the minister not agree to give a clear indication of support for a bill brought into this House that would guarantee that domestics would be included under such limited protection as there is under the employment standards in the province of Ontario?
Hon. Mr. Elgie: I understand that the Premier and the Provincial Secretary for Social Development (Mrs. Birch) gave a clear indication on Friday that a human rights code revision will be presented to this Legislature.
Mr. Mackenzie: When?
Hon. Mr. Elgie: As soon as possible. I may say to the member the very issue he raises is one that is of concern to me too. When the bill is presented to the Legislature the question will be reviewed.
Mr. Mackenzie: Supplementary: That doesn’t answer the question as to whether or not the protection provided under employment standards will be extended to domestics. Is the minister prepared to look at some means of legislating that the contracts signed, not only by domestics but by other immigrants coming over on work permits, can be enforced in Ontario, which is not now the case?
Hon. Mr. Elgie: The question of revisions to the Employment Standards Act is being reviewed at the present time. I can’t tell the member right now exactly what matters will be raised when and if revisions are brought into the House, but I may tell him that that is an issue which will be considered as well.
GUELPH COMMUNITY RESOURCE CENTRE
Mr. Worton: I have a question of the Minister of Correctional Services. Is the minister in a position to verify correspondence that has come from a member of the Guelph city council and also, I understand, from the Guelph police department, and to give them assurance with regard to recent abductions and rapes that have taken place involving employees of the resource centre? Does the minister have any suggestions for preventing such occurrences in the future?
Hon. Mr. Walker: Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for his question. I am aware of the concerns being expressed by some members of the Guelph city council and by the local chief of police over some incidents arising out of the community resource centre located in Guelph, near and related to the Guelph Correctional Centre. I should point out that it is not the Guelph Correctional Centre we are talking about, but one of our privately operated community-based operations. There are 32 very successful ones in the province.
We have some very grave concerns and I personally have serious concerns about the operation of this particular one. I am very concerned, particularly about what has happened, because it represents a black mark if the allegations and charges prove to be the case. These are very grave concerns for all of us that we can have this kind of blemish on our community resource centres.
We have to keep in mind that we do not get into a situation where we end up restructuring them all for a deviation in only one area. In expressing my concern, I have ordered a complete and very thorough investigation into this particular operation and into the manner in which we can make sure this kind of incident does not recur.
These incidents were very bizarre incidents and the individuals who have been charged are not the kind one would anticipate would be involved in this type of behaviour. They were individuals who had been charged with fraud, breaking and entering and other property offences. One would have to assume that they were ready for reintegration into the community. In one case, the individual would have been back in the community by August of this year.
I assure the member that these members will receive proper justice in their trial, but in the meantime we are making a very thorough investigation of the operation of this centre.
Mr. Worton: Supplementary: The minister is aware that there has been intervention by the police department on a number of occasions during the eight months this resource centre has been in operation? This is what concerns me. The police must have had some feedback about the difficulties encountered in that resource centre, and I would like the minister to take this into consideration when he makes his investigation into the operation of that centre.
Hon. Mr. Walker: The member can rest assured that we will leave no stone unturned in the matter.
Mr. di Santo: I have a question of the Minister of Labour. In view of the fact that the workers of Local 461 of the Retail Wholesale Bakery and Confectionary Workers Union working at Hunt’s-Woman’s Bakery have been on strike since March 12, 1979; that despite their attempts to reach an agreement they were confronted on May 1 with an offer from the company which amounts to an ultimatum; and in view of the fact the company now says the plant has been sold by the owners, the DelZotto family, to one of their construction companies, does the minister still think a solution is possible? If he does, what action has the ministry undertaken?
Hon. Mr. Elgie: Mr. Speaker, I have to confess I don’t have the details of the matter the member raises immediately at hand --
Mr. Laughren: But are you concerned?
Hon. Mr. Elgie: -- but I’ll be pleased to look into it and report to him within two or three days.
Mr. di Santo: Supplementary, Mr. Speaker: In view of the seriousness of the situation and in view of the fact the company has made clear that as far as they are concerned the plant is closed, but at the same time, they refuse to release to the Unemployment Insurance Commission a statement to that effect, which is preventing the workers from getting unemployment insurance benefits, will the minister call the company on their responsibilities and ask them, at least, to relieve the workers from this further undue hardship?
Hon. Mr. Elgie: Mr. Speaker, I’ll be pleased to review the matter and do whatever is appropriate. If the matters are as outlined by the member for Downsview, I certainly thank him for bringing it to my attention.
Mr. Cassidy: On a point of privilege, Mr. Speaker?
Mr. Speaker: The member’s privileges are really in dispute today.
Mr. Cassidy: Yes, it’s a bad day, Mr. Speaker. The Minister of the Environment stated earlier today that the Ministry of Government Services and his ministry have both visited Canadian Applied Technology, the company which was in question during questions today. Half an hour ago we talked to the company. We found out from the company there had been no visit, only a delivery, during the course of the tendering period but that there had been perhaps a visit prior to the tendering period. There had been an evaluation trip to the Texas company and not to the Canadian company. I wish for once the government would start to get the record straight.
Hon. Mr. Parrott: Mr. Speaker, I have this brief here, and I don’t think there’s any doubt that we are straight and that again the leader of the third party is wrong. I am more than prepared to put the dates forward when those meetings were held.
On the first rebuttal to the point of privilege, I tried to deal with it as gently as possible because I think there was an honest difference of opinion about whether we ever visited with them or not. The fact is we have, and I make that very clear. I’ll be glad to put the dates on the table if the member will withdraw his accusations.
HEALTH BOARD-COLLEGE DISPUTE
Mr. Peterson: I have a question of the Minister of Health, Mr. Speaker. Is he aware of a situation wherein the Health Disciplines Board ordered the College of Physicians and Surgeons to direct a particular doctor to attend the offices of the college to receive a severe admonishment? That happened on January 3 of this year. On February 14 the college replied to the Health Disciplines Board, saying, “The complaints committee does not consider that it is appropriate to admonish the doctor.”
Is the minister aware of this clear defiance of authority and what is he doing about it?
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: Mr. Speaker, I met with the chairman of the Health Disciplines Board within the last two weeks, and he made me aware of that. It is something the board and their solicitor are taking up with the college and their solicitor. Once a resolution has been determined, whether it’s between the college and the board or whether it’s something that has to be stated as a question to the courts, I’ll be glad to inform the member in the House.
Mr. Peterson: Would the minister not make it clear to this House now who is in charge and who has the responsibility and the authority in this type of situation, where clearly it appears this patient’s rights were not fully looked after? The Health Disciplines Board agrees with that.
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: The Health Disciplines Board, on advice of their counsel and supported by the ministry, takes the view they have the authority to order what they did.
Mr. Peterson: What’s your opinion?
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: I just said “supported by the ministry.” The college takes another view. This matter is being discussed between the chairman of the board and the college, and hopefully it can be resolved without having to take the case to the courts.
Mr. Peterson: One final supplementary: Would the minister be prepared, on the resolution of this problem, to bring a full statement back to this House so everyone clearly understands the lines of authority?
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: Yes, I would be glad to.
Mr. Laughren: I have a question for the Minister of Industry and Tourism who continues to claim that increased foreign ownership of our economy creates jobs.
Does the minister know that fully 41 per cent of the 108 approvals of foreign ownership in the Ontario economy this year alone have been in the three key sectors of electrical products, chemicals and machinery?
If he does know that, is he also aware, as we have been trying to convince him for the past year or more, that it is in these particular sectors that the degree of foreign ownership is causing a decline in the number of jobs?
Could the minister explain to us what it is that leads him to believe that in the long run there will be more jobs created in those sectors with increased foreign ownership? What kind of convoluted logic is he using?
Hon. Mr. Grossman: I know it’s more comfortable to deal with these things as though they were all the same types of applications and all the same firms, but the raw figures really don’t tell one very much because in many of those instances we may have been facing a situation where the alternative to having that foreign takeover or that foreign transfer might have been the closedown of the Canadian operation.
Mr. R. F. Johnston: You can intervene in other ways.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: In some instances one multinational is buying out another multinational. One may have seen instances there in which any combination of circumstances could have created a lot more jobs for Canadians because of the suppliers who otherwise would have lost the companies they were supplying. In other instances, one might have seen us being able to abstract through the FIRA applications undertakings which never before were available to source some of the products in Canada.
The main point the member can take out of all of that is that to presume that all of those transfers created a loss in jobs is no more valid than my presuming that all of those transfers caused more jobs to be created. One has to look at them one at a time and see what the specific circumstances were behind all of those applications. If the member’s position is that all of those cases should have been turned down, then I would like to hear that because then I would be able to assess how many jobs would have been lost if we had adopted his policy.
Mr. Laughren: I don’t know what the minister is talking about when he talks about raw figures. We have all the detailed press releases from the Foreign Investment Review Agency which give us the details on every single one.
In view of the fact that more than half of this year’s applications have been for foreign investment from companies that simply wanted to set up a warehousing distribution kind of operation here to import more goods and distribute them to the Canadian market --
Mr. Speaker: We’ve had one editorial comment and one “in view of.”
Mr. Laughren: -- will the minister undertake to block all those applications which are strictly designed to increase warehousing and turn us into a nation of warehousers?
Hon. Mr. Grossman: Not if the net effect of blocking that application is to cost jobs that otherwise we might have for this province.
Mr. Laughren: What a lot of nonsense!
Ms. Gigantes: Supplementary: Since 70 of the 108 FIRA approvals in 1979 have been in the Toronto area, how can the minister claim that regional development is being promoted by his policies, when only six were approved in eastern Ontario and four in northern Ontario, while only one of those in eastern Ontario is in manufacturing? The rest, as my colleague said, are in warehousing and sales.
Mr. Martel: It sounds like the Robarts plan from 1967 -- all in southern Ontario.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: First, I would remind the member that that’s exactly the same question that was not only asked of me but answered by me on Friday. Second, if I read the member properly, she is asking for more FIRA approvals for eastern Ontario. I’ll certainly see if I can respond to that concern on her behalf.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: In any case, the point about regional consideration is that quite seriously one can’t look at the raw figures and presume that those six in eastern Ontario were a lower percentage, for example, than the ones in Toronto. The other point is to analyse whether those six applications would have received the same treatment if they had occurred in another part of the province.
If the member would like to canvass each of those six with me, I’d be pleased to respond to them to the extent that I can. But I can assure the member that applications from those parts of the province are looked upon quite differently in terms of how we assess their importance to that particular part of the province than they are in Toronto.
Ms. Gigantes: What good has it done us?
Hon. Mr. Grossman: Of course, there are more applications approved in Toronto because there are an overwhelmingly greater number that come from Toronto.
Mr. R. F. Johnston: But the results speak for themselves.
Mr. Laughren: You’re a sellout artist.
Mr. B. Newman: I have a question of the Minister of Industry and Tourism. As the convention business has a substantial economic benefit to a community in which that convention takes place as well as spinoff effects to neighbouring communities; and as the Republican convention for 1980 is slated to take place in the city of Detroit, and the city of Detroit --
Mr. Speaker: Question.
Mr. B. Newman: -- is also attempting to encourage the Democratic convention to come in; and as these conventions could have substantial --
Mr. Speaker: Question.
Mr. B. Newman: -- economic benefits to the city of Windsor, would the minister join with the Windsor Star and the city in their attempt to encourage the Democrats to come into the city of Detroit?
Hon. Mr. Grossman: I would be happy to do anything I could to encourage the Democratic Party of the United States to have their convention in Windsor. Indeed, I’d speak to all my very many friends in that party, particularly over the summer period. I’m willing to go anywhere necessary to convince them -- together with the Windsor Star and, perhaps, the local member.
I think, in exchange, we should put ourselves in a position to assure them that any major political conventions in Canada would, in turn, consider Windsor as a logical site, although that would exclude the NDP which, of course, does not have large enough conventions to overflow Windsor.
I’m sure the member could see to it his party would consider it. My party would consider it and together we may succeed in getting both great American parties to have their convention there. I might add, in case the leader of the third party has a supplementary, if he wants us to encourage any of the minor parties in the United States to go there, we would be pleased to consider that as well.
Mr. B. Newman: A supplementary, Mr. Speaker: Would the minister prepare special materials through his department, using his staff, that would entice some of these parties to come to Detroit so they would naturally come to Windsor and we could sell them on visiting Ontario and Canada?
Mr. Conway: Give John Connally a special suite.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: We’d be happy to do that, particularly to remind them of the great facilities available in the great city of Windsor. In fact, we would probably arrange to have a special tour of Windsor, including the new Ford V-6 engine plant so we could show them the extent to which we are happy to receive from time to time some investment of a calibre important to the great city of Windsor. We would be happy to co-operate and do everything we can.
Mr. Bounsall: Mr. Speaker, as there is no convention centre in Windsor large enough to hold an NDP convention we’re in danger of having to take ours to Detroit. On a somewhat more serious note, however, and slightly off conventions but still in the area of encouragement of tourist interest in Ontario as it affects those who go to Detroit, would the minister consider -- as his predecessor did, but he unfortunately arrived at no conclusion -- that at least in the Renaissance Center in Detroit there be an Ontario government tourist information centre outlining the many advantages of coming to Ontario, let alone the many advantages of coming to Windsor?
Hon. Mr. Grossman: I would be happy to look into that as an alternative in view of our new programs to promote tourist information centres and develop more of them.
With regard to the first question, I’d be happy to help the member with that problem. Perhaps we can push two telephone booths together and see if we can accommodate them.
Mr. Swart: My question is of the Minister of Agriculture and Food. I thank him for remaining for these few moments. Is the minister aware the average price of the seven leading fruit tree and grape sprays used by the farmers in the Niagara Peninsula has increased between 20 per cent and 25 per cent this year over last year? Recognizing the serious impact this has on the farmers when they are already under attack from imports, I’d like to ask him what investigation he has done, if any, and what steps he has taken or will take to limit or roll back those increases.
Hon. W. Newman: As the member well knows, this comes under federal jurisdiction. Just within the last few days we have issued a price list for all chemicals here in Canada, and also the corresponding US price list.
Mr. Kerrio: Talk to your kissing cousins.
Hon. W. Newman: Sure I will. At least I might get some co-operation. Certainly I am aware of the fact there have been price increases on some chemicals, and decreases on others. The list is lengthy. I can’t tell the member each individual price but I have a master list. If he would like to see it, I will be glad to let him have it.
Mr. Swart: Mr. Speaker, I don’t think I got an answer to my question on what the minister intends to do about it.
Might I ask specifically that he would investigate the increase in the price of thiodan which has gone up 80 per cent this year? I would like to send a bill over to the minister, if I may. How would he expect the fruit industry in the Niagara Peninsula to compete with the American fruit industry? Where the increase over there has been less than 10 per cent, it has been between 20 and 25 per cent in this country.
As the minister is well aware, action has been taken to prevent the farmers from going to the United States to buy their insecticides over there. Will the minister take up with the new federal government measures to protect the farmers here or rescind that law that was passed by the last federal government?
Mr. Riddell: You always got co-operation from Eugene Whelan.
Hon. W. Newman: Yes, sure. I don’t deny it. I would like to explain to the honourable member there have been some increases in some of our chemicals.
Mr. Nixon: Tory times are hard times.
Hon. W. Newman: I am well aware of the price of chemicals. I am also well aware of the devaluation of the Canadian dollar. I believe Mr. Whelan said at the time he closed the border -- and if the member will look at the record he will find I said the border should not be closed unless we bad competitive prices on both sides, taking into effect the dollar value. The border was closed and there are certain chemicals that have gone up in price dramatically here in Ontario. Some are equal to and a few of them are below the US prices allowing for the difference in value of the Canadian dollar.
We can’t just make broad brush-stroke statements about certain chemicals. I happen to know some of them have gone up. Sure they have gone up. Other costs have gone up too. I am well aware of that.
I will be talking to the federal minister about the whole chemical industry, whether we are talking herbicides, pesticides, insecticides, fungicides or whatever it may be. If the member would like to have a look at that list so he will better understand it, I will be glad to let the member see it.
Mr. Swart: Have you seen the list?
Hon. W. Newman: I said we would look into it -- okay?
OHIP CLAIMS PROCESSING
Mr. Bradley: A question for the Minister of Health: In view of the fact some residents of the province of Ontario have to wait four, eight, 12, 16 or 20 weeks or more sometimes to receive a cheque from OHIP to cover costs of medical care incurred outside this jurisdiction, or to cover costs of claims in situations where doctors have opted out of OHIP, is the minister satisfied with the efficiency of the operation at OHIP in relation to this particular problem?
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: That is one of the reasons why, a number of years ago, the ministry decentralized the claims processing to the district offices, so as to improve on the processing.
Mr. Haggerty: It hasn’t improved.
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: No, in fact it has improved. Where the documentation is straightforward, then the normal turnaround would be about five or six weeks, but where we require additional information -- and many of these cases come across my desk as members write to me about them -- where perhaps we need more documentation from a hospital or from a physician in the States or in Europe or whatever, that can delay the matter, but we do try to process them as quickly as we can. After all, at OHIP we do process something in the order of a quarter of a million claims per day.
STANDING RESOURCES DEVELOPMENT COMMITTEE
Mr. Villeneuve from the standing resources development committee reported the following resolution:
That supply in the following amounts to defray the expenses of the Ministry of Agriculture and Food be granted Her Majesty for the fiscal year ending March 31, 1980:
Ministry administration program, $5,594,900; agricultural production program, $110,395,600; rural development program, $11,231,000; agricultural marketing program, $12,846,500; agricultural education and research program, $28,470,200.
ANSWERS TO QUESTIONS ON NOTICE PAPER
Hon. Mr. Welch: Mr. Speaker, before the orders of the day, I wish to table the answers to questions 192 and 203 standing on the Notice Paper.
ORDERS OF THE DAY
ESTIMATES, MINISTRY OF INTERGOVERNMENTAL AFFAIRS (CONTINUED)
On vote 602, intergovernmental affairs program:
Mr. Lawlor: Mr. Chairman, on Friday last, I was arguing and making some representations to the government and particularly to this minister, seeking to prevail upon him to give cognizance and put into effect, a committee of this House. Since I am speaking on the matter in private members’ hour on Thursday, I will not place any greater emphasis on that particular aspect of the constitutional question today.
However, there are one or two matters and I won’t be long in touching on the overall constitution, particularly as it lends weight or gives some direction as a secondary consideration to what such a committee would be called into question to do and the validity of calling that committee into being. It has a monumental task to perform, one that is requisite and one that, as I said on Friday, has been ignored by the government of this province.
The basis of that, the material on which the committee can chew, has now been in a wide way forthcoming to the committee. I gave some praise to the Pepin-Robarts report along with the Macdonald report, which in substance followed upon it, and was substantially in line with it. I commented upon how coincidental that was and how rewarding it was to see these two diverse bodies appointed by different levels of government finding a certain curious correspondence in their recommendation. None of this has been given cognizance or any degree of affirmation or even any degree of public debate with respect to a reformulated constitution which is badly needed by this country, particularly if we deliberately intend and are sincere about holding this country together.
These reports, along with the bar association report, would be the subject matter that would basically start us off on deliberation on, parsing and analysis of those reports. For the first time in our history some concrete, hardrock definition of the issues involved are delineated and set forth for whoever may wish to work them over.
It’s not enough and hasn’t been enough for the Premier of this province to go to winter carnivals and slide down slopes in order to show an abundance of good will towards Quebec. He has also come home and subverted, in many instances, the so-called good intent in this particular regard. Coming to grips with the issue in an honest way has never taken place and has been circumvented throughout.
I think it is the prime responsibility of this province and the adjoining province to give leadership and to possess some form of vision with respect to what is taking place here. The destiny of the country is at stake and, as I said on Friday, it is not to be diminished because one grapples at straws. One finds in the English-speaking press certain reporters saying that there is an erosion in the ranks of the Parti Quebecois, that the gravamen of the population is against division and all these sorts of things. I won’t press on. I think that is totally fallacious.
After the event, ministers of the crown, including this minister, will strike their breasts and say, “Oh, why weren’t we more on the ball? Why didn’t we get on top of it? Why didn’t we do everything in our power to bring about some kind of accommodation and some kind of understanding so that at least the members of this House and people of Ontario had a grasp of the issues?” I put it to you that that is presently lacking because of basic complacencies operating in this whole area.
All I wanted to do for a few moments -- and I won’t go into it in any depth, as that is the job of the committee -- is to make reference to the report of the Task Force on Canadian Unity. I would like to refer to page 126, recommendation 34, which says: “A new distribution of powers should, whenever it is desirable or needed in order to fulfil the objectives of dualism and regionalism, recognize the distinctive status of any province or make it possible for a province to acquire such a status.”
In line with that, it says: “In a new distribution, the powers allocated to all provincial legislatures should provide the framework which makes it possible for Quebec to fulfil its additional role and responsibility with respect to the French heritage in its own territory.”
The French-Canadian fact is there and has never, in my opinion, been given due weight. We have scouted it. There is a refusal to address ourselves frontally to the issue involved there. On any occasion when my party gave certain proposals, I suppose we suffered badly in the election in this particular regard.
Mr. Nixon: That was back in the two-nation days?
Mr. Lawlor: Back in the two-nation days. I don’t think the authors of the report would wish to talk in that terminology because they were burned too or noticed the burnings that took place elsewhere. Nevertheless, they say that the Quebec fact has its own peculiarities, its own cultural history, its own form that we must be cognizant of getting along with and of recognizing. We English-speaking people refuse to do so. There is a peculiar quality in the English -- never in the Irish -- of not coming directly in line with and looking eyeball to eyeball to the issue.
Quebec is different. It has in some ways a more splendid heritage than we have, and internally the young people of that province have a deeper sense of their history than we happen to have, by and large. As to the whole cultural aspect of the matter, it is far more tangible and alive to them from day to day than the amorphous kind of thing. We English are groping towards some definition. It has been so often talked about it is no use particularly flagellating the issue, as it hasn’t come to pass. Some of our authors say that loneliness, the northern woods and isolation, is the prime Canadian characteristic. I don’t know.
In any event, in this section they say, “In the distribution of powers, provisions should be made for the possibility that some provincial governments other than Quebec may wish to assume, now or in the future” -- that is their way of getting around the two-nation concept -- “some or all of the powers in the cultural domain recommended for Quebec.
“Should the other provinces not wish to avail themselves of such a distribution, powers related to this additional role and responsibility of Quebec should be allocated to Quebec alone.”
That seems to me perfectly sensible and in line. Otherwise, one is blinding oneself or, ostrich-like, not facing realities. What will eventuate from blindness will be division. It is in the cards. That may not happen in the next referendum but we all fear and anticipate a recurring phenomenon for years ahead. This thing is deep-rooted, therefore, it must be lanced at the source. We must try to reach a mutuality of definition with respect to the issue.
I said on Friday this would go a long way. I don’t adopt all these recommendations by any means. Let me take one, number 39, that residual powers should be assigned to the provincial legislatures.
As we all know, the peace, order and good government clause and the residual power is now left with the federal government. I think it should be left there, not reposed as residual power in the provinces. That would be, in my opinion, disruptive. It is the very kind of thing I would like to sit down with my colleagues and with experts appearing before us to explore, to weigh, to become more informed on as to where that residual power should finally rest. In a way it is a superficial issue; in another way, after the powers are defined according to the way they want to do it here, there may not be too much residual power left.
In any event, recommendation 37 says, “The use of a list of exclusive powers for Parliament and a list of exclusive powers for the provincial legislatures should be retained in a new Canadian constitution.” But what those exclusive powers are, are not identical, by any means, with what the Privy Council and the Supreme Court of Canada have set forth over the years with fairly myopic judgements and tendentious approaches to the matter which have seriously, in my opinion, disoriented our constitution, particularly when the adjudications were made overseas and which are followed as precedent to this day.
Recommendation 38 is about concurrent jurisdiction; the concurrencies of jurisdiction, when they both operate in certain fields, et cetera. But, the field is divided and with some nicety and detail set forth as to which jurisdiction will operate where. It is in the Macdonald report too and again very much in line with what we have:
“(1) Concurrent jurisdiction should be avoided whenever possible through a more precise definition of exclusive powers. (2) Wherever powers are concurrent, a federal or provincial paramountcy should be stipulated.” Then they proceed to do that to a degree.
Recommendation 40: “In devising a new distribution of powers, the following steps should be taken: (i) broad areas of governmental activities should first be identified. Such broad areas might include external affairs, defence, economic policy, transportation, communications, natural resources, administration of justice and law enforcement, the status and rights of citizens, culture, health and welfare, habitat and the environment.
“(ii) within each of these broad areas, specific subject matter should be arranged in related groups. Under culture, for example would be grouped legislative powers over: language, education, schools, universities, archives, research, exchanges, copyrights, books, films, arts, leisure, marriage and divorce, property and civil rights.
“(iii) jurisdiction with respect to each specific legislative power should then be attributed, exclusively or concurrently, to an order of government according to the criteria established in our previous recommendations. For example, regarding immigration, provincial legislatures should have exclusive jurisdiction with respect to settlement and integration of immigrants; the federal Parliament should have exclusive jurisdiction with respect to deportation of aliens and public safety; jurisdiction should be concurrent with provincial paramountcy with respect to selection criteria and levels of immigration to the province ...”
That is something which does not occur these days, and something which the Treasurer of this province (Mr. F. S. Miller) has taken grave umbrage with, namely, the federal government takes all the credit with respect to the coming in of immigrants to this country, but the costs and logistics of the whole damned thing are borne by the various provinces, and overwhelmingly by Ontario, much to the hurt of the Treasurer of this province, which should be compensated or given some allocation by the federal authority, which caused the burdening to begin with. So for the first time they tried to divide it up.
Mr. Nixon: A strange theory of immigration. I didn’t know the New Democratic Party thought immigrants were burdensome.
Mr. Lawlor: It is burdensome when they arrive in the province without homes and without provisions for their lives -- when nothing is provided for them.
Mr. Haggerty: They want brand-new homes when they come in, eh?
Mr. Lawlor: Don’t be picayune, my friend. This is the only debate in this House that I know of where you can exercise a degree of statesmanship. All the rest is petty bickering.
Mr. Nixon: Maybe that’s why the place is vacant.
Mr. Lawlor: Even with the bickering, it is vacant.
To conclude the quotation: “... and with federal paramountcy with respect to the recruitment of immigrants abroad and the admission of refugees.”
Finally: “(iv) areas could be either exclusive, when all powers are attributed exclusively to the same order of government, as in the area of defence, or shared, when some of the powers are attributed exclusively to each of the two orders of government, or concurrently to both.”
In the area of taxation policy, recommendation 41 says: “Both the central and provincial governments should be granted equal access to tax sources, with the exception that customs and excise taxes be an exclusive central power. The provincial right to use indirect taxation should be qualified to ensure that the impact of such taxes does not fall upon persons outside the taxing province.”
Then they talk about the emergency power and how it should be operated. They talk about the constitution of the House of Commons on the basis of proportional representation. They have long sections on linguistic rights as to the attribution of these rights, how they might be administered and in which areas.
The role of the Senate is given some cognizance -- the reformed Senate, as we all know, which the Pepin-Robarts report calls the Council of the Federation and which the Macdonald report calls a House of the Provinces. Curiously enough, that has to be looked at in depth, if only because these two astute men, the only persons in this country who have really done first-rate work in the field and are thoroughly clued in, indicate this is the feasible possibility for the future with respect to the Senate.
Why has everyone shied away from it? Alberta, one would think, would be all in favour; but quite the contrary. Of course, no one quite knows where Ontario stands on these things; that is precisely what the debate is about today and why it would probably be more in the government’s interest to have the committee, if for no other reason than as a shield against coming to grips and seizing this by the horns.
I have severe doubts about that House having provincial representation and veto powers operating. Nevertheless, it is well worth exploring. When are we going to explore it? I don’t see any learned articles being written. I don’t see great debate going on in the “op-ed” pages of the local newspapers. It seems to me a thundering silence reigns over this whole issue.
For these various reasons, and in order to explore this and half a dozen other issues which very easily could be taken up and a good many hours be spent talking about where concurrency would operate, how it might operate, et cetera, and exchange views across the House in this particular regard. Rather than do that, let us have a group -- and the people who will go on that committee, I’m sure, will go on only because of their intense interest in the problem on all sides of the House.
I would hope that Ontario would raise its stature in this whole area far above anything it has accomplished thus far and will not, by process of omission, be judged in history as having failed at this most critical time in our history.
Mr. Nixon: Mr. Chairman, I am not aware of an agreement being made that we are having a constitutional debate per se to the exclusion of other matters. With your permission, I want to deal with three matters.
The first matter has to do with the projected committee that has been very much a subject of debate during the last session and the first part of this session, dealing with the estimates. The minister indicated in his response, I believe to the member for Riverdale (Mr. Renwick), that this matter had been put to the House leaders and that it was found difficult, if not impossible, to arrange a summer committee for the purpose of the review of our provincial responsibilities to national unity and any constitutional change that might be associated with it.
I do not want to misquote the minister -- and I do not have Hansard here -- but I want to make it clear to anyone who might be interested -- and it appears from the people in the House today that very few are -- that I see no problem in scheduling an additional select committee this summer.
For one thing, it could be, and probably should be, a relatively small one. The terms of reference would deal with matters that have been raised by members who have spoken before me. Frankly, it has not been raised specifically with the House leaders on the basis of whether it could or could not be handled by way of scheduling.
Secondly, I believe it could be accommodated if it were the decision of the House that such a committee ought to be established. Personally, I believe it should. I agree with the statements by previous speakers. When the matter comes for debate in the House, I would hope that, the resolution will be that such a committee be established.
I cannot readily understand why the government is so resolutely opposed to such a committee. The reasons given by the minister, I believe on Friday, didn’t seem to ring very true to me. They seemed to be rather superficial, relating simply to getting the bodies to man such a committee.
It is true that the government party has some special problems this way, and the government whip has certainly made it clear that there may be some problems in that connection. But, speaking for our party, I believe we could man such a committee without a problem; and I would expect that the members who would be associated with such a committee would certainly be interested and knowledgeable.
Having said that, I do not intend to express personal views as to what the committee should discuss or perhaps to make a guess as to what their recommendations should be. But I do agree as well with my colleague from Ottawa East (Mr. Roy), who did express a reservation about the committee; that is, it is liable, through the press coverage of its discussions, to detract from the impact of a debate that might be and should be held in this House at the time when the referendum in the province of Quebec would be very much before the people there and the people of Canada. I think that is a significant point, that we would not want to detract from an impact of a debate in this House, perhaps approving -- unanimously, I would hope -- a resolution indicating what the stand of this province would be.
However, I do not believe the committee needs to interfere in that respect. Frankly, if such a committee is struck, I would hope it would not be simply to discuss a resolution put to the committee and to the House by the government in terms more or less based on the statement in the speech from the throne.
If a committee is so struck, I would hope it would have much broader terms of reference, in which, after doing whatever studies it might require -- and there has already been reference to the Pepin-Robarts report and the Macdonald report, which certainly would be valid documents to examine -- I would hope it would come in with an all-party recommendation for once so the House could then debate the proposed recommendation from the committee in the kind of debate we all envisage as having value.
Not many members would agree with me, I am sure, but in my view, while we all acknowledge the importance of the subject, we must also acknowledge the boredom it engenders, not only in the community at large but in this House. I hesitate to say that. Perhaps I am reflecting only a personal view. Yet our experience has been just that. In the past there have been very few members whose views on the constitution were sufficiently interesting and progressive they could command the attention of more than a handful of members in this House. With great respect to those who have already spoken -- and I found their views interesting myself -- Elmer Sopha, the former member for Sudbury, when he was talking about the constitution and the future of Confederation, long before it was fashionable so to do, could command a great deal of interest and press response.
The minister’s two advisers, Mr. Stevenson and Mr. Greathed, have been here let’s say for a significant number of years, and could probably recount as well as any the course of the debates and the events associated with it and the waxing and waning interest in the subject. It has been a part of their professional responsibilities to maintain their interest and to meet with representatives from other provinces and the federal government on a continuing basis. They are certainly expert in their opinions and their responses in this connection are certainly valuable and much respected.
Even going back to 1967, John Robarts very properly and logically stimulated debate in the province, and to some extent across Canada, through the Confederation of Tomorrow conference. Still, I felt the debates in here were strangely sterile. Since I was a new leader of a party myself, probably my contribution was just about as sterile as any other. But while the individuals who were speaking seemed to be caught up in their own views, it seemed to be almost impossible to interest the community at large in what the Legislature thought about this.
Certain political points were made. The member for Lakeshore who has just spoken indicated in an oblique way how politically unpopular the concept of two nations turned out to be after the NDP embraced it. And yet even that lack of popularity was a very political manifestation in my view, and didn’t seem to involve the people of this part of the nation in the controversy it should have.
I don’t want to belabour the point, but if we are fooling ourselves that we are going to have some great debate in this House in which the people of the province are going to be caught up and for which the television cameras will come in to hear the views as they emerge from our lips, we are kidding ourselves. The best debaters here are hard- put if they want to express their views in a way of that kind of significance.
A resolution of the House, however, which puts in reasonable terms, even believable terms, that sovereignty association is an unacceptable alternative as far as we are concerned, would be important. However, we can say unacceptable as much as we want, but there is no doubt if Quebec, and God forbid, followed the course advocated by Rene Levesque, and we had done everything we could to stop it but still it had gone forward, I have a feeling we would not build a wall along the Ottawa River and say, “We told you if you followed that course of action it was unacceptable to us.” When it did happen we would find ourselves probably responding in a slightly different way.
That’s why I say this resolution, and the importance of it, may be seen in some jurisdiction as an approach to constitutional grandstanding. That’s the sort of thing the committee may or may not come to grips with.
The fact the minister has rejected the possibility of such a committee I hope will be reconsidered. Perhaps it will be reconsidered in the light of the resolution put on the order paper just today, to be debated this Thursday a significant course of events, I thought.
Mr. Lawlor: Yes.
Mr. Nixon: Having, however, heard the member for Riverdale express himself in something less than outrage but also deep concern, was the fact that his cogent arguments put forward over many weeks -- in fact months -- had simply been turned gracefully aside by the minister and various spokesmen for the government. This indicates I suppose that he, with the co-operation he always gets from his colleague from Lakeshore, had found a means whereby the matter would be put to debate in this House. Frankly, I for one welcome it.
I would hope this resolution is accepted by the House, even though it is worded in a somewhat awkward way. I’m not this party’s spokesman in this connection, but if it is accepted, I hope the minister will see his way clear to accept the will of the House. What damage can be done in giving the members of this House a forum to review the matters that have already been before us? Perhaps we can come up with a recommendation to be debated in the fall in what I consider could be a very timely and important way.
There are two other matters that I want to refer to briefly. The second matter has to do, not with our constitutional responsibilities but with the minister’s other great responsibility -- that is, dealing with the municipalities.
The minister made a speech -- no need for any concern about this as far as his advisers are concerned -- some weeks ago in which he indicated to one of the municipal organizations he was approaching -- at least in his own thoughts -- some solution to the continuing problems involving the requirements for annexation involving some of the municipalities -- obviously Brantford and Brantford township are the ones in my mind.
If one of the alternatives is going to be the vehicle of private legislation, with the Legislature acting as a court in this connection, I hope before that position is accepted as ministerial policy there is a chance for further debate in the House. The situation involving Brantford and Brantford township seems to have, somehow, de-escalated. At least, there doesn’t seem to be the heat in the controversy there was the last time it was discussed in the House and yet in many respects they are no closer to a solution of their mutual problems.
As the minister is no doubt aware, a very substantial initiative is being taken by the city of Brantford in downtown revitalization and that, very properly, is occupying their views. I strongly suggest that when and if his policy is going to be enunciated here, involving not only Brantford and Brantford township but the four or five situations in the province which have been pressing themselves on the minister for his attention, if not a solution, we have an opportunity to discuss it further before something comes forward chiselled in stone. That would make for a more academic debate rather than a viable debate in which we work together to hammer out the kinds of solutions that we would all choose.
The third point, and the minister might want to respond to this more directly: I notice in this vote there is money being made available for analysis and advice. I haven’t got the words before me, but it occurs to me it would be in this vote the ministry’s advisers may be using the procedure of sampling and public opinion analysis which was very much the subject of questions today and at the end of last week.
I would like some information from the minister if, during the past year, a polling procedure has been used, for example, to get the views of our citizens having to do with matters in the purview of his ministry. If so, we would like to hear whatever information can be made available about that -- as to how much money was spent and what consultants were employed. We’d also like to know what the intention would be for the utilization of the money in this vote we are debating which would lead the minister to make a retainer leading to a public opinion survey; what the types of questions might be and what the aim of the expenditure of the money would be, as far as administration and policy is concerned.
Hon. Mr. Wells: Oh, would you like me to reply?
Mr. Chairman: It is entirely up to the members.
Mr. MacDonald: I want to return to federal-provincial relations, et cetera. If the minister wants to reply to those two secondary questions in face of this great, momentous issue of statesmanship that was preoccupying us for a moment, fine.
Hon. Mr. Wells: Just quickly, I will reply so that we don’t forget those two questions, Mr. Chairman.
On the matter of the policy regarding annexation, as I said in my opening remarks, I indicated to the Association of Counties and Regions of Ontario about six or eight months ago some broad ideas that could be explored to help solve this problem we have with annexations and amalgamations, a problem which is brought about because the process we have has become so time consuming and so costly. They took up that challenge and have been meeting, and indeed had a gathering not so long ago to bring forward some suggestions of a new way of handling these matters. The Association of Municipalities of Ontario has also been doing the same thing as have some of the other municipal groups.
We are pooling those ideas all together through the Municipal Liaison Committee. They are then going to present them to me; we are going to digest the various suggestions. I have set as a time frame for some announcement on my part as to some new procedures, some time in the summer, probably late summer.
I don’t think they will involve any kind of mystical solution which will solve all our problems. It will basically be a better and less expensive and less time-consuming way of handling the same problem. I can assure my friend they will not involve this Legislature acting as a court in the matter, because I don’t view that as the solution, at least not in the very initial stages. It may be that at some time and in some place bills in this Legislature to effect changes may be the solution in some particular areas, but certainly it would not be something which would be done immediately in any process and there would be plenty of time for this House to discuss anything of that nature.
In answer to the second question, the answer is, yes, we have conducted a public opinion survey. Part of the money for that is in this vote and we do not have any plans to conduct any further surveys at the present time.
Mr. Nixon: If you will permit me, I would like to ask a further question about that. Is the minister prepared to make all or part of that survey available?
Hon. Mr. Wells: At the present time, no, Mr. Chairman. We have a general government policy on this. The general government policy is that these surveys are kept confidential and are used by us in general determination of those things that are occurring in the general population, so therefore that is the answer I must give you at this time.
Mr. Nixon: With your permission, I want to pursue the matter of the surveys with the minister just briefly, because the Premier in his statement in question period certainly left me confused. He said the information was elicited on a basis of confidentiality. Yet that doesn’t make sense if the surveyor goes out to a person in the street or someone selected as a representative of the community, that is, not by name but perhaps on a statistical basis, their views are solicited with respect to certain matters that must concern this minister. They may or may not have to do with our attitude towards Quebec or a change in the distribution of powers, a change in the allocation of taxing, having to do perhaps with our representation in Ottawa, whether we should have something to do with the Supreme Court and the Senate.
It seems incredible to me that the Premier would indicate that this has to be confidential because somebody’s views would be made public. If I know anything about public opinion surveys, and I’m not an expert and I’ve certainly been led astray by them in the past, nobody’s name except a surveyor’s is there. The information elicited, which is basically the opinion on these matters expressed by the people in Ontario, should surely be made available to the members of the House as well as the minister and his advisers.
I think it was perhaps the member for Riverdale or the member for Lakeshore who spoke in derogatory terms and was deeply critical of the kind of survey information published, I believe, on page two or three of that weekend supplement, or a few months ago in Maclean’s, indicating what the people of Canada, and more directly the people from the provinces of Quebec and Ontario and certain other areas, thought about national unity. I agree with him entirely. He was critical because the questions and the information elicited were so superficial. Surely, if we’re expected to provide the money for those surveys no significant reason has yet been given why the information can’t be tabled. The implication really leads some members, as the member for York South in his responses in question period, to believe the questions deal with matters that are political on a partisan basis. Otherwise, the Premier’s reasons for not revealing are incomprehensible.
I would suggest to the minister as strongly and as reasonably as I can put it to him that the information ought to be available here. It would then undoubtedly be reported that the government has found through their surveys -- and they are paying a lot of money for them, and on that basis they must be professional -- that the people in the province have these views which are, I wouldn’t say the basis of the government policy but at least they form a part of it.
I hope the minister understands this issue is going to have to be pursued. I know he cannot by himself change government policy, but surely he must see how irrational and unacceptable those arguments are to those of us who are members of the opposition side. They just don’t make any sense.
Hon. Mr. Wells: Can I just respond quickly to that question? The honourable member indicated he had some experience with polls. He knows very well from some of his experience with polls, and we’re not now talking about polls this government does but those polls used at election time, that certain parts of them are pulled out and are used at those particular times to create sometimes erroneous impressions. Usually, the whole series of questions is not reported. Wrong impressions or erroneous impressions are received by the general public.
Mr. Nixon: That’s true of anything that goes on.
Hon. Mr. Wells: Yes, parts are pulled out and with polls the danger is very great that wrong impressions will be created perhaps -- maybe not, maybe not.
Mr. Nixon: But what about the member here?
Hon. Mr. Wells: He would read it all. I’ll just give you my personal philosophy but I view the use of polls as another method of finding out and keeping in touch with people and what people think.
Mr. Nixon: Yet you don’t want us to read them.
Hon. Mr. Wells: I’m speaking for the polls we’ve done here, the one we’ve done in this ministry. We did a number in the Ministry of Education. Some of the ones in Education, in any event, are published and you’ve had them and you’ve seen them. You’re shaking your head?
Mr. Nixon: I haven’t. What kind of an argument is that?
Hon. Mr. Wells: Well, several of them were done under research grants and are available in the legislative library and so forth. One of them was part of that very massive Interface study, the whole one third of that study was a poll --
Mr. Nixon: Anybody can waste money.
Hon. Mr. Wells: -- done on what people’s impressions were of the education system of secondary education and so forth. But the whole idea is to synthesize from a testing of public opinion some ideas of what the public is thinking about various matters. I can assure you it helps a person who is trying to develop policy to put forward to his colleagues, to be able to have that as one of a number of sources and information areas that come in.
Mr. Nixon: What about a member who is expected to respond to that policy, such as an opposition member?
Hon. Mr. Wells: I could argue with my friend that he perhaps doesn’t need them, but it probably would be of some help to him at times too.
Mr. Nixon: You’re patronizing.
Hon. Mr. Wells: The point I wanted to make to my friend was that these are not used for political purposes and are not dispensed to political parties and used in the manner of the polls the political parties use themselves. In fact, they are used for quite different purposes, and the kinds of questions are quite different.
Mr. MacDonald: Mr. Chairman, it wasn’t my intention to deal with this issue -- I want to get back to the noble heights of constitutional reform -- but since this has been raised, I want to speak to it.
May I say to the minister that the government’s position on this is totally indefensible. If the government is spending public moneys for polling, based on the argument -- for the moment I’ll accept it, although I’ll advance my reservations in a moment -- that it is doing it for policy formation, and if it is getting information that may or may not be interpreted, the House is entitled to get that information and to debate the interpretations and the misinterpretations.
The government hasn’t got a monopoly on the use of something for which public funds have been spent. The sooner the government wakes up to this, and cuts out the game -- or, if it wants to continue it because it thinks it is useful, makes the information available to the House so that the members of the Legislature, the editorial writers out there and everybody else can have it -- the sooner its position will become defensible.
Let me come back to the Premier’s reply this afternoon -- and I shall choose my words as carefully as possible. Twice he evaded replying to the question as to whether or not this information was handed on to the Conservative Party so that it might at least interpret it as it sees fit for their partisan purposes. When I backed him into the wall, he said, “No.”
Mr. Chairman, let me say this: The Premier may have set up mechanisms. He may have done, as Leslie Frost said to cabinet ministers on certain occasions, “Don’t buy Northern Natural Gas.” That didn’t stop them; they did, and two of them had to get fired out of the cabinet. It is inconceivable that the substance of those reports doesn’t get out and eventually into the hands of the Conservative Party, which then has the right to interpret them and use them as it does.
Quit the dissembling. Cut out the shenanigans. If the government is spending public money on polling, the House is entitled to the results of those polls. Don’t engage in some sort of obfuscation of the issue by saying, “If you take a poll, you may extract a portion of it and misrepresent it.” If the government has carefully prepared a poll and all its questions, it can table those questions in the House along with the answers, and we in our ignorance, or lack thereof, will make an interpretation which will be just as legitimate as the government’s interpretation or misinterpretation. I will leave the issue there, but the government’s position is totally indefensible; the sooner the government cuts it out, the sooner it is going to keep itself from getting deeper and deeper into trouble on the issue.
Let me get back, if I may, quietly, to the issue of constitutional reform; I want to start out with the committee. There has been a lot of discussion on the whole issue of the committee. The government, by its stonewalling over a period of two or three years, and particularly the last two and a half years since the Parti Quebecois was elected in Quebec -- indeed, I am not going to stop there; the House, where a majority sit on the opposition, has done a disservice to this country in that we have tolerated the government’s stonewalling in not having an opportunity for repeated discussions of what is one of the most important things in the life of this country: the prospect of constitutional reform; what this nation’s reaction should be to the emergence in Quebec of a party that is dedicated to splitting this nation down the middle.
The minister advances reasons as to why we can’t do it now. You can always advance reasons. But surely it is ludicrous that we have had select committees looking at everything from tile drainage to God knows what, yet in the face of a Premier who speaks of this issue as being an intensely important one, we have never been able to establish a select committee to look at this. There is an obvious contradiction here. Let’s stop the stonewalling.
Let’s have a select committee and let’s not even buy the excuse of the member for Ottawa East that it would be better to leave it now because we might sort of pre-empt prematurely the publicity that should be focused on the eve of the referendum; that is just another excuse. God help us, if the issue of the reshaping of this nation isn’t worthy of something now and a repetition four months from now when the referendum comes up, then it’s not worthy. I am convinced it is worthy. So that Liberal excuse is just as phoney and just as much stonewalling as the excuses the government has been giving.
Let me come to the point of view that has been expressed by the member for Brant-Oxford-Norfolk with regard to the limited interest. As I look at the yawning emptiness of the government benches over there, his point is well taken.
Hon. Mr. Wells: Yours are the same.
Mr. MacDonald: I agree, but I will tell the minister that this is potentially a very interesting topic but, because of the manner in which he has treated it, people don’t take it seriously in this House. There isn’t a single topic in a single ministry, a single critic on the government side or a government backbencher who is interested in the topic, that cannot in some way be related to the constitution, particularly when one gets into the whole issue of the redivision of powers and so on.
If we had some ongoing mechanism, whether it be a committee outside the House making periodic reports, whether it be more regularly scheduled debates on this issue within the House, then one would develop an interest. Then the minister might leave the impression with those serried back- benches and the opposition majority over here that this is important enough that they should take an interest in the matter. But we have short-changed this vital issue at a critical stage in Canadian history. And the province of Ontario -- the dominant province, as some historians have described it on occasion; certainly a key province in the original shaping of Confederation and inevitably a key province in the reshaping of Confederation -- has so totally frustrated an opportunity for debate here which would develop an interest among ourselves and then develop an interest out among the public that, I submit, we have done a grave disservice to the people of this province.
Therefore, my hope would be, along with the member for Brant-Oxford-Norfolk, that when that resolution comes before the House on Thursday and it gets a majority vote, this government is not going to treat a majority view of this House with contempt, because the government’s actions in the last three or four years add up to a contempt for this whole issue.
Let me just pick two topics. I am picking them in part to deal with the substance, but, equally important, to illustrate the reason we should have a committee and why that committee should be an ongoing one -- two very important issues in the whole process of constitutional reform.
To begin with, the topic I want to touch on briefly is the issue of entrenchment of individual rights. When the bill was brought in by the former government in Ottawa, interestingly enough there were a couple of sections in that bill that Ed Broadbent pointed out when he made his representations on behalf of the New Democratic Party to the joint committee of the Senate and the House of Commons studying the bill. Section 5 of the bill says: “In a free and democratic society there are certain rights and freedoms which must be assured and which must, if they are to endure, be incapable of being alienated by the ordinary exercise of such legislative or other authority as may be conferred by law on its respective institutions of government.” That seems to be a pretty strong statement, that one is going to have certain rights entrenched and that government or a Legislature at one point by whim or by decision is not going to have the right to supersede or to undercut or to violate those entrenched rights.
Then we move on to section 25. Listen to it, Mr. Chairman. “Nothing in this charter shall be held to prevent such limitations on the exercise or enjoyment of any of the individual rights and freedoms declared by this charter as are justifiable in the free and democratic society in the interests of public safety or health, the interests of peace and security of the public, or in the interests of the rights and freedoms of others, whether such limitations are imposed by law or by virtue of the construction or application of any law.”
As Mr. Broadbent pointed out, on the one hand, you have an assertion that these entrenched rights should be inviolable, and then you have another section which says they can be violated. In some fashion or other, we have got to come to grips with this. In the wake of the War Measures Act of 1970, we have to come to grips with it.
One of the interesting things about this issue is that there are divisions within parties, and I am raising this frankly. I think those divisions within parties and between parties should be threshed out so we can perhaps come to a closer understanding of the matter. Let me illustrate it with regard to my own party. The New Democratic Party has been for quite some time, as passed by resolutions at conventions, in support of the idea that individual rights should be entrenched in the constitution. But Allan Blakeney, the Premier of Saskatchewan, has expressed serious reservations with regard to it. Why? Let me quote him. I suggest to you that his words are worthy of some thought.
Speaking to the conference last November, Allan Blakeney said: “I want to be clear. The issue here is not human rights per se. Saskatchewan is in favour of human rights. Indeed, we are proud of our record. One of the first bills of rights in any jurisdiction in Canada was adopted by the CCF government of Tommy Douglas in 1947; a Fair Employment Practices Act, a Fair Accommodations Practices Act, a human rights commission, an ombudsman, a legal aid system that is second to none in the world. The issue is not rights per se; the issue is the entrenchment of rights.
“To entrench rights in the constitution is to put them for all practical purposes beyond the reach of the Legislature.” Then he goes on to add, “I, for one, am not convinced that it makes much sense to transfer to the judiciary the power to decide sensitive questions of social policy.” There is a problem, there is a dilemma. Somebody once said, not wholly inaccurately, if I do not offend you, Mr. Chairman, that those who sit on the bench usually represent the views of the last generation in terms of social policy, not this generation. It is in the nature of the entrenched conservatism of the judiciary that maybe that is the case.
Do we want people whose views on sensitive social issues are a generation behind the times to be, in effect, making the law of the land? Or should it be made in the Legislature among elected representatives of the people, who presumably reflect the views of society at this given time?
Allan Blakeney points out, for example: “For 25 years the Saskatchewan government has ‘discriminated’ “ -- and he’s got that word in quotes -- “in favour of Indians in granting fishing licences and trapping permits in northern Saskatchewan. Recently, we signed an agreement with a uranium company for a new uranium mine in the north of our province. That agreement requires that by 1982 50 per cent of their employees be ‘northerners,’ defined as people who have lived in the north for 15 years, most of whom will be Indians, status and non-status. With an entrenched bill of rights, policies like those could be struck down by the courts as being discriminatory on the basis of race.”
How do you come to grips with this problem of establishing a balance? The general argument that has been advanced with regard to entrenching human rights in the constitution is that you protect these rights and they can’t be violated. I sometimes wonder whether the people who advance this argument are aware of the history. Our neighbour, the great United States of America, has these rights entrenched in the constitution.
May I remind you of the notorious Dred Scott case in 1857, in which the court applied the due process clause of the fifth amendment as a guarantee of property rights, holding invalid an act of Congress excluding slavery from certain US territories? How fascinating -- or how shocking.
May I remind you that in 1905 the court struck down a statute limiting hours of employment in bakeries to 60 hours a week and 10 hours a day, finding it to be an interference with the freedom of contract, protected by due process? How fascinating.
Or may I remind you that in 1918 there was a court decision invalidating legislation aimed at suppressing child labour in factories where children under 14 were employed, because it violated property rights, or contract rights, or something of that nature?
Or may I remind you that in 1923 there was a decision of the court holding unconstitutional federal legislation which attempted to establish minimum wages for women in the District of Columbia?
In other words, the history of the United States is replete with cases in which the Supreme Court used one or another argument to violate human rights, to deny the assurance of human rights. So don’t for one moment get drawn in on the proposition that you get it entrenched in the constitution. I don’t know the answer to this dilemma. I’m very frank with you.
When this was thrashed out I remember seeing one of the CBC programs in which Allan Blakeney was tackled pretty vigorously because of the contradiction between the general position of the New Democratic Party in wanting these rights to be entrenched and his position. He said that there is a possible reconciliation. You can have in the constitution a so-called “notwithstanding” clause -- notwithstanding what is spelled out there, a provincial Legislature would not be denied the right in advancing of some affirmative action program to discriminate in favour of the Indians, for example, in employment.
That may be the answer. I don’t know. All I’m saying -- and this is the reason why I raise it, apart from the substance of the issue -- is that this is the kind of thing that should be thrashed through in a committee. This is the kind of thing that should be debated in this House. It should have been debated two or three years ago, maybe 10 times in the last two or three years, but it’s never been debated.
Let me move to another issue -- and I want to deal with it superficially because it obviously gets into so much substance, and now is not the time to pursue it -- this whole question of what we’re going to do about the Senate. Interestingly enough, the majority of people today recognize that the Senate is useless and it should be eliminated, as it now stands.
Mr. Nixon: Hear, hear.
Mr. MacDonald: You don't know how many of your fellow Liberals are sitting there as bagmen with a lifelong pension.
Mr. Nixon: I say again, hear, hear.
Mr. MacDonald: Hear, hear. Okay. Very good.
Mr. Worton: It’s just a difference of opinion.
Mr. MacDonald: I just wanted to clarify that, and now I’ve established a community of opinion --
Mr. Nixon: Paul Martin criticized me for that even more strongly.
Mr. MacDonald: What we have had proposed on one hand by the Advisory Committee on Confederation and on the other hand by the federal proposals are two different things -- the House of the Provinces and the House of Federation -- which are really going to institutionalize the regional differences and tensions which presumably the new structure is going to resolve. Again, as Ed Broadbent, in some very wise comments to that joint Senate-Commons committee, said: “The result is an abomination which meets neither regional nor democratic requirements.”
It’s not democratic and it’s not any assurance of a resolving of these regional tensions and differences. It just provides a mechanism through which an institution may be perpetuated, not resolved, because there is not within that body the real opportunity for their resolution.
So -- and I throw this out just for your thoughts -- if we want to have a democratic procedure, and if you want to have a resolution of those difficulties, I suggest that the two proposals that have come from the so-called Macdonald committee, the Advisory Committee on Confederation, and from Ottawa the House of Federation and the House of the Provinces, neither of which does it, that again the proposal put forward by Ed Broadbent is worthy of consideration. Namely, you eliminate this second chamber. It’s as useless as the appendix, which is not an integral and necessary part of the human body or of the body politic.
What you can do to give a more democratic reflection of the will of the nation is, as Broadbent suggested on behalf of the New Democratic Party, extend the House by some 80 members who were chosen on the basis of proportional representation so that all parties will have representation from all regions. They won’t find themselves virtually euchred out of the picture as all parties are in some areas. This gives a balkanized country, a regionalized country, with no real national parties that can help reunite the country. That sort of a House of Commons could rectify that.
It would be great fun to go into the detail of the proposals that came from the advisory committee and others, but I won’t. I put this forward as an illustration of the reason why we should have been debating two or three years, why we should be debating now, and why we should be debating this fall our thinking on these issues. Then we would be in a position to play a part in the reshaping of our constitution.
Our forefathers played their part, with the Fathers of Confederation providing the leadership in shaping the original Confederation. We have the challenge of reconfederation that’s going to take place -- I hope in the 1980s.
Let me in conclusion, make one or two general observations: In my view -- and I think here I am on common ground with my colleague from Lakeshore -- there was implicit and explicit in the Pepin-Robarts report a healthy, open-minded, tolerant kind of approach. It was an approach which acknowledges the legitimacy of self-determination on the basis of a clear vote on clear issues, as far as Quebec is concerned, so we are not going to be sending the troops in, and neither are we going to be building walls along the Ottawa River if perchance they were to vote that they didn’t want to remain in Canada. But it asserts as vigorously as possible that it is our conviction -- certainly it is our conviction in the New Democratic Party -- the interests of Quebec and the interests of this nation are not going to be served by Quebec separating into another country. That would infinitely complicate our life on the northern half of this continent. Therefore we should be building these bridges.
My friend from Lakeshore pointed out that because there has been no opportunity for debate, the minister came up with an interesting idea that we should maybe have an exchange between members of the two Legislatures. I judge this would be primarily a social thing, and I don’t denigrate that wholly, but I think much more can be done.
I was on one of the groups -- the working party or whatever you want to call it -- the New Democratic Party sent down to Quebec, and it was very fascinating. In a two- or two-and-a-half-day period we met some 10 or a dozen economic, social and political groups and talked through issues of common concern. Some of them were Pequistes; some of them were anti-Pequistes. We came away with a greater appreciation of the issue and they came away, I think, with some appreciation of what the views of the people of Ontario are.
I think that’s the kind of thing that should have been going on. I would hope if we have a committee that does this, we will not only have an exchange visit between the members of the Legislature in Quebec and here, as was done back in 1964 -- it was something of a buildup for the Confederation of Tomorrow conference -- but we also can have working committees that can come to grips with the thing around something other than just a cocktail glass. I’m not deploring the cocktail glass. Human relationships can be strengthened in and around the cocktail glass, I acknowledge, but I think something more substantive than that can done.
The only other general point I would make is that on issues like entrenching human rights or on what is the best way to get a more democratic resolution of the tensions and regional differences within this country, such as I was referring to a moment ago, I for one think it would be unwise for anybody at this point to have conclusions that are etched in stone or dogmas that they’re going to fight for throughout.
My whole approach to what is likely to happen in this reconfederation process is that inevitably it is going to be something like the process from 1864 to 1867. Then you got people together, people with the most disparate views, people who were personally and politically bitter enemies, the Sir John A. Macdonalds and the George Browns. They faced the reality of a nation that didn’t exist. Then it was a collection of colonies that hadn’t achieved a viability for political life, whereas now the prospect is of a nation that is going to be split. These differences will be submerged among those who have the common good in mind, as happened then.
If we go into those negotiations, as inevitably they’re going to develop in some fashion or other in the next few years, it is wise for us to go in saying there are certain goals we want to fulfil and there are certain mechanisms, options one, two, three and four, for achieving those goals. But we should not be so irrevocably wedded and committed to any one, because I venture the prediction that people will go in there and, in the process of compromise and negotiation, they will come out with something that before they went into the negotiations they would never believe or admit they might be associated with. That’s the essence of compromise. That’s the essence of the whole negotiating process.
There are many things that you and I, from our particular advantage and approach to the issue, at the moment may think are either intolerable or undesirable but, ultimately, as part of the process we are going to be willing to accept because it will be necessary to accept it to build a restructured Confederation for the next century and, hopefully, it might work at least as well as the one we had for the last century.
I will leave the matter there. I hope a committee is established. I say it with a great measure of regret because there is nothing I would more dearly like than to be on that committee -- and I won’t be able to because I’m tied up with another committee. It’s with great generosity that I say someone else can have that spot and I, green-eyed with envy, will take my seat and read their report and say; “Damn it, if I had been there, it might have been just a little bit better or at least a little bit different.”
Mr. Deputy Chairman: Does the minister wish to reply to that at this time, or does it require a reply?
Hon. Mr. Wells: Yes, I’d like to make a few comments, Mr. Chairman. I always enjoy hearing the comments of my friend from York South also those of the members for Brant-Oxford-Norfolk and Lakeshore on the constitution. As a matter of fact, the one reason why we have great doubts about a committee is that we know the member for York South won’t be there on it. If he was going to be on it, we would have no problems with it.
Mr. MacDonald: Oh, come on, that’s the lamest excuse you’ve given me and, God knows, you have given a lot of them.
Mr. Ashe: We’ll give him a release from the Hydro committee.
Mr. Nixon: We can turn Hydro over to the member for Carleton East (Ms. Gigantes).
Hon. Mr. Wells: I’d like to just quickly deal with a few of the matters. Although there are few members here, we have had another interesting discussion. I draw my friend’s attention to the fact that this is the second discussion we’ve had in this House on constitutional matters since the House began last fall. I just assumed this role as Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs last August. So in less than a year we’ve had what I would consider two fairly major exchanges in debates in the estimates on this particular section.
I must admit I can’t recall when the estimates of the Ministry of Treasury, Economics and Intergovernmental Affairs used to go through before whether this kind of debate occurred or not. I haven’t had time to check and see that, but last fall and now at this particular time on this vote we’ve had a debate. As I recall, last fall 10 or 12 members of this House took part in what I thought was a very interesting, uplifting and inspirational debate on this particular subject.
I don’t think we have been complacent. My friend from Lakeshore says we have been very complacent on this whole issue. We may have been complacent to the extent that we have not had a committee of this House, but as a government and as a province interested in, first of all, bringing about some kind of constitutional reform in this country and developing a process that we can use as the Quebec referendum comes closer, we have not been complacent. In fact, I think we have been anything but complacent. As I indicated in my opening remarks, there have been --
Mr. Lawlor: You have done precious little.
Hon. Mr. Wells: You think we have done precious little? I know you have made some comments in jest about the whole discussions being in the hands of the bureaucratic elite. I can’t recall the exact phrase you used, but if you were to ask the staff of the Ministry of Intergovernmental Affairs if there has been precious little done in the last eight months, I am afraid they would say you are very wrong. There has been more done in the last year or eight months in this whole area than probably occurred in three or four years before.
As I indicated to you, there have been two federal-provincial conferences held on constitutional reform. There was a series of meetings --
Mr. Lawlor: They achieved nothing.
Hon. Mr. Wells: I disagree with you. I don’t think you can say they achieved nothing.
Mr. Lawlor: They got bogged down on economic issues.
Hon. Mr. Wells: They have started down the road to laying the groundwork for more significant achievement.
Mr. Lawlor: There may be a fair amount done behind the scenes. By the way, I’d like to have whatever you can give me; you offered all kinds of papers.
Hon. Mr. Wells: All right. We will send you all the papers we have. Anything that was achieved, I think you saw it publicly manifested in the television coverage and the reporting of the last first ministers’ conference. Since that time, because of the federal election, there has been a hiatus on any discussion and most of the activity taking place.
I think the groundwork was laid significantly to carry on the kind of discussions I saw, and I must say I measured them only from my involvement in these discussions and other discussions on things not related to the constitution, but the kind of attitude the provinces brought to that particular task suggested to me that we can keep the ball rolling, to use the vernacular term, and keep the process going.
It is not necessarily going to be over in a short time, but I think we can keep it going. What I sense you want is a greater involvement in it, and that is a very valid position to put forward. Certainly we cannot be in a position of arriving at conclusions and agreements on a new constitution for Canada which does not have the groundswell understanding and involvement of all the elected members in all the provinces across Canada. We must be sure we develop that.
You also put forward the proposition about wondering what Ontario’s position is and has been, particularly in these last series of discussions which have gone on and in those discussions which will go on shortly. I think the member for York South (Mr. MacDonald), probably unknowingly, in a few words epitomized the position Ontario has put forward. It may or may not be agreed to by all members of this House, but we did not go forward in any of the meetings or discussions with any positions etched in stone.
We did take that position for the very valid reason that many provinces over the years have viewed Ontario with a little distrust because they thought eastern Canada, being the economic centre of Canada, was always trying to get its own way, that we come in with the propositions and everyone is expected to accept them, because that feeling to some degree persists out there across the country; and for the other reason that we felt our position should be one of honest broker in the constitutional discussions that were taking place, that we, having studied the positions, should try to take a posture at the various meetings of bringing together the different elements that were present at the discussion table, at the negotiating table, to try and arrive at, as again my friend from York South said, a position that would be acceptable to the greatest number of people.
In other words, we didn’t come in and say: “This is the way it should be. We’re going to try and convince you that you all should agree to this.” We came in and said: “Look, there are certain overall principles we think have to be adhered to, but within those overall principles” -- and I think they were outlined in the speech from the throne -- “there’s lots of room for all of us to sit down and talk about the division of powers, and what the Senate should be like and what the Supreme Court should be like. Let’s see if we can get a consensus, at least of a majority of the members of this federation.” That really is the position we have taken. We’ve tried to draw together, out of the discussion, a lot of different ideas and to come up with what might be acceptable to Ontario and to all of the members of the federation.
We haven’t been successful. The conferences haven’t been successful in doing that in a great number of areas, but -- and I’ll be glad to send the honourable member the documents from the meetings on the 14 items -- we have arrived at consensus on some; we’ve arrived at just about consensus on some others; and with a little more discussion there are others on which we can arrive at some general agreement. There are others on which we stand quite far apart, but they are going to have to be worked upon.
With that position having been stated, that is, of us acting as the honest broker trying to facilitate discussion and bring together the provinces and federal government in Canada to try to help arrive at some positions that are acceptable to all, why, then, did we put forward the proposition for patriation of the constitution? If necessary, unilateral patriation without amending formula. We put forward that position, which began to look more like a position that was etched in stone rather than a conciliatory position, for the very reason that I think some members have brought out in this debate, which was that a lot of people in Canada really don’t see constitutional reform and constitutional discussion as important, because as was indicated in the debate on Friday, people say to us: “Why are you worried about constitutional reform? Why are you worried about a constitution changing certain powers when what you need to worry about in this country is jobs, and the economy and so forth. We can think about that somewhere down the road, five or 10 years from now.” They say this without realizing that they are all intertwined, and what happens constitutionally does have an effect on the economic future of this country.
Also, you can talk to people -- and I’ve talked to them and I know the honourable member has -- and you say: “Are you interested in keeping Canada together?” The answer, of course, is a very resounding: “Yes, sure, I want to do everything I can to keep this country united.” Then you say: “Well are you interested in constitutional reform?” Then they reply, “No, I’m not interested; what’s that got to do with it?” People don’t even realize that the essence of rebuilding this federation is tied up to a renewed constitution; that’s the way, the peaceful way, we can do something constructive to keep Canada united. Therefore, by suggesting the bold act of patriation, we felt that if a government in this country, a federal government, could say to the people of Canada through a joint address of the Senate and the House of Commons: “We’re going to bring the constitution back to Canada. After 112 years our constitution, the British North America Act, which is now an act of the British Parliament, along with those other things that are connected with it that make up the constitution of Canada, we’re going to bring it back here and henceforth, from here on in, the constitution of Canada remains here in Canada”; we could then proceed down the road of renewing that constitution, not with a view to going to Westminster to bring about the changes but making them right here.
We do it even without an amending formula. If we can’t arrive at an amending formula we leave all those matters concerning an amending formula just the way they are and we bring the constitution back here. Those things still stay; we operate under the same ground rules but we have the constitution here.
Perhaps that act of bringing the constitution home will be enough to make at least a majority of the people of Canada aware this is an important task we are on and it is one that we should be concerned about. It is one that holds within its promise the future of Canada, not only as a united country but as an economically-sound country. So for that reason we adopted that stance at the conference that was held last February.
The federal election is over. The Quebec referendum is coming. We still believe that --
Mr. Lawlor: You forgot to tell Joe.
Hon. Mr. Wells: Oh he knows. You mean we forgot to tell him the federal election is over? I think he knows.
Mr. Lawlor: You forgot to tell him about repatriation.
Hon. Mr. Wells: I think he is aware of that. Flora certainly is. The present Minister of External Affairs, I recall, sat very diligently through all the public sessions of the various first ministers’ conferences, and I am sure she will be able to share her views very eloquently on what went on.
Anyway, we now face the Quebec referendum, which is to be announced shortly. We have had the federal election; the new government is in place and the ministers who will be concerned with constitutional reform and federal-provincial relations have been appointed. I think we now have to pick up where we left off. We have to re-establish our steering committee of federal and provincial ministers. We have to prepare for a ministers’ conference which will ultimately lead to another first ministers’ conference; we have to keep the process continuing because we have the base from which we can operate.
The base has been indicated by my friend in his discussions, and by many people here in their discussions. I think the base for operations is the work that has gone on in the continuing committee of ministers on the constitution. The work is there in the Pepin-Robarts task force report.
However I may say it was very interesting to watch Jean-Luc Pepin on Question Period last night. He indicated he believed he would no longer be responsible for federal-provincial relations or the constitution in the shadow cabinet the Leader of the Opposition set up. He hoped he would be in something completely different; he seemed to want to get away from being responsible for this area. He also, I think, changed position slightly from the one he had held a few months ago that the report represented an entity that linked all together. If I recall correctly, he said last night you could take certain sections or pages here and there but not worry about some of their other recommendations.
I have always felt, since I first read this report, that it offers good background material for any group studying a renewed federalism in this country. It is a very valuable source of information. I think something forgotten by many people is that it represents a report that was developed after very extensive public hearings. It represents the work of the committee after they sat in province after province, all across this country, and listened to people from every walk of life talk about what they wanted in Canada and how they thought the country should be restructured. So it represents the synthesis of a lot of opinion from a lot of people; and that is something that many of the other reports that have been written do not contain.
We also have the two reports of the Ontario Advisory Committee on Confederation. I would like to say a couple of words about the Ontario committee, because of course that has been one of our approaches in government. We do not believe all the work on Confederation or leading up to the various conferences should be done completely in government, so Ian Macdonald was appointed chairman of the Ontario advisory committee, which is a committee that advises the Premier and the cabinet of this province.
I would like to read the names of the members of that committee so members of this House will know who sits on the Ontario Advisory Committee on Confederation: Judge Rosalie Abella of the family division of the provincial court; Gail Cook who is an economist; Rodrique J. Bilodeau who is chairman and chief executive officer of Honeywell Limited; Dr. Jean Noel Desmerais of Laurentian Hospital; Ken Dryden of the Montreal Canadiens, who is also a lawyer; Robert Duffy of the editorial board of the Toronto Star; the Hon. George Gale of the Ontario Law Reform Commission; Robert Kymlika, dean of social sciences, University of Western Ontario; Roland Michener, former Governor General of Canada; Hugh Peacock of the Ontario Federation of Labour; Anne Michele Meggs who is a former assistant secretary of the committee; Robert Simeon, director of the Institute of Intergovernmental Relations at Queen’s University; and Frank M. Vasilkioti, president of Triarch Corporation Limited.
Other members have sat on that committee and for various reasons are not now sitting, so there are others I should name, although I do not have their names here, who have taken part in the preparation of the report.
I also recall the Destiny Canada conference held at York University in June 1971. This was our ideal -- the government and York University and the Ontario Advisory Committee on Confederation and others -- to try a vehicle through which we could get across to the public some of the things that were happening in this particular area. I think it was a successful conference.
I also draw the attention of the House to the fact there is a very important series of booklets prepared by the province of British Columbia on constitutional problems. Any discussion of background papers on the constitution should not neglect the significant contribution of the province of British Columbia, which for the first time many of us can recall has put down in very precise terms the kinds of things officials there see as their perspectives. It is a very well-written series of booklets. I suppose the only criticism I might have is they tend to fall into the category of etched in stone. Sometimes when we sit down at the table they are pulled out and they say: “We said this in our booklets,” and it is a little hard to move them off the position in their booklets. I suggest that probably could be done with good debate. Their proposals represent, I think, another very important source.
There are many others. The Canadian Bar Association has done a lot of work in this particular area. Except for their misguided idea about the monarchy, I think they have a very good report. It provides good background for anyone studying these particular matters.
Mr. Lawlor: After all, most of them are Queen’s counsel.
Hon. Mr. Wells: That is right. I would also like to say the tenor of the kind of discussion that goes on at meetings on the constitution and on constitutional reform was presented very well here a few minutes ago by the member for York South when he talked about the conflicting opinions in regard to entrenchment of human rights, and “the charter on human rights” as that matter has come to be called.
I note he put forward Mr. Broadbent’s position. As I recall, Flora MacDonald and the federal Progressive Conservative Party in those days also put forward a position very strongly for entrenching fundamental human rights in the constitution. Then, measured against that, there are the opinions of Premier Blakeney of Saskatchewan and Premier Sterling Lyon of Manitoba, and to some degree that of Premier Bennett of British Columbia.
No one is against human rights. I suggest all of the provinces in one way or another have legislation on human rights. They have advanced legislation on employment practices and so forth. They have guarantees of legal rights. The kinds of rights we are all talking about are not in question; it is the way we handle them. Do we entrench them in a constitution or do we not entrench them. I think that has been the question that has been before us at many meetings. It is one for which we have not yet found an answer, and I don’t know that we have any magic answer at the present time.
I don’t know whether the members of this House have seen the proposed Ontario draft for discussion by first ministers. It is what we call the mini-charter of human rights. It was a draft that would replace the very long draft that was in the former federal piece of legislation called Bill C-60. Ontario, incidentally, was the only other province I can recall that actually put forward an alternative draft at our meetings.
In other words, we tried to hit a position in between the positions; on the one hand of a very detailed charter of human rights entrenched in the Constitution, as was in the federal Bill C-60; and the position of many of the Premiers, that basically we could be seen to be limiting human rights by entrenchment. We tried to come in with an in-between position, just for discussion. Certainly, at this point, it has not been accepted by all the provinces, but it has provided a starting point for some entrenchment of fundamental freedoms and certain language rights in education.
I think that shows just some of the detail and scope that must go on in these discussions. I welcome the comments we have had in these estimates so far. We are going to have an opportunity to debate the idea of a committee. It hasn’t been completely rejected, as some of the members have said in this House. As I recall, the last words I uttered on this matter were that the House leaders were going to take a look at it. My friend the member for Brant-Oxford-Norfolk (Mr. Nixon) is not here --
Mr. Worton: He has gone to discuss it.
Hon. Mr. Wells: He has gone to discuss it, has he? Good. I didn’t want to leave the impression that I had said the House leaders had said it couldn’t be held during the summer, I think when the members for Riverdale (Mr. Renwick) and Ottawa East (Mr. Roy) and I had a discussion about it. The member for Ottawa East and I found some resistance in our own caucuses to any more committees during the summer, not by the House leaders but by our caucuses. We really found that the schedule for the summer was such that it would be very difficult to schedule another committee.
That being as it may, the suggestion was that perhaps the fall would be an early enough time to start in. That was the final suggestion we were left with, that a committee organize now and start meetings in the fall. That was the suggestion we were taking back to look at and which I think all parties were going to take a look at. I thought perhaps the House leaders, who meet regularly and also have to schedule these things and make sure they work, were the group that could discuss the matter and see where that idea should go from here. I think that’s where it stands. We will have to wait and see what results from that discussion, and then from the discussion among all the parties.
With those remarks, that is all I would like to say at this time on that particular item.
Vote 602 agreed to.
On vote 603, local government affairs program:
Mr. Makarchuk: Mr. Chairman, I was going to touch on the matter that was raised by the member for Brant-Oxford-Norfolk (Mr. Nixon), and discussed under the previous vote to some extent.
This is not the greatest constitutional issue but, in terms of unity, harmony, cohesiveness, the ability to plan our future, decisions to grow rationally and sensibly and so on, all these things seem to hang in the air right now while everybody in the municipal field is waiting for the minister to make up his mind.
The minister did indicate in his opening remarks, and to the member for Brant-Oxford-Norfolk, that he will be coming through with some kind of timetable or some suggestions or some solutions and that he hopes to make that announcement late in the summer.
It bothers me -- and I think it bothers members of council as well -- that, in effect, what the minister is suggesting is that he’s going to have more discussions that somehow, somewhere, he’s going to get these councils together from adjoining municipalities and they’re going to sit down and come up with a rational answer that will be satisfactory to everybody.
I want to point out to the minister that they’ve been sitting and talking and talking for 11 years or 12 years now. They’ve had committees; they’ve had fact-finders; they’ve had committees within committees -- in other words, you name it, and they’ve had it. They’ve gone through the various possible methods of communications of which one can conceive to come to a solution to the problem, and they’re no closer to a solution now than they were 10 or 15 years ago.
That’s why, when I hear the minister say, “We’re going to come to it again, but we’re going to have these consultations and we’re going to have all these other things,” it seems to me what we’re embarking on here is another exercise in futility. We could continue with these futile exercises, I suppose, if the minister finds it fascinating or if some other people find it fascinating -- and perhaps some people do. I don’t think the minister’s people do. I don’t think the people in the ministry find it fascinating, and I don’t think the minister is finding it fascinating; neither do the urban municipalities that are faced with problems find it fascinating to continue talking and talking. At this time they are looking for solutions. The necessity, of course, is that there are pressing problems.
There are problems of planning, urban growth, development, sewage, environmental problems, land-use problems -- all the problems associated with the municipal administration. This is not new to the minister. He’s aware of it and he knows it. It has been brought to his attention on many occasions, and he has acknowledged it in the speeches he has made.
But somehow I want to impress upon the minister that there is frustration up there. It’s not just frustration within the municipality of Brantford; it’s not the only one in the province. There are a lot of other urban municipalities that are feeling this frustration.
They came to the minister at a meeting a year ago and stated their views. They expressed what the problems were. I think the minister was aware of them. The Premier, who was there, was aware of them. The Attorney General, who was there, I am sure was aware of them. Here we are, a year later, and the minister is promising us that, some time late in the summer, he’s going to come up with a definitive statement.
I don’t know what the minister’s definitive statement will contain, but I’m going to take him at his word. After 15 years, I suppose another couple of months isn’t going to bring about the end of the world or bring about a calamity.
However, I want to caution the minister and warn him that there are people out there who are watching this thing, who want some answers and who want some action. They don’t want to see the ministry -- which has to provide the leadership in this case -- sliding all over. The ministry is not moving forward; it is going sideways, like a demented crab. Every time the ministry comes to a problem, it slithers to one side or the other side. The ministry is not meeting the problem head-on.
There’s no question that there will be some animosity. Certain people don’t want annexation; other people want different processes to take place, or whatever. But nobody seems to agree totally as to what they want and how things should be done.
But we do have some patterns established. We have some past experience about what works and what doesn’t work on a municipal level, and surely with all that expertise and all that knowledge and everything else you’ve got, with all the king’s horses and the king’s men that you have within your department. I hope you will come through by the end of the summer, as you say, with something that a municipality can latch on to and say, “All right, we have an annexation problem, we have to resolve it,” they can latch on to this, you set up a process that will, within certain reasonable time frames, come to some kind of conclusion.
The minister has made some comments before, and could I just get assurance from him that this time, once and for all, he is really going to tackle the problem head on?
Hon. Mr. Wells: Mr. Chairman, certainly we are going to tackle the problem; we’ve always believed we should tackle the problem. I draw to my friend’s attention, though, that he and the member for Brant-Oxford-Norfolk can’t agree in this House on what would be a solution to the problem. Brantford township and Brantford can’t agree on what should be a solution to a problem, and we are expected to come up with the so-called magical solution. Some of them that were in that brief that the urban municipalities gave to us eight months ago or so, would perhaps make the city of Brantford very happy, but they would make Brantford township very unhappy.
Some of the solutions that we might contemplate here could perhaps leave a lasting effect in the community that would be detrimental for many years to come. The question that I have to weigh is, what’s worse, something that could create that kind of division and detrimental effect or the kind of situation that has just been indicated to me by the member for Brant-Oxford-Norfolk, that there appears to have been a bit of cooling-out of the situation there, and certainly from his point of view he doesn’t see it as major a problem as he did.
I don’t think that’s right; it may not be as visible at the present time, but I can tell my friend from Brantford that I’m getting as many letters as I know he is and as many calls about what’s going to happen and how can the situation be handled.
I just want to underline, first, that we will come forward with our suggestions for a different way. I also want to underline that they are not going to be some magical solutions that are necessarily going to solve everything. I want to also underline that they are going to take the goodwill and the hard work of people involved to make them work and that’s the kind of thing, I think, that in any annexation or amalgamation is necessary if you have two violently, unalterably opposed groups.
It’s very difficult. I listen to both sides in my office many times and it becomes very hard to know who to side with. You listen to the urban municipalities and you hear their story and it all sounds very plausible and very feasible. Then when the other group comes in and tells you how they are just trying to live their lives and get along and they are suddenly being grabbed at by somebody next to them, you become very sympathetic with them. Then you have to sort of try and bring balance into the whole thing, and that’s what we are trying to do.
Also for that area, of course, if they felt that the normal route was acceptable to them, of course that’s not out of the question either, but we have assumed that they don’t want to go the normal OMB route in the Brantford-Brantford township area, so we are trying to come up with something that will be a little different. I might tell my friend that in the Barrie-Innisfil township situation, where they have been through all the normal routes and all the expense and all the time, we are still trying to find some way to perhaps bring that to some conclusion, and that is very difficult again, to get all the people to agree to some kind of process. While people out there think we have some kind of power that can automatically, if we say something, turn off the most violently opposed person and make him a very docile conciliator, that doesn’t happen very often, and it’s very difficult sometimes to change people around and get them to accept those kinds of positions.
However, you do have my assurance that we are working on it and, the way I see it, based on the kinds of comments and suggestions we’ll get from the various municipal groups, when we come up with our suggestions for a different method and way of handling these matters I am sure that Brantford and Brantford township will be the first area we will want to try the whole process in. That should be towards the end of August.
Mr. Makarchuk: You don’t sound too reassuring to me. I don’t know what the member for Brant-Oxford-Norfolk is talking about when he says the situation has cooled off. You’ve got a letter on file and, if you want, I can read it to you to give an indication of the continual frustration they feel. There is an element of frustration in council.
As you said, we’re not going to pacify everybody and everybody is not going to be happy about the situation. If you talk to the people in both places and explain the problem to them -- and there has been a considerable amount of effort to explain the reasons for certain actions being taken -- you’ll find out they are basically reasonable and receptive.
It depends on to whom you listen. If you listen to the reeve of Brantford township, who I consider -- and I say it in public as I’ve said it before -- the most destructive element in the whole of Brant county in terms of trying to rationalize and bring some kind of satisfactory conclusion to that area. It’s unfortunate that we have to get into the feeling that we’ll listen here and listen there, and we continue doing this thing, but we never resolve the problems.
The problems are increasing. It’s detrimental to the community in just about any way you want to look at it from the civic point of view. The people realize it, It’s not only the people in the city of Brantford who realize it, but also the people living outside the city, outside the boundaries but still in the urban areas of Brantford township, who realize the situation and are prepared to look at it.
It’s not like going into an annexation for the benefit of some individual. The decision is there for the benefit of the whole community. It’s not for the benefit of the councillors in Brantford township or the benefit of the councillors in the city of Brantford. No one gets any kind of personal gain out of this situation. It’s strictly a desire on the part of the people up there who see certain needs in the community, who are concerned about the community and who are trying to meet those needs so that the community can continue to function and grow.
As Harry Truman used to say, “The buck stops here.” Somewhere you have to put an end to the passing of this buck. I admit that we don’t expect magical solutions, neither do I consider you the wizard of IGA. However, we are looking for solutions and in the final analysis we have to go to the ministry. There is nowhere else we can go.
Brantford township has indicated in the letter that was sent to you recently that if there is no final solution by August it wants to go the OMB route, frustrating as it may be and expensive as it may be. That should indicate to you the feeling of those people who are trying to run the city. And you’re not helping them a damn bit.
Hon. Mr. Wells: Some of my predecessors in this government came up with the so-called magical solutions from 1968 to about 1974-75. We don’t have too many of you over there wanting to acknowledge they were magical solutions. That was the very essence of regionalization and regional government and restructured counties. It was to provide what was supposed to be a much better way of handling this particular problem.
I gather that no one in Brantford is suggesting a restructured Brant county with Brantford as part of it and everyone working into that particular situation. My friend is not suggesting that we do that?
Mr. Makarchuk: I’m not suggesting that you have to go the whole hog. There have been some suggestions that there could be a restructuring that would possibly satisfy most of the people in the county. If you talked to the people in Paris, they’re interested in annexation; if you talk to the people in South Dumfries they’re interested in some type of annexation or new agreements. Talk to the councillors in those communities. But, basically, outside of Brantford township, I think, every municipality in Brant county, is prepared to look at something different. They will acknowledge that we have problems that have to be sorted out. Somehow they have to be dealt with.
This ministry is the only one which can help to arrive at some resolution for the simple reason they have been doing exactly what you are suggesting they should be doing, continue the talking. They have been talking, ministry officials have been talking with them, officials’ officials and so on and it becomes perpetual motion in discussion.
One can’t operate the province or the city on just talk alone. Sometime someone has to make a decision. Somewhere you have to arrive at some conclusions and start implementing decisions in tangible planning matters, environmental matters, sewers, waters, transportation corridors, all these kinds of things -- fringe business developments, particularly if you have a downtown development you are trying to make viable. All these are important.
If they are not dealt with now, when are they going to be dealt with? When you do get around to dealing with them later on, chances are it will be too late, The whole area will have been ruined by procrastination and inactivity.
Hon. Mr. Wells: As I indicated in my first remarks, I recognize the problem and we are hoping to come up with something soon.
I want to point out, when we tried those solutions which I think are working -- that is, the regional governments in this province -- every time we have tried those we have been accused by some members of the third party and members in the official opposition of being arrogant, of being autocratic, of contradicting local autonomy and so forth. They were the so-called magical solutions to solve the problems of urban expansion, or resources for everyone, to do an adequate job of preserving agricultural farm land and rationalizing it with industrial land and so forth. They were to be the better way to handle the situation.
We have stopped doing that because it hasn’t proved to be the better way from the point of view of those people affected, who don’t see it as any better way. I must say I think regional governments, on balance, looking at all the pros and cons, have been effective and have done their jobs in the province.
Mr. Haggerty: Would you say that applies to the Niagara region?
Hon. Mr. Wells: As it applies to the Niagara Region, yes, I would say that. I think the regional government is fine in the Niagara region. What is needed are a few changes of attitude.
I went down to the Niagara region. A little more industry is required down there -- and not industry on the good agricultural vine-lands and tender fruit land, but industry in the member’s end of the Niagara Peninsula. It doesn’t take any wizard to see that. I drove around in one day down there a few months ago and saw that.
Mr. Haggerty: That is not the way the official plan is geared, though.
Hon. Mr. Wells: I think you have to effect some change and I think the member for Brock (Mr. Welch) sees that too. I hope the member for Welland-Thorold sees that, also. There is great potential down there but somehow, people have been scared off from the Niagara region. Industry thinks if it goes there it will be encroaching upon tender fruit land.
Mr. Swart: Industry isn’t that unknowledgeable throughout the Niagara Peninsula. Three-quarters of it is not unique.
Hon. Mr. Wells: I know it isn’t, but with respect to my friend, they have had such a problem with some of the people there over the years, they finally said, “Why bother even considering that area?” That is the attitude that has to be overcome and what I would like to help overcome so that some economic development can go into the Niagara Peninsula.
Mr. Haggerty: You can always make it crown land.
Mr. Mackenzie: To get over it you would get rid of the rest of the land.
Mr. Makarchuk: I don’t want to get into the argument of regional government, but the big problem with regional government is the fact that taxes went up. People weren’t that uptight about the restructuring or the new administration, but when their taxes went up, they were fed up with it. Everywhere it was put in place, that’s the way it was implemented, instead of bringing in some reform in the tax system and everything else so the people didn’t have to carry an extra load. Then probably it would have been found regional government would not have met with the hostility it has met with in the areas where it has been put into place.
I want to point out, in the Brant area, for example, where there are 90,000 people, there are five municipalities, five councils -- they go on forever -- and the point is they are spending. The per capita public spending in Brant right now, as of the last report that we did locally, is more than it is in the regional governments. That’s something the minister should look at some time and point out when somebody is criticizing him about the spending in regional governments. In Brant, where we have no regional government, per-capita spending is higher than in the Niagara region, plus a few other regions, and we haven’t even got the advantages or disadvantages.
Mr. Ruston: You are responsible for the Municipal Act and you made an amendment to it last December with regard to municipalities having a right to make agreements to put services in mobile home parks on agreement with the owners and the municipality. Have you or the Minister of Revenue (Mr. Maeck) looked at the system now whereby you are assessing mobile homes but the basis of collecting tax is by the owner of the mobile home park?
This is fine in that it can be paid in one lump sum, but there are some real ramifications to that in that they are finding in some cases that the taxes are not being paid on time. The owner of the park in one or two cases has not paid the taxes on time, while at the same time the owners of the mobile homes have.
In a couple of cases under rent review the park owner borrowed money to pay the taxes and yet the money had come in to him from the mobile home owners. The rent review officer allowed that as an expense. So, in effect, the people had paid their taxes on their mobile home while the park owner had said he had to borrow money to pay the taxes. He paid the taxes with what he said was borrowed money and the rent review officer allowed the interest and so forth to be a part of the rent increase.
It can happen the other way too, if the owner pays his taxes every three months, as in most cases they are collected three or four times a year or sometimes six times a year. In some cases, maybe they’re not paid properly so that the owner could be paying the taxes when he hasn’t collected on the mobile home.
I am wondering if the minister has had any representation or thought of the idea of having it so that each mobile home owner pays his own taxes on the same basis actually as business tax is paid for by a tenant who is running a business?
Hon. Mr. Wells: I don’t recall us having that proposition put forward to us. I’d be glad to look into it and see what the pros and cons of it are. I can’t recall anyone suggesting it to us, but I’ll look into it.
Mr. Isaacs: I have a number of questions for the minister arising out of my colleague’s comments about the Brantford situation and arising also from the minister’s opening statements.
I’d like to take the Brantford situation, first of all, and expand that because I think that it’s a very fundamental problem facing municipalities in Ontario at the present time. It’s unfortunate that we’re talking about it now as if it were a new problem because the problem of local government restructuring and more particularly of annexations, has been with us for a very long time. We don’t seem to me to be any closer to a solution now than we were 15 or 20 or perhaps even 35 years ago, though I wasn’t around then to know what the problems were.
Until we identify what local government is supposed to be doing, what its responsibilities are and why it exists in certain defined units, I think we’re going to have the problems we’re facing at the present time. I hope the minister will take a look at that area and try to come up with a definition of what a municipality is and what it’s supposed to be doing.
It seems to me that when we’re dealing with annexations or restructurings at the present time, there are at least two major issues that arise all the time. One is property taxes and the other is planning. It’s probably taxes that come first.
In the Brantford situation, in the Sarnia situation and in all the restructurings that we’ve been through that have arisen for whatever reason, the people who are to be annexed or absorbed into another municipality always have the impression that their property taxes are going to go up, and in every situation that I have been able to research they have been right. So we have a situation where it is to the financial disadvantage of the people who live in the area to be annexed that they get involved in this kind of situation.
I think that is unfortunate, and I think it relates to the overall problem of property taxes and what property taxes are supposed to be doing in this province. I think if we could identify that property taxes were to pay for the services people received we would be making a big step forward in terms of eliminating that problem from consideration when dealing with municipal restructuring.
I could go on a lot more about property taxes but I don’t intend to, because we have spoken a lot about them already and there is so much that could be said. We could take up all the time of this vote, and I don’t want to do that.
The other point I mentioned was one of planning. We are in a situation where annexations result from the desire of municipalities to expand their urban boundaries. Cities and large towns fill up the major part of the land available to them with urban land uses, then they turn around and say, “Where are we going to grow?”
As we know, the whole property tax wealth syndrome in this province is based on growth. That may or may not be a good thing. I certainly have some reservations about it, but the minister commented a few minutes ago that growth was needed in Niagara, it was needed in Welland and Thorold and some of the other areas where it makes economic sense, where it is not doing any harm to the land use that is available -- namely that of fruit farming.
That’s true, but if there is to be growth in Niagara, where is that growth coming from? The odds are it is coming from Burlington, or even more likely that it is coming from eastern Ontario and northeastern Ontario, areas of the province which probably need urban growth, industrial and commercial growth, even more desperately than does the Niagara Peninsula.
I would suggest that while we have municipalities competing among themselves for growth that is available in the province of Ontario, then while we might be benefiting the residences of one particular municipality -- and I say “might” because I am not convinced we are -- we are probably doing harm to the province as a whole.
We would be better in the long run if we established an official plan for the province, as has been suggested to the minister by the Association of Municipalities of Ontario, which laid down the growth centres this province is to have, established very clearly the priorities the province is to have, and put over that a tax structure which meant that it was not to the financial disadvantage of a municipality not to grow and there was no great financial advantage to a municipality to grow beyond its reasonable needs.
At the moment we are seeing a situation where the immediate returns to a municipality in terms of tax income from industrial and commercial growth may be beneficial. They certainly appear to be so at first glance, but when you take into account the additional services that are needed for that industry and, more importantly, the services that are needed to satisfy the sprawling urban growth that we are seeing around a lot of our cities, then in fact the growth may be counterproductive.
When we are having to build new schools to satisfy the residential growth in new urban areas, when we are having to spend a fortune -- as metro people know probably better than anyone else -- to provide transit services to urban sprawl, when we are having to provide transitional grants from the province to deal with relatively minor reorganizations of services, then in those situations and many others I do not think we are doing anybody a favour. We may be doing a lot of people in the province a disfavour by allowing relatively uncontrolled growth, at least uncontrolled insofar as it is arising through competition between municipalities rather than as a result of proper planning.
I really want to suggest to you that in co-operation with your colleague, the Minister of Housing (Mr. Bennett) and the other ministers concerned, you sit down and look at the proposals for an official plan for Ontario, not just for the Toronto-centred region but for the whole of Ontario, to begin to identify what is going on in the municipal arena and where growth and planning are the responsibility of the municipality and where they are the responsibility of the entire province.
As an aside I want to say I think the white paper that has been recently introduced by the minister’s colleague on the Planning Act is a big step forward. It is at least saying responsibility for planning rests primarily at the municipal level. I think that will cause a considerable amount of respect to grow for municipal councils. It will finally get us away from the syndrome where municipal councils are just a step in the whole planning process and put us in a situation where local taxpayers take municipal elections very seriously and realize when they are electing their local council they are electing the people who will decide the future of their municipality.
That is a good thing, but I do not think it can be allowed to proceed unless there are fairly stringent guidelines and a reorganized system of conditional and unconditional -- hopefully mostly unconditional -- grants for municipalities so we get away from the competition for growth we have right now.
My second point relates to the matter of environmental control. I am concerned that the problems we have with waste disposal, both residential and industrial waste, have now been handed carte blanche to the municipalities. I do not believe the average municipality is capable of dealing with them. I do not believe the sort of changes we need in the way we handle waste materials are within the capability of any but the very largest municipalities. I have my doubts as to whether they are within the capability of those municipalities, because at the moment at least, there is no financial incentive to a municipal government when dealing with waste disposal. There is financial incentive to the province to deal with waste properly because we save money in the long run if we put in place the kind of recycling and resource recovery we should have.
Because it has been handed to the municipalities, I hope you will see it as resting in part within your portfolio and that you will interact with the Minister of the Environment (Mr. Parrott) in order to ensure environmental matters get the priority they have to have in this great province of ours.
Having dealt with what I see as the overall problems that face us, I want to address a number of more specific problems municipalities, citizens and taxpayers have brought to your attention over the last years. I hope I can elicit from you a fairly clear response as to the direction the government is taking.
The first concern I have relates to the matter of local boards. At the moment we have a considerable number of local boards with responsibility for a great range of services. Most of those local boards are run by appointees rather than by people who are elected, although in some cases elected officials serve on local boards and that satisfies me. If I can take just two of the many examples available, the first is conservation authorities
While a conservation authority is undoubtedly a very effective and necessary body for dealing with water resources, erosion and landfill problems within a watershed -- and it is effective because it is removed from the electoral process -- I want to suggest it is far less effective when it begins to compete with municipalities in the provision of recreational services of all kinds. I am very concerned that we seem to be getting into a situation where conservation authorities are setting up camp grounds and parks of various kinds that have nothing to do with conservation. They are there solely to satisfy the recreational needs of a region.
I hope you will take a look at that and make sure the conservation authorities don’t become some kind of upper-tier parks committee. I hope you’ll ensure those responsibilities for the provisions of parks and recreation are left fairly and squarely with elected bodies, while the water conservation functions are retained by the appointed bodies.
The second example I want to use is that of library boards. I know it is one about which there is a great deal of debate, but I cannot understand why library boards continue to occupy the special legislative status they presently have and why libraries and the conditional grants that go with them should not become part of the unconditional funding general responsibilities of a local council. A local council should decide whether or not it wants a library; if it decides it does, let it decide how that library should be run.
That is something I have fairly strong views about, and I hope the minister will respond fairly clearly as to the long-term direction his ministry is taking in this area.
Mr. Philip: The minister can make his views known in the justice committee on that private bill that’s coming before us.
Mr. Isaacs: That’s right.
Hon. Mr. Wells: What’s that?
Mr. Isaacs: Another area that has been under review for at least the last two and a half years relates to the matter of licensing. We have heard promises or threats, depending on which side you are on, that the government is going to introduce legislation that takes away much of the clout a municipality now has in the area of licensing. More importantly, it will take away the additional source of revenue that licensing has become for many municipalities.
There are certainly two sides to this. But I hope the minister can tell us when this debate is going to enter the public arena, rather than being in the back rooms of either his ministry or the Ministry of the Attorney General, wherever it is at the moment, so we can come to a clear and concise description of what functions municipalities should have and what functions should either not happen at all or should be retained by the provincial government.
One specific area of licensing I know is of great concern to a number of municipalities is that of pinball machines. I hope the minister will tell us what plans he has for either permitting municipalities to deal with that, or of permitting some kind of provincial government control of that whole area.
The next question I have for the minister relates to matters under the building code. Very commonly, we are getting into situations now where municipalities are coming into problems as a result of their relatively weak enforcement of the building code. If municipalities were to enforce the building code as I believe they should, to ensure that every building in Ontario met 100 per cent with the standards laid down in the building code, then they would be facing tremendous expense. This expense would have to be met by the taxpayers of the entire municipality, because the municipal council has no way of recovering it either from builders or from those who are purchasing the buildings that are put up.
Given the programs we have had for provision of low-cost housing and given the needs that industry and commerce have for low-cost buildings at this time when land cost forms such a high percentage of the cost of new construction and of new homes and factories, I believe we have to move to a new system for ensuring that buildings meet the minimum requirements. I hope that the minister can enlighten us somewhat and provide, for the information of municipalities and purchasers of new buildings, information that the government is taking a look at this and is considering new ways of ensuring that buildings meet the standards so that municipalities don’t get involved in horrendous costs md what could be long drawn out legal suits.
Mr. Deputy Chairman: Will the member move that we rise and report?
Mr. Isaacs: I will do that. I do have a few more minutes of remarks and I will proceed with those next day.
On motion by Mr. MacBeth, the committee of supply reported a certain resolution.
The House adjourned at 6 p.m.