31st Parliament, 4th Session

L079 - Wed 18 Jun 1980 / Mer 18 jun 1980

The House met at 2 p.m.



Mr. Peterson: Before the orders of the day, I would like to rise on a point of privilege. Yesterday, as you will recall, Mr. Speaker, I asked the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations (Mr. Drea) a question. I would like to repeat that, if I may, and read it into the record.

I asked: “Is the minister aware that on December 10, 1973, under the hand of J. C. Horwitz, chairman of the Commercial Registration Appeal Tribunal, the following order was issued: ‘That the continuing registration of Argosy Investments Limited shall be subject to the condition that John David Carnie shall forthwith surrender and give up his share or shares of Argosy Investments Limited’?”

I went on to say that to the best of my knowledge that had not been done. The minister in his response said this: “Mr. Speaker, there is no question but that the order was issued on December 10, 1973, and there is no question but that the order was complied with. Has the honourable member read the order? I would suggest that he reads the order because the order was only applicable until December 31, 1974. All those terms or conditions were complied with from 1973 and 1974.”

Mr. Speaker, I would like to read that order into the record, because I think you will find after you deliberate that the minister has probably inadvertently or mistakenly misled the members of this House and will probably want to correct the record. I won’t read the whole order of the Commercial Registration Appeal Tribunal, but it is that same order referred to of December 10, 1973. It says this in the order:

“That the continuing registration of Argosy Investments Limited shall be subject to the terms and conditions set forth in attached exhibit 3, subject also to the condition that John David Carnie shall forthwith surrender and give up his share or shares in the corporate stock of Argosy Investments Limited to the treasury of said corporation or assign or transfer same to another person or corporation approved by the respondent. The breaching of the said terms and conditions shall immediately result in the revocation of the said registration at the time of the said breach.”

There is no date. There is no term and condition. There is no end to those terms or conditions as the minister was under the impression. I repeat again, he said that those terms and conditions were only applicable until December 31, 1974. There is no mention of that whatsoever in this order. Because his response goes to the substance of this question, I think the record should be corrected. I would assume the minister would want to respond to the members of this House to clear up this matter.

Mr. Speaker: I am sure he will.



Mr. Ashe, on behalf of Hon. Mr. Welch, moved second reading of Bill 92, An Act to provide for Municipal Hydro-Electric Service in certain area municipalities in the Regional Municipality of Ottawa-Carleton.

Mr. Ashe: Mr. Speaker, this is one of two bills we will be dealing with this afternoon. This particular piece of legislation establishes a new hydroelectric commission, principally in the city of Kanata. It also recognizes a change in the township of Goulbourn and allows for expansion in that particular municipality when the commission and, more particularly, the council sees fit. Because there are no other changes relative to the majority of the municipalities in the regional municipality of Ottawa-Carleton, they are not recognized in the legislation.

The bill also recognizes that the township of Cumberland at some future point in time will probably look favourably upon serving its own municipality with a hydroelectric service, so it does afford it that opportunity and recognizes that within the legislation. It also provides that they, along with the township of Goulbourn, must examine the viability of expanding their service area at least once every three years.

The principles that have previously been incorporated in legislation relating to the principles in the Hogg committee report are recognized in this particular piece of legislation as well.

Mr. J. Reed: Mr. Speaker, we can endorse this kind of move on the restructuring bill that is being presented at the present time, but there is just one particular subject area that I think is worth while dealing with. This is perhaps in the nature of pointing out some things to the ministry and something in the nature of an appeal.

2:10 p.m.

As you know, Mr. Speaker, the restructuring of Halton took place not too many months ago. It was a bill that was passed in this House, and some of the regions came into existence as a restructured body in January and some in April.

I want to relate to the parliamentary assistant, and I hope he will relate this to the minister with dispatch, an experience that took place which caused a great deal of upheaval during that restructuring period. What happened in December was that Ontario Hydro, which had been the supplier of electric power to the rural areas in what is now the restructured area, took the meter readings between December 15 and December 17, 1979. When the final billings were sent out by Ontario Hydro they were dated December 31, 1979.

The new restructured municipality, and in this particular case I am referring to the town of Milton, came into existence on January 1, 1980, and the first bills that were sent out by the newly restructured hydro commission suggested that the billings and the readings had taken place from January 1, 1980.

Mr. Speaker: What part of Ottawa-Carleton is that?

Mr. J. Reed: With the Speaker’s indulgence, I would like to appeal to the ministry not to allow the same experience to occur during this restructuring and future restructuring as occurred at that time. I would suggest it is relevant in that context, in that all of these restructurings have certain fundamental base lines and certain similarities.

Mr. Speaker: You have tied it in very nicely.

Mr. J. Reed: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Briefly, drawing the experience to a conclusion, what happened was that the people who received the billings found there were two weeks they couldn’t account for, and it resulted in a great deal of confusion for the new utility and a great deal of upheaval. There was a great deal of contact with this particular member’s office and so on.

I would respectfully ask the parliamentary assistant to see to it that when final billings are made by Ontario Hydro on this restructuring they delineate that the readings were taken prior to the end of the billing period, or that they be taken at the end of the billing period so as not to cause confusion. I would respectfully ask for that assurance from the parliamentary assistant.

Mr. Isaacs: Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to rise and indicate our support for this bill, as we have done with the other restructuring bills that have come before this House. However, I think a number of comments are in order, not the least of which is the time that has been taken for the bills that are before us today on hydro restructuring and, more specifically, the bill that is under consideration at the moment, when we recognize that the hydro restructuring process has been going on for almost seven years and it has taken that long to reach the kind of agreement that has led to this bill; more importantly, to reduce the hassling between the various municipal representatives who were involved, when the municipal representatives themselves were involved in the discussions and not the people who are generally most affected by the restructuring process.

When we look at hydro restructuring I think we would all agree that its main purpose is to deal with the terrible inequity in hydro rates that exists in some of our regional municipalities and in many other parts of the province. Situations have arisen where essentially urban hydro customers are being charged Ontario Hydro so-called rural rates, and we have had discussion of Ontario Hydro rural rates on many previous occasions. We have indicated many times how high they are in comparison with the rural rates that exist in other parts of this country.

It is most unfortunate that during the very long-drawn-out process that has led to this bill, hydro customers in Ottawa-Carleton, who are presently served by Ontario Hydro, have had to pay these iniquitous Ontario Hydro rural rates for a supply that is essentially an urban hydro supply. As we know, Ontario Hydro does not have urban residential customers and hence, even though one lives in an urban area, one has to pay a rural rate as if one were an isolated residential dwelling at the end of a quarter mile or maybe even a couple of miles of hydro line.

The provisions of this bill are going to help solve this problem for Ottawa-Carleton. I know those who are affected by the new commissions and who are at least being taken into an urban hydro area will welcome it.

My only concern is that the people who, after this bill comes into effect, continue to be served by Ontario Hydro may have to wait a considerable length of time while their own municipal council continues to discuss and consider every three years the possibility of setting up new hydro commissions or of taking what will continue to be rural residential hydro customers into the new hydro commissions.

It is a problem that is not being addressed adequately by this government. It is not being addressed adequately by Ontario Hydro. We are continuing to face this problem of people having to pay hydro rates that are far too high in southern Ontario, in Ottawa-Carleton, in many of our other regions, simply because by definition they are Ontario Hydro rural customers.

I hope the parliamentary assistant and the minister will not see this bill as the be-all and end-all of the problem. The problem of high hydro rates for Ontario Hydro residential customers will continue. I very much hope the government will address that problem in very short order before hydro rates, with continued escalation, put the price of home heating and home utilities out of reach for many home owners.

Mr. Sterling: Mr. Speaker, as this bill affects two of the municipalities I represent, I want to indicate my support for the general principle of the bill, but also indicate some reservations about one portion of the legislation.

The new city of Kanata is most anxious to get on with the formation of its new hydro commission and has indicated support for this piece of legislation as it now stands. They have been working since their inception as a city to have this hydro commission in place for the beginning of next year.

Mr. McClellan: Which parliamentary assistant represents the government position?

Mr. Sterling: Mr. Speaker, I do represent the people of the city of Kanata and I do represent the people of the township of Goulbourn. At any rate, the other municipality, the township of Goulbourn, where a commission is created hereunder, has some reservations about the representation that is to make up the hydro commission.

Presently the hydro commission serves only the small hamlet or village of Richmond, which has approximately 2,500 people. The present legislation, under section 2(6), provides for four appointed representatives during the first term, two from within the village and two from without, in addition to the mayor or, in this case, her appointee. I would like to bring to the attention of the Legislature that the township of Goulbourn passed a resolution two days ago asking that the commission be made up of just two members from within the old village boundaries that existed prior to amalgamation, which took place in 1974. So the commission would be made up of three people.

2:20 p.m.

I have some sympathy with their particular proposal, but I want to have an explanation as to why the desire of the townships cannot be met in terms of this legislation. I hope the parliamentary assistant will help me along on that; otherwise I would request that the bill go into a committee so that I might attempt to amend that particular section.

I understand from discussing this matter with one of the councillors of the township that the issue as to the ultimate responsibility of this commission was not really placed on the table when this resolution was brought forward. Since that time, I have had a talk with people in the Ministry of Energy and they indicate to me that the contract, for instance, to supply power to the commission is actually signed with the township of Goulbourn and nut the hydro commission, so ultimately they are the responsible body for the liability on that contract if there should be a shortfall. In addition, if there was some liability incurred by the commission in carrying out its duties, there would be a liability which would eventually fall on the township as the principal obliged under that particular liability.

Having said that, and in recognition of the fact that the idea of having people appointed from outside the area would perhaps engender the possibility of expansion of the hydro commission to cover more people within the township, I do recognize that the practical situation in Richmond is that the hydro commission, being 100 per cent sure of the statement, will not expand in the next three years. With that particular knowledge, I would suggest that the board perhaps be made up with a majority or an assured majority from within the village, as most of the business of the commission will deal with the village people.

I conclude those remarks and I would ask the parliamentary assistant to answer my concerns on that matter. I would reserve the right to send this to committee if I am not satisfied.

Mr. Ashe: Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the limited comment that has been provided to help us to get along with the legislative program for this afternoon. I will try to respond in order to the points that have been raised.

The member for Halton-Burlington (Mr. J. Reed) did raise a very valid point and a very valid concern that took place within the restructured area that he partly represents. There is no doubt that the motivations were correct. In other words, what the readings that he referred to were trying to do was give a little leg up, shall we say, in a revenue sense to the new commissions. I suppose the time of the year added some impetus to that decision as well, but it provided the new municipality and the new commission with the opportunity to have a little extra revenue, albeit at the expense of Ontario Hydro, by reading the meters around the middle of the month, but quite correctly, I would think, by the jurisdiction and obligations we gave them by legislation, still being responsible for the area up to and including December 31 of the year in question.

There is no doubt as to what happened. People got a small bill and they were elated. It was their last one from Ontario Hydro. When they got the first bill from their new utility, they said, “Holy cats, they have put it to me again.” Obviously it was higher because there was a longer time frame, a longer service period covered. There is no doubt that we do recognize it, the commission had problems with it, the commissioners had problems with it, the member had problems, the ministry had problems with it and I had some problems with it in terms of some of the calls that came forward. I can assure you we will not allow that to happen again.

Of course, there are the two ways of doing it. One is trying to rationalize a reading on virtually the last day of the year, which I suppose in a straight physical sense is impossible. More important is that it is properly identified in the last bill and I hope in the first bill and that they are not covering the exact same service period. I appreciate those views which were brought forward and that concern, which was very legitimate. We did learn from that experience. It will be in effect for any future similar situation.

The member for Wentworth (Mr. Isaacs) tries to bring in apples and oranges and that really is not what we are talking about. There are differences between the rate structure generally for those areas referred to as the rural system served by Ontario Hydro and many of the utilities. That does not mean every local utility in the province has a cheaper rate than the Ottawa Hydro rural rate system would charge. That is not so, although there is no doubt the large majority are cheaper.

The inequities in the system are not rationalized by restructuring, Mr. Speaker. As a matter of fact, that compounds the problem. With various restructurings we generally take the cream of the service areas as they are generally identified -- the higher populated areas -- we take that revenue source out of the base for Ontario Hydro. Obviously that means the rest have to pay higher. There is no doubt, with the existing direction and existing policy, that differential would widen over the years.

It is a little unfair to suggest that the government and Ontario Hydro have not recognized the problem and the fact that the problem will only get worse. As a matter of fact, it is not that long ago that the Premier (Mr. Davis) and the Minister of Energy (Mr. Welch) did give a commitment to this Legislature and, in turn, direction to Ontario Hydro, to review the rate differential and come back with proposals that would better rationalize the rate differential.

That does not mean we will end up on January 1, 1981, with everybody in the province paying the same rate. I am not trying to get into that argument at this time. But the direction was to rationalize and hopefully reduce the rate differential and that is being done in another fashion.

There is a slight overlap in one of the other concerns brought forth by the member for Wentworth, along with my colleague from Carleton-Grenville (Mr. Sterling). Their reference was specific, relating to the area known as the township of Goulbourn and the makeup in the legislation of the commission to serve that municipality. I think at least part of the answer is when a commission and, in turn, when a council, should look at the opportunities to equate and expand a service area within their municipal boundaries.

There is no doubt we have, for the sake of a better description, imposed -- and I use that very softly because it is not an imposition in my view -- in restructuring legislation the obligation for a council to review the financial viability of expanding the commission’s service area in three years, in the case of the legislation before us. In some earlier legislation, in certain situations, a five-year review was mandatory to make sure that the elected representatives are made aware. We all know we get busy and things get pushed aside, time goes on and we may unconsciously -- and I am sure it is not planned -- forget about some of the constituents whom we also represent who are perhaps a little more removed from us.

What is happening here and the rationalization behind the representation pertaining to the Goulbourn commission is partly that fact. There is no doubt that at this point the service area that would be served by the township of Goulbourn commission which is being established is basically the old service area that was served by the former village of Richmond. Frankly, it no longer legally exists as a separate municipal entity, as the honourable member is aware.

As the member has already pointed out quite correctly, there is no doubt that the obligation, whether it be debt or otherwise, of a utility is the responsibility, in the end, of the total municipality and the ratepayers of that particular municipality, whether they be served or not.

The possible liability -- and I am not making any insinuations about this particular commission, at all; as a matter of fact, in the case of the Goulbourn commission that is presently serving the former village of Richmond, it is, as we see it, in an excellent position, and in fact has little, if any, long-term debt obligations. I am making that statement as a general comment. There is no doubt that any decisions which that commission would make in the future, involving financial commitments or financial obligations, would be on behalf of the whole municipality.

2:30 p.m.

The second point, which is an extension of that one, is that although the service area for that commission is at this point only a relatively small and relatively contained geographical area, in fact that commission will represent the total municipality. It is just for economic reasons, at this time, that the rest of the township will continue to be served, as it has been served, by the Ontario Hydro system.

In this particular part of the legislation, an automatic review has to be made by the township council, at least within three years. In practical terms, I think we can assume that the actual putting forward of a report and, in turn, a recommendation to the council, would come by way of the commission. I think it only right to state that it is fair and equitable, when that is being reviewed -- and forgetting all the other decisions that will be coming in front of that commission on a regular basis and from time to time -- that there be input. There is an overseeing responsibility on the part of those who represent an area of the municipality outside the area presently served by the local utility. I think that is a very important reason for the representation.

I think it could be correctly argued that if there were an imbalance of representation by the area not being served, that undoubtedly would not be fair. But the representation being put forward -- that is, the mayor of the municipality, two representatives from the area presently served by the utility, and two representatives from outside that area -- makes for fair and equitable input without imposing an imbalance upon the area not being served at this time.

I hope I have been able to address the various concerns that have been raised. I am quite aware of the strong feelings which have been expressed by the council of the township of Goulbourn, particularly by the mayor. I hope the legislation will go forward on the basis on which it now is. I think it is fair and equitable and consistent with other legislation.

I might say that in my own experience I have not had any feedback from other municipalities which have started out in this exact situation to suggest that they have had any difficulties with it, or that it has proved to be inoperable. In other words, I don’t think it is unfair to enable somebody who is not presently being served to participate, with an open mind, and to be called upon to make equitable decisions on something that may not directly affect them at that time, as long as we recognize that things may change in the future.

Motion agreed to.

Ordered for committee of the whole House.


Mr. Ashe, on behalf of Hon. Mr. Welch, moved second reading of Bill 93, An Act to provide for Municipal Hydro-Electric Service in the Regional Municipality of Hamilton-Wentworth.

Mr. Ashe: Mr. Speaker, as with the bill relating to the area of Ottawa-Carleton, this piece of legislation relating to the regional municipality of Hamilton-Wentworth creates some new utilities. Here again, those area municipalities that are not affected have not been included in the bill. Principally what we are doing is creating new commissions in Ancaster, Dundas, Flamborough and Stoney Creek, with only Dundas and Stoney Creek supplying to their total municipal boundary at this time. It also unfreezes the status of the commission in the city of Hamilton which was previously frozen by the legislation that created the regional municipality of Hamilton-Wentworth. But there are no other boundary changes or service area changes to the city of Hamilton per se.

Mr. J. Reed: Mr. Speaker, I would like to use the medium of the debate on this bill to comment for a moment on the intent of the legislation and the reasons why it is being brought into existence, and on the practical irrelevance of this bill, when it gets down to the nuts and bolts or the working situation, in the light of the kinds of hydroelectric power rates we are now paying in the province.

The intent of restructuring is fine. It is excellent, because it allows for the expansion of a utility to include a larger infrastructure and help rural customers to escape the incredible burden -- the roughly 30 per cent premium burden -- that has been traditionally placed on them in this province.

My colleague the member for Brant-Oxford-Norfolk (Mr. Nixon) has pointed out many times in this House that rural Ontario has the most expensive electric power rates west of New Brunswick. That seems rather a strong indictment of the policies the government endorses in the sale of electric power in this province, considering the fact we have one of the lower-priced electric power utilities in North America, and we should have the lowest price of electric power utilities in North America.

It is by no magic of great management, either on the part of the government or on the part of Ontario Hydro, that our rates are a little above those of Quebec but lower than those of some other utilities. In fact, if we were managing our utility properly, we should have the lowest electric power rates in North America simply because more than one third of the power in this province is still generated by hydraulic power through plants that were capitalized many years ago.

The great contributor to the increases in electric power rates in the province has been the gross overcapitalization of the system. I think the parliamentary assistant, if he were being truly honest and perhaps did not have to shore up the visions of this government, would agree with me on that one. We have overbuilt our system now to the tune of 4,000 megawatts.

It is interesting to observe that we have more than 10,000 megawatts of fossil fuel capacity in our electric power system in Ontario, we have about 6,100 megawatts of hydraulic capacity in Ontario and the rest, which consists of about 5,000 megawatts, is nuclear power. Yet it is still the cheap hydraulic system that shores up the electric power production in Ontario. It is still the most reliable; it is still the lowest in cost; it still gives us the best bang for the buck.

Years ago the province made a decision to go nuclear knowing full well there are still 10,800 megawatts of hydraulic power available in Ontario, at least half of which could be economically developed either by the utility or, if not by the utility, by private enterprise. This is something I have admonished the government for over the last four years.

2:40 p.m.

It is these choices that have been made in capitalization, in the incredible cost per installed kilowatt, that have led to the rates which have increased to the extent that they have almost made the presentation of these bills and the restructuring irrelevant because, in spite of the fact that the rural people should and will gain -- theoretically, if you like -- when they are included in restructuring, in actual fact the gain is obliterated as the years go by.

I think the announcement has been made that the application will be made for another increase of more than nine per cent in bulk power rates in Ontario next year. It is unnecessary, it is unconscionable and it is a reflection of incredibly bad management, bad forecasting and lack of foresight. All of this has been condoned by a government that has allowed a utility to be out of control since 1973, through the introduction of the Power Corporation Act, which has not been amended, and which has allowed it to proceed since; it has recognized its weaknesses, but has done nothing about them.

It has to be said that we can manipulate the structuring, and it is advisable and desirable to take as much of rural Ontario into this restructuring as possible but, in all fairness, unless we come to grips with these incredible increases in electric power rates, this restructuring will quickly become meaningless in the eyes of the electric power consumers, and rightly so, because they should not have to be paying these rates. They should not have to be paying these increases, nor should they have to be carrying the burden of 4,000 extra megawatts of investment in our system which was a bad choice, or a badly timed choice, if you like.

I can only hope that after another election in Ontario, when there will be a change of government, there will be some kind of energy policy in the province which the electric power utility will have to address and accept. Then we can go on to rationalizing electric power rates.

Mr. Isaacs: Mr. Speaker, in rising to participate in this debate I welcome this bill, because it is something the citizens of several parts of the area of Hamilton-Wentworth have been awaiting for a very long time.

However, I want to make some comments, not only along the lines of those I made on the last bill, but also in terms of the procedures and the lack of information that has been provided with regard to the way this bill will affect hydro service in Hamilton-Wentworth.

With regard to the township of Glanbrook, which is in my riding, that will continue to be served by Ontario Hydro. I understand the reason for that and I have to say, without repeating the arguments, that I still feel there is a very serious problem with Ontario Hydro rural rates. The parliamentary assistant’s assurance that this is being investigated by Ontario Hydro on the direction of the Premier and the Minister of Energy is not good enough. We need action to transfer the burden of these hydro rates from residential customers to the large users.

With regard to the municipality in which I live, Stoney Creek, and the impact of this bill upon it, I want to share with the House and with the parliamentary assistant, and through him, I would hope, the minister, some of the concerns I have about the approach that was taken and the results which appear to he coming from this bill.

We are setting up a hydroelectric commission for the town of Stoney Creek that is separate from the Hamilton Hydro-Electric Commission. Informed rumour in Hamilton-Wentworth has it that the citizens of Stoney Creek could have enjoyed lower hydro rates if there had been one hydro commission covering both Stoney Creek and the city of Hamilton, and possibly including Dundas as well. But that system was scuttled because of disputes among the local politicians who saw that as a foot in the door for a system of local government that some of them opposed.

Unfortunately, the bill is not amendable in that regard, because it would totally destroy the purpose of this bill and would require essentially a whole new bill. I must say it is tempting to ask for that information in committee and to review whether the residential power users in Hamilton-Wentworth might not be better served if there were a single hydro utility for the contiguous area of hydro service in Hamilton-Wentworth.

I recognize that in Flamborough, and possibly in Ancaster, that might not be the appropriate way to go. But at least in Stoney Creek, and perhaps in Dundas, according to the rumours I have heard, those residential power consumers can look forward to paying higher hydro rates than they would have done if there had been a single power utility. If that is true, then I have some concerns about that. I hope the local politicians who are responsible for making that decision will be happy to justify it to the electorate when they go before the electorate this fall.

Second, I want to talk about the timing of the bill and some of the things that appear to have been going on, or may not have been going on, but which have been hidden by a smokescreen. I have had some extensive conversations with one of the representatives on the local hydro utility restructuring committee, Councillor Jack Norris of the town of Stoney Creek. I want to pay tribute to Councillor Norris, because I think he has done an excellent job of representing the town on that commission.

The people who were involved in restructuring at the local level went through the entire process. Unfortunately, it took a long time because of the local disputes I have just referred to but, finally, they came up with a proposal that was approved by all the local councils and went to the ministry. Those people apparently met with staff of the ministry and, I believe, with the parliamentary assistant some time back in March, at the same time that the local members were invited to meet with the parliamentary assistant and his staff. They were not allowed to take away a copy of the bill at that time. Until the bill was tabled in this House, the local councils that are so intimately involved in this issue had nothing to review.

As we know, the bill was tabled on June 5 and is being debated here today. If nothing else, but out of courtesy to the local councils, I suggest they should have been provided with a copy of the bill or with a copy of the draft bill if there were minor wording changes that needed to be dealt with, so that they could have reviewed it in a little more depth than has been possible in the last barely two weeks since this bill was introduced.

I think there is a communication problem, and I have to say that it has given the impression of there being a smokescreen and that there must be something in this bill that the government wants to get through without creating too much of a local uproar. I have to say that as soon as the bill was tabled in this House I took responsibility for distributing it the following day to members of the local council and to people in Hydro, because they had not got one from the minister yet. I have since talked to some of those people to satisfy myself that there is not something in this bill that the government is trying to sneak through.

I must say that no one has yet found that. Therefore, I am prepared to say on the best information I have to date that it is probably only an appearance of trying to sneak something through. I somehow resent that appearance being given. I think it is pretty bad form to deal with local councils in that way. The parliamentary assistant is probably aware that he has been pretty heavily criticized by the local council in Stoney Creek for handling it in this way and not giving them the opportunity to discuss the bill fully before it is discussed by us here today. There is something strange and something wrong about the timing.

2:50 p.m.

The next item I want to discuss is the matter of hydro rates. I want to repeat what I said on the last bill. Surely the major purpose of restructuring is to ensure that the people who are not now in a hydro utility but who will be in a local hydro utility as a result of this bill can enjoy lower hydro rates. That is surely the main purpose. There are secondary purposes, of course, in terms of better local planning, better communication, direct accountability to the customer and those kinds of things which are terribly important. But surely the major purpose is to provide lower urban hydro rates for people who live in the area affected by the new local utilities.

In the town of Stoney Creek there has been a tremendous inequity ever since regional government came in, and indeed before that, because hydro rates have nothing to do with regional government. People in the former town of Stoney Creek are paying almost half the hydro rates that the people in the former township of Saltfleet are paying. This is because the people in the former township of Saltfleet, even those who are in a fully urbanized area of the former township of Saltfleet, are direct customers of Ontario Hydro and are paying these exorbitant Ontario Hydro rural residential rates to which we have previously referred.

That inequity cannot continue if one believes in a unified municipality. The purpose of this bill, as I understand it, will be to set in place a uniform hydro rate across the entire town of Stoney Creek. If that is not the purpose, I hope there will be a response from the parliamentary assistant later on. It is certainly thought by everyone I have consulted, and by all members of the public in Stoney Creek, that the purpose is to put in one single residential hydro rate for the entire town of Stoney Creek, which is the area to be covered by the new hydro utility. I assume that is what we will see.

That leads to a problem, because the people in the former town of Stoney Creek are paying rates so much lower than those paid by people in the former township of Saltfleet that either the rates of those who are Ontario Hydro direct customers will have to drop very substantially or the people in the former town of Stoney Creek are going to see a dramatic increase in their hydro rates to something close to the Ontario Hydro rural rate level. This, of course, would be terribly unfair, and I hope it is not what is intended.

It had been understood by everyone involved, including myself and, I am sure, my former colleagues on Stoney Creek council, that the effect of this bill would be to introduce to Stoney Creek a new residential hydro rate that would be a tiny bit higher for residential customers in the old town of Stoney Creek but quite a bit lower for residential customers in the former township of Saltfleet. Thus, some overall economies would be realized, and there would be a bit of a balancing.

The mayor of Stoney Creek recently has made some comments which give the impression that this is not what is going to happen, and that people in the former township of Saltfleet will not be able to look forward to lower hydro rates as a result of this bill. The imprecision given me by a reporter from the Stoney Creek News is that the mayor has been telling people that the rates in the former township of Saltfleet probably will not drop at present, at least to any significant extent, but that there will be long-term gains because the rate of increase will not be as great as the rate of increase would have been if they had continued to be Ontario Hydro customers.

I have no way of knowing where the mayor’s information comes from, or how he comes to that conclusion about future changes, because none of us can predict future Ontario Hydro rural residential rates, especially if there is a change of government.

The problem is, if people in the former township of Saltfleet are not going to see a substantial drop in their hydro rates, does that mean that people in the former town of Stoney Creek will see a dramatic increase in their present hydro rates to something close to the Ontario Hydro rural rate? If they do, I can tell the parliamentary assistant very directly that they do not want this bill; they do not want any part of it. That is surely not the intent.

I hope the parliamentary assistant can provide a reasonable amount of detail as to the residential rates that will be charged to hydro customers in both parts of the existing town of Stoney Creek, the old town of Stoney Creek and the old township of Saltfleet, and that he can put to rest the fears that are being raised by the mayor’s comments.

As part of the background information to this bill, there should have been a compilation of the rate structures that can be expected in each of the new hydro commissions, on the assumption that the new commissions will follow the kind of procedures a new commission is likely to follow. I do not want the government to tell them what to do, but surely the government knows what kind of rates will be in place when the new commissions come into effect next year. I do not understand why that information has been kept secret, and I hope that the fears I have mentioned are unjustified. I hope that, as a result of this bill, hydro users in the former township of Saltfleet can expect next year a substantial decrease in their hydro rates, because that is what they deserve.

Further, on the rate issue, I am aware that the whole matter is going to have to go to the Ontario Energy Board, and there is one aspect of that to which I want to refer. At present within the town of Stoney Creek there is a provision offered -- not offered, but extorted by that hydro commission -- whereby a new customer in a home that is electrically heated has to pay a deposit of $200 before that hydro commission is prepared to offer that customer any hydro service at all.

I want to suggest to the parliamentary assistant that that kind of thing has recently been abolished by Bell Canada. We have finally convinced Bell Canada and the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission to get away from that kind of usurious deposit arrangement. I hope that something can be done to ensure that, when the new hydro commission comes into effect, customers who live in electrically heated homes in the former township of Saltfleet are not suddenly hit with a request for a $200 deposit before the new hydro commission is prepared to serve them.

I further hope that when the new commission comes into effect those who have had to pay this usurious deposit to the old Stoney Creek Hydro-Electric Commission will immediately get it back and deposits will no longer be required of customers for hydro service. Those deposits are very often an absolutely unreasonable amount of money compared to the amount of hydro the customer is going to use and compared to the ability of a tenant in an apartment to pay. If you move into an apartment at $200 a month and find it is an electrically heated apartment, and the hydro utility wants another $200 before it will provide you with hydro, that is going way too far, in my view. That kind of thing should not be allowed by any hydro commission in this province.

Those are my concerns on this bill. I look forward to hearing the response, because some real concerns have been generated out there in Stoney Creek in the last three or four months simply because of the way this bill has been handled and simply because of a lack of information that is being provided to the public about the bill.

I hope it is a good bill, because the intent is good. But if the parliamentary assistant cannot assure us that it is a good bill, then it may be appropriate to take a look at it in a committee to find out exactly what is going on behind this bill, which has been clouded in a smokescreen, so that the customers of the new hydro service in Stoney Creek can be assured they will get the best possible hydro rates, which is surely what this House should be providing to them.

Mr. Cunningham: Mr. Speaker, I would like to indicate my support for the legislation. As I see it, the object of the exercise is to restructure a number of small utilities within the Hamilton-Wentworth area, and I endorse that activity.

Unlike my colleague the member for Wentworth, I have a great deal of confidence in the administrative ability of our smaller utilities, and I welcome their existence, especially as they are now going to be restructured in the current context of municipalities through Bill 155.

3 p.m.

The Waterdown facility, which services the one square mile of the village of Waterdown, coincidentally happens to be run by my next-door neighbour, and I believe extremely well. After the restructuring takes place, I would hazard a guess that probably it would be her responsibility, again in administrative fashion, to oversee the activities of the amended and slightly larger utility.

I, too, am concerned about the problem of rates. I share the concerns expressed by both the previous speakers about the possibility of an excessive rate increase and the implementation of this bill at the same time as the Ontario Hydro rate will increase. With that rate increase -- and I am not necessarily suspicious about the motive for the bill -- I see some problems that can occur in an administrative fashion relating to the dispensing of the bill and the assumption on the part of the public that they are getting an excessive rate increase that would be unfair.

The primary problem in the delivery of hydro service, as I see it, is not the administration of the smaller utilities. The parliamentary assistant might recall the difficulties we had with the Dundas Public Utilities Commission some time ago, although I believe those problems have been straightened out by some personnel realignment. Our primary problem with regard to Ontario Hydro rates is the mismanagement of Hydro itself.

Ironically, as I was contemplating some brief remarks here today on the occasion of this bill late last night, I read today’s Globe and Mail as I often do. I think the Globe and Mail refers to it as the bulldog edition. In the Report on Business, which I never fail to miss, they have an advertisement for three rather extensive positions, one for a motion picture photographer, one for a motion picture assistant producer and one for a motion picture editor.

This is not a casual, passing advertisement in the classified section. This is about half a page by three columns, and that ain’t cheap either, sir, with respect. I would hazard a guess that an advertisement in the Report on Business might cost $1,000 in itself, which I regard as excessive. The bad news is they will probably run it for three or four days and in a couple of dozen other papers. I am at a loss to know why Ontario Hydro would require a motion picture photographer, a motion picture assistant producer --

Mr. Deputy Speaker: Perhaps the honourable member would return to Bill 93.

Mr. Cunningham: I was just getting there, Mr. Speaker, with your indulgence. My concern, and I will conclude very briefly, is that things are running wild in that operation. It is incredible to me the amount of money that is spent there on a daily basis without a great deal of accountability, if I may say so. We are going to have a problem when I have to explain to my constituents why they are experiencing rate increases and why in the rural areas the Ontario rural rate is what I would call usurious. I can only refer them to advertisements such as this, when they are hiring people. I never knew Ontario Hydro was now in the motion picture business. God knows what we are going to have next.

I support the legislation with the caveat that I, too, hope we are not in a situation a year or 16 months from now where we have to provide explanations to our people, especially in the rural areas, who are already overtaxed from other areas of government. I hope the parliamentary assistant, in his day-to-day activities, will attempt to see there is a little more than a cursory, casual examination of the activities of Ontario Hydro.

Mr. Ashe: Mr. Speaker, general support seems to have been indicated for the legislation although, having listened to the member for Wentworth, I am not quite sure. It is too bad that members have tried to use the opportunity of this legislation to spend most of their remarks rationalizing or otherwise the rate structure in Ontario, whether Ontario Hydro’s or otherwise. It was an excellent opportunity for Hydro blasting, but that is par for the course.

Let me touch upon a few of the points that were made. First of all there was the reference by the member for Halton-Burlington to the overbuilt system, the rates being highest and whatever. Of course, that is not true, to start with. We all know, if one takes the highest low-density rate structure, it is higher. I will not even dispute that it is highest in the area west of New Brunswick, if I recall correctly what he said. But there is only a relatively small percentage of our population served by that rate. Again, that is taking a number out of perspective and using it as the blanket approach. That is completely inaccurate and conveys an incorrect message.

He also talked about overbuilding. We will not get into this in any great detail because we have gone though it before. There is no doubt that the Ontario Hydro system -- the retail system or the wholesale system -- has world recognition in terms of its technology, its administrative abilities, its security of supply, its forward thinking and its forward planning. It is not recognized as such only in North America, but also throughout the world -- including the Hamilton-Wentworth area that we are speaking to in this legislation.

An overabundance of supply does have an effect upon rates. Many members -- a few opposite and the odd one in the third party -- take a capitalization cost and say that is the only cost of the overabundance of supply. They fail to recognize many other important considerations. They do not talk about the net revenues that accrue to the hydro users in the province because of export sales. They do not talk about the very positive benefits of being able to shut down some of the higher-cost generating capacity in this province.

Ms. Gigantes: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order --

Mr. Speaker: There is really nothing out of order.

Ms. Gigantes: I do not understand how it can be taken that he is speaking to the principle of the bill. He is launching into an enormous, long-winded defence of Hydro overcapacity.

Mr. Speaker: I am listening very carefully and, when there is something out of order, I will draw it to the members’ attention.

Mr. Ashe: I am glad to hear that, Mr. Speaker. Thank you very much.

I made specific notes relative to the honourable members opposite who spoke to the so-called principle of the bill, and I am trying to respond to them in the order that I noted them. I think the record will show exactly that.

There was reference made to overbuilding and 4,000 megawatts, and I am responding to that point. We all know that much of the system is not utilized because we do have the supply of hydraulic and we do have the supply of nuclear. It is those stations, using nonrenewable resources, that we are reducing at a time when we are trying throughout the world to cut down on our use of coal, oil and natural gas. These are the systems that are not operating because we have the opportunity to substitute with other forms of generation.

There was also reference made to the additional availability of 10,800 megawatts of hydraulic generation. In a straight number, yes, that is quite true. But, believe it or not, Ontario Hydro and others do look upon what is acceptable in this day and age environmentally and financially, and there is no doubt at all that 10,800 megawatts is not practical at all; about 2,000 megawatts is, and it is being examined in much more detail.

Mr. J. Reed: They never studied it.

Mr. Ashe: The member for Halton-Burlington is going off on a tangent, and I would love to respond, but respecting you, Mr. Speaker, and what we are trying to accomplish, I will pass at this point.

I am not quite sure whether the member for Wentworth is now supporting one-tier government in the Hamilton-Wentworth area. If he is, I wish he would get up and say so to this Legislature or to his constituents. If what he wants is a one-tier utility, I do not see how he can rationalize that position and at the same time say he does not want a one-tier regional government. He is talking out of both sides of his mouth at the same time, which is somewhat incompatible, to put it very bluntly.

3:10 p.m.

Mr. Isaacs: it is unrelated.

Mr. Ashe: It is completely related. I will give the member for Wentworth the benefit of the doubt, recognizing he was part of the municipal system and has not been around here too long. But it is too bad that, when he was in the municipal system, he did not know what was going on around him in the restructuring process. If he did, he would not have mentioned many of the time frames he did.

If he had been aware of the system, he would know there was a local study group, which had representation from all areas, that made up the committee that looked into restructuring. They, in turn, had a technical committee -- a resource group, as they called it -- which looked into all the items that were referred to: one-tier rates and combination rates, if one puts this municipality with that one or puts these three together. They looked at the projected rates for 1979 as well as the revenue requirements. They projected that same revenue requirement and anticipated rate to 1982.

This has been public information since May 1979, not May 1980. He seems to imply that these figures have been hidden from himself and the people he purports to represent. This has been available since May 1979. Nothing is being hidden by this government, by the members of that study team or the resource group behind it. I am quite sure, if the member had a better line of communication with the council in his area, he would be aware that they are aware of the numbers that are in here. Regardless of what the rumours are, they are there.

In terms of who makes the ultimate decision as to service areas and whether they charge all of their users the same rate or not, it is quite rightly the decision of the local utility, in this government’s view. If they want to have a different rate for the present service area from that for the new service area, that is their decision. We do not impose that decision on them. I would suggest to the member that most utilities will not go that route including, among others, the one that will be serving Stoney Creek. One of the reasons was to rationalize the rate over a total area.

The member was correct in two things. There is no doubt if there was a one-tier utility in the regional municipality of Hamilton-Wentworth or if the areas he described, Dundas and Stoney Creek, went together with Hamilton, then his area municipality would benefit. This was a well-known fact.

The member’s elected representatives at the municipal level made the conscious decision that they were quite prepared to suffer, if that is the right word, the consequences of paying the higher rate for having a local utility but also having local autonomy. At least they were being consistent, because they have carried forth the same view vis-à-vis representation and regional government as a whole, whether it be one-tier or two-tier government. At least they are being consistent. The honourable member is not, I must say. In any event, they are aware of this.

There is also no doubt it is true in Stoney Creek as well as in pretty well all other areas that have taken a present rural area and added it to a present urban area -- in many cases it is only the urban area that has been served in the past -- that generally what happens is that the rural area comes down and the urban area in the short term goes up. It varies from municipality to municipality.

Also in the projections, they tried to see the advantages of that kind of amalgamation and the economy of service they could provide. They do not have to double everything by doubling the service area and so on. In the long run, it was felt they could give a better service at a more responsible level rate to all of the people they serve rather than just in the localized, urban area.

They key point I want to make in responding to the member for Wentworth is that there is nothing out of order and nothing untoward in the process. In terms of who should get the bill first, I can just imagine that one of the first members who would stand up in his place on a point of order if the government started distributing legislation before we tabled it in here would be the member for Wentworth, among others, and quite rightly so: Yes, we talked about the principles of the bill. Yes, the legislation has generally been based on the study team’s report. We do not always agree 100 per cent, but they are aware of the principles and, as members know, we have had dialogue with the members that represent each area.

When the bill is finally printed, in each and every case of restructuring in this province, we have had copies of the bills delivered by courier in the quantities needed as soon as they were available from the presses. That is not the day they are introduced in this Legislature, I can assure the honourable member. They are just not available that quickly. It takes a day or two to print them. On the same day as we get them they are distributed by courier to the areas affected. Nothing was handled differently in the Hamilton-Wentworth area from the way it was done in Ottawa-Carleton or in all others that preceded it.

I appreciate the support of the member for Wentworth North for the bill. He got into the rate question, which I will not go over again, as to whether Hydro is running wild. That is a point of view that, needless to say, I do not support, for the reasons I have expressed previously.

Generally, I think it is safe to say that for this piece of legislation, as with the previous bill, there is general support in this Legislature. There is also general support in the area and in the municipalities this legislation is designed to serve.

Motion agreed to.

Ordered for third reading.

House in committee of the whole.


Consideration of Bill 92, An Act to provide for Municipal Hydro-Electric Service in certain area municipalities in the Regional Municipality of Ottawa-Carleton.

Section 1 agreed to.

On section 2:

Mr. Chairman: Mr. Sterling moves that section 2(6)1 be amended by deleting “two” and substituting therefor “three,” and that section 2(6)2 be amended by deleting “two” and substituting therefor “one.”

Mr. Sterling: Mr. Chairman, this board, as outlined in the present section, would have a membership of five: the mayor, two members from within the village of Richmond, and two members from without the village of Richmond. My proposal is that the membership would be composed of the mayor, three members within and one without the village of Richmond.

The reason I am proposing this change is that the majority of the business of the hydro commission relates only to the village of Richmond, which is a community of 2,500 people, whereas there are 9,000 people in the township of Goulbourn. Their business is of little interest to the rest of the township of Goulbourn at this time.

There are no present plans to widen the scope of the area that is covered by the hydro commission, as most of the area surrounding the village of Richmond is agricultural land, and therefore there are no densely populated areas in the immediate area of the village of Richmond.

3:20 p.m.

As mentioned in my earlier remarks, the township of Goulbourn asked that all representation from outside the village of Richmond be eliminated; in other words, that the board should be composed of three: two representatives from the village, and the mayor.

Unfortunately, I cannot support their particular proposal because of the arguments put forward by the parliamentary assistant to the Minister of Energy (Mr. Welch), in that there is some interest in the township’s having an outside representative on that board. That is because the eventual liability could fall on the township’s shoulders. That, in general, is related to the fact that the contract to supply bulk power is made between the township and Ontario Hydro, and the commission is an agent of the township.

I feel that, with one person from outside, any proposals for expansion would be brought forward by that person to the council, which makes the ultimate decision in terms of expansion of the hydro area, and that there would be someone there who would be concerned, with the rest of the ratepayers in the township of Goulbourn, as to the ultimate liability of the township. Therefore, I am proposing this amendment and urge the members to support it.

Mr. Ashe: Mr. Chairman, I am not going to go through all of the discussion I went through before as to the rationalization behind it. Frankly, I think the amendment still recognizes the spirit of having the input from those areas of the municipality not being served by the utility. That part, I think, covers most of the concerns that I did have.

Having said that, there is no doubt that I could argue equally vehemently that it should also be a balanced view, with the mayor holding what we may call, for lack of a better description, the balance of power, if there were ever a conflict or opposing views concerning the two-and-two philosophy.

That is the only concern I have about the three-one setup. Effectively, the liaison is there, but any meaningful voting power is removed with the three-one split; this again assumes that the mayor is always there with an unbiased, overview position representing the whole municipality. That is not there any longer, because we already have three-one, which could become three-two if the mayor sided with the one vote.

That still does cause me some concern, and I think two-two, overall, is fairer; but if, in the opinion of this committee, three-one-one is in order, I think at least part of the concerns about ongoing input and review capabilities are also there. So I think it is better than total removal.

What I am saying is, I think the section as amended is best. The amendment as put forward is second best, but I do not have strong feelings against it.

Ms. Gigantes: Mr. Chairman, I would like to say a word on this. I am somewhat bemused, having sat through the morning with both the member for Durham West (Mr. Ashe) and the member for Carleton-Grenville (Mr. Sterling), and having discussed the representation on the regional municipality of Ottawa-Carleton.

An incredible amount of philosophy was put forward in support of the idea that the city of Ottawa, although it has the bulk of the population of the regional municipality of Ottawa-Carleton, has no right to come forward with the request that would have assured that it was close to being represented, in terms of representation by population, on the regional council of Ottawa-Carleton.

We heard arguments from the member for Carleton-Grenville at that meeting this morning about how it would do so much for harmony in the Ottawa-Carleton regional municipality if we could just get Ottawa to sacrifice its vote so that everybody who lived outside Ottawa would feel that it was not trying to overpower the rest of the municipalities within Ottawa-Carleton.

We have before us an amendment which seems to me to conflict with the very philosophy he enunciated this morning. I just wish he could explain the idea he has put forward here now, which the parliamentary assistant seems to accept. I can understand some reason for it, although I think one has to think in terms of the relative populations of the two service areas that are being combined here and wonder whether, under the growth conditions that will be occurring in the area, it is enough to have one vote from the township of Goulbourn. That vote is not going to carry much weight. It will be a liaison, as the parliamentary assistant says.

I can certainly see more reason for the proposition of spreading the votes around in this case than perhaps I could this morning, yet this very same member who this morning called upon the city of Ottawa to show its generosity of spirit and commitment to the regional municipal theory of government in Ontario is now saying to us it is going to be the village of Richmond which will end up with the liability. My goodness, if the village of Richmond eventually has to face up to liabilities -- and we are not predicting that is going to happen; the honourable member is worrying about the final analysis I presume -- there are three votes on that commission as it is proposed in the bill that would provide protection.

The mayor of the township of Goulbourn is surely going to have a concern about that. What is the great fear? I don’t understand it and I don’t understand how this principle comes forward this afternoon when it was rejected by the very same member this morning. Perhaps he can explain, and if he can explain, he can convince me.

Mr. Sterling: Mr. Chairman, maybe it is a lack of understanding of exactly where this commission serves or what it does serve. It serves only the village of Richmond. They don’t serve anybody else in the township as far as that goes, so therefore, in terms of the day-to-day operation, what is happening with the commission generally never comes before anybody else in that township at this time. There is no planning going on. There are no services outside of the Richmond area, and I really think it is stretching the point to compare it to the city of Ottawa and the regional municipality of Ottawa-Carleton.

When we talk about the impact the regional municipality has on the rural areas it is very significant. They hold the overall planning powers for the areas outside of the city of Ottawa, and that is the major objection to not having an equal representation, as between the city of Ottawa and the other municipalities.

In this particular case, the only people who are really interested in the commission are the people within Richmond. The ultimate financial responsibility doesn’t lie with the commission, it lies with the council. The commission will go to the council when it wants to borrow money, and the council will ultimately deal with it, and deal with the problem of expansion, if that is going to take place, if it wants that to take place.

Therefore, in proposing this amendment I have tried to balance the interest of the other township residents outside, who have very little to do with the business of the commission, with those people who in fact are using it on a day-to-day basis. I think the balance in terms of three to one to one is more equitable in this situation, and it is as simple as that.

Ms. Gigantes: The advantage in terms of rates under this proposal is going to go to those people who are served by the new commission. It will be going to the people in Richmond. It is those very people in the township of Goulbourn outside the town of Richmond who will be paying the Ontario Hydro rates and he says they have no interest in the ongoing everyday business of what that commission will be doing over the next few years.

3:30 p.m.

I suggest that they will indeed have an interest. For the member to say that the city of Ottawa has ultimate planning control over the outlying area municipalities of the Ottawa-Carleton region and, therefore, the cases are totally dissimilar is just not the case.

The city of Ottawa has participated in planning decisions that affected the outlying municipalities, but it has never voted as a bloc as it has done so in planning terms. Secondly, the outlying municipalities under the Regional Municipality of Ottawa-Carleton Act have exerted planning decisions which affected the downtown core of the city of Ottawa. That is the way life is and that is the way it has worked. This member this morning was lecturing the city of Ottawa about how it should continue to work that way and more so.

I think he is going to have to make up his mind on the principle involved here. I think the principle is very much the same indeed. I wonder how those several thousand people in the township of Goulbourn are going to feel when we go back to them and say: “Instead of having two votes in this new reorganized area, you who will be paying the higher rate in the reorganized area will only have one vote. You are going to have one vote because it is the township of Richmond which eventually has to pay the bill.” Of course, this was an argument he rejected when it was presented in terms of the city of Ottawa within the Ottawa-Carleton regional municipality this morning. One did not discuss the fact that the city of Ottawa pays 65 per cent of the Ottawa-Carleton regional municipality taxes.

Mr. Sterling: How much did they spend?

Ms. Gigantes: Sixty-five per cent. And the minister would not even give them an extra seat. The city of Ottawa raises 65 per cent. The minister did not take that into account this morning.

Just what is the principle here and what are people going to say in the township of Goulbourn? They are not being advantaged by this situation except in that they get representation in the reorganized commission. Unless they get that representation, how are they being advantaged? Perhaps the member could explain that.

Mr. Sterling: Mr. Chairman, I do not want to prolong this. The fact of the matter is that if the township of Goulbourn and its municipal council had asked this Legislature to give representation on the hydro commission to residents of Richmond alone, I would take that as some point of leadership as to what that township wants.

Only one councillor comes from the village of Richmond, as well as the mayor. But there are three other councillors who do not come from the village of Richmond. If this was their concern, then they would have expressed that in terms of wanting it maintained the same way as it is now. The parallels are just a little bit ridiculous, I have to say to the member for Carleton East. The similarities are so wide apart that for the member to draw any parallel is just a little bit beyond belief in this case.

Mr. Isaacs: If I can comment, Mr. Chairman I certainly support the remarks made by my colleague from Carleton East. I think there is one other factor that is being forgotten in this debate. There was a study committee set up in Ottawa-Carleton, the same as in Hamilton-Wentworth, which I was very well aware of and which the parliamentary assistant described before.

The procedures that have led to this bill were presumably discussed by all the municipal councils and presumably the draft bill at some stage was presented to those municipal councils. Though if it worked in Ottawa-Carleton the way it worked in Hamilton Wentworth I do not know whether they were really satisfied with what they got. But there were representatives of Goulbourn on the steering committee and they were involved in setting up this procedure.

At the last minute, the member for the area comes rushing in with an amendment that they suddenly discovered they needed. I have to ask why this has arisen at the last minute and why that council did not have its input when it should have done back in the smooth flow of the procedure.

Mr. Ashe: Being fair to the member referred to, this is not a new concern as expressed particularly by the mayor of that municipality. I will acknowledge that. That has been her position particularly. I cannot say it has been until recently the position of the council particularly, but there is no doubt it was the position of the mayor for some time. Again, I repeat, I support the bill the way it is. I think the balance is fair overall and, therefore, I have to be opposed to the amendment, Mr. Chairman.

Mr. Chairman: All those in favour of Mr. Sterling’s amendment will please say “aye.”

All those opposed will please say “nay.”

In my opinion the nays have it.

Motion negatived.

Section 2 agreed to.

Sections 3 to 16, inclusive, agreed to.

Bill 93 reported.

On motion by Hon. Mr. Snow, the committee of the whole House reported one bill without amendment.


Hon. Mr. Snow moved second reading of Bill 65, An Act to amend the Highway Traffic Act.

Hon. Mr. Snow: Mr. Speaker, I do not have any remarks on this bill, which includes various amendments. I commented on them at the introduction of the bill. I would like to say I will be asking that this bill go into committee. I would ask for consent of the House to add a section to Bill 65 which was not within the scope of the bill as introduced on May 1. The proposed additional section was distributed to opposition critics a considerable time ago.

Subsequent to first reading we became aware of an appeal which is currently before the Supreme Court of Ontario and which puts the effectiveness of section 147 in question. This is a section that permits the owner of a vehicle to be charged instead of the driver for most offences committed under the act except moving offences. This concept has been a basic provision of the act since 1905.

As an example, if the intent of the section were not upheld by the courts, we would have no choice but to charge individual truck drivers with weight offences and vehicle defects rather than the carriers for whom they work. This would in many cases, I think in most cases, be unfair to the drivers and would largely nullify the registrar’s disciplinary powers under section 27 with respect to vehicle permits.

In view of the impact of an unfavourable court decision while the House is in recess, I feel that corrective action should be taken today. I ask for consent to re-enact section 147 in a clearer form.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. MacBeth): The minister is asking for that consent now, and I gather the House has agreed.

Mr. Cunningham: Mr. Speaker, it is unlikely we would have an unfavourable decision while we are in recess because, while we are, usually the courts are in recess as well. I do not know if that is a good thing or a bad thing.

We support the legislation, and I am going to restrict my comments in the hope that will move this debate a little faster. I welcome the series of amendments in this particular bill. I am not going to go through them item by item because I believe they are self-explanatory. But I am particularly attracted to several items and I want to commend the minister for bringing them in, specifically, the changes as they relate to vehicles themselves.

I am appreciative of the amendments that will more clearly define the safety problems inherent in cars that have been tampered with.

3:40 p.m.

Those of us who do any kind of driving on the highways see all sorts of -- I guess I would refer to it as creativity on the parts of owners of certain vehicles. Cars are jacked up sometimes to an almost absurd height. With some of these cars one can almost actually feel the aggression of the owner by taking a look at it. I am not necessarily making a comment with regard to an offensive looking Woody Woodpecker on the rear fender. But we see them all the time, and one almost wishes sometimes he were an officer of the law, or that an officer of the law were close by to apprehend some of these people.

I am not saying everybody who has a jacked-up car and excessively wide tires is an irresponsible driver, but I would certainly like to see the accident statistics as they relate to these types of vehicles.

I can recall visiting in Saskatchewan with the select committee on company law and looking at one of the accident claims centres there. Because of their government insurance system they have government claims centres. They even have government body shops, I think. I do not necessarily subscribe to that point of view, but I do recall --

Mr. Bradley: Were they on strike when you were there?

Mr. Cunningham: I didn’t know they were on strike at that time.

I do recall looking with interest at the vehicles that were coming in. It was generally the habit of the driver of the vehicle to bring his or her car in when repairs or body work were required. Invariably, a lot of the drivers were younger males, and I think our insurance rates reflect that; certainly theirs do.

I saw a lot of cars that I would refer to as having been tampered with. They were jacked up. They had funny things done to their suspensions that I am not technically qualified to comment on. But I think if Ford or GM or anybody else wanted cars to be made that way they would have made them that way in the first place -- wide tires, noisy mufflers and a series of all sorts of other inventions that I don’t think are in keeping with safe driving and safety on the highways. So I support that aspect of the legislation and I welcome its adoption, especially the provisions as they relate to tires. I think it is a common-sense provision.

The minister has had meetings, I believe, with a constituent of his with regard to the product called Reflecto which they put on car windows now. This is becoming a bit of a problem, and I suppose that is why we are seeing it in the legislation today. I welcome that move as well. The only caveat I would offer is that we do not interpret this provision with a great deal of licence. I would prefer that we tread lightly on that. I think it is all right as long as one can see through a window from a certain distance -- and I would hope that some consideration is given to people who have tinted windshields -- as long as the police can see in them. I think that is the principle behind the amendment as I understand it.

I have discussed it with the minister. I have his assurance that the regulations will be fair and equitable. I don’t want to see somebody in a situation where they have to have the windows in their car replaced or they have to incur a great deal of expense when one actually can see into the car. But I find it disturbing to drive on the highways and see a car beside me and it almost seems as if one is looking into a state trooper’s sunglasses. One can’t see what is going on in that car and one often wonders what is going on in those cars. I know the member for --

Mr. Nixon: I wonder about your car sometimes.

Mr. Cunningham: My car is just fine. When the member passes my car, though, he goes so fast he can’t see it.

I hope when the minister brings in those regulations that fairness is considered and a lot of people will not have to go to a great deal of expense. I’m also concerned about the people who are in the legitimate business of promoting a form of tinting, which I suppose helps people with sun glare and helps reduce the heat from the sun. I hope they are not put in a position of disadvantage.

I welcome the amendments, and I think most of them are excellent.

Mr. Philip: Mr. Speaker, we are in support of the bill. We see a number of safety measures in this bill which we certainly welcome and I am sure they will be welcomed by the public.

The safety measure concerning the proper use of tires is one that is particularly attractive and I think if we look at the kinds of accidents that have occurred, this will certainly add to the safety of vehicles.

The alternative of handing in your plates if, in fact, you are not prepared at a particular time to drive a vehicle which has been found to be unsafe is also attractive. Some people are going to be put in a particularly difficult situation at times and this solves that particular problem and gives them some options.

I was talking to the minister about section 7 just before this bill came on for debate and received some assurances which I gather from what the Liberal critic has said he has also received. I do have a memo from Mr. J. E. Mundy, from Ener-Gard, who expresses some concern that this proposed amendment is terribly vague and that in fact companies such as his, which shouldn’t be disadvantaged, may in fact be disadvantaged. I recognize there is a study going on in the US and the minister has said once that study is completed and regulations come out there, he in turn will try and follow suit. With that kind of safeguard, I do not see any reason to delete this section, as I might have earlier had some inclination to do. Certainly, as the minister pointed out to me, one never knows when a certain new fad may come on the market and we may suddenly be flooded with a whole bunch of people putting up these kinds of view obstructions and making enforcement so much more difficult.

Section 9, which is the provision to stop some of the various manifestations of what we shall call art work -- some of it is art; some of it, it seems to me, more to be ego tripping -- is certainly going to be extremely welcome. I only wish that at the same time we could have done something about some of the noisy mufflers, which certainly are as much of a nuisance as some of these fellows running around in these jacked-up cars in my area.

I have no objection to section 10(2), but why has the minister introduced it at this time? Has he had any complaints? What was the reason behind it? I am sure the minister has had some submissions on this and I would like to know why there is a need for the change at this time.

Certainly section 19 will be welcomed by a number of municipalities. I guess it overcomes a number of enforcement problems, but there is a problem that we are going to hear about from the trucking industry and more particularly from the drivers. It is a problem which I brought to the minister and suggested that he and the Solicitor General (Mr. McMurtry) should do something about. That problem is that if you stop trucks from going in the outside lane then you have to do something about those people who drive at snail’s pace in the centre passing lane.

Otherwise, there is another safety problem, namely that the trucker, even though he shouldn’t, will tailgate. He can’t pass on the inside lane because the fellow driving there is doing 30 miles below the speed limit and the fellow in the middle lane is doing 20 miles below the speed limit and we have passed a law that says he can’t use the outside lane. I recognize, as does the industry, that it makes sense not to have large vehicles in the third lane, but at the same time we simply must do more in terms of driver education, enforcement and penalizing those who drive and obstruct traffic in the middle lane.

Those are the only comments I have on this bill. I welcome it and it has our full support.

3:50 p.m.

Mr. Nixon: I want to participate just briefly. As some of the members are aware, some of my views on the Highway Traffic Act are somewhat unorthodox, but I want to put them anyway on section 9, forbidding jacking up the rear ends and modifying the suspension.

One of the greatest things for a young man is to fiddle around with a car. The minister well knows there are certain people who are very interested in that. I am not one; actually I am not very handy. I can turn the key and make it go, but when it comes to any modifications, it is game over. When the ashtray gets full, I trade the car, but that is another matter.

I always have a great deal of respect for young people, usually young men, often those who have very little interest in school work or really anything else, but who get really entranced with fooling around and modifying cars. I suppose it is dangerous. My friend from Essex North (Mr. Ruston) from his own experience tells me that one cannot control those jacked-up cars in a skid.

I feel we are getting pretty conservative in our controls. Pretty soon everybody is going to be so uniform that any opportunity actually to put on a few extra lights and modify a car so that it is a little different from one’s neighbour’s is all going to be illegal. I want to sound that little warning.

The other thing I want to bring to the minister’s attention is a matter of urgent importance. It can be related to section 11(2), Mr. Speaker, though I know you do not want us to discuss sections specifically. That is where the bill deals with school buses.

We have a rule that if one owns a bus it cannot be painted yellow and black. Some of my constituents are big farmers who have acres of strawberries. They have bought school buses that are fully inspected, properly licensed and everything else. They come under all the regulations appropriately. They use these to drive into the city -- the city of Brantford usually -- to get young people and take them out to the strawberry fields to do the work. They have been informed by the minister’s officials that the bus must not be yellow because there is liable to be some confusion and people are perhaps going to get into accidents. There is going to be some additional danger, so they must paint it.

My constituents object to this. They say if they are not going to be able to use the yellow bus the alternative is to phone up a chartered bus operator locally, pay $100 a day minimum and then the bus that arrives is a yellow and black bus. That is a proper school bus that is used during the school season as a school bus.

This is a place where we in the Legislature have sort of overregulated ourselves. I have asked the minister’s officials and the minister himself finally to find a proper solution so that my constituents can use these buses that are inspected for safety for the use for which they were intended, that is, transporting young people, in this instance in agricultural pursuits.

So far I have not been informed that any solution is available except to paint the bus. Maybe that is what they will have to do, but I am sure the minister with his well-known intelligence and his independence -- he is one of the few ministers who actually runs his ministry -- can cut through the baloney of all the people who say there is no solution and find a solution. I really think the present situation is inappropriate. Otherwise, this is a great bill.

Hon. Mr. Snow: Mr. Speaker, I thank the honourable members for their comments regarding this bill.

The members for Wentworth North (Mr. Cunningham) and Etobicoke (Mr. Philip) made reference to section 7 of the bill relating to the coloured coating obscuring the glass. I appreciate their concerns and their comments. It is not our intention to prohibit the tinting or darkening of the glass for the normal purposes that one has tinted glass in an automobile. The wording in the bill says “any coloured spray or other coloured or reflective material that substantially obscures the interior of the motor vehicle when viewed from outside the motor vehicle.”

I realize we have to rely at this moment on the wording “substantially obscures.” I think the reflective coatings that totally obscure the view are the ones I am really after, and they obviously would meet the requirements of the term, “substantially obscures.” I think, Mr. Speaker, that as a lawyer you would agree with me on that legal point. Would you?

Mr. Acting Speaker: The chair has no comment.

Hon. Mr. Snow: In any case, we are very concerned about problems that have been brought to me, in which people are starting, not in a big way, to put reflectorized film on the windshield and side windows of the driver’s compartment of a vehicle, thus totally obscuring the driver. In cases of accident, witnesses are unable to identify the driver of the vehicle, and things of this type. This has been recommended to me by the Ontario Traffic Conference, by the Ontario Safety League, and by others.

The member for Etobicoke mentioned section 10(2) of the bill. That is a change in which we are deleting the requirement for road building machinery on a highway construction project to bear the name and address of the owner. Most contractors who own their own equipment would obviously have their names on the machines. But, given today’s economy, many operate leased equipment; they lease equipment from another contractor or from an equipment leasing company, and they do not particularly want to display the name of another contractor or a leasing company on equipment which is on their project. When there is a sign up on the project that says ABC Contracting, they don’t want XYZ’s name on the equipment. That is the reason for that minor modification.

Section 19 was the next one mentioned. That is the provision to allow a municipality to designate that the inside lane of a three-lane highway not be used by the larger trucks. That is the same provision we have for our provincial highways, and would apply to the Don Valley Parkway or the Gardiner Expressway. I was surprised that they did not have that kind of authority now but apparently it has never been in the act. We are bringing the municipal authority into line to enable it to do exactly what we do on our provincial three-lane-or-more and one-direction highways.

I recognize the honourable member’s comments regarding people who get into that centre lane and drive at a slow speed. We discussed this at great length during our estimates. There is a provision in the Highway Traffic Act that a person must not drive at such a slow speed as to impede or block the normal or reasonable movement of traffic. I know how hard that is to enforce, and probably it is not enforced to a great degree by my colleague the Solicitor General and his police forces across the province. On the other hand, I have not had very many complaints about that particular problem myself. I drive about as much as most people on those highways, and I really have not found too many people holding me back in the centre lane or any other.

In speaking to the remarks of my colleague the member for Brant-Oxford-Norfolk (Mr. Nixon), I did not know he was such a hot rod fan as his interest would indicate. We really do feel that these situations in which people put major modifications on automobiles, in particular, jacking up the rear end to an abnormally high position, are dangerous. I realize people are not supposed to rear-end any vehicles, but when it does happen in such a case it is very dangerous. The car can run underneath, rupture the gas tank and, if it is done at a high speed, the car in front can end up on top of the car that hit it. This is an amendment that has been recommended by the Ontario Safety League and the Traffic Council.

4 p.m.

With regard to the yellow buses for the farmer and his strawberry pickers, the legislation states that the yellow and black colouring is reserved for school buses, so they can be readily identified. I do not have a total explanation, but we do allow those buses to do charter trips. I presume it is provided in the legislation that they can use their school bus, with the school bus sign covered up, for charter for other purposes. I think that is part of the economy of the whole business, that they have the right to use those buses for charters.

We do not allow buses for other purposes to use the yellow and black colours, I think for obvious reasons. Contractors, construction companies and many industries have buses for carrying employees to and from places of work, and church organizations have their own buses --

Mr. Cunningham: Election buses?

Hon. Mr. Snow: Election buses, yes -- none of them are yellow and black.

Mr. Cunningham: I hear they’re really well equipped.

Hon. Mr. Snow: Never having been in one, I wouldn’t know.

I understand -- the honourable member brought this to my attention before -- that the farmer in this particular case bought a used but mechanically fit and certified school bus in order to carry employees to and from his farm operation, and he is not allowed to leave it yellow and black.

The honourable member and I have some disagreement, but not of a major nature. I think if we are going to have an act that reserves the yellow and black colouring for the use of school vehicles, we have to apply that legislation to everybody.

I do not have an answer for the honourable member’s constituent, other than to advise him to do a paint job on his bus.

I think that answers the comments that were made by the members.

Motion agreed to.

Ordered for committee of the whole House.

House in committee of the whole.


Consideration of Bill 65, An Act to amend the Highway Traffic Act.

Sections 1 to 18, inclusive, agreed to.

On section 19:

Mr. Philip: Regarding section 19, and the minister’s comments, that he had not had very many complaints about the problem of the middle lane, I would point out to him that I did give him a petition, with I forget how many thousands of signatures -- 6,000 or 7,000 -- complaining about that. Most of those were from truckers driving in his area, and from his riding and the surrounding ridings between his area and the Hamilton, Rexdale and Toronto areas. He has had that many complaints. It does not relate directly to this bill, and therefore I am not going to expect an answer, but I would just make the point.

Section 19 agreed to.

On section 20:

Mr. Chairman: Hon. Mr. Snow moves that the bill be amended by adding thereto the following section:

“(20) Section 147 of the said act as amended by the Statutes of Ontario, 1975, second session, chapter 14, section 2, and 1976, chapter 37, section 18, is repealed, and the following substituted therefor:

“147(1). Subject to subsection 2, the owner of a vehicle may be charged with and convicted of an offence under this act or the regulations or any municipal bylaw regulating traffic for which the driver of the vehicle is subject to he charged unless, at the time of the offence, the vehicle was in the possession of some person other than the owner without the owner’s consent and on conviction the owner is liable to the penalty prescribed for the offence.

“(2) The owner of a vehicle, except when he is also the driver, shall not be convicted for the contravention of any of the provisions of subsection 3 or 6 of section 63a or of sections 82 to 114, 117, 120, 125 or 139 or any regulation or bylaw made or passed thereunder or under subsection 8 of section 63a or of any of the provisions of any bylaw passed under any act regulating or prohibiting turns on a highway.”

Hon. Mr. Snow further moves that sections 20, 21 and 22 of the bill be renumbered as sections 21, 22, and 23 respectively.

Mr. Warner: Mr. Chairman, I know this particular item is found in the Motorized Snow Vehicles Act. It is the same as where the owner can be charged even if the owner is not the driver. Am I correct?

Hon. Mr. Snow: May I explain it? Perhaps the honourable member was not in the House when I explained this amendment at the beginning of the bill.

This amendment has nothing to do with the Motorized Snow Vehicles Act. It is the Highway Traffic Act. We are making an amendment because of a case that is before the Supreme Court of Ontario right now. We do not know what the outcome of that case will be, but if the court were to rule against the act, then we would not be able to charge a trucker, for instance, for overloading his truck. We would have to charge the driver rather than the owner. We would have to charge the driver of a car for a parking ticket rather than the owner of the car. Because of this case that is before the courts, and because a decision may come down during the summer, we are rewording this clause to clarify that situation.

Mr. Warner: I understand that, Mr. Chairman, and I appreciate it. I understand the problem the minister faces. Certainly if a trucking company is involved in deliberate overloading and so on, and we want to get at the owner, that is fine. But it seems to me there is another side to it.

We came up against this in the Petty Trespass Act. There was a similar situation, and a similar kind of clause was put into that bill. In that instance, it meant that if a person who owned a car lent it to someone else, and the person to whom he lent it committed some kind of minor offence, such as trespassing, a third party could then lay a charge. If they could not identify the driver of the vehicle, they could lay a charge against the owner. I do not agree with that. It seems to me it is not a very good part of a fair system of justice. The person who commits the offence is the person who should be charged, and not a third party who is innocent. He did not do anything wrong; he did not commit an offence. Maybe the minister should ferret out the part that applies to the trucking industry and deal with it separately.

4:10 p.m.

As I read this amendment, it seems to me that the minister is dealing with all vehicles, with all drivers and with all owners. There is no differentiation. Am I correct in that? If I am not, then that is fine; we can end it here. But as I read over the amendment, it deals with all vehicles, all drivers and all owners. It does not make a differentiation between certain classes of vehicles.

Hon. Mr. Snow: I think the honourable member is correct on that. But it does not apply to moving offences, for instance; it applies to offences unrelated to the driver. It does not only apply to trucks; it also applies to cars. One would not be able to issue a parking ticket for a car parked in front of a fire hydrant on University Avenue unless the policeman happened to be right there and identified the driver and then charged the driver with illegal parking. The police would not be able to go up and down the street finding illegally parked vehicles and ticket them. So basically we would do away with parking fines without this provision.

Mr. Warner: Mr. Chairman, just to clarify this: It does not apply to moving violations; that is what the minister was just saying.

That is a little better. We certainly encountered the concept in the Petty Trespass Act which I objected to -- and, fortunately, my colleagues in this party objected to it; no one else did -- of charging someone with an offence when the person did not commit the offence. That seems to me to be the wrong thing to do. We should be charging people who commit offences. However, if it does not apply to moving offences, then I think there is sufficient safeguard in there, and I will agree with the amendment.

Hon. Mr. Snow: It applies to equipment defects. If a vehicle is stopped on the highway for being unsafe -- for example, if a truck going through one of the truck inspection stations is found to have poor brakes -- we would not be able to lay a charge against the transport company that owns the vehicle. We would have to lay the charge against the driver without this provision if the court case goes against us. It is before the courts now; we recognize there is some uncertainty in the act and we want to correct it regardless of which way the court case goes.

Mr. Philip: Mr. Chairman, we have had representations from the unions, who have said this kind of thing is necessary. There are employees who have been intimidated by their employers into either driving unsafe vehicles or overloading. It should not be the driver, the employee, who is taking that responsibility. The real culprit is the person who has the authority of that company, and he is the one who should be found guilty of that offence.

That is what I believe the minister is trying to accomplish in this. That is clearly supportable. I think we will find that the drivers and the unions that represent them are supportive of this kind of amendment.

Motion agreed to.

Section 20 agreed to.

Sections 21 to 23, inclusive, as renumbered, agreed to.

Bill 65, as amended, reported.


Consideration of Bill 1, An Act to amend The Libel and Slander Act.

On section 1:

Mr. Ruston: Mr. Chairman, I am speaking on section 1 which was amended in the committee and I don’t have any objection to that. My objection would be to section 2.

Section 1 agreed to.

On section 2:

Mr. Ruston: Mr. Chairman, I think most people would agree that the wording in section 2 is a little conflicting, although there was a minor change made in it in the committee. There was a recommendation made by the Ontario Press Council through its solicitor, Mr. J. J. Robinette; however, that recommendation was not accepted by the committee.

The problem I have is that the section is too broad and leaves anyone putting something in the paper or news media or whatever almost free to comment in any way he wishes. One of the submissions we had made to the committee was from Moreland A. Lynn from Midland, Ontario. I just want to mention one or two items with regard to his objection to it:

“The adoption of the proposed amendment would allow a defence of fair comment if a person could honestly hold the opinion expressed in the material published. On the surface this amendment may appear to be simple and easily applied. There is no question in this writer’s opinion that the majority of letter writers would state that they honestly held the opinion they expressed if they were challenged in a court of law.

“What constitutes an honest opinion? How does one judge whether an opinion is honestly held? Is ignorance of fact or failure to determine the facts grounds for holding an honest opinion? This writer is also confident that editors and publishers would defend their letters to the editor policy by simply stating that people believe the writer to hold the opinion as an honest one.

“While the editor or publisher might not be correct in making this assumption because of the difficulty, cost, personal risk, loss of grace with the media and the general pain, anguish and other suffering, the vast majority of individuals maligned would not or could not seek recourse through the proper legal process. One cannot separate the practical matter of cost to the individual from the argument considering this amendment.”

The letter does go on, and comments are made with regard to the Cherneskey case, which has brought about this amendment. I have great reservations about this amendment; I realize that it has not been passed and that the committee brought it back to be passed here. The majority of those in the committee passed it. I think there is a great reservation on the part of those people who may be maligned by the comments made.

I have a copy of an article which was published recently in the Windsor Star. This letter was sent to the member for Windsor-Sandwich and to the mayor of Windsor, who sent it on to the Windsor Star. It is very damning of their comments in general over the past couple of months.

I do not want to take a lot of time, Mr. Chairman, but he winds up his article in this way: “Would you be so kind as to assist me and the people of this church in bringing this matter to the attention of those who may help put some controls on the licence of the Star under the guise of freedom of press.” It is signed by Mr. R. N. Gouliano of Glenwood United Church in Windsor. He has written a very good article which covers his concerns with regard to sensationalism and reporting without grounds, making reports with regard to rumours and so forth.

It is a matter of the greatest concern to many members of the Ontario Press Council. They appeared before the committee and discussed this particular section. There were reservations with regard to some people in that area. I have the article from pages 38 and 39 of chapter 1, the chairman’s foreword, with regard to some of the comments they received from the press.

They wind up the last two paragraphs in this way: “The Cherneskey decision has not changed our policy. We would no more publish defamatory material in a letter to the editor than we would in our own news column. Both require the same vigilance. I do not believe publishers should try to escape the responsibility, and I do not believe the Cherneskey decision will inhibit letters to the editor. Therefore, I do not support the proposed amendment to the Ontario Libel and Slander Act.”

4:20 p.m.

There are great reservations about this. It says, “Where the defendant published defamatory matter that is an opinion expressed by another person, defence of fair comment by the defendant shall not fail for the reason only that the defendant or the person who expressed the opinion, or both, did not hold the opinion, if a person could honestly hold the opinion.”

That might he fine for the parliamentary assistant to diagnose, but my opinion is that whether one held the opinion or not, as long as one thought it was fair comment the judge would say one was not guilty and one could print almost anything one wanted. I see the parliamentary assistant is shaking his head that that was not what it meant, but I think it does mean that. I want to stress as strongly as I can that I oppose the reporting of this bill in its present form, especially section 2.

Mr. Lawlor: Mr. Chairman, we give accord to the legislation as it has been thrashed out, winnowed though and shredded in committee, and has emerged in this way.

There still may be an ongoing, I might say, misunderstanding. The question has been asked, what constitutes an honest opinion? That is exactly why we have juries, honest people on juries, et cetera, objectively assessing the evidence, hearing and seeing and empathizing with, if one will, the witnesses, and able to decide, we think better than anyone else. It is not an arbitrary opinion of the judge or anyone else; it is a jury of peers that makes that decision.

The legislation does not come to all that much, having worked it all through. It comes precisely to that, that the whole problem has been shifted over, as it always was in any event, but it is made clear now that the problem reposes in the jury to determine whether it is fair or unfair comment.

Let us take a couple of instances. A writer writes a letter into a newspaper which is defamatory and brings some individual into disrepute in his community. The individual who is writing that letter does not believe or himself does not honestly hold that opinion. There are many instances in which he ought not to hold the opinion, and this is an element we have never discussed, and there are plenty of cases in which there is no reason why he should honestly hold it.

A neighbourhood may be riddled with rumours about something or somebody, usually about an elected official pulling off some stunt or ripping off the treasury or something, and no one speaks up. Wherever the potential letter-writer goes, he hears these words. He does not have a clue as to the truth or falsity. He does not believe them one way or the other. He writes a letter to the newspaper and says, “It has come to my attention that Mr. X is purloining the crown jewels, pearl by pearl.” There it is; it is not his opinion, nor ought it to be his opinion.

In the way of press freedom it is better that these things do get public exposure and be aired. Where the previous law seemed to say that the individual who did the writing or perpetrated the initial expression of the thing had to hold an honest opinion about it, the legislation goes further and says that is not necessary.

Secondly, when a letter comes into the hands of the publisher and goes to the editor’s desk, is there any reason in the world why the editor, in terms of freedom of speech, ought to hold the same opinion or an identical opinion or an honest opinion in line with the other honest opinion? It seems to me not, et cetera.

In no way in this legislation is he off the hook. Neither is the person who wrote the letter in the first instance, nor is the person who made the comment on TV off the hook if on all the evidence, cross-examination and the whole thing, digging out what his motives were and what was operating there, the jury comes to the conclusion that he could not possibly have held an honest opinion in this particular regard, but it was actuated. I am afraid we get into the grey zone and into the black zone of malice itself at that particular stage.

If it is done deliberately with malice aforethought and with intent to injure or irresponsibly, regardless of its consequences, then the results will follow, but they flow through the jury. So it comes out at the end that I have very considerable faith in juries, particularly in this particular kind of matter, where there is a shrewd assessment of human characteristics, motivations and what circumstances surround a situation. That is exactly why they exist and why we put faith in them. I think the legislation is fine now.

Mr. Sterling: Mr. Chairman, I guess to say libel and slander law is difficult is to say the very least. It is less understood by the public and by lawyers of all the areas of law. This is probably one of the areas which we least encounter as practising lawyers.

The member for Essex North (Mr. Ruston) was not able to be in committee because he was tied up with another committee. He did not have his chance at that time to express his concerns, and that is why he is expressing them today in the Legislature. There was presented at that time, however, a very clear and concise statement as to the law relating this particular amendment to the Libel and Slander Act.

It should be remembered that this law does not prevent a person from suing another person for a defamatory statement. All it does is give a defence to the publishers. It does not give a defence to the person who has actually made the statement. Secondly, the fair comment must be based on facts which are true. If the comment is not based on true facts, then it is not a fair comment. The change in the law in this area actually was what everybody thought the law was before the Cherneskey decision. Some people interpret that Cherneskey decision one way and other people interpret it another way. This change in the Libel and Slander Act is to delineate clearly what the law is and what defence the publishers are entitled to.

I think the committee, in general, felt that on balance it was important for publishers, especially publishers of small weekly newspapers who do not have a legal staff, to have this protection in order to maintain the right of freedom of expression through letters to the editor. That is really the playoff and that is the balance. That is the decision the committee took and that this Legislature has taken on second reading. That is what the bill is all about.

Mr. Chairman: All those in favour of section 2 standing as part of the bill will say “aye.”

All those opposed will say “nay.”

In my opinion the ayes have it.

Section 2 agreed to.

Sections 3 and 4 agreed to.

Bill 1 reported.

4:30 p.m.

On motion by Hon. Miss Stephenson, the committee of the whole House reported one bill with amendment and one bill without amendment.



Mr. S. Smith: Mr. Speaker, our party, during the years I have had the honour to be the leader, has become more and more alarmed about the way in which environmental matters have been going from bad to worse in Ontario.

Some years ago, at the beginning of the 1970s, when the then Minister of the Environment (Mr. Kerr) stated it was industry’s responsibility to clean up its waste, the polluter must pay and made other such ringing declarations that the people of Ontario believed action was around the corner.

When the Environmental Assessment Act was brought in, it looked as though Ontario was going to lead all other jurisdictions in terms of the quality of its environmental protection legislation. Sadly, what has happened, during the four or five years that I have had the opportunity to be a witness to these proceedings, is that the legislation has been more honoured by the avoidance of it than in its application. I suspect it has become the best-known, virtually unused legislation anywhere in the western world.

Instead of having the polluter pay, we have had a situation where the public has had to pay. The public has paid for the cleanup of lead in the Toronto area. The public has paid by means of grants for paper companies to do some cleanup when they were polluting water in various parts of Ontario. The public has to pay to have its point of view presented at various hearings in the environmental assessment process.

We have seen a situation where the environment has enjoyed a very low priority in the government of the present Premier (Mr. Davis). Time after time, he has appointed ministers who have not been given the resources with which to conduct an effective ministry. They have been trying to cope, as best they can, with a ministry that has been one of the most notoriously weak in the government of Ontario. They have been hampered by a lack of genuine policy on the part of this government.

The Premier has appointed a succession of ministers who, despite being well-meaning individuals -- as far as the present incumbent goes, he is one of the most pleasant gentlemen in the House; he is a well-meaning, sincere and principled individual -- none the less, have been unequal to the task of turning that ministry around and making it a truly effective protector of the heritage which is its responsibility.

In this particular debate, I do not want to engage in the usual kind of interpersonal rancour which seems to have marked a good many of our clashes in recent times. Believe it or not, on a personal level, I actually have a lot of respect and admiration for the minister and the way in which he conducts his personal life. I think he is sincere and well-meaning; I have come to that conclusion. But I honestly believe he is unequal to the task. It may be that nobody would be equal to the task of taking that ministry and making it an effective ministry.

Given the low priority that ministry enjoys in terms of the amount of money, the amount of effort and the amount of attention given to it by the Premier, it may be that nobody could run that ministry effectively. For sure, the present incumbent, despite the best of his intentions, has not been able to do so. Again, to give him credit, he has to bear not only the difficulties he has today, but a legacy of distrust, a legacy of bungling, a legacy of ignoring the real problems in Ontario.

This legacy was not of his creation. It is not his fault that is the reputation the ministry has had. But it is, unfortunately for him and for the people of Ontario, a genuine problem which he has inherited and which he does not been able to turn around, despite his sincere efforts to do so.

I would like to review with the House the dreadful lack of policy and to cite individual examples to indicate the way in which our environment has been mistreated in Ontario. As I have said before in this House, so many of the arguments in which we engage on matters dealing with taxation, with health, with education, with culture and recreation and so on, so many of these debates, important as they are, will be forgotten 20 years from now, when my children will have grown into their 30s, when they will have their own children at an age able to understand and ask questions about the lakes, the rain, the trees, the grass and the chemicals in our environment. They will be able to understand the kinds of illnesses which will be coming to light then, the kinds of blights which people will start to recognize then and the kinds of difficulties our streams and lakes will be in then.

It seems to me that 20 years from now, when they have forgotten our other arguments in this House, people will know that somehow or other we failed to protect the really sacred trust we have, which is the beautiful, the magnificent and the healthful natural environment that is Ontario’s heritage. They will know that somehow the people who lived at this time failed to take the steps to protect what really was not ours to consume, not ours to waste and not ours to despoil, but was ours only to conserve and protect for future generations. They will see that we did not do so.

Long after any possible contribution I might make to politics or to speeches or the record of this House will have been forgotten, I would hope that someone would recall, and that I, at least in my old age, should the good Lord allow me to live to that, will be able to look back and recall, that I did what I could and said what I could about the environment, an issue that means more to me than any other single issue.

In many ways it is the issue that brought me into politics. It is with considerable disappointment that I have to recite for this House and for you, Mr. Speaker, a litany of failure, a litany of hesitation, a litany of weakness, a litany of poor and inadequate responses due to a lack of genuine policy direction.

Let us look at the question of acid rain. No one believes that acid rain is primarily an Ontario problem. We all recognize it as an international problem. We all recognize that the experts differ among themselves on what percentage of the rain that originates here falls there, or that originates there falls here, and how it gets mixed up and so on.

Yet what we know for a fact is that 140 lakes in the Sudbury area are now considered biologically sterile. We know that we have the largest single polluter in that business of sulphur dioxide here on the soil of Ontario. We know that Inco is the largest polluter; we know that our own Hydro plants are significant polluters as well.

4:40 p.m.

The minister argues that the Americans are in some ways even worse and that the American plans for the future are in some ways even worse. They are, and this alarms me. It is a fact, and when I see that fact I am filled with terror, I am filled with loathing, I am filled with great fear about the future. It does not fill me with pleasure to be able to say, “Look at the Americans; they are worse than we are.” I don’t get any feeling of enjoyment out of that.

But we in Canada have to clean up our own act. If we have the largest polluter in North America and that polluter can clean up, that polluter should clean up. There are no ifs, ands or buts about it. Yet we know the story of Inco. We know that all Inco has been asked to do by this minister is to continue to pollute at its present rate for another couple of years and then to make a modest reduction of 20 or 25 per cent. This is well within their capability without any extensive change except for a certain new process which they have already said they are prepared to do.

After that, there is going to be a study. We are going to see another of this government’s famous series of studies. Long after I have gone and forgotten this place, I will remember that this was the government which had a study for every occasion. There are some doctors I know who have a pill for every occasion. Whoever walks into the office gets a pill whether he needs it or not. Here, it seems to me, we have a government with a study for every occasion. It does not matter what the occasion is. Whether it has to do with the environment or anything else, they have a study for it.

A study is not what is needed. Enough studies have been done to show that Inco could clean up, that Inco could introduce a new type of furnace that would cost about $400 million but would recover close to $300 million from energy savings alone. It would incur a price hike in terms of the price of nickel which is very modest and not a real problem commercially speaking, and it would cut slightly into the profits of Inco in the short run.

What do we get instead from the ministry? We get an unwillingness to go to Inco and force the company to do that. We get the old blackmail, the old nonsense that it will cost jobs to clean up at Inco, when the truth is that it will create jobs to clean up at Inco. The union at Inco, to give it credit, had the courage to stand up and say it knew it would create jobs to clean up at Inco. But somehow or other, the minister is going to protect the union’s jobs better than the union itself. He is prepared to stand up and buy the old blackmail that Inco likes to throw around and suggest to us that there will be fewer jobs. The truth is there will be a greater number of jobs with the cleanup and the minister should know that.

It is interesting, by way of an aside here -- and this will interest the members on all sides of the House -- that Inco has, as one of its growth areas, a subsidiary that makes pollution control equipment. Brokers are suggesting that people buy shares in Inco, pointing out that this is a real growth area for Inco -- the production, via its subsidiary, of pollution abatement equipment. What a company this is! They are prepared to make money on everybody else’s cleanups but they are somewhat hesitant to do their own. And they pull out the old chestnut of telling us that it is going to cost jobs.

The sulphur dioxide and the sulphuric acid from Inco can be used in a process which would produce fertilizer when combining the acid with phosphate rock. That would create hundreds of jobs in northern Ontario. But we do not hear about that from the minister. There is not a single study by his ministry looking into the possibility of creating a fertilizer manufacturing industry that would make use of Inco’s pollutant byproducts.

Basically, we believe Inco should be forced to clean up, that it should be forced within five years to come below 1,000 tons a day of sulphur dioxide, that it can do so, that it should be made to do so, and that future generations require a government with the courage to do so. That government, clearly, is not the one presently governing Ontario, but may well be the next one to govern Ontario.

To continue the litany: look at the matter of industrial waste. For years the previous minister, the member for Burlington South (Mr. Kerr), would say, “This is a matter for industry, to clean up its own act, and if they don’t clean up then we will have to do it for them. We will force them to do it.” He even went out to swim in Burlington Bay, if members recall, in Hamilton Harbour. He even took the time to tell the people that the polluter must pay, using Dow Chemical as the great example. We remember Dow Chemical. Yes, the polluter must pay, indeed.

They did not pay enough to buy fishing tackle for the fishermen whose livelihoods were seriously damaged. They paid virtually nothing, as the ministry went about its usual ham-handed methods, by which it seems to lose every case it ever undertakes. It is rare to see them win anything and, if they do, the settlements are pathetically small.

Hon. Miss Stephenson: At which church are you going to preach on Sunday?

Mr. S. Smith: I would have hoped that the parishioner who just asked me at which church I am going to preach would actually have done better and listened to the sermon, and maybe taken it seriously. She might also have done well to go to confession afterwards.

Indeed, this is a case where the sins of the parents will be visited upon the children unto succeeding generations. This is one of the real worries that we have.


Mr. S. Smith: Mr. Speaker, I am being interrupted by members of the New Democratic Party. At one time they did oppose the environmental policy of this government, yet today they seem determined to prevent me from stating the opposition which we have. We are going to give these honourable ladies and gentlemen in the NDP the opportunity of demonstrating their dislike for the environmental policy of this government. We are even going to give them an opportunity, instead of sitting here barracking and interrupting me, to vote against the environmental policy of this government. We will see whether they are as full of life, as full of energy and as full of commentary at that point in the day’s proceedings.

In the case of industrial waste, it is quite fascinating to see --

Mr. Laughren: Sock it to ’em. Do it again, Elmer Gantry.

Mr. Speaker: Order. The member for Nickel Belt does not have the floor.


Mr. Speaker: Order. The members for Nickel Belt and Sudbury East do not have the floor.

Mr. S. Smith: Let us look at the problem of industrial waste, Mr. Speaker. As I say, for years they said it was industry’s problem. Now they have to deal with a legacy which is of their own creation: a failure to control adequately the shipment of waste.

4:50 p.m.

They have finally brought in a so-called waybill system, which replaces one that was so pathetic as to be laughable. Even now, there are plenty of loopholes in the waybill system. Even now, if something is going for recycling, it does not have to be accounted for. Even now the penalties for false waybills are very few indeed. In the instances where false waybills were alleged and, it would appear, admitted to, we find the ministry managed to lose the cases somehow or other. They managed somehow to go to court and be defeated on what looked like open-and-shut cases on waybills. They failed to lay charges when incidents of wrongdoing had been brought to the attention of the minister.

Look at the situation in Hamilton, where a dump that should have been closed long ago was kept open to receive liquid industrial waste. The people were assured, on a certificate of approval, that it would be only for liquid industrial waste generated in the Hamilton area. Lo and behold, it turned out that hundreds of thousands, even millions, of gallons of liquid industrial waste were dumped in that place, the origin of the waste being outside the Hamilton area in 90 to 99 per cent of instances. That is the kind of record the ministry has, and it is the reason no one trusts its ability to monitor a situation any more.

I have been waiting for more than a year and a half for site inspection reports from the Upper Ottawa Street dump. I have asked for these reports for a year and a half. I still have not seen a single site inspection report from the Upper Ottawa Street dump. All I can say is they must have a lot to hide because, otherwise, what possible explanation is there, when they are repeatedly asked for a year and a half for these reports, which should be public documents, for refusing them.

We have a ministry that has lost track of its own old dump sites. They were unaware of a report listing locations of many of these dump sites. We have a ministry that has shown total disregard for local communities and local councils when issuing certificates of approval on waste facilities. I look at Smithville, which ended up with a PCB storage facility when approval was never given for such a facility. They ended up in Mississauga burning the PCBs when the people there were kept in the dark about it. Now they do not trust the ministry to come within five miles of that town. The people, generally speaking, are fed up with that kind of ministry.

I look at Harwich township council which suddenly learned, because the ministry wants to go in and put a solidification project there, the kinds of chemicals that have been piled into their area with the people not knowing over the years.

Mr. Kerr: What is the Leader of the opposition’s solution?

Mr. Bolan: Get rid of the Tories.


Mr. S. Smith: I was asked what we would do. I will tell the member for Burlington South (Mr. Kerr) what we would do. We would adopt a policy of complete and utter honesty with the municipalities of Ontario, and we would be rewarded for so doing. That is something the members opposite have not done.

Mr. Kerr: That won’t furnish the sites, and the member knows it.

Mr. Bolan: The member opposite blew it a long time ago.

Mr. Speaker: Order. The member for Burlington South (Mr. Kerr) does not have the floor. I will recognize him later on in the debate.

Mr. S. Smith: Mr. Speaker, the former minister is suggesting that a policy of honesty will not work.

Mr. Kerr: I did not say that.

Mr. S. Smith: His words in Hansard will show it. His words were, “That will not provide the sites” -- a policy of honesty with municipalities will not provide the sites. If that is what one believes, then one adopts the policy the government has decided to adopt.

Mr. Kerr: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker: As the member jibber-jabbers along, I would like to interrupt to say that I did not say a policy of honesty would not work. I did not say any such thing. What I said was that he would still oppose it regardless of what the solution would be and how we handle that solution.

Mr. S. Smith: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker: Hansard will show the comments of the minister.

Until very recently, the ministry did not even know PCBs were being imported into Ontario, until we told them that in this House. The ministry could have put hundreds of thousands of dollars into a crash program to develop the PCB destruction technology proposed by the Royal Military College. Nowadays they are considering putting some of that money in. Instead of doing that when the money was needed, they waited until now to start putting money in and have committed $5 million to build a storage facility for PCBs, when a fraction of that amount could be used to bring about the destruction of these PCBs.

Let us look at their record with regard to the Niagara River. I understand that this problem may not be as acute for some living in that area as for others. I recognize that for some families in the Niagara-on-the-Lake area, bottled water is drunk in the house. I understand that is true for some and apparently happens in the household of the minister who represents that area. But for some it is a real problem.

For some who drink water from the tap, it is of genuine concern when there is a chemical waste facility on the other side of the Niagara River to which objection was taken by the Attorney General of New York but to which no objection is taken by the Ministry of the Environment of Ontario. When we see the record of Ontario with regard to the Niagara River, we can understand why.

In fact, it is interesting that they are spending millions of dollars to bring water to Niagara-on-the-Lake from an inland site. But when --

Hon. Mr. Gregory: You suck and blow at the same time.

Mr. S. Smith: I’m sorry. Was there some further comment from this marvellous government over there? From the minister without -- what is he without? He is without a number of things, I am sure, but he is certainly without portfolio, as I recall. The Minister without Portfolio wishes to demonstrate that he is without most everything else, as far as I can make out.

Hon. Mr. Gregory: All I said was, “You suck and blow at the same time.”

Mr. S. Smith: He continues to demonstrate it. He really will not be put down, will he? He wants us to understand.

It is interesting that along the Niagara River, 16 Ontario industries have their waste finding its way into that river, and 11 of those 16 have exceeded provincial standards. Maybe that is the reason that the Ministry of the Environment, knowing that its own house is in such a mess and knowing that its own standards have not been implemented on our side of the Niagara River, would be embarrassed to appear at the hearings with regard to SCA on the other side of the Niagara River. In my view, the people of Ontario were not well served in that situation.

Then we had the pathetic spectacle of 2,4,5-T, a spectacle in which the ministry stated that this chemical was so dangerous that, left in storage, it might at some point leak, and the leakage might find its way into the environment of this province and do great damage. They thought up the brilliant solution of making sure it would not leak by taking it out and spraying it all over Ontario. What a brilliant solution!

Finally, when we showed that the ministry had failed to look into the proper destruction of those wastes, had failed in fact to look at alternatives such as high temperature incineration at sea, they finally decided that on second thought it really was not too dangerous to store, on second thought it could be stored in various settings, and in fact they have gone about storing it.

They wonder why they lack credibility with the people of Ontario. In the pulp and paper industry they have basically decided to throw money at the polluter, to reward pollution, to give prizes for pollution rather than to take the tough stand and demand that the rivers and the air be cleaned up. Then we had the minister stand up on the matter of the dredging of Toronto harbour and make a truly incredible display in this House by stating that because there were chemicals at the bottom of Toronto harbour and because those chemicals are there now, no harm could possibly come from dredging them all up again and having them all leach back into the water. What a total lack of understanding that represents.

5 p.m.

If, in fact, the chemicals had settled to the bottom, admittedly they were in the body of water; admittedly the minister has a point when he says they are already there. But they do much less harm in getting into the food chain or in getting into the biological chain when they are settled at the bottom than when they are stirred up, with all the biological consequences that then occur. For the minister not to understand that is truly incredible. We request an immediate halt to this activity until such time as the matter can be reviewed and the facts heard.

We can see that time after time the ministry has been the subject of ridicule throughout Ontario. It is not just the member for Hamilton West, the Leader of the Opposition who says this; it is not just the environment critics of the two opposition parties who say this. There is hardly a newspaper in Ontario that has not ridiculed the Ministry of the Environment, from Ottawa to Windsor, from Toronto to Thunder Bay and to Kenora. It is hard to find a paper that has not ridiculed the Ministry of the Environment.

There is the Windsor Star in June ridiculing the ministry: “The ministry can easily be blamed for the mess because of the secrecy involved in the affair.” The paper was talking about the Harwich township council. The Hamilton Spectator, a paper whose editorials usually favour that party across the way, points out that the ministry lacks trust and openness. “If the residents,” it says, “could believe that the ministry was dealing honestly and openly with them, they might be more likely to feel that the ministry’s assurances are reliable.”

The Globe and Mail, a paper that has traditionally supported the government party in this province, has gone on to say, “Ontario has offered a little more of nothing,” and it lists a whole range of oversights. It simply says: “It is offensive nonsense to suggest that the province has lived by the rules for it has done nothing of the sort. It has systematically flouted, suspended and abused those rules.” The Globe and Mail refers to the minister’s comments as “nonsensical.”

Every newspaper across this province has commented. The London Free Press talks about “the weak attempts to deal with Inco.” It says, “Perhaps from afar the Americans will not see the inconsistency between Parrott’s expressions of concern over acid rain and his timid attempts to do something about it, but don’t bet on it.” Hardly a newspaper has avoided some form of discussion of the pathetic situation in which we now find ourselves as a consequence of this ministry.

Look at the papers in Kingston. Look at the papers in Toronto. The ministry has become a laughing-stock in Ontario. That is all very well and fine, politically speaking, but my concern and the concern of my party is for the environment in Ontario. We believe the government, of which the minister is a member, has failed to provide the resources for the minister to do his job and the minister is not equal to the job.

We believe he is a well-meaning individual but we believe that ministry needs a good house-cleaning, that it has been from time immemorial a ministry of weakness, a ministry that yields in front of the large companies, a ministry that has nothing by way of policy that prefers to operate by keeping people in the dark and by keeping people from knowing the facts. It acts in secrecy; it pretends it knows nothing about what happened at the Upper Ottawa Street dump and so many other places.

It has lost the trust of the municipalities. It has lost the trust of the people. It refuses to deal with the big polluters in Ontario. It refuses to bring in a policy that is clear for everyone to see. Finally, when I offered an environmental bill of rights, the ministry and its allies in the back benches of that caucus across the way blocked it from even going forward so that residents of Ontario could have come forward and at least expressed their views on the matter. It was a shameful misuse of the power the government has.

Mr. Speaker, I want to say with the utmost concern and sincerity that this ministry has been to me the biggest disappointment in the government of Ontario. Whether the public opinion polls that the government is so fond of show the environment as the number one issue or not, for us it is the number one issue, for us it is an important issue, for my children it is an important issue.

The only way we have of demonstrating our disappointment or lack of approval in this government is to vote against the concurrence in the estimates of this ministry. We recognize that in so doing it is, in a way, a crude weapon that can be used. It would be nice to be able to use the old method of saying that the minister’s salary should be reduced to $1, or something of this kind, but we don’t have that ability in this House. It is not part of our traditions, as the minister knows.

The only method we have for demonstrating our lack of confidence in the government’s ability to handle environmental matters, and our feeling that this ministry lacks the ability under its present leader to do that job, is to vote against the concurrences in the estimates of the Ministry of the Environment. That we shall do, after considerable thought and with considerable pride in the constructive suggestions we have made over the years. These constructive suggestions are on the record of this House and on the record in Ontario long before the minister even dreamed of some of his policies.

We are pleased with our record and we are most displeased with the lack of action on the part of the government. We are prepared to put our record in front of the people at any time. But the ministry has become a laughing-stock in Ontario and the time has come to make serious changes therein.

Mr. Laughren: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to be able to take part in this debate on the concurrence in supply for the Ministry of the Environment. This government needs a very serious environmental jolt. Perhaps this debate will provide it.

I agree with the Leader of the Opposition that this government does not have a proud record on the matter of liquid industrial waste, on the matter of matacil spraying, the matter of S02 emissions or any number of other environmental matters. This government indeed has nothing to brag about.

I would like to spend a couple of moments talking about the problem that we in the Sudbury basin have been trying to cope with for many years, long before it became a popular political issue in Ontario. The member in the Sudbury area, the people in the Sudbury basin, have been trying to say to this government, “You have to do something about the emissions from Inco and Falconbridge.” Suddenly in the last few years when the superstack gets built and the problem is removed from the immediacy of the Sudbury basin and transported all across Ontario, then it becomes a political issue all across Ontario.

We in this party understand very well what has happened. As long as occupational health problems remain inside the plant, nobody in the Liberal or Conservative parties seems to get excited. But as soon as that occupational problem seeps out into the communities -- such as asbestos dust in the community, or radiation in the community from a nuclear plant -- suddenly it is a popular political issue with these two parties,

Perhaps it is time it was put on the record that one starts with an occupational or environmental problem with the people it affects and deals with it directly. One does not wait until it affects people all over the province. One deals with it when the source of the problem is there and is identifiable, not when suddenly it becomes popular because it is seeping into the cottage community of the residents of the city of Toronto. That is when the other two parties got excited about SO2 emissions; that is when the other parties got excited about asbestos -- not when it was affecting the workers in those asbestos plants but when it started to affect the schools, the subway systems, the community in which the plants were located. That is when it became a popular issue in Ontario.

5:10 p.m.

We are tired of that. We are saying you should attack a problem when it is identified, when it affects the workers. This government turns environmental and occupational health problems into a class issue. As long as it is a working class problem, they don’t worry about it. When it starts seeping out into the community, that is when the other parties get excited about it.

People in the Sudbury basin are very familiar with what we would call the “solution to pollution is dilution” argument. That is really what caused the whole problem for the people in Muskoka, for the people in North Bay. The former Liberal MPP for Sudbury was on his feet in this chamber defending Inco; the government, through one Minister of the Environment after another, was on its feet saying nothing could be done about pollution in the Sudbury basin, but as soon as that problem got beyond the Sudbury basin it became a problem for all Ontario.

It is a problem for all Ontario, for other parts of this country and for the United States and around the world, so we do have to address ourselves to the problem. I hope the House will excuse my cynicism, but so help me, we in the Sudbury basin have seen it happen again and again. We see it in every occupational and environmental problem, which is why we feel so bitterly about the inaction of this government on matters of environmental control.

I was in Sudbury a couple of weeks ago when the Ministry of the Environment held a public hearing on the Inco control order. It was interesting that this party presented a brief to that hearing. I sat there all evening and thought, “I wonder when the Liberal brief is going to be presented.” After all, their leader has been braying constantly in the chamber about the problems of the SO2 emissions. I sat there all evening and all I could get my hands on was a press release. Isn’t that typical? A press release. Not a brief of substance to the Ministry of the Environment indicating what they thought should be done to control the emissions. Oh, no; a press release.

That is really all that matters to them; get the message out to the press to show that the Liberal Party cares about pollution in Sudbury, now that they don’t have a member representing the city of Sudbury, now that the people of Sudbury have a representative of all the people, not just of Inco. The Inco MPP no longer represents Sudbury.

We are disappointed in the behaviour of the minister. I can just picture the scenario. The minister says to his senior people, “We have a problem with this control order with Inco.” His senior people would say to him, “Oh, yes, we do, Mr. Minister. What are we going to do?” The minister would say, “Let’s start from where we are at now. What is Inco emitting in tons of sulphur dioxide a day now?” “Well,” his senior people say, “about 2,500 tons a day.” “Aha,” says the minister, “that’s where we will start. We will impose a control order at whatever level they are emitting now.” And that is precisely what he did.

I know the argument that Inco is operating at only between 70 and 80 per cent of capacity. So the minister says to his people, “Let me see, they are operating at 70 to 80 per cent capacity. If they want to expand their operation, that order will mean they can’t hire more people and expand and get their output up to 100 per cent.”

His people say: “Oh, don’t you worry about that, Mr. Minister, the nickel industry is going to go into a decline anyway. Everybody knows the automobile industry is having its problems, there is going to be a decline in housing starts and there is a recession in the United States. Don’t worry, the 70 to 80 per cent won’t bother Inco at all. Don’t worry about it. Impose the control order at 2,500 tons a day and then we will get on with setting a date in the future.”

I can just imagine the scenario, and so another Minister of the Environment is bluffed by Inco. It’s really hard to accept, but I guess that’s the nature of environmental controls in Ontario.

Mr. Speaker, because I know you are interested in a very sincere way in the problems of SO2 emissions, I would like to give you a little background on what’s happened in the Sudbury basin and the kind of action we think should take place in order to solve the problem. There’s no better place to talk about this than in concurrence in supply because, after all, that supposedly legitimizes the expenditures of the Ministry of the Environment. I don’t know how one can legitimize any expenditures by this Ministry of the Environment. I guess it is the minister’s job to stand up and speak and justify that in a few moments.

The original control order imposed on Inco in 1970, when the Sudbury operations were emitting approximately 6,000 tons of SO2 a day, called for a reduction in emission levels as follows: 5,200 tons a day by July 1, 1970; 4,400 tons a day by December 31, 1974; 3,600 tons a day by December 31, 1976; and 750 tons a day by December 31, 1978. It was a year and a half ago that they were to get down to 750 tons a day.

It also called for construction of the 1,250-foot superstack, which was completed in 1972 to reduce concentrations of SO2 in the Sudbury area. By the end of 1973, Taco had reduced emissions to 3,600 to 3,800 tons a day. Inco repeatedly informed the Ministry of the Environment that it would not meet the target of 750 tons per day by the end of 1978. In July 1978 the ministry issued a new control order that simply extended the limit of 3,600 tons per day to June 30, 1982, and set no date for further reduction of emissions. Members may recall that we were very critical of the minister at that point.

In May 1975 Inco made a presentation to the ministry involving a program of abatement measures that would have reduced emissions in the Copper Cliff smelter from the 3,800 tons per day it was then emitting to 1,500 tons per day at the end of 1979. The project involved installation of a flash furnace for nickel smelting, associated equipment and three sulphuric acid plants. The flash furnace was necessary to provide a stream of concentrated SO2 suitable for conversion to sulphuric acid. At that time Inco was estimating the cost of the project at $200 million. By September of that same year, 1975, the cost estimate had risen to $300 million based on the detailed cost study which members have seen.

I might add that about a year or so ago I received a copy of that study in a brown paper envelope. It was never made public and we can be sure this ministry never let on to anybody that Inco even had such a proposal. That is what I find so unbelievably outrageous. In 1975 the Ministry of the Environment had a copy of an Inco presentation in which Inco said it could get down to 1,500 tons per day when at that time it was putting out 3,600 to 3,800 tons per day. The ministry had that document and did not tell anybody about it.

Talk about the need for freedom of information in this chamber; that is outrageous. I could use words such as “deceit,” “deception” and “dishonesty” to describe the ministry’s position at that time because it was sitting on this document that said Inco could get down to 1,500 tons per day and it told no one, absolutely no one, about it. It was a nice little deal between the ministry and Inco -- $300 million.

Citing the rising cost estimates Mr. Don McCready, who died this year, said in a letter to the ministry, “A program which is not economically and commercially feasible is in fact not technologically feasible.” One must look at Inco's contention that the pollution abatement expenditures contemplated in 1975 were not economically feasible in the context of some other investment decisions undertaken around the same time.

5:20 p.m.

In August 1974 Inco acquired control of ESB Incorporated, the battery company in the United States, for $233.8 million. Also in 1974, Inco embarked on a program of major capital expenditures in connection with the development of lateritic ore deposits in Indonesia and Guatemala, a program that involved more than $720 million in expenditures in the period 1974-77. Thus these two projects alone accounted for more than $950 million of expenditure outside Canada over the period 1974-77.

The company, at the same time it is saying it cannot spend $300 million on environmental control in the Sudbury basin, is spending almost $1 billion on developments in the Third World. Those are multinational corporate priorities.

These were, moreover, extremely healthy profit years for Inco in view of the net earnings for that 10-year period. Inco’s net earnings totalled more than $1.6 billion over the period 1970-79, and during that period Inco paid out more than $900 million in common share dividends. They claimed they could not afford to make the improvements at the same time they are spending almost $1 billion in the Third World and almost $1 billion in common share dividends. Those are again multinational corporate priorities.

The point being made here is simply that the decision at Inco that pollution control was not economically feasible in 1974-75, like any other corporate decision, was made in the context of setting overall investment priorities. Pollution control came out at the bottom, or at any rate low enough on the list to be crossed off in terms of major expenditures.

As a senior Ministry of the Environment economist has put it: “It is just that from the company’s view there are always better and more productive uses for available cash than pollution abatement.”

That was a Ministry of the Environment official who said that. He understands. Maybe he does not understand the politics of pollution control in the province. Surely the purpose of government regulation is precisely to provide the necessary incentive to undertake the nonproductive investments that industry would otherwise not make to improve environmental quality.

Since the completion of the superstack in 1972 and the reduction of emissions by 3,600 to 3,800 tons a day in 1973, the Ontario Minister of the Environment has been singularly unsuccessful in getting Inco to do very much. The 1970 control order was designed specifically to reduce local concentrations of SO2 which had been linked to environmental damage, most particularly damage to vegetation in the Sudbury area. Since then the problems of acid precipitation and the long-range transportation of air pollution have emerged. It has become abundantly clear that measures which reduce local concentration of SO2, like the superstack, the effect of which is simply to disperse the same pollutant much more widely, may be totally inadequate to prevent significant environmental damage of long-range transport.

The debate over how much Inco contributes to acid precipitation and lake acidification in Ontario is now turning into a battle of the studies.

The resources development committee of this Legislature, an all-party committee, undertook an exhaustive review of the evidence pertaining to acid precipitation and Inco’s contribution to it in 1979. The committee was far from convinced by arguments advanced by Inco and the Ministry of the Environment that Inco’s contribution to acid precipitation in Ontario is low or negligible.

Perhaps even more significantly, a recent Ministry of the Environment study concludes that less than one per cent of Inco’s SO2 emissions is scavenged by precipitation within a 50-kilometre radius of Sudbury. The other 99-plus per cent is clearly going somewhere else. Inco’s SO2 plume has been tracked as far as the outskirts of Metropolitan Toronto.

About four or five years ago, I wrote a letter to the ministry asking them about the trajectory of the plume and where it was doing all the damage. The response I got was that it was hard to be precise because one cannot always predict the behaviour of a looping plume. I tried to treat the matter seriously, but I could not resist responding to the minister at the time that living rurally, as I do beside a creek, many is the occasion I have seen a pooping loon, but never had I seen a looping plume.

Anyway so we go on; the story unravels.

The simple magnitude of Inco’s SO2 emissions argues a significant role for Inco in the long-range transport problem.

Perhaps we could talk about the proposed control order. I know the minister is interested. The control order now proposed by the Ministry of the Environment will not require any immediate reduction in Inco’s current emissions of approximately 2,500 tons per day of SO2. It does involve a reduction in the allowable emissions from the current level, and a further reduction by June 30, 1983.

Because the Copper Cliff smelter is now operating at only 70 to 80 per cent capacity, Inco might not be able to increase production substantially from the Copper Cliff smelter in the short term, in the absence of effective but rapidly introduced abatement measures.

It should be pointed out, however, that this fact is the result of (a) specific decisions by the corporation to make investments in areas unrelated to pollution abatement, and (b) specific decisions by the Ministry of the Environment to allow the corporation to do so.

Surely the course which the ministry should now direct Inco to follow is the most rapid possible introduction of the best available abatement technology. Future increases in production, if they are desired, should take place not only without violating the emission limits in the proposed control order but also, given time for the introduction of additional abatement measures, in compliance with considerably stricter emission requirements.

There are some abatement options. Sulphur dioxide emissions can be reduced either by reducing the amount of sulphur entering the smeltering process or by making the sulphur produced easier to control and then controlling emissions.

The Inco proposal of 1975 falls into the second category, and pyrrhotite separation into the first. Inco has been performing some pyrrhotite separation for many years, and has recently developed a new process for which a 25 per cent reduction in SO2 emissions is claimed.

The flash furnace, gas collection and acid production technology on which Inco based the 1975 proposal would have reduced emissions over a period of 50 months from 3,800 tons a day in 1975 to 1,500 tons a day in 1979, a reduction of 60 per cent. A combination of improved pyrrhotite separation and the 1975 technology, or one of equivalent effectiveness, would reduce emissions from Inco’s Copper Cliff smelter from 3,000 tons a day at full capacity -- I know they are only at 2,500 now -- to about 900 or 1,000 tons a day when those were completed. That is a significant figure and a significant period of time. I think the minister understands that.

A pyrrhotite separation plant on the necessary scale would require approximately two years for design and construction. Therefore -- and this may even surprise the minister -- we support the ministry’s proposal to require emission reductions to 1,950 tons a day by mid-1983, by which point such a plant should be fully operational. We support that part of his proposed control order.

We recommend as well that the ministry include in the control order a requirement that, within 60 months, Inco install either the set of process modifications that was proposed in 1975 with subsequent refinements as applicable, or a technology with comparable performance, and that this requirement be reinforced with a requirement for emission reductions to a level of 1,000 tons a day by a date of 60 months after the date of the order.

Let me be precisely clear on that. We support the 1,950 ton control order for mid-1983, roughly three years from now. But we do not stop there. The minister stops there.

Hon. Mr. Parrott: No.

Mr. Laughren: In terms of precise requirements, it does stop there.

What we say is, after that we will give the company 60 months to get down to 900 to 1,000 tons a day. We started talking about 3,600 tons, 3,800 tons and 2,500 tons. It sounds like a dramatic drop to 1,000 tons. It is a big drop, but that is 1,000 tons. There are 2,000 pounds in a ton. That is an incredible amount of SO2.

As I noted earlier, Inco’s earlier proposal allowed 50 months for complete installation. We would allow an additional 10 months based on the possibility of construction delays and the financing difficulties which could result from Inco’s heavy debt commitment to its foreign operations.

That is why we are saying that we are not going to be unreasonable about this. Even though Inco admitted they could do it in about four years -- that is, 50 months -- we are saying: “Okay, but there could be problems. Take the 60 months and get down to that 1,000 tons.” We think that is a very reasonable and very positive recommendation.

5:30 p.m.

Major process changes, such as the one proposed in 1975, require long lead times for design, engineering and construction. Put another way, the decisions to proceed have been made several years before completion of the modifications is required. Additionally, Inco’s past compliance record suggests that firm and specific deadlines are going to have to be set now if major emission reductions are desired by the mid-1980s.

I just drool when I think of what we could have done if in 1975 the minister of the day had released the document that Inco had presented, and had a public debate over it. We now would be down to 1,500 tons a day. Yet here we are at 2,500 tons a day. The proposed control order fails to do this. Simply requiring the completion of technical studies or new smelting technologies to cut emissions, as the proposed order would do, strongly suggests that it could well be 1990 by the time an emission level of 900 to 1,000 tons a day is reached.

Given the grave nature of the acid precipitation problem and the fact that we are now just beginning to find out about many of its damaging effects, this is unacceptable to us. An ongoing problem with abatement options involving production of sulphuric acid is finding a market for the acid, which is about 700,000 tons a year. It has been repeatedly suggested that one market could be created by the development of a fertilizer industry in northern Ontario, based on phosphate deposits and Inco-produced sulphuric acid.

We are informed that the federal government is currently reviewing a study on sulphuric acid marketing, in which this option appears the most viable one. The favourable implications of such an industrial development project to the economy of northern Ontario are obvious. Yet it appears that there has been woefully little investigation or promotion of this option, either by Inco or by the government of Ontario. As a matter of fact, it was stated in the federal government’s study that no serious study had been done to look into that possibility.

Neither Inco nor the government of Ontario has produced any evidence to show that they have been exploring even the possibility. Such inaction obviously makes the prediction of the lack of markets for additional sulphuric acid a self-fulfilling prophecy. That is not good enough. Here we are faced with the possibility of it being 1990 before we have any serious reduction below the 1950 level.

I would like to speak for a moment about economics and jobs. We always get the argument from Inco and from the ministry that it would be nice to clean up the environment, but do we want to shut the place down and cost everybody those jobs. That is the specious argument used by the minister occasionally. I have said it before, and I mean it very seriously, that we will not accept the argument that environmental control means laying people off. It seems to me that, in a time of high unemployment, job creation becomes the last refuge of the scoundrel. That is the impossible situation in which we find ourselves placed. When the minister uses those kinds of arguments, it is simply not fair.

The cost of the necessary pollution abatement measures has been estimated by Environment Canada, largely on the basis of Inco’s own figures, at $430 million over several years. Inco’s profit picture has remained remarkably healthy of late, despite the prolonged strike and slumping world nickel prices. In fact, Inco appears headed for a record year, with in excess of $300 million in earnings for 1980. As a matter of fact, its first-quarter earnings were almost $100 million. It is not hard to project in excess of $300 million for this year.

The federal Minister of the Environment is starting to push the Ontario Ministry of the Environment around a bit. The federal Minister of the Environment is causing some red faces over there.

Hon. Mr. Parrott: Read the record.

Mr. Laughren: The minister does not like it. It is very easy for the federal Minister of the Environment to criticize the Ontario minister when he is out of his own jurisdiction. I understand that. The Minister of the Environment’s face gets red every time one mentions the federal Minister of the Environment.

This is what Environment Canada had to say: “Today the Canadian nickel mines are the lowest-cost nickel producers in the world. At current $3.50-a-pound nickel prices, Canadian mines are making record profits, whereas lateritic mines are barely breaking even. Additionally, lateritic projects are particularly vulnerable to high startup and infrastructure costs and to rising world energy prices.”

As a matter of fact, as I am sure the minister knows, if it were not for the quadrupling -- or whatever the ratio is -- in the price of world oil, the lateritic ore bodies would have been on stream before now. That was a strange, perverse blessing in disguise for Canadian nickel operations.

In this context, the cap-on-production argument that has been made by Inco and bought by the Minister of the Environment is something of a red herring. According to Environment Canada preliminary estimates, the abatement measures would involve a cost equal to only six to eight per cent of current world nickel price. Given the clear economic superiority of Canadian nickel mines, strict environmental requirements should not be seen as a ceiling on production but, rather, as an effective incentive to reduce emission by investment in new technology as opposed to cutting production in Canadian reserves.

A lot of people do not understand that Inco itself makes money on pollution control equipment. A lot of stainless steel is used in pollution control equipment. Inco’s profits in the United States go up as they invest in pollution control equipment. It is not that it is all one-sided and that it is all cost for Inco. That is not true.

Inco’s chairman, Charles Baird, at his news conference on May 1, 1980, threatened reductions in production in Ontario in favour of production from other sources. He also noted possible adverse effects on the competitive position of the Sudbury operation. This is straight environmental blackmail, jobs versus the environment, and it should not be tolerated for one minute.

Inco is an old hand at this game. What is more depressing is that the Minister of the Environment appears to have bought the argument and has used it to defend the current order’s failure to impose more rigorous, long-term emission requirements. Let there be no mistake: We in this party are absolutely adamant that the protection of workers’ jobs has to be given every bit as high a priority as environmental protection. But the evidence is overwhelming that the conventional job-creation tradeoff is a myth. Pollution abatement in Sudbury could create employment in construction, in the installation of the necessary facilities, in the sulphuric-acid-based fertilizer industry, which a more imaginative provincial government would long ago have insisted on developing. The reduction of SO2 emissions in acid precipitation may soon become a desperate necessity for the preservation of the jobs of thousands of other Ontarians who depend for their employment and their livelihood on the tourism industry in areas threatened by lake acidification.

During the 1970s, Inco invested vast amounts of capital in the United States, Guatemala and Indonesia when it laid off members of its Canadian work force and pleaded that it could not afford a satisfactory level of environmental control. That set of priorities was the broader political issue behind the current control order proposal. If the proposed order is to have any real environmental value, it will have to include tough, long-term emission deadlines of the type we have recommended. But the order will have to be backed up as well by a firm exercise of political will and resolve that, whatever the priorities of corporate profit, environmental quality is and will continue to be a priority in Ontario.

I hope I have put before the members and the minister what we feel about the proposed control order and the necessity of making sure there are long-term emission control requirements placed on Inco in this particular control order. I hope the minister, once and for all, will reject the idea that putting on pollution controls costs jobs and is a danger to the economic health of the Sudbury Basin. The opposite is the truth.

To those people who are always saying the image of the Sudbury Basin is no good, let me say that the image will improve when the reality improves. What we need to do is to improve the emission controls as they are being applied to Inco and to Falconbridge Nickel Mines Limited, I might add. Then the reality will improve, the image will improve, the economic health of the community and of all northern Ontario will improve.

That is what motivates us in this party.

5:40 p.m.

Mr. Foulds: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker: Is it your understanding that the minister speaking at this time concludes the debate?

Mr. Deputy Speaker: Are there any more speakers?

Mr. Gaunt: Yes, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Laughren: But we do not mind if the minister speaks in rotation.

Hon. Mr. Parrott: Mr. Speaker, if I have the opportunity to put a few remarks on the record now, it does not preclude some other members of our party also speaking. I am sure we have members who are more than prepared to do so. There is a lot I would like to say in the next 20 minutes because I think there is a great deal that must be said to put on the record what is really and truly a good record in this province by the Ministry of the Environment, not during my term of office, as a good deal was done prior to my term of office.

It is kind of interesting to note that the Leader of the Opposition would choose the environment as his pet issue. I can understand that. He made a couple of comments about me personally, and perhaps I can give him some credits. I think it is an issue that is ideal for his particular style of politics. I may not be too complimentary on what that style is. I think the environment and the issues surrounding the environment just play right into his hands. His strengths, in my opinion, are to distort the issue, to exaggerate a possibility and to use scaremongering whenever possible. Above all, he uses those issues and demonstrates, sometimes to a degree that worries me a great deal, a lack of political morality.

This is not something we should let go unnoticed. I think in the next few minutes I can give pretty good evidence as to why that is true. I am assuming he will return to the House. Here he comes now. That is good. I thought maybe he would want to leave because he frequently likes to make his own comments and leave. I am going to try to take up some of the comments and respond and talk about the support of this government on budgetary matters.

There is no question that the Ministry of the Environment has had a very significant portion of the budget. More particularly, our budget is increasing by higher percentages than some of the other ministries. It does not necessarily make them happy, but it does me. There is just no validity in the point that we aren’t getting our fair share of the budget. Indeed, I think we have done better than many other ministries in this regard.

When we start to talk about the legacy that this government, this ministry or myself have left to this province, let me say it is a legacy we can be proud of. It is not one, as the leader of that party would suggest, that we should be ashamed of, but the very definite contrary.

Sometimes one has to step back and make a few observations on what is happening in other jurisdictions, in other provinces. Yesterday I was in Ottawa to open a Rideau River study for storm water. What is significant about that? In the last 20 years that city has come on to full sewage treatment and 98 per cent of the urban population of Ontario are on sewage treatment. I stood in that city, that beautiful capital, Ottawa, and looked across the river and knew that there is yet to be one drop of sewage treatment to be processed in the city across the river; yet it is going into the same river. It is an interesting comparison that 98 per cent of the people of this province in urban municipalities are serviced by sewage treatment plants. That is a record to be proud of. It is not one that gives any credence to what the member opposite has said.

Let me look at a couple of other areas that might not do too bad. The member opposite talks about our deplorable record on waybills. Let us compare that to any jurisdiction in Canada. I have here something that was issued today by the federal minister which I would like to read: It says: “Environment Minister John Roberts wants tightly controlled shipping regulations for hazardous waste inserted into proposed legislation on the transportation of hazardous goods.” What this is saying -- it is a very long release so I will not read it all -- really boils down to this: Ontario has a waybill system and has had a waybill system for some time. No other jurisdiction in Canada has one, and when they talk about us being behind the rest of Canada, nothing could be further from the truth.

We are the leaders in almost every single environmental issue that I can think of, and here is a case in point where the waybill system was used to somehow or other supposedly illustrate that we were not abreast of the times. We are ahead of every other jurisdiction; there is no question about that. The feds will look to our bylaw and will likely ask to use it as a model. That is how far we are, and that is the kind of legacy we are leaving the people of this province.

I met with the Canadian Council of Resource and Environment Ministers some two or three months ago and found there is not a province which has any policy at all on liquid waste treatment. Alberta may now have developed the plan that it might think will happen in the future. Our plan is not only here, although there is yet much to be done, but it is a plan that will give the people of this province the best treatment of liquid waste in the world. There is no doubt about that and that plan is very definitely in place.

The leader of the Liberal Party would go around this province to any place he can find a bandwagon on which to ride to decry any single possible solution to his political advantage. He says we do not have a plan. That is not so. A year and a half ago we put forward a seven-point program. Part of it is already in place and the balance of it is on schedule. I have given you only three easy illustrations of where Ontario leads the way in environmental control and treatment of our pollutants here in this province.

The thing that perhaps bothers me most -- and this was very evident in the discussions we had under estimates -- is when the leader of the Liberal Party somehow or other claims that he had a monopoly on the feeling for his children. There are approximately 2,000 people in the Ministry of the Environment who are mothers and fathers and grandfathers and who care every bit as much as the Leader of the Opposition does for his family. We are all in this together and we should not and cannot gain by pretending we have a greater monopoly on the concerns of the people of this province. Nothing could be further from the truth.

As a matter of fact, when you get right down to it, Mr. Speaker, I think by pure action this government has demonstrated consistently for 37 or 38 years that it has a greater concern. That is why we are in power; that is why we will stay in power.

I am pleased that I do not have to go around this province sowing seeds of doom and gloom and mistrust. If that is the legacy that we are speaking about that can come from the party opposite, I am glad I am on this side of the House.

Let me talk about some of the things that were supposedly policy issues. Over and over again, I hear only those things that were not done, not what has been accomplished. The favourite whipping boy of every person who wants to speak on the environment is Inco. No one seems to recognize the fact of life -- it is not a defence of Inco, it is a fact of life -- that in a decade emissions from Inco have gone down from 7,000 to 2,500 tons a day. That is an accomplishment. It is a huge reduction. I am not satisfied that is the final reduction, nor will it be, but once in a while I think we do have to give at least acknowledgement, if not credit, to the facts as they are.

5:50 p.m.

It is said, Mr. Speaker, that people within our province, those who would pretend to govern, do not recognize what is so often recognized outside. Let me read a news release from the state of Vermont. It is headed, New Ontario Air Pollution Orders Should Benefit Vermont. I will read only one paragraph. “Environment secretary Brendan Whittaker today described recent province of Ontario efforts on air pollution as a very helpful indication that one of Canada’s most serious air quality problems was on its way to solution.” He saw we took the first step. We took this first step.

That is the kind of perspective I hope the people of Ontario will see and will know. Then I am sure they will judge us as having cared and done something about the problems we face. I have never said, contrary to what is so often put on the record, that somehow environmental controls will cost jobs. I have never said that; never.

That brings me back to the very first point. It is easy for the member opposite to distort those statements. There has never been a time when I have said that jobs and the environment are in conflict. To the contrary, I think they go hand in glove. I have to respond and respond rather forcefully to those kinds of distortions which are so easily put on the record and are sometimes so difficult to erase.

There was another interesting point in the testimony we heard. There was a great cry against doing more studies. “Here we go again; another study.” Within two minutes of making the statement that the last thing this province needed was another study, he then said in effect that what we need is a good study on how to have more fertilizing plants and use the Inco facilities. On one hand he says no, and in the next minute, “Why don’t you do another study?” That is the kind of inconsistency I have seen far too often in the policy of the Liberal opposition. We could go on and on. I am going to be pressed to conclude by six o’clock.

Another comment was that Harwich didn’t know; there was an element of secrecy there. I say it was the local officer of health who asked for that site to be opened. It was the local people who drove in there day in and day out. They knew what was going on there and they could get that information from us. The certificate is on file with that office. There is nothing to hide in Harwich. To the contrary; we made every effort to go down there with as much information as it was humanly possible to do.

On that issue alone the Liberal Party says it agrees with solidification. They agree with the environmental assessment hearing process and then do everything they can to stop it. What do they think is a solution? What do they think? Could I read one suggestion? I think the member for Nickel Belt (Mr. Laughren) might be interested in this suggestion from the Liberal Party. It was in debates. I said: “You haven’t identified one single place. Even though you have said solidification is good, the Environmental Assessment Act is good, you haven’t identified one single place.” What was the response? I quote directly. “Mr. Haggerty: I suggest perhaps if you can’t find it here then let us go up to Algonquin Park or some place like that.” Is that a place to put liquid wastes? I don’t think the leader of the party wants --

Mr. Nixon: A point of order, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker: What is the member’s point of order?

Mr. Nixon: Mr. Speaker, I draw to your attention standing order 49 which governs the conduct of a debate of this type. As we understand it, the debate is to be completed in one sitting. Since we are approaching the end of the sitting, sir, we would like to know your intention so that the debate can be concluded, as has been expected, with a vote. Surely it would be for you, sir, to interpret the standing order in such a way that we would have an opportunity to express our views in this matter by our vote?

Mr. Warner: Mr. Speaker, on the point of order: While you are considering that, I also note that the orders define “sitting” as two and one half hours. My understanding is we began at roughly 4:30. By six o’clock we will have used an hour and a half. There should then be at least one hour remaining.

In the past, on at least one occasion we have carried over a concurrence from one day to another. I refer specifically to December 17, 1979, when we carried over the concurrence for the Attorney General’s estimates.

Mr. Breithaupt: Speaking to the point of order, Mr. Speaker, I would recall for your interest the precise wording of Rule 49(a), which says “the debate shall be confined to one sitting.” I would suggest, sir, that whether there happened to be two hours or 10 minutes available within a sitting, those are the brackets that are around the time which is otherwise available. As a result, I would say that this debate, being confined to one sitting, must be completed at six o’clock.

Mr. Speaker: I think you have to look at standing orders 49(c) and 16 jointly. The debate will be confined to one sitting. If I may refer you to standing order 16: “The term ‘sitting’ means a period of two and one half hours.” So it would be my understanding and my ruling that since the debate started at 4:30 and the clock has been running, and assuming that we adjourn for the day at six, there would still be one hour loft.

Mr. S. Smith: A day is 24 hours.

Mr. Speaker: I am defining what a sitting means, and according to standing order 16 the term “sitting” means a period of two and one half hours.

Mr. S. Smith: If I may speak to the point, Mr. Speaker, a day is 24 hours; but to say that something shall be confined to a day does not mean it has to carry on for 24 hours. To say that something is confined to a day obviously, in our interpretation, means that within a period known as a day you have to have the debate come to an end. A sitting is indeed a period of two and one half hours; but to say that something shall be confined to a sitting does not mean it must last the full two and one half hours. It must be confined and dealt with within that period of time known as a sitting. It seems to me very clear that this is a sitting and it ends at six o’clock.

Hon. Mr. Wells: Mr. Speaker, I want to say that I looked again very carefully at standing order 49, and I think my friend would realize in the spirit of this House it is accepted that concurrences normally can take up to two and one half hours. The term “sitting” is there to indicate that two and one half hours can be taken on a concurrence for a maximum.

I think a very limited interpretation of that -- to suggest that because we got going a little late we could not take the full two and one half hours -- is depriving members of this House of their opportunity to take part in this debate. I do not think it is something that the Leader of the Opposition would want to argue. He had a chance to make a very good presentation on it. I think there are other members who wish to reply. I would submit he is going to have to abide by a provision that would allow two and one half hours. When that two and one half hours is completed, he and his party are quite free to vote against the estimates of the ministry.

Mr. S. Smith: Tomorrow?

Hon. Mr. Wells: It may be tomorrow; it may be at some later time.


Mr. Speaker: Order. I have been asked by the member for Brant-Oxford-Norfolk to interpret the provisions for a concurrence debate. It would be my decision that --


Mr. Speaker: Order. It would be my decision that a sitting can constitute up to two and one half hours. We will have consumed only one and one half hours; so it would be my ruling that if other members wish to speak on the concurrence motion we will allocate another hour after six o’clock.

6 p.m.

Mr. Speaker: I know that all members would want me to draw to their attention the presence in the gallery of the Honourable Nicholas Ridley, who is Minister of State at the Foreign Office of Great Britain. Would you please welcome him.

Hon. Mr. Parrott: Mr. Speaker, I would like to return to two or three of the things that were said. One thing that I do want to get on the record very quickly has to do with the comments made by the leader of the Liberal Party about SCA and what we had not done. I want to put this on the record very clearly. Here is a copy of a telegram from Pierre Elliott Trudeau, sent before the election. It says, “A new Liberal government will strongly urge the government of the United States to cancel the permits which allow SCA Waste Services to dump a million gallons of pollutants into the Niagara River.”

That was used to great political advantage; that was before the election. But what occurred after the election was a complete absence of action. I suggest to the members of this House that if the leader of the Liberal Party were elected Premier of this province, heaven forbid, his promises before the election would be as empty as were Pierre Elliott Trudeau’s before the election, and he would do nothing he promised -- nothing.

Mr. Speaker: The motion upon which we are operating today indicated that we would meet from two until six and, until I hear a motion to the contrary and something that will give us the authority to sit, I will have to ask the Minister of the Environment to move the adjournment of the debate.

The House divided on Hon. Mr. Parrott’s motion to adjourn the debate which was agreed to on the following vote:

Ayes 63; nays 30.

The House adjourned at 6:13 p.m.