The House met at 2 p.m.
Hon. Mr. McCague: Mr. Speaker, I have a message from the Honourable the Administrator signed by his own hand.
Mr. Speaker: W. G. C. Howland, the Administrator of the Province of Ontario, transmits estimates of certain sums required for the services of the province for the year ending March 31, 1981, and recommends them to the Legislative Assembly, Toronto, March 27, 1980.
Mr. Speaker: As the House is aware, pursuant to the amendment to the Legislative Assembly Act which came into force on April 1, 1979, the Commission on Election Contributions and Expenses appointed pursuant to section 2 of the Election Finances Reform Act, 1975, was charged with the responsibility each year of reviewing and making such recommendations as it considers proper in respect of the indemnities and allowances to the members of the assembly, and to make its recommendations to the Speaker and the Speaker shall then cause the report to be laid before the assembly if it is in session, or, if not, at the next ensuing session.
Accordingly, I beg to inform the House that the third report of the commission made under this provision and dated March 26, 1980, has been delivered to me by the commission. I have tabled it with the Clerk of the House. We are the the process now of getting sufficient copies made for all members and all other interested parties.
STATEMENTS BY THE MINISTRY
FEDERAL MORTGAGE ASSISTANCE GRANTS
Hon. Mr. Bennett: Mr. Speaker, on March 18, the Treasurer (Mr. F. S. Miller) and I met with the federal Minister of Finance and the federal minister responsible for Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation. As I indicated to this House earlier this week, my colleague and I expressed serious concern over the continuing high level of interest rates and the impact that these rates were having on home owners whose mortgages are coming up for renewal.
I am pleased to report that the Honourable Paul Cosgrove, federal minister reporting for CMHC, has gone some way in responding to the national problem. Yesterday he announced that federal mortgage assistance grants would be made available to those whose assisted home ownership units are coming up for renewal. I think this is an important federal initiative to assist those whom I, as well as the leader of the third party and others, have recognized to be a first priority in Canada.
In order to follow up on the specific impact that the federal program will have, I will be meeting with my federal counterpart tomorrow afternoon in the city of Ottawa. I will be encouraging the federal government to consider a number of other policy changes as well, including the reintroduction of incentives to encourage the production of rental units in Ontario and Canada.
For the information of the members, I am tabling a copy of a Telex I sent yesterday to the Honourable Paul Cosgrove. In it I also suggested that in view of changed housing and mortgage markets it would be useful to convene a federal-provincial housing ministers’ conference. I hope I can persuade the federal minister to call this conference on or before May 1 of the current year to discuss the complete range of housing-related matters of interest to Ontario and to the nation as a whole.
Mr. Speaker, I have filed with you and the House a copy of the Telex that I sent.
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: Mr. Speaker, members will recall that on December 13 the moratorium on the sterilization of mentally incompetent young people was extended until March 31 to allow the interministerial committee additional time to canvass individuals and organizations interested in this issue. At the same time, the second report of the committee and its proposal for legislation was widely circulated, in English and in French.
Since then, it has become clear to all of us that there is a deep and fundamental difference of honestly held opinion on how this complex issue should be resolved. Consequently, I cannot in conscience ask this House to attempt to resolve a matter of such individual and personal concern when there clearly is no consensus on it within the Ontario community. In these circumstances, Mr. Speaker, there is no option but to continue the moratorium.
Mr. Breithaupt: How long?
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: Indefinitely.
FINANCIAL PROTECTION FOR LIVESTOCK PRODUCERS
Hon. Mr. Henderson: Later today I will be introducing a bill dealing with financial protection for livestock producers. The bill will be an amendment to the Live Stock and Live Stock Products Act, which will enable the establishment of a financial protection program for beef producers. In recent years livestock producers and dealers have lost something over half a million dollars as a result of buyer bankruptcies. A number of individuals suffered large financial losses and long-term hardship as a result.
I have had discussions with representatives of livestock producers and dealer associations on this matter. They have indicated their preference for a self-sustaining financial protection program, to be funded over the long term by the parties directly concerned, namely, producers and dealers.
The amendments which I will introduce will allow initially for such a plan to cover beef cattle. Dealers will be required to make prompt payment, and licensing authority will be provided in the act itself, rather than in the regulations. If the fund goes into a deficit position, the government will guarantee bank loans of up to $1 million and will pay the interest on them. This program will be administered by a board which will include representatives of producers, dealers and government. Under this legislation, producers of other classes of livestock may also have financial protection plans set up, if they so desire.
This program demonstrates once again the government’s solid commitment to agriculture, which is Ontario’s most basic industry.
ROYAL COMMISSION ON ELECTRIC POWER PLANNING
Hon. Mr. Welch: Mr. Speaker, yesterday my colleague the Provincial Secretary for Resources Development (Mr. Brunelle) received on behalf of the government the final report of the Royal Commission on Electric Power Planning. That report was released by the commission yesterday and, I understand, a copy has been made available to each member.
Over the next several months, the Ministry of Energy will be co-ordinating the government’s review of the final report and its eight companion volumes, which I am told will be published in April. I hope to be in a position by this summer or early fall to table a full response to the recommendations.
The Royal Commission on Electric Power Planning has been about its task for almost five years. I am sure all members join with me in expressing appreciation to Dr. Arthur Porter, to his fellow commissioners and to the staff of the commission for the very thorough job which they have done.
METHANOL AND WOOD ENERGY
Hon. Mr. Welch: Mr. Speaker, may I also take this opportunity to inform the House of the terms of reference for a study to assess the feasibility of producing methanol and other forms of renewable energy from wood, to be conducted in the Edwardsburgh area and some of the adjacent counties of eastern Ontario.
Of the 10,500 acres in the Edwardsburgh land bank assembled in 1974, about 4,000 acres are currently under cultivation, while the remaining acreage is bushland. I am advised that some of this land, along with other areas in eastern Ontario, is uniquely suited to the cultivation of fast-maturing wood species such as the hybrid poplar developed by the Ministry of Natural Resources.
In co-operation with the Ministry of Natural Resources as part of Energy Ontario, my ministry is in the process of inviting tenders to assess the potential of the land to produce an assured supply of wood, both now and in the future. As well, the study will evaluate the available technology to utilize this wood supply.
Specifically, the study will be carried out in three distinct phases. Phase one will deal with the current supply of mill and logging residues, salvageable dead timber, existing stands of timber and the potential for their improvement, and the potential for tree plantations.
It will identify the sustainable annual wood supply potential in oven-dry tons and the estimated delivered cost of that wood supply in 1980 dollars. It will include both public and privately owned land. The same information will be gathered for two other areas within the country of Lanark and the united counties of Leeds and Grenville. The study will, of course, differentiate between the wood supply potential of public land and that of private land.
The consultant will also prepare a schedule of anticipated production and harvesting costs for 500 acres of hybrid poplar grown on a five-year rotation basis.
The final stage in phase one will be the identification of economic benefits to the area, including jobs and the accompanying infrastructure.
In phase two the consultant will identify local markets for firewood and combine this demand with the wood requirements of a cogenerating plant for the simultaneous production of steam and electricity of about 20 to 50 megawatts and the requirements for a demonstration-scale methanol plant.
The next step will be the preparation of preliminary engineering designs for a fuel wood supply system to meet local demand, a small-scale thermal plant and a demonstration-scale methanol plant. These plans will then be analysed, singly and in combination, to arrive at the optimum scheme for each of the three locations. These, in turn, will be compared with the projected conventional energy costs over a 20-year period following the estimated years of completion of the plant or plants.
Phase three of the study will include a complete costing of the optimum scheme for each location, creation of a financial model to compute future costs and revenues and financial analysis. These, of course, will take into account the tax benefits, grants, loans and other government assistance which would be available or be required by the optimum schemes.
Finally, there will be a total cost-benefit analysis, taking into account such social factors as regional economic development, new industry and job creation, the resulting reduction in oil imports and contribution to Ontario’s energy security.
The work of the consultant or team of consultants will be under the direction of a steering committee consisting of representatives of the Ministry of Energy and the Ministry of Natural Resources. We estimate that the work will require approximately a year to complete.
In making this announcement, I wish to emphasize that this study is designed to concentrate on land that is not currently in agricultural production. We expect that a successful renewable energy project in any or all of these areas would be a benefit to the region in terms of additional jobs and greater economic stability, as well as enhancing Ontario’s overall energy security.
I’m very pleased to say that already we have received enthusiastic support for this project from the municipal councils of Prescott, Augusta and Edwardsburgh. We anticipate that such projects would also provide valuable experience and, if successful, encourage the participation of both the private and public sectors in similar endeavours in other parts of the province.
I look forward to reporting to this House and to the local communities involved on the progress of this three-part study, as well as other Energy Ontario initiatives, during the coming months.
ASSISTANCE FOR PORT HOPE
Hon. Mr. Wells: Mr. Speaker, I would like to inform the House that the cabinet yesterday declared the town of Port Hope a disaster area and thus eligible to receive assistance under the terms of the Ontario Disaster Relief Assistance Program. Although other areas affected by the March 21 and 22 storm have not been declared disaster areas at this time, consideration will be given to them when we have more information available.
I would also like to inform the House that due to the extensive nature of the damage in Port Hope, the province of Ontario will match contributions raised from public or private sources on a ratio of three to one up to a 90-cents-on-the-dollar settlement provision.
In addition, and because so much of the Port Hope business district has been badly damaged, the province will guarantee loans and provide an interest subsidy to assist in the immediate restoration of the businesses affected by the flooding. Although the details of this procedure have not been finalized, it is our intention effectively to reduce the interest rate on loans -- that is, those loans required to restore the properties of small businesses affected by the flooding to the pre-disaster condition -- to a rate of six per cent. This will be done through the assistance of the Ontario Development Corporation in conjunction with the chartered banks.
Harry Connolly, of the field services branch of my ministry, has been appointed as the provincial co-ordinator to ensure full cooperation between provincial ministries and the municipal departments involved in the town of Port Hope in the restoring of all government installations and services in the disaster area to normal working order.
The subsidies branch will provide assistance in ensuring a local disaster relief committee is set up within the terms of the Ontario Disaster Relief Assistance Program to raise funds and assess and settle claims made to the fund by affected homes and businesses.
As some of the buildings in the disaster area are historical in nature -- the old fire hall in particular has been designated as a historical building by the town of Port Hope -- the Ministry of Culture and Recreation through its heritage administration branch is currently having discussions with town officials as to the viability of restoring the affected buildings. Prior to the flooding, applications for assistance to the Ontario Heritage Foundation and Wintario had both been approved.
Also, the Ministry of Transportation and Communications is already working with the municipality of Port Hope. It has given assurances to the town and has agreed to increase its roads allotment by approximately $600,000 for this year.
My colleagues and I wish Port Hope and the disaster relief committee that has been set up to raise funds and to settle claims every success in quickly restoring conditions to normal and in making just and speedy settlements to private property owners and businesses which were affected by the flooding last weekend.
PORT HOPE FLOOD
Hon. Mr. Wells: Mr. Speaker, on behalf of my colleague the Minister of the Environment (Mr. Parrott), I would like to deliver a further statement about the Port Hope situation and pass on some new information with respect to the disaster and flood in Port Hope. As I have already indicated, Port Hope has been declared a disaster area and serious flooding occurred, mainly last Friday.
Officials of the Atomic Energy Control Board of Canada began almost immediately to inquire into the extent and nature of possible radioactive contamination. The whole range of radioactive concerns is, of course, a federal responsibility.
The objective of the inquiry was to determine whether the dislocation of soil caused by flooding had exposed areas where radioactive materials had been buried and, if so, whether such exposure might constitute a threat to health. What we are talking about here are not dump sites, as such, but fairly small landfill operations that may have taken place 20 or 25 years ago.
On Monday of this week, the AECB concentrated on seven areas which were known to have been depositories for radioactive materials in former years. The following day, that is Tuesday, the federal authorities invited technical experts of the government of Ontario to meet with them so that the preliminary findings could be reviewed.
At two of the seven sites, the flooding had partially uncovered buried materials and resulted in elevated levels of radiation. Examination of the evidence convinced the responsible federal officials that the elevated levels do not constitute an immediate danger to health.
The highest level noted was one millirad per hour. At this level, one would have to be exposed for 500 hours standing on the site to receive the maximum permissible radiation dose as recommended by international authorities as an acceptable level for members of the public.
Water samples collected during the storm in Port Hope and right up until today are being analysed in the laboratories of the federal Department of Health and Welfare in Ottawa and here in Toronto at the laboratory of the Ministry of Labour. Additional sampling is continuing, Mr. Speaker. Now let me stress that there is absolutely no suggestion of contamination of drinking water. Port Hope’s water treatment plant functioned effectively and efficiently without interruption throughout the flooding period and continues to function.
Officials of the Ministry of the Environment were on the scene early and remain there to lend assistance to federal and municipal authorities. Our people met with the mayor, the deputy mayor and the staff of Eldorado, a federal crown corporation and Port Hope’s main industry, to offer their services in responding to environmental concerns.
Let me describe the two areas where elevated levels of radiation were found, Mr. Speaker. One is a commercial area on Queen Street near the Canadian National Railways viaduct. Its area is 15 feet by 100 feet. The nearest homes are several hundred feet away. The second area is known as the Pine Street Extension, which is a gravel roadway. The heavy rains caused erosion on the roadway and exposed an area of radiation which measures 20 feet by 100 feet.
Experts from the agency with prime responsibility, the AECB, from the consulting firm of James McLaren, from the Ontario Ministry of the Environment and from our Ministry of Labour, are going over the affected areas again today. The local medical officer of health will be made fully aware by the AECB of all the information that is thus far gathered.
Ontario government officials on the scene are meeting at this very moment with their colleagues from the Atomic Energy Control Board and the board’s firm of consulting engineers to assess the evidence again. I need hardly say that the government of Ontario is co-operating fully with the federal authorities and taking all prudent measures available to them to deal with the elevated levels I have described. As an immediate and interim measure, the federal authorities have undertaken to cover all the areas where there has been radioactive material exposed.
Senior Ministry of the Environment officials have spoken with the president of AECB, who gave assurances that he shared fully our sense of real urgency in dealing with this matter. Further, he undertook that all flooded areas in Port Hope were either in the process of being surveyed or would shortly be surveyed to determine whether further radioactive depositions were uncovered by the flooding. Measurements already made by AECB on homes that might have been affected indicate there has been no problem with radioactive material away from the contaminated areas that I have already identified.
I repeat that in the considered view of federal scientists on the scene there is no danger to the public. No time is being wasted in devising and implementing a complete cleanup strategy.
Mr. S. Smith: I’d like to direct my first question to the Solicitor General regarding the Nakina fire tragedy, arising out of the report in today’s Globe and Mail. I would preface my question by stating that it has nothing to do with the coroner’s inquest or any matter that is at present before the courts. Is it correct that the Ontario fire marshal had an obligation in law to investigate the Nakina fire? If so, did he investigate, or did he, as is suggested in the Globe and Mail article, walk away from the matter?
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: Mr. Speaker, I don’t have all the details of the investigation, except I do know a representative of the Ontario fire marshal’s office was there for at least two days and did investigate the fire. He did carry out what I view to be his statutory responsibilities, particularly given the tragic nature and importance of the matter.
I don’t have total details at the moment as to all the particulars of his investigation, but I do know there was a fire marshal’s investigation and that the particular representative of the fire marshal’s office has already given evidence at the inquest, outlining the nature of his investigation. I haven’t seen the transcript of that portion of the inquest. In view of what we’ve been reading I expect to be reviewing that, I understand his evidence is already on the record.
Mr. S. Smith: By way of supplementary; since neither the Solicitor General nor I has actually seen the report, and since there has been some discussion that in fact the fire marshal’s representative on the scene basically assisted in the identification of bodies, but apart from that is alleged not to have conducted an investigation, at least not one that the Globe and Mail was made aware of in its coverage, I wonder if the minister would be good enough to assure the House that he will seek out this actual report, the details of the investigation, and share them with this House as soon as possible?
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: I don’t see any difficulty with respect to that, Mr. Speaker. I would like to see the transcript. I know the total transcript has not yet been completed, but I will attempt to assist the House as much as possible with respect to the details of that investigation.
Mr. Foulds: Supplementary, Mr. Speaker: In view of the public’s right to know, would the Solicitor General make a commitment to this House that he not only will table the report just referred to, but will table the report of the investigation of the OPP; and that he will make accessible to the public in a public document, printed through the Queen’s Printer, the transcript of the hearings of the inquest and the coroner’s report? Further, would he assure us that, dependent on the decision of the Supreme Court of Ontario on April 17 about the inquest, either the inquest will continue immediately or a new inquest will be ordered?
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: There are a number of questions there, Mr. Speaker. I think any relevant information about the role of the OPP in carrying out a proper investigation, as well as the fire marshal’s office, is information to which the public is entitled through the members of this Legislature.
Obviously, I have to be bound by some reasonable restraints in relation to how I deal with this material which I have not personally seen, pending the outcome of the inquest. I’m not suggesting there should be no discussion whatsoever, but obviously there is a jury that has heard 40 days of evidence and I would hope it is going to be hearing more evidence. There is a great deal of evidence that has been prepared.
I think the Minister of Natural Resources (Mr. Auld) would agree that all relevant information should be made reasonably accessible to the public at the appropriate time. I’m not in a position to say simply it is in the public interest to agree to publish every volume of evidence through the Queen’s Printer until I’m satisfied there is some public interest to be served by an expenditure of the taxpayers’ dollars in that respect.
Transcripts are at present being prepared, as the honourable member knows. I’m certainly quite prepared, at the appropriate time, to review any portions of these transcripts with him -- they will be available to the public in that limited respect -- and discuss with him what would be a reasonable course to have to follow in the circumstances.
Mr. Van Horne: Supplementary, Mr. Speaker: Given that it’s apparently going to cost five of these unfortunate families $30,000 each for their legal fees, I would like to know whether there is any plan for the government to compensate these people for the money they have had to spend to find out what the truth is.
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: I think this is a matter that we should consider, Mr. Speaker. I haven’t had an opportunity to discuss it with my colleagues, but I think the matter of some assistance in this regard should be seriously entertained by the government.
Mr. Foulds: Supplementary, Mr. Speaker: Can the Solicitor General inform us whether there has been any interministerial discussion, because there does seem to be these four or five different reports, or whether it might be worthwhile to summarize them either in printed form or by having a very short judicial inquiry and report on them so that all of the evidence comes together, because of the wide public interest in this tragedy and the necessity to assure the public that all steps are being taken by government that such a tragedy never again occurs in this province?
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: Certainly, Mr. Speaker, I’m prepared to lend the good offices of the Ministry of the Solicitor General to the preparation of any material that might assist in the avoidance of any such tragedy -- here, we obviously had a terrible tragedy -- and in avoiding such an occurrence in the future.
I have seen very little of the actual information; so it’s very difficult for me to speculate what would be appropriate in that respect. But, again, this is a matter that I’m prepared to discuss with any of my colleagues in the Legislature to achieve the goals that the honourable member wishes and with which I concur.
PORT HOPE FLOOD
Mr. S. Smith: Mr. Speaker: I’d like to direct a question regarding the Port Hope flood to the Minister of Natural Resources. Is the minister aware that during my visit to Port Hope I had occasion to ask the conservation authority how it was that only one or two hours’ warning was given to the citizens? As he knows, many of the losses could have been avoided if people had shifted their inventory upstairs and so on.
Is the minister aware that I was told there were three gauges being monitored close to the origin of the Ganaraska River, that these gauges were being monitored over the months and years but on the last couple of days before the flood the readings apparently went off the end of the gauge and, because the people in the authority did not know how to interpret that, they gave no warning. Has he confirmed that information which I was given?
Does it make sense to the minister that people should be paid salaries to monitor gauges day after day when they have no notion what it means when the readings go off the end of the gauge? What is the purpose of having that kind of monitoring system? Can he give us any information that he himself might have in this regard?
Hon. Mr. Auld: Mr. Speaker, the information I have is that there are, indeed, three gauges on the river and that, first of all, the authority was given advisories on both March 20 and 21. In fact, I have in front of me a press release from the vice-chairman of the authority, a part of which says:
“In my opinion, the province provided us with adequate early warning and, given the monitoring equipment and manpower of the authority, the best information possible was provided to the town on the local flood situation.”
I should also point out that I have not seen the gauge in question which the Leader of the Opposition mentioned, but when the water goes over the top of it I would assume that that means it is more serious than had it not. I always hate to speculate, and I really don’t want to make fun of what was a very serious and costly event.
I point out again that the town, in cooperation with the authority, earlier had removed the ice, as they often do from the mouth of the river, from the main street down to Lake Ontario. There was very little or no damage from ice that was still floating around in the river; there was some damage from ice that still had been attached to the shore.
The authority was in touch with our Lindsay office on Friday afternoon. We supplied some sandbags, a boat and some other things, and they were able to find other things they required in the town for those people who were being evacuated. By and large, having regard for the situation and the constriction in the river on the main street which the Leader of the Opposition saw, I don’t think it is really surprising that the results that we see actually happened.
It just seems to me that perhaps the town for years has felt that the flood plain mapping which has been done by the authority --
Mr. S. Smith: We’ve beard it all before.
Hon. Mr. Auld: You’ve heard this? The area has been mapped for the flood plain. The town, I understand, has been reluctant to look at measures that would avoid a problem if the flood was over the 100-year average. The water was running at something like 35 miles an hour through that constriction. I am told that is the equivalent of perhaps a 1,000-year flood, rather than the one they were prepared to handle, and so it is hardly surprising there was considerable damage.
Mr. S. Smith: Supplementary: Given the fact that it was such a huge flood in terms of the volume of water and the rapidity of its flow, surely the minister would agree, Mr. Speaker, that that only makes it all the more obvious there should have been some warning, that a flood of that magnitude does not occur all of a sudden without warning, and yet the citizens were given only a couple of hours’ warning. I would ask the minister, although I appreciate his interesting reply, which is more than I ever wanted to know about certain aspects, but I would ask --
Hon. Mr. Davis: I say to the honourable member a little enlightenment won’t hurt him. He should broaden his horizons.
Mr. S. Smith: The Premier is right, it is very broadening. Asking Jimmy a question is always a broadening experience, but I would ask the minister to recognize that I have asked a very specific question. Would he undertake to make a statement to this House, perhaps on a future occasion, as to how come these gauges were apparently over their limit a couple of days or so before the flood and yet inadequate warning was given to the town.
I would ask the minister to check that and, while he is doing that, would he also give us his view of the suggestion I made at the time of the Dover township flood, that the government provide government flood insurance for the low-lying areas using the money that would otherwise be used for disaster relief, and at least allow people to insure themselves because, as the minister knows, the private companies are sometimes, in fact generally, unwilling to write that kind of insurance. Would the minister please undertake to look at the possibility of government-operated flood insurance in Ontario similar to hurricane insurance in Florida?
Hon. Mr. Auld: Mr. Speaker, I will be delighted to make a more complete statement some time in the not-too-distant future.
I point out to the Leader of the Opposition that a report has been in the process of completion for the last year and by coincidence, not by design, it is to be presented to the town in the next two or three weeks. It was planned in that fashion to indicate other steps that should be taken. The authority has been anxious to take steps there for some time.
As a matter of fact, the member may be aware that about four years ago there was quite an argument between the authority and the town or part of the town council about the Sears building construction. There was an Ontario Municipal Board hearing, I understand, to settle that. It would appear the authority may well have been right inasmuch as I understand most of the Sears building is now a hazard to navigation in Lake Ontario.
Mr. Breaugh: A supplementary: I take it the minister will be making a complete statement, then, about warning devices and any kind of corrective measures which may be taken.
I would like to ask the minister this question: The minister has announced a great deal of relief for the community through provincial funds which will now be spent in a flood plain. Is the Ministry of Natural Resources going to object to this expenditure of public money in a flood plain, and is this in contravention of the agreement with the money in areas that have been designated in a flood plain?
Hon. Mr. Auld: There are several questions there, Mr. Speaker. As far as the first one is concerned, we are anxious that the reconstruction of the destroyed buildings be elsewhere, because the single biggest problem in that area is the constriction of the Ganaraska River where it normally crosses under the main street.
I have not visited the area since the flood, but I have had a preliminary report and our staff will be at a meeting there tomorrow, when we will be suggesting that the only way, and the only economical way to deal with prevention of this kind of thing in the future, is to widen that area so that the water can get through.
There have been floods in Port Hope since 1813 and there have been some really serious ones, one in the 1930s and one in the 1950s, as I recall, so that this is not an unusual situation.
Mr. Foulds: You probably remember them all personally.
Hon. Mr. Auld: I beg your pardon?
Mr. Foulds: Nothing.
Hon. Mr. Auld: I am delighted to give any information that I have to the honourable member.
As far as the third question is concerned, I believe that is correct when there is a question of federal and provincial funds being put forward. In this case, to my knowledge, there are no federal funds involved.
FEDERAL MORTGAGE ASSISTANCE GRANTS
Mr. Laughren: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Minister of Housing. I might say we welcome the initiative of a federal-provincial housing conference to be held as quickly as possible. Is the minister satisfied, now that Mr. Cosgrove has made his statement on the assistance he is prepared to provide for the people who bought under the Assisted Home Ownership Program, that it is going to be adequate to meet the needs of those home owners, particularly in this year and perhaps even in the years down the road?
Hon. Mr. Bennett: Mr. Speaker, I am not in a position to answer the question directly in light of the fact, in reference to Mr. Cosgrove’s announcement of yesterday, that all of the details have not been submitted to the Ministry of Housing in Ontario. We are not aware of the full details of it. From phone calls with the minister’s office in Ottawa this morning I understand they are still in the process of trying to put together some of the qualifying rules and regulations that will be applicable to AHOP mortgages being renewed at this time in 1980.
I hope in tomorrow’s discussion with the federal minister, along with staff personnel, we will get to understand the entire program and whatever expansion or additional information he might have, not only about AHOP but other mortgages as well.
Mr. Laughren: By way of supplementary, I think we would feel a lot more comfortable if we knew the minister would be going to that conference having made some commitments in this chamber ahead of time. What is bothering us is, since the Premier (Mr. Davis) has already announced that he was prepared to co-operate, the minister has announced that he was prepared to piggyback any federal program and, in fact, Mr. Cosgrove did make some --
Mr. Speaker: Is the minister aware that the member for Nickel Belt is bothered? Is that the question?
Mr. Laughren: Yes, Mr. Speaker, is the Minister of Housing prepared to tell us now specifically, categorically, that when he goes to that federal-provincial housing conference he is prepared to piggyback any programs the federal government chooses to introduce? Does he not agree that since the Ontario government did this back in 1975 when interest rates were between 10 and 11 per cent, surely the need is just as great now when they are between 15 and 16 per cent, and there is just as great an obligation on the part of Ontario to help those home owners now as there was back in 1975?
Hon. Mr. Bennett: First of all, I think we had better get the years of our participation slightly corrected. The government of Ontario under its Home Ownership Made Easy program participated in the piggyback process in 1977. We entered into an agreement in 1976 with the government of Canada and started to participate in the mortgage applications in the year 1977. So the number we actually participated in was relatively small in relation to the overall AHOP activity of 1975 and so on.
I am not sure to which conference the member is referring. I hope to have a federal-provincial ministers’ conference some time before May 1. My meeting tomorrow will be a preliminary one to find out from Mr. Cosgrove what they intend to do with what is a federal problem, so don’t lose sight of that. We would like to know what they intend to do, and if there is some opportunity for the province of Ontario to look at the possibility of getting into a further piggyback program, we will do so.
I think it would be rather foolish of me to say in this House today that we will piggyback any program Mr. Cosgrove comes up with. I am not prepared to say that on behalf of the taxpayers of the province of Ontario. I am prepared to say clearly that we will look at the program and try to assist in a piggyback process which is in relation to how the province should be responding.
Mr. Laughren: Mr. Speaker, has the minister ruled out the suggestion that we made that there be a governmental task force appointed to look into the problem both for the short term and for the long term, because I am sure the minister would recognize that there’s going to be a rental problem as well, as this thing will filter through to rental construction and will finally get through to tenants in the province of Ontario? How does the minister make a statement that it’s not a provincial problem, since the province recognized there was a provincial problem back in 1977, as he indicated? Surely the need is just as great now. What is the minister prepared to do for the 2,000 to 3,000 home owners, AHOP people, whose mortgages are going to come due in 1980?
Hon. Mr. Bennett: Mr. Speaker, I have not said the province does not recognize that they have some right to participate or will likely participate. I said clearly in this House earlier this week, and I repeat again today, that the fiscal policy of Canada is a federal responsibility. Mortgage rates are not determined on a provincial basis but on a national basis.
Once we accept that, then we understand the problem we are dealing with is a federal responsibility. It does not exclude the opportunity of provinces, whether it be Ontario or some other province, to try to assist the government to reduce the hardships that will be imposed upon a marginal number of mortgage holders in this province and this country, as long as we do not get the idea in our minds that the situation is a broad-brush situation, that every mortgage in this country has to he written down by some public authority. I don’t think that is a realistic assessment to be making. We are clearly looking at where the assistance is needed.
The member asked me if I had rejected, or this government had rejected, the position of his party in relation to some type of a committee to review the overall provincial situation, and indeed national situation, in relation to mortgages that are up for renewal over the next period of 12, 24 or 36 months. No, we haven’t ruled it out.
I must say one of the points I intend to discuss with Mr. Cosgrove tomorrow is some type of a federal program that will look at the depth of the situation we are contending with because I think on occasions we find that there is some need and sometimes it gets magnified out of all proportion. We should know from a factual point of view, rather than everybody jumping to a conclusion. The member knows and I know of one or two people in our own ridings who are having some difficulties, but does that make it a universal situation? I don’t accept the fact that the high interest rate is a universal hardship situation on everyone who is renewing at this time.
I am not in any better position than the member’s party’s critic for housing; he wants to make a blanket statement that all 3,000 are in difficulty, but I don’t accept that as a statement. Before we do try to make the actual numbers known, let’s have a report from the federal government. I would suggest that should be done sometime prior to May 1, when the federal and provincial ministers of housing meet. This report should be detailed so we know exactly the situation we are contending with.
Mr. Makarchuk: Supplementary: Would the minister consider advising the federal people at the conference he will attend tomorrow, inasmuch as they are probably going to say that they do not have the money, that perhaps they should put the $4 billion or $5 billion that they have allocated for the purchase of fighter planes, which will not add one iota to Canada’s defence capability, into subsidizing interest rates, into aiding farmers in Canada and into aiding small businesses in Canada --
Mr. Speaker: This is not a supplementary to the original question.
Mr. Makarchuk: -- instead of sending that money overseas and creating jobs --
Mr. Speaker: Order, a new question.
Mr. Makarchuk: Let’s have an answer to that.
Mr. Speaker: The question was out of order.
EXEMPTIONS FROM MINING ACT
Mr. Laughren: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Minister of Natural Resources, if I dare. With respect to the minister’s statement on Monday in which he rationalized, apologized for and excused his decision to grant a 10-year extension to the processing exemption which enables Falconbridge to ship its ores to Norway for further processing, can the minister tell us how his thought process works; how he reaches the conclusion that, by allowing a company to ship its ores elsewhere and write off its expenses against its Ontario operations, it encourages refining and processing in Ontario, which apparently is one of the commitments of his government?
Hon. Mr. Auld: Mr. Speaker, I don’t think I said in that statement that this was encouraging further refining in Ontario. What I did say was it was encouraging further mining and development of more ore bodies, because they were still in a competitive situation as far as their market, and particularly their European market, was concerned.
Mr. Laughren: By the way, the minister did make the argument that it would extend the life of the Sudbury ores -- which is a strange argument as well -- but in his reply he did not deal with the second part of my question which I asked him earlier. It was how much the allowance for Falconbridge to write off its Norwegian refining expenses against Ontario operations had cost Ontario taxpayers since it was first implemented, I believe in 1974, and then made more permanent at the end of 1979. How much has that cost the Ontario taxpayers?
Hon. Mr. Auld: I think that would be very hard to establish, because the position of Falconbridge is that the more they sell, the more competitive they are. Where we might lose some mining tax, we would receive more corporation tax. However, I will attempt to get that information for the honourable member.
Mr. Laughren: If the minister would table that information, would he also try to explain to us, in writing, how it is that the permission, removing the requirement that Falconbridge establish a refinery here, encourages further refining in Ontario, particularly since they are allowed to write off their refining costs elsewhere against their Ontario operations?
Could the minister get the wizards in his ministry to put that together so it is clear and so we are not continually hassling the minister over something which nobody but he seems to understand?
Hon. Mr. Auld: I can’t answer that entirely in writing. I am really disappointed that the honourable member is not able to understand the statement which was carefully prepared by a number of people -- including myself but I can’t take the credit for all of it. I will be delighted, and the paper industry will be delighted, to give the honourable member something in writing.
SUPREME COURT APPEAL
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: On March 14, the member for St. George (Mrs. Campbell) put certain questions with respect to the crown appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada which was dismissed as abandoned, pursuant to section 623(2) of the Criminal Code. I have thoroughly reviewed the circumstances surrounding this case with my senior crown law officers and with Mr. Watt, who was counsel on the case in question.
The decision of the Ontario Court of Appeal was handed down in September 1975, and it was shortly thereafter that the crown appealed to the Supreme Court of Canada. It took almost four years for crown counsel to file his factum with respect to the case so that the matter might be heard.
Section 623(2) of the Criminal Code provides that an appeal will be deemed to be abandoned when it is not brought on for hearing by the appellant at the session of the court during which the judgement appealed from is pronounced or during the next session. As a result, in this case the crown’s appeal was dismissed as abandoned by the Supreme Court of Canada on March 10, 1980.
When counsel for the crown was asked why section 623(2) should not be invoked, Mr. Watt quite candidly indicated to the court that he had no reasonable excuse for not bringing the matter on and that he would not attempt to excuse his lack of diligence in this regard, nor would he attempt to manufacture excuses for his lack of responsibility. He indicated that there was nothing in his conduct which would allow him to request the court to make an order contrary to the deemed statutory provision of section 623(2) of the Criminal Code.
While I appreciate counsel’s candour in this matter, I must confess that this case has caused me considerable distress. I am most concerned that the appeal is not disposed of on the merits as distinct from being dismissed as abandoned because the crown had not proceeded with dispatch. I have made my views known to Mr. Watt, and he has offered his profuse apology. He has indicated that he deeply regrets his failure in this regard and the consequent inconvenience to the bench, the bar, the witnesses and the respective families involved.
Although there is no excuse for the delay occasioned in this case, I would be less than fair if I do not indicate that counsel, in this case, is a most diligent, capable and hardworking individual who enjoys a high reputation for his endeavours on behalf of the administration of justice. He has, in the past, handled a large number of serious and difficult cases and, furthermore, his scholarly endeavours contribute much to the state of knowledge of all those involved in the administration of justice.
It is apparent from our review of this matter with Mr. Watt that he fully appreciates its seriousness, and I am confident that he will not again place himself in such a position with respect to any case that is assigned to him.
Mrs. Campbell: A supplementary, Mr. Speaker: I wonder if the Attorney General would table in this House the cost of this appeal in view of the circumstances of the statements and the conduct of the crown at the Supreme Court?
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: Mr. Speaker, the cost of the appeal would involve Mr. Watt’s time in preparing the factum and his transportation to Ottawa. The actual cost of the appeal to Ottawa would not be a major matter -- not nearly as serious as the delay that is being caused; that concerns me, and I have indicated my concern.
I don’t think it would serve any useful purpose to ask Mr. Watt to go back over this period of time to try to figure out how many hours he spent in preparing this factum and just what that means in respect to his salary, for example.
Mr. Sweeney: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Minister of Colleges and Universities. I notice the minister had a prepared statement; so I will give her an opportunity to use some of the information.
Given that many of the university boards of governors have now decided to charge some or all of the 10 per cent optional section of the tuition fee just to meet their continuing current needs, does that not demonstrate to the minister that there has been underfunding to them from the ministry?
Hon. Miss Stephenson: Mr. Speaker, the projections of the Ontario Council on University Affairs have specified amounts which the council thought were appropriate. That advice has been received and acknowledged by the ministry and we have met it to the best of our ability in terms of the revenues available to us.
Mr. Sweeney: Would the minister not agree that tuition increases above and beyond the seven and a half per cent basic increase -- which many, but not all, suggest might be appropriate -- are, in fact, a shifting of the minister’s responsibility to fund the universities of this province on to the backs of these students?
Hon. Miss Stephenson: No; because if each of the universities -- and very few have done this -- were to introduce, across the board the full range of the 10 per cent autonomy, the average contribution of the student would still be at about the level of 15.4 per cent of the total cost of providing the educational program. I believe that 15 per cent, or in that range, is an appropriate measure of responsibility for the student in the provision of a university education.
Mr. Cooke: Supplementary, Mr. Speaker: I wonder if the minister wouldn’t agree that rather than raising tuition fees by 17.5 per cent, and in some cases more, and creating a two-class university system -- which this will do -- where the smaller universities will not be able to continue to charge the extra 10 per cent and, therefore, will not have the operating funds, wouldn’t it make more sense for the minister to impose progressive taxation in this province and fund the universities in that way rather than by a regressive tax: tuition fees which discourage students from working class families from attending universities?
Hon. Miss Stephenson: Mr. Speaker, I must have misheard the honourable member, because I thought he said something about imposing a progressive tax upon the universities and, of course, that is not the intention at all.
There are very few fees which have been increased the full range of the 10 per cent autonomy. Most of the universities have utilized a portion of that, and in very few instances has the entire 10 per cent been increased. It seems to me that is a reasonable attitude taken by the universities, supportive of their concern that they should have the right to have some autonomy in terms of the setting of fees.
The suggestion that a two-class university system would be developed out of this has no basis in any factual information that I have been able to gain, nor that the honourable member has been able to provide. The smaller universities of this province and the new universities have, for many years now, charged fees considerably above those charged by the very large universities, and they have had enrolment.
It is not that which will produce a two-class university system. What will produce a classed university system is the lack of effort on the part of students and faculty to maintain the quality of the educational program. It also depends, of course, upon the admission of a sufficient number of students and support with a sufficient number of dollars. I can see no threat in that activity, the introduction of a 10 per cent autonomy to the universities in response to their request.
USE OF ASBESTOS IN SCHOOLS
Mr. M. Davidson: Mr. Speaker, my question is also to the Minister of Education. It arises out of the unfortunate death of Mr. Clifton Grant, a former employee of the Scarborough Board of Education. Is the minister aware that at an inquest yesterday into Mr. Grant’s death, medical testimony showed that he was a victim of mesothelioma, a cancer which is caused by exposure to asbestos? Is the minister also aware that the Workmen’s Compensation Board recognized the claim on the basis that it was a work-related disease?
Is the minister not now concerned that the situation of asbestos in schools is much more serious than we had previously been led to believe, and can she tell us what she plans to do to ensure the safety and well-being of all those who may be affected?
Hon. Miss Stephenson: Mr. Speaker, I am sure the honourable member is aware that very early in the 1970s the Ministry of Education sent out directives to the school boards requesting specifically that they not use asbestos materials within the school system.
I am sure the honourable member is also aware that in conjunction with the Ministry of Labour we have been developing, over the last several months, a policy of investigation of schools in which some asbestos material might have been used and the taking of air samples to ensure that there is no asbestos hazard for students. A document has been prepared, which has been delivered to the directors of education of every school board in the province and to the school board chairmen of every school board within the province, with specific directions about the way in which the sampling should be carried out, the place to which the sample should be sent, the action to be taken and the assistance which will be provided by the Ministry of Education in solving the problem if asbestos fibres are found in the samples. This action has been taken. Every board has this information; it is detailed information. They know exactly where to go with their samples and what to do in terms of requesting assistance.
Mr. M. Davidson: I appreciate the information the minister has given us, but I’m not at all sure that’s the answer to the problem.
Does the minister not agree that an immediate program of testing be carried out by the occupational health and safety division of the Ministry of Labour, rather than leaving the sampling to the local school boards, which is what she intends to do? Does she not understand that trained personnel should be doing the sampling, which should also include air sampling? Is she not concerned with the reported comments of the associate chief architect of the Ministry of Education to the effect that by having each school conduct the search the government could very well be missing some asbestos?
Hon. Miss Stephenson: Each school board is responsible for the search, and the taking of the samples is not a particularly complicated kind of activity. The specific instructions have been designed by the occupational health and safety division of the Ministry of Labour. Indeed, it was their suggestion that the sampling be carried out in this fashion.
All the samples are submitted to the occupational health and safety laboratory for examination. If there is any question or any difficulty, we stand ready to be of assistance to boards. But boards have people capable of doing the sampling which is necessary, including the air sampling which is being done.
Mr. Riddell: Mr. Speaker, a question to the Minister of Agriculture and Food. Since the federal government to this point has not indicated any kind of assistance to the farmers who are in trouble because of high interest rates; since it is predicted that 100 farmers will be going into bankruptcy each month that the interest rates remain high; and in view of the fact that most other Canadian provinces are assisting their farmers who are facing increased financial costs because of the higher interest rates -- I’m referring now to the privileged interest rates on loans such as 2.5 per cent in Quebec, nine per cent in British Columbia, 6.75 per cent in Saskatchewan, 12 per cent in Manitoba and the provincial lending rate minus three per cent in New Brunswick -- can the minister tell us what plans his government has to assist our farmers, without giving his usual excuse that he is waiting for a response from the federal government?
Hon. Mr. Henderson: Mr. Speaker, the honourable member has asked a question to which he himself knows the answer.
On Monday of this week I met with the representatives of the Ontario Federation of Agriculture, and they restated their position, which I support fully. First, they are approaching the federal Minister of Agriculture and insisting that in any refinancing that has to be done through the Farm Credit Corporation the interest rate on the refinancing should be kept at a level that is in keeping with the interest rate of about a year ago.
Second, they are suggesting that the federal government, through the Bank of Canada, make loans available through the chartered banks at a similar rate to what was available a year ago.
That is the position of the Ontario Federation of Agriculture and I support them fully.
Mr. Riddell: Hoping the federal government perhaps will listen to the recommendations of the OFA, but assuming it may not, and in the light of the fact that the high interest rates are going to prevent many of the farmers from obtaining sufficient loans to plant their crops; and on top of that, since the egg producers who were shipping to the Whyte plant in Burlington which went broke are not able to collect anywhere from $10,000 to $45,000 per producer; what is the minister going to do to assist those egg producers, as well as other farmers in raising sufficient money to get their crops planted?
Hon. Mr. Henderson: I believe it was the first Friday of March that the egg producers who were shipping their eggs to the processing plant in Burlington received a letter from the bank informing them that the bank would only honour cheques issued from that Friday on. There are close to 50 producers who were shipping eggs to this particular plant, and the money they were receiving was approximately $125,000 a week.
The process in shipping eggs to a plant of this nature is that they ship their eggs during week one, week two and week three and, at the end of week three, they receive payment. So at the time the bank stopped payment there were three weeks’ shipments of eggs to 49 producers, I believe, for a total of $125,000 a week. There is $375,000 owing to those farmers, as I understand it.
I had the opportunity of meeting with representatives of the Ontario Egg Producers’ Marketing Board about two weeks ago this morning, I believe. I won’t certify that; I’m speaking from memory. It was two weeks ago yesterday or this morning. They pointed out the problem to me. At that stage, there had not been a meeting of the creditors. There was no idea of what money was available to settle the claims.
I believe it was last week that the egg board called a meeting of the producers. There has been no feedback from that meeting to me either from the producers or from the egg board. I understand that about two weeks from now, I believe on April 9 -- and again I can’t confirm that now -- the egg beard will be meeting to make recommendations. I suggested to the egg hoard members that if they had any suggestions or ideas of legislation that would he helpful to them in dealing with this, I would be very happy to bring those before this House. I also suggested that I believe I would have the support of the opposition parties in this House.
Mr. Gaunt: A supplementary, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Speaker: Briefly.
Mr. Gaunt: Am I to assume that the egg board has requested permission by way of legislation to use the levy money to pay the farmers who are suffering this loss? If so, is the minister prepared to introduce that legislation?
Hon. Mr. Henderson: No, Mr. Speaker, they did not suggest that, but it was talked about. It was suggested that, if they took that route, it would need legislation. In turn, I suggested to them that, if the egg board came to me with that proposal and it needed legislation, I would be ready to bring the legislation before the House. But, no, they’d didn’t suggest it to me.
Mr. Gaunt: And they haven’t done so yet?
Hon. Mr. Henderson: No, they haven’t chine so yet.
Mr. Speaker: A new question.
Hon. Mr. Henderson: Mr. Speaker, I didn’t answer the other question fully. The honourable member did request additional information on planting crops this year.
I spoke to the Ontario Federation of Agriculture only with respect to the needs for planting the crops and not the needs to buy new machinery or build new buildings. They are taking this up with the federal minister. The final note, when they left me, was that they are to come back to me the day after they’ve visited the federal minister, whenever it might be.
MACMILLAN BLOEDEL PLANT CLOSURE
Mr. Renwick: Mr. Speaker, I have a question of the Minister of Industry and Tourism. I have discussed with the minister and his colleague the Minister of Labour (Mr. Elgie) the impending shutdown of that portion of the plant of Continental Can now owned by MacMillan Bloedel on Commissioners Street and the threat to the jobs of 134 men who have been employed in that plant, in most cases, for long periods of time.
Will the minister advise this House what steps he and his colleagues are prepared to take to ensure the protection of the jobs of the 134 men in that plant, and to bring this House up to date on the discussions which he and his colleague have had with that company?
Hon. Mr. Grossman: Mr. Speaker, there have been discussions with representatives of both my ministry and the Ministry of Labour to date, including the quite senior levels of my ministry. It appears there is some time yet ahead of us; so we’re not faced with some of the usual pressures that we often have in these plant closure situations. Both the Ministry of Labour and ourselves will be meeting on a continuing basis with the representatives of the company and the representatives of the employees there to see what can be worked out.
Mr. Renwick: Would the minister cease the generalizations and tell the House what steps he or his colleague the Minister of Labour are prepared to take to intervene now before the decisions of the MacMillan Bloedel corporate juggernaut are etched in stone and can’t be reversed? What steps will the minister take, with his colleague, to protect the jobs of those men when that plant is shut down, and in the delightful phrase used in the letter to me from one of the chief executive officers in B.C. is “melded with the company’s operations in Rexdale, Guelph and London”?
Hon. Mr. Grossman: As the honourable member knows very well, Mr. Speaker, it is impossible at this stage to be specific as to what steps we will or can take to keep the plant in operation, because there are many situations that can develop which would make it simply impossible to keep the plant operating.
We don’t know at this stage if this is one of those cases in which it is impossible to keep the plant operating, or whether it is one of those for which it is impossible to find alternative buyers for the operation. Obviously, that is precisely why a series of meetings has to be put in place. I would think it is equally obvious that is why these meetings have to be held in some confidence, as we get access to a lot of the corporation information that otherwise wouldn’t be made public.
At the conclusion of that series of meetings, which is being held right now, I can assure the honourable member and this House that any steps which are practical and reasonable for us to take, will be taken to ensure that plant need not close down.
Mr. Blundy: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Minister of Community and Social Services. Would the minister please explain how he arrived at the very low figure of 600 as the number of new nursing-home beds to be provided this year to meet the long-term needs of the people of Ontario?
Hon. Mr. Norton: Mr. Speaker, I would suggest to the honourable member that question might more appropriately be directed to the Minister of Health, since it is his ministry that has jurisdiction for nursing homes, as opposed to homes for the aged, for which my ministry has responsibility.
Mr. Blundy: Can the Minister of Health answer that question, Mr. Speaker?
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: Mr. Speaker, I would be delighted to answer. Essentially, it was a projection, based on the experience of the last year, of what we anticipate receiving by way of recommendations of local needs from the various health councils around the province. In the 1979-80 year, we approved approximately 400 new nursing-home beds, based on the local studies and recommendations. It is based, as I said, on projecting what they might recommend over the next year.
Mr. Blundy: Various areas in the province have shown projections. I would like the minister to comment on this: Even in the regional municipality of Waterloo they could use 600 beds by today’s standards. In the Metro Toronto area there is going to be a need for 1,000 beds over the next year and a half, according to the list we have,
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: I don’t know the source of the honourable member’s figures, but 600 nursing-home beds would equal the combined size of two or three of the hospitals in the Waterloo region, and I can’t imagine that is the case.
With the recommendations we have received to date from the health councils in Cochrane, Haliburton-Kawartha, Pine Ridge, the local review that was done in Muskoka, the review in Renfrew we have approved, these are the additional nursing-home beds, for which the local needs can be substantiated. As further studies come in, they will be dealt with on an individual basis. There are a couple on my desk, including one for Essex, about which the member for Essex North (Mr. Ruston), I think, wants to ask a supplementary and which I will be dealing with in the next week or so. As they come in, as the need can be verified, they are dealt with and approved.
Mr. Breaugh: The minister, in his reply, said the 600 nursing-home beds were the total compilation of requests that had been approved by local boards of health. I would hardly think that would be an accurate statement.
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: It is a projection, based on the experience of the last year, of what we anticipate. Obviously, if the numbers exceed that, then we will have to go back to Management Board of Cabinet for further approval, but it is a projection based on the experience of the last year in which we approved 400.
Mr. Epp: Supplementary: Would the minister consider taking a recommendation to cabinet if it can be clearly shown there is additional need for nursing-home beds? In other words, if Waterloo should require 500 or 600 additional beds, if Toronto needs about 1,000 and if Ottawa needs 390, since only 600 have been allocated for the province would the minister consider making a recommendation to cabinet that it approve additional beds?
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: I would be delighted if my honourable friend would give me the figures he has and the source because, to my knowledge, they do not even have the stamp of approval from the local health planning agencies which give us their advice.
I am repeating myself and I apologize, but let me do it, Mr. Speaker. Where we have got through the local health councils an indication of a need which can be substantiated, then in those cases we have responded in the affirmative in every single case. I can only tell the member it is my intention to continue to do so in the future.
CONFIDENTIALITY OF MEDICAL RECORDS
Mr. Breaugh: I have a question for the Minister of Health concerning the distribution of social insurance numbers and the confidentiality of medical records.
Is the minister aware that all hourly-rated and salaried employees of General Motors of Canada in the transition from Blue Cross to Green Shield have been provided with forms to be mailed to the private carrier? The forms include the individuals’ social insurance numbers.
Is the minister also aware, as a condition of signing this form, it says: “Your signature on the front side of the form constitutes your authorization to any health-care coverage carrier, employer or provider of services to release any information requested with respect to a claim though the carrier”?
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: I think my colleague, the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations (Mr. Drea), answered a question about a similar matter from one of the member’s colleagues two days ago. I will refer the matter to him to include in his response to that.
Mr. Breaugh: Supplementary: Is it also reasonable on the part of the employer to put this threat to the employees: “Failure to complete and return the enrolment form may result in the suspension of all your health-care coverage until such time as a completed form is received and processed by the company?”
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: Again, I will refer that matter to the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations.
Mr. G. I. Miller: I have a question for the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs. Does the minister intend to take any direct action to aid the farmers of ward one in the city of Nanticoke in order to relieve the burden they face as a result of implementation of section 86 of the Assessment Act which increases their taxes, it appears in some cases, as high as 200 per cent this year and which, unless they are reduced, may force some of them out of business?
Hon. Mr. Wells: As members will recall, we passed amendments to several pieces of legislation last year which would allow municipalities concerned to phase in the effects of section 86. At that time, this amendment was put forward particularly because of the request of the city of Hamilton. We indicated then we would be most happy to make the change -- and the House voted for them -- but we said we could not provide any additional financial resources for those municipalities. Under those sections, as I recall, they can have either a three-year or a five-year phase- in of the effects of section 86.
Mr. G. I. Miller: Supplementary: Surely the minister is aware of the discrepancy between the taxes paid by industry in Nanticoke and those paid by the farmers. Does he intend to ignore these facts, or can he either by direct financial assistance or by an agreed-upon phase-in system reduce a potentially disastrous financial burden for those affected?
Hon. Mr. Wells: I think I answered that question. The remedy for correcting any potential financial burden rests with the municipalities. A section 86 reassessment is undertaken by a municipality. We will do it for them. My colleague the Minister of Revenue (Mr. Maeck) will supply them with a study showing what the effects of a section 86 reassessment will be. If they go ahead, based on that factual information, they then know what they are getting into. There will be winners and there will be losers.
We then have legislation in place which allows the municipalities to phase in the effects of that section 86 reassessment, particularly for those who are the losers under it. I don’t see that we can do anything more and indeed that’s what this House decided.
COMMITTEE OF THE WHOLE HOUSE
Hon. Mr. Wells moved that Mr. MacBeth be appointed Deputy Chairman of the committee of the Whole House for this session.
Motion agreed to.
INTRODUCTION OF BILLS
LIVE STOCK AND LIVE STOCK PRODUCTS AMENDMENT ACT
Hon. Mr. Henderson moved first reading of Bill 26, An Act to amend the Live Stock and Live Stock Products Act.
Motion agreed to.
COMPENSATION FOR VICTIMS OF CRIME AMENDMENT ACT
Mr. Kennedy moved first reading of Bill 27, An Act to amend the Compensation for Victims of Crime Act, 1971.
Motion agreed to.
Mr. Kennedy: Mr. Speaker, this is a reintroduction of Bill 38 of 1979 to extend eligibility for compensation to any person who has been convicted of an offence and sentenced to imprisonment and whose conviction is subsequently quashed.
MIDLAND YOUNG MEN’S CHRISTIAN ASSOCIATION ACT
Mr. G. E. Smith moved first reading of Bill Pr4, An Act respecting the Midland Young Men’s Christian Association.
Motion agreed to.
BOROUGH OF ETOBICOKE ACT
Mr. Leluk moved first reading of Bill Pr3, An Act respecting the Borough of Etobicoke.
Motion agreed to.
BUSINESS PRACTICES AMENDMENT ACT
Mr. Epp moved first reading of Bill 28, An Act to amend the Business Practices Act, 1974.
Motion agreed to.
Mr. Epp: The purpose of this bill is to provide that a failure by a retail seller to clarify and clearly mark the price of a product on the product is an unfair practice under the act. If a retail seller commits an unfair practice in this manner, the enforcement procedures of the act are available to ensure the seller’s compliance in the future. The bill is intended to remedy some of the problems that have arisen through the use of the uniform product code by retail businesses.
I also want to recognize and thank the students from Wilfrid Laurier University, who are in the gallery today and who, as part of a class assignment, did a great deal of research and hard work on this bill and made it possible.
ELECTION PUBLIC OPINION POLLS ACT
Mr. Samis moved first reading of Bill 29, An Act respecting Election Public Opinion Polls.
Motion agreed to.
Mr. Samis: The purpose of this bill is to prohibit the publication and broadcasting of public opinion polls during elections where the polls relate to the outcome of the election or standing of any leader, candidate or party in that election. As an addendum, Mr. Speaker, I would like to add that the constituents of St. Andrew-St. Patrick, according to the Queen’s Park report supplied by the member, already support this bill.
BASIN-JIB MINES LIMITED ACT
Mr. Renwick moved first reading of Bill Pr1, An Act to revive Basin-Jib Mines Limited.
Motion agreed to.
CLASS ACTIONS ACT
Mr. Lawlor moved first reading of Bill 30, An Act to provide for Class Actions.
Motion agreed to.
Mr. Lawlor: The purpose of the bill is to provide a statutory procedure whereby one or more persons may sue a defendant in the form of a class action. The bill is designed to achieve the purpose by permitting a person who wishes to sue on behalf of a class to apply for a court order authorizing the class action, and the final judgement binds all members of the class except those who have been excluded, as well as the parties of the action.
ANSWERS TO QUESTIONS ON NOTICE PAPER AND RESPONSE TO PETITION
Hon. Mr. Wells: Before the orders of the day, I wish to table the response to a petition presented to the Legislature, sessional paper 26. I also wish to table the answers to questions 12, 13, 14, 35 and 37, and interim answers to questions 7, 8, 11, 15 to 18, 20, 24 to 31, 33, 34 and 36 standing on the Notice Paper.
ORDERS OF THE DAY
PRIVATE MEMBERS’ PUBLIC BUSINESS
ARMENIAN REMEMBRANCE DAY
Mr. G. E. Smith moved resolution 2:
That this House, on behalf of the people of Ontario, requests the government of Canada to officially recognize and condemn the atrocities committed by the government of Turkey upon the Armenian people who were victims of persecution and genocide during World War I; and this House, on behalf of the people of Ontario, urges the government of Canada to make appropriate representations to the General Assembly of the United Nations to recognize and condemn the Armenian genocide and to express the abhorrence of such actions as being in violation of the basic standards of human rights and decency now embodied in the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights; and this House, on behalf of the people of Ontario, recommends to the government of Canada that it designate April 24 in every year hereafter throughout Canada as a day of remembrance for the Armenian community, as it has been by the Armenian people for many years in memory of fellow Armenians who suffered such crimes.
Mr. G. E. Smith: Mr. Speaker, first perhaps I should qualify as to why I introduce this resolution to the House. As the member for Brant-Oxford-Norfolk (Mr. Nixon) will know, my home originally was at a small village called Rockton which was a suburb of St. George. One of the neighbouring farmers in that area was an Armenian called Sarkis Assadourian. He was an excellent citizen of the community and at that time he was very good friends with my father, myself and the family. As a result of the discussions I had with him over the years prior to his death, he acquainted me with some of the problems experienced by the Armenian people.
Subsequently, I had a discussion with Mr. Peter McGarvey who is, I’m sure you will agree, one of Toronto’s most popular and authoritative newscasters and who is in your gallery this afternoon, Mr. Speaker. He spoke to me about the problems that the Armenians had been experiencing; likewise, the member for Oriole (Mr. Williams) and other members of this Legislature also spoke to me. Subsequently, I had a meeting with the representatives of the Armenian community here in Toronto, some of whom are also in the gallery this afternoon. As a result of all these deliberations and my interest, I decided to introduce this resolution.
Hatred and fighting between nations has been one of the most unfortunate aspects of our history as human beings. I suppose people could spend many lifetimes trying to understand the basic causes of war, yet I wonder how close today we are to the time when we can all feel secure in our homes over the planet. I guess that’s a very high ideal and probably one that won’t come to pass in our lifetime, but let us keep hoping for it nevertheless.
If our century is any indication, humanity may be in the process of becoming more belligerent rather than less belligerent. So many of the new residents of our own country have come here to escape from strife, persecution, war and other disasters. We must never forget how fortunate we are here in Canada that we have been spared these trials.
I am proud of this country’s record in helping to defend freedom and security when it has been necessary. I most certainly want to go on record in support of President Carter’s determination to resolve and solve the Middle Eastern crisis by peaceful means, if possible. I join with everyone in this House, I am sure, in conveying to him and to the American people our mutual support and goodwill, for the United States and Canada have been staunch allies for many years.
The 20th century has seen some real horror shows so to speak. Not only have the Turks in our era tried to eliminate the Armenians but also there are many other well-known examples of similar contraventions of basic human rights. Some are going on at this very moment in Asia and Africa; some are lying just under the surface waiting to erupt. This is very much a living reality to many people here in Ontario who come from countries in central and eastern Europe and the Middle East.
If we in this Legislature could make our voices heard around the earth, it would be my wish and the wish, I am certain, of every member of the government and every member of this Legislature that we could say, “You are breaking the law,” to those who feel they can resolve ancient grudges or anything of that sort by means of terrorism or by shedding blood.
Unfortunately for all of us, the actions of such people remind us of the old sayings that those who live by the sword shall die by the sword and that blood begets blood. The articulation, definition and codification of such international crimes is one of the finest achievements of modern jurisprudence. While there is as yet no international tribunal with police authority, moral suasion and peacekeeping forces have been used to good effect in many cases of violence among nations and races.
Canada has an extraordinarily fine record as a supporter of this effort. We may be recognized as a peacemaker, though I would hope not in any cowardly sense but rather in a positive sense. We must be ready at all times to defend our freedom and our dignity. Our forefathers have fought bravely so that we might be free. It’s imperative that we remain prepared to do the same for our children and those yet unborn.
“Genocide” is a word that does not have too much meaning for many of us here in Canada. For many others it’s a burning memory, an ever-present possibility and, with respect, I imagine that is true even for some of the members of this House on both sides. It is ironic that here where we have the honour of exercising the rights and privileges of a democracy in a setting that is usually very peaceful, there should exist, side by side, individuals with such divergent histories. The same is true of the people we represent.
We must not forget, moreover, that when we in this Legislature speak out against such international crimes as genocide and terrorism, our words may be picked up by persons in strife-torn countries via their relatives here in Ontario. This is a message that cannot be heard too often. Genocide is a crime. It’s an affront to human civilization, to freedom and to dignity.
The United Nations is a body that holds our greatest hope for peace, at least in the long run. Early in its existence, undoubtedly because of the atrocities committed during the period of the Second World War, it began to concern itself with the study and prevention of genocide. While the concept of genocide is one which was coined only during that period in the 1940s, it is a crime that has been rearing its ugly head in nearly every phase of human history. Human history has often been marked, regrettably, by cases where national, ethnic, racial or religious groups were destroyed.
Under the terms of the 1948 convention of the United Nations on the prevention and punishment of the crimes of genocide, any such act constitutes an essential element of the crime of genocide. I think that convention was a giant step forward for mankind. I am pleased to say that Canada ratified it in 1953 after due consideration on Parliament Hill in Ottawa. Genocide is a violation of the essential human right from which all others derive, the right to life. It is defined as the crime of destroying the lives, liberty, property and culture of an entire racial, political or other human group.
There has been nothing in recent history to compare with the policies of large-scale murder and persecution of minority groups that were enforced by the government of Germany under the Hitler regime. It has been said that the persecution of the Armenian by the Turkish government, which had fallen into the hands of scoundrels, was the prototype that Hitler studied to plan his own massacre. He is quoted as saying, “Who today remembers the Armenians?” Apparently, he said that as he was planning to wipe out the Polish nation in order to provide more living space for his own chosen people.
I’m proud to be able to say that just as we remember the Jews, the Slavs, the gipsies and the others who were killed in masses under the Hitler regime, we in this House also remember the Armenians. We have the privilege of having many persons of Armenian descent in our individual communities. They join with all the rest of us in working to build the fine, free society which we all enjoy. But let us never take our liberties or our prosperity for granted.
Our men fought bravely in two world wars to preserve that heritage. They helped to liberate millions in the 1940s who bad been subjected to a subhuman existence because someone had managed to make it the law of the land that contrary to the principles we espouse, not all humans were born with equal rights.
The concept and the very word “genocide” were defined in order to deal with this situation by international lawyers at the Nuremberg trials. The Nazi leaders were convicted of crimes against humanity. The United Nations convention defines genocide as any of the following acts: killing members of the group; causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group; deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part; imposing measures intended to prevent birth within the group or forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.
Various factors led up to the stage where this type of crime has been a denial of humanity’s most basic right, the right of life. Wars in antiquity, and right down to the present, as a matter of fact, have opened the door to many of the excesses and massacres that history has recorded. Ancient wars were generally wars of enslavement and annihilation. It required a long evolution in the history of civilization to mark the way from the wars of extermination, which occurred in ancient times and in the Middle Ages, to the conception of wars as we know them now, which are limited to activities against armies and states. I profoundly hope that our century will not be remembered in history as the era in which humanity returned to the wars of extermination.
I do not believe, however, that this House is the appropriate forum for a lengthy discussion of the fine points about the precise meanings of such terms as “race” or “minority” or “ethnic” or “religious” groups The United Nations gave due consideration to these intricacies of international law at the time they were working out the genocide convention. The Nuremberg trials, the first time in history that individuals were tried for the specific crime of genocide, also worked out a lot of fine points of definition and so on.
There have been, as is in normal law, many discussions about what constitutes intent, but if one asks the Armenian people there is no question of subtleties. In the living memory of many persons of the Armenian nationality, a concerted attempt was made to destroy them as a people. Their sons were killed; they were all subjected to forced marches into the Syrian desert to certain destruction. Many were massacred on the spot in the towns and villages they inhabited. Altogether, well over one million people were killed, according to history.
The causes for such a retreat from humanitarianism must be complex and hard to understand. Yet we must try to understand them as citizens of Ontario, as citizens of Canada, and as citizens of the world. We must never waiver in our effort to calm international tensions and the economic and ideological and racial stresses that can be triggered into situations of violence and eventually give rise to persecutions against scapegoat minorities or small minority groups.
Perhaps it is a question or psychological study of what constitutes real maturity, the maturity of individuals and groups. I would suggest that that maturity is characterized, not by the desire to kill or to seek revenge, but by a willingness and indeed a determination to find peaceful means of working out our differences.
It is important for us to try to understand the causes of war. We must do all we can to seek to prevent violent outbursts against peoples and countries, and we’ve certainly heard many news stories of outbursts, violence and uprisings in many countries throughout the world in the last few months.
Today, in particular, with the swelling numbers of new nation states, the problems of minorities and nationalities are increasing in many areas of the world. I have made reference to the large number of immigrants who have come to Canada and to Ontario over the past few years to become citizens of our country because of conditions that existed in their homelands. Let us hope that the day is not too far away when we shall have a method of resolving these difficulties before they erupt into violence.
I would urge all members of this House, on all sides, to support my resolution. I didn’t read it into the record. It is on the Order Paper, and I’m sure all the members of the Legislature have read it. I’m certain that many members of the press will be familiar with it and, again, I would ask all members to support my resolution concerning the Armenian people here and throughout the world.
Mr. Deputy Speaker: The honourable member has three minutes remaining in the time allotted. Does he wish to reserve any of that time?
Mr. G. E. Smith: No, Mr. Speaker, I do not feel this is a controversial area and I’ve already made my presentation.
Mr. S. Smith: I certainly want to support the resolution presented by the member for Simcoe East (Mr. G. E. Smith). I was very proud, on April 19, 1979, almost a year ago, to present on the Order Paper of this House a resolution virtually identical in wording to the one that has now appeared under the name of another Smith, my friend from Simcoe East.
I was very pleased indeed when, on April 23, 1979, we had an opportunity to speak to this matter in this House and the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, the member for Scarborough North (Mr. Wells); the leader of the New Democratic Party, the member for Ottawa Centre (Mr. Cassidy), and I and all three parties at that time expressed support for the resolution on the Order Paper which, as I say, was virtually identical to the resolution now before us. Therefore, I am very pleased that we now have, curiously, a second opportunity to reaffirm the importance of this matter.
I want to review with the House briefly some of the things I said, that others have said and that the member for St. George (Mrs. Campbell) has been saying throughout her career in public life. I want to remind the House that there is still a certain unfinished business with regard to the genocide that occurred in Armenia at the time of the First World War.
We now are in the year 1980 and, believe it or not, the government of Turkey, although presumably now a country with which we are in some ways allied -- certainly, a government against which we have no particular quarrel -- has still to this day not accepted the fact that such a genocide did occur, and occurred with the approval and under the orders of the government of the day at that time.
No one would suggest that the present-day government of Turkey would be capable of such atrocity and inhumanity. But one does expect that the government of Turkey will at some point at least acknowledge, for the sake of setting the record straight and for the sake of everything that is decent in humanity, that the genocide occurred, that its predecessors had responsibility and that it is genuinely sorry that such a thing happened.
That, it seems to me, is not a lot to ask. That is not said in any manner to create division between nations today in 1980, but simply to ask Turkey, as West Germany has done, to acknowledge that an atrocity occurred and that the government of that time had a responsibility. Turkey should be big enough to do that, to deal with the anguish in the hearts of so many people of Armenian origin who know what happened and who have to deal, somehow or other, with that event, as part of their personal and their family and their cultural history. There is that bleeding sore, that unfinished business which surely should be sat right.
I think it is important that members of this House understand what happened at that time. From time to time there are those who say that there is some dispute, that there is some question. As time has passed, records have come to light: telegrams sent to and from the front, orders sent from the government to district officials, orders sent with regard to the division of orphanages and to the massacre of Armenian children and to the forced marches. These orders are very explicit; these telegrams are open to no ambiguity, to no alternative interpretations.
Letters are now available, originals that were sent back and forth between the allies of the Turks at the time, the German soldiers and diplomats. These letters make it plain that there was no question but that a deliberate genocide of the most inhuman proportions imaginable did occur as deliberate policy and not as some accident, not as the excess of some local person, who, somehow or other, may have been misguided.
This was deliberate policy from the centre, and it is important that it be recognized -- and not to cause trouble with our friends the Turks of 1980, not at all. They are fine people, as good as any on earth; but we have to remember what happened. We have to set straight for our children that every human being on earth must accept what happened in the past as real, as something for which all of us in the human race have to at least bear our share of responsibility, and we must recognize the facts and be ashamed of them when shame is what is required.
I feel, therefore, that bit of unfinished business requires that the government of Canada, on behalf of all of us, take some action in this regard and that it recognize and condemn the atrocities that were committed at that time.
I have said this in the past and I will continue to say it -- the member for Simcoe East has pointed out the way in which the massacre of the Armenians was, in fact, the model used by Hitler. Who knows but that the model used by Hitler may not be the model for some future madman to try to carry out even worse atrocities.
There is only one defence against that. The only defence we can have is to remember that no madman can carry out his will unless there is a certain substantial portion of the population prepared to give him a chance at least to talk about things like this, give him a chance to cultivate the soil. As long as ordinary citizens are prepared to root out immediately even the first sign of anything resembling racist statements and racist exhortations or propaganda, as long as we simply do not accept that as possible and acceptable human behaviour, then no matter that there might at some future date be another madman, he will not be able to carry out the kind of slaughter that was done by the Turks in the First World War and the Germans in the Second World War.
Therefore, I say it is terribly important for the sake of our children, for the sake of the citizens who have forgotten the Armenians -- and I hate to tell you this, Mr. Speaker, but there are many citizens who have forgotten the extermination of the Jews and the Poles some 30 years ago only. There are people who have. I was shocked at the time the Holocaust program was on television when I asked some of the children in our neighbourhood if they knew what it was about, and they did not. It is important that we have occasions upon which we stand up and say that this has happened in recent human history, not ancient history.
Look at the Cambodians. Look at what has happened to that proud people. They have been virtually wiped out, again as a consequence of racially oriented strife in that area of the world. It is very important that all of us recognize, whatever our differences over taxation policy or whatever suggestions we may have about this or that matter, we are fortunate indeed to live in a democracy. But there are still occasions upon which, even in our democracy, we must be on guard against this fanning of racist flames.
Perhaps I was negligent in not seeing it before, but I had a chance the other day to see a program that was recently on Canadian television regarding students of Chinese origin who are studying at our institutions of education. I have rarely in my life seen a bit of programming as racist as that. It was as close to being totally racist propaganda as anything I have ever viewed. I think it is important that we take stands against this kind of thing.
It is terribly important that we ask the government of Canada to give official recognition to what happened to the Armenian people, that we salute the survivors of that terrible tragedy, the people of Armenian descent throughout the world today, that we acknowledge with pride our brotherhood with them and that we go on record in favour of all that is decent on the part of humanity generally.
Mr. Renwick: It is an honour for me to speak to the resolution proposed by my very good friend and colleague in this House, the member for Simcoe East (Mr. G. E. Smith). I understand and share the concerns and the feelings he has expressed in speaking today to the resolution standing in his name.
When thinking about what I could usefully contribute in this short time in the debate on his resolution, I had an opportunity to look at a book published very shortly after the events to which his resolution is addressed, called The Blackest Page of Modern History, Armenian Events of 1915. In the frontispiece of that book, it quotes what many of us learned very early in our lives, “And the Lord said unto Cain, ‘Where is Abel, thy brother?’ And he said, ‘I know not. Am I my brother’s keeper?’” -- Genesis 4:9.
I suppose that has been the history of our time in the development of civilization, this question of who is his brother’s keeper, who is responsible in the long course of history for advancing the cause of humanitarian concerns against the innate strife and violence which seems to be such part and parcel of our whole history, let alone the history of this particular century?
I appreciate the historic references which my colleague the member for Simcoe East has addressed in these remarks. I need not, therefore, repeat the origin of the term “genocide” in modern usage. I do recall the comments made in the Legislature nearly a year ago when the government House leader, the Leader of the Opposition and the leader of this party spoke on a formal occasion about the resolution which was standing in the name of the Leader of the Opposition.
As usual, I welcome what the member for Simcoe East says because it requires us to think a little bit about matters on which perhaps we only reflect very occasionally. I want to make two or three comments and two or three distinctions which I think are essential that the record of the House make very clear in speaking and dealing today with this resolution.
I support the view that there should be in this country a name day for all of the various groups that compose our society. Indeed, I guess if I had my way, at some point in the lives of everyone, let alone the groups of society, there should be a special day for that person, called his name day, where the world would make its own obeisance to that individual. I know in my riding of Riverdale, in the Greek Orthodox Church, it is quite common to have a celebration on the name day of the saint for which that particular community has established its church and parish.
I think there’s very real need in this country for formal recognition to be given by name to particular days in the year that are of special importance to special groups who compose, if I may use a somewhat jargonized term, the mosaic of Canadian life. Therefore, I support that aspect which calls for a special day for the Armenian people to recall the long sufferings of those people over many years, not just in this century but in prior centuries.
I do, however, want to make two or three distinctions. I want to be very clear about what we in this House are doing when we are asking the government of Canada to take some action. I want it to be clear, and I am sure the member for Simcoe East agrees with me, that the reference to the government of Turkey which is in the first part of his three part resolution is a reference to the Ottoman empire of that time.
I want it to be clear that we are not engaged in visiting or associating the errors, the tragedies, of that despotism that ruled so much of Europe and of the Near East for so long, on the present government of Turkey. I am not a historian of these areas and I don’t want to belabour the matter, but we are talking about acts committed in the last days of the despotism which was known as the Ottoman empire. That, I believe, is to what the member for Simcoe East addressed his remarks.
Another distinction, and I am sure it is clear in the member for Simcoe East’s mind, is that in dealing with this resolution we are not in any way taking any step that is an affront to, or in any way reflects upon, those members of the Canadian society of Turkish origin who are Canadian citizens and who are part and parcel and share the world in which we live and work in Canada.
I know, knowing the member for Simcoe East and, knowing the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. S. Smith), that there was no intention in the resolution to reflect upon the need for continuing tolerance and harmony within our Canadian society among all of the peoples who have sought refuge or sought a new home here in this country. I want to make that just as clear as I can.
I want in the few moments that remain to me to make another suggestion. I think it would be very important for this province to give special recognition to December 10, the United Nations Human Rights Day. It could be a day when all of the communities could come together to remember the atrocities and the horrors of the past which have led to the requirement of a human rights declaration on a universal basis, and so that we could then recommit ourselves in Ontario to make certain that to the extent we can do anything about it that kind of activity will not further occur.
I cannot help but think how important that would be. In drawing attention to the sufferings of the Armenian people, I was giving some thought to the names that come automatically to mind to all of us in this time of horror. They are not the decisions solely of governments of madmen that commit in many ways the crime of genocide. We must remember that now in international law genocide can be committed in time of peace as well as in time of war.
The names of the countries I jotted down -- and I am quite certain it is far from a complete list -- include the Argentine, for the present-day disappearance of something upwards of 25,000 or 30,000 people. This has happened under a regime with which we carry on business, but they are included under the broad definition of genocide.
Kampuchea is a word which we have all heard about, and those who are responsible for the decimation of that quiet nation never cease to amaze me.
The other countries I was thinking about, as I close, are Afghanistan, Uruguay, Uganda, Iran, Brazil, Vietnam, Bengal, Southern Sudan. Therefore, I know it is consistent with what my colleague, the member for Simcoe East, has proposed, that we seriously consider setting aside for special remembrance and special recommital that United Nations Human Rights Day of December 10.
Mr. Williams: I feel privileged to second the motion of my colleague the member for Simcoe East (Mr. G. E. Smith) in support of his resolution this afternoon.
He mentioned in his opening remarks his early family association with an Armenian family in his community. I have in more recent times come to be associated with and friends of many Armenians who have chosen to make their homes within the riding of Oriole. I am delighted that the Armenian community of Metropolitan Toronto has recently built within my riding a beautiful new community centre that will help to further strengthen the social fabric of the Armenian community.
Most of us in Canada are fortunate in that we have never been the victims of attempts by outside governments to rob us of our freedom or our lives. We have a heritage of preserving and respecting countries on earth. It is my earnest hope, of course, that we remain so.
As a result of its freedom, prosperity and size, Canada has been in the fortunate position of being able to offer a safe haven to people who have been the victims of persecutions. For many of these people, the unthinkable has been the reality from which they have had to flee. They remind us that no matter how complacent and secure we Canadians may feel, genocide and similar atrocities are not just legends from the pages of history books.
Many of our people of Jewish and Slavic origin, for example, are here because of the dislocation caused by the Nazis’ goal of exterminating the Jews, Poles and others during the 1930s and 1940s. A number of our people of East Indian extraction came to Canada in flight from the brutality of the Idi Amin regime in Uganda. It was a regime that appears to have been determined to exterminate them along with many native Ugandans as well.
These days the arrival of Vietnamese boat people reminds us of the vicious objectives of a regime determined to expel them from their homes. Canadians are also welcoming refugees from Cambodia where something in the order of three million people have been killed under the Pol Pot and ensuing regimes.
April 24 will mark the 65th anniversary of an event that will forever remain etched in the memories of Canadians of Armenian descent. It was on that date in 1915 that 250 Armenian leaders were arrested and killed at the order of the Turkish government. This massacre marked the beginning of an attempt to eliminate the Armenian population from the territory ruled by the Turkish government.
Few people today remember this holocaust though it rivals Hitler’s worst abuses in its scale and horror, as has been mentioned by other speakers this afternoon. The Armenians are an ancient national group whose ancestral homeland was located roughly between present-day Iran and the USSR on the east and north. Present-day Turkey, Syria and Iraq form what would be the western and southern borders. Mount Ararat, upon which Noah’s ark is said to have grounded, is located in Armenia. Today the image of Mount Ararat remains an important symbol for Armenians of their beloved homeland.
Traversed by invasion routes by Europe and the Middle East, Armenia was conquered by various groups throughout history. In the past 2,500 years, five different Armenian kingdoms have existed, and the land has also alternately been ruled by such groups as the Persians, the Romans and the Arabs. From the 15th century until the time of the First World War it was under the rule of the Ottoman Turks. Armenians, Greeks and other non-Turks were second-class citizens in this empire which stretched through central Europe, North Africa and much of the Middle East.
Armenia had been the first nation state officially to adopt the Christian religion about the year 300. Their religion was one cause of tension between the Armenians and their Turkish rulers, who were Moslems. This tension flared up occasionally throughout the history of this empire but, as rising nationalism and changing world politics put the empire under increasing stress late in the last century, the Ottoman Turks acted with unprecedented massacres of minorities.
A policy of reprisals focused on the Armenians. In the years 1894 through 1896 between 200,000 and 300,000 were slaughtered under Abdul Hamid, known as “the bloody sultan.” In 1908, there was a coup in which the so-called Young Turks overthrew the Hamidian regime. There was some pressure from Russia and other European nations to improve the treatment of the Armenians. But when the First World War broke out in 1914, the Young Turks found themselves free of restraint and were determined, in their words “to solve the Armenian question once and for all.”
Turkey had allied itself with Germany and the other Central Powers against Britain, France and Russia at that time. The Armenians in Turkey were accused of taking the side of the Allies. They were accused of revolting against their Ottoman rulers. The Turkish rulers, justifying their actions on the grounds of self-defence, devised a plan of extermination. In fact, it appears that the basic policy of the Armenians living in Turkey was to be loyal to their rulers.
The causes of the genocide are, no doubt, as complicated and twisted as those that underlay Hitler’s determination to eliminate the European Jews. The extermination was to be carried out by massacres and forced marches into the desert regions of Syria and Iraq. In all, an estimated number of 1,500,000 men, women and children died.
Writing as early as 1916, when the full scope of the massacre was not known in Europe or North America, and even as hundreds of thousands were on the brink of death in the desert, the noted historian Arnold Toynbee gave an account of what was happening. Toynbee wrote, in part, as follows:
“The Armenian inhabitants of the Ottoman empire were everywhere uprooted from their homes and deported to the most remote and unhealthy districts that the government could select for them. Some were murdered at the outset, some perished on the way and some died after reaching their destination. The death toll amounts to upwards of 600,000, perhaps 600,000 more are still alive in their places of exile, and the remaining 600,000 or so have either been converted forcibly to Islam, gone into hiding in the mountains or escaped beyond the Ottoman frontier. The Ottoman government cannot deny these facts and they cannot justify them. No provocation or misdemeanour on the part of individual Armenians could justify such a crime against the whole race.”
Toynbee makes it clear that the Turkish claims of military necessity neither justified nor motivated the deportation. It was genocide, though the term itself was not to be coined for 30 more years by Professor Raphael Lemkin in working to promote the genocide convention of the United Nations universal declaration of human rights.
The American ambassador to Turkey at the time of the slaughter, Henry Morgenthau, confirmed that it was a state policy to blot out a nation in its midst. He later wrote, and I quote:
“Undoubtedly, religious fanaticism was an impelling motive with the Turkish and Kurdish rabble who slew Armenians as a service to Allah, but the men who really conceived the crime had no such motive. Practically all of them were atheists with no more respect for Muhammadanism than for Christianity, and with them the one motive was cold-blooded, calculating state policy.”
Morgenthau claimed it was the goal of the government to depopulate Turkey of Armenians in order to eliminate any possibility of a threat to the empire. To achieve this, they would kill most of the populace, and kidnap and bring up as Turks those young enough not to remember their parents.
In the time left to me, I wish simply to point out that the Armenian people are a proud people who cherish not only their national identity, but also the freedom and dignity they enjoy through the recognition and respect accorded to them by their adopted country of Canada and their fellow Canadians.
In closing, I urge that all the honourable members of this House join with me in calling for a resolution urging the government of Canada to condemn crimes committed against the Armenian people.
Mrs. Campbell: Mr. Speaker, I, too, am very proud and privileged to join in this debate. I don’t know whether I have a conflict of interest because I am a tache nag. However, I think in the time that I have allotted to me, and it’s short, I would just like to draw some pictures, if I may, to indicate the importance of this resolution, the fact that we are not going to allow this genocide to die in memory.
I can recall being at the city hall some years ago when there were a number of groups within the Metropolitan Toronto community meeting to protest the violence in society, the violence that had been in Europe, and still remained, and other similar types of violence. To my left there was a rather small group, and a former cabinet minister of this government, who sat on my right, said, “Margaret, you know these people. What flag is that?” I said, “That’s the Armenian flag.” This minister said, “What are they doing here?” He wasn’t being miserable or mean, he was just reflecting what we, as a society, had allowed to happen.
I would like to take another picture, a picture in which I was again involved, when I stood with the Ombudsman and former Attorney General of the state of Israel at that superb and horrifying museum to the Holocaust. I said then to them, “We are all to blame for this holocaust because we did not remember the genocide of the Armenian people.” I repeated the Hitlerian phrase to which my friend the member for Simcoe East (Mr. G. E. Smith) referred in his opening remarks. Of course, we’re all responsible if we allow these horrors to go unrecorded and unremembered.
Sadly, however, I have to remind the House there was another massacre in Turkey in the 1950s which was called the September massacre. It’s not very well known and it hasn’t really been very well exposed. Nevertheless, I had the opportunity of speaking with these young men who came here to this country at that time telling of the horrors they had witnessed. In that massacre it was decided that if one destroyed the reproductive organs of the female of the species, it was unlikely one would have too many more Armenians. That happened in the 1950s.
One of the things we also have to remember is that the Armenians do not have a homeland at all.
My last picture is to describe for you a scene in Jerusalem, where I met with the Armenian bishop of Jerusalem. He was showing me pictures of the present destruction of the Armenian churches, either deliberately or by allowing them to fall into decay. This man has been trying to save the artifacts of the Armenian people as he finds them or as they are found for him in the fleamarkets.
It is important that we remember. It is important that each and every one of us is prepared to take responsibility to ensure that these things are not forgotten, partly as an honour to the Armenian people themselves, but partly as a step, it is hoped, to ensure that public opinion will not permit this kind of thing to keep going on. The United Nations, unfortunately, seems to have faltered, if I may put it in those terms, in the way with which it deals with the present-day problems, the present-day violence to which reference has already been made.
I would say that we too have a great responsibility in that we once had the privilege of housing in this province a group of orphans who were left as a result of this genocide. I’m very much afraid that if one reads the history of those orphans one will find we forgot, even before they got here. They were denied an education when they got to this country and they were, eventually, sent out around the country side on their own. It isn’t just the Turks. It’s all of us. That’s the message I’m trying to get across in this brief moment in time today.
I have another colleague who wishes to speak. I will stop at this point.
Mr. Warner: It’s a privilege to take part in what really isn’t a debate but an opportunity for each member of the House to express some sincere concerns that have been brought to our attention. I commend the member, my colleague from Simcoe East (Mr. G. E. Smith), who has introduced the resolution. I think it’s more appropriate, so that we capture the moment in Hansard, that I read the resolution so all of those who are interested, and particularly the Armenian community, will have it forever:
“That this House, on behalf of the people of Ontario, requests the government of Canada to officially recognize and condemn the atrocities committed by the government of Turkey upon the Armenian people who were victims of persecution and genocide during World War I; and this House, on behalf of the people of Ontario, urges the government of Canada to make appropriate representations to the General Assembly of the United Nations to recognize and condemn the Armenian genocide and to express the abhorrence of such actions as being in violation of the basic standards of human rights and decency now embodied in the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights; and this House, on behalf of the people of Ontario, recommends to the government of Canada that it designate April 24 in every year hereafter throughout Canada as a day of remembrance for the Armenian community, as it has been by the Armenian people for many years in the memory of fellow Armenians who suffered such crimes.”
To a civilized person, there is no word that strikes more fear or terror into the heart than the word “genocide,” because it represents the most degrading activity that a human being can possibly contemplate: the destruction of other human beings by calculated ways.
I feel indebted to the people from the Armenian community who have brought their history to our attention, and will confess that, as a person growing up in Canada, born and raised here, I was not aware of the history of the Armenian people. Today I would remain unaware of their history had they not brought it to my attention, and for that I am deeply grateful. It provides not only the exact information about what happened to the Armenian people, but it is a lesson to me, as a person in Canada, a very civilized country, that we must always be vigilant and we must always do everything we can to try to bring peace throughout the world, because the history is living.
We are not without blemish in this country. All of us, I hope, remember the undignified and tragic way in which our government treated the Japanese-Canadians during the Second World War, so we are not without blemish. We live beside a giant that is certainly not without blemish. I have been able to work with many of the Chilean refugees who live in our city, and they know full well the power of the CIA in the United States, instrumental in the overthrow of a democratic government in Chile. And in that country today there are Canadian banks and Canadian business interests that continue to operate.
We live in troubled times. I just hope we seize every opportunity we have, such as the one that has been presented to us today, and speak loudly and clearly in an effort to make sure that some day peace and civilization will win and that never again will there be genocide.
Some day I want to be able to strike that word from the vocabulary. It is the most horrible and terrifying word I know.
Hon. Mr. Wells: Mr Speaker, I am very pleased to join the other members of this House in supporting this resolution today.
I am very proud to have many members of the Armenian community as friends of mine and to be associated with the Armenian Community Centre in Willowdale, a very fine and magnificent undertaking, established through the hard work and dedication of this community here in Metropolitan Toronto. I suggest to any members who haven’t visited the community centre that they visit it and they will see Armenian culture and Armenian life presented. It is a very fitting and very significant place to have in our community.
There is no question that April 24, 1915, was a day of infamy. The first genocide of the 20th century, it is a date that we must remember, because it brings back, not only to the Armenian communities but to all of us, those terrible memories of the massacres that occurred. It brings back an understanding that atrocities like this can happen, and that only through remembering them and constantly keeping them before us can we guarantee, it is hoped, that those kinds of atrocities will not occur again on this planet. I think that is very important.
I am very pleased that we are remembering through many programs in the schools, many days that are of a cultural importance to many communities. As I mentioned last year in this House, the Ministry of Education has a multicultural calendar that indicates many days. Of course on that calendar is April 24, and that means not only the Armenians, but children from all over this province can look up and say, “What is that all about?” They will be told what it is all about, and that is the significant thing. April 24, 1915, will be remembered for what it was and many children in the future in this province will benefit from that and they will not forget.
I am very pleased to join the other members of this House in supporting this resolution. I am very privileged to do so.
Mr. B. Newman: Mr. Speaker, it is a real pleasure for me to have the opportunity to speak to this resolution. As one of a minority group whose grandfather and great-grandfather did experience similar events, I know whereof I talk.
A year ago the televising of the movie, Holocaust, gave rise to considerable discussion of the wisdom of recalling that horrifying and blood-chilling chapter in human history. Recent events in Iran and Afghanistan have once again brought home to us all the vital necessity of being vigilant, of being prepared to stand up for what we believe in for our democratic way of life. Once more we have been reminded that we can take nothing for granted and that we must always remain constantly aware of what is going on in the world around us.
In years of prosperity and peace, it is so easy to allow memories to dim, to gloss over or to forget tragic and terrible happenings in the past. A nation that forgets its past does not deserve to have a future. We cannot and we must not forget. From time to time we need to remind ourselves, and particularly our young people, of our history. Just as we cannot wipe the slate clean of the developments that led to the genocidal policies of the Nazis, so it is important not to overlook the fate of tragically and cruelly persecuted groups, other than the Jews.
When Hitler began his pogroms he was warned that the nations of the world would not tolerate his actions and would not forgive or overlook the atrocities. To this warning he replied, “Who today remembers the Armenians?” Frequently, Armenians have asked themselves the same question, for seldom do we hear the story of how 350,000 Armenians were systematically massacred by the Turks and Kurds in the mid-1890s. Seldom do we hear of the massacres and massive deportations of one and a half million Armenians by the Turks just prior to the First World War.
No one, least of all the Armenians, wishes to rekindle old hatreds and old bitterness, but the world cannot be permitted to forget. It is most fitting that we here in the Ontario Legislature do not debate but simply bring to the attention of citizens of Ontario our concerns and demonstrate those concerns by asking the federal government to designate April 24 as a day of remembrance throughout Canada.
I will convey these sentiments to my federal colleague, Dr. Mark MacGuigan, Minister of External Affairs, so that he can personally take that to the United Nations at an appropriate time.
Mr. Speaker: The time for this ballot item has expired.
CULT REGULATION ACT
Mr. Sweeney moved second reading of Bill 12, An Act to monitor and regulate the Activities of Cults and Mind Development Groups.
Mr. Sweeney: Mr. Speaker, in some ways it is quite appropriate that second reading debate on my bill should follow the discussion that just preceded because the issue before us is one of whether we shall stand quietly aside, through fear and allow something to happen that we know is wrong or make some attempt to do something about it.
Three years ago I rose in this Legislature and brought to the attention of the Ministry of Health the case of three young adults in my riding who had been admitted to the London Psychiatric Hospital because of their association with a group known as PSI. At that time, I asked the Minister of Health (Mr. Timbrell) what action could he take to protect young people in this province from that kind of mental abuse.
During the subsequent three years, I have on numerous other occasions, as have other members of this Legislature, raised similar questions with the Minister of Health, with the former Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations (Mr. Grossman) and with the present Attorney General (Mr. McMurtry), as each new case of some innocent victim whose mind had been abused was brought to our attention, either by the parents, by the person himself or herself, or by one of the various news media.
In each of those cases, the ministers questioned agreed and admitted that there was a grave and serious problem in this matter but they also admitted that there was no legislative mechanism in Ontario at this time to deal with it. It is also coincidental that about two years ago the Ontario Provincial Police found itself launching an investigation of its own. Unfortunately, the OPP also discovered that the very abuses it did uncover could not be remedied with the legislation on the statute books of Ontario today.
What we have, then, is evidence of young people in this province being abused, evidence of mental illness, mental damage being imposed upon innocent victims and we have, at the same time, evidence that there is not the necessary legislation to deal with it.
This, then, is the reason for my introducing this bill at this time because I believe it is surely the responsibility of this Legislature to act when it sees such a danger present. I believe it is surely the responsibility of this Legislature not to stand aside when it sees such a need.
I would like to give credit to a group of young university students at Wilfrid Laurier University in the city of Waterloo who have assisted me in preparing this bill. The irony is, it was the damage they saw being done to their own fellow students that brought to my attention, in addition to my own experience, the need for this Legislature to do something.
As a matter of fact, on the campuses of the University of Waterloo and the University of Toronto I have also spoken to young students who, with bitterness and anger and frustration, drew to my attention the way in which they could literally predict when the recruiters of some of these groups would come on their campuses, at the very times of the year when their fellow students would be most vulnerable, would be most exposed, would be most open to exploitation. It was with bitterness and anger they also recommended that something be done.
I have no notion whatsoever whether the bill I present before you is in any way the perfect instrument to deal with this problem. I can only say that for three years I have agonized over the need to do something and I am quite prepared to hear the counter-arguments of my colleagues in this Legislature. I am quite prepared to see this bill go to committee where the members of the public, both those who support my contention and those who oppose my contention, would have an opportunity to present their points of view, because I believe that’s what this democratic Legislature is all about.
Let me point out what my bill does not do. My bill does not prohibit, it does not abolish, any group in our society. My bill does not prevent anyone from joining any group in our society. My bill does not, in my judgement, interfere with religious freedom in this province.
What does my bill do? My bill provides a complaint procedure. It provides a mechanism whereby those who have been abused, or those close to those who have been abused, have an opportunity to turn to someone and say, “Look, this is what’s happening; this is what concerns us.” It provides an opportunity for the government of this province to hear evidence that there are groups in our society who are dangerous, who are deceptive, who are exploitative. It provides the mechanism for such groups to be designated as so.
I want to make it very clear that I believe it is important that we do isolate, that we do spotlight those groups that do have these dangerous practices, because there are far more groups in our society who are performing worthwhile services, who are being very supportive to our young people. Unfortunately, as so often happens, many of these very good groups end up being tarred by the same brush because there is no mechanism to isolate the ones who do the damage. That is one of the intents of my legislation.
My legislation would require such groups to give an accounting of themselves and, quite frankly, it is my hope that such accounting would encourage them to clean up their acts. It would encourage them to recognize that in this jurisdiction at least, if no place else in this country, they cannot continue to act with impunity, they cannot continue to harass the minds of our young.
My bill would also point out very clearly that when someone is responsible for mental and physical damage, he must assume the cost of that responsibility. My bill would also provide for a cooling-off period. Many of the young people who have broken away from these groups have indicated to me that when they had a chance to think about it later on they realized they were lulled into the kinds of activities they were because they hadn’t been given a chance to stand aside and to think about the implications that were being proposed to them, that the pressure was constant.
We provide that kind of mechanism in our consumer legislation. If someone signs a contract we allow him 48 hours at least to think about it and change his mind, away from the pressure of the salesman. Shouldn’t we have at least the same amount when we are talking about the minds of people as opposed to material possession?
I want to be sure to point out in my bill that there is a clear distinction between the appointed commission that does the investigation and the elected members of government who make any of the decisions.
What are my concerns? My concerns are of the well-documented deceptive recruiting practices, where young people are approached and told one thing, only to discover later on something quite different is actually the truth. They are urged and invited to join a group. They are not told the aims of that group; frequently, they are not even told the correct name of the group. They are not told what is likely to happen to them by their association with this group and that’s where the deception is involved.
I am concerned with the abuse with respect to deprivation of sleep, food, privacy and association in the way in which they would want it; the continuing association with family and friends which leads to the breakdown we talked about before. I’m concerned about the family separations because one of the marks of such groups is that they would be encouraged not to continue associating with their family and friends.
I can draw to the members’ attention some very real evidence of what I speak. I indicated earlier what happened to the young people in my community. As a result of that, Dr. Craig Powell, who was the psychiatrist at London Psychiatric Hospital when this took place, has since written a paper about that particular happening and those particular people. Let me share it with you:
“It was our impression that these groups generated more severe casualties and, furthermore, that they bore more responsibility for the casualty. The casualty seemed truly caused, not merely hastened or facilitated.” That would speak to those who say that such people would have had nervous breakdowns anyway.
One more point, and I think this is most enlightening: “Both group and leader can soar to giddy heights of omnipotence so long as some members can be found who will carry the load of confusion and madness. Accordingly, it must be emphasized that the production of casualties is not fortuitous but rather a necessary factor in the continuing survival of the group.”
We were not sure how to understand some of those things so we asked Dr. Silver of the Lakeshore Psychiatric Hospital to read this for us and give us his opinion. Dr. Silver says: “The report is sufficiently impressive as documentation of the issue. I would be quite willing to help you actively to combat this menace.” Dr. Silver was in charge of the outpatient clinic of the Lakeshore Psychiatric Hospital.
Speaking of deception, I would point out to some of the members of this Legislature that material was sent to them a few months ago about my bill. One piece of literature was headed: “Who was behind John Sweeney’s bill?” There were two columns, one entitled “Excerpts from Mr. Sweeney’s Bill” and the other listing a number of excerpts from a Nazi police chief document produced in Germany in 1941. There is only one problem. Of the six items that are supposed to be excerpts from my bill, only one is; the other five are not.
The other documentation that was sent to members of this Legislature was a copy of a story in the Kitchener-Waterloo Record entitled, “The Council of Creeping Fascism.” It’s surprising that I also have a copy of that particular story. I noticed that the one that was sent to the members of this Legislature did not include the last column of that story.
Perhaps it’s not difficult to understand why, because in the last column of that story the Jewish community in my area clearly says it is not concerned about my legislation and it is not a hazard to that community. In fact, Marty Resnick, who is a member of the B’nai B’rith organization and a co-ordinator of the psychiatric team at Kitchener-Waterloo Hospital, is quoted as follows: “As a psychologist, Resnick said that he has seen psychotics, mentally unbalanced followers of the cult come into the hospital for help. ‘I have seen terrible things that these groups can do. Some are downright dangerous.’” Is it any wonder that column was not included in the material that was sent to the members of this Legislature? That’s the kind of deception that I am talking about.
It has been said that in our society today it is really not possible to brainwash people; it is really not possible to control their minds. May I share one other reference with you -- a reference from Dr. William Sargeant speaking to the Maudsley lectures in London, England, and talking about the possibility and the evidence of mind control. He points out we do have the techniques that cause a person to start to hate the persons and mode of life they previously loved and to become attached to ideals, faiths and persons that they previously despised.
It goes on to say, “When the mind is thus altered, new ideas can then be accepted and believed which are totally at variance with all the individual’s other past and present experience and belief.” I have numerous other references to the fact that this is possible.
I understand I have three minutes; let me just finish this section then, Mr. Speaker. I would like to point out that legislation is needed on this, legislation that will clearly delineate between those groups in our society that are helpful and supportive, and those groups that are destructive and abusive. I will use my three minutes at the end, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Speaker: You don’t have three now. You’ve got about a minute and a half.
Mr. Breaugh: Mr. Speaker, I rise in opposition to the principle of this legislation before us this afternoon. I am tempted, I suppose, to give a classic civil rights argument against the principle of this kind of legislation. I want to leave that for others.
I was born and raised in a small town in eastern Ontario of a decided minority group, Irish and Catholic. Among those that I grew up with, that made me different from everyone around me, clearly, and at the rink there was some difficulty in my explaining why I got up and went to mass in the morning. There was some problem on the part of my peer group with understanding why I would wear robes and what was all this stuff with candles, incense, ringing bells, speaking Latin and having priests. They did not understand what I was. That, of course, is not unusual for Irish Catholics -- Catholics or people who believe in any kind of organized religion where you are a minority anywhere in the world -- nor has it been since time began.
The history of the world shows, as the previous resolution pointed out earlier this afternoon, that’s a difficult topic for any society to deal with. What do you do with people who are not like everybody else? Of course, no one is really like everybody else. We are all individuals and somewhat different, but some you can identify. They look different. They wear different clothes. They talk in different ways. They have different sets of values. They work to a different norm. It always seems to be a struggle for the remainder of society to deal with that in any rational way.
I don’t believe anyone ever really starts out to commit genocide, or to make a group of people illegal, or to put them in concentration camps. I believe most of it begins with this kind of a notion -- that here’s a group we do not understand, whose values we reject and therefore we ought to do what the member for Kitchener-Wilmot (Mr. Sweeney) said -- isolate them, identify them, monitor them, regulate them.
That forces an immense problem for me; I guess all of us face the same thing wherever we live these days. All around us are groups we don’t understand, whose values we reject, whose way of life doesn’t make any sense to us. We do not understand them and so we tend to shun them. That, I suppose, is reasonably a human thing to do and understandable. To go past that and to do what this kind of legislation suggests in principle -- not just to reject their values, but to monitor and to regulate them with a government agency -- it is at that point I think we should stop the process.
If someone makes an argument that the criminal laws of Canada have been violated, I believe in and support a system that identifies what is a criminal act. I believe in and support a system that gathers evidence around that, tries it among our peers and decides what is a criminal act and what isn’t.
We support in this country all kinds of consumer legislation that identifies where someone has bought into an agreement and wasn’t fully knowledgeable at the beginning. If someone wants to make a case that we should apply that to these groups -- fine.
There are underlying currents in this. I don’t want to be too dramatic about it, but it is tough for me to do. I’m making an argument for groups of people that I don’t understand, whose values I personally reject. But I would hope the members of this Legislature would understand it is that very principle that this Legislature, this society, can identify a group of people out there that the rest of us don’t like.
The member for Kitchener-Wilmot didn’t use the words “good” and “bad,” but I think clearly he implied that: that there are good guys and bad guys, and the good ones wear white hats and the bad guys wear black hats. All you have to do is identify those with the black hats. Then you monitor them and you regulate them, and logically, if you’re clearly determined that they’re all wrong, you put them out of business, in a nice way sometimes, sometimes in not so nice a way.
I would hope that’s a long way down the road from this kind of legislation, but I’m afraid the history of the world shows it isn’t that long a road. It’s often a relatively short step. We have done it in this country; we have done it in North America.
If you read any of the newspapers yesterday you would find all over the world there are societies attempting to grapple with this kind of problem and using this technique. Not quite so formal, perhaps, but they are certainly isolating groups they don’t agree with and then putting the full force of the law on them. I cannot support that.
I do understand the problems parents go through when their children grow up and don’t do the right thing in the parents’ terms. That’s been going on since man began. I don’t know how you deal with that.
I know people, friends of mine, who did what I thought were irrational acts when they were 16 and 17 years of age. They went off to convents and seminaries. They renounced worldly goods. They took a vow of poverty. They gave up the automobiles and the hockey sticks and the football games that I wanted and thought were important. They didn’t want to go out with girls. They wanted to go into a seminary. How strange, I thought. How can they do that?
They wore funny clothes. They had values the rest of my society clearly didn’t have. Were they a cult? No, they were Jesuits. I think, quite frankly, the Jesuit order in Canada and in the world has proved its value to our society.
It’s simply a matter of who’s calling the shots. Who are the good guys? Who are the bad buys? It’s incredibly difficult to do that.
There are a couple of points in the principle of the bill I do find more than disturbing. One is the proposition that a commission should be set up to do this.
I would have hoped that in our free society, where our brothers and sisters have died in two world wars and in a police action in Korea to retain the rights of freedom that we have, we would not ever establish inquisitions or commissions or whatever name you would care to give them to provide that kind of activity.
Secondly, nowhere in here does it say what is a cult and what is a mind development group. I listened very carefully to the arguments put forward this afternoon. I sympathize to some degree with them. But it’s like saying that in here in this bill we decide the bad guys are going to get monitored and regulated and later on we’ll tell who the bad guys are.
No, no. In the kindest parliamentary tradition I don’t think that should ever be allowed. If there are members who want to come in here and reveal cases, then fine. If there are members who want to come in here and, with their parliamentary privilege, name names, then that’s okay. But if there are people who want to come in here and say that some unnamed group out there ought to be monitored, regulated and charged -- no. That strikes me as being against the history of our parliament and the traditions of anybody’s parliament.
It is difficult, I know, because I have had personal experience with it, to explain to parents that their children have rejected their values, to explain to a peer group that there are people among you who do things, who believe in things that don’t seem normal or right to you. A free society is what that is all about.
I believe, quite frankly, that there are groups of people in our society teaching not just young people, but old people, things which are wrong. I believe there are groups out there which are doing bad things to people. I do not want to see legislation to monitor, to regulate or to put them away. I believe in a competing system of values and if I am correct in the values that I hold, they ought to stand the light of day. If they don’t, then let someone choose another set of values.
It is difficult for someone as bog Irish as I am to make arguments of a sophisticated nature for the freedom of religious beliefs, so let me make it as succinct as I can. I do not see this bill, in principle, as being something this House ought to consider. If there are arguments to be made for changes in the Criminal Code, so be it; if there are arguments to be made for changes in consumer legislation, so be it; but to have before us legislation of this type, and particularly with this kind of a name, I feel is going beyond the beyond. It is insupportable in principle. It is not the type of thing which we could, as a Legislature decide in principle is okay and to send it to a committee to do a little bit of patch-up work on it. It is dangerous stuff that is being proposed in this Legislature this afternoon, and I urge the members to reject it.
Hon. Mr. Norton: Mr. Speaker, as I stand to speak to this bill this afternoon, one of the first things that comes to my mind is some words from the prayer that we all make at the opening of the Legislature each day. That is the prayer that we might have the wisdom to govern wisely and well.
To the best of my recollection in the time that I have served in this Legislature, there probably has not been a bill before us that deals with a more sensitive and a more difficult area into which we might intrude. It’s a bill which spells out, perhaps more clearly than anything I have seen before us in this House, the necessity for this Legislature to take a both balanced and careful approach to our deliberative responsibilities in the legislative process.
I asked to be able to speak on this bill this afternoon during the course of the debate because of some very deep concerns that I have with respect to the bill as it stands before us. I want to make very clear at the outset that I do not question at all the sincerity of the honourable members who sponsored this bill. I believe the member for Kitchener-Wilmot is both sincere in his views and in his concern about the welfare of young people, particularly in this province, who may in fact be exposed to certain acts on the part of individuals or groups. That concern is shared, I believe, by every member of this Legislature.
However, I am also of the opinion that the bill, as it is before us, is probably the most dangerous piece of legislation that I have seen in this House. It’s dangerous because of its inadequacies, because of what it attempts to do. I think, in fact, that it misses the point.
This bill purports to give great powers to two bodies, really. A commission, to which one of the previous speakers has referred, will almost have the authority to conduct an inquisition. It has given great powers to such a body to make recommendations to the Lieutenant Governor in Council. The Lieutenant Governor in Council is purportedly given the authority to act in a way that I can only perceive as being potentially very dangerous. Perhaps the honourable member has great confidence in the present executive council of this province. I don’t mean to make light of that, but it’s possible that the present executive council of this province may not always be here.
I don’t want to make light of the seriousness of what I believe to be the issue that is before us. The bill essentially gives unrestricted power to the executive council of this province to intervene in what may well be a legitimate religious pursuit on the part of a group of individual citizens in this province. It fails, for example, to define the language that it uses, let alone restrict in any way the powers that it purports to give.
From reading the bill I don’t know what might fall within the purview of a cult or a mind-modifying or mind-expanding group. As the honourable member who spoke just before me has said, I should assume that many of the now well-respected religious orders in our society began as rather eccentric groups within their communities and were, in fact, subjected to a considerable amount of suspicion. In fact, if this kind of power had been vested in a government at the time, they might not have continued to exist.
Mr. Lawlor: The early Christians would have been in trouble.
Hon. Mr. Norton: Absolutely. They were in enough trouble as it was, but it would have been a lot worse.
Mr. Lawlor: That’s just the kind of thing Domitian Caligula would and did resort to.
Hon. Mr. Norton: That’s right; absolutely. Mr. Speaker, if I might, I would point out one of the things that I think is a weakness here. I believe that the honourable member who put this bill before us was particularly concerned about the consequences of certain acts, but the bill does not deal with any particular acts; it talks about groups and does not define in any way what those groups may be or what acts they may perform that are unacceptable or are damaging or are harmful. The consequence is that the bill could apply in an abusive way to almost any religious group in our society if it happened to be in a minority situation and in an unpopular relationship with the government of the time.
We all have faith, I think, in our democratic process and hope that would not happen, but at the same time we cannot tolerate legislation that would even purport to give that kind of authority to the secular forces of our society, namely, the government.
I believe that one of the things which has also been overlooked, and I may be incorrect in my interpretation, is that although there is a separation between the commission and the Lieutenant Governor in Council, if one reads the appropriate sections, it seems to me the Lieutenant Governor in Council is quite free, under this bill, to act without any reference to the commission. I am not sure that the honourable member intended that and, whether that were changed in committee or not, I don’t think it would significantly change the dangerous aspects of this bill.
In conclusion, Mr. Speaker, since I am sure my time is running out quickly, I would simply reiterate that I believe if the honourable members would read the bill carefully and deliberate on what it really might allow by way of abuse, that it would strike fear into the hearts of every person in Ontario, and certainly every person in this Legislature who loves freedom and values personal, spiritual and religious development.
No one could be assured, if this bill came into force, of freedom from state intervention in the personal values or religious beliefs they may hold, and I would urge honourable members not to support this bill. I believe, as it is drafted, that the bill is beyond redemption by way of going to committee for amendment.
I would urge honourable members to await the results of the commission that is drawing to an end under the leadership of Dr. Dan Hill, and it is my understanding that his report will be coming to us soon. Perhaps as a result of that we will be able to see more clearly how we might move to safeguard the interests of young people in this province and, at the same time, ensure we respect safeguards with regard to the other persons’ religious freedoms in the province.
I trust that it will not be necessary to veto this bill. I hope it will be resoundingly defeated when it comes to a vote. But if it appears that it might not, Mr. Speaker, I can assure you I will be one person who will stand to veto it.
Mr. Stong: Mr. Speaker, it is with a spirit of deep conflict within me that I rise to speak on my colleague’s bill. I spoke to my colleague from Kitchener-Wilmot (Mr. Sweeney) yesterday and indicated to him that I would have preferred to see this matter come before this House by way of resolution, rather than a specific bill, but that I welcomed the opportunity to be able to speak on it because I agree in principle with what my colleague is trying to achieve.
The difficulty has been related by other members who have spoken prior to me, the party on my left and the party across the floor. There is an inherent unredeeming feature of this bill. That is the vehicle which it creates to deal with the problem that is before us.
We have all read of the reported experiences of children like the Caine child from Toronto and the O’Donnell child from Windsor. We have also witnessed the Toronto Star which last weekend had the editorial decency, through one of its senior men, to set its series in the proper perspective, but not before another slur or negative impression had been created against a legitimate religion. It is a religion which carries with it a time-honoured tradition which predates Christianity, which has hundreds of millions of followers and which bases its teachings in the Bhagavad-gita and the Vedic scriptures of Hinduism.
I regard the prime function of this House as one of the protection of the freedoms of each and every citizen individually or as a group. In achieving this goal, it seems to me that we as a group of elected representatives must counter unwarranted prejudices created by a medium which may or may not afford an opportunity for the defending view but which nevertheless influences our thinking. We as members of this Legislature are not beyond being influenced to a point of unfavourable disposition on any individual issue.
It is imperative in my mind on this issue, which is before us in Bill 12, that we as responsible elected representatives offer a forum in the nature of a committee where legitimate concerns can be expressed by all interested parties and where we as legislators, upon whose shoulders fall the responsibility of protecting each and every citizen and group of citizens, will be made aware of and come to understand more fully all of the factors relevant in this issue.
It is not good enough that we, as elected representatives and as lawmakers, must rely only on the excellent support of people such as the Dinah Christies and the Professor Pentons, who are present in the gallery today. We must go beyond that. We must provide a forum for full debate where education may be the basis of our decisions.
I accept the principle of Bill 12 as my colleague from Kitchener-Wilmot intends it. I don’t think there is anyone in this House who does not accept the principle that it is our job, as legislators, to dispute mind-benders, quack therapists and pseudo-religious charlatans who prey on the impressionable young. There is no one who disagrees with that principle.
It is out of that principle that this bill got its birth. It is keeping that principle in mind that I ask this House to consider the creation of a forum, namely the committee, to which this bill could go in conjunction with Dr. Hill’s report. That committee could be open to the public. It would be an open forum for input from all concerned quarters and sectors of our community. That committee, that forum, will not be open to us if this bill in its imperfect state, in its creation, in my opinion, of an improper vehicle, is taken away from us, if it is blocked or if it is vetoed in this House. It is important that we eradicate a blight on all religions and all faiths; that is, the imposition on individuals and the eradication of their freedom.
Anyone who has suffered religious persecution in any form whatsoever -- whether it be mockery, as was described earlier, arising out of misunderstanding or ultimate death for our beliefs -- is aware of the dangers. We and anyone who has ever suffered in that way is very much aware of the dangers inherent in the creation of prejudice.
Specifically, it has been said, Bill 12 is premature because Dr. Daniel Hill’s report is coming forward. Be that as it may, it is insufficient reason to veto a forum, a legitimate forum, for the education of all of us in this community about the protection of the freedoms of the individual and the protections of the religious freedom of groups.
There isn’t a group, as I have indicated before, that does not want to eradicate the mind-benders, the quack therapists, and the religious charlatans. We are all interested in doing that and if we do not allow this bill to go to committee for discussion --
Mr. Lawlor: There is no clause in there about a committee.
Mr. Stong: That’s true. Mr. Speaker, as my friend from Lakeshore is well aware, after second reading a bill can go to committee for discussion. That’s a procedure in this House.
The bill is weak. It is ineffectual. It is lacking in definition as has already been described. There’s the matter of cult. I might say Krishna is no more a cult than Protestantism, no more a cult than Roman Catholicism, to which I attempt to adhere. There are certain aspects that could be called into question even in that faith; for instance, the requirement of a person to promise to raise his children as Roman Catholics before he partakes of the benefits of Roman Catholicism. No matter what religion we are dealing with, there are certain rules that pertain.
It is not that that this bill addresses. This bill addresses itself to a more severe problem, the problem of the mind-bender, the quack therapist and the religious charlatan who is preying, as I indicated earlier, on the impressionable young.
This bill, if allowed to go to committee, could be remedied, could be perfected. It could be perfected by including definitions as a result of input from all sectors of our community. It could also, instead of creating a commission that affords the government unlimited power, which I fear personally, create a vehicle of specialized investigation that could be part of our police force, and could consist of experts drawn from the community to indicate, “This is mind-bending; this is not.”
It is not necessarily that I fear a commission, but I do fear the fact that certain aspects of our society, certain functions, certain procedures in our society are beyond investigation and must not be allowed to go unfettered.
The bill addresses itself to the payment of compensation, compensation for a person who has undergone what my colleague from Kitchener-Wilmot describes as brainwashing. There is no objection to that in principle in this bill, either. Anyone who causes damage ought to be required to pay for it.
Very briefly, I urge upon the members of this House not to kill the bill because of the underlying principle. Allow it to go to committee where we can all be afforded an opportunity for discussion, an opportunity for the creation of a proper vehicle to handle a blight on the face of our society.
Mr. Renwick: Mr. Speaker, rising to speak on the bill I would like to share with you and with the other members of the House an amusing thought that went through my mind. As I read this bill I was thinking of my friend, the member for Kitchener-Wilmot (Mr. Sweeney), and I became very concerned about him and his colleagues with this bill. Some of us think the Liberal Party is a kind of a cult or mind development group and, when one reads this, certainly some of us would agree that it is a cult or mind development group, adherence to which is alleged to constitute a danger to the mental health of any person.
If one accepted that the Liberal Party is a cult or a mind development group, how difficult it would be for the party if it were suddenly designated under the bill and within 14 days had to comply with the provisions of the bill: for example, to file with his commission a report describing the practices and techniques used by the Liberal Party with respect to the soliciting of adherence, the counselling of its members and the nature and contents of seminars conducted by that group, or the manner of financing the Liberal Party including a statement indicating the source and application of funds used by the Liberal Party.
I think the member of the Liberal Party has unwittingly caused his own organization considerable difficulty with his bill, which I think underlines the fact that my other friend in the Liberal Party from York North, even as poor as the bill is --
Mr. Hodgson: York Centre. Now get that straight.
Mr. Renwick: York Centre, sorry. My apologies to my friend from York North (Mr. Hodgson).
My friend from York Centre (Mr. Stong) was indicating that as poor as the bill is, it should go to a committee. I am simply saying it is so poor it should not have seen the light of day here and I don’t really think it should be necessarily dignified by a vote in the assembly.
However, let me talk if I may about one or two areas that I think are of some concern to the assembly. There is no doubt in my mind, in any event, that mind behavioural and behavioural modification therapies of one kind or another, by whomsoever practised, are matters which in a funny way this assembly at some point is going to have to deal with. Let me at least in an initial way make a couple of comments about those matters.
I am talking entirely away from questions of cults or groups of any kind. I am talking about the kinds of people in our society who are involved in mind behavioural modification of one kind or another. I think at some point we are going to have to establish a system of standards for the practice of psychology, if I may call it in its broad sense that term, which does several things.
I think we are going to have to identify the various fields: psychiatry, psychology, social work, pastoral counselling, community organization and advocacy, child care, mind development, et cetera. I think in some way we are going to have to embrace within those standards as practitioners in those fields not only persons with academic qualifications but many people who have had many years of experience practising in those fields. I think in some way we are going to have to think about accountability criteria that account for actual skills of those working in that field and not simply academic credentials.
In a funny way, we are probably going to have to come forward with some form of public participation in a licensing scheme that will embrace the broad area of persons engaged in the fields of therapy of one kind or another. I hasten to say that we were all upset a few years ago when suddenly a bill appeared called the Psychology Act. We all began to get letters when the act had never been introduced in the House and had nothing to do with what the government’s intentions were or what was the product of the particular group. I might say, I dissociate myself from the narrow confines of that kind of approach to this problem.
But a major area of much concern to people now is modern therapeutic techniques of one kind or another regardless of the ends and purposes for which they are used. I think that general field will need our care, attention and thought.
But to move from that area, even verging upon those who might believe in a particular form of truth -- and, indeed, most of us belong to some organization or association that believes it has a specific corner on the world of eternal truth; there are so many of them that none of us believes any one has the final answer as to the whole of truth, and that the world in which we live -- I think that in a world of freedom of speech and freedom of religion, not to give it too grandiose a term, it is going to be essential for us to protect inherent freedoms in the kind of society we have.
I’m a little bit concerned when my colleagues on the right -- both my colleague from Kitchener-Wilmot and my colleague from York Centre -- have strayed so far from the person whom I thought was kind of a patron saint of their party -- John Stuart Mill. I recommend to them that they should read again and again his Essay on Liberty. Perhaps in that way they could get away from the idea that you will have some government-appointed commission to investigate groups, cults or organizations in our society. There is no way in which such a commission can so curtail its work to be within any acceptable framework without raising, at the same time, immense fears and concerns about the legitimacies of all the organizations in our society. There must be freedom of association; there must be freedom of speech; there must be freedom of religion.
I happen to believe that the concern we have about many of these groups is that they seem to combine an economic activity with corporate managerial techniques and with a high entrepreneurial salesmanship involved in them. If they are, in some aspects, basically commercial undertakings or sales organizations, we don’t have that kind of problem in dealing with those forms of activity. But once you move to the control of thought, the control of ideas, then I think one has to act with a great deal of care.
Let me just complete my remarks, Mr. Speaker, by quoting a brief statement by William James in one of his books, written a long time ago, which I don’t think can be improved upon. He said, “Conversion is, in essence, a normal adolescent phenomenon incidental to the passage from the child’s small universe to the wider intellectual and spiritual life of society.”
We all recognize that kind of problem which we all have, particularly when the rite of passage from adolescence to adulthood is very difficult now and there are many young people who, during a portion of that time, are going to seek some particular byway before they, in fact, emerge into adulthood. There may be areas where we are going to have to come to grips with that kind of problem, as I said -- but more through the role of those who practise in the field of therapy of one kind or another, through that road.
Mr. Sterling: Mr. Speaker, I would like at the opening of my short remarks to thank the member for Kitchener-Wilmot (Mr. Sweeney) for bringing this matter in front of this Legislature. Although I have very serious reservations about the form of the legislation, I know how difficult it must be for him to bring this matter out into the open, and on this legislative floor.
The question of possible action to prevent abuse by some organizations claiming to promote mind development has concerned our government for some time. The complexity and sensitivity of the question led the Attorney General (Mr. McMurtry) to ask Dr. Dan Hill, the former chairman of the Ontario Human Rights Commission, to conduct a study into the alleged practices of so-called mind development organizations. This was announced on October 24, 1978.
While I commend the member for Kitchener-Wilmot for bringing this bill to the House. I have to say to him not only is it seriously flawed in terms of the form of the bill and the powers it gives to an unaccountable commission, but it is premature; not too much premature, perhaps, in dealing with this very important problem, because we expect the report from Dr. Hill to be tabled in this Legislature within a matter of weeks.
Other speakers have indicated the dangers associated with the bill and I think the member for Oshawa (Mr. Breaugh) pointed out very clearly that many members of this Legislature lack an understanding of what, in fact, the problem is, which is exactly what Dr. Hill has attempted to study.
Mr. Speaker, I could go through the bill and point out the various portions of it that are flawed in part -- for instance, sections where the definitions are loose and wide -- but I can understand the problem of the member for Kitchener-Wilmot regarding the necessary resources in order to draft the bill that would close some of these particular areas.
I want to assure the member for Kitchener-Wilmot that although I have serious reservations about this bill so that it is impossible for me to support it, I don’t want the Legislature to interpret this as in any way diminishing the seriousness with which this government considers this issue. I think once we have received Dr. Hill’s report, we can take some positive steps, and we will be doing it with the knowledge that has been gained by Dr. Hill over the past year and a half.
Mr. Blundy: Mr. Speaker, I know that in the brief time I have to speak on this bill I will not be able to go into it in depth. I do feel that what we have seen happening in the communities in Ontario, the problems being faced by the young people who are approached by these groups, is going to have to be controlled in some way if we are truly to protect the young people.
These groups are apparently doing real harm to young people. It is not just because they are different from you or me that we are bringing this bill forward. We are doing it because the evidence has shown there has been almost irreparable damage done to some of the young people who have become involved in the cults.
I know Dr. Hill is studying the matter and it is hoped will bring in a report that is going to help us to be able to legislate to protect these young people. I think we owe a debt of gratitude to the member for Kitchener-Wilmot (Mr. Sweeney) for bringing this bill to the House today so the difficult task that is before us can be appreciated by the members of this assembly, a task we don’t understand how to meet. Therefore, we are going to be better prepared to receive the report of Dr. Hill, and I would hope, better prepared to legislate.
Mr. Sweeney: I think I can begin to understand how Congressman Leo Ryan must have felt as he stood at the airport in Guyana facing the gunmen of Jim Jones. It’s fairly obvious I’m going to get shot down.
I can well understand the objections that have been brought before me, especially when I recognize the individuals who have presented them. I would only ask that we appreciate that what we’re talking about here in terms of freedom is truly the freedom of an individual to choose. That’s what’s being denied. When we talk about freedom of religion, we have to understand that as far as these groups are concerned, we are talking about the abuse of the freedom of religion.
I can well understand some of the objections. I would only hope that some time in the near future all the members of the Legislature would recognize there are young people and parents outside the halls of this Legislature who are suffering because of what’s going on and who are looking to us to provide some assistance to them. If it is shown that my bill is not the acceptable method, I think there is a responsibility on those who oppose it to come forward with something more acceptable. I don’t think we can leave here today or some other day in the near future and say to people out there: “Yes, we recognize the danger; yes, we’re concerned, but we’re not willing to take the risk to do something about it.”
I think that’s what this Legislature is all about: Recognizing problems and trying to meet them. There are many individuals whose freedom is being challenged, is being harmed, and I think we’ve got to speak for them as well.
ARMENIAN REMEMBRANCE DAY
Mr. Speaker: Mr. G. E. Smith moved resolution 2.
Resolution concurred in.
CULT REGULATION ACT
Mr. Speaker: Mr. Sweeney moved second reading of Bill 12.
All those in favour will please say “aye.”
All those opposed will please say “nay.”
In my opinion the nays have it.
Hon. Mr. Gregory: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker: Normally under situations like that where there is a division we call in the members and record the vote.
Mr. Speaker: It’s done on a voice vote and if there is a sufficient number who challenge the Speaker’s hearing then we call in the members.
BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
Hon. Mr. Wells: Mr. Speaker, pursuant to standing order 13, I wish to indicate to the House the business for the remainder of this week and next week.
There is a slight change in the proceedings this evening from that which I announced last week.
Mr. Speaker: The interjections are still the same. They never change.
Hon. Mr. Wells: There is a slight change with agreement. The interim supply motion standing on the Order Paper will be considered and, time permitting afterwards, we will move to supplementary estimates in the following order: Government Services, Northern Affairs, Natural Resources, Transportation and Communications.
Tomorrow we will continue debate on the speech from the throne and, also on Monday, March 31, we will continue the debate on the speech from the throne as we will also do on Tuesday, April 1, in both the afternoon and evening sittings.
On Thursday, April 3, in the afternoon, under private members’ public business we will do ballot items 3 and 4. The House will adjourn at 6 p.m. on Thursday, April 3, for the Easter weekend and remain adjourned until Tuesday, April 8, at 2 p.m.
Mr. Conway: I rise on a point of privilege. It has been drawn to my attention that the good member for York Mills has issued a constituency report to her electors that says: “Dr. Bette Stephenson reports to York Mills,” under which there is a most peculiar visage, to my determination not that of the honourable member herself. Perhaps Mr. Speaker might investigate as to whether or not there are, in fact, two Ministers of Education that we should be told about.
Hon. Miss Stephenson: Let me explain, if I may. That is a picture the honourable member should recognize very well. The picture is of Egerton Ryerson, the father of the educational program in this province.
Mr. Conway: One of the honourable member’s electors brought it to my attention today, pointing out that she was very confused by the image and the headline. I was just drawing it to the attention of the Speaker and the minister.
Hon. Miss Stephenson: I’m sure it was not one of my constituents. All of my constituents are of such intelligence that they would open up the document and see the little notice at the bottom of the first page declaring that, indeed, this was a photograph of Egerton Ryerson.
Mr. Speaker: I’m sure all members will agree that it’s really not a breach of anyone’s privilege.
The House recessed at 5:55 p.m.