31st Parliament, 4th Session

L003 - Thu 13 Mar 1980 / Jeu 13 mar 1980

The House resumed at 8 p.m.


Resumption of the adjourned debates on the motions for adoption of the reports of the standing procedural affairs committee:


Mr. Breaugh: I wish the members would try to restrain themselves, Mr. Speaker, and keep this spontaneous demonstration down to at least a humble roar.

We have before us tonight four reports from the procedural affairs committee, and I would beg the indulgence of the chair as I simply run over them for us. It is my understanding we have an agreement that we will be able to speak as freely as we like on the four reports that are before the House this evening and that we will have a vote at 10:15 p.m.

The first report before the House this evening was presented on November 15, 1979. This report deals with the matter that was of some concern to members having to do with the presentation before the House of documents that were prepared in this instance on the part of the government and on which the government wanted a debate. The members in general, I think, were in agreement that such a debate was a useful exercise but were unsure of the exact procedural techniques that should be used to get those matters before the House, in particular with regard to the matter of having annual reports or other sessional papers presented to us in the absence of a motion.

The committee considered this and presented what I think it is reasonable to say is a consensus report, which does not necessarily reflect everybody’s point of view on the matter but at least provides a mechanism whereby the House might consider such matters and set a precedent for future debates. Essentially, the recommendation is very simple. It says:

“(a) A motion that the House discuss a sessional paper other than a committee report requires notice. No amendment may be made to such a motion.

“(b) When a motion for discussion of a sessional paper is moved, one member from each of the parties in the House may state the position of his party with respect to the motion for not more than five minutes.

“(c) If the motion passes, an order shall be placed on the Order Paper for discussion of the sessional paper by the House.

“(d) During the discussion, no motion relating to the sessional paper may be moved.”

It was the committee’s feeling that it was desirable to have some mechanism available so that the House, in rather broad, general terms, could discuss sessional papers and presentations that had been made on the part of the government or by any other party, and that we should have in place some changes to standing orders that would provide for that, but do so under certain circumstances.

I am not convinced personally that this recommendation pleases each and every member of the House, but I think what it does is present to the House a kind of format that was at least agreeable in the procedural affairs committee. It strikes us as members of that committee, and me as chairman, that it perhaps has not provided an ultimate answer, but at least it has given to the House a format under which these discussions can take place. I think it is also reasonable to say that none of us sees any really negative aspects in that. It provides a forum for debate, and that is essentially what is called for. It means that members won’t be surprised by any amendments and that they get proper notice, and it provides a mechanism to get the business before the House.

I am not sure this provides any drastic change. If anything, it does provide for covering a loophole in our current standing orders. It allows the House, at its discretion, to deal with something as broad and general as a sessional paper, an annual report or a discussion paper of any kind.

The second recommendation was presented on November 15, 1979. It has the appearance of not recommending very much because it simply recommends that standing order 64(e) be deleted. This, of course, is the standing order that says, in essence, that a bill or resolution shall not be voted upon if a petition objecting to a vote, signed by one third of the members, is filed with the Speaker not later than 48 hours before the debate, in which case the names of the objectors filing the petition shall be recorded in the Votes and Proceedings of the day following the filing.

I do not recall when that particular standing order has been acted upon. The more common one is the second part of that, which says that 20 members must stand in their places when the question is about to be put and that the names of those members objecting will be recorded in Votes and Proceedings for that day.

We had a rather long and involved debate in the committee on this particular recommendation. I think it reasonable to say that the majority of the members of the committee feel that when a matter is put before this House for debate, there really ought to be some resolution of the matter, even if it is only considered to be, and probably is, a simple expression of the impressions of the members of this House; that no matter what else might transpire, at the end of a debate in which we set aside the business of Ontario for a couple of hours on a Thursday afternoon and deal with a resolution or a private member’s bill, there is a need for the House to express an opinion, and that opinion should not be thwarted by a blocking provision.

What this recommendation essentially does is remove the opportunity for any 20 members of the House to forbid the remainder of the House from expressing its opinions. That’s perhaps a little oversimplified, but I think in a nutshell that’s what it’s all about.

We discussed this at some length in the committee. We looked at several alternatives. We came to one final conclusion, and that is that if we’re going to have a private members’ hour, if we’re going to give to the individual members of this House the opportunity to prepare resolutions or legislation, at least the House then has an obligation to express its opinion and to do so in the form of a vote. If there are occasions when the government decides not to proceed or would choose not to proceed with a piece of legislation or a resolution, it may do so at some other time; but at least if we set aside the business of the House, the members have an obligation to participate and an obligation to voice an opinion. That essentially is what this recommendation calls for.

The next recommendation was put forward on December 6, 1979. We have reviewed the practice of amending private members’ resolutions. The recommendation here is:

“Private members’ opportunities for presenting their views to the House for debate are very limited. In the committee’s view, it is undesirable for amendments to a private member’s resolution to shift the entire focus of the debate away from the original idea proposed by the mover of the resolution. The committee therefore recommends that a new section be added to standing order 64 to read: ‘No amendment may be made to a motion under this standing order.’”

Once again this is perhaps a little simplistic, but I think it deals with the feeling in the committee that there aren’t very many occasions when an ordinary member of this House can propose something for the House to consider. That’s a rare occasion. In this House we draw a ballot for the opportunity to present such a resolution.

We discussed the matter and felt it would be unfair on that one occasion per session, perhaps, when a member has the opportunity to propose something to this House, to have that member do the background research, prepare legislation or a resolution, put that forward for the House to consider, have that printed on the Order Paper, set that mechanism in motion and then some Thursday afternoon have that member get up, fully thinking, we hope, that he or she has the opportunity to change the laws of Ontario or to put forward a resolution that would change the policies of the government, and five minutes later have some other member of this House stand up and make an amendment to that resolution which completely alters the principle being discussed.

While I guess we are not unhappy with the notion that amendments are normally in order, we are suggesting we set that consideration aside on this one occasion, and that when one does get one’s shot at private members’ hour it is indeed that individual member’s opportunity to present something for the consideration of this House. The overriding concern there really is that that member have the opportunity on that one occasion to put an argument to the members assembled here and that members have the opportunity to vote.

While we don’t particularly want to say that amendments are out of order and we don’t want to take away anyone’s democratic right to move such amendments, we are saying that on the occasion of the private members’ hour it is the singular occasion when the member may propose whatever he or she sees as being an appropriate item for discussion by the members of this House, and that therefore it is not subject to amendment.

8:10 p.m.

The final recommendation presented to the House was presented on December 6, 1979. We considered the matter of referring private members’ public bills to committee. We recommend as follows:

“That a new section be added to standing order 64 to read: ‘Notwithstanding standing order 56(c), private members’ public bills given second reading shall stand referred to the committee of the whole House unless referred to a standing or select committee by a majority of the House.”

I think it is fair to say this caused some unhappiness in the committee, but I think it does recognize that there is no desire on the part of our committee to take all of the standing committees around this House and fill them up with private members’ bills unless the members of this assembly deem them to be important.

If I might speak as a private member for a moment, I am a little bit unhappy with this particular recommendation but I think on balance there is a measure of fairness about it. After all, if a resolution or a private member’s bill carries in this House, it carries with the support of a majority of the members. It follows then, I think somewhat logically, that if the members have deemed something is important enough to have been supportable in this House on a Thursday afternoon, it is supportable to send it off to a committee.

We are not anxious to raise people’s expectations, to send something off to a committee, to spend a good deal of public money to raise the level of awareness and therefore the level of hope among the people of Ontario that something will occur that isn’t necessarily going to happen, so I think what we are saying is if the members of this assembly support a motion, a resolution, a private bill on a Thursday afternoon, the obligation then falls on the members of the House to say yes or no as to whether we will continue this process on that very afternoon.

That, in essence I think, is what might make that particular recommendation supportable. We are not attempting to thwart debate, but it is very simply so the members of this assembly will deal -- in a rather serious way -- with those matters that come before them on Thursday afternoons. If they say, “That is a resolution I find supportable,” they will also say on the same afternoon that that is a resolution the majority of the members of this House thinks ought to go to a particular committee, ought to be subject to public hearings, ought to occupy the time of one of our standing committees or select committees of this House.

In all of these recommendations we are making, what the procedural affairs committee was searching for was a consensus. If I may speak as chairman of the committee, I do not sense on that committee anybody who wants to change all the rules of this assembly for a short period of time. What we are looking for is a set of rules, a procedure to follow that will stand the test of time and makes sense to people in every political party.

It is not that we have been able to come up with magical solutions to the problems the House faces from time to time, but I think for the first time in the history of this assembly we have a committee of the House representing people in all political parties which is prepared to deal with matters of procedure.

We all recognize on that committee, at least I do, that this isn’t exactly the most sensational piece of business we ever got involved in. I don’t recall us making the front pages of the Globe and Mail or the Star or even the Oshawa Times, but I do feel the members of this committee have attempted to reach a consensus on matters where that was possible and have presented to this House a new set of standing orders, and have presented from time to time rulings on matters that have been referred to us by the Speaker or by other members of this House. A good set of procedures, a good set of standing orders, is one that most people in here will understand and most people in this House will feel constitutes reasonable ways for us to carry out our business.

I wouldn’t want to continue a delusion in my own mind that most of the members go to bed each night with a copy of the standing orders tucked under their arm and memorize them. In my experience most people don’t read the standing orders until they get into hot water and then they want to know how to get out of it. I do feel the standing orders of this House and these recommendations provide for the House opportunities to change slightly the standing orders under which we operate. These are, after all, the rules under which debates carry on in this House.

The recommendations presented by the committee make some sense to me, and although they are not all that I would personally want them to be, it is my opinion that they reflect a consensus of all the political parties that work in this House. Though they might not be personally up to my standards all the time, I do think workable solutions have been presented and I would ask the members of this House to support these recommendations.

Mr. Sterling: As a member of the procedural affairs committee I welcome the opportunity to speak to the Legislature on the report of our committee. Before getting into specifics of the report I would like to offer some general comments with regard to the amendment of standing orders.

In 1976 the Morrow committee came forward with a report, and again in 1978 there were considerable revisions to the standing orders. The rules of the House at those times were comprehensively reviewed and amended. The final result, the 1978 version of the standing orders, which we now have, was arrived at through some difficult negotiations and compromises on all sides.

Since then, as a member of the procedural affairs committee, I have experienced a chipping away of the standing orders in a piecemeal fashion. While I agree there are times when immediate redress must be made to a serious problem in terms of the orders of the House, I must question the present approach taken in these resolutions.

By amending the standing orders rule by rule we may be solving the specific problems, but we can also create other problems of a more general nature. Standing orders exist to provide a consistent and clear framework for our business here in the legislative assembly. They also give protection to individuals and minorities in the Legislature. Amendment of individual rules out of context of the underlying principles and the practical compromises upon which they are based may lead to an unforeseen and unwanted situation.

To be specific, if this process of fragmented revision continues, some day we will find our procedure in this Legislature has become a hotchpotch of rules, inconsistent and lacking in any clear overall framework. Respect for the parliamentary procedure will break down, and in fact I feel this has already happened at the committee stage.

In my opinion committees are now ruled by a majority of that committee without much concern to parliamentary procedure. Those who raise points of order in committee are usually scoffed at as being against a particular issue, rather than directing themselves to correct parliamentary procedure. For those reasons I would ask the committee and the Legislature that before further revisions are made to the rules we sit down and decide what principle or principles we want the standing orders to reflect and what is the best way to implement our rules.

This leads me particularly to refer to the second resolution, which is to omit the blocking procedure. In my opinion it is true that private members’ business has not worked well in this Legislature; however, I don’t feel that problem has stemmed from the insufficiency of the rules but rather that it lies in an overly partisan attitude towards private members’ hour by all political parties in this Legislature.

Consequently it has often become a battle of party platforms. It is no longer a discussion of ideas and interests of private members. As a private member of the government party I take great exception to being forced from time to time to take a party stance. However, there have been signs that a change might occur. This was exemplified in the fall session by the passage of the bill presented by the member for Kitchener (Mr. Breithaupt).

I believe private members’ afternoons can become a place where an individual may bring his legitimate concerns before the Legislature and have them responded to by the government in a reasonable fashion. The deletion of a blocking provision and the creation of a procedure to refer bills to committee will arrest this present tendency towards having a true private members’ afternoon. Providing the possibility of a committee stage, with public hearings, will encourage private members’ business to continue to become an unabashed forum for partisan attack and partisan defence of the government policies.

8:20 p.m.

That type of debate has its place, but it should not be at the expense of the private members’ hour. Individual members have little enough time now to express their own individual ideas and opinions and to have them debated in an intelligent way.

In essence, we should look at all the standing orders covering private members’ bills and business with a view to enhancing them, not eliminating them, which is what in effect this resolution does. I understand that other jurisdictions have dealt successfully with private members’ business and have come to a successful conclusion to promote private members’ business. Furthermore, I feel the reference of private members’ bills to committee will create other problems, some of which were mentioned by the member for Oshawa (Mr. Breaugh).

If public hearings are involved, as they always seem to be in past experience, the cost and the time that result will put a greater burden on both the members and overburdened committees. Perhaps more important, it misleads the public by holding out the false expectation that the government intends to enact a piece of legislation. It confuses the public as to what is or what is not government policy.

In the past, the procedural affairs committee has done an honest and comprehensive job in fulfilling its mandate. However, I now disagree with the direction it has taken. First, the amendments to the standing orders should not be done in a piecemeal fashion as shown here. Second, the amendments now before us do not enhance the procedure for the private members’ business. In fact, they work to the very contrary of that underlying principle. For these reasons I cannot support resolution 2. I have no objection to resolution 1, as it clarifies an area which is cloudy at this present time under the standing orders. In viewing resolution 3, I have no personal objection to it as a private member, although some of the other members of my party do. Resolution 4, as argued by the member for Oshawa, is also supportable in my view.

I urge the members opposite to consider what will happen to the rules if this kind of amendment is made now and at some time in the future a majority government becomes elected in this province.

Mr. Ruston: Mr. Speaker, please excuse my voice as I have had something like a cold in two different places, which seems to keep coming back and going away and then coming back. I don’t expect I will be speaking too long because my voice will probably disappear if I stay here trying too long.

With regard to the reports before the Legislature this evening and the operations of the procedural affairs committee, I have been on it for only about a year and three months. I find it a very interesting committee. It is a committee that does require quite a bit of study and quite a bit of work because the rules in my opinion are very important to the operations of the business of the House. One has to consider in changing rules, as I think the previous speaker mentioned, whether if we change one rule without looking over a number of others we can run ourselves into some problems No doubt that is true.

In these reports we are presenting tonight -- putting on the four at the same time -- in effect in one rule the committee is recommending that the blocking of a vote be taken away; however, on the other hand we are doing something I would hope the government members would remember: that is we are putting in that after a bill is passed, in order for it to go in this situation to a standing or select committee, or whatever the case might be -- in most cases we would hope it would be to a standing committee -- it must be by a vote of the majority of the House and not by 20 members in the way other bills can be sent to a committee by 20 members.

I think that’s very important. I have seen some bills that have been passed here on private members’ day which were such that I have thought it was probably misleading the public to send these bills to a committee and to have public hearings when the public thinks in most cases that if it gives a good presentation, then the committee is going to pass them and that they will come back into the House and become law.

In effect, they don’t separate the difference between a private member’s bill and a government bill. They forget, too, that under our parliamentary system the Lieutenant Governor in Council has the full authority as to what bills shall be presented to the House. The government has the running of the House each day. It can refuse of course to bring a bill forward after it has sat in committee for two months during which hearings were held and a consensus of committee members was that it was a good bill and should be passed.

The public who appeared before that committee thought they got along well, and that it sounded as though the committee members thought it was a good bill. They went home thinking it was going to be passed. On the other hand, there may be something in that bill so that when it goes back to the cabinet, the cabinet will refuse to bring it forward. That’s the thing that concerns me.

It would concern me, too, if it were sent to a select committee where there are members going around the province for three weeks or four weeks for hearings and spending $4,000, $5,000, $6,000, $7,000 or $8,000 of taxpayers’ money. The advantage is that you are giving the public a chance to have some input into that particular bill and into that legislation. The disadvantage is that you are spending money and really knowing that that bill is not going to be passed. It may be passed within a year. The government may pick it up and rewrite it and dot a few i’s a little differently and accept it. That’s the thing that I would hope the members here in the Legislature would think about.

As a private member, I would certainly think very seriously, if a bill passed here, about whether it would be sent to a committee. I would have to have great reservations about sending a bill to committee for months of hearings when I had an idea myself that that bill was not going to be passed into law. I think we are not changing the rules really individually because in this case we now have an alternative. I think it’s a good alternative. I want to stress that very much and I would hope that everyone would think about that in accepting these reports.

As far as amendments to private members’ motions or resolutions are concerned, a thought in the committee that since it was private members’ business other members should not really be amending those resolutions because it takes it away from a private member. So I thought quite strongly that the resolutions should not be amendable because they must be on the Order Paper for 14 days. If somebody came in with an amendment the day before and it came up, then it changed the resolution. It could in effect indirectly change the intent of the original resolution. So I thought that was a good amendment. It leaves it up to the private member; it’s his resolution or his bill.

I have had the experience of having a resolution vetoed. It would be very useless to send a resolution to committee, because a bill is much more thorough whereas a resolution just states the policy, but I was disappointed that the government vetoed that particular resolution. I thought it was a good resolution. I would think if they had looked at their polls, perhaps they would not have vetoed it. The polls indicated that 70 per cent of the people were very much concerned about health care in Ontario. Maybe they would have second thoughts about that now. That’s my concern in that particular report.

8:30 p.m.

With regard to the sessional paper, you will recall that, last October I think it was, Mr. Speaker, when the government had put a paper on energy on the Order Paper there was quite a debate that day as to whether it should go forward. I think that clears that situation up.

I suppose, like the chairman, I am not exactly positive that would be to the complete satisfaction of everyone in the House, but I think it covers most of the concerns we had in taking care of such matters, so that if the government wants to present some particular sessional paper or report -- outside reports, for example, papers they may have or whatever it might be; say, discussion papers between Ottawa and Ontario and so forth -- it could be put on the Order Paper in the proper procedure and then it could be debated.

I think that overall the four reports should be given support. I suppose one never has anything done perfectly but I think when one report takes something away, the other may cover the particular loophole that some of the government members may have concern for. I think that by referring the right of sending a bill to a committee to the majority of the House, since the majority of the members of the House are reasonable and concerned people, they are going to send to committees only bills they feel really should go there and would serve some need of the public. So I would hope that all members would support the recommendation.

Mr. M. Davidson: Mr. Speaker, I rise to support all of the recommendations made in the report from the procedural affairs committee, and I do so as a member of that committee and one who took part in the discussion and debate relating to the passage of these recommendations within the committee itself.

I was a little taken aback by some of the comments made by the member for Carleton-Grenville (Mr. Sterling) When he suggested that we, as members of that committee, were chipping away at the standing orders that exist in this Legislature, that we were doing a piecemeal job of trying to set standards for this Legislature which probably could be looked upon as being a model for other legislatures in Canada.

If he is of that opinion when the committee spent two days -- two full days as a matter of fact, or two full sittings -- debating probably one particular item here, if he considers that to be a piecemeal discussion, if he considers it to be chipping away at the standing orders of this House, I would just like to assure him that although he happens to be a government member, there are other members of this House who have a great deal of concern for the standing orders of this House, for how the standing orders are applied and how they affect the operation and procedure of the assembly that we sit in and where we represent the people of Ontario.

I do not believe that any member of that committee, on either side of the House, looked upon any of these recommendations as being frivolous, as being a piecemeal type of operation or a holding operation. I think each one of the people who participated in the debate during the time these recommendations were discussed did so keeping in mind that we do, in fact, represent the public, that we do, in fact, have a responsibility to this assembly to try to bring before this assembly recommendations that will, in our view, only better the circumstances under which we operate rather than take away from or deteriorate those circumstances.

Though I have a great deal of respect for the member for Carleton-Grenville, when be suggests we were chipping away at or looking piecemeal at the rules and regulations or standing orders of this House, I simply have to say that was not the case and I am terribly sorry that he looked upon it in that manner. It may be one of the reasons the government members could not come out and give complete support to the recommendations that have been moved in this report.

To carry it a little bit further, during consideration of the recommendations placed before this committee, particularly the second recommendation, which is that standing order 64(e) be deleted, I would like to quote from the unofficial Hansard of November 1, when the same member said in effect:

“It means nothing to the government.” He is referring to standing order 64(e). “The government back-bencher has no opportunity whatsoever to take an individual position at that time. By forcing a vote at the end of the debate, we are not ever in a position to express our free opinion.”

If that is true and if that is the feeling of the member for Carleton-Grenville, then I would think that he of all people should have supported the motion to delete standing order 64(e). If what he is saying, in effect, by making that statement is that during private members’ hour he is instructed to stand and block a vote, then I think there is an abuse of standing order 64(e) because the discussion that took place among the members of the Liberal Party and the New Democratic Party of that committee indicated quite clearly, in my view, that they were entitled to vote freely on any private member’s bill and had the opportunity to stand and block or not to block, based on their own personal initiative and understanding of what was taking place. They were not instructed by their caucuses or their leaders that they should stand to block a private member’s bill.

If the member for Carleton-Grenville was saying in the statement he made that as a back-bencher he was being told a certain bill in this House was going to be blocked, then I would suggest he should have been the first one to have stood and supported the removal of the blocking privilege.

That is not what the blocking privilege in the standing orders is for; that was not the intent of placing the blockage in the standing orders. The intent was to give 20 members of the House -- not 20 members of a specific party -- the right to block a private member’s bill if they felt that strongly against it. The right was given, based on individual vote and not through party instruction. For that reason alone, if that’s the way it is being used, then I suggest to you, Mr. Speaker, that is an abuse of the standing orders, If we are going to be allowed to abuse the standing orders, then perhaps we should amend them and put them in the proper perspective so that no abuse can take place.

As the member for Essex North (Mr. Ruston) pointed out, there is a recommendation of the committee that will put a safeguard against bills going to committee following a vote at second reading. It’s a greater safeguard than already exists in the standing orders. Standing order 56(c) suggests that a bill can be referred to committee by 20 members. Having put before the House the recommendation that the privilege of blocking private members’ bills should be removed, we are suggesting there should also be a safeguard enacted there that all bills do not go to committee.

There is a reason for that. What has happened is that we took a very long and serious look at the work the committees are doing, the backlog that most committees already have, and the fact that even though a private member’s bill may have the merit to carry in this House on second reading, it may not have the same merit to go to a committee.

8:40 p.m.

In other words, I could very well support the principle of a private member’s bill, but I may not feel that strongly about it that I would want it to go to a committee. The member for Essex North or any of the members of this Legislature may have a private member’s bill. There have been many private members’ bills -- not all from my party, there have been many from the Liberal Party and some from the Conservative Party -- that I could have supported. I could have allowed my name to stand and be placed on the thing as being in support; but that did not necessarily mean I wanted them all to go to a committee.

I believe a private member who takes the time to put together a private member’s bill that has some great concern to him or her, or to the constituents that member represents, and who is trying to get some support for that bill, should be allowed the opportunity to know the feeling of this House on where that bill stands.

We can do that by taking away the blocking privilege and allowing a vote on second reading. The safeguard of keeping it from going automatically to a committee is there by calling for a vote of the majority of the House to have that same bill go to a committee. It may very well be that I can vote for a bill on second reading and vote against its going to a committee. That safeguard is there; it is included in the recommendations of the committee because we, as a committee, recognize quite clearly that not every private member’s bill can or should necessarily go to committee.

There are reasons that this motion was placed before the committee, and the reasons are quite clear. I pointed out earlier what the member for Carleton-Grenville had said regarding direction as to what the members are supposed to be doing during private members’ hour. He said, in effect, that government back-benchers have no opportunity whatsoever to take an individual position. I find that rather shattering. Why in the world do we have a private members’ hour if we are going to play party politics with it? That is exactly what the government has been doing.

In the last session, there were nine private members’ bills, six of which were blocked from coming to a vote, and 12 resolutions, four of which were blocked. Every one of those was blocked by members of the government party in this Legislature. From March 29, 1979, until the date this debate took place in the committee, there were 29 items that came under private members’ hour in this Legislature. More than half -- 15 of them -- were blocked from coming to a vote, in all cases by the government.

There may be questions in the minds of some members of this Legislature as to why it is some of us feel we have to remove the blocking privilege. There certainly is no question in my mind nor in the minds of my colleagues, and I doubt very much that there exist in the Liberal caucus too many questions, as to why there is a necessity for putting forward, as a committee, a recommendation that we remove that privilege.

I am certain that on the government side there are all kinds of questions, but the back-bencher doesn’t have the right to express himself. The member for Carleton-Grenville said it right here in the unofficial Hansard: “A back-bencher in the Conservative Party does not have the right to express himself as an individual.”

I can’t accept that, Mr. Speaker. The rules of this Legislature are not made for an individual party; they are made for each member, who is elected to represent a constituency in Ontario and who speaks for and on behalf of the constituency that he or she represents. That’s what these rules are for, and not to play party politics. If there has ever been an abuse of standing orders in any legislative assembly or any House of Commons in this country, there is the record to show where, why and how it has happened.

I would suggest the members of this House look very closely at these recommendations. There was no chipping away, there was no piecemeal approach. I would remind the member for Carleton-Grenville, if he feels that is what has happened, that he was part of the piece, part of the meal; he took part in making the recommendations. In committee he supported three out of the four recommendations. The only one he is now opposing is the one about which he says: “The government back-bencher has no opportunity whatsoever to take an individual position at that time.”

I think those words speak for themselves; I would urge the members of this assembly to support the entire committee report.

Hon. Mr. Wells: Mr. Speaker, I have enjoyed listening to the member for Cambridge (Mr. M. Davidson). It’s been very enlightening to hear him talk about us playing party politics with this particular issue while all those on the other side stand lily white and unblemished.

Mr. Warner: Purist.

Hon. Mr. Wells: “Purist,” my friend said.

I’m at a bit of a disadvantage in relation to some of my friends because I wasn’t a party in the earlier days to the negotiations that developed the new standing orders, or to some of the philosophies and thoughts behind them, but I can tell the House that in all I’ve read recently, the kind of thinking about private members’ hour in a British parliamentary institution such as this I think is better exemplified by the kind of bills that the members on this side of the House have brought in rather than the bills brought in by the members on the opposite side of the House.

If they want to talk about playing politics, let them look at the kind of bills they’ve brought in. The procedure has not been used for private members to bring in their particular private concern; it has been used for parties to bring in one of their particular party policies. That was never the idea of private members’ hour. The private members’ hour was intended for each individual member to bring in his or her own concerns.

Let me give an example. If we really want to make this a pure private members’ hour, why do we draw from three different parties? Why not put all the private members in the hat together and let it come out as it may? Treat us all as if we’re private members of this Legislature, not members of a party.

We don’t do that. This whole thing is all geared to a party basis. The whole idea --

Mr. Van Horne: Is that what you want?

Hon. Mr. Wells: I’d support a non-party draw. It wouldn’t bother me.

Mr. Martel: What difference will it make?

Mr. Cunningham: You are being silly.

Hon. Mr. Wells: The difference it would make -- and that isn’t silly, if the member has read something of the background to this -- is it would establish, at least in one small way, that this is a private members’ proposition, it’s not connected with parties. It’s not connected with major environmental bills being introduced, which is really part of the Liberal Party’s policy, or children’s law reform, which is part of the NDP’s policy. The bills our back-benchers bring in are the kinds of bills I think are good. They’re the kinds of bills that are private members’ bills.

If members opposite lived within the spirit of what I think originally was intended for this hour, some of those bills would probably have passed into law by now, as has happened --

Mr. Martel: The pituitary gland bill had nothing to do with party politics and you blocked it.

Hon. Mr. Wells: The pituitary gland bill, I will concede to my friend, is the kind of bill I think is a private member’s bill.

Mr. Martel: You blocked it.

8:50 p.m.

Hon. Mr. Wells: We blocked it for the very reason that the government was contemplating bringing the bill in two weeks later.


Hon. Mr. Wells: I want to tell you that the pay bill is a bill of party policy, major government policy, significance and so forth. It is not what I would consider to be a private member’s bill in the sense of what originally was thought of as a private member’s bill.

We have several criteria that we have applied on this side to the blocking procedure. It was this: that we would exercise the right provided in the standing orders, agreed to by all members of this House -- and remember that, it was with agreement by all members of this House that this procedure was put in -- we would exercise the right, if a bill were to be clearly one involving significant expenditure. Some of the bills, while not falling within the very clear and very small technical terminology of a money bill in this House, did involve significant expenditure on the part of some government in this province. Therefore, we would feel it could be a bill where the blockage rule should apply.

I think I could give you a couple of examples of those. My friend had a bill concerning family benefits matters which we would have viewed as being a bill expending money.

Mr. Martel: The Speaker rules mine out of order and then allows the Liberals to introduce the same bill. Talk about foolishness.

Hon. Mr. Wells: I would support you, then.

That is the first criterion, if a bill were to be clearly one involving significant expenditure, for which only the government can be responsible in our parliamentary system.

The second criterion is, if a bill calls for a change in an important government policy that ought to be changed ultimately only by a government bill. I understand and I realize that is a very important point. It is a very hard point to argue, but at times under our system, where the government is responsible and the ministers are responsible for their operation of the ministries, and whether they stay or resign depends upon the performance in that particular endeavour, there are certain bills involving the operations of ministries which we think might be important enough to say they should be government bills if that kind of change in policy were to come about. Therefore, we would use that as one of the criteria under which we might use the blockage rule.

The third criterion is, if a bill were to be clearly and simply a partisan bill promoting a cause unacceptable to the government but which the whole party wants to make, then it is its concern exclusively. I think we have seen cases of that where it has really ceased to be a private member’s matter but has become a matter of a particular party, one of the parties putting forward, in a bill, a particular position.

Those are the general criteria that we have used in applying the blocking rule to bills. When I look over the summary, I find in 1977 the blockage rule was used very sparingly. There were only four times that it was used. In 1978 there were about 23 times, and about 18 times in 1979. On most of the occasions when the rule was used, it was used based on those criteria I indicated, In the last few months it was hardly ever used against resolutions, but mainly against bills. I think one can make a case that resolutions, perhaps, are different from bills.

What I want to say is that I think we forget in this debate that this was part of a total package concerning the standing orders of this House. I see my friend shaking his head again, but in all the reading and background that I have been able to get, this was part of a total package to protect minority rights and cabinet rights in this House.

It would also suggest to me that what we are doing at this time is, indeed, a piecemeal, ad hoc adjusting of a whole procedure which, if we want to look at it, if we are dissatisfied with it, then let’s take back the whole procedure of private members’ bills and let’s take a look at it in the context of what is done in other jurisdictions.

My friends have travelled to the United Kingdom. Let’s look at it in terms of what the United Kingdom does where a limit is set on the number of items that can be brought in each year. They plan some timing for the likelihood of some of those bills going through the total stages of the House of Commons so that they won’t clog up the committees and prevent them from doing estimates and the government’s work.

Let’s look at it in terms of ratio of bills to resolutions. In other words, if we are dissatisfied with the system, let’s sit down and look at the whole procedure. Let’s not chip away at some little part of it as we are doing now. We are taking a system that all members of this House agreed to and that had within it certain components. I draw to my friend’s attention that one of those components was that if 20 members of this House decided they didn’t want a private member’s resolution to come to a vote, they could stand in this House and so indicate when asked by the Speaker.

That doesn’t say 20 government members or 20 members of one party; it just says 20 members of this House. That was a procedure put in at a time when we were moving from a situation where we didn’t have any votes. We never had votes on private members’ resolutions. We had an hour in which we used to discuss the bills and they were talked out.

Mr. Martel: That wasn’t what was recommended by the select committee.

Hon. Mr. Wells: I am not talking about what was recommended by the select committee; I am talking about what was finally decided by the little group of people who sat down and negotiated the standing orders we adopted in this House. That little group certainly included the former House leader of the member’s party, who is not here right now.

Mr. Martel: That was the hooker. We couldn’t get private members’ bills without that.

Hon. Mr. Wells: Listen, my friend knows since he has negotiated enough contracts that in negotiating you give a little here, you take a little here and you get some concessions here.

Mr. Lawlor: Poor Rene Levesque when he has to meet you.

Hon. Mr. Wells: What kind of arrangement was drawn up? It can’t just be a coincidence that “20 members” appears time and time and time again throughout the rules. It must have all been agreed upon and there must have been some give and take; there must have been some sound logical reasons for men of that calibre who sat down and prepared these rules which were then adopted by this House.

There had to be some real merit in what they were doing. What did they do? First of all, in rule 30(b) they said:

“Other committee reports shall be presented to the House by the chairman with a brief statement from the chairman only, and where a report includes a request for consideration by the House, or where such consideration is requested by a petition of 20 members filed with the Clerk, a government order shall be placed on the Order Paper for consideration by the House.”

On referral of annual reports to committees, rule 33(b) says: “The statutory annual report of each ministry and of all boards and commissions and other agencies reporting to each minister for the immediate past reporting period shall be presented to the House before the consideration of the minister’s estimates unless reasons are given to the House for non-compliance. On the petition of 20 members any such report shall be referred to a standing or select committee of the House.”

Mr. Sterling: On a point of privilege, Mr. Speaker, I apologize for interrupting my colleague, but the member for Cambridge indicated in his speech to the Legislature tonight he was quoting from Instant Hansard.

Mr. M. Davidson: No, unofficial Hansard.

Mr. Sterling: You were quoting from Instant Hansard?

Mr. M. Davidson: Unofficial Hansard.

Mr. Sterling: I just want to clarify to the Legislature that after he spoke I didn’t recognize some of the quotations he made and attributed to myself. I went up to Hansard and asked if the same had been printed or presented yet, but it is not at this present hour printed or typed. I think the member for Cambridge owes me an apology for attributing many quotations to me which I have not made in this Legislature.

9 p.m.

Mr. M. Davidson: I have no intention of apologizing. I quoted and it can be read in Hansard. I said it came from unofficial Hansard; I did not say it came from the official, printed Hansard. Unofficial Hansard, as printed November 1, contains the quotations I made.

Mr. Martel: Mr. Speaker, would you be so kind as to ask the honourable member if he did make those statements in the unofficial Hansard?

Mr. Deputy Speaker: Order.

Hon. Mr. Wells: To continue: We were at the second case in the standing orders where the phrase “20 members” applies. Of course, this is a situation where 20 members can refer an annual report to a committee.

Mr. Martel: That was in the recommendations of the committee.

Hon. Mr. Wells: I know. I’m not arguing whether it was in the recommendations or not. All I am telling my friend is that there are a whole series of these, and when members start tampering with one of them they are effecting a piecemeal approach.

Mr. Martel: Except that the only one that wasn’t there was the veto. All the rest --

Mr. Deputy Speaker: Order.

Mr. Breaugh: Mr. Speaker, might I correct the record?

Mr. Deputy Speaker: I don’t think it is necessary to correct the record by interrupting another member.

Mr. Breaugh: If I might --

Mr. Deputy Speaker: Is this a point of order?

Mr. Breaugh: If you would like to take it as a point of order. Under the rules of debate, section 19, there is a section which allows members to rise to correct the record. It was my impression, from discussions I had with the government House leader and his staff, that this kind of interjection to correct the record would be allowed during the course of this evening. I would like to exercise my rights now to do that.

The word “piecemeal” has been used extensively this evening. I would like to point out to the members of this House that this --

Mr. Deputy Speaker: Order.

Mr. Breaugh: Yes? You’re not going to allow it?

Mr. Deputy Speaker: Order. It is my understanding that the House is in session and each person has the right to speak once on the report.

Mr. Martel: If I may, Mr. Speaker, I would quote from page four of the Legislative Assembly of Ontario standing orders. It says in section 19(d), and Mr. Speaker has a copy: “In debate, a member shall be called to order by the Speaker if he (1) speaks twice to a question, except in explanation of a material part of his speech in which he may have been misunderstood, in which case he may not introduce new matter.”

Mr. Speaker, it would seem to me what my colleague is attempting to do is straighten the record. The government House leader continues to use the word “piecemeal” to describe the way these rules were adopted. I think my colleague is tying to straighten the record, which the rules say he is allowed to do in this sort of debate. I would ask the Speaker to take that into consideration and allow my colleague to straighten the point out. I don’t suppose it would be very lengthy but it should clarify the record.

Mr. Deputy Speaker: It would be my understanding that if the present speaker had stated incorrectly something stated by the previous speaker, he would have the right, but I didn’t understand that was the case. I understood the member for Oshawa (Mr. Breaugh) to say he was disagreeing with what the member for Scarborough North (Mr. Wells) was saying. I believe that is correct.

Hon. Mr. Wells: I would submit to you, Mr. Speaker, that is correct. I am not going to withdraw the term “piecemeal.” That is not a statement of fact; that’s my opinion of the thing, and I will attempt to prove it.

Mr. Breaugh: Mr. Speaker, I really must rise on a point of personal privilege. This afternoon we had continuing discussions about the form and format of this evening’s debate. This section of the standing orders was pointed out to me repeatedly by the government House leader’s assistant, who said that if members felt during the course of this evening’s debate that there was a need to correct the record, such a provision would be allowed and had been agreed upon by the Speaker.

I must say that I chair a committee which proposed these revisions of the standing orders to this House and put them in a provisional form first. This House has debated them on a number of occasions. To refer now to that same committee’s going through matters which have been referred to it by either members of this House or the Speaker as a piecemeal approach, I personally find quite offensive.

I also find it offensive that members of the House leaders’ staff, and particularly the government House leader’s staff, would bring to the chairman of a committee a provision to carry through a debate this evening and then have the government House leader stand and say that’s not his understanding; I do find that somewhat offensive.

Mr. Deputy Speaker: I am afraid the chair has no right to make any decision on what was discussed outside the House.

Hon. Mr. Wells: Let me talk about this in my comments, Mr. Speaker. I think the rule my friend has referred to is perfectly right. In this debate -- if I say the committee spent one hour discussing this and in fact they spent four days -- or if I make some other actual incorrect statement -- then that’s a wrong statement of fact, and my friend has a right to get up and debate that or correct it. I think that’s what the rule meant.

What we are arguing about is whether my use of the term “piecemeal” is correct or not. I know my friend from Oshawa doesn’t like it, and I am sure my friend the member for Sudbury East (Mr. Martel) will get up and argue against it --


Hon. Mr. Wells: Listen, the procedural affairs committee of this House and its chairman do a good job; they are a good committee. We agree with most of the things they do. In fact, we agree with three of the four things they are bringing in today. We only disagree with one.

All I am saying is that, when we look at these sections, 63 and 64, which have a number of subsections to them, and all of a sudden we see a report from the committee that doesn’t look at that and pulls out one subsection, that strikes us as a rather unusual thing. If it isn’t --

Mr. M. Davidson: Mr. Speaker, on a point of privilege: The House leader for the Conservative Party now has made a misstatement. He has implied that we looked at only one subsection of section 64 and did not look at the other subsections. That is incorrect, and I would ask him to withdraw that remark.

Hon. Mr. Wells: If it causes my friend any trouble, Mr. Speaker, I will certainly withdraw it, but I see nothing in the report to indicate they have looked at anything else. The report says standing order 64(e) should be deleted, period; that’s all it says.

Let me get back to the case I am building, which is completely ignored over there. As I said, the chairman, my friend from Oshawa, and the committee do a good job, and they have done a good job in reviewing standing orders and in bringing in recommendations to this House. I am sorry if they take offence because we happen to disagree with one of them; it’s not meant in any personal way.

As I have been trying to show you, Mr. Speaker, I think there was a chain of similarities throughout these standing orders based on the 20-member principle that is now being altered.

I readily admit to my friend that what we are talking about didn’t get in there, or any place else, by recommendation of the select committee. But, if he’s really honest with himself, I think he has to admit that some of the others in there certainly don’t favour us over here but give to that side of the House particular privileges, which I don’t disagree with.

I think it’s a good idea that 20 members can stand up and refer a report down to committee. My friends opposite don’t see us yelling to take that section out. We are not yelling to take that section out. We are not sending out members down to the procedural affairs committee to have that section taken out. But yet they want us to take out a section which we happen to have used a little more than the members opposite have used it.

I am sure those honourable ladies and gentlemen who sat down and negotiated the original standing orders were looking at a sort of quid pro quo in some of these, and I think for us to disrupt that at this time is at least to some extent piecemeal.

9:10 p.m.

I have already indicated two areas, the first one requesting reports of the House to be put on the Order Paper, which can be done by 20 members of the House. The second section, rule 33(b), allows 20 members of the House to send an annual report to committee and allows them to embark upon a full-scale discussion of any ministry of this government in a committee of this House. Twenty members of the House can cause those things to happen.

The next section is 46(b): “Not more than two standing or select committees shall consider estimates at the same time concurrent with the House, and only one committee may meet on estimates if such is required by 20 members standing in their places.” Twenty members again.

Mr. Martel: We recommended them all except the veto.

Hon. Mr. Wells: Yes, and who do they all favour? Certainly not this side of the House. All I am saying is that the members opposite worked out one little compromise a few years ago, when these standing orders came in, and now they don’t even want to acknowledge that that should remain here,

Section 56(b) states: “When a bill has received second reading it may, by unanimous consent, be ordered for third reading.”

Mr. Martel: Because you veto everything.

Hon. Mr. Wells: Section 56(c): “If such unanimous consent is refused, the bill will be referred to committee of the whole House or to a standing or select committee, as the minister or parliamentary assistant designates; but if 20 members stand in their places such references shall be to a standing or select committee.” Again, 20 members of the House can send a bill to a standing or select committee.

Rule 57: “When a bill is referred to a standing or select committee after second reading, it shall not be considered in committee until at least five days after the referral, unless a waiver of this interval has been granted on the request of the minister or parliamentary assistant; but no such waiver shall be granted if 20 members register their objection by standing in their places.” Twenty members, again.

Then we reach the final one, rule 64(e): “A bill or resolution shall not be voted upon if (i) a petition objecting to a vote, signed by one third of the members, is filed with the Speaker not later than 48 hours before the debate; in which case the names of the objectors filing the petition shall be recorded in the Votes and Proceedings of the day following the filing; (ii) 20 members stand in their places when the question is about to be put. The names of those members objecting will be reported in Votes and Proceedings for that day.” Twenty members, again.

At least six times that particular phrase “20 members” appears, and they were all part of a package that was agreed upon in the standing orders.

With respect, Mr. Speaker, I say to you that to start to alter one of those at this time is an ad hoc approach to what was a set of standing orders that was negotiated together.

Look at part (i) of the section they want to take out. It has never even been used. Why don’t they leave that in? It has never been used -- a petition signed by one third of the members of this House has never been used by anyone in this House. Why are we taking that out? What objection is there to it? It has never been used, and yet the committee is suggesting that it be taken out. Perhaps somebody can explain that to us.

Mr. Martel: I think your colleague moved that.

Hon. Mr. Wells: I think the point is that, if we are to look at the whole matter of private members’ business, when we look at the record of the use of the blockage rule and we see when it has been used and why it has been used, any logical person can see logical reasons. I would submit that if either of the honourable members opposite were ever to sit on this side -- which they are not likely to do -- they would do exactly the same and would handle matters in exactly the same way, because the difference --

Mr. Martel: I will have to move a no-confidence motion.

Hon. Mr. Wells: I am saying they would have handled matters in just about the same way.

We are not being totally negative on this side. We are saying we are in favour of the first resolution, the first report of the committee. We are opposed to the second report, which takes away the blockage rule. We are in favour of the section that allows no amendments to private members’ resolutions. We are also in favour of the new procedure for sending matters to committees because I think there are some very cogent arguments that can be made for being sure that the House broadly in some manner has expressed its opinion to have a full-scale committee hearing on a private member’s bill.

I think this is all very logical. What I would suggest is that we take back the whole matter of private members’ bills and that the very fine procedural affairs committee have a go at some of those things. I haven’t had a chance to go to Westminster to view what goes on there, as a lot of the other members of this House have. I’m not suggesting I want to go, but maybe the committee would like to go to Westminster to take a look again at what they do.

Mr. Martel: Your colleagues moved it and then they left it out. They got chicken.

Mr. Deputy Speaker: Order.

Hon. Mr. Wells: Perhaps in that still time in the summer, when everybody has recovered from this part of the session, the committee will want to do that. I’m sure my friend the former government House leader remembers, but it seems to me that at Westminster one person by standing blocks a vote on a private member’s bill. That comes to my mind.

Hon. Mr. Welch: If he sneezes into his handkerchief, it’s all over.

Mr. Martel: You don’t even need 20.

Hon. Mr. Wells: I just say that if one listens to the debate around here, one would think we are the greatest Scrooges in the world in trying to hamper the parliamentary system of a great Legislature. In fact, we have very progressive rules and we have probably moved further than most of the legislative assemblies around the world.

All we are saying is that in this case we don’t think this particular change should be made. I just suggest maybe taking back the whole thing so that the procedural affairs committee can take a look at the whole context of everything. Then after this session is over, maybe it can bring back something in a total context that approaches the whole problem.

I’m sorry to have taken so long, and I’m sorry if some of my remarks upset some of the members over there -- they certainly weren’t meant to -- but I think when I review what has happened and look at these resolutions, particularly this one, I do feel there is a more total context in which the whole thing could be looked at.

As a private member of this House, on behalf of my constituents I’m going to vote against the second report and in favour of the first, third and fourth.

Mr. Sweeney: It is indeed wondrous to behold the degree of sensitivity of the government House leader for the feelings of the members of the third party. Perhaps he is beginning to discover the price they are going to have to pay for their new brides. Before we are finished with this session, they are both going to have to figure out the price they are going to have to pay.


Mr. Sweeney: After what happened to the pituitary gland bill, introduced by the member for Cambridge, I’m wondering if he speaks nicely of anybody. I know I wouldn’t if I were in his position.

I couldn’t help but note the reasons that have been given by several previous speakers as to why we could not eliminate the blockage rule as it now stands in the orders of this House. The one given is that the government would lose control of what legislation would go through. Unless I totally misunderstand the government’s ability, it still has complete control over whether a bill is brought into this House for third reading and, after that, whether it’s proclaimed into law. Whether the government party members allow a complete vote on second reading or whether it goes to committee, they still have complete control.

9:20 p.m.

In no way, as an opposition member, do I deny that the government of the day should control the legislation that passes into law. I accept that principle of a democratic parliamentary government. We are not trying to deny that, and we are not trying to interfere with it in any way. So let’s get rid of that argument; it just doesn’t wash.

The second argument that has been made is that the public is not able to perceive the difference between a government bill and a private member’s bill, so we dare not let these bills go to committee where the public would have an opportunity to participate in the democratic parliamentary process, albeit in a different way than we do; we can’t take that chance.

If there is a realization that the public at this time is not able to distinguish between a private member’s bill and a government bill, then surely it is the responsibility of this Legislature not to deny them the opportunity to participate but, through the various media which the government frequently uses for other purposes, to provide some kind of process in order to educate the public as to the difference between a private member’s bill and a government bill, as to what the process is in the formulation of private members’ legislation and how far it can go compared to a government bill.

Surely we cannot use the ignorance of the public, their ‘lack of understanding and knowledge of the process, as any rational reason for not allowing this to go forward. I think it speaks very poorly of this government if it thinks it does not have within its power the possibility to educate the public in this matter. I believe that it does and I would support its responsibility and opportunity to do so.

Hon. Mr. Welch: The present rules are the result of a three-party agreement.

Mr. Sweeney: Let’s go on and see why they should not continue that way.

The third point that has been brought up is that by allowing a large number of private members’ bills to go to committee we could generate rather extensive and significant costs to the government. I agree that is true if a bill is allowed to go on and on in committee but I, as one private member -- and we are speaking about private members’ legislation -- would be quite prepared to have a limit on the time a private member’s bill could be held in committee. If cost is a factor, and I recognize it could be a factor, surely that would be a better alternative to what we are doing now.

As I listened to the government House leader refer to the other five or six places in the standing orders where the figure 20 comes up, I couldn’t help noticing that in every case but this one that figure is used when we want to allow something to happen; when we want to permit something to go forward. This is the only case where the government is actually going to stop something from happening. I think there is a distinct and significant difference between the use of 20 in those other places in the standing orders and the use of 20 here. I don’t think that argument washes either.

We have now referred to the four main arguments against this, and none of them washes. There is a much more rational and logical alternative to those particular arguments.

Let’s now ask ourselves why we should change. I accept what the former government House leader said just a few moments ago. Maybe there was at one point an agreement among all three parties that this is the way the standing orders of the House should read. I didn’t participate in the debate that took place when they were agreed to, but I accept that there may have been understandings and compromises for whatever reasons. Let’s accept that. I am not going to argue it.

The point remains, we have now had an opportunity to operate under these rules and to experience these rules. We’ve now had an opportunity to see what happens under these rules. I think many members in this House -- surely the majority of members on the opposition benches and, I strongly suspect, a good number of the members in the government benches as well -- are having great difficulty in continuing to buy the implications, the consequences and the results that are flowing from this particular section of the standing orders.

Surely it is not a valid argument to say that because at one point we agreed to something we can’t change it because we have learned it doesn’t operate the way we thought it would or the way in which it was intended to. Surely that’s something we do all the time in this Legislature. If we pass any legislation, often six months later, a year later or a year and a half later, we realize it’s not operating the way we intended it to and we bring it back and change it. What’s so terrible about that?

We do it with all kinds of other legislation -- mostly government legislation. Why can’t we do it with this? Are we saying this is the only thing this House has ever passed that is unchangeable; that it is somehow carved in stone; that there had to be some kind of pre-eminent intelligence present when these decisions were made; that we haven’t learned anything from them and we can’t make a change?

I can’t buy that argument. I don’t think there’s any logic to it. I don’t think there’s a parallel with the other things we do around this place.

I want to point out that as one private member, having experienced this myself and watched my fellow members experience it, this blocking procedure surely discourages members of this House from putting forward issues of real import. What we have done with this blocking procedure is to discourage real, sensitive, imaginative, inventive kinds of issues being brought before this House.

I think this blocking procedure has resulted in the very kind of thing that some of the government members have complained about; that is, there are party politics being played.

If we rid ourselves of this blocking procedure, we have a better chance of coming back to real, genuine private members’ issues.

I remember being present here one time and having some friends present in the gallery when a private members’ bill was being debated. At the end, 20 members stood in their place and blocked it.

As I walked out of this room talking to those people they were shaking their heads; they were dumbfounded. They said, “Do you really mean that in a House of 125 members, 20 can stand up and prevent the other 105 from expressing their opinion?” That’s what we do with this. We don’t even give the rest of the members of the House a chance to express their opinions. Twenty people can stand in their place and say: “We 20 refuse to allow the rest of you to tell this Legislature, to tell the public, what you feel about this possible legislation; we deny that right.”

In a democracy, in a democratic place like this, how can we stand that? How can we allow that to continue? I say we shouldn’t and I say we can’t.

I was pleased to notice that the recommendation of the procedural affairs committee recognizes the principle of majority rule on both sides. It says to let the majority decide whether the bill shall pass on second reading. Let the majority decide -- not 20 members. It goes on to say to let the majority decide, not 20 members, whether it should go on to committee. We rule by majority vote in this House in almost everything else. Why are we afraid to do it here? I don’t understand it.

There are some distinctive advantages in what is being suggested here. I would say in many ways it’s an advantage that is just as supportable by the back-benchers of the government party -- maybe more so -- as by the members of the opposition. We in the opposition have many opportunities to challenge the government about what they’re doing. That’s part of our role. But there are somewhat limited opportunities for the back-benchers of the government party.

9:30 p.m.

Surely, the private members’ hour -- the right to bring forward a private members’ bill -- is an opportunity which should be cherished and protected and which should be supported as much by the back-benchers of the government party as by any member on the opposition side. I say that in a completely non-political sense.

We also have to recognize that in many ways private members’ legislation, when it is allowed to go to committee, is one of the few opportunities the public has to make some input of its own, especially if it is an issue that people out there want brought forward but which they are not able to convince the government to bring forward.

We know right from the beginning that the likelihood of any of these private members’ bills becoming law is very slim. That is probably the way it should be. But to deny the public of this province the right to put forward their expressions of concern, their hopes, their visions of what government should be doing, I say is a denial we should not support. That is what we are doing by leaving in this blocking procedure.

For that reason it is in the best interests of the individual members of this House, and in the best interests of many people outside of this House who want to express an opinion, that we should eliminate this blocking procedure.

I do not believe, on the basis of what I have heard here tonight and on the basis of what has been debated so far here tonight, there is any good reason to maintain the blocking procedure. On the other hand, I think we have identified clearly and logically and honestly several reasons why it should be eliminated. On that basis, I will support the recommendation and I would urge my colleagues on all sides of the House to equally support it.

Mr. Martel: Mr. Speaker, before I start, let me indicate something to my friend who when he rose in his place to speak, commented that we weren’t prepared to support their no-confidence motion.

Mr. Sweeney: I never said that.

Mr. Martel: Certainly, the member implied that. I was torn; I anguished over that. The reason I made the ultimate decision I made is that I recall Ford. The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. S. Smith) was in favour of Ford grants in the House and he was opposed to them outside.

I remember the occupational health bill when they said it would cover all the workers of the province. They included it in their campaign literature up in Sault Ste. Marie and, when it came back to the House, they voted against all kinds of them.

Do you know what my fear was, Mr. Speaker? It was that we would get down the road to April 14, I would be prepared to support them and the Leader of the Opposition would change his mind and flip-flop once more and withdraw his no-confidence motion. I couldn’t put myself in the position to be embarrassed in that fashion. There was no way I was prepared to do that.

Mr. Acting Speaker: Order. I wonder if the member for Sudbury East would return to the subject.

Mr. Martel: If the member wants me to bring some more, I think I have tabulated 102 of his party’s flip-flops so far.

Let me get back to this bill. I wasn’t going to speak, but the government House leader provoked me a little on this, because I remember the history of this bill well, having sat on that select committee.

First of all, we decided the whole purpose of the private members’ hour was to give some meaning to this place for back-benchers; so we recommended a private members’ hour that made some sense. By the way, there was no one on that select committee who wrote any opposition to what was recommended. There was no mention in that select committee report that there should be a power to veto, nowhere.

Hon. Mr. Welch: The House agreed to that unanimously.

Mr. Martel: The Deputy Premier will have his turn. The House agreed to it, but I am not sure it was a quid pro quo; I think it was almost an either/or.

Hon. Mr. Welch: There was some communication.

Mr. Martel: Yes. If you like, there was heavy negotiation, almost heavy-handed at times.

Anyway, the purpose was to make changes that would allow something like England has done, bringing into existence things that were not party policy. For example, my understanding is that in England most divorce legislation has come through private members’ legislation; it has never been introduced by the government, of either party, and yet that was accepted.

But this government got its veto and it reached an all-time low, in my opinion -- and I think what has ultimately led to this evening -- when the Attorney General (Mr. McMurtry) and his party, on the bill of my colleague from Cambridge, called the pituitary gland bill, didn’t even have the integrity to allow his bill to go through. No, they had to veto that bill. This government had to veto that bill and then reintroduce their own. That was so partisan it wasn’t even tolerable. It was one of the lowest manoeuvres I have seen by the government.

The government brought partisan politics into it. They didn’t want the credit to go to my colleague the member for Cambridge. That is how partisan they can become, because they introduced their own and carried it through the House very quickly -- and they talk about partisan politics.

It is time they stopped putting up speakers who say it became too partisan, because I remind the former government House leader that he suggested to us in a number of meetings that we should move to resolutions. My God, it reached a point that you were even blocking resolutions. If you ask why we have reached the stage we have reached tonight, it is because you became nuts about your veto. The only things you didn’t veto were your own colleagues’ resolutions.

Hon. Mr. Welch: Are you using the collective “you” or the personal “you”?

Mr. Martel: Collective.

The government sort of asked for this. I said to the Premier (Mr. Davis) in a debate we had during his estimates that I could see the government members standing to veto something that was totally contrary to the Conservative policy. But the government took it far beyond that; it just became a matter of course that they blocked everything the opposition parties moved. It didn’t matter what it was.

I said to the Premier during his estimates: “Take a look at it, because you are destroying the private members’ hour. It has become a non-hour. What you have happening is, you have five or six people in here who are going to speak to it, at six o’clock we troop them all in to vote and, like trained seals, they all stand up to veto.”

They don’t even have to hear what was in the debate. Well, if they don’t know what is in a debate, how can they come in here and vote like that? Constantly, every Thursday, like trained seals, they stand in their places, and you expect we should not want to change that.

As the member for Kitchener-Wilmot (Mr. Sweeney) says, the government still has the power to call the bill for third reading. It doesn’t have to. There is no rule that forces it to call a bill for third reading. What it does is send the bill to committee where it’s hoped it would get some airing.

I suppose the bill of my colleague for Windsor-Sandwich (Mr. Bounsall) on a decent wage for women bothered the government no end and it doesn’t want to see that happening. That’s too bad. In the final analysis, it still has the right to determine whether it will be called for third reading.

I could take it a couple of steps further. There are resolutions. It is so ridiculous. They will allow everything through for their own colleagues. There was a resolution from the member for Timiskaming (Mr. Havrot), about a year and a half ago, on the leasing of crown land. They all stood in their places over there to support it. At the same time as they are supporting it, so that their friend will look good, the cabinet is deciding a different policy with respect to leased land. They talk about partisanship. Why didn’t they block it then?

9:40 p.m.

They knew they were not going to support the member for Timiskaming’s resolution on crown land. Yet it went through, totally contrary to government policy. The cabinet knew about it; they were the worst offenders, because they knew it was contrary to the policy which they were about to change or were in the process of changing. But, for the press gallery and for back home, they made it look good; then they say we are partisan.

Those little incidents I recite are a little difficult to accept, and it’s a little difficult to accept the hypocrisy in the speeches when we hear, “You’re partisan over there.” As I have said, I expect to see a bill blocked if it is totally contrary to government policy. But it goes far beyond it; little games are played with it. I can speak about the member for Durham West (Mr. Ashe) with his resolution which the government desperately didn’t want and they were waiting to see how the opposition was going to vote. When they saw how the opposition was going to vote, they got up to support it.

Don’t tell me about playing games with the private members’ hour. It has been destroyed. For the present government House leader to get up in his place and talk about 20 this and 20 that; again, the 20s were put in by an all-party select committee. There was not one bit of opposition from that select committee, and two of those members now are in the cabinet -- I guess all three are; they signed it, they saw nothing wrong with it.

But if we are going to have a private members’ hour that is going to bring members of all three parties’ back-benchers into the House to take part in those debates in a meaningful way, then some of it has to be allowed to get through because it is sound and workable and not because it may be more favourable or advantageous somewhere down the road to allow it to go through on that side of the House. That is unforgivable.

There is another problem: What is acceptable? There have been bills which have been acceptable to the Speaker which would have cost money. In fact, all bills cost money. I don’t know of a bill that wouldn’t cost money somewhere down the road. Yet we pick and choose.

I recall introducing a bill here about a year and a half ago, a private member’s bill which dealt with accepting under the Ontario Health Insurance Plan a certain type of breast surgery for women who have sustained injury. That was ruled out of order. Yet I introduced another bill to nationalize Inco, and I didn’t have the words “without compensation” in it; that was allowed through. There is no consistency.

Somebody point out a bill to me that isn’t going to cost money. Even if we were to change the designation on a sign, it would cost money to change that particular designation. All bills are going to cost some sort of money. Maybe there has to be clarification as to specifically what is meant, but I don’t know of anything one could do in changing legislation that would not cost money, I really don’t.

The other thing is, I heard the government House leader talk about this trip; he said something about people wanting to go to England and we shouldn’t study it piecemeal. It is interesting. I believe -- and somebody might correct me if I am wrong -- that the motion for that committee to go to England was moved by one of the Conservatives was it not?

Mr. Rotenberg: That’s right.

Mr. Martel: That’s right. Then, when the orders from on high came down on the back benches, suddenly the three Conservative members -- or two, whatever it is -- weren’t prepared to go. They had decided they weren’t going, after they were the ones who had recommended it. There is independence at its best. I wonder who told them they couldn’t go.

Mr. Rotenberg: I made the motion, and I still voted to go after someone else changed his mind.

Mr. Martel: Where did the instructions come from? That shows the independence of the committee system as well, because I was waiting at the House for a Board of Internal Economy meeting to approve a budget and, lo and behold, I couldn’t find anyone who wanted to go or come forward with the budget.

Obviously someone over there -- I don’t know if it’s the Chairman of Management Board of Cabinet (Mr. McCague) or if it’s the Premier himself -- was rattling sabres. I think they wanted to go to England like everyone else to see the Mother of Parliaments but, lo and behold, they couldn’t go. That reflects the total independence over there. They have no independence, and the government is not prepared -- as the member for Carleton-Grenville (Mr. Sterling) said in his unofficial remarks in Hansard -- to allow independence for the Tory back-benchers.

That’s unfortunate, because we on this side of the House believe people have a right to move bills and to see them passed with some freedom. The intent of private members’ hour is that if one has a good idea and can talk people in this House into supporting it, then it has a way of becoming legislation. Under the present system there is no way, unless the government House leader decides it might go.

Hon. Mr. Welch: There is not a jurisdiction in the Commonwealth where the private members are as well off as here.

Mr. Martel: They certainly are in England. All of their divorce legislation, I believe, has come through private members’ bills.

Hon. Mr. Welch: One member of the House of Commons --

Mr. Foulds: Don’t point your finger like that in this Legislature.

Mr. Martel: That’s a terrible sign.

Hon. Mr. Welch: One man can sneeze into his handkerchief and stop the whole thing.

Mr. Martel: One guy could sneeze? That’s what happens over there. That’s the signal. Somebody sneezes in his handkerchief and the Tory party stands up.

Mr. Acting Speaker: Order. The member for Wilson Heights.

Mr. Rotenberg: The member for Sudbury East (Mr. Martel) sat down. I thought he had completed his remarks. If he hasn’t, I will be glad to let him complete his remarks. If the member has completed his remarks, is it my turn now?

Mr. Speaker, this matter came from the procedural affairs committee, not by agreement of the committee but on a four-to-three vote of that committee; so it isn’t exactly here as a unanimous suggestion of the committee, as the previous standing orders were.

The standing orders as we now know them were worked out as a compromise in the last Parliament, and many of those standing orders were in there to protect minority rights, wherever that minority may be in this House.

There are many places, as my House leader has pointed out, where minority rights are enshrined in the standing orders, and one of the members a few minutes ago suggested it was wrong that a minority of this Parliament could hold up the will of the majority when a bill was before the House.

I would point out to you, Mr. Speaker, in another section of these standing orders, that when a government bill is before the House and has completed second reading, if a majority of the House wishes that bill to go forward either to committee of the whole House or to third reading, 20 members, a minority of this House, can block a bill that the majority of the House wishes to pass. Those 20 members can force that bill to go out of this House to a standing committee where it is going to take, as it always does, considerable time before it sees the light of day again. In that case, as in this case, 20 members can delay and frustrate the will of the House.

The rules of this House, the standing orders, the rules of any democratically-elected legislature, should be treated somewhat differently from any other business before the House. Rules, in my opinion, shouldn’t be changed by a whim. Rules of this House should not be changed because a simple majority of the House, for whatever reason, is dissatisfied with what the House unanimously passed as rules previously. Just because something doesn’t work out the way they thought it might work out is not sufficient reason to change the rules, and I don’t think rules should necessarily be changed by a simple majority of this House.

9:50 p.m.

Rules should not be changed by one party or one section of the House, or even two parties trying to steamroller one section of the rules and change it because they are dissatisfied. This is before this House by a one-vote majority of a committee. If this is changed it will be changed by a very slim majority of the House over the objection of almost one half of the House.

It is my opinion that the rules of this Legislature, the rules of any democratic legislature, should be agreed upon if not by unanimity of the House then by the vast majority of any legislature.

The rules we have before us, the rules that are in existence today and the rules we now operate under, were agreed upon unanimously by this House. I suggest to you, Mr. Speaker, it is not wise to change those rules by a very slim and very simple majority of this House.

I would ask the members opposite to reconsider this particular section and, as my House leader suggested, have this matter go back to the procedural affairs committee. Let us try another way of getting at this where we could reach an agreement where we could somewhat satisfy the objections of the members opposite on the present rules and yet somewhat satisfy the objections of the government to changing the rules. I don’t know if it can happen, but I think that would be a better way to try to reach an agreement rather than a simple majority of this House steamrollering though a major change in the rules.

Mr. Cunningham: Mr. Speaker, I find the comments by the previous speaker to be as silly as the private members’ debates have been gratuitous in the past when they have been blocked by the Conservative government.

The parliamentary process has to become more relevant here in Ontario and in the House of Commons. I would suggest that the government possibly could take a few pages out of at least the rhetoric expressed by former Prime Minister Clark when contemplating and talking about and discussing parliamentary reform. This process has to become more relevant, and I think that starts with the government and the cabinet.

Cabinet has to come to realize that people, regardless of their political persuasion, represent constituencies, and the views of their constituencies are equally important regardless of where they are from or who they represent. I have found over this past couple of years that the private members’ process has become a complete and absolute waste of time.

Nothing was more distasteful to me as a private member than the rather arbitrary blockage of the private member’s bill put on the Order Paper by the member for Cambridge (Mr. M. Davidson). It was a well thought out, well conceived, sensible private bill that was blocked by the government in one of the most cavalier fashions I have seen in this House.

In my opinion, the reason the bill was blocked was that it was not in the name of a government member. I have to say that while I may be perceived to be somewhat cynical in this process, if that bill had been put forth by, say, the member for Wilson Heights (Mr. Rotenberg), whom I see leaving the chamber now, I would suggest the bill would have passed, it would have passed unanimously in this House and would have been implemented in law much faster than it was.

This government brings a new definition to the word “cynicism.” They seem to be oblivious to public opinion. Possibly I should be the last one to suggest we do a new or more expensive poll, but they might do some survey out there, or they might just talk to their constituents, about the parliamentary process and the necessity for making it more relevant here today, because it is not working as it is and some significant changes are going to have to be made.

I had lunch today with a group of students from Trent University. Their professor suggested that we might contemplate some reforms, such as the one before us today, and he was wondering just how things would be if we were ever in power. I said to him I thought that regardless of whether we were in power or the NDP were in power some sincere approach would be made to make this whole process more relevant to the taxpayers.

I find it hard to explain to my constituents why we are still saddled with the burdens of regional government. People are paying more and more in taxes, they are getting less in services and they can’t understand why this unfairness is perpetuated year after year. I think they would have a difficult time understanding why a majority of duly elected members in this House, a simple majority, cannot see an item of legislation passed in this House, even if it is just passed.

It is astounding to me how all of us in this House attach such importance to private members’ hour. We come in and we make good speeches. I think that the bills on balance -- I’d say 75 per cent to 80 per cent of them -- are well conceived. They are reasonably well drafted. They are certainly amendable and could be worked upon in committee, but the theses inherent in almost every item the Legislature discussed during private members’ hour are good. They are in the best interests of the public and are rarely excessively partisan.

Again, Mr. Speaker, I call to your attention the bill put forth by the member for Cambridge, but there are many others that have been blocked. Almost invariably the government of the day attaches some partisan consideration. Again, I use the words that the New Democratic Party House leader used: The government brings in its members like trained seals. I don’t like saying that, but that’s the only conclusion I get when I see people who haven’t been here all day coming in and standing up to block an item of legislation that likely they haven’t read and certainly have not been here for the benefit of the debate, unless they have heard it on the squawk box. They don’t understand it. I find that to be a perversion of the process. I think I need not elaborate on that.

My colleague the member for Essex South (Mr. Mancini) put forth a bill that I didn’t particularly support, and that was a means to raise the drinking age. It was vetoed in the House and then very quickly thereafter the Attorney General (Mr. McMurtry), sensing the public perception -- and with benefit of polls, I’m sure -- decided that must be passed in law.

Perhaps we could pass some laws in this chamber through private members’ hour that would save the government money. Maybe we could put a bill forth that would reduce the size of the cabinet, eliminate the necessity for parliamentary assistants, reduce the staff of the government House leader, or get rid of Minaki Lodge. I can think of some that would maybe save some money, but even then we wouldn’t have the benefit of implementation in legislation.

I represent in this House, at least by way of age, a group of citizens in this province who are somewhat younger. I want to tell you, Mr. Speaker, that people younger than myself are becoming extremely cynical about the government process. When we confront them door-to-door, many of them are saying: “Why should we vote? What’s the use?”

Through this insensitivity we are breeding a whole new element of society who just don’t care. Collectively we have to assume some of the responsibility, but the responsibility for this kind of injustice is perpetuated through some standing orders that, frankly, I find extremely archaic. That responsibility will rest with the government of this province. One day they are going to wake up and find out they are no longer the government of this province.

Mr. Charlton: Mr. Speaker, I spent a number of months in the procedural affairs committee. I was there when we dealt with these issues, as were a number of other members who have spoken tonight. I’d like to narrow my remarks to two of the issues that are being recommended. One is the removal of section 64(e) of the standing orders which is the blocking procedure that we have been discussing. The second is the recommendation that a simple majority of this House, on private members’ business, be allowed to refer that business, when it has passed second reading, to committee of the whole House or to a standing committee of this House.

First, on the blocking procedure there have been a number of comments by some of the members opposite about whimsical changing of the rules by a simple majority. It seems to me that when the present government has a majority -- not always the most substantial majority -- although on occasions their majority was somewhat substantial -- they, for the most part, set the rules of this House because they were the majority.

10 p.m.

With reference to the comments made by the member for Wilson Heights (Mr. Rotenberg) about our whimsical urge to change the rules of this House because there now happens to be a majority on this side of the House, perhaps the government shouldn’t be so partisan and whimsical in their use of the blocking procedure.

As my colleague from Sudbury East (Mr. Martel) has stated, the government blocks virtually everything. The only criterion for blocking seems to be that the motion comes from this side of the House. Whether it is workable or feasible, whether some of the members of that side of the House support the proposal, it gets blocked. That is whimsical. Perhaps we would not be here tonight with these recommendations if the blocking procedure had not been used in the fashion in which the government has chosen to use it.

I would like to make a few comments about one of the committees I have just spent some time on. The member for Sault Ste. Marie (Mr. Ramsay) sat on that committee with me. The member for Carleton-Grenville (Mr. Sterling) also sat on that committee with me. The Minister of Labour (Mr. Elgie) came in on the last day of that committee’s sitting and made a presentation. The committee was dealing with Bill 3, which was presented by one of my colleagues. The government made it clear it has no intention of allowing that bill to pass third reading or of even calling it for third reading.

I think it has been mentioned by a number of speakers that for the most part those on this side of the House understand that. But one of the things about the private members’ hour, the private members’ ability to present legislation and resolutions in this House, is that it is a forum for debate, for raising an issue and for creating a public profile for an issue and for generating public support for a particular position or change. One of the very basic principles of a democratic society is debate, the discussion of an issue -- the merits; the pros and cons. The very limited time that private members’ hour allows on a Thursday afternoon to deal with two bills or two resolutions, or one of each as the case may be, does not permit a full debate of any issue.

In the procedural affairs committee, when the government members spoke against our proposal to remove the blocking procedure they said, “One of the reasons we block is that we don’t want to see bills passed that have not been fully discussed, and you can’t do that on a very short Thursday afternoon.”

On the other hand, once we had passed the recommendation that the blocking procedure be removed, the government members said, “Okay, we want to move the veto against second reading to whether or not the bill will go to committee. We want the right to block it from going to committee.” On the one hand they didn’t want bills to pass second reading because they hadn’t been thoroughly discussed, and on the other hand they didn’t want them to go to committee for further discussion.

That is a very partisan approach to legislation. It does no justice to the private members’ presentations in this House, and it certainly does not do justice to the democratic process. In fact, it makes a joke of the whole procedure.

I mentioned the committee on Bill 3 simply because Bill 3 was a private member’s bill which was allowed to get past second reading. It was allowed to get past second reading because the government understands that Bill 3, a bill to create equal pay for work of equal value, has fairly substantial support already out there in the public domain and that support is growing daily.

That bill was also allowed to go to committee. The Minister of Labour is here, and I want to suggest that between 1974 and 1979 the Minister of Labour and his predecessors did nothing to change substantially the application of the present laws under the Employment Standards Act dealing with equal pay for substantially the same work and did nothing to see that enforcement of that existing law was stepped up or improved. They didn’t even do anything when Bill 3, my colleague’s bill, passed last May or June.

We went through a series of public hearings in the committee on that bill in January of this year. Those hearings got a fair bit of publicity. A lot of groups came in and made presentations and listened to the other groups that were making presentations. There was even a fair number of people from the public who just came in to listen out of interest. In other words, that particular issue got a more substantive hearing and a more substantive debate than private members’ issues normally get.

Although the government has made it clear it has no intention of proceeding with third reading of that bill, the Minister of Labour made it clear quite recently that the government is going to take initiatives in those areas of existing legislation where women have been discriminated against and fair wages have not been paid. They are going to take some initiatives in enforcement that for 30 years heretofore they didn’t see fit to do.

My point is that the private members’ public business, whether it ever becomes law or not, has its place in the democratic process because it can create a debate, a profile for an issue and a public awareness that forces the government at least to take recognition of a problem and to do something, even if it’s not in total what the private member’s bill would ask for.

The other thing about the blocking procedure that bothers me, and other speakers tonight have mentioned it, is that on far too frequent occasions the members across the way who stand to block don’t even know what it is they are standing to block.

I hark back to a private member’s bill which I introduced last year, Bill 126. It was a bill to create, under four sections of the Employment Standards Act, coverage for domestic employees in this province. Twenty members opposite stood to block that bill. One of the members opposite, who was one of those who stood to block the bill, the very next week got into a little unpleasantness of his own over his own domestic employee. He actually had the naiveté to suggest to the press that in his particular situation he had done nothing illegal; he was paying his employee the minimum wage as the law required.

A minister of the crown didn’t even understand that the law does not require that domestic employees in this province be paid the minimum wage. My bill would have provided that, but he stood to block my bill and then said to the press he was abiding by a law that he thought was acceptable -- that they should receive the minimum wage -- and he was seeing to it that the law was lived up to. The law didn’t exist, and he didn’t even understand what he was standing in this House to block. That’s one of the things that upsets and bothers members on this side of the House. That’s one of the things that makes a joke of the government’s ability to block bills.

None of us over here has any great expectation that every private member’s bill in this House is going to pass; but it’s a forum for debate, for raising an issue, and it’s a forum in which this House should allow an honest vote that can be appraised by the public so the public not only can understand what’s been said about the issue but also can understand who said what in the final analysis, who voted how, as they can with every other proposition before this House in terms of legislation. That is also a very important part of the democratic process in this society.

For those reasons -- in order to make this House more relevant, in order to make this House more understandable -- I support the recommendations of the procedural affairs committee.

10:10 p.m.

Mr. G. Taylor: Mr. Speaker, is three minutes the limit? I will see if I can talk for three minutes. Not many lawyers can talk for three minutes; so I might even put a stop watch on.

I would like to add a few words to the motions that are before us this evening. They are probably not that original that they haven’t already been stated, but with an opportunity to debate this subject, I bring forth those reasons why I could not support it. I guess I fall into the category of supporting the veto. Although I have heard the members from the opposite side with their comments and the members’ comments from the government side, I am sure they are not all that original and I am sure they have their views.

I can fully understand their views. They look upon it differently and try to look upon it differently in the matter of the public view of what is taking place in here, in what is labelled as a private member’s bill. I can’t always come to the same opinion as that of the members opposite, that the public perceive private members’ bills, government bills and other bills as segregated. I believe they do not. When a bill comes out of this place, it is labelled as a government bill, and they have to accept it whether it happens to be an opposition bill, private member’s bill or otherwise.

When this side of the House or any grouping in this House loses that private member’s bill, it is the government that is defeating the bill. I happen to be partisan enough to say that when the government passes a bill, it is government that is down in Queen’s Park; it is the governing party, no matter who happens to be the originator of that bill.

I happen to be in favour of retaining this veto, as it is referred to. Our House leader put forth the history of this piece of legislation and how we arrived at the standing orders. He was quite accurate when he pointed to the number of 20s that appear consistently in that legislation. I, for one, am not ashamed or even embarrassed by the number of times we have vetoed pieces of legislation that were more than what was intended by this private members’ situation.

Even in the short time I have been here as a member, that they were not content on the opposite side that 20 unknown, unnamed members were standing up and vetoing these bills. They had to label them so now we can get specific when we go back to the public and say it was that member, that member and that member. I feel that was the reason for adding the names.

We talk about the chipping away and the piecemeal -- the word my friend used -- discussion of this thing. It is piecemeal; it is chipping away. Each time the government or this side or members choose a way, they take another counteraction to do that loophole in.

Mr. Speaker, I am in favour of the veto and of retaining it, and I am not in favour of this motion.

Ms. Speaker: Order. Will all honourable members take their seats, please? It is a requirement in this House when the Speaker puts a question that everybody be in their seat.

The first question to be decided is the adoption of the report of the standing procedural affairs committee, notice of motion three.

Motion agreed to.

The House divided on notice of motion four, dealing with standing order 64(e), which was negative on the following vote:


Blundy; Bradley; Breaugh; Bryden; Campbell; Cassidy; Charlton; Cooke; Cunningham; Davidson, M.; Di Santo; Dukszta; Epp; Foulds.

Germa; Gigantes; Grande; Isaacs; Johnston, R. F.; Kerrio; Laughren; Lawlor; Lupusella; MacDonald; Mackenzie; Makarchuk; Martel; McGuigan; Miller, G. I.

Newman, B.; O’Neil, Peterson; Philip; Renwick; Riddell; Roy; Ruston; Samis; Sargent; Swart; Sweeney; Van Horne; Warner; Worton; Young -- 45.


Auld, Ashe; Baetz; Belanger; Bennett; Bernier; Birch; Brunelle; Cureatz; Davis; Drea; Eaton; Elgie; Gregory; Grossman; Handleman; Havrot; Henderson; Hennessy; Hodgson.

Johnson, J.; Jones; Kennedy; Kerr; Lane; Leluk; Maeck; McCaffrey; McCague McMurtry; McNeil; Miller, F. S.; Newman, W.; Norton, Parrott; Pope; Ramsay; Rollins; Rotenberg; Rowe.

Scrivener; Smith, G.E.; Snow; Stephenson; Sterling; Taylor, G.; Taylor, J. A.; Timbrell; Turner; Villeneuve; Walker; Watson; Welch; Wells; Williams; Wiseman; Yakabuski -- 57.


MacBeth and Edighoffer

Ayes 45; nays 57.

Mr. Speaker: The next question to be decided is the adoption of the standing procedural affairs committee report as embodied in notice of motion six.

Motion agreed to.

Mr. Speaker: The next question to be decided is notice of motion seven.

Motion agreed to.

The House adjourned at 10:31 p.m.