31st Parliament, 4th Session

L014 - Thu 3 Apr 1980 / Jeu 3 avr 1980

The House met at 2 p.m.



Mr. Martel: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order before you commence: I beg your indulgence because I am looking for guidance. Last Tuesday evening in the resources development committee there was a motion moved by my friend the member for Nipissing (Mr. Bolan) and an amendment moved by my colleague the member for Port Arthur (Mr. Foulds) and the chairman of the committee was not sure how he should handle the matter.

During the proceedings a representative of the government staff, not a member of the Legislature, a staff member took to the chairman of the committee a document in the midst of the meeting and suggested to the chairman that, in fact, the matter which was being discussed was sub judice and the chairman should rule the motion out of order. The chairman didn’t do that. He indicated he thought it was sub judice and then he adjourned the meeting for some 15 minutes while he tried to get a ruling from your office,

Had that material been sent to one of the Conservative back-benchers and had they raised the matter that it could be sub judice, I could accept that, but I can’t accept that government caucus staff are approaching the chairman of a committee directly and thereupon the chairman is making rulings. I don’t think, and that is why I am seeking your assistance in this matter, that we would tolerate someone coming into this House and approaching the chair directly and no more should we allow it at a committee meeting.

I would ask that you investigate. As I say, I am not sure if it is a point of order because I looked at the orders, but I feel that our privileges were offended to say the least, that someone from the staff would take it upon himself and the chairman would accept that and try to rule in that fashion. I would ask you to look into the matter, Mr. Speaker, to make sure that doesn’t occur again.

Mr. Speaker: As the honourable member knows, anything that is before a committee of this House is the responsibility of that committee. If the committee is having some difficulty, it can direct the chairman to approach the House for guidance.

You haven’t made it clear whether the circumstances about which you complain were ever raised in the committee. Obviously, it hasn’t been dealt with by the committee, so there is nothing for either me, as the Speaker, or this House to decide upon until such time as it is referred by the committee back to this House.



Hon. Mr. Wells: Mr. Speaker, last night representatives of the county of Brant, the city of Brantford and the township of Brantford announced an agreement which had been reached in the negotiations on the boundary and other municipal problems that have faced the Brantford area for some time.

The agreement will now be submitted to the three councils for consideration and ratification. If the councils endorse the agreement, the province will be requested to enact legislation to implement it.

Mr. Epp: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker: We do not have a copy of the statement.

Mr. Speaker: Order. The standing order is quite clear, Mr. Minister. If you are going to make a ministerial statement, you must provide copies beforehand.

Hon. Mr. Wells: I completely agree with you, Mr. Speaker. I had believed the copies were sent out half an hour ago.

Mr. Speaker: It shouldn’t be too great a logistical problem to see that members have copies.

Hon. Mr. Wells: I apologize to my friends.


Hon. Mr. Wells: To continue: The agreement that has been reached provides a comprehensive settlement on a variety of troublesome issues, including annexation in 1981 of approximately 3,500 acres of largely vacant, marginal lands and approximately 500 acres of urbanized lands containing about 2,500 people and a large commercial area; a staged annexation in 1991 and 1996 of a further 600 acres of largely vacant marginal land; a moratorium of 23 years on future annexations; provision of a special planning zone on the city’s fringe, designated for agricultural and related uses and subject to special protection; the establishment of a Mutual Planning Area Advisory Committee to consider future uses in the fringe area; protection of taxpayers in the areas proposed for annexation to phase in over seven years any increases in taxes caused by annexation; and establishment of a mechanism to ensure settlement of a number of cost-sharing, planning and servicing issues by the end of the year.

While I am not in a position to discuss the particulars of the agreement and will not be until I am formally requested by the councils to act on it, I want to say something about the process that led to this agreement and its significance for the rest of the province. Just less than two years ago, when the Ministry of Intergovernmental Affairs was established, I spoke to the Association of Municipalities of Ontario about the challenges we all faced. At that time, as one of the major issues, I identified the need to find a better way to resolve intermunicipal disputes particularly those related to boundaries or those related to amalgamations and annexations.

Throughout late 1978 and early 1979, we worked with various municipal associations to develop an alternative to the costly, divisive and time-consuming process of judicial disposition of these problems. By August of last year I was able to announce a pilot project to be tried in the Brantford area which applied the labour-management bargaining concept to boundary and related municipal disputes.

We knew we faced a formidable challenge because of the deep, long-standing and broad differences that existed between the city of Brantford and its municipal neighbours. It is a great credit to the municipal leaders in Brant county that they accepted the challenge and persevered through a seven-month process of intensive and highly complex negotiations. Considerable personal sacrifice and statesmanship was demanded of the 10 municipal councillors who conducted the negotiations. They worked to overcome differences without compromising their differing perspectives and they succeeded.

Regardless of the final outcome of the agreement they recommend, these negotiations have demonstrated that a better way can be found. They have shown with good faith and determination even the most entrenched and bitter disputes can be solved. They have done away with winners and losers in the annexation field. As a result, I believe all residents of the province will be winners.

2:10 p.m.

I have followed the negotiations with great interest over the months, and I know that they included many technical and interrelated agreements. Yet they found their way through this maze to come up with a package of provisions that they could all understand and accept.

Only time will tell whether the agreement will endure for the extended period they have provided for, and the public will tell us if the provisions are generally acceptable. However, the process which they have set in motion has worked.

For a fraction of the cost, a small portion of the time and virtually none of the bitterness engendered through the conventional adversary approach to these problems, the Brantford area has been presented with a comprehensive agreement.

Furthermore, this agreement has more safeguards and holds a better promise for a harmonious future than could have been achieved through confrontation. The particular agreement which has been developed in Brantford may not be appropriate elsewhere, but the process can clearly be adopted for other areas facing similar problems.

I am sure I can speak for all members of this House in extending to the negotiators our thanks and congratulations for charting this new course. In closing, I want to make particular reference to the two men who led their respective negotiating teams. Robert Kennedy, the reeve of Brantford township, and David Newman, an alderman of the city of Brantford, were tireless in their efforts and persistent in their determination to reach a settlement. I would also like to commend Gardner Church of our staff who acted as a fact-finder for the process. To all of them, particularly hearty congratulations are due.


Hon. Mr. McMurtry: Mr. Speaker, I am today tabling three documents relating to the tragic fire on August 22, 1979, near Geraldton in which seven summer employees of the Ministry of Natural Resources lost their lives.

The first is a series of reports from the office of the fire marshal. The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. S. Smith) asked on Tuesday whether I was satisfied that the office of the fire marshal had carried out its statutory mandate in regard to this fire. Officials of the Ministry of the Solicitor General have reviewed the statute and the involvement of the office of the fire marshal. It is their view, and I share it, that the office of the fire marshal did, in fact, carry out its statutory mandate.

The second document I wish to table is a report of the Ontario Provincial Police by Detective Sergeant R. A. Shaw and Detective Inspector O. D. Corbett and dated August 27, 1979, five days after the tragedy.

The third document is the 221-page confidential brief for the crown counsel at the coroner’s inquest. It was prepared by the criminal investigation branch of the OPP. I am tabling it in full except for two pages of photographs. These pages have been removed in order not to cause further grief to the parents and families by publication of them. The 12 other photographs of the fire site are included.

I want to deal with the innuendo in the Globe and Mail in the past week regarding this incident. The articles were cleverly constructed to leave the impression that there had been a coverup and collusion among the various ministries and agencies. I believe that if members thoroughly study these documents, they will judge that innuendo to be absurd, misleading, irresponsible and grossly unfair.

The presence at the site of a large number of senior public officials, the ordering of several investigations and the calling of an inquest are all indications of the seriousness with which the government viewed this matter, our determination to find the facts and our resolve to do everything possible to prevent any further such tragedy.

For instance, senior government officials at the scene shortly after the fire included: Dr. H. B. Cotnam, chief coroner; Dr. R. C. Bennett, deputy chief coroner; Frank L. Wilson, QC, Assistant Deputy Solicitor General; Lew Ringham, Assistant Deputy Minister of Natural Resources; R. A. Baxter, regional director, Ministry of Natural Resources; Ron Kincaid, fire control co-ordinator, Ministry of Natural Resources; Detective Inspector O. D. Corbett of the OPP criminal investigation branch; Detective Sergeant R. A. Shaw of the OPP district headquarters, and a number of other key personnel.

Most of the material being tabled today has been available to counsel for the families of the deceased and has been introduced into evidence in some form in the proceedings before the coroner’s jury.

To that extent, it is a matter of public record and I am thus able to provide it to the members without apprehension that its release at this time would create any real or substantial danger of prejudice to the proceedings before the jury or the proceedings before the divisional court.

I must, however, invite the attention of every member to the provisions of item 7 of standing order 19(d) which provides: “In debate, a member shall be called to order by the Speaker if he: refers to any matter that is the subject of a proceeding, (i) that is pending in a court or before a judge for judicial determination, or (ii) that is before any quasi-judicial body constituted by the House or by or under the authority of an act of the Legislature, where it is shown to the satisfaction of the Speaker that further reference would create a real and substantial danger of prejudice to the proceeding.”

As a member of this Legislature and as chief law officer of the crown, I am concerned about the position of the coroner’s jury. Every member of the jury has taken an oath to “diligently inquire into the death ... and determine on the evidence presented at this inquest his identity, how, when, where and by what means the deceased came to his death, and, without partiality or bias towards any person, render a true verdict in accordance with such evidence.”

While the future of the inquest and the work of the coroner’s jury will depend on the outcome of proceedings now pending in the divisional court, I would emphasize that six citizens of Ontario have taken the oath to which I have just referred and have listened to more than 40 days of evidence since that time. Each one of them has made a real personal sacrifice by answering the call to serve as a juror.

As members of the Legislature, each of us has a public duty to ensure that nothing we say in this House or outside it will prejudice the proceedings. Each of us has a responsibility to ensure that nothing we say might put upon the jurors the unfair burden of having to sort out the evidence they have heard under oath from anything they might read in the press as a result of comment or debate or questions attributed to members of this House.

For that reason I intend to refrain from any comment, argument or characterization of the evidence and the issues to be decided by the jury and the divisional court. I would urge each of the members to do the same and to exercise restraint in making any comment inside or outside this House on the material I have tabled. Each of us owes at least this much to the jurors and to the families of the deceased.

In conclusion, I want to advise the members in regard to the liability of the Ministry of Natural Resources in civil actions that may arise from this incident. It is not and never has been the intention of the ministry to challenge liability.

Hon. Mr. Auld: Mr. Speaker, I am tabling the report prepared by the internal board of review which I established on August 27 to investigate prescribed burn number three at Geraldton, which occurred on August 22, the tragic incident in which seven young people lost their lives.

Making public the report at this time is a change from my earlier decision to withhold it until the coroner’s inquest had been completed, so as not to influence the inquest jury unduly. Also, the solicitors for two of the families involved in the tragedy had formally requested that the report’s recommendations not be read into the inquest records, and until today, I had intended to comply.

During the current postponement of the inquest, the withholding of the report has been used by certain elements of the press to unfairly impugn the integrity of the ministry and its staff, through totally unjustified implications that a coverup is being managed in this matter. In addition, the current discussion has brought the credibility of the inquest itself into question.

As the Solicitor General has released his documents, I am tabling the report to clarify the situation and to lay the unjustified innuendoes to rest. Members will find the report is thorough and objective -- the very opposite of protectionist or a coverup.

2:20 p.m.

Even though I had not made this internal review board report public, it has never been kept from the key personnel conducting the inquest. The report was given to the counsel for the coroner and the coroner himself in the middle of October. On October 17, the coroner’s counsel met with the members of the board to discuss it. Subsequently, other appropriate materials, such as photographs and maps, were made available to the coroner’s counsel. Also during the inquest, members of the internal board of review appeared as witnesses, and their testimony reflected much of the findings in the report.

The one point that was always kept in mind, however, was that the 21 recommendations were not revealed. All sides wanted the jurors to come to their own conclusions, based solely on the testimony given in that inquest. I would like to inform honourable members, too, that copies of the report are being delivered at this time to the families of the victims in Geraldton and in the Metropolitan Toronto area.

Now that the report is in the honourable members’ hands and in the hands of the members of the press gallery, I would like to reiterate the fundamental point made by my colleague, the Solicitor General, that any discussion we have in this House over the contents of this report be thoughtful and circumspect. We must be fair to the inquest jury, to the families and to the processes of our judicial system.

I feel a sense of outrage at the unfounded attacks being made on my ministry in this matter. We have an excellent record. Last summer’s terrible event was the first time we had suffered any staff deaths in fire work since 1938, or in more than 40 years, despite the considerable fire-control and prescribed-burn activities we carry on each season.

In this particular situation we took immediate and responsible steps to uncover the reasons for the tragedy, as well as to give whatever comfort we could to the families of the victims. That afternoon of Wednesday, August 22, I was advised of the tragedy and immediately asked the chief coroner to investigate, as well as to direct my staff to do everything possible to assist the families.

Dr. Cotnam and his party flew to Geraldton the following day and with the full cooperation of my senior staff investigated the site of the incident and announced that an inquest would be held into the deaths. In those first days, too, the assistant deputy minister for the north and the assistant deputy minister for the south visited the families in the Geraldton and Metro Toronto areas to extend their sympathy and to advise them of all the arrangements that were being made.

Meanwhile, I directed my staff to form a board of review to conduct a thorough investigation of the incident. The board was to be made up of ministry fire-experienced staff not based in the region where the incident occurred, plus outside experts on such matters as fire behaviour. I announced the members of that board the following Tuesday, with the eight people already in Geraldton to begin their work.

After interviewing every conceivable participant in the prescribed burn, as well as other witnesses, the board of review handed in its report to me on October 12. As I have mentioned, the report was first given to the coroner’s counsel at the first opportunity, which was less than a week later.

Among the many invalid implications being cast recently has been one which suggests that my ministry and the Ontario Provincial Police have collaborated in their investigations. I, too, would like to deal with that one briefly. Nothing could be further from the truth or the procedure. As the Solicitor General has just indicated, the first time my staff and the ministry solicitor saw the crown brief, which is the extensive report prepared by the OPP, was only after the inquest began, when it was tabled at the inquest in Geraldton.

Finally, I’m also tabling one copy for the record of my ministry’s new prescribed burning manual. As I mentioned in my statement to this House on March 14, this manual has been prepared for use by all field staff this season, is being distributed to ministry offices across the province and is to be consulted before any plans for prescribed burns are approved.


Hon. Mr. Elgie: Mr. Speaker, on June 1, 1980, Mr. Michael Starr will step down as chairman of the Workmen’s Compensation Board, a post in which he has served for nearly seven years.


Hon. Mr. Elgie: I might say that applause is not warranted.

Mr. W. Newman: It really shows the ignorance of the opposition members.

Hon. Mr. Elgie: Mr. Starr is one of Canada’s best-known public figures. He has served his province and his country with distinction.


Hon. Mr. Elgie: He was mayor of the city of Oshawa, a member of Parliament of Canada for some 15 years, including six as Minister of Labour, and president of the Federal Citizenship Court in Toronto. These were among the important posts he held before assuming the chairmanship of the Workmen’s Compensation Board.

During an era when public service has been increasingly demanding and the challenge of meeting the board’s high objectives more difficult, Mike Starr has never backed away from the heavy responsibilities that were thrust upon him. Nor during his many years of service has he lost his youthful vigour, his sense of dedication and loyalty, or his desire to serve Canada and Canadians.

Now, as he approaches his 70th birthday, Mr. Starr will retire from the chairman’s post although, I am pleased to say, he will continue to serve the board in an advisory capacity until the end of the year. Beyond that point Mike Starr feels he has a good many years left to serve his province and country, and we intend to take full advantage of that.

I am pleased to be able to announce on this occasion that Mr. Starr will be succeeded on June 1 by another distinguished Canadian, Mr. Lincoln Alexander, currently the federal member of Parliament for Hamilton West. Linc, as he is known to his many friends and colleagues, is a lawyer by profession and has been a member of the federal House since 1968. During the administration of Prime Minister Clark, he served as Minister of Labour. Prior to that appointment, he had been a labour critic in the House of Commons.

Mr. Alexander brings outstanding credentials in terms of both professional training and experience to his new assignment. More important, he brings a reputation as a tireless community worker, dedicated servant of the people and a sincere humanitarian, to a post where all these characteristics will be needed in abundance.

I am sure all members of this House join me in expressing our gratitude to Michael Starr for his many years of service, and in extending our best wishes to Lincoln Alexander as he prepares to take up his new and demanding post.

Mr. S. Smith: Mr. Speaker, I know it is out of order, but if I might just take a moment, to say that we appreciate the public service which the Honourable Michael Starr has given to Canada and to Ontario. We wish him well in whatever he undertakes. I want to wish my fellow riding representative from Hamilton West and my good friend, Mr. Alexander, every good wish as he takes on this important job. It is nice to know I will have a neighbour with whom to discuss some of the problems which might arise from time to time. I wish him well in this new post as, I am sure, does every member of the House.


Hon. Mr. Elgie: Mr. Speaker, in recent days there has been considerable discussion in this House and in the media concerning potential harmful health effects of exposure to asbestos used in building construction. With your permission, I should like to take a few moments to describe the government’s position on this important issue and to outline the activities that we have taken to respond to the concerns that have been expressed.

Mr. Cassidy: On a point of order: we may have received the statement, but there have been many statements today and I do not believe that this important statement by the minister has been distributed to the opposition parties. Perhaps we could have one before it is read.

2:30 p.m.

Hon. Mr. Elgie: Dealing first of all with possible health effects, it is generally agreed that there is no valid scientific basis for setting specific levels of exposure to asbestos fibres above which there is a proven health hazard to the public at large. On the other hand, many jurisdictions, including Ontario, have recognized that in the occupational setting the risk of contracting asbestosis can be reduced or minimized by limiting or controlling exposure. Accordingly, Ontario adopted the threshold limit value of two fibres per cubic centimetre as a guideline for workplace exposure in 1972 and continues to apply it under the provisions of the Occupational Health and Safety Act.

In the non-occupational environment it is not possible to be definitive or conclusive about maximum acceptable exposure levels. I am not aware, however, of any documented instances of asbestosis resulting from environmental exposure and, while it has been suggested by some that lung cancer may result from exposure to asbestos in the general environment, there is no incontrovertible evidence to demonstrate that causal relationship. There is a concern, though, that asbestos exposure, even at very low levels, can cause mesothelioma, a rare cancer of the lungs and peritoneal cavity.

It is obviously important for us to continue to assess the nature and extent of the alleged risks and take whatever reasonable, preventive or precautionary action may be justified. I shall turn in a moment to the steps we are taking to ensure that our knowledge of the situation is as complete and current as possible. Before doing so, I wish to say something about asbestos as a building material.

The most extensive use of asbestos in the construction of buildings in Ontario took place between the late 1950s and the early 1970s. The material used included asbestos cement, asphalt, pipes, insulation for thermal and acoustic purposes, fireproofing and asbestos used in decoration. Asbestos which is bonded in cement or asphalt is not considered to present any problem except possibly during demolition or destruction. Special precautions are required at demolition sites to protect the workers involved.

Greater concern, however, has been voiced about asbestos used in spray fireproofing and for decorative purposes. During the period I have mentioned, spray materials containing varying concentrations of asbestos were used to fireproof girders, spandrels and decking of buildings constructed of structural steel. In Ontario only a small number of companies were involved in this work, and we are aware of their identity and are able from available records to determine buildings in which these fireproofing and decorative techniques were used. The use of sprayed asbestos materials virtually ceased in Ontario in the early 1970s.

As was noted earlier this week, the Ontario Building Code does contain provisions which call for the installation of asbestos-coated fireproof materials in certain designated buildings. These provisions are under study, and my colleague the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations (Mr. Drea) will be advising the House as to the intended course of action.

In other areas, recognizing the need to be vigilant and to err on the side of caution, we have taken the following actions, aspects of which already have been mentioned by me or my colleagues on previous occasions.

Due to the possibility that children may be more susceptible to asbestos hazards than adults, our first priority, as with other countries, has been concerned with educational institutions. Last fall the occupational health and safety division of my ministry prepared for the Ministry of Education a guide for inspecting school buildings for asbestos. For the information of members I am tabling a copy of this guide, which describes acceptable methods for inspecting to detect the presence of asbestos, the manner in which samples should be collected, procedures for analysis and certain remedial options to control the release of asbestos, including techniques for encapsulation, enclosure and removal.

My colleague the Minister of Education (Miss Stephenson) has already advised the House that this guide or manual has been sent to every local school board and to all universities and community colleges throughout the province. Recipients have been advised that all samples of suspect material should be sent to my ministry’s occupational health laboratory for analysis. The laboratory now is engaged in processing samples and transmitting the results to the responsible authorities. This program by the Ministry of Education will be continued with the appropriate follow-up procedures to ensure that the survey is complete and that the appropriate remedial action is taken.

In addition, as was announced last Friday by the Ministry of the Environment, a working group on air quality in the Toronto Transit Commission subway has issued its final report. The working group consisted of representatives from my ministry, the Ministry of the Environment and the Toronto Transit Commission. It was formed in August 1976 to direct studies of air quality in the subway system, to evaluate the results in terms of their possible health effects on passengers and subway employees, and to recommend any necessary abatement measures. The working group found the current subway air quality --

Mr. Speaker: Order. I must draw to the attention of the Minister of Labour that the time allotment for ministerial statements on days when we have private members’ public business shall not exceed 30 minutes without the consent of the majority of the members of the House. Do we have that consent?


Hon. Mr. Elgie: The working group found the current subway air quality acceptable for both occupational and environmental health with particular reference to asbestos, lead and airborne particulate.

To guard against future problems and to further enhance the air quality in the subway, a supervised abatement program was begun last year and a continuing monitoring program, as recommended by the working group, is being undertaken involving the ministries of Labour and the Environment as well as the TTC.

The first report of this continuing program of monitoring was issued by the Ministry of the Environment earlier this week, and it showed significant improvements in the original readings obtained by the working group which, as I have said, were found to be acceptable in terms of both environmental and occupational health.

Third, as I mentioned to the House last week, I have caused instructions to be given to the inspectors of the occupational health and safety division of my ministry to check specifically for the presence of sprayed or exposed asbestos materials in workplaces during any routine inspections. In this way, as we go through the normal cycle of inspections we should be able to identify the major sites and, where necessary, issue any appropriate remedial orders.

Fourth, as members are aware, my ministry is engaged in the development of an asbestos occupational exposure standard, to be published as a regulation under the provisions of the Occupational Health and Safety Act, 1978. A draft of this regulation was first published and circulated for public discussion and comment in June 1978.

The draft proposed an exposure limit of two fibres per cubic centimetre and emphasized the need for employers to control exposure levels through engineering controls, administrative practices and personal protective equipment. In response to the draft, the ministry received some 23 sets of comments from industry, labour and the academic community. From these responses, it is apparent that there is considerable disagreement concerning the desirable exposure limit. The various briefs have raised a number of difficult questions in relation to both the appropriateness of the standard and mechanisms for enforcing it.

All of the briefs have been carefully analysed by my staff, and they have been involved in an in-depth study of the strategies adopted or under development in other jurisdictions to control asbestos in the occupational setting. I should say that the proposed standard of two fibres per cubic centimetre is comparable to the standards established in most other jurisdictions which have addressed the question. However, no final decisions have been taken, and my objective is to ensure that the Ontario standards will reflect the most up-to-date and reliable scientific knowledge available.

Any proposed standard is, as a matter of practice, referred to the advisory council on occupational health and safety for comment on the process followed by the ministry in setting that standard. In one situation in the past involving exposure to noise levels, the advisory council was asked to establish a special task force to provide external advice on the issue. While no final decision has been made, this may well be a procedure we will wish to consider in the case of asbestos.

2:40 p.m.

Finally, in the broader context, my ministry has taken the lead in putting together an interministerial working group comprising representatives from the ministries of the Environment, Consumer and Commercial Relations, Education, Health, and Labour. Members of this group have assembled all available background material and information and are analysing it in the light of our knowledge of the Ontario situation.

I have already received and studied one interim report, a copy of which I am tabling today. That committee is working on further aspects of that initial document with a view to developing proposals for consideration by the participating ministries. In the meantime, the other programs that I have described in the educational institutions, in the Toronto Transit Commission subway system and in other field inspections will continue.

I shall certainly keep members apprised of present pertinent findings as they are reported to me. In this way, I believe we can all be assured that every reasonable step will continue to be taken to protect the health and safety of the public.

It is clear to me that our work in this vital area must be intensified and accelerated. To this end, I am considering certain alternative modes of procedure aimed at ensuring (1) that there is ample opportunity for proper public input and (2) that we have the benefit of the best medical, scientific and other expert advice, both within the government and from the community at large.

I expect to be in a position to make a further announcement in this connection early next week.


Hon. Miss Stephenson: Mr. Speaker, certain questions were raised in the House this week with regard to the use of asbestos-covered fire-stop flaps in schools. My colleague the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations (Mr. Drea) will reply next week to the questions he has taken on notice about the use of asbestos on these flaps as required by the Ontario Building Code. However, I would like to assure the members that the matter is already being addressed and steps are taken.

Arrangements now have been made for the testing of fire-stop flaps, and a full report will be made when those tests have been completed. In the interim, in any renovations or installations where fire-stop flaps are to be used, the flap will be sealed with a material acceptable to the Ontario fire marshal. We are also attempting to locate all installations where asbestos-covered fire-stop flaps have been used, and I have been advised by my staff that a substantial number of those installations have already been treated.



Mr. S. Smith: Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask a question of the Minister of Labour regarding asbestos. I want specifically to ask him about the fact that people living near asbestos mills, who may have no direct exposure, might still come down with mesothelioma, apparently as a consequence of exposure to asbestos.

Does the minister recall our exchange in the House in November 1978 when I asked for him to do epidemiological studies for those who have lived in the neighbourhood of the Johns-Manville plant and other asbestos plants? He said there was a study being done which would serve “as a feasibility study regarding the possibility of a larger epidemiological study.” I have just quoted the minister.

Is the minister aware that the results of the study, although it has been completed, have not been released and, further, that the study had nothing whatsoever to do with neighbourhood incidence of disease but was concerned strictly with occupational health standards? If so, when will he respond to the concern regarding those who live in the neighbourhoods?

Hon. Mr. Elgie: As the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. S. Smith) and I have talked about before on occasion, Mr. Speaker, epidemiology, with regard to public health, really doesn’t fall within the domain of occupational health and safety. I did refer him to a study carried out by Dr. Fitzgerald, who is the medical officer of health in Scarborough, in which he surveyed all relatives of people working in the asbestos plant in that area and found no problems associated with asbestos. That may be what he and I were talking about at the time. As a matter of fact, I spoke to Dr. Fitzgerald about that some time later.

It’s an appropriate time to do a follow-up on that study because, as the honourable member well knows, there have not been a great number of epidemiological studies with regard to the public health aspects of asbestos. He and I also know there have been some autopsy studies carried out and, although those autopsy studies have revealed that asbestos is present, to my knowledge there has been no noticed pathology reported to date from those studies.

Mr. S. Smith: Given that people who have been living near the plant have complained for decades of a sort of white powder over the neighbourhood, does the minister not feel that while perhaps it is not his department, either he or a cabinet colleague should undertake a proper epidemiological study of those people who can be tracked down who lived in that neighbourhood some 10 or 20 years earlier to find out what has happened to these people and to see whether some of them may have died from illnesses or from malignancies that might be directly attributable to asbestos?

Doesn’t the minister think this is something that is overdue in Ontario? That sort of thing has been done in the United States before.

Hon. Mr. Elgie: As I mentioned, such a study was carried out at one time. It may be that it is time to reassess that study or consider some others. It is certainly something I am prepared to discuss with the Minister of Health (Mr. Timbrell). But I would like to re-emphasize, just so there is no confusion about it, that there have been some general autopsy studies done in New York and in other communities. I would like to reinforce the position I stated earlier, that although asbestos fibres have been found in the lungs of people on whom autopsies have been done, there is no reported incidence of pathology related to asbestos in those studies.

Mr. S. Smith: In London, England, there was.

Hon. Mr. Elgie: There had been on mesothelioma. In fact, in the city he came from, Montreal, a study was carried out which reviewed --

Mr. S. Smith: What about London, England?

Hon. Mr. Elgie: Let me just talk about Ontario and Canadian studies. I don’t know that particular study, but I do know of one here in Canada. There was a study in Montreal where someone reviewed all of the mesothelioma cases that could be located in Canada. I think there was something like 200 over a period of many years. In all of them, there had been an exposure to asbestos that was not the general environmental exposure to asbestos.

It may be that the honourable member has some information my staff doesn’t have, and I would be interested in having it, but that is the result of a pretty detailed study carried out in this country.

Mr. B. Newman: Mr. Speaker, the minister is aware that I raised with him the problem of the Bendix plant, the Argyle Road plant in the city of Windsor. I had asked at one time that studies be made concerning environmental health or the health of the people living in the area. Many people in that Bendix plant have lived there for, I would say, well over 20 years. That would be a perfect example of a plant that could be studied. The numbers aren’t large, but the studies could indicate whether living close to a plant that manufactured asbestos products has an environmental health hazard.

Hon. Mr. Elgie: Mr. Speaker, as I mentioned to the Leader of the Opposition, I will be glad to discuss that with my colleague, because I think we should all be willing to carry out any studies that will increase our knowledge about these matters. If the leader has any study that he thinks would be of assistance to me, I would sincerely like to have it.

Mr. S. Smith: I will address my next question to the Minister of the Environment (Mr. Parrott). but I just want to say parenthetically to the Minister of Labour that there is a study on that matter which I will bring to his attention.


Mr. S. Smith: Mr. Speaker, with regard to 2,4,5-T, I would like to ask the Minister of the Environment if he is aware that his Pesticides Advisory Committee, whose letter he has read out in the House from time to time -- in the last sitting of the House, in fact -- told him that 2,4,5-T was safe for spraying, having read only one side of the recent United States Environmental Protection Agency pre-trial hearing, the Dow Chemical side, and without having read the side put in by the EPA, a side which indicates there have been a number of recent studies, of which the people on the committee were apparently unaware, which indicate that it is a very serious health hazard?

If I might just quote the view of the agency from one summary, it says, “The quality, quantity and variety of data demonstrating that the continued use of 2,4,5-T in Silvex contaminated with TCDD presents risks to human health is unprecedented and overwhelming.” Why did the committee not read both sides of the story?

2:50 p.m.

Hon. Mr. Parrott: Mr. Speaker, in this instance I believe they have part of that and are asking for the balance of it. They were not public documents at that time. They have read two of them. I’m positive they wish to read all of them. They have asked for the other two that aren’t public, and that will be part of their long-term consideration and advice to me, I’m sure.

Mr. S. Smith: Is the minister not aware that we have received the bibliography used by that committee and that it includes very clearly a magazine article which states plainly that the EPA has put in its own pre-hearing risk brief? It summarizes that brief showing the fact that there are four new studies clearly indicating an increased risk of certain types of cancer, particularly in some Swedish workers. There is a British study and a Swedish study; and they obviously knew about them. They read the Dow Chemical side of that matter.

How is it that when we asked for this document we had no trouble getting it at all? Why did the minister’s own people not bother to read the other side of the story, especially given that they read the summary of it, which I have just quoted to the minister?

Hon. Mr. Parrott: To suggest that the committee only read one side is just not correct. Let me show some surprise that the Leader of the Opposition puts so much emphasis now on their position.

Last week, within a few days, the member for Niagara Falls (Mr. Kerrio) told us frequently that he does not accept the environmental protection agencies of the United States. He put them down. He said you can’t trust them; they don’t do their job. Then all of a sudden the Leader of the Opposition finds they are the greatest thing since sliced bread to be the protector. I wish the Leader of the Opposition would get his act together a little bit. The member for Niagara Falls says they’re not worthy of protecting the environment, and now the Leader of the Opposition is saying they’re the best example in the world. Get together on the facts.

Ms. Bryden: Mr. Speaker, is the minister aware that in Australia the Queensland government has ordered a new investigation into birth defects from the use of 2,4,5-T there?

Hon. Mr. Parrott: I’m not personally aware of that, Mr. Speaker, but let me say that I would be amazed. I believe the committee was aware of that. I have seen the list. I have given members the reference list, and it’s very extensive. It includes references from Australia and New Zealand. Both of those countries and their literature have been well reviewed by the committee.

Mr. S. Smith: Speaking of that part of the world, Mr. Speaker, and recalling the rather gratuitous red herring thrown out about how this government doesn’t think we should send things like 2,4,5-T to the Third World -- I think those were his words when I suggested it be incinerated at sea -- would the minister care to give us a comment regarding the fact that Ontario Hydro has been getting rid of its stocks of 2,4,5-T by an interesting method, including selling 3,500 gallons to Uniroyal for export to Bangkok, Thailand? Would the minister care to hazard a comment on that practice by the government of Ontario and its agencies?

Hon. Mr. Parrott: It’s a separate agency. But if we’re going to talk about getting our facts straight I suggest the Leader of the Opposition might get his facts straight about whether they are burning 2,4,5-T; they are not. The Leader of the Opposition now knows that. If his research had been adequate, he would know they are burning quite a different herbicide --

Mr. S. Smith: Because they have already proved that 2,4,5-T can be burned.

Hon. Mr. Parrott: That is not what the member said.


Mr. Speaker: Order. Order.

Hon. Mr. Parrott: What nonsense! Let me tell the Leader of the Opposition, he didn’t tell the members of this House -- and they should know -- that 2,4,5-T in the United States is sprayed on rice fields and all kinds of places. The United States is using 2,4,5-T. It is not being sent to the sea to be burnt. I wish the Leader of the Opposition would get those kinds of facts straight and on the record.

Ms. Gigantes: Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask the minister, now that the Ministry of Transportation and Communications has said it will be spraying rights of way this summer with 2,4,5-T, will he tell us which rights of way are going to be sprayed so that people won’t wander into them by mistake and expose themselves to risks the minister hasn’t reviewed at the level that the Australian and American governments obviously are concerned about?

Hon. Mr. Parrott: May I repeat, Mr. Speaker, the US government is permitting use of this material in all kinds of areas. As I said to members the other night, without a permit there will be no spraying. The member should have listened.


Mr. Speaker: Order. Order.

Hon. Ms. Parrott: When a permit is issued, a map is given to the director of the pesticides control branch; the exact locations are known. That is the way is has always been. Under strict licensing control, when a permit is issued everyone will know where that is used. It isn’t known until such time as an application is made and a permit issued. There could be a variety of places where it is used, but we will not know until the application is made and a permit issued.


Mr. Cassidy: Mr. Speaker, given the concern that is reflected in the statement by the Minister of Labour, we have several questions about asbestos exposure in the work place. The member for Hamilton East will be asking about Johns-Mansville, but I want to ask the minister about the situation at Certified Brake, formerly known as Royal Industries, a plant where gross violations of Ontario’s exposure standards for asbestos were reported as far back as June 1977.

Can the minister explain why on March 11, when the workers had stopped work for the fourth time in four months because of unsafe working conditions that involved asbestos dust at that plant, the ministry inspectors failed to follow the provisions of the Occupational Health and Safety Act?

Hon. Mr. Elgie: Mr. Speaker, I am aware that Mr. Paul Falkowski of the steelworkers’ union has written me a rather long and detailed letter inquiring into the very matters the member has raised. Without trying in any sense to evade it, I have to say I don’t have that information yet, but I will be glad to table it in the House next week.

The member indicated there has been some failure of inspectors to respond. We are preparing the response to that right now. I don’t have the information available immediately.

Mr. Cassidy: In view of the fact that the problems of that plant began back in 1977 and that they persisted after the workers were moved to a new plant between June and December of last year, would the minister not agree that when the inspectors failed to investigate the work place, where the workers were exercising the right to refuse, in the presence of the workers and of the workers’ representative, that was a violation of the act? Would the minister not agree also that it was a violation of the act for the inspectors to depart after only 10 minutes when close to 100 workers were exercising their right to refuse? Would the minister not agree that it was also a violation of the act for the inspectors to say, “We wash our hands of this; it’s a matter between management and labour”?

Hon. Mr. Elgie: I am not trying to evade anything -- to defend or to say there was a wrong action on anybody’s part. As soon as I have that information, I’ll be prepared to condemn anybody if there has been a mistake made, and I’ll be glad to give the member that information as soon as I have it.

Mr. Cassidy: Does the minister agree with the statement by his inspector Mr. Dyson, at the plant that afternoon, and I quote: “If you work with fish, you smell like fish, and if you work with asbestos, you smell like asbestos. There is no difference”? Does the minister agree with that statement? Or does he not agree that, when his inspectors make statements like that, it’s a sign of a failure of the Minister of Labour and his ministry to enforce the provisions of Bill 70 which were designed to ensure the health and safety of workers in the work place?

3 p.m.

Hon. Mr. Elgie: Let there be no misunderstanding. If that’s an accurate quotation of what somebody said, he’s got a problem. But I’m not trying to evade it. There’s no evasion involved in this. I’m honestly trying to gather together a detailed response to a lengthy letter, of which the member has a copy. When all that data has been gathered -- and I’m told as recently as today it will be available next week -- I’ll be glad to table it or give it to the member, whichever he wishes.


Mr. Cassidy: Mr. Speaker, I have a new question, also related to asbestos, for the Minister of Education.

In view of the minister’s statement on Monday that it was in 1968 or 1969 that her architectural officials told school boards of the dangers of asbestos in school construction and advised against its use; in view of her statement on Monday that this advice was reiterated repeatedly by the architectural staff in discussion with school board officials since 1969, can she explain how it is that over five of those years her architectural staff were approving ventilation systems that contained fire-stop flaps or dampers which were covered in asbestos because of the provisions of the Ontario Building Code in 1975?

Hon. Miss Stephenson: Mr. Speaker, I’m sure that the architects in the school building branch felt bound to comply with the requirements of the building code at that time, and I think they were unaware that there was any potential hazard from the asbestos used in that way in those fire flaps.

Mr. Cassidy: Can the minister explain why this matter was not brought to her attention, or the attention of any senior minister, until I raised it in the Legislature this week? Her statement on Monday made it abundantly clear that, over that period of time, asbestos was not to be used in the schools. Why was that failure a reality? Why did nobody anywhere in the ministry exercise control?

Why, if the minister was so concerned, did nobody see the hazards posed by putting asbestos-covered flaps in the ventilation system, where loose particles could be taken out into every part of the schools and kids exposed?

Hon. Miss Stephenson: The ministry began its inspection of this area in addition to other areas. The air plenum was certainly one of the areas about which we had specific concern --

Mr. Warner: When?

Hon. Miss Stephenson: I guess it began in June 1979 as a result of correspondence and investigations related to the school in Hamilton.

The leader of the third party also suggested the other day that not all school boards had received copies of the document which provided instruction for inspection, and for the sealing, closing off, or elimination of the hazard. We have contacted the two boards which he mentioned specifically and both of those boards received that documentation.

Mr. Cassidy: If I may redirect a supplementary to the Premier, Mr. Speaker: Given that for five years the Ministry of Education was apparently telling school boards on the one hand, not to use asbestos, and on the other, approving the use of asbestos where the air ventilation systems could carry fibres into every classroom and expose every child; given that the Minister of Education has proven incapable of coming to grips with this problem, will the Premier not agree that it is time to remove the minister and put someone in her place who can do the job of protecting our children from asbestos in the schools?

Hon. Mr. Davis: Mr. Speaker, in that I’ve had more children in the schools than the leader of the New Democratic Party -- probably he’ll never have as many as I’ve had in the school system -- I have total confidence in the Minister of Education, not only to protect my children, but also to look after their educational needs as well.

I have no intention of making any alterations.


Mr. Stong: Mr. Speaker, I have a question of the Solicitor General arising out of the documentation he provided the House this afternoon on the Nakina fire.

In view of the statutory obligation on the fire marshal to investigate the cause, origin and circumstances of any fire reported to him and, so far as it is possible, to determine whether it was the result of carelessness or design, in my opinion the fire investigation report by one Mr. Taylor, which report the minister provided to the House this afternoon, does not address itself to any conclusion or suggestion of carelessness or design but, in fact, contains three fatal errors.

First, Mr. Taylor admits that the original report may have been somewhat in error. Second, he admits that the basis of his report was a statement issued by the Ministry of Natural Resources the day after the fire. Third, he admits that he was at the scene for only two days and, at the time of the preparation of this report, he did not feel he could give an honest report on the fire until the inquest was terminated when all of the facts were known and made available to him.

In the light of the documentation the minister provided to the House today, is he still satisfied that his fire marshal conducted a proper investigation in accordance with the statutory provisions?

Hon. Mr. McMurtry: Yes, Mr. Speaker. As the honourable member has pointed out, Mr. Taylor said that as far as his responsibilities were concerned he felt, for his purposes, there might be some additional report. What the member has to understand is that the chief responsibility in this matter belongs to the coroner’s office and the Ontario Provincial Police in conducting the investigation for the purposes of the inquest. The role the fire marshal’s office could play, from a practical standpoint, is rather limited and not nearly as important as the roles of the coroner and the OPP in conducting a full investigation for the inquest.

First of all, as the Minister of Natural Resources (Mr. Auld) pointed out, this terrible tragedy was the first death by fire in 42 years in Ontario and the fire marshal’s office, quite frankly, is not the best agency to deal with a fire of this kind. As the member well knows, the fire marshal’s office is generally involved in investigations where there is some suggestion of arson, or in matters unrelated to forest fires.

In a matter of this kind the role of the fire marshal’s office, given the nature of its duties, is a limited one. The chief responsibility lies with the coroner’s office and the Ontario Provincial Police, quite apart from the responsibility of the ministry that has the greatest expertise when it comes to matters of forest fires. To suggest that in these circumstances the fire marshal’s office had a major role to play is to distort the picture.

Mr. Stong: I take it from the minister’s answer that he may or may not agree that, although the statutory provisions are very clear that he must investigate the cause, his fire marshal is ill equipped to cause an investigation into fires when the statutory provision requires it?

Hon. Mr. McMurtry: That is a total misinterpretation and misstatement. We’re talking about forest fires. When it comes to a forest fire, I agree that the fire marshal’s office is not going to --


Hon. Mr. McMurtry: Agencies of the government do apply a great deal of pressure. We can’t have several investigations overlapping. Obviously certain agencies of the government have greater expertise in certain areas, and a certain amount of common sense is obviously important in any of these matters.

Mr. Renwick: Mr. Speaker, I’m concerned with the response of the Solicitor General. The statutory responsibilities of the various offices are not dependent one upon another. I ask the Solicitor General, would it not have been important for the fire marshal to have conducted and completed a full report with respect to his investigation so that the coroner and the coroner’s jury would have available to them as part of the evidence, the report of the fire marshal in making their assessment, rather than for the fire marshal to stand back and say, “When the inquest is all over, I will complete my report”?

3:10 p.m.

Hon. Mr. McMurtry: Mr. Speaker, I simply reiterate what I said earlier: The conduct of the fire marshal’s office, in my view certainly, met the standards of performance that is required of the fire marshal according to statute. The role carried out by the fire marshal in this office, I think was entirely appropriate.


Mr. M. Davidson: I have a question for the Minister of Labour, Mr. Speaker. Is the minister aware of the report which his occupational health branch has brought down regarding Harbord Collegiate Institute, dated March 31, 1980, which shows that the air sample levels taken indicate there are two fibres per cubic centimetre in the cafeteria at Harbord Collegiate and two fibres per cubic centimetre in the caretakers’ lunchroom at Harbord Collegiate?

Given that the ambient air standard environmental exposure level is 0.04 fibres per cubic centimetre, which means exposure to persons within the cafeteria and the caretakers’ lunchroom is five times greater than the ambient air level standard for environment exposure, can he tell us what his ministry intends to do?

Hon. Mr. Elgie: Mr. Speaker, I haven’t got the exact dates of visits to Harbord Collegiate Institute in my memory, but I can tell the honourable member there were two occasions. First, there was the occasion when there was construction going on -- the drilling of the materials that contained asbestos. On that occasion inspectors did go to Harbord Collegiate, did issue a stop order and did take air samples. When they were satisfied that the situation had cleared, work resumed with the workers, on those occasions, wearing respirators.

I also know that at the beginning of this week inspectors went to Harbord Collegiate, again at the request of the employees’ union. I am surprised at the figures the member reports, because it was only yesterday I reviewed them myself. Of the 12 samples taken, 10 were below detection by the microscopic technique, and two were well below one fibre per cubic centimetre. If the member is suggesting his figures were not those given to me yesterday, I would like to have them. Those were the 12 results I was given yesterday on the most recent sampling done at Harbord Collegiate, 10 of which were below the detectable limit of the microscope and two of which were levels that were well below one fibre per cubic centimetre -- and I mean well below.

As a matter of fact, the union phoned and asked if they could have a copy of the report. I instructed my inspector to say that, if the employer had not given them a report by yesterday sometime, we would be glad to give them a report. This was shared information available to everybody.

Mr. M. Davidson: This is a report from the ministry. It is dated March 31, 1980, and it shows quite clearly that with the fan off, for the cafeteria, students-only central area, there are 0.2 total fibres greater than five micro-metres in length per cubic centimetre; and the same applies to the caretakers’ lunchroom area in the school.

Hon. Mr. Elgie: Did you say 0.2?

Mr. M. Davidson: Yes. I apologize for the figures I gave earlier, but it is still far above the standard, and I am sure the minister is aware of that.

Can the minister explain why it would be, given that this report was handed down on March 31, that on April 1, 1980, the occupational health branch issued a report, which says: “Recommendations are made. No order is suggested to be issued”? Is the minister going to allow that? Is he going to allow these standards to continue to exist in that school without making sure that anything is being done about it?

Hon. Mr. Elgie: I thought I made it very clear that the investigation on March 31, while the school was closed, was carried out, I think quite properly, at the request of the workers there, and the levels found were incredibly low. As a matter of fact, the 0.2 level the member referred to was one of only two out of 12 that showed anything.

Mr. R. F. Johnston: Two is too many in a students’ cafeteria.

Hon. Mr. Elgie: What I am saying is on the basis of that report the inspector obviously said the occupational standard was not at issue here. Naturally there will be plans to review it again, but if the member is saying the environmental standard is exceeded I don’t want to get into a discussion about whether there is an environmental standard, because I say quite honestly, I have reviewed some of the standards throughout the world and I know of no other province, state or country that has an environmental standard, because, frankly, they don’t know what it should be.

I don’t claim to have a full understanding of the issue or to be a genius about it. All I can say is, from an occupational standard the levels reported from that sampling, in which only two of 12 showed anything, were well below anything that would be of any occupational concern.


Mr. T. P. Reid: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Minister of Health in regard to prosthetic, orthotic and assistive devices for the physically handicapped.

Will the minister table the internal report of his ministry in regard to assistance for the physically handicapped in this regard, a report that was supposedly being completed in 1978? Since our sister provinces of Quebec and Manitoba provide these devices under their medicare and health insurance systems, will he now give these people what they deserve and are entitled to, which is assistance for these devices under the Ontario Health Insurance Plan without making them go out and beg, borrow, steal or be dependent on welfare for these devices?

Hon. Mr. Timbrell: I am just as interested in the matter of prosthetics and orthotics as the honourable member but, with respect, I think he paints quite a different picture from reality when he uses that kind of language.

Mr. T. P. Reid: Where do they get them?

Hon. Mr. Timbrell: Mr. Speaker, the member and I have corresponded on this a number of times and he is well aware, from the Ontario Society for Crippled Children or through various organizations.


Mr. Speaker: Order.

Hon. Mr. Timbrell: When the member talks about our sister provinces, maybe he wants to talk about benefits provided in Ontario that aren’t provided in certain other provinces, for instance, chiropractic, which is a subject he supports as well.

Mr. T. P. Reid: This is a lot more important than chiropractic.

Hon. Mr. Timbrell: That depends on your point of view, to the individual who needs it.

Mr. T. P. Reid: You mean if someone doesn’t have an arm or a leg?

Mr. Speaker: Order.

Hon. Mr. Timbrell: Mr. Speaker, as the honourable member knows -- I have indicated this to him before in correspondence, as I believe my colleague the Provincial Secretary for Social Development (Mrs. Birch) has too -- an interministerial committee is looking at the question of the provision of assistive devices.

Mr. T. P. Reid: Since 1976.

Hon. Mr. Timbrell: I would hope in the not too distant future that interministerial review will be completed and we can release a statement on that.

Mr. T. P. Reid: I might point out that review has been going on for almost four years.

Before the Premier goes, could I redirect a supplementary to him?

Hon. Mr. Davis: Certainly.

Mr. T. P. Reid: Is the Premier aware that Mr. McKeough, the former Treasurer, on May 24, 1978, wrote the Ontario Advisory Council for the Physically Handicapped and said, “I am confident that somewhere in our $14-billion programs we can find a low-priority $2-million item which can be cut out to provide the necessary funding for coverage of assistive devices.”

With Easter coming up, will the Premier at least not be as miserly as the Minister of Health and say that these people are going to be entitled to be covered under OHIP for devices that are absolutely necessary for them to live in the community and function?

Mr. Cunningham: Use some of the money the Treasurer didn’t give away.

Mr. Speaker: Order.

Hon. Mr. Davis: Mr. Speaker, I don’t know who is asking the question over there, whether it is the member for Rainy River or --

Mr. Speaker: It is not the member for Wentworth North (Mr. Cunningham), I can tell you that.

Hon. Mr. Davis: I know on so many questions he likes to feel he is asking everything over there.

I think the supplementary was directed to me: Did I know that Mr. McKeough had made a certain statement? The answer to that is yes.

With respect to what I guess was a second supplementary question, this government has always been sympathetic to those people with needs and concerns, and we have always demonstrated our capacity to deal with them.

3:20 p.m.

Mr. Breaugh: Mr. Speaker, if I recall correctly, in the fall when I asked him about this matter, the minister said that committee had just been appointed. It had taken something like three or four years to get it together. In the interim, could the minister take it upon himself to decide who has the authority to set up a procedure whereby if a physician recommends that these devices are necessary -- either repair or provision of new devices -- that will be covered under OHIP until this committee takes another three or four years to make its recommendations to him?

Hon. Mr. Timbrell: Mr. Speaker, first, it was not a matter of three or four years to begin to address. Second, it is not a matter that is going to take another three or four years to address. Third, through a variety of mechanisms external to government, the prosthetic and orthotic devices are being made available. It is a matter that at some point in the future I would like to see us get into.

I want to point out to the member for Rainy River that it was his party two years ago that demanded my budget be slashed by $50 million; now it tries to be all things to all people.


Mr. Mackenzie: Mr. Speaker, I have a question of the Minister of Labour. Would the minister bring this House up to date on the commitment of the former Minister of Labour regarding asbestos exposure -- quoting from our letter of December 13, 1979 -- to develop appropriate controls, to update existing data and to develop an asbestos register on current and former workers? What is the status of the register? Has the union movement been involved and what information has been collected by this asbestos register?

Hon. Mr. Elgie: Mr. Speaker, as I reported some time last year to the House, that nominal roll was in the process of being prepared. I don’t know the exact status of it but I will be glad to get that information and forward it to the member.

Mr. Mackenzie: That commitment was made in 1977. Could I ask the minister also to check why the union most involved at Canadian Johns-Manville has not been asked for the information it would have to pass on to such a register or for a list of the workers involved? Does the register really mean anything?

Hon. Mr. Elgie: If that happened, then I certainly will find out why it did because the union should have been consulted. I hope the register does mean something.


Mr. Gaunt: Mr. Speaker, I have a question of the Minister of the Environment. With respect to the meeting the minister and the Premier (Mr. Davis) had this morning with the concerned citizens of Ajax in relation to the possibility of funding to assist them in the hearing before the Environmental Assessment Board, why doesn’t the minister, based on his sense of fairness, agree to provide the money for this purpose?

Hon. Mr. Parrott: During that meeting this morning, and I feel it was a good meeting, Mr. Speaker, we made it very clear to the people there representing the citizens of Ajax, that, if they would state their case to the board and they wanted expert witnesses, it has been the policy of the board -- and I would be surprised if the board changed that policy -- to fund the cost of expert witnesses. That precedent is well established, in Elliot Lake and other places. I think the committee went away with a new understanding of what they could do to get some expertise from their perspective before that hearing. To a marked degree they were satisfied with that response. I hope they were, because I think it’s valid to have both sides of the argument placed before the hearing board.

Mr. Gaunt: Would the minister consider funding for the purposes of hiring legal counsel at such a hearing?

Hon. Mr. Parrott: I know the legal profession needs a great deal of help at this time but the answer is no.

Ms. Bryden: Supplementary, Mr. Speaker: I would like to ask the minister, since he talked about precedent, why the precedent of the Hartt royal commission and the Porter royal commission cannot be followed in the case of environmental hearings, where the citizens’ groups were provided with funding, not just for expert witnesses, but also for research, as well as other costs of appearing at the hearings?

Hon. Mr. Parrott: In this instance, Mr. Speaker, there have been and there will be many hearings. I think all of the costs for research should be borne by the proponents. The board would have every reason to believe that a complete disclosure of the facts would be part of the hearing process. It’s when the board is persuaded that all the facts have not been presented that other witnesses can and should be funded. That has been its position in the past, and I think it will continue.

As an adjunct to the previous question, I might say that the municipality has a solicitor who could very well serve as the solicitor for those who are asking, desiring and deserving of both sides being put forward. So there is that continuity in the legal spokesman, for those who might not agree with the process.


Mr. Ziemba: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Minister of Education. Since it’s obvious there has been a government coverup on the asbestos issue until last week’s body count, and since we have been stalled and the public has been lied to, could the minister tell us whether the 90 days, which supposedly will be required to get confirmation on whether asbestos is present in samples of materials taken from Toronto schools, have any scientific justification? Could the minister inform us whether the tests really take that long or whether that’s just a convenient period of time, calculated to stall concerned parents and the public until the end of the school year, after which the ministry will have all summer to try to cook up a new story?

Hon. Miss Stephenson: Mr. Speaker, I would have to suggest that the honourable member is the greatest fiction writer in this House. There has been no coverup. I have provided all the information that has been made available to me and I shall continue to do so.

I do not know precisely how long it will take the occupational health and safety laboratory to analyse the samples that are provided for it. But I do know that it will take approximately eight weeks for the University of Toronto laboratory, which has accepted the contract, to do the examination and the testing of the fire-stop flaps, not the dampers. That information will be made available to us, and all of these tests will be accompanied by tests related to the materials that are used as sealants upon them in order to ensure that those sealants are effective as well.

We are trying very diligently to ensure that there is an elimination of any asbestos hazard within the school system, within the college system and within the university system. We have begun with the elementary and secondary schools because of our concern that perhaps the growing child may be slightly more susceptible. We are moving as rapidly as possible through that area. We will be attacking the college system and the university system on that basis as well, however.

Mr. Ziemba: Since the laboratory with which I have been working can confirm for me within four days whether there is asbestos present in a sample of material and since the minister herself was able to get the tests at Harbord Collegiate done in just two days, why should it take 90 days to confirm whether a sample of material contains asbestos? Why should parents have to wait that long to find out about potential hazards to their children?

Hon. Miss Stephenson: I am not sure what 90 days the member is talking about. I believe he is talking about the period of time that is necessary to examine the potential eventual friability of the asbestos paper which is riveted to the fire-stop flaps. If that is what he is talking about, then we have been told by the researchers that it will take that period of time. As far as the dust samples and the fragment samples are concerned, I am sure my colleague the Minister of Labour (Mr. Elgie) would be able to tell the member how long it takes to do those tests within the occupational health and safety lab, for which he has responsibility.


Mr. Eakins: I have a question for the Minister of Labour. Is the minister aware that people who operate hobby farms and do not use agriculture as their main income are able to evade the four per cent vacation pay? If so, what does he intend to do about it?

3:30 p.m.

Hon. Mr. Elgie: It is hard to believe it is happening in Victoria-Haliburton, but I will be pleased to look into that and report to the member.


Mr. Speaker: The Minister of Labour has the answer to a question asked previously.


Mr. Speaker: Does the Minister of Labour have the answer to a question asked previously?

Hon. Mr. Elgie: Yes, Mr. Speaker. I have to tell you, I don’t want to go back another day, if you don’t mind.

Mr. Speaker: It was you who sent me the note. If you don’t want to answer it, just say so.

Hon. Mr. Elgie: I think I’ll take tomorrow off, if you don’t mind, Mr. Speaker.

Last Friday, questions were raised in the House concerning communications between the Workmen’s Compensation Board and the occupational health and safety division of my ministry in relation to claims involving industrial diseases, including fatalities. Specific reference was made to the case of Mr. Clifton Grant, a former employee of the Scarborough Board of Education.

Under normal practice, the Workmen’s Compensation Board forwards copies of all lost time claims to the occupational health and safety division of the ministry. Members are aware of the volume of these claims and will not be surprised to learn that on the average more than 800 such claims, recorded on what are referred to as Form 7s, are received by the division from the board each day. These claim forms are sorted centrally in the division and those involving work situations within the statutory jurisdiction of the ministry are forwarded for appropriate action to the proper operating branches -- the industrial health and safety branch, construction health and safety branch, or mining health and safety branch.

I have caused a careful search of our records to be made and I am advised that there is no record in the division concerning Mr. Grant’s claim. I should explain --

Mr. R. F. Johnston: I have read it.

Hon. Mr. Elgie: Okay. You don’t mind if I finish it for the record, do you?

Mr. McClellan: It doesn’t make any sense, but if you want to go ahead, go ahead.

Hon. Mr. Elgie: We let you go ahead; so why not join in?

I should explain that prior to October 1, 1979, the date upon which Bill 79 was proclaimed, work-place coverage was limited by the definitions contained in each of the Industrial Safety Act, the Construction Safety Act and part IX of the Mining Act. Consequently, certain sites -- for example, schools and hospitals, other than hospital laundries -- were not covered by the Industrial Safety Act. It appears that prior to October 1, 1979, Form 7 claims relating to those institutions were not pursued.

I should say that upon closer examination, which I requested, it appears to me that depending upon the precise nature of the particular work assignment, some maintenance or repair work on schools might well have been covered under the project definition contained in the Construction Safety Act which, as members know, was repealed by Bill 70.

In any event, with the proclamation of Bill 70, any uncertainties in this connection have been removed. Coverage is now virtually universal. Schools and hospitals are now work places within the meaning of the new act, and a system is now in place to ensure that notifications of accident or industrial diseases in such locations are identified within the division for appropriate investigation and action. In fact, because of the critical importance of all health matters, the board will now report separately on all industrial disease claims.

Mr. R. F. Johnston: Mr. Speaker, concerning the answer to my question, which was just relayed to the House, I can’t help but ask the minister how he can make this disgraceful response to my specific question as to when he knew about this man’s case and when he decided he was compensable and action could be taken. All he has given me --

Mr. Speaker: What is the question?

Mr. R. F. Johnston: My question is: Why has the minister given me bureaucratic gobbledegook? Why is his department not able to red-tag any matter that comes through, whether he has 800 or 1,000 or 2,000 a day? Why can’t they red-flag and get to his attention any matter of this seriousness? When did the minister know? How long have they known? Let him answer my question.

Hon. Mr. Elgie: First of all, I would like to say that what I was trying to do was to explain to the member the changes that have taken place since the proclamation of Bill 70 on October 1. He may be critical of the fact that prior to that some officials in the ministry may have let something slip by because there was some misinterpretation as to whether or not it was covered. But I’m not perfect and some of them aren’t perfect; maybe the member is. I don’t say this proudly, I say it apologetically that any situation is missed. I have to tell the member that after reviewing the system now in place I don’t see that it can happen now there is this universal coverage of work places.

Mr. R. F. Johnston: Is the minister saying his board is so incompetent it can’t find this file, and can’t tell him the date? Is it not a fact that the date that the minister actually agreed upon for compensation was in October, after Bill 70 was passed, and that the excuse the minister is putting up is just a sham? Why did the minister not find out about the fellow in York who should have been red-tagged? That’s two years old. When did the minister know about him?

Hon. Mr. Elgie: Mr. Speaker, actually the question the member asked me was: “When did physicians in my ministry become aware?” Physicians in my ministry would not become aware. I take it the member meant Workmen’s Compensation Board physicians.

They made the decision in October 1979. The employee was notified on November 23, 1979; so I do know the dates. But the member’s question to me was, when did doctors in my ministry become aware? I have told him the only mechanism to allow my staff to become aware of a claim is by the forwarding of the Form 7. Now in place is an additional backup mechanism. I sincerely hope that will avoid any problem in the future, particularly now that Bill 70 allows universal coverage, which we all support.


Mr. McKessock: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Provincial Secretary for Resources Development. In view of the fact that the minister has been requested by the solicitor for the Niagara Escarpment Northern Ratepayers’ Association to have phase one of the Niagara Escarpment hearings held in one central location rather than split between two locations, and in view of the fact that the minister has indicated he will not make this change, my question is, would the minister reconsider this to have the phase one hearings in one location?

Is it not strange to allow the Niagara Escarpment Commission two chances to present its case before the Niagara Escarpment hearing officers? Wouldn’t it be fairer to allow all concerned access to all evidence presented before the hearing officers?

Hon. Mr. Brunelle: Mr. Speaker, as the honourable member knows, the area being covered is quite large -- more than 450 miles. The reason there are two hearings, the first in Ancaster and the second in Owen Sound, is to make it more convenient for those who wish to present their views. It’s strictly to accommodate those who will be making their views known: the farmers and the various interested groups.

Mr. McKessock: How does the minister clarify that the second location of the phase one hearings won’t be a repeat of the first location?

Hon. Mr. Brunelle: There could well be some repetition. At the same time, I think the honourable member will agree that we should make it as convenient as possible. Generally speaking, this has been well received.

I can appreciate the views that were presented by the lawyer who wrote to me. I wrote back and explained the reasons why we felt there should be two hearings.

Mr. Peterson: Mr. Speaker, does the minister not agree this is equivalent to having two trials over one set of facts? In fact, the minister is going to force all concerned to go to two sets of hearings so they get one clear view of the situation, because it allows the NEC the distinct advantage of recovering, or presenting a different position if they so desire, at the second trial?

Surely this is too serious to have a disjointed, fragmented hearing on it and it should be done once, cleanly and neatly. There will be no more expense for anyone else involved. As a matter of fact, it will be cheaper to have one than it is to have two. Surely, that’s a realistic and fair view of the situation.


Mr. Laughren: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Treasurer --


Mr. Laughren: Yes, I know he has been waiting -- concerning the problem of the very dramatic increases in interest rates that are hitting the whole country.

Since prime rates have reached 17.5 per cent and mortgages are running at 16 per cent and higher, and since this is going to impose some very severe problems on people renewing their mortgages, as well as a strong possibility of simply drying up the supply of mortgage money, and this in turn will give us very severe problems in the supply of housing in the future and in the construction industry now, why doesn’t the Treasurer make an announcement now as to what plans he has to provide some relief, instead of playing chicken with the federal government to see who is going to make the announcement first?

3:40 p.m.

Hon. F. S. Miller: Mr. Speaker, it is not a question of playing chicken with the federal government. There is a Canada-wide problem. The federal government, in my opinion, has ducked its responsibility for maintaining the interest rate by allegedly --


Hon. F. S. Miller: Yes, and you said it the other day in public. Already you have said in a public forum that you don’t agree with the Liberals in Ottawa, haven’t you? They have started the ducking and running --

Mr. S. Smith: What a pity you didn’t have the guts to say what you are saying now when Joe Clark was in power.

Hon. F. S. Miller: -- and you were working hard just a month or two ago to get these people back.

Mr. Speaker: Order. If the Treasurer would direct his remarks to the chair, he wouldn’t get into that kind of dialogue.

Hon. Mr. Davis: I have a feeling he wants to get into a dialogue.

Hon. F. S. Miller: We are very concerned about the problem. The Minister of Housing (Mr. Bennett), the Premier and I have had several discussions. Staff are in Ottawa at this moment discussing the matter with the federal government. We are working on this.

Mr. Laughren: I would like to extract some kind of commitment from the Treasurer, who evidently is waiting for the federal government. Will the Treasurer appoint the task force we have been suggesting, from several ministries, to look at the possibilities that we have put before the Premier himself? Something has got to be done.

When the Treasurer is doing that, will he investigate the problems being faced by the farm community? Is he not aware that Ontario has the poorest programs for subsidy of loans to farmers of virtually any province in Canada? When is the Treasurer going to move on it, and would he give consideration to a moratorium on foreclosures of mortgages caused by increases in interest rates? He’s got to do something. He’s been sitting there two months doing nothing.

Hon. F. S. Miller: I don’t think that’s quite true. I am very concerned about it, but there are two sides to the problem. I don’t expect much sympathy for the lenders at this time but I think those of us who have an interest in borrowers’ ability to get money have to recognize there’s chaos in the marketplace. Lenders almost always borrow money, too, and many lenders have been left the intermediaries with long-term loans at much lower than market rates. Their money has moved into short-term money at much higher than market rates leaving many companies in very difficult positions which can quickly bring chaos to the marketplace. There are two sides to the problem.



Mr. Dukszta: The petition reads: “Pursuant to standing order 33(b) of the Legislative Assembly, the undersigned members of the assembly hereby petition that the annual report of the Ministry of Housing for the fiscal year ending March 31, 1979, tabled in the House on March 11, 1980, sessional paper 11, be referred to the standing committee on the administration of justice for such consideration and report that the committee may determine.” Twenty names are affixed to the petition thereupon, Mr. Speaker.



Mr. Philip from the standing committee on the administration of justice presented the following report and moved its adoption:

Your committee begs to report the following bill without amendment:

Bill Pr5, An Act to revive Milani Lathing Limited.

Report adopted.



Hon. Mr. Wells moved that when this House adjourns today at 6 p.m., it stand adjourned until Tuesday next, April 8, at the regular hour.

Motion agreed to.



Mr. Kennedy, on behalf of Mr. Williams, moved first reading of Bill Pr15, An Act to revive Golden Hope Mines Limited.

Motion agreed to.


Hon. Mr. Wells: Mr. Speaker, before the orders of the day I wish to table the answers to questions 18, 29, 52, 53, 54 and 55 on the Notice Paper.




Mr. MacDonald moved resolution 1:

In order to establish in practice as well as in principle the independence of the Legislature, the nomination of the Speaker should be made by the Premier only after consultation with the leaders of the opposition parties; for other officers of the assembly, namely, the Ombudsman, the provincial auditor, the chief election officer, the chairman of the election expenses commission, the Clerk and the First Clerk Assistant, nomination should be made by the Premier after consultation with the leaders of the opposition parties, and shall be referred by the assembly for review and report by the appropriate committee of the Legislature before confirmation by the assembly; nomination by the Premier in accordance with these procedures should not preclude any member of the Legislature making another nomination which would be subject to the same review and report process.

Mr. MacDonald: Mr. Speaker, the underlying thrust of the Camp commission, which examined the whole operation of the Ontario Legislature and made recommendations for improvement, was that the basic requirement was to establish the Legislature on a more independent basis, independent of its traditional subservience to the executive branch, to the government, to the cabinet.

Perhaps I can remind members of one of the many quotes that can be gleaned from the report of the Ontario Commission on the Legislature, the Camp commission, outlining this. It is to be found on page 18 of the first report as follows: “A significant step in strengthening the role of the Legislature is to give substance to the assertion that what happens there is important, that the Legislature is not simply a tail wagged by the governmental dog. It seems to us that the time has come to reaffirm the principle of the independence of the Legislature and to see that this principle is given reflection in practice.”

As we’re all aware, the government accepted the Camp commission report. It certainly accepted the underlying thrust of it. There were one or two relatively small items, in some people’s view important items, which were turned down. I would be free to acknowledge that significant progress has been made in the last five or six years in implementing those recommendations so as to establish a greater measure of independence on the part of the Legislature.

However, there is one area, and I submit it is potentially the most important area, where there has been no implementation; namely, the chief officers of this assembly are not chosen in any meaningful way by the assembly and then brought in, so they still remain a choice of the government. While there is some measure of formal endorsation of that choice in the House, it is not establishing the independence of the Legislature in the fashion that the Camp commission indicated.

This resolution seeks to establish the procedures by which the choice of the assembly not only will be perceived to rest with, but will rest with, the Legislature, rather than with the government: If there were any need -- this is really ironic -- of my resolution, we have it produced within the last five or 10 minutes.

I have a copy of the private members’ business to be debated this afternoon that came out of the government whip’s office. Ballot item No. 1 is referred to as a resolution re appointment of government legislative officers. In other words, the government whip views all the officers of this assembly as government legislative officers. That is precisely the point of my resolution this afternoon.

3:50 p.m.

To be fair, the Camp commission didn’t speak to this important question. In my view, I don’t think we can have a genuinely independent Legislature until we have a permanent Speaker. That was one issue on which the Camp commission just evaded the topic altogether. As long as the Speaker is chosen from the ranks of partisan politics and knows he is going to return to those ranks of partisan politics, even when he happens to be chosen from the opposition, as is the case at the present time, there is a wide range of subtle pressures and influences which I say, as quietly and as unprovocatively as possible, are going to qualify his capacity for independent action. Camp didn’t speak to this. I think it is important that the Legislature should finally get around to examining the issue of its chief officers and how they should be appointed.

Let me divide my remarks in terms of the chief officers into two groups: one with reference to the Speaker himself and the second to the other officers. I set the Speaker aside in a separate category for the simple reason that we all know when a new Legislature is elected there is usually a new Speaker. The Speaker has to be chosen some time in advance, even though his formal election may not come until the second day of the actual session, because he has a lot of preparatory work to do.

Therefore, the procedure I’m suggesting is that there should be meaningful consultations among the leaders of the parties as to who that person will be. When I say “meaningful,” I mean it shall be a decision that will be discussed and not a decision in which the Premier of the province, in effect, calls in the leaders of the opposition and says, “I am intending to nominate so and so,” and the opposition parties really have no alternative but to go along. I’m not aware of any occasion in the past in which they have not gone along with it.

The Premier comes in on the first day and nominates the Speaker. It is usually seconded by the Leader of the Opposition, and the House authorizes it. Formally, as far as the record is concerned, he is the choice of the House but, in fact, he was initially and remains a choice of the government.

Let me move to the other group of chief officers, namely the First Clerk Assistant, the Ombudsman, the provincial auditor, the chief election officer and the chairman of the Commission on Election Contributions and Expenses. Once again I’m suggesting here, that the decision as to who should be appointed to those offices should be by consultation, in the first instance, among the leaders of the parties; but when the nomination is made in the House, it should be referred to an appropriate committee for review and report back to the assembly.

I am quite persuaded that in 99 cases out of 100, if not 100 cases out of 100, when that review takes place it will be pretty much of a formality. But the very fact that there is the possibility of a review taking place is the best assurance that there is going to be genuine consultation back in the initial stages of it among the leaders of the parties called together by the Premier. In other words, there will be an opportunity for the House to play a role in the whole process. In fact, we might even go beyond that.

Because of my desire not to bring in something that is so radical that it won’t evolve from the traditions we have had, I am not going beyond what has been the procedure up until now of the Premier’s making the decision and informing the others except that this will add the further step that it will be genuine consultation. In many instances, incidentally, there is no informing of the others. The appointment of some of these chief officers is made by the Premier, and one learns about it when one reads about it in the paper.

There is one interesting instance here I’d like to draw to the attention of the House as members may not be aware of it. We moved in Ontario to getting in step with most other jurisdictions by permitting the chairman of the public accounts committee to be a member of the opposition rather than a member of the government party. Then an amendment was made to the statute in 1977 which stipulates the Lieutenant Governor in Council, or somebody from the government, should consult with the chairman of the public accounts committee before deciding on who is going to be appointed as provincial auditor. I don’t know whether that has actually taken place. I don’t think we’ve had a new provincial auditor since this practice came in. But, to my knowledge, it is the only statutory requirement impinging at all on the appointment of any of the chief officers of the assembly.

Let me just carry this one step forward in trying to present to the House my thoughts on this issue. While I, in keeping with our tradition, have started the process with the consultation among the leaders, theoretically, I suppose, one could have carried on the traditions of the past, in which the nomination would come from the Premier and be seconded by the Leader of the Opposition.

I would like to raise the suggestion that the nomination of a chief officer of the Legislature is legitimately a right of any member of this House. It might even be wise, after genuine consultation, that we get away from the idea that the choice is made higher up and not by the House, through some back-bencher, who would be a member of the House without the strength and power and influence that would be carried when the Premier himself makes that nomination.

Let me illustrate my point by drawing to the attention of the honourable members a book I would invite them, if they have a few spare moments some time, to ramble through. It is a book entitled Mr. Speaker, Sir, by Selwyn Lloyd, an autobiography dealing with his tenure as Speaker in the British House of Commons from 1971 to 1976.

There is an account of how his choice was made, and I quickly want to remind the House of it because it is a magnificent illustration of the difference between the approach over there, where a chief officer of the House of Commons is a choice of the House of Commons and not of the government.

Early in 1970, the first approach was made to Selwyn Lloyd by the chairman of the Conservative 1922 committee. The 1922 committee is a magnificent institution of the British House of Commons within the Conservative Party. It is the caucus minus the cabinet members, so that they are not influenced unduly by the executive branch. The committee came into being in 1922, I think in reference to the choice of Bonar Law as leader, and has remained part of the structure of the Conservative Party ever since.

The chairman of the Conservative 1922 committee approached Selwyn Lloyd regarding the possibility of his accepting the speakership. The Conservatives won the election in June of that year, and in the fall the incumbent indicated his intention to retire. Both the Labour and the Conservative chief party whips indicated their support for the nomination of Selwyn Lloyd and so he agreed to run. Only after he had agreed and committed himself did he learn that an old friend and colleague had also agreed to run, and, to use his phraseology, a disagreeable contest was possible.

Note this, Mr. Speaker, and I am quoting from Selwyn Lloyd’s book: “In due course the cabinet took up the position that it would support whichever of the two of us had the most support in the Labour shadow cabinet.” In other words, the Tory cabinet in the Tory government was going to make up its mind in accordance with which one of two Tory nominees would be chosen by the opposition Labour shadow cabinet.

Selwyn Lloyd continues: “The Labour shadow cabinet voted in my favour by a substantial majority, I am told, and the cabinet decided to support me.” In other words, the search for the candidate had taken place among the parties in the House of Commons, with the cabinet and the Labour shadow cabinet coming in to make a choice between two prospective candidates. That process is a measure of the independence of the House of Commons, but subsequent events underline just how independent the House of Commons is.

As Selwyn Lloyd says in his Mr. Speaker, Sir, volume: “There were two things I didn’t know. First, although the two chief whips had consulted some people, they had not done a comprehensive exercise with their back-benchers, and the Liberals hadn’t been consulted at all.” The Liberals are more inconsequential over there than they are here.

4 p.m.

Thus when Selwyn Lloyd’s nomination was made in the House by a private member, Dame Irene Ward -- who Selwyn Lloyd reminds us had entered the House in 1931 and was renowned for her robust independence -- it was seconded by a Labour Party member, a former minister. But when that was done, the storm broke.

First, the Liberal member for North Cornwall rose and he expressed dissatisfaction with the procedure. According to the summary in Selwyn Lloyd’s book of what he said: “In the control of the executive the right of the House to elect its leader was one of our most significant victories. The Speaker should be the servant of the House and not of the executive and very few members felt they had been consulted in any meaningful sense of the word.”

Once this Liberal member has spoken, a Conservative member from the honourable constituency of Tiverton, according to Selwyn Lloyd, rose and said in substance that the House of Commons had no opportunity to participate in the choice and that members hadn’t been consulted. Therefore, he nominated another person. Once he had made the nomination, that real radical who criticized everybody, Willie Hamilton from Central Fife rose in the House and seconded the nomination. In the course of his remarks, he objected to the lack of consultation and he asked the committee of procedure, I presume the equivalent of our standing committee on procedural affairs, to consider a more democratic way of going through the process of electing a speaker.

Selwyn Lloyd won the election. He became the Speaker by a very good majority, 294 to 55. But his comment in summing the whole thing up in this volume was very interesting, very succinct. He said: “I believe that the opponents had good grounds for their points about consultation,” or lack thereof, perhaps I should interject. “Every member ought to be consulted in some way.”

That is the very point I am making. In the chief officers of this assembly -- from the Speaker, to the Clerk, to the First Clerk Assistant, to the Ombudsman, to the provincial auditor, to the chairman of the election expenses commission and to the chief election officer -- every member of this assembly should work towards some mechanism for this purpose. It is our challenge now to devise it within this House because without it we are not going to have what the Camp commission said it was seeking and what the government has accepted -- an independent Legislature.

I leave the matter rest there because if there is any time left, there are comments I might make in the concluding portion of the debate.

Mr. Jones: Mr. Speaker, I rise today to support this resolution which has been put forth by the honourable member for York South (Mr. MacDonald), but I do so with some reservations.

The resolution deals with the procedure for appointment of seven officials of our Legislature, as the member just mentioned. If acted upon, it would make Ontario a very clear leader in the basis and method of appointment of such officials.

I sincerely hope in making the resolution the honourable member for York South is not seeking to imply that our current practice is not among the best in the world right now. He did refer to this not being a considerable digression from the system which takes place to a large degree right now. As we do our research on this, I know of no other jurisdiction that has a more liberal method of involving the other parties in these decisions.

I also noticed even the resolution does not mention or attempt to define how this matter of consultation would take place.

I am grateful this matter has been brought forward as a resolution rather than a bill. It seems appropriate to me the Legislature should be able to speak on its own affairs by way of resolution and should ask the government to consider changes such as these.

Furthermore, while I certainly support the first principle expressed in this resolution, that the House should be able to choose its own officials, I do not necessarily support the idea there should be committee hearings and auction competitions to decide these positions.

This resolution is a good example of the type of problem we will face since we have taken away the power to move amendments to private members’ resolutions, and I hope that point is not lost on the member for York South.

While I support the principle of the Legislature’s being able to choose its own officials, in the case of at least three of these officials -- and the member divided his into two categories; the Speaker in one and the other six in the other -- the current procedure seems to me clearly not to depart greatly from this principle that he espouses.

In the case of the nomination of the Speaker, current practice already calls for the Premier to seek consultation before nominating a Speaker. It is true we have no definition of what that constitutes. The member suggested there were subtle pressures, and I won’t pretend to be privy as to how that takes place. But I certainly understand from my research there are no clandestine, heavy-handed procedures that the member alluded to, if he didn’t come right out and say so.

I note the resolution doesn’t attempt to define what form consultation will take. That consultation will always be, I would suggest, whatever we choose to make of it each time we put it into practice. The key point here is that we do have an election of the Speaker so that the Legislature does have the opportunity to vote on the nominee. Our practice is the same as that followed in most jurisdictions, and I think we have examples here in this province, in Ottawa, and in other provinces which clearly show that partisan considerations are frequently set aside so that the House can select the individual it feels is best qualified to handle this responsibility.

In the case of the Ombudsman it is somewhat more difficult to draw comparisons. Our federal government does not even have an ombudsman, to my knowledge. I suppose the closest thing to that in Ottawa is its human rights commissioner, and we all know who he is and where he came from and how the government and not the Commons appointed him.

As for Great Britain, I enjoyed the comments and history shared with us by the member as he moved his resolution, and I’ll be anxious to read Selwyn Lloyd’s book. I enjoyed the outline of how his appointment was described by him in his book, and his summation. My understanding is that in the UK, in the procedures for the appointment of an ombudsman, passed by Harold Wilson’s Labour government, that so-called progressive party, no one seriously proposed that the House of Commons should have the power to initiate and control this appointment.

In Ontario, our Ombudsman is appointed by the crown, but only in an address of the assembly. I went to the parliamentary dictionary, I looked it up and there I saw truly there was provision to make an amendment, for it to be debated, in fact to divide upon that. I notice that it does come to this House. It is an important distinction, because it means that while the government has the initiative for making this nomination the Legislature can amend the motion to provide for another name, or it can simply defeat the motion and force the government to try again with another individual.

I would maintain then that the Legislature already has the control over the appointment of this position and our current practices do not depart from the principles expressed in the honourable member’s resolution.

I believe the same holds true in the case of the appointment of our auditor. While the auditor may be appointed by cabinet, there are two important controls which give the Legislature considerable say in this appointment. First, as with the Ombudsman, there must be the address of the assembly and all that goes with that. Second, there must be the consultation with the chairman of the public accounts committee. I know of no jurisdiction which has a more generous procedure in allowing the Legislature a voice in the appointment of this official.

4:10 p.m.

In both Ottawa and the United Kingdom, initiative to move the appointment of the auditor rests only with the cabinet and not with the private members. I might say, in passing, it is my impression that Maxwell Henderson was no less a servant of Parliament and no less a pain in the neck, I suppose, to the government because he was an appointee of the Prime Minister, rather than one from the Commons or one of its committees. While I support the principle of the Legislature’s being able to select its own officials, I find in the case of the three positions I have mentioned that our current practices do not depart at all greatly from this principle proposed in the motion today.

Unfortunately, this is not the case with the remaining four positions which are named in the resolution. These positions are straight executive appointments. In the case of three of these four positions, I honestly do join the member for York South in support of giving the Legislature some of the power that is now completely held only by cabinet. I cannot understand why, if we already have a say in choosing our auditor, our Ombudsman and our Speaker, we should not have a say in appointing the Clerk, the chief election officer and the chairman of the Commission on Election Contributions and Expenses. These individuals are officials of this House, and the House should have a greater voice in their appointment.

Members will note I have not included the first Clerk Assistant among these officials. Currently, he is a cabinet appointee, but his terms and conditions are set by the Speaker. I believe the first Clerk Assistant should be an assistant, as the word says. His terms should be set by the Clerk who should be responsible for all of his staff to the Speaker. That seems to be the logical following of assistant.

In summation, I support the principle of the Legislature’s being able to appoint its own officials. I find that in some instances our current practices are in keeping with that principle. With the exception of the first Clerk Assistant, I believe this principle should be extended to those positions in which it does not already apply.

I also have some observations about the nomination and review aspects in the member’s resolution, but I will leave that to my colleague from Northumberland (Mr. Rowe) to share his thoughts, and a broader wisdom than myself, with the members in this regard. He is certainly more qualified to do so than I.

Mr. Nixon: Mr. Speaker, this House and its members have come a long way in the last few years -- really since about 1974 -- in exerting control over the House, its officers and the precincts of this building. We haven’t achieved anything like total control, but certainly it has improved since the days, many years ago, when the Premier decided he did not like a certain newspaper downtown and simply let it be known that no one representing that newspaper could come inside this building.

I don’t know whether objections were raised when Hepburn decided he didn’t like the Star. Maybe they were, but it is not recorded that the House was very exercised. Maybe nobody else in the House liked the reporters from the Star either.

Sitting as I do on the Board of Internal Economy, I am very impressed indeed when Mr. Speaker in the chair, with the assistance of the other members of the board and the staff available and responsible to him, wrestles with the problems that come forward. They are by no means minute. Some of them actually are costly in their solution and all of them are extremely important to us all.

There are one or two small items that continue to bother us in that connection. For example, when there were some complaints that there are hardly ever any parking spaces right in front of this building for constituents and others who want to come calling on us, Mr. Speaker had to explain that his rule did not run outside the front windows here and that the Ministry of Government Services can still allocate the parking. In fact, there is some indication that people park there who work down in some of the government agencies and private offices to the south of this building and have been parking there free, using up spaces for all this time. There doesn’t seem to be anything we can do about it, although from now on, we are obviously putting those people on notice that there is something we are going to do about it.

The resolution, of course, is far more important, however, than any of those things I have mentioned. I support it almost unconditionally, and I want to talk about at least one difference I have with the honourable member who proposed it. I believe our procedures for appointing these officers are acceptably good, but could be made much better, more effective and much more important, with regard to the acceptance that the members of this House should and could order their own affairs in a fair way, taking into consideration the needs of all sides.

My main objection is the feeling expressed by the member for York South (Mr. MacDonald) that we should move to a permanent Speakership. I do not support that. I doubt if I ever will. Certainly it can be discussed, but I don’t believe that the example of Westminster fits our requirements here. As you know -- and I briefly described these matters to you a few days ago -- I have had an opportunity to observe these matters at first hand. It doesn’t make me an expert, but at least it gives me an opinion. I was very much struck by the fact that supporters of the government of the day over there, while they of course admire the traditions of that Parliament, are already talking about replacing the independent Speaker from the Labour side with an independent speaker from the Conservative side. Their procedures there are well known, but still these partisan differences exist, no matter how long the tradition or how elaborate the procedures for eliminating them.

I was interested to talk to the Speaker from South Australia, I believe it was, who was also a member of that seminar. He had been nominated as a second nominee in the House, and there was a bit of a campaign associated with this. He had received his election as Speaker really against the wishes of the governing party in that connection. I should have checked the specific numbers and incidences, but I know that he, when this matter was discussed, was quick to point out that the House in their jurisdiction is quite independent in that regard.

The member for York South would probably agree that we are independent here, as well. I believe he was leading his party at the time a former cabinet minister was recommended to me, as Leader of the Opposition, and I believe to the then leader of the NDP, for election. We had a chance to discuss the proposal in our caucuses, and I well recall the events in our caucus, now that it is fading into dim and distant history.

Mr. Foulds: Your caucus certainly is fading into dim and distant history.

Mr. Nixon: You are fading at the present time; we are coming through. By the way, are you really voting with the Tories next week? Surely not, surely not.

Now the event is fading into history, I think it can be said there was a very strong feeling in the caucus that we should not support the nomination of that particular gentleman. In the event we did, and as I look back on it now I am not so sure we did, except there is a feeling on all sides that there is an advantage in having a Speaker elected unanimously, if that is possible. There is a feeling that if a Speaker must begin his service without the support of a group within the House, or even some antipathy from a group within the House, then of course his service is certainly in jeopardy from the start. Well ahead of political considerations, everybody here wants the Speaker to succeed, that is, to succeed in keeping reasonable order and to be seen and to be respected as being judicious and impartial.

As I say, we have been fortunate in this regard, and even with the election of the present Speaker and those who assist him, it is quite possible and it would be possible in the future for us to put forward other nominees and perhaps speak in their favour and vote in their favour. The concept of meaningful consultation I certainly support, and I hope that it can be extended to the other officers of the House as is envisaged by this motion.

It is interesting that the traditions associated with the Speaker do come to us almost entirely, except in that particular, from the Parliament of the United Kingdom. Many of those traditions are becoming well received by many jurisdictions.

4:20 p.m.

One of the lesser traditions just occurs to me. It has to do with Mr. Speaker’s problems with the monarch in centuries gone by when, in bearing bad news from the House of Commons to the monarch, the Speaker was imprisoned and on a couple of occasions executed. The King in turn found that on his visits to the House of Commons he was in some jeopardy and Charles I lost his head under those circumstances.

I was interested to learn that when Her Majesty goes to the House of Lords to deliver the Speech from the Throne two whips from the House of Commons must first go to Buckingham Palace. They set themselves down comfortably and take tea but they are, in fact, held hostage by the royal party while Her Majesty goes to speak at the House of Lords. They are not released to go back to their duties until she returns safely within the gates of her own abode. These things carry on.

The review by committees of the nomination of the officers may be misunderstood. I hope it does not frighten members of this House because we have seen the review by committees of Congress of nominations made by the President of the United States. These can become witch-hunts, with a partisan motivation being one of the milder aspects of them. Yet, even in the roughness of their procedure and the undue partisanship of the approach on occasion, there is a refining fire that does turn up an applicant or nominee whose background is insufficient or has a cloud on it which would not be revealed otherwise.

Mr. Speaker, I know you will let me know when my time is about to run out; thank you, sir.

Mr. Foulds: You don’t have to use it all if you have nothing to say.

Mr. Nixon: Oh yes, I have even more things to say than time allows because I can recall the kinds of references to the opposition which were much as described by the member for York South. In John Robarts’ time he didn’t raise our hackles much, but we knew he was going to proceed with his majority to implement what he was going to do anyway.

I often thought that consultation was an afterthought. In other circumstances, sometimes the consultation is not meaningful. I can recall being at the anointing of one of the senior officials when many people knew there were aspects we ought to have reviewed more carefully before going forward with an appointment serving this Legislature and the community at large.

Mr. Acting Speaker: The honourable member’s time has expired.

Mr. Nixon: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. The committee review as well as the resolution itself are extremely important and I hope the House will support them.

Mr. Breaugh: Mr. Speaker, I want to rise in support of the resolution before the House this afternoon.

This House -- like parliaments in most parts of the world -- has changed a great deal in the last decade. People from such different backgrounds and points of view as Dalton Camp and the member for Sudbury East agree that parliaments need to change.

Those of us who have had the opportunity to discuss this with members from other parliaments in different parts of the world recognize that this phenomenon is occurring around the world. There are parliaments, congresses, legislatures looking at the roles of those assemblies. What do they do for their societies?

In our parliamentary tradition the role of a government is fairly clear but the role of the Legislature is not so clear. What we are seeing is a changing point of view, a different perspective on what the people who sit in this room do with their time -- what influence they can have, what roles they can play.

I see them carving out a new and different role for this parliament. Part of that is the important change of establishing the Legislature, itself, as a body which does things, which has the ability to change some forms of legislation, which can conduct investigations, which can do a great many things. In this House, even in my brief tenure here, we have changed a great deal. The standing orders, the practices and traditions of this House have changed quite a bit since the beginning of the 1970s. This resolution before the House will change them one step further.

In part it is true to say that in a technical sense, in principle, some of the parts of the resolution are in place now. I think the member is proposing to take it one step further so that this Legislature will have the authority, and in fact will practise the ability, to appoint each chief officer. I find the list that he has proposed acceptable. I would be amenable to amendments and alterations if other members can make good arguments for them, but I think the basic notion before the House this afternoon is to establish that this House as an assembly has some powers to do things and that its chief officers named in the resolution are responsible to this House.

In my committee, procedural affairs, we are conducting a periodic review of agencies. There is not much clarity as to exactly who appoints those agencies, what they do and to whom they are responsible. I think what the resolution does, then, is to establish quite clearly that there are certain individuals who will function in the province and who are clearly responsible to this assembly. That gives the assembly another slightly different role to play, not the same as in Westminster, for sure, or the American Congress, but for here in the 1980s in Ontario. This parliament has worked itself through a role-change operation so that we now have things the parliament can do that it couldn’t or didn’t do before.

I sense some sensitivity on the part of the government members on this, but I think there is a valid argument to be made that a parliament that is more effective casts each one of us in a better light. There may be those who ask the interesting question, why would a government traditionally having the powers to make juicy little appointments ever give those up? I think the answer to that question is very simply that this parliament is a more effective place.

If it is seen by the public as a place that is useful, and more important for me as a backbencher on this side, if I see that the role I have here as a member of this assembly is an important and fulfilling one, then I would tend to perpetuate that notion among the people I come in contact with. I can convince them that I don’t just go down to Queen’s Park to make eloquent speeches; I go there to do some work. These are the people who help to implement the job of a member of the Legislature.

That is a worthwhile notion, even from a government point of view, though it might mean they give up certain appointments that traditionally they have had, because I think it will enhance the role of anybody who is loosely defined as being part of the government of Ontario. An effective parliament is a plus for anybody on either side of the House, for those who work for the assembly and for those who are members of the assembly.

I think the members are being asked this afternoon to look at a resolution that carries our process of changing and developing a new role for the parliament itself one small step further. There are some other changes that will perhaps come at a later time.

If you have had the opportunity to discuss with members from other parliaments what it is like to be a member in Australia or New Zealand or Hong Kong, you will see that this parliament has been rather successful at changing how it organizes itself, changing the role and the amount of influence individual members have. Frankly, I don’t believe that task is completed by any means, but I do believe there has been a willingness on all sides of the House to accept the need for change. There have certainly been lots of arguments about the mechanics of how we would do that. Of course that is fair game.

I do believe this step is necessary and that it is not just window-dressing. It is important for the members of this Legislature to play this kind of role, to establish clearly that these people in their functions in Ontario are people who work for this Legislature.

It might be true that for practical purposes nothing much changes. If the Premier of Ontario or the cabinet in Ontario decides they would like someone to be the Speaker of this House and they have a majority, that is probably going to happen; but I do think it important that it be clearly understood this Legislature has the ability to establish who will play these particular roles, and that the people who occupy those roles are accountable to the Legislature itself.

4:30 p.m.

In other words, there is a clearly defined role for the members of this parliament to play; the parliament itself has clearly defined powers and it exercises those. I would accept that it is taking away somewhat the traditional role of the governing party in this province, but I think that in the long run it enhances the procedure and the process. That is why I find this resolution both acceptable in its present form and necessary if we are to complete this changing process we are going through.

For those who might take the point of view that no change is necessary, that we are so bound by tradition that we ought not to change the practices of this House, I would think those members ought to spend some time speaking with their constituents to see if their constituents believe this Legislature is as relevant as it should be and that the persons it elects to sit in this House have a significance role to play.

I think they will find there is some unease on the part of the public about that, about the role of the parliament, about the role of a member of the parliament and particularly about those who do not happen to occupy that small inner circle known as the cabinet, which traditionally, in our terms, is what is referred to as the government.

I think the changes proposed here are not radical ones by any measure, but are ones which are important to this parliament, and important to the process of governing the province of Ontario.

Mr. Rowe: Mr. Speaker, I’m pleased to participate in this very interesting debate this afternoon. I find it a very interesting resolution and I am pleased to have the opportunity to offer some comment on the subject as I perceive it.

The purpose of the resolution, as I see it, is to drastically alter certain procedures for the appointment of various key officers of the assembly, as well as to initiate various review procedures before such appointments become effective.

The first part of the resolution I can agree with -- namely, the procedure for the election of our Speaker. In fact, that is basically the way, as has been mentioned earlier today, it is done now. Indeed, the Speaker is actually now elected by the House in every sense of the word, which implies that any other person’s name can be placed in nomination and a true election held. That’s the parliamentary way of doing things, and I’m sure most of us recall that this is actually what happened in one of our sister provinces, British Columbia, just three or four years ago, where two people were nominated and a true election was held.

I note the proposer’s reference to the possibility of having a permanent Speaker at some time in the future. That’s a different topic from today’s resolution.

However, I do have some concerns about extending this procedure to all the other officers of the assembly -- the Clerk, The First Clerk Assistant, the Ombudsman, the provincial auditor, et cetera. Many of my points of concern are similar to those expressed by my colleague, the member for Mississauga North (Mr. Jones) and others who have participated this afternoon. I, too, appreciate the fact that the member brought forth this proposal as a resolution today, rather than as a bill. I think that’s the best way, so you can have a better airing of various views from all sides of the House. I must say he was almost convincing in his arguments and the remarks he made.

But on balance, I’ve weighed those concerns and I come to somewhat the opposite conclusion. While I usually agree with the member for York South (Mr. MacDonald) and his very reasonable approach, I find I must oppose this resolution and play the devil’s advocate, since it would, in my humble opinion, be likely to cause more harm than good. There have been good arguments in the other direction this afternoon, so maybe the House will be convinced.

I want to concentrate on two points: first, the concept of independence of the Legislature, which the member for York South stresses as basic to his resolution; second, the strongly negative danger for us all, in my opinion, if the member’s nomination and review proposals were ever to be instituted.

First, concerning the matter of independence, the member moving the resolution makes the word “independence” the reason for his motion and bases his arguments on his perception of the recommendations contained in the so-called Camp commission report of a few years ago, wherein the principle of the independence of the Legislature was highlighted.

The member highlights as potentially the most critical the appointment of the chief officers of the assembly, which still rests with the government and which this resolution seeks to change.

This resolution would, instead, have this become a function of the Legislature and subject to a review and report of a committee of the Legislature.

I checked the Camp commission references as well.

In my opinion, the context of that remark, made back in 1973, I think it was, was to make the Legislature not dependent on the executive for its very existence. To explain partially, the Speaker and the Clerk at that time could not set their own budgets and could not hire and fire staff. It was only the government which did so.

What Camp was talking about were those very bread-and-butter realities. In my interpretation, Camp was not talking at all about independence in the sense which this resolution addresses. I think the honourable member did mention that in his opening remarks today.

To reinforce: Camp meant independence of operations and not independence of appointment. Therein lies the difference.

My point is that this co-called critical area was not critical to Camp’s commissioners at all. They wanted these officers to have power and autonomy from the executive, once they were in their post. Camp did not question their method of appointment, probably because the commissions knew that at both Ottawa and Westminster all those same officers were nominated or appointed by the executive. That was the parliamentary tradition.

What has happened here since that report? As has been mentioned, the Office of the Assembly has been instituted, and the Speaker now has a director of administration and a supporting bureaucracy, independent of the government’s civil service, with the power to set estimates for approval by -- also something new -- the Board of Internal Economy.

This is a board somewhat removed from government per se and from the start has included opposition MPPs while its Ottawa counterpart has not, at least not yet.

In effect, the Camp commission has seen all its wishes in terms of their recommended independence come to fruition.

My final comment on this point is that the question of independence can be seen in the diaries of Richard Crossman, the government House leader at Westminster in 1966, where he made the point that the operations of these officers of the House was of greater concern to members than the origins or mechanics of appointment. There, as here, the powers and operations of these officers are set out in bills which must originate with the government. This is where the Legislature can examine, direct and oversee the actions and behaviour of these officers.

Let me quickly make my second point concerning the proposed nominations and review process in the appointment of all these officers of the assembly.

My concern grows from my first point about our need to be clear on the scope of power we give to our officers. We do that by statute or ongoing guidelines in relationships as we have done for ombudsmen, auditors, the Speaker’s office, the Wishart commission and the growth of the Clerk’s office. All of these have emerged since the Camp report, and we can be proud of the way they are operating.

My second point is that the nomination review process, as proposed in the resolution, is foreign to, and in my opinion does not fit into, our parliamentary system. Combined with the further proposal that any member may nominate any one for these important offices, this approach, in my assessment of the matter, goes beyond the worst excesses of the American system, to which the member for Brant-Oxford-Norfolk (Mr. Nixon) referred. There, a House or Senate committee must sanction several hundred appointments each year. It almost becomes an open auction for all members to enter into, to take care of friends, partisans, campaign managers, et cetera. One might say this would not happen here, and I would hope not, if this system were to come about but, unfortunately, I’m not so sure at this point.

I believe that the present appointees to the various offices -- and I’m sure there’s no argument there -- have been wise choices from the point of view of their respective abilities, their public respect and prestige, and the special knowledge which each has brought to the position. I believe great and thorough care has been taken in this process. I also believe, that this system has public support and, after all, the executive which makes these appointments is accountable. On the other hand, who would be accountable under the wide-open system of public auctions described above, if that were to be the trend?

In summary, it is not the method of appointment that is of great concern to our system; it is the power of operations we give those officials which really matters to us. That key point, in my opinion, is not touched in any way by the resolution. Therefore, I oppose it.

4:40 p.m.

Mr. Deputy Speaker: The member for Renfrew North for up to approximately six minutes.

Mr. Conway: Almost unbearable limitations, Mr. Speaker, but thank you none the less.

It is a pleasure to join with my colleagues in the discussion of the resolution, which for some seems to turn on whether our friend from York South is a Yankee Democrat in some insidious disguise. I must say I will support the resolution, but not because I don’t agree with other speakers that there is an almost typical Socialist bureaucracy tied on as a tag end.

Mr. Hodgson: A Liberal says that?

Mr. Conway: Oh no, my friend, not at all. My friend from York North had better settle down.

I want to make one real focus in my remarks. It has to do with what I believe to be the principle which the member for York South (Mr. MacDonald) addresses in this particular resolution; that is, the independence of the Legislature. I suppose, if there is one continuing concern I have as a private member in this place, it is the nature of that dialectic; the fact that from my point of view the most serious and the most negative effect of the 37 years of one-party dominance has been its impact on the role of the Legislature in terms of the constitutional process that brings us all together.

As I was saying here the other day -- and I will repeat it -- from where I stand it is certainly my impression that the legislative function is losing at an alarming rate in that contest; and that concerns me a great deal. What concerns me even more is that for an awful lot of private members, not all of them on one side, I might say, the sad and sorry fact seems to be that they don’t perceive there should be a dialectic or a struggle existent between the executive branch and the Legislature.

I go to committees and I am told I have no right, as a private member sitting in my place, to be part of the jury. My good friend from Wellington-Dufferin-Peel (Mr. J. Johnson), as only he can, got very excited the other night; and, from his point of view, no doubt, with a great deal of justification. Being closer to the Treasury bench than I, he defended what I would argue as a principle of executive privilege or executive tyranny or, at the very least, executive dominance in a way which I find absolutely unacceptable.

I think we must have a recognition, all of us as private members, that we do have a function apart from those 24 or 28 or however many ministers of the crown there are. That is a principle that has been brought to our attention in this resolution. We should do everything in our power to address the fact that as private members we seem to be either unaware of our responsibility or unwilling to discharge it in so far as the principle of the independence of the Legislature is concerned.

I really want to say that. I want to say, as well, to my friend from York South that the mechanism which he establishes is worrisome in some respects, although I can live with that kind of worry more easily than I can with the kind of process that has evolved here and which has evolved, by and large, elsewhere in many of the British parliamentary situations.

The pattern of one-party dominance, whether it be here in Toronto or in Ottawa or in Alberta or wherever it is, as I see it, is a very great threat to the British parliamentary model which assumes that dialectic, which assumes an independence, which assumes that private members are going to pursue vigorously their particular interests as private members.

The sorts of things this resolution speaks to, while not perfect, will move us all to a closer and clearer recognition that as private members there is an important principle at stake. For that reason, I am delighted to support my friend from York South in this ballot item.

Mr. Deputy Speaker: I believe there is another minute and a half. Does anyone else wish to speak?

Mr. Renwick: In the brief minute and a half, Mr. Speaker, I would like to address myself to two points, I think both made by the member for Mississauga North (Mr. Jones).

The reason I would support the proposition that the First Clerk Assistant should be included in the list of officers subject to this procedure is the length of the hours of the House. We must at all times have available in this assembly building either the Clerk or the First Clerk Assistant. One can’t expect any one person to fill the office and be here all the time. I would think under any confirmation provision for the office of First Clerk Assistant that naturally the opinion of the Clerk would be of great weight with any committee considering the matter. But I do think, in a very real sense, the First Clerk Assistant must be seen to be the person who is here when the Clerk cannot be here. We cannot have a vacancy there any time at all in the House.

The second point I would make is that serious consideration should be given to having the administrator of the Office of the Assembly also included in the list of officers which my colleague has provided.

In the brief time I have, I think the fundamental principle is very clear to me; that is, the ultimate reserve right, whether it is used or not, must be clearly seen to reside in the assembly. It is quite likely that under most circumstances in the way in which the House operates these matters will be settled by consultation, by agreement; there won’t be disputes. But the reserve right, the final right, must be seen to reside in this assembly.

Mr. MacDonald: In view of the constraints imposed upon us, Mr. Speaker, I didn’t realize there was more time. I just have two or three quick comments to make.

The member for Mississauga North made the comment that he supports the principle but he questions the procedure. Let me be very frank here. I am not wedded solidly to the procedure. I thought through this and went back and forth on the questions of the committee and the objections to be put in. I was interested when I spoke to two or three people who could be regarded as experts -- not only Stanley Knowles in Ottawa, but also other people who are in an independent position -- that they all finally said they thought it was a good way to assure the genuine nature of the consultation in the first instance.

I come back to the point made in the British debate at the time of the election of Selwyn Lloyd, that the procedures might be considered and spelled out by examination in our standing committee on procedural affairs here, the equivalent of their committee on procedures over in Britain. In short, this is something where a full input of all the various views might be considered and the spelling out of what those procedures are, particularly because I can concede again that the procedure may be different for various ones of these officers. They are in somewhat different categories.

The second point I want to make rather quickly in the limited time concerns the argument that consultation now is meaningful, and that the Legislature really is in control of the situation because there has to be an address to the assembly and a vote. I don’t want to get into an argument with my friend from Northumberland (Mr. Rowe) but he knows that simply is not the case. There is no genuine consultation.

I wish the member for Brant-Oxford-Norfolk were here, because I want to refresh his mind about the instance to which he referred. He and I, as leaders of opposition parties, were called in by the Premier of the day and told, “It is my intention to nominate such and such a person as Speaker.” What the honourable member for Brant-Oxford-Norfolk has forgotten is that, as Leader of the Opposition, he quickly said, “I will be glad to second it.”

I had reservations, which I am interested to learn were shared by many members of the Liberal caucus, about the wisdom of that appointment. It occurred to me, why should I challenge it and prejudge the situation when both the Premier and the Leader of the Opposition have agreed to it already? So I let the matter rest. But I suggest an objective assessment of history would perhaps underline the validity of the doubts.

4:50 p.m.

Mr. Deputy Speaker: The honourable member’s time has expired.

Mr. MacDonald: Meaningful consultation is what is needed, and we don’t have that now when the Premier simply informs what he has already decided.


Mr. Villeneuve moved resolution 7:

That this House, in response to the invasion of Afghanistan by the Soviet Union and in support of the many peoples oppressed by Soviet tyranny, calls upon the government of Canada to support the United States boycott of the 1980 Moscow Olympics and that such boycott continue until the Soviet Union ceases to violate the sovereignty of Afghanistan.

Mr. Villeneuve: Mr. Speaker, the resolution moved in respect to the Olympics is something more than a declaration of principle. It is an affirmation that Canadians will not be part of the kind of hypocrisy the Soviet Union intends to use the Olympic Games for. It is an assertion that Canadians should not wish to be part of a charade which does nothing but serve the propaganda services of a totalitarian regime which will stop at no act of aggression or violence to advance its own self-serving interests.

This week Jesse Owens, a black American athlete who offended Hitler by doing so well at the 1936 Olympic Games, passed away. I ask members of this House to reflect upon the legitimacy the games afforded Hitler and his anti-Christian and anti-humanity Nazis in the years leading up to the insanity which he unleashed upon the world.

One cannot but sympathize with the young Canadians who have trained very hard for the 1980 Olympics and who have no interest in politics and wish only to compete in the true international spirit of the Olympic Games. I say to them that what is planned for Moscow has less to do with the true international spirit of the Olympics and more to do with the efforts of the Soviet Union to advance its own legitimacy and its own superiority among its own people and the satellite countries it controls.

We who live in democratic societies do not understand the craven lust for respectability that Communist regimes seek among their own people and within the community of the world. The legitimacy or respectability of the governments in the free world is determined by the voters when elections come on a regular basis; not so in the case of countries like the Soviet Union. They must seek worldwide acclaim or notice of approval to prove to their own people that the regime which is premised upon totalitarianism and inhumanity does occupy a place of respect within the world.

Canadians have often noted how the military takes a major role in training those who compete, allegedly as amateur athletes, on behalf of the Soviet Union. The military takes a major role in training the hockey players, the skaters and the other competitors who compete on behalf of the Soviet Union, because just as the military serves the foreign policy purposes of the Soviet Union, so too do the competitors and the athletes.

It may very well be that individual athletes and competitors are committed only to athletics and competition and not to international politics, but the system used by them, the system which needs the Olympics to sustain it and encourage it, sees them as nothing more than cogs in the larger battle of advancing Communist propaganda throughout the world.

The Olympics remain an important international institution of co-operation and understanding, but the Soviet Union must not be allowed to use the Olympics to claim support, understanding or international respect after the kind of hostility and aggression they have unleashed upon the world this year. If we are to say to powers such as the Soviet Union that they can march into neighbouring countries for self-seeking purposes with impunity from even the mildest international rebuke, then we are saying to them that there are no limits to the violence, inhumanity or aggression which they can use in their own interests.

One cannot accept the view espoused by many young athletes that as citizens of their respective countries they are not part of the larger international concern. The notion that normal relationships can continue between various nations on an ongoing basis, irrespective of what those nations do to each other, is a notion rooted in callousness and insensitivity which our world can ill afford.

Going to the Moscow Olympics or not going to the Moscow Olympics has nothing to do with communism or the different kinds of governmental systems. Going to the Olympics this year for a country like Canada would be an admission that the game of international relationships and the diplomatic niceties have become more important to the government of this country than the substance of international morality and honour.

We should remember that we have our neighbours to the south, a great power, our great friends, the Americans; and in our northmost reaches our nation stares across at the Soviet Union. The previous administration of Prime Minister Clark had an explicit and firm position that commanded support. Polls published recently in newspapers have indicated overwhelming support amongst Canadians for not going to the Olympics, for making our point and for taking a stand. It will be a great shame if the Prime Minister of this country does not stand up with Prime Minister Thatcher, President Carter and others who share their concern on this issue of the Olympics. It will be a greater shame yet if the Legislature of this province does not pass this resolution and urge upon the government of Canada the responsible, honest and frank position of saying to the Soviets that they cannot have it both ways this time.

One of the greatest areas of cynicism in the way in which the public views all those in government, and the conduct of international affairs in particular, is that many people believe that there is no morality, no rules, no basic code of ethics. Many believe that governments will continue to trade with each other and co-operate with each other in their own self-interest without addressing any of the salient, humanitarian and other issues which are important to each and every one of us as citizens of the world and as human beings.

We have heard the stories of the atrocities in Afghanistan. We know of the widespread suppression of cultural, religious and ethnic freedom throughout the Soviet Union. We know of the trumped-up regime being propped up against the wishes of the people in Afghanistan by the Soviets. We know the way in which the Soviets have manipulated the governments in Afghanistan before, and will continue to do so, in the pursuit of their own narrow interests. These are not simple partisan attacks upon the Soviets. These are facts in the public domain for all to see and know. The government of Canada must not only pursue our international interests as it deems fit, but it has a duty to reflect adequately the concerns, the feelings and the aspirations of the people it represents.

I believe that the parliament of Ontario can perform a helpful function by indicating clearly and precisely to the people of Canada and to the Parliament of this great country that we stand as one, without regard to partisan division, against Canada deserting the Olympic boycott and in favour of us standing firm with our allies in the west, with Britain and with the United States in particular, in making the Soviets aware of our desire not to participate.

5 p.m.

This is not a decision which will have a great cost for the people of this country, nor is it a decision which carries with it any great risk, but it is precisely for those two reasons, if we as Canadians cannot find the resolve to make at least this kind of a decision, then the hard-line Soviets in the Kremlin and Politburo will be laughing at us and taking us as lightweights for years to come.

There comes a time to understand that a message is not fully understood and received sometimes without at least some unpleasantness. There is some unpleasantness in our position that we will not participate in the Olympics. There will be unpleasantness felt by our own athletes and by athletes of other countries, but the ultimate fact of our nonparticipation, America’s nonparticipation, the United Kingdom’s nonparticipation, the Netherlands’ nonparticipation and that of other free nations of the world will not be lost upon the Soviet people, who are avid sports fans and will notice our absence.

If by that absence, and the public notice in the Soviet Union of that absence, we are able to promote and encourage some serious internal questioning at all levels of Soviet society of the kind of policies and aggressive initiatives that nation has pursued, we will be serving the cause of international peace and stability.

It has often been said that the west is disadvantaged in its dealings with the Soviet Union because we, internally, in our countries must deal with public opinion, with free press, with many different points of view which make it often difficult to have a unified position on a matter of foreign policy. I have always believed, as a member of this Legislature, that it is that very free press, that very questioning, that very openmindedness that makes our system implicitly stronger and more capable of enduring.

For us in the west, for Canadians, for Ontarians, not to seek this opportunity to make a point to the people of Soviet Russia which would force them to ask some questions about what it is their government has been doing with respect to its foreign policy would be for us to neglect a superb opportunity to make a strong case to the Soviets and to citizens everywhere for peace, for mutual respect between nations and for the very international stability which Canadians seek as much as anyone.

The motion moved is one that calls upon us to take our responsibilities as members of this Legislature and as citizens most seriously indeed.

Mr. Lawlor: Were you equally opposed to the Vietnamese war?

Mr. Villeneuve: I am opposed, my friend, to any war. I had three brothers who served in the last war. I know what a wrecked home was. I had family feelings for that, and I know what disruption is in a mild way. They were saved and had the good fortune of returning, but as a small boy, 11 years old, I have also seen a fine-looking, young, six-foot-tall man taken off the train in a basket. I remember that very well, sir, from the first war, and I will never forget it if I live 1,000 years.

What I am trying to bring out, whether we like it or not, is whether we stand up and be counted now; if some of us are not here, some of our children will have to pay dearly for it. That is my feeling, sir.

The motion affords this Legislative Assembly an opportunity to speak eloquently to the Parliament and the government of Canada on behalf of the people of Ontario -- without partisan division in a way that cannot and will not be ignored.

I would propose, and the members of the Progressive Conservative caucus on the government side would propose, to make this resolution available on the opening day of the House of Commons to every member of the House of Commons from Ontario, irrespective of his or her political affiliation. We would propose to write to the whips of all three political parties represented in the House of Commons. We would propose to ensure that the press in Ottawa and the three organizations represented in the House of Commons were aware of what one hopes will be a strong, unanimous voice expressing the positive concern of the people of Ontario.

I commend this resolution to all members of this House on the grounds of humanity, honesty and decency and on the grounds that those of us who believe in freedom must never desert our right to speak as Canadians through deeds as well as words for peace and freedom for all the people of the world.

Mr. B. Newman: Mr. Speaker, I rise to support the resolution, as presented by the member for Stormont-Dundas-Glengarry. While we debate whether Canada should participate in the Olympic Games, men, women and children are dying in Afghanistan, caught up in the Soviet Union’s favourite sport, the international power game, played according to its own inhuman rules.

The name of the game is world domination. The object of the exercise is to fulfil Khrushchev’s promise to the west, “We will bury you.” Afghanistan is yet one more warning to the free world of the terrible and terrifying dangers of drifting into a situation where we are at the mercy of fanatics and dictators or modern-day barbarians.

It was shameful, foolhardy and self-destructive for the free world to consent in the first place to hold the Olympic Games in Moscow, the nerve centre of the most brutal colonial empire in the world, from which are directed the concentration and slave labour camps, the inhuman psychiatric asylums and the unrelenting Soviet expansionist policies. Ask any of the ethnic communities.

Did we learn nothing from the experiences of the early 1930s, when the world watched Nazi Germany arm and train its goose-stepping legions for world conquest while we deluded ourselves about what lay ahead? Are we today so steeped in smug, suicidal self-delusion that we cannot perceive the hideous and frightening parallel of the 1936 Berlin Olympics, which were used as a huge propaganda event on behalf of the Nazi policies? Why can’t we be honest with one another and admit that to send our athletes to the Moscow Olympics, saying the games are above politics, is as naive and asinine as Neville Chamberlain saying he had achieved peace in our time by his meetings with Adolf Hitler?

Let me quote from an official handbook, called Soviet Sports, put out by the Russian authorities: “The view popular in the west that ‘sport is outside politics’ finds no support in the USSR.” Make no mistake about it. The Moscow Olympics will be used to the nth degree as a propaganda opportunity to glorify the barbaric and tyrannical Soviet system.

5:10 p.m.

Excellence in sports by some is considered excellence in political domination. People who favour our participation in the games say: “Don’t make the athletes suffer. Don’t ask our athletes to make a sacrifice.” Yes, athletes will suffer. They will not be able to go to the Olympic Games, but they are attending more competitions today than ever before in the history of civilization.

Even at the Canadian level there are local competitions, regional competitions, provincial competitions, national competitions, the Olympic Games, the World Games, the Pan American Games, Asian Games, the English games, and the European games, all or most of these games to which we send athletes to compete with the assistance of Wintario support.

How does the suffering or sacrifice we would ask of our athletes compare to the millions of people who have been ground beneath the heels of the Soviet oppressors?

The editorial in yesterday’s Toronto Sun said, and I’ll only quote one sentence: “If not going to the Olympics is the greatest sacrifice they have to make in their lives, they are pretty lucky.”

In that same paper, Peter Worthington, made the following comments in an article: “To me, the essential thing is that by coincidence the Olympians are in a position where it is possible -- not guaranteed, mind you; just possible -- to influence or affect Soviet policy.

“By hosting the Olympic Games, the Soviets have put their prestige on the line -- and prestige and face to the Kremlin are more important than grain, food, technology, clothes or consumer goods for the people. If the world or Olympians express displeasure with Soviet aggression as they have with South African apartheid, there is a chance that it would give Soviet leaders pause.

“The world would be saying, through its athletes, ‘Enough’; and if that message could get across, it would do more for peace than any other single thing. The opportunity will not occur again. It is the only time the Soviets have been vulnerable to world pressure in over 60 years.

“True, there are no guarantees, but to let the chance slip by would be a dereliction of civilized duty rather than a sacrifice. The Olympians of 1980 have a chance to make a greater contribution to peace than any Olympians in modern history. That should be the challenge and, though there are no guarantees, if there is at least a chance, it shouldn’t be missed. That then is the sole issue of the Olympic boycott.”

That is the end of Peter Worthington’s article. How does the suffering and sacrifice we ask of these various athletes compare with the millions of people who have been ground beneath the heels of the Soviet oppressors? Not long ago, we welcomed Valentyn Moroz into the House. Ask him about sacrifices and suffering. Russian expansionism has spread the Communist influence into eastern Europe, Asia, Africa, Latin America and the Middle East. At the same time, the influence and effective power of democracies have been reduced to a level that before long may well endanger the existence of the free world.

Today the Soviet Union has the most formidable apparatus of war the world has ever seen, much of it achieved with the help of western technology, provided in the false belief that openness and co-operation would perform some kind of miracle and bring about an improved east-west understanding.

The Russian move into Afghanistan should be taken as a warning of the Soviet’s unrelenting and sinister intentions. Of course we should boycott the Olympic Games. We should also do everything in our power to influence other countries to do the same. Perhaps in this way we can bring home to the Soviet government and its people the strength of our disapproval of what is happening in Afghanistan and what has happened elsewhere in the world. Perhaps in this way we can bring home to the Soviet government and its people that this is where finally we draw the line; this is where we draw the line before it is too late. We could take other tough steps. An aggressor -- and the Soviet Union is certainly that -- is contemptuous of weakness and respects strength.

I read a letter in the Star Letterbox just the other day, headed “Lithuanians Know the Soviets,” and it reads -- I am only reading two small paragraphs:

“Soviet expansion has had its seasons -- the 1940 illegal annexation of the Baltic States of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania; the 1956 brutal crushing of the Hungarian revolution; the 1968 destruction of the Czechoslovak attempt at freedom -- and now, in Afghanistan, Russian tanks roll once more across the borders of a sovereign nation. There is a chilling pattern to all this and it had its start in Lithuania. Hopefully, Soviet world domination no longer sounds like an extremist notion even to the most liberal among us. Let us hope we have the moral fibre to talk when we can, and to act when we must, while we are still in a position to do so.”

We must convince the Kremlin that we are absolutely determined to resist further Soviet expansion. If allowed to continue, this will one day directly threaten the west and precipitate a thermonuclear war, which we all fear and don’t want to have happen. Boycotting the Olympic Games is a small beginning in convincing the Soviet Union we mean what we say, that we are prepared, and that we believe we are right.

The best way to avoid war is to have forces available to resist the aggressor and to demonstrate that we have the will to use them.

I know the sacrifices the athletes have to make in preparing for competition. I know the hours, weeks, months and years many have to devote to excel in their chosen athletic activities. I know the Olympic Games, the World Games, the Pan American Games. I know what it is to compete in Australia, Moscow, Chicago. I was the coach of the Canadian Olympic team in those three competitions. I am probably the only member of this House who has had such an experience. I support the boycott and ask that the government of Canada support the US boycott, as stated in the resolution of the member for Stormont-Dundas-Glengarry (Mr. Villeneuve).

Mr. Acting Speaker: Before we proceed with the next speaker, may I ask the member for Stormont-Dundas-Glengarry whether he wishes to reserve any part of the five minutes he did not take?

Mr. Villeneuve: No; I will give it up to my other member.

Mr. Breaugh: Mr. Speaker, I rise to be the dissident again. I wish to oppose this resolution.

I have several problems with it, not the least of which is the drafting of the resolution itself. I want to read it into the record again and point out some matters which the House has perhaps not considered.

I do not support the Russian invasion of Afghanistan. I doubt that one could find many Russians who are in favour of that invasion. I take exception to the wording of a motion which attempts to leave the inference that, if I don’t support it, I’m in favour of killing people, or in favour of nuclear war, or that I’m against the flag and motherhood.

If I am to offer an opinion and to vote, I at least want to be clear as to what I’m voting on. I listened carefully to the mover of the motion and his speech this afternoon. I did not hear him address himself to the matter of the boycott, to what you do to the athletes, to the opposition being put on them. I heard an eloquent denunciation, which I support, of the Russian move in Afghanistan, but I do not support the alternative.

The second thing about the wording of the resolution that bothers me is that we are asked to support the United States boycott. Why are we, in this House, supporting Jimmy Carter? If one wants to vote for Jimmy Carter, that’s fair game. If one wants to work for his re-election, that’s okay. But why ask me, a member of the Ontario Legislature, to vote for Jimmy Carter’s boycott?

I’m not prepared to do that. Let Jimmy vote for it, if he wants. Let the Americans do that, if they want. If someone were to talk about a Canadian boycott of the Olympic Games, that would be a different matter. But to vote for an American boycott is something I’m not prepared to do. I’m not sure it’s even proper to ask the House to do that.

There are problems with the wording of the motion. If I hadn’t put so much on record in this House about my opposition to blocking votes in private members’ hours, this would be an occasion when that should happen, if only on the technical matter of the drafting of the resolution.

5:20 p.m.

I notice in all of this there are combinations at work here. There is the combination of the Russian invasion. Surely none of the members of this House are supportive of that. I am not. But, second, I want to spend some time addressing myself to the question of how fair it is to ask a group of athletes to take on what is now considered to be political action. If Jimmy Carter and the members of this House are so upset with that Russian invasion, where were these members when the Central Intelligence Agency went in and overthrew a government in Chile? I didn’t hear a voice. Where were they in Vietnam? I didn’t hear a voice. How come, all of a sudden, all this moral indignation arises from the back bench of the Tory party? Where was their moral indignation before? Why did they not have a voice? Where was their resolution then? Why are they so happy to have Canadian athletes sacrifice their careers -- not a trip to Moscow -- their careers for something that is their idea?


Mr. Acting Speaker: Order. The member for Oshawa has the floor.

Mr. Breaugh: We have just heard the little knee-jerk, spittle-dribbling reaction that this kind of resolution puts forward.


Mr. Breaugh: I did not hear myself, but I thought I chose my words rather carefully to be anti-Soviet and not pro-Soviet. I take some objection to that kind of knee-jerk spittle-dribbling out of the back benches over there. I would think that, if they want to put this kind of resolution in front of the House, they should be prepared to do that in a straightforward manner.

I find this something I don’t understand. In the winter of this year we had the Winter Olympics. Where? In the United States. It struck my simple mind that if Jimmy Carter, or the Americans, wanted to do something which would be immediate, dramatic, why didn’t they say to the Soviet athletes, “Stay out of Lake Placid”? I didn’t hear that. I didn’t even hear them saying anything at all about the participation of Soviet athletes in the Winter Olympics. As a matter of fact, I thought I saw the President of the United States, when their Olympic hockey team won, dragging that entire team to the White House.

My objection is simply this: If politicians want to intervene in the lives of everybody else, which they do, why pick on this group of people to do that? All the athletes want is the opportunity to achieve for which they pay the sacrifice in pain, in economic terms and in terms of competition. That’s what they want to do.

I don’t think there’s anybody who has been involved in athletics at any level who denies there isn’t politics in athletics. There sure is. Anybody who has been to an international tournament of any kind sees that. But the purpose of the tournament is to allow athletes to compete. The purpose of the Olympics is to allow athletes to compete.

The boycott is an unreasonable request, and in my view it is the height of hypocrisy on the part of the President of the United States to turn that phrase on his own athletes, particularly when, in the Winter Olympics, he was quite happy to turn a blind eye to everybody. That may have a little bit to do with television contracts. That may have a little bit to do with the fact that the United States of America is not above using politics and athletics together. He himself, the man moving this boycott, is very content with that notion.

There are a lot of things which I feel are unfair about this resolution. I think it puts an unfair onus on the people who are trying to compete.

I notice that the athletes themselves, the people who are being asked to make this kind of a sacrifice, are saying, “If you want that to be a moral decision, please let us make that moral decision.” That’s a far cry from saying they can’t go; to say to an athlete, “If you feel that’s your form of protest, then boycott the Olympics.” I want to point out that the Olympics traditionally have entertained such protest. From time to time, athletes have gone to the Olympic Games and made some form of protest. That’s relatively common and accepted.

What is not common and accepted is a blockade. People like Jesse Owens, who died recently, said quite clearly that he thought the athletes should go. He went to Germany. He made that occasion a world-famous event and one which we will remember a long time. Athletes around the world now are making up their minds individually. That, surely, is fair game for them to do so. What is unfair is to enter the political arena at this time and say to the athletes, “You can’t go.”

What I do find are the uncommon myths at work here. I find that governments, up until this matter was brought into their minds for public discussion, didn’t care very much for athletes, weren’t prepared to support them, weren’t prepared, as in the case of Canada, to really give them first-class, world-class training facilities or to support them financially at that stage. In Canada we have an Olympic trust fund which is essentially run by the corporate sector, and it has made its views known, not surprisingly, that they shouldn’t go.

The government of Canada has been rather sad in terms of its performance of supporting our Canadian athletes. It has not provided them with that kind of world-level training facility or competition, and now, when it is to the government’s advantage, the government is prepared to use those athletes to make a political point.

That is what I find unfair; that is what I find insensitive. I am not denying there is an argument to be made on the other side of the coin. My view is very simply this: If the athletes themselves, as individuals, wanted to express as a form of protest that they would not participate in this particular set of Olympic Games, that, to me, would be a reasonable stance.

What I object to is the manipulation of young people who have paid the price athletics demand; the manipulation of them by government, and particularly spearheaded by the American President who is flying to get himself re-elected -- and I don’t blame him for that -- but that kind of manipulation of someone who simply wants to achieve, who is prepared to pay the price for athletic success, I find that morally unsupportable, and I must say I find this resolution just as unsupportable.

Mr. Ramsay: Mr. Speaker, before I begin my remarks I would like to commend the member for Windsor-Walkerville (Mr. B. Newman) for his comments a little earlier. His distinguished career in coaching at the international level puts a great deal of credibility and abundant weight to what he has to say.

On Monday of this week it was announced that the Canadian Olympic Association has passed a four-part resolution affirming its intention to accept an invitation to participate in the summer Olympic Games in Moscow. The resolution states that the association “rejects in principle the proposition that the burden of Canada’s response to the present international situation be borne primarily by Canadian Olympic athletes; and that in the absence of a much broader Canadian government response to the international situation, the Canadian Olympic Association confirms its resolve to accept the invitation to participate in the 1980 Olympic Games within the time limit provided in the Olympic charter.”

As of today, the federal government has not made a decision to endorse or oppose the Olympic boycott proposed by the United States. According to the Olympic charter, the Canadian Olympic Association must inform Moscow of its intention to participate eight weeks before the games get under way on July 19. This deadline makes the debate of this resolution a timely one.

The position which this government takes and which the Canadian government ought to take is, in my view, dependent on the validity of three propositions: (1) the notion that sports and politics are not mutually exclusive activities; (2) the proposition that the boycott will provide an effective sanction against the Soviet Union for its invasion of Afghanistan; and (3) the Canadian Olympic Association’s assertion that the burden of Canada’s response to the present international situation should not be borne by Canadian athletes in the absence of a much broader Canadian government response.

With respect to the alleged mutual exclusivity of politics and sport, it is initially interesting to note that if political considerations did not affect athletic events or endeavours Canadian athletes would recognize that their burden is shared with athletes, farmers, dock workers and computer manufacturers.

Geopolitical distinctions between American and Canadian farmers or Chinese and Canadian athletes would be unnecessary. In fact, the association itself would not exist if political activity were not required of its membership.

It is my contention that politics and sport do not function independently. An attempt to espouse a separation of sport and state is as futile today as past attempts to assert the separation of church and state. The activities of the state affect all members of society, and athletes are no exception, particularly when international competition is involved.

The idea that the games are apolitical is wishful thinking at best. Politics has figured prominently in the staging of the modern games since at least 1936, when Hitler used them as a vehicle for demonstrating the supremacy of the Aryan race. The late Jesse Owens proved otherwise. More recently, 11 Israeli athletes were murdered by Arab terrorists at Munich in 1972. As a result, in 1976 Montreal took on the appearance of an armed camp in an effort to prevent a similar incident. In addition, Africans and other blacks boycotted the games in 1976 because New Zealand and South Africa were allowed to compete after New Zealand endorsed apartheid by competing with South African athletes in South Africa prior to the games.

The enormous amount of money and effort being spent by the Soviets in preparation for the games is a clear indication that the Olympics are as much a political event as a sporting event. Even if the games were being held for the purpose of pure sport, then why the fanfare, the flags, the uniforms and the medal count? It is because the Olympics have not changed a great deal since 1936. In fact, they have not changed that drastically since their origin when the Olympics were based on war skills, spear throwing, running, sword fighting and clubbing.

As Dick Beddoes suggests in a column which appeared in the Globe and Mail on January 19, 1980: “The Olympic Games of Plato and Aristotle reflected the bellicose roots of western culture. Society tended to be ordered as it is today, along the lines of antagonistic contests for personal status.”

Today incidentally, the games provide an international forum for demonstrating the supremacy of competing ideologies. Subliminally, an Olympic medal characterizes not only the athlete, but also the country from which he derives, as being wholesome, knowledgeable and dedicated. The athlete is his country in microcosm. It is for this reason many athletes receive sponsorship. It is for this reason a boycott of the Olympic Games by a relative handful of athletes represents the interests of an entire nation. It is for this reason that politics is a part of the Olympics.

Were the Olympics being held in Canada this year, a boycott would prove to be ineffective, not because it would not convey the feelings of those nations refusing to participate, but because the boycott would be redundant. The feelings of those nations engaged in a boycott would have been conveyed to the Canadian public following the imposition of other sanctions, such as trade embargoes or the cancellation of technological exchanges which would have been imposed prior to the boycott. These feelings would have been conveyed to the public in news media reports concerning the imposition of such sanctions.

The sanctions may or may not have the desired effect, depending on the public’s subsequent response. Sanctions can only create public awareness. They cannot of themselves stimulate desired change. This is dependent on the public’s response or, in the case of a democratic political system, the government’s perception of what the public response might be.

To date, President Carter has cancelled 17 million tons of grain sales, halted delivery of computer and oil drilling technology and reduced Soviet fishing quotas in US waters by 80 per cent. These sanctions have proved ineffective internally because the Soviet citizens are unaware of their existence. They have not been reported in the Soviet news media and their impact will probably not be felt, because computers, grain and fish can be obtained elsewhere or substitutes used.

The sanctions have conveyed American feelings to the international community but they have not conveyed the same message to the average Soviet citizen. It is for this reason a boycott of the Olympic Games will prove to be an effective sanction against the Soviets. It will create an awareness among the Soviet citizenry. There is no substitute for the Olympic Games.

As Milt Dunnell of the Toronto Star put it: “The Olympic Games are intended to be Russia’s show window of this century. A cancellation of the games would be a blow to the Soviet solar plexus.”

However, only a boycott of the games by the major participants or a heavy majority of the 135 competing nations would kill the games. Such participation will not be realized if some nations do not take a first step and declare their intention to boycott the games, as I feel Canada should do now. We must not view such a commitment as following the lead of the United States. Our commitment must be based on our own sense of principle and not on a pro- or anti-American stand. Our view of the invasion as an unjust violation of human rights and international law cannot be allowed to erode with the passage of time.

I do not think that is what has happened where Olympic athletes or members of the executive committee of the Canadian Olympic Association are concerned. Unfortunately, I suspect it is something much worse. I suspect they are turning a blind eye to the plight of Afghanistan, as evidenced by the wording of their resolution. The Canadian Olympic Association worded its resolution very carefully. They knew they required justification for their stance and could no longer rely on the assertion that politics and sports are mutually exclusive activities. They knew also they could not claim to have worked hard and sacrificed a great deal over the years in preparation for the games, for so too have the American farmers and the people of Afghanistan sacrificed.

They had to rely instead on an absence of initiative by the Canadian government, initiatives which, as discussed, would prove to be redundant and ineffective. They, therefore, suggest in their resolution that it is unjust that they bear the burden of the Canadian initiative to sanction Russia for its invasion of Afghanistan. In doing so, they acknowledge that an Olympic boycott could be effective and that such an action is justifiable.

Mr. S. Smith: Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to address myself to this resolution. I must confess that when the subject of an Olympic boycott first emerged after the invasion of Afghanistan by Soviet troops, I spent a considerable amount of time thinking about it. Throughout my life I have been, as I am sure most people in this House have been, a person who believed in detente, who believed we had to reach some accommodation with the Soviets even though, I am sure, we disagree totally with their way of conducting public affairs and their very repressive system of government.

I have always been a person who believed it was better not to make war-like gestures if it was possible somewhere, somehow to be talking peace. But I must say, in my view, what has happened with regard to detente in the world this year has been to see virtually the end of it. The Helsinki accord was agreed to, with human rights allegedly part of that accord, but we have seen two very serious violations of that accord.

We have seen not only the invasion of Afghanistan, but we have also seen that the entire Helsinki monitoring group in the Soviet Union, all those dissidents -- political dissidents, nationalist dissidents, religious dissidents -- who allegedly were supposed to be watching to make sure that human rights were being respected -- to watch and nothing more -- to the last person have been arrested or put into some form of exile. There have been more people put into that kind of treatment in the last seven months than in the preceding four or five years.

It is very clear to me that the Soviet Union has repudiated any idea of detente. Our hope has to be that somehow or other we can show enough resolve and enough willingness to stand for what we believe in, in order to persuade the Soviets that it is in their best interests to return to detente and to return to some respect for their neighbours and some respect for human rights.

To me, war is unthinkable. To me, the idea of my children having to go to war is something so abhorrent. I could think of nothing worse. But I say we cannot expect the Soviet Union will simply stop at Afghanistan.

5:40 p.m.

We can’t assume that we know why they are in Afghanistan. There’s good evidence that the Soviet Union may wish to enter the Middle Eastern oil market next year as a purchaser of oil. There are a number of people who say that the Soviet Union has spent too much money for equipment which augments the recovery from its existing wells, but not enough for equipment which effectively discovers new wells. If the Soviet Union decides that it wishes to enter the oil market and to purchase a share of oil, all that oil is now spoken for in the western world. It will impose tremendous strain on the western economy and it will be very hard to refuse the Soviet Union, which will undoubtedly offer to pay a reasonable price for the oil. It will be very difficult to refuse them when their troops are massed on the border near Iran’s oil fields.

Consider the potential and the temptation for the Soviet Union to stir up trouble in Iran where, if the ayatollah were to die or there were to be some kind of unrest, there is no other organized group. The Shah has gone -- probably it’s a good thing that he has gone -- but the fact remains that without him, without the ayatollah, there is no organized group in Iran that can provide government. It’s very likely that a group of left-wing pro-Soviet people could turn out to be the only organized group in Iran. Western interests are therefore very seriously threatened by the events that have occurred in the Middle East.

We have to make it very clear to the Soviet Union that when we define what our strategic interest is, we are prepared to make sacrifices to protect that strategic interest. If the western world miscalculates, if it says as it did to my friend who is a lawyer representing Scharansky, in the words of Andy Warhol, “Anybody can be famous for 15 minutes,” the implication is that the western world gets excited briefly about things, then forgets.

Who cares about Afghanistan? Who cares about human rights for dissidents in the Soviet Union? The Soviets get the feeling that we lack the will in the western world to stand up to the Soviet Union at some point. Unthinkable as armed conflict may be, if they get the feeling that we are not prepared to make any serious sacrifice to stand up to the Soviet Union, then they will be tempted into an adventure that could lead them to a point of no return.

They might be tempted into pushing and taking a little more, just stirring up a little more trouble, just being a little harder on human rights. They will be tempted to adventures about which they cannot seriously predict the outcome if they get the feeling that we cannot even permit ourselves the difficulties of doing without an Olympic Games, if we as a society are not even prepared to stand up and say to our athletes: “Look, we are terribly sorry this has happened. We know how much it means to you.”

I know personally a number of Olympic athletes and it breaks my heart to have to say this to them because I know how they have been training. They have been virtually pushing themselves to the limit to train for this, but we have to say: “Look, I am sorry. The realities of this world situation have overtaken us. We will find other kinds of international competitions for you. We will give you every recognition possible but we cannot play into the hands of the Soviet Union, because if the Soviet Union gets the impression that we are unwilling even to make that small sacrifice, what chance would there be that we would make the serious economic sacrifices that might be involved in real sanctions -- or even worse, the real sacrifices that would be involved in military preparedness.”

If they get the feeling we are prepared basically to make none of these sacrifices, that we talk a good game but we are not even willing to consider the slightest matter of inconvenience such as doing without the Olympic Games and disappointing a number of our athletes, then what will exist in the western world to stand up for the things that we believe are sacred und important to future generations?

I do not trust the government of the Soviet Union. It has no business being in Afghanistan. They don’t need it to protect their own vital interests. They can’t argue there, as they do about eastern Europe, that they require a sphere of influence as a buffer against the heavily armed western camps. Who do they need Afghanistan as a buffer between? Are they afraid of Pakistan? What nonsense it is. This is an expansionist move on the part of the Soviet Union and the crackdown on human rights is a very grave matter indeed.

They use sport for propaganda. They have always used sport for propaganda. If we go to the Olympics and convince the people there that everything is fine with detente, they can do what they like in Afghanistan; they can put all the human rights dissidents in jail; they can imprison and exile Ukrainian nationalists and Jewish people, who may want to go to Israel, and anybody else who may wish to comment on the way the government is run. If we tell them, “That’s fine, we are still happy to come and play games with you and bring tourist dollars to your country and give you all the recognition and world-wide publicity,” if we tell the Soviet citizens that, they will know the will of the western world to resist their expansionism has pretty well been broken.

It is my view, therefore, that we should boycott the Olympic Games, if we can’t move them elsewhere. I would rather they be moved elsewhere, but if we can’t, we should boycott them and have alternative athletic contests of our own.

I am very worried about a boycott that fails. I am very concerned about the fact that a good many nations may not go along with President Carter in this boycott because, of course, a failed boycott could be a real black eye for the western world in the Soviet view. I say, however, that Canada must lead by example. Canada should take a strong stand for what we believe is right and I, therefore, personally -- and this is not, of course, a position that necessarily has to bind every Liberal everywhere in Ontario -- feel we should not attend the Olympic Games in the Soviet Union. We should show them it is simply not acceptable to us that they would act as international aggressors at a time when all of us so fervently want peace.

Ms. Gigantes: Mr. Speaker, I rise in support of the resolution before us this afternoon, and I do so with some reluctance. I remember the cautioning my mother used to give me to watch the company I kept. When I listened to the speeches here this afternoon in support of the resolution I must say the only one which has impressed me significantly was the speech given by my colleague the member for Oshawa (Mr. Breaugh).

There are two sides to this question, there is no doubt about it, and it may be that I may be a bit naive, but I suspect that the only way in which we in the west can get a message to the people of the Soviet Union that expresses our repugnance at the invasion of Afghanistan is to make a motion at the Olympic Games that can be seen visibly by all the people of the Soviet Union. In my mind, the boycott would accomplish that.

There are two sides to the question. To support President Carter, in what has been a very opportunistic season for him, galls me a bit. To call upon athletes to take an unfair burden of sacrifice distresses me. I don’t like to see big power politics involved in international amateur sport, and I am concerned that this is the first time that the countries of the west have ever shown any sign of trying to organize a boycott of this kind. They didn’t object to the Olympics in Nazi Germany, and the 1960 Winter Olympics in Squaw Valley following the US intervention in Lebanon didn’t seem to bother anybody, including the US.

The US may bear some sense of responsibility for the invasion of Afghanistan. The history of its relation with Iran led to events recently which probably made the Soviet Union feel it could sneak into Afghanistan without much world notice.

In spite of all these points I do think there comes a time when we have to give expression to the moral feeling that we have about such intervention in another nation. I think the people of the Soviet Union deserve a chance to hear our message and this is one way we can express it.

5:50 p.m.


Mr. Speaker: Mr. MacDonald has moved resolution 1. Those in favour will please say “aye.” Those opposed will please say “nay.”

In my opinion the ayes have it.

Resolution concurred in.


The House divided on Mr. Villeneuve’s motion of resolution 7, which was agreed to on the following vote:


Ashe, Auld, Baetz, Birch, Breithaupt, Brunelle, Campbell, Cassidy, Cooke, Cunningham, Eakins, Epp, Foulds, Gaunt, Gigantes, Grande, Gregory, Hall, Henderson, Isaacs, Johnson, J., Jones, Kennedy, Lane, Lawlor, Leluk, MacBeth, Maeck, McCaffrey, McCague, McKessock, McNeil, Miller, G. I., Newman, B., Newman, W., Norton, O’Neil, Parrott, Peterson, Philip, Ramsay, Reed, J., Reid, T. P., Renwick, Rotenberg, Rowe, Scrivener, Smith, S., Stephenson, Stong, Timbrell, Turner, Villeneuve, Walker, Watson, Wells, Worton.


Breaugh, Bryden, Charlton, Conway, Germa, Haggerty, Johnston, R. F., Kerrio, Laughren, MacDonald, Martel, McClellan, Nixon, Ruston, Warner, Ziemba.

Ayes 57; nays 16.

6 p.m.

Mr. Speaker: With the indulgence of the House, the government House leader will give members the order of business.


Hon. Mr. Wells: It’s very brief today. Tomorrow and Easter Monday are holidays.

On Tuesday, April 8, we’ll resume the throne speech debate, in the afternoon and evening.

On Thursday, April 10, in the afternoon, we will have private members’ public business, ballot items 5 and 6. In the evening, we will proceed to the 1979-80 supplementary estimates, in the following order: Colleges and Universities, Community and Social Services, Culture and Recreation, Education, and Health.

On Friday, April 11, we will continue with supplementary estimates that haven’t been completed on Thursday evening and any speeches that still remain on the throne speech debate.

Mr. Speaker: I wish everybody a very happy Easter. This House stands adjourned until two o’clock next Tuesday afternoon.

The House adjourned at 6:01 p.m.