31st Parliament, 4th Session

L116 - Tue 18 Nov 1980 / Mar 18 nov 1980

The House resumed at 8 p.m.

House in committee of the whole.


Resuming consideration of Bill 82, An Act to amend the Education Act.

On section 2:

Mr. Chairman: Mr. Sweeney moves that the amendment by Hon. Miss Stephenson be further amended by deleting the word “pupils” in the first line and replacing it with “children”; by adding “appropriate” in the third line after “regulation”; by adding “without payment of fees” in the fourth line after “services” and by further adding “and providing for the parents or guardians to appeal the appropriateness of the special education placement.”

Mr. Sweeney: Mr. Chairman, I would like to explain precisely why I have gone about it in this way. To repeat what I attempted to indicate prior to the dinner recess, some parts of this amendment were contained in an amendment I had to the honourable minister’s first amendment, which she withdrew, and I apologize to my colleagues in the House for having created some confusion prior to 6 o’clock.

If I may now explain why I am asking the minister to accept this change to her amendment: I think it is necessary to change the word “pupil” to “children” because it has been drawn to my attention that there are some children in this province who may be in a facility not under the jurisdiction of a school system who would not be defined as pupils according to normal terminology and who may require special education services.

I am quite prepared to hear the minister indicate to me that under the existing section 1 of this bill they may be covered. I felt It was my responsibility to bring it forward as an amendment so we would at least have the opportunity to clarify that those children not under the jurisdiction of the school system, who may be in some kind of an institution, are covered. That is the whole purpose of doing it. I am quite prepared to hear the minister indicate to me that it may not be necessary, that they are covered in some other way -- I will be happy with that. I just want to be sure they are covered, which is why I brought it in.

The minister will be very aware that the word “appropriate” has come up time and time again during our discussions. A number of those concerned about this legislation said the term “special education” may not be enough; we have to be sure it meets the needs of kids. That is the whole intent of using the word “appropriate.”

I would draw to the minister’s attention that on page three of her amendment to section 7(8), the minister herself uses the term “appropriate special education.” I do not believe I am being inconsistent in saying at this time there would be no good reason to be concerned about using the word “appropriate.” I realize it may be perceived as an unnecessary duplication but, on the other hand, if there are those who have children and who are concerned about what we are doing, and if this clarifies in a more precise way what we are after, I think the minister will appreciate why I want to put it in.

In terms of “without payment of fees,” which is my third amendment, I would direct the minister to her own statement, which I briefly referred to prior to the recess. The concept is simply that it is an educational system supported by the taxation of all citizens. Literally, what I am saying here is, if we find there are some children who for whatever reason have to be educated in a program some place else, the general taxation base should bear that whatever the cost. The individual parent should not be burdened with that problem.

I would also point out to the minister, and I am sure she is already aware of it, that in a subsequent amendment I am going to move that where the board itself, co-operatively with the parent, decides to place the child in some other educational setting, the board pay for it. If we go one step further and the special education tribunal decides the child should be placed in another educational setting, I am going to move an amendment that the minister, for whom the tribunal is acting, would pay for it. Once again it would be consistent with what will be coming up later.

Finally, the minister will be aware that in the amendment she has withdrawn, I wanted a more precise statement of what she is going to do anyway, that is, to provide for the parents or guardians the right to appeal the appropriateness of the special education placement.

The minister will realize that in the bill, as it now stands, under section 5 there is a reference to the fact that a special education placement can be appealed. The fact the minister has accepted that in committee --

Hon. Miss Stephenson: That is section 3.

Mr. Sweeney: Thank you. The minister probably will appreciate that I am trying to be, in so far as possible, internally consistent as far as this legislation is concerned. I am trying to draw to the minister’s attention that any amendments I propose are consistent with what we have done in other places in the legislation. We passed it in standing committee. The minister supported it. I have not yet seen any amendment that the minister proposes that would eliminate it. I would recommend to her that putting this in this particular section would be consistent.

I do not intend to go on at any great length. What I have tried to indicate to the minister is the four amendments I am proposing. I have attempted to indicate in each case why I believe they are acceptable and consistent with what is done in other parts of the legislation.

Hon. Miss Stephenson: May I respond, Mr. Chairman? I should like to respond to the honourable member’s proposed amendments. I think I have already stated my concern about the inclusion of the word “children” rather than “pupil” since the age range that is possible within that definition is one that is not entirely consistent with any of the provisions within the Education Act. I recognize the rationale for the inclusion of that word, but I believe the definitions included in section 1 under subsection 20(a)(i), (ii) and (iii) cover all the children in the province.

I do not believe there is anyone who can escape that net at this point because that includes all those children in all kinds of institutions, including nursing homes and homes for special care, where we may not at this point have agreements but will. It includes all those who are considered resident pupils of a board, and all who could enrol with the board although they may not be resident pupils for certain circumstances.

8:10 p.m.

It would not be consistent with the remainder of the Education Act to include the word “children” rather than “pupils.” But I do not have any major objection to it if the member feels it is going to cover a circumstance that might arise from some unknown factor that I certainly cannot prognosticate at this point.

I have no difficulty with the word “appropriate.” I am told the inclusion of adjectives within legislation tends to be less than productive because there may be a number of interpretations of the word “appropriate” and this may lead to some difficulties in the future. But we know what we are talking about when we talk about an “appropriate” educational program. If we can use our definition of “appropriate,” I think that is probably fairly reasonable.

“Without payment of fees” as an inclusion is simply a reinforcement of the current educational philosophy, and that I would certainly accept.

My only question about the member’s fourth amendment is that in section 3(2) of the bill, paragraph 5a specifically requires of the minister an action that will develop the procedures to govern the appeals of parents regarding placement, will govern the participation of parents in all the activities that might lead up to a placement, and certainly will define the way in which those appeals should be carried out. Therefore, my question would be whether it needs to be repeated. Does it need to be stated twice within such a short space in the act, or is it more appropriate in section 3?

Mr. Sweeney: Mr. Chairman, if I could briefly respond to what the minister has said with respect to the last point, I recognize, and I have already given cognizance to the fact, that the minister has accepted the appeals procedure on page three of the bill as it now stands. But it has been brought to my attention that when it is totally within the regulations, there is some concern by people outside this House that it does not fit all the needs. Since it is the minister’s intention to bring it in by regulation anyway in this particular section, it seems to strengthen the statute requirement that in fact the minister do that.

I am quite prepared to understand that the minister in good faith would bring it in. In the same vein, I would say it does not really change anything here. The minister will recall in my opening remarks I made the observation that we are dealing here with a delicate balance between, on the one hand, trustees and teachers who have to implement this, and, on the other, a very large number of parents who have genuine concerns based upon long experience. Unfortunately, there is nothing we can do about that experience. That is what they are speaking from. That is their perception. If by putting it in this area they have some sense they are better protected in a way in which the minister intends to protect them anyway, I would simply ask the minister to accept it, even if it is probably a duplication.

Hon. Miss Stephenson: Mr. Chairman, the only concern I have is that it is repeated within a relatively short period of time in the act, if it is in both places. Which is the most appropriate place in which to put it?

I will make a commitment to this House that the regulations governing this activity will be introduced for the members of the House to see before this bill receives royal assent. We are in the process of working on those regulations at the moment. That mechanism for the active participation of parents in the function of the placement and review committee and the active role of parents in appealing that placement is a regulation activity I have already committed myself to and which will be before the members of the House before the bill receives royal assent.

Mr. Chairman: The member for Bellwoods.

Mr. Sweeney: Mr. Chairman, if I may --

Mr. Chairman: No, order.

Mr. Sweeney: Excuse me, Mr. Chairman, I believe the minister has asked a question with respect to my amendment and I would like to --

Hon. Miss Stephenson: I did.

Mr. Chairman: Order.

Mr. Sweeney: Am I in order or out of order?

Mr. Chairman: You will have an opportunity. The member for Bellwoods.

Mr. McClellan: Thank you, Mr. Chairman, I will not be long but I do want to indicate just how intolerable I find this subamendment.

My colleagues may try to argue that there is no difference between the amendment offered by the honourable minister, as amended by the Liberal Party, and what is currently on the books as passed by the social development committee. There are profound differences and let us not kid ourselves. If we want to water down the rights provision under section 2 of Bill 82, let us have the honesty to stand up and say, “That is what we are doing,” because that is the result of the amendment and the subamendment.

Number one, it has eliminated the phrase “unique needs.” We are no longer talking about an appropriate public education program that meets the unique needs of children. We are not talking about that any more. We are talking about something entirely different.

Secondly, we are not talking about all children in Ontario any more. We are not talking about all the children in the province. We are simply talking about those who are designated by a local board of education placement committee as exceptional pupils. If people do not see the difference between a statutory provision, which covers all the children of the province, and a statutory provision which simply covers those who are designated exceptional pupils by officers of a board of education, then there is something profoundly wrong with their mental vision.

The amendment and the subamendment include the word “appropriate.” Later on, the same people who want to move this amendment and the subamendment want to take out the definition of appropriate from the act. So we have a nice little word in here -- “appropriate.” Nowhere in the act, if the group here -- the Conservatives and the Liberals -- has its way, will there be a definition of appropriate. Who are you trying to kid, who are you trying to fool?

I very much hope you are not fooling anybody who is watching this debate. There is the gamesmanship around what “free” means. What does the minister mean by saying there is ambiguity with respect to the word “free.” Of course it means no user charge. If that is not sufficiently clear, let somebody move an amendment to Bill 82 that simply spells out the obvious meaning of free, instead of this gamesmanship around words.

What we have in front of us is a substantial backing off from the statutory rights provision in Bill 82, which guarantees to all children in Ontario the right to a free and appropriate education that meets their unique needs. The formulation that the other two parties are attempting to move is profoundly different from that. Let there be no mistake about it whatsoever. Finally, there is the little tag end that the Liberal Party has moved providing for the parents or guardians to appeal the appropriateness of the special education placement. What on earth does that mean? It means absolutely nothing.

The powers of decision in this bill are statutory powers. Let me stress the point again for the third time. It says on the very first page of the bill, “Her Majesty, by and with the advice and consent of the Legislative Assembly of the Province of Ontario enacts as follows.” The very first thing we enact in this bill is the power of officials of a board of education to decide which children are exceptional pupils and which children are not exceptional pupils. Having made that decision, the same committee decides what kind of a special education program and what kind of special education services those who have been designated exceptional pupils will receive.

8:20 p.m.

Neither of the other two parties is prepared to put forward a genuine appeal procedure and genuine appeal mechanism within the statute itself. A statutory power of decision cannot be met with the kind of vague nonsensical phrase that we have in the subamendment. Appeal procedures against statutory powers of decision cannot be imposed by regulation by the minister or the cabinet. It is us, the Legislature conferring the statutory power of decision, and only this Legislature, that should enact in the statute itself the right of appeal against the decisions exercised under that statutory power.

Mr. Stong: Mr. Chairman, in 1976 I introduced a bill calling for mandatory special education. That is exactly what this bill before us purports to do. Let me just speak to the amendment being offered by my colleague from Kitchener-Wilmot.

In the bill passed by the committee the word “free” is included loud and clear. In essence, the word “free” opens a Pandora’s box. It represents bad legislation, bad drafting. It would allow any individual to commence litigation that would ask the court to determine whether that person would have to pay his property taxes for education if that could be tested. It is better to have the word “free” deleted from the section completely.

In place of that, my colleague from Kitchener-Wilmot included after that, “without payment of fees.” This obviously includes no excess payment over and above what his property taxes would bring him for educational purposes. It also imposes and continues to impose upon the individual his responsibility to the educational system. The word “free” is not desirable and must be removed.

The question of “appropriate” is very important. it is our belief, as expressed this afternoon by members to my left, that the purpose of the bill itself is to meet a need. Until the enactment of this bill, this has not been a compulsion on the ministry yet the need has existed. We have recognized that need and attempted to do something about meeting it.

I have no problem with the definition or the inclusion of “exceptional children.” As my friend from Kitchener-Wilmot defines it, it is desirable to us. I have more faith than my friends to the left in the appeal procedures that will be debated later and in the classification of individual needs of children. I have great faith in those who will be implementing the appeal procedures when we finally enact them.

This afternoon my friends on my left chastised us for flip-flopping. We have not flip-flopped; we have improved on what the minister has proposed. It is good to see the honourable minister is not opposed to what we have included. I would urge upon her that this is the most appropriate spot for enabling legislation in reference to an appeal. It is better here than in some section later on dealing with a procedural or regulatory enactment or enabling part. In fact, an enabling part ought to be included here, in my respectful submission to the minister, as we have done in our amendment.

Hon. Miss Stephenson: It could be in both, actually.

Mr. Stong: That could be, and we are willing to have it invoked.

Mr. Foulds: Mr. Chairman, I rise with a great deal of sadness and an enormous amount of anger. We have before us in the clause, as it is reported to this Legislature from the social development committee, a historic and important clause that actually breaks new ground and establishes the principles that many of us in this Legislature fought for for many years with regard to rights for children who need special education.

There were honourable members of all parties who fought for those rights. The two previous speakers for the Liberal Party, in fact, fought for those rights. I am saddened more than I can say by their retreat and the sophistry we have in the arguments coming from the Liberal Party this evening, and the sophistry involved in the arguments coming from the honourable minister in her amendment earlier this afternoon. Those arguments are simple arguments to save face and they are arguments to weasel out of a legislative commitment to the right to education for kids with special learning needs.

I would like to quote the member for York Centre, who had the courage in 1976 to include in legislative terms the phrase “every child” in his Education Amendment Act. He added it to the act, not to the regulations, and he did not have faith in the regulators in 1976. He said nothing this evening to show us what has changed his faith in the regulators.

His bill read: “The said act” -- that is the Education Act -- “is amended by adding thereto the following section: 19a. Every child” -- no weaselling, no adjective that modifies that -- “of compulsory school age has a right to an education.”

That was a clause he could have been proud of. The amendment his colleague has introduced is one he should be ashamed of.

As for the minister’s argument that the wording is American, are the Americans such horrible people? Have they not done something occasionally right in legislative terms?

Of course they have. They have, in fact, occasionally made some of the best ringing declarations of human freedom this world has heard, and they have embodied some of those principles of freedom in legislation in a very sound and effective way.

The minister argues that the word “children” is not appropriate. Why not? Her argument is specious that it might include children starting at day one to whatever the age of majority is, because the rest of the legislation in the Education Act deals with all those problems.

The minister’s arguments might hold water in legislative terms if the government had brought in a special and separate bill that dealt with special education, but it did not. It saw fit to amend the Education Act, the general act we consolidated in 1974. Because it did that, as my colleague the member for Bellwoods indicated earlier, this act embodies the right of the child to be present physically in a classroom. That is the only legislative right we have in Ontario, that children shall have access to education. That is the only legislative guarantee. If we want to guarantee the right of exceptional children to education, that guarantee also has to be embodied in the legislation.

As I ponder this clause and hear the arguments coming from the other corners of the House, I say to myself, as I look at section 2 of the bill as it was reported by the social development committee, what is so horrible about this section? What is there in the section that harms anybody? Is there any harm in the section? Does it harm the children? Does it harm the school board administrators? Does it harm the general public?


I must answer “no” to all those questions. There is no harm in the section. It does make more work for some people or less for others. It makes a lot more work for the teachers in the classrooms, for the administrators of the school boards and for the ministry. But we do not devise legislation for the purpose of the bureaucracies. The bureaucracies are there to serve the needs of the children.

I say to myself, does section 2 do any good as it is in this legislation? I can understand the misgivings many people have. I can understand their uneasiness because there is a precedent set. Thank God we have a precedent once in a while in this Legislature in 1980 when we have such a don’t-rock-the-boat kind of legislative program from the William G. Davis government. Thank God we have one or two precedents.

Does it do any good? Yes, it does good. It does an enormous amount of good because it guarantees the right to education for the people we are supposed to be serving as legislators when we deal with the Education Act. Presumably we are supposed to be serving the children of this province who require an education.

We have an opportunity before us this evening which, if the previous speeches are the intentions of the two parties the speakers represent, is a historic opportunity that will be lost. We in this caucus propose to fight with every ounce of our legislative strength so that battle is not lost. If it is lost this evening or during the debate on this legislation, we will fight again and again until we have won the right for kids with learning disabilities, whatever they may be, to have enshrined in legislation the right to a free and appropriate education in this province.

One of the problems, because we are setting a precedent with this clause, is that we are setting out on some unchartered waters. That is what the bureaucrats are afraid of; that is what the Liberal Party is afraid of; that is what the minister is afraid of. It is because we have yet to define all the problems we will face. To be frank, we will never meet all those problems perfectly but, if we do not enshrine in legislation the principle that they should be met, that we have an obligation to meet them and that we must do everything in our power which is humanly possible to meet them, that right will be lost.

It will be a historic moment, a moment of lack of faith, a moment of cowardice that all of us in this Legislature will be ashamed of in future years. It will be an act that the bureaucrats in the Ministry of Education should also be ashamed of because they should have acquiesced in the Legislature’s will as it was expressed by a majority of people on the social development committee and the good that would be done.

The Liberal member for Kitchener-Wilmot says they have a historic memory of having to fight for rights. You bet your sweet life they have a historic memory of having to fight for rights. We must embody in this legislation the principle that parents with kids who need special education should not be made to feel they have to beg for it. They should not be made to feel they are asking for something exceptional for their exceptional children. It should be a matter of right.

It is a rights clause we are talking about here, a good clause that was proposed by the social development committee. It is a clause that may be difficult to implement, I grant you, but given the will and the financial resources from the minister, it could be implemented.

Mr. Chairman, what we have before us from the minister, with a few Band-Aids by the spokesman for the Liberal Party, is a backing away, a shameful retreat, and I will vote against those amendments.

I would hope the Legislature would embody section 2 as it was reported by the social development committee. If the members are so worried about the word “free” being embodied in legislation, I believe my colleague from Bellwoods has an amendment that would strike that word, leaving the integrity of the clause in Bill 82 intact. The member is attacking and weakening the integrity of the clause. The party that has traditionally fought against government by regulation in this Legislature has acquiesced to the Tory move.

I remember time and again in the last six or seven years when the member for Rainy River (Mr. T. P. Reid) attacked regulations in the Crown Timber Act saying they should be embodied in legislation, but when the crunch comes he is willing to give the minister and bureaucrats the right to determine the terms under which a person may appeal a local decision.

Finally, we get back to the point made earlier in the debate: If we are amending the Education Act, we are amending an act that presumably applies to all the people of the province, all the children of the province, and we do not want to balkanize that act. If the minister strikes this clause, she and the members of the Liberal Party know very well that the amendment before us will be applied unequally throughout the province. Children who are not defined originally by the committee of the board will not have free and total access to the educational rights embodied in the bill.

Mr. Haggerty: Mr. Chairman, I want to address myself particularly to the amendments put forward by my colleague. The member for Port Arthur quoted from Hansard the bill from the member for York Centre. I wish he had quoted almost everything in that amendment to the Education Act, 1974. He is correct when he says it would have guaranteed every child of compulsory school age a right to an education. It also would have required every school board in Ontario to establish special educational programs, particularly for those children suffering from learning disabilities.

Many of the amendments to the Education Act, Bill 82, follow the principle outlined in my colleague’s private member’s bill. When I read that and look at what has been proposed here by my colleague, I suppose the amendment to it is appropriate in the third line. I see nothing wrong with that. It follows the principle outlined further on in the bill, adding the words, “without payment of fees.”

The word “free” perhaps has a double meaning in the sense that “free” means anybody who wants to can have his children in a special educational program. The words “exceptional children” could mean gifted children or children with learning disabilities or other physical disabilities and could be interpreted later on as meaning free education.

Nothing in this world is free, let’s not kid ourselves, and my Socialist friend knows that. Somebody eventually is going to pay for it. The intent of the amendment is the same as legislation for any other school children enrolled in the school system in Ontario; the money is raised through municipal taxation and grants from the Ministry of Education. That is the point I want to make.

8:40 p.m.

I interpret that to mean somebody perhaps could come back later and say, “My child gets free education. I do not pay a cent for it.” I will tell you, that is going to open the door for all parents of school children in the province to say, “Do I have to pay educational tax if it is free?” This bill says it is free. I suggest to you that my colleague’s private member’s bill definitely says it should be part of the educational program and the school boards will establish the programs and they will be funded through school taxation.

The best way we have found to educate our children in Ontario is through the portion of the municipal tax base for school purposes and the grant system. I see nothing wrong with the amendment put forward by my colleague. I think it is a reasonable amendment. It just says “without payment of fees,” so there is a clear understanding of what the word “free” means in the bill.

If that is left in the bill, you can rest assured it will be a lawyers’ field day. If that word is left in there, that is what will happen. Everybody will be going to the courts to argue that there is no cost for education for any children in the province. It would be great to go that way. There would be no municipal taxes for anybody, but I suggest I can see difficulties in this particular area.

For example, in the Niagara Peninsula, there is a program called NTEC, Niagara Training Employment Centre. The students there are considered dropouts from the elementary public school system. They are not accepted in the high school. The way they go about raising the money to carry out that program makes it one of the best programs for retarded, emotionally disturbed children in Ontario. It is a forerunner you might say. It is done through lotteries and fund-raising programs by different clubs and organizations. It is also funded through the Ministry of Community and Social Services, which I disagree with, since it should be funded under the Ministry of Education.

Hopefully, the intent of this bill is that it will be part of the educational system and will be paid for by all taxpayers without this group of people, dedicated as they are, going out and trying to raise funds through lotteries, gambling, or whatever you want to call it.

I suggest it is a good bill, and the amendments put forward by my colleague from Kitchener-Wilmot are reasonable. I hope the minister will accept them.

Mr. M. N. Davison: Mr. Chairman, I feel moved to comment on this con being pulled by the member for Erie. One assumes he has looked carefully at the amendment put forward by his colleague from York Mississippi, or wherever, which handily deals with five or six items in this section of the bill and in the minister’s amendment.

The member for Erie has chosen to focus on only one element as his reason for supporting it, never mind what other damage is done in his colleague’s amendment. He has hooked on to the word “free” and has found some objection to it. Through the most incredible sophomoric arguments about having to support our educational system through lotteries, he has decided he is going to oppose the bill as it was sent back by the social development committee.

What we are really talking about here, and what I think is the most important element in the debate on this section, is the question of sheer power and who it is that is going to make decisions on behalf of the people in the province. Is it going to be the legislative assembly of the province which has been elected as a constituent assembly by all the people in the province, or is it going to be the honourable minister and her friends in the cabinet and her friends in the bureaucracy?

That is what is really at stake. Are we, as legislators, going to go forward and support the position brought forward by the social development committee where the Legislature makes the decisions, and the people elected by everyone in Ontario make the decisions, or are we going to hand over that power to the Minister of Education and her friends?

We have seen the lack of sensitivity that the minister and the Tories have dealt out to kids with special needs over the past number of years in this province. That’s what we will be doing if we support the Conservative amendment and the Liberal subamendments.

I want to come back to the question of the words “free” and “without payment” raised by the member for Erie. If that is the honourable member’s concern, I would hope the member for Erie would support an amendment that would simply alter those words. We are quite prepared to negotiate something reasonable on that basis. He doesn’t have to buy all the items brought forward by his colleagues, if that is his concern. There can be an accommodation on this side. We don’t have to turn all the power over to the minister so we can be satisfied with one word.

If the member looks at some of the other things that are in his colleague’s amendments he will see some of the problems. The report, as brought back by the social development committee, refers to “all children in Ontario.” The minister comes back with an amendment that redefines “all children” very narrowly as “exceptional pupils.” Then the Liberal speaker, not to be outdone, redefines it further as “exceptional children” as opposed to “exceptional pupils.” The entire Liberal amendment is in that tone and I don’t see any reason why we should support it.

I’ve already mentioned the aspect of the costs but, if we go to the third element, the social development committee reported back the phrase “emphasizes special education programs and services that meet their unique needs.” It was talking about the needs of the children. The minister comes back and perverts that into “special education programs and special education services” with absolutely nothing about them being tailored to meet the needs of the kids.

Hon. Miss Stephenson: That’s in section 1. Does it need to be repeated?

Mr. M. N. Davison: Oh, yes. This is the way the minister is going to interpret everything. I can see it now, as the minister and her fuzzy friends sit down to see what they an do by way of interpretation of this bill in the future. The Liberal Party amendment does nothing to rectify that. They don’t relate it back to the unique needs of the children. There is no question of tailoring.

I think the real issue here -- the money and the unique needs of the kids aside -- is the question of power. Are we as legislators going to take the responsibility to establish the parameters and guidelines of this program or are we going to turn it over to the minister?

During the social development committee hearings the Liberals decided they would take the power to themselves as legislators and try to arrive at some kind of process and fashion it in the Legislative Assembly. They fulfilled their responsibility as legislators. Now they are shirking it and handing that power over to the minister. That is wrong and I don’t think we can trust the government with that kind of power. We would just welcome abuse, abuse not only of legislation, but abuse of kids who have special needs in this province.

Mr. Sweeney: Mr. Chairman, the question was raised a little earlier by the honourable minister as to whether it would be more appropriate to have the reference to an appeal mechanism where it currently is under section 3 of the bill or under section 2. I would say to the minister at this point that in my judgement, and responding to the concern expressed by many parents, it would be more appropriately placed in section 2.

Then without any question we could clearly state that they would have an appeal mechanism available to them at every single stage along the way. Whether their perception is correct or not, there is genuine concern that the first stage -- the decision by the placement and review committee of the board -- may not, as the act is worded at present, give them an appeal mechanism at that level. That is not my perception.

However, I would repeat for the minister’s benefit that we are genuinely trying to hear what people are saying and to structure this legislation in such a way that it would meet their needs.

8:50 p.m.

I understood the minister to say it made no difference to her whether it was here or in section 3. It would certainly make a difference to others that it be here rather than in section 3. It would more precisely say to them that even at the placement stage -- and the minister would notice that I specifically indicated in my amendment the word “placement,” which is the first step -- they would have the right to appeal that step. Therefore I would prefer to have it in section 2, where the amendment now stands, rather than in section 3.

On that basis, Mr. Chairman, I would once again say that the terms “appropriate” and “without payment of fees” and with the appeal mechanism built into this section of the bill, we are clearly saying to the parents of those children who have had negative experiences in the past that we have heard what they are saying and that we are moving in this legislation to respond to their concerns. For that reason I would ask the minister to support these amendments.

I would go one step further. It was drawn to my attention that I had a slight oversight with respect to the third part of my amendment; that is “without payment of fees.” It was suggested to me that “by parents or guardians resident in Ontario” is an appropriate addition to my amendment. I can well understand the need for that and I would certainly go along with that.

So if it is appropriate at this time I would add, under the third part of my amendment. “by parents or guardians resident in Ontario.” Surely we are talking about the special education needs of Ontario children. I cannot personally conceive of a situation where it would be other than that, but I appreciate the necessary restriction that we would be placing here and I would support that.

The Deputy Chairman: I would ask you again to put that in writing and send it up to me.

Mr. Cassidy: Mr. Chairman, I also rise in sorrow over the question of section 2. I am sad because the Minister of Education has not understood what happened over the course of the committee hearings this summer, when what was effectively a bad bill was turned into a good bill because of the work of the member for Bellwoods and other members of the NDP caucus, when a bill that began as utterly faulty in implementing the principles the honourable minister put forward was changed to put into legislation the principle that the minister had said earlier in the year the government intended to support.

In reality we know the minister was not giving a correct story at the very beginning, and that was demonstrated with this legislation as it came forward. The right to special education for kids in the province was not put into the bill. It was so hemmed around with regulations and the power to make decisions by bureaucrats and so on that the right was not there.

What has happened now, though, is that not only has a Conservative minister decided to try to go back to where she began in terms of watering down the principles of the bill, as contained in section 2, but she is now being joined by the Liberal Party which at one point seemed to be prepared to stand with the principle -- which they had said was the principle they subscribed to for many years.

I have here not just one bill but three bills that were presented by the member for York Centre: in 1976, Bill 192; in 1977, Bill 23, and in 1978, Bill 66. That said quite explicitly that the bill he proposed guaranteed to every child of compulsory school age a right to an education, with specific reference to special education. There were no ifs, ands or buts. There were none of the endless qualifications that are being proposed now by the member for Kitchener-Wilmot, the education critic for the Liberal Party.

I took the trouble to go back to the debate we had in June of this year to see exactly what the Liberal spokesperson had to say at that time. There were no qualifications then either. The member for Kitchener-Wilmot said he was pleased with the two basic principles the government said it subscribed to in the legislation. The principles were that every child in the province now has the automatic right to be admitted to a school, and has the automatic right to expect a program meeting his or her special needs to be prepared for him or her -- no ifs, ands or buts, no qualifying clauses such as “in accordance with the act and the regulations” which the minister has reinjected into the bill, and the member for Kitchener-Wilmot, on behalf of the Liberal Party, is now prepared to accept. This is where the somersault has taken place.

The government says, “We will make special education a right so long as it is in accordance with the act and the regulations, and we will define what that is going to be.” The minister says, “Before we get the bill to proclamation, we will let you know what the regulations are going to be.” But certainly she is not going to give to this Legislature the power to determine those regulations. No, she will leave it to her bureaucrats, to her officials, to determine what in their wisdom is going to be correct for the special education needs of kids of the province, whether or not that effectively implements the principles to which this party certainly subscribes.

Back in June the member for Kitchener-Wilmot said the principles of the bill of the member for York Centre were exactly that: Every child has the automatic right to expect that a program meeting his or her special needs will be prepared for him or her. But that is not what is entailed in the Liberal amendment. They backed away from that.

The member for Kitchener-Wilmot said he rejected the principle of exclusion. He said he did not believe there should be an exclusion principle anywhere In the legislation. But as I read it, that is effectively what he is endorsing with the amendment here right now. I want to point out the difference between the positive way we have put the rights of children, in the amendment accepted by the social development committee, and accepted by the Liberal Party at that time through their representatives on the committee downstairs, and what they are rejecting right now.

We say the minister shall ensure that all children, not just some children, should have available to them a free and appropriate public education. We say that for exceptional children education shall emphasize special programs and services that meet their unique needs. We say the rights of exceptional children and their parents and guardians shall be protected, and the minister shall ensure they are protected. The member for Kitchener-Wilmot says it is not a matter of protecting the rights of exceptional children and their parents, it is a matter of giving them an appeal process, whether or not that appeal process is actually going to do the job.

We say positively, “Protect those rights.” They say negatively, “Well, you may have to hammer on the door because you may be excluded, but you are going to have an appeal process that may or may not be effective.” The rights to education that the education critic for the Liberal Party said his party endorsed look pretty sorry by the time the Liberals have diluted them in the amendment we have before us.

Mr. Nixon: How are you going to vote? Why don’t you quit playing cheap politics?

Mr. Cassidy: I am not playing cheap politics. The Liberal Party is playing cheap politics in the province, backing away from the needs of children who should have the right to special education with no ifs, ands, or buts and no qualifications.


The Deputy Chairman: Order, please. The member for Ottawa Centre has the floor.

Mr. Cassidy: Mr. Chairman, I quote the member for Kitchener-Wilmot who said on June 17, “some word or description that says it is not enough just to have special education; it must be of a particular quality.” He said, “Don’t just put the words ‘special education’ in the bill and hope people will understand what that is.” Now they reject what we have suggested here, which attempts to respond to the need to define special education and to indicate that the special education program and services provided in the province should be such that they meet the unique needs of kids. God knows there are unique kids and there are unique needs in the province.

9 p.m.

A week ago I had a phone call from a parent in North York who has been fighting bitterly with the North York Board of Education to get education for his seven-year-old child. The child has now been put into a private school with funding from the ministry, but only after a year or a year and a half of desperately anxious fretting by this parent. The parent was educated and had the ability and the resources to fight the system, and in this case perhaps to win. This child is beginning to benefit.

But what the North York Board of Education said was, “We know what is appropriate. We are going to put your child back in the class he was in last year” and that is the appropriateness of what was going to be provided to him. They knew from the experience of the child, they knew from the way the child was acting up, they knew from the way the child was depressed with the education he was getting, but that was not appropriate. Yet that would still be allowed to be continued under what the minister is suggesting, and what the Liberal Party is suggesting here as well.

I look at the kind of loopholes that were left in the Liberal position as early as last June, and God knows, they are driving through them right now. The member for Kitchener-Wilmot said we must not raise expectations too high. He said it may be difficult to define in certain cases. He was a bit concerned about the question of funding. He also left all sorts of qualifications around what ought to be a basic and unequivocal principle.

This section comes as close to dealing with the whole principle of Bill 82 as any other part of the entire bill. That is why it is so distressing to see the Liberal Party indicating they are now siding with the minister -- just using a different set of words -- in her efforts to sabotage a bill which in its present form has widespread support from enormous numbers of anguished parents across the province who simply want to ensure that their kids will be able to get the education from which they are going to benefit.

Mr. J. Reed: Children.

Mr. Cassidy: Call them children or call them kids; I call them kids because I love them, I call them children because they are important. They can use whichever term they want to use. I do not care whether the Liberal Party calls them kids or children. I call the Liberal Party members to stand to the principles they stood for in June and that they stood for in the committee over the course of the summer, and to reject the amendment of the member for Kitchener-Wilmot and to support the bill in its present form and to reject the amendment proposed by the Minister of Education.

The Deputy Chairman: Just before we call on the member for Lakeshore (Mr. Lawlor), I now have the amendment proposed by the member for Kitchener-Wilmot.

Mr. Sweeney moves that section 2 be amended by deleting “pupils” in the first line and replacing it with “children”; by adding “appropriate” in the third line after “regulation”; by adding “without payment of fees by parents or guardians resident in Ontario” in the fourth line after “services”; by further adding, “and providing for the parents or guardians to appeal the appropriateness of the special education placement.” I assume you have got consent to that.

Mr. Lawlor: Mr. Chairman, as one of the few members of the House tonight who is totally above the fray, living in some sort of sublimity -- objective, unprejudiced with respect to the matter -- I find what is going on here ludicrous. As a total outsider to this legislation, having not participated in the obfuscatory processes of the committee or in the initiation of the legislation, but sitting here and listening to the proposals being made, I have never seen quite the likes of it.

It is incredible that the honourable minister, who is usually a fairly open-minded and good-hearted soul -- I am trying to make an appeal to her and would go to any lengths to seduce a minister of the crown -- and who pretends on occasion to have modicums of intelligence, has been persuaded in the course of committee hearings by the wisdom, efficacy and equity of a proposal made by an honourable member of this House as to what she is really after, and what the principle of this legislation really is.

She acceded to it, the whole committee bowed to it, but it has been changed in the process. It is an articulation of a central motif. Now she is betraying us, not just by watering it down but washing it out. Standing back from the issue, I have never quite seen it on this scale. Shame on the minister for participating in this particular piece of scuttling.

The member for Kitchener-Waterloo is too much of a scholastic. He parses words too nicely, playing with the word “free.” One would concede his wretched “free” in this particular context. He knows as well as I do that the courts construe things contextually. They would not wipe out all municipal taxation. That is just a simulacrum of the desperation he faces in order to bring a minatory position into effect in this legislation. He sells his own cause down the river in the process.

The members still have time to change their minds and I will leave it with them.

Mr. Bounsall: I should have my green turtleneck and my cross of nails on tonight. The members may understand.

Mr. Chairman, this section is what the entire bill is all about. The rest of the bill just fills in the details as to how we are going to implement what the social development committee put in this section. It is simply the very basic right of parents of exceptional children to have those special education needs met by the boards of education in an appropriate way. This bill is about the right of parents to receive that appropriate education on behalf of their children. The rest of the bill just fills in the details of how to do it.

This is the principle and the guts of this legislation and it is incredible that the honourable minister has decided to withdraw it. This is what it is all about. I cannot understand why the minister fears to give the parents of exceptional children or pupils -- it does not matter much -- an absolute statutory right to have the unique, special educational needs of their exceptional children met by special public education appropriate for them. I cannot think of any other reason why she is doing it.

What does the minister fear? If she cares to reply to that, I will defer to her at the moment.

Hon. Miss Stephenson: That is exactly what the whole act is all about

Mr. Bounsall: That is what the whole act is all about. If one turns to a corner of the act, one finds principle laid out somewhere. With this section deleted as the minister proposes, there is no phrase one can turn to, to see what it is really all about, while the rest of the bill goes on to implement the details of it.

This section speaks to the meaning of the act as amended by the social development committee. Where does the minister stand in this? What is it that causes her to withdraw this section?

Hon. Miss Stephenson: I am not withdrawing anything.

Mr. Bounsall: The minister is putting forth an amendment that withdraws the phrase that indicates what the bill is all about, a right in legislation for the special educational needs unique to the particular child or pupil to be met in the most appropriate way. She has taken out the words in the legislation that are really meaningful and left in are the details. She has cut down the forest and all she has left is a bunch of stacked up trees. That is what she is doing when she changes this amendment and I don’t understand why.

9:10 p.m.

All the other items that are embodied in these discussions of the amendments are trivial in comparison with what we have done here with this rights clause, and the minister, now supported by the Liberals, wishes to get rid of it. The provision for an appeal procedure is covered in section 5. In terms of the way legislation is written, it need only be covered in one place, I agree. Cover it in section 5 of the bill or cover it here; it does not need to be covered twice. If the minister wishes to cover it twice, then let her cover it twice. It is trivial in comparison with the removal of the rights clause.

Children or pupils, one can argue it both ways. I am sure in this party we really don’t care very strongly whether it is children or pupils. My colleague from Thunder Bay put it in the right perspective: If this was a separate bill all on its own and not part of the Education Act, probably “pupil” would be the appropriate word; but it is part of the Education Act, and “children” is used in many places throughout the act. In terms of the act into which it is inserted, whether it is “pupils” or whether it is “children” really does not matter. It is six of one and half a dozen of the other and it is really a case of personal choice.

If the legislative counsel has an argument as to whether one is somewhat better than another, I would listen with interest and take his advice, but I am sure, again, it is a trivial point compared to the principle involved in this part of the bill which the minister is taking out.

With respect to the amendment which the social development committee inserted as the result of the very hard work of the member for Bellwoods to replace in the amendment the word ‘free” by “without payment of fees,” it is probably a better definition. Certainly my colleague from Bellwoods would not be at all upset and would accept an amendment which says, “Children in Ontario have available to them without payment of fees an appropriate public education,” et cetera. I am sure that would be perfectly all right because that is a bit more explicit.

I agree with the member for York Centre, who just fell out of the House, on that point that it is probably a lot more appropriate, but these are all trivial matters in terms of what the minister has presented and what she has done. She has taken out of this bill a clear statutory right, now agreed to by the Liberals.

The Liberals in their attitudes are often very clear followers of John Stuart Mill and often their thinking does not go beyond the eighteenth century, but I am sure Mill is flip-flopping in his grave tonight in face of what his followers are doing in this section.

In September 1980 they were for this absolute rights phrase and in November 1980 they are not. That is what the principle is all about. If one wants to write a section in a bill, this is where one puts it -- in the bill. One does not put it in the bill in order to put it in the regulations. That is ridiculous and I am sure the minister is not planning to say anything about rights. The word will not appear in the regulations. The minister is not planning to take it out of the bill to put it in the regulations. That would be ridiculous and I am sure she is not going to do it. You just want it out of the bill.

Quite seriously, why? What concern is it of yours? I really cannot see the teachers’ groups in Ontario coming to you and saying, “We fear the right of our children and their parents to come to us as a right and to talk about the special educational needs of the children.” I am sure they have not presented that to you. If they have I would be surprised because they so often have been forced into situations in the last four, five, six or seven years of having to stand up for some basic rights of their own. They understand what rights mean. I cannot see any teacher group in the province putting pressure on the minister, or writing long briefs to her or spending long periods of time in her office saying: “We have to get rid of this rights section in the bill. We are afraid of our pupils.”

I cannot see that happening. I can see that occurring to some of the boards in Ontario. They would say, “My God, what will happen to us and our poor trustees if all of a sudden parents and children in this province have some right to come to us and demand, because they have the right given to them in legislation, some special education that meets their unique needs?” I can see some of them doing that.

This has been around for two months now. Upon reflection, I cannot see them looking at this, in a sane, rational way at this point of the game, thinking this is what they must do. That might have been the first reaction on the part of some administrators but, in looking at that reaction which they might have had in the first instance, I cannot see them holding that opinion for two months. I cannot see them fearing the parents and the pupils who have these special educational requirements in the province. If they do, I hope I do not live in the jurisdiction of one of those boards, because if a few of them still continue to hold that, they are not serious about meeting the intent of the bill.

Madam Minister, I would really like to know who got to you on this and said to you, in essence, “We must have that statutory right removed.” Is it the people in your main administration office? I asked in estimates, if you recall, what is it you do up there? Is this one of the things you do? Do you get all fearful from time to time about putting a rights clause in the legislation?

I can think of much more appropriate things to get paranoid about. I would worry up there that some of the school boards were not going to take up the enthusiasm the minister has shown from time to time about this legislation and were not going to meet the exceptional needs of children. I can see them getting paranoid when you talk to management board over the years and are not able to get the funds to meet the exceptional needs that show up in the province. But I cannot really see them getting paranoid about granting a statutory right that says, “Look, you simply have the right as children and parents of children to have your unique educational needs met appropriately if you are exceptional children.” This is what this is all about. Everything else in the bill pales in comparison to this.

Why have you done this, Madam Minister? I can understand why the Liberals have done this. They have been nowhere on the amendments to this bill in committee, and for crass political purposes they are trying to carve out some area for themselves in this bill. I can see them doing that. I can see them having been out-scored, out-argued, out-debated and, in terms of placing the amendments, out-legislated. I can see them desperately trying to find a place for themselves in this whole situation by taking the minister’s amendment and adding to it everything of a trivial nature they can possibly think of.

9:20 p.m.

Meanwhile they are carefully avoiding the main principle of this whole section; that is, embodying a clear right for pupils and their parents in Ontario. I can see them doing that because that is the way they have always operated. When it comes right down to it, they are never honest about anything. But that is one thing one usually cannot accuse the Conservative government of. One may disagree with the Conservatives in Ontario --

Mr. Chairman: Order. I was listening very carefully to the member, and I believe he accused other members of this House of not being honest.

Mr. Bounsall: I don’t recall exactly what I said, Mr. Chairman, sometimes one gets carried away with --

Mr. Chairman: Will the honourable member withdraw that?

Mr. Bounsall: If I accused anybody in this House of anything derogatory, I will certainly withdraw it.

Mr. Chairman: I understand you withdrew it.

Mr. Bounsall: Whatever it was I said, I withdraw.

Mr. J. Reed: Everything to this point.

Mr. Bounsall: Whatever I said that displeased the Chairman, I withdraw.

In terms of the Conservative Party being a party of principle, I have never been in much doubt of that. I may disagree with the principle, and rather heatedly at times, but I know they have taken the position from a principled point. My real question to the minister at this point is what has happened to their principles on this one?

What is it that the Conservative Party, through this minister, finds so repugnant about granting what should be a very obvious right? I really can’t understand why they would give way on this one or what it is the minister or the ministry fears. I really don’t think the minister --

Hon. Miss Stephenson: Nobody is afraid.

Mr. Bounsall: Explain it, please. Let the minister explain why she has cut the real guts out of this bill in terms of the principle. This is where we state it, and this is where they do not want it. They do not want it in the bill at all.

I would be pleased if the minister could tell me precisely why she, by going to all the trouble of making this amendment, does not want to have in the amendment to the Education Act a clause which very simply and very clearly gives the right to parents of pupils or children who have a special educational need to have that need met appropriately. What is wrong with that? Why is it that she cannot tolerate that? Why is it they have gone to such great lengths to ensure that the Liberals will support them on this? That’s something I would really like to know.

Mr. Grande: Mr. Chairman, I’m not going to take a long time. I do not intend to repeat a lot of what my colleagues on this side of the House have already stated. I will not say they have done a flip-flop. I will say they have done a back flip, a 180-degree turn.

I would like to say to the Liberal critic for education, with whom I have on occasion in the past two to three weeks shared the same platform, that if he really, truly believes this amendment is going to make any difference to this bill -- that it is going to give those parents who have written him letters in the last two or three weeks asking him to water down this section of the bill -- if he feels this is not a watering down of that section of the bill, then I must say to him, with due respect, with all his background in education, he had better go back to school.

I want to quote what the Liberal education critic said in the social development committee, “I cannot find anything serious to object to in this amendment.” We are talking about the rights amendment. At the end of his very short speech he said, “So unless the minister or one of her officials can indicate what would be wrong with this, I would be inclined to support it.” Obviously, at that particular time, the minister and her officials in the social development committee did not produce the evidence necessary for the Liberal critic to say, “I should not be supporting this amendment and this bill.”

Between September 30 and tonight, the government somehow has produced that evidence for the Liberal member. I am sorry to say that tonight the Liberals are participating with the Conservatives in this province to deny rights to children who need special education, programs and services --

Hon. Miss Stephenson: That is balderdash.

Mr. Stong: You know that is wrong. You know it.

Mr. Grande: Thousands of parents in this province have gone to every extreme possible in the past 10 or 15 years to find an adequate program for their kids, including the private sector, because the minister has pushed them to the private sector in this particular area in order to find an adequate program for their kids. The minister has pushed these parents to go to the social assistance board to try to get some money in order to procure an education for their kids -- an education which, in 1980, we should not be debating is a right.

Hon. Miss Stephenson: What are you talking about? The logic escapes me. Why should they be pushed to the private sector about this?

Mr. Grande: The reason the logic escapes the minister is exactly the reason why she is watering down this amendment.

Hon. Miss Stephenson: 1 am not watering it down.

Mr. Grande: The minister has never understood that logic. She has never understood the plight of parents who have not been able to get a special education program in their province.

Mr. Chairman: Order? Would the member for Oakwood speak to the amendment?

Mr. Grande: That is exactly what I am doing.

Let me say to you, Mr. Chairman, when the initial bill was presented in this Legislature the Ontario Association for Children with Learning Disabilities issued a statement saying “Special act amendment a tiger with no teeth.” We worked in good faith on the social development committee. At least on this side of the House we worked in good faith with the Liberals and Conservatives in that committee to try to bring about the best possible bill that we, as legislators, could. I think we succeeded in doing that.

Tonight the minister, with the help of the Liberals, is taking the teeth out of that bill once again. My friend from Windsor wanted an explanation from the minister. Let me assume an explanation, and that is that Tories in Ontario have never been interested in giving rights to people. People have always had to scream and yell. When the time comes that it is politically attractive for that to be granted, it is granted.

9:30 p.m.

Some members have said they are saddened by what has happened here tonight. Frankly, Mr. Chairman, I am not only sad, I am angry. I am angry with the flip-flop of those people on that side of the House. I am angry with the people on the opposite side of the House, because they are the people who continuously deny rights to children with learning disabilities. Perhaps there is no way to salvage this amendment, but let me inform the Liberals about that amendment they put giving the government the opportunity or the ability to set up some kind of appeal procedure, there is already an appeal procedure when we get to section 9. However, that appeal procedure will deal only with --

Mr. Chairman: Order. Would the honourable member return to the amendment? The appeal comes later in the bill.

Mr. Grande: Mr. Chairman, I thought I was speaking to the subamendment the Liberals have put on the floor. That talks about an appeal. That is what I was referring to.

In essence, what that accomplishes is virtually nothing because the minister herself has said that in the last year only two children in the province have been excluded from attending a school. That is the only right the children have now in Ontario, the right to attend a school, a right to be physically present in the school, a right to a desk in school. There is no right to quality education in our schools. There is no right to programs that meet the unique needs of those kids. If you do not understand that, and if you do not understand that this bill does not give those children the appropriate education which they require and must have, the expenses somewhere down the road to the public purse are going to be much greater if we do not deal with those problems when the children are in the school system. We are going to pay a lot more if you want to think in terms of dollars, in terms of money, than you would be paying by making sure the children get an appropriate education.

Mr. Chairman, I think I have done enough. I think I understand where the Conservative Party stands on this issue. I don’t understand where the Liberals are. In the five years I have been here, I have never been able to understand where the Liberals are

Mr. Roy: Mr. Chairman, I have been listening since eight o’clock to the debate --

Mr. Bradley: Sanctimony from the left.

Mr. Roy: -- as one of my colleagues says, sanctimony from the members to my left. I have read the original proposal in the bill as amended by the social development committee, I have read the amendment as proposed by the minister, I have also read closely the subamendments by my colleague, the member for Kitchener-Wilmot (Mr. Sweeney), and I think it is important that things be put into some sort of perspective.

I am amazed to listen to speaker after speaker from the NDP talk about two of my colleagues, the member for Kitchener-Wilmot and the member for York Centre (Mr. Stong), people who have had an interest in this matter, whose motives are beyond question, whose sincerity and knowledge of the subject matter is something I would rely on by far. I would put far more emphasis on their judgement than on that of some of my colleagues to the left, but these members are portrayed by some of our colleagues to the left -- one of them went so far as to suggest a question of honesty -- as somehow having ulterior motives to take away the very principle of the bill which is to give special education to exceptional pupils.

This kind of rubbish comes from people whose background is teaching. I look at the member for Port Arthur (Mr. Foulds) who made a long-winded, passionate speech about how my colleagues had betrayed by this amendment, or how the Minister of Education had betrayed by her amendment, the very principle in this bill. I looked back and I tried to think -- I read it again and tried to see -- what it is about this process that has so stirred this enthusiasm on the part of the NDP and tends to misconstrue the whole purpose of the proposition, the amendments put forward by other members in this House.

This is from people who were school teachers. I have to wonder what motivates these people. Even the leader of the NDP got up at one point and again mentioned the fact that my colleague the member for Kitchener-Wilmot talked about how he was in favour of the principle of the bill, Of course we are when we are talking about general principles. But when we are drafting legislation sometimes wording has to be changed. It has been my experience in this House, if 1 am going to rely on legislative interpretation, if I am going to rely on someone drafting legislation, I have known from the past not to rely on my colleagues to my left. This is from long-standing experience --

Mr. Cassidy: On a point of order, Mr. Chairman --

Mr. Roy: The member for Ottawa Centre, Mr. Chairman --

The Deputy Chairman: He says he has a point of order. I will listen to it.

Mr. Roy: I am convinced you will rule against him. I will bet you on that.

The Deputy Chairman: I would like to hear it.

Mr. Cassidy: I just hate to see the member for Ottawa East castigating his own members on the committee who were prepared to accept the NDP’s amendment a few months ago. Now he is repudiating them. While I am on my feet, I will just say I wish the electors in Carleton would see that a principle is not a principle of the Liberal Party when it comes to this Legislature.

The Deputy Chairman: The member for Ottawa East won his bet.

Mr. Roy: Mr. Chairman, do I have to emphasize my point any longer? Has he not just made it? He is confused, poor man. He has been here since 1971 and he does not even know the rules of this House. But he is going to tell us what type of legislation is going to protect exceptional children in this province.

We have heard rubbish from one member and the other. We started with the member for Port Arthur, then the member for Ottawa Centre. As I have said many times, the minute the member for Ottawa Centre takes a particular position there is an onus on this side to go the opposite way, and nine out of 10 times we are right on.

The process went on. My colleague the member for Lakeshore (Mr. Lawlor) is a nice fellow, but he has been away from the law books and the courts far too long.

9:40 p.m.

Then we move on to dear Mr. Bounsall. He is the one who is going to straighten us out on the needs of exceptional pupils or children here in Ontario. We are going to get it from him. I sat for months with that man on the committee dealing with family law. I think you were on that committee yourself, Mr. Chairman. My God, think of the mess we would have here today had we accepted his amendments.

Mr. Foulds: On a point of order, Mr. Chairman: A few moments ago, the previous chairman of this committee indicated to one of the members of this Legislature that he should withdraw remarks directed towards other members. I suggest that the present speaker for the Liberal Party, such as he is, is imputing motives to my colleagues in the New Democratic Party. Surely this is against the rules of the House? It is particularly inappropriate for that member, who has said he prides himself on knowing the rules, to be abusing and contravening those rules.

The Deputy Chairman: The Chairman has been listening. It has been a little difficult for the Chairman to listen to everything tonight, but I have been listening and nothing that was said offended me to the extent where I thought it should be withdrawn.

Mr. Bounsall: On a point of privilege, Mr. Chairman: I almost brought in the matrimonial property law bill as an example in this debate. We did have a good clause in principle in that bill that we should have in this bill. I am very proud of anything I ever said and any stand I ever took on that matrimonial property law bill. If we did not have the fuzzy thinking of the member of the Liberal Party who last spoke, we would have had a decent bill in Ontario.

The Deputy Chairman: I wonder If we may now return to section 2 of Bill 82.

Mr. Roy: Mr. Chairman, do you think I am hitting close to the bone when these characters start getting up and interrupting on points of order about imputing motives? What motives could I impute? The only motives of you people I impute are ignorance and political posturing. Those are the motives I impute.

Mr. Foulds: On a point of order, Mr. Chairman: That remark should be withdrawn.

Mr. Roy: My God, Mr. Chairman, we would be apologizing all the time if we had to withdraw accusations of ignorance.

The Deputy Chairman: The word ignorance does offend me. However, I would ask you to keep to Bill 82, section 2. That is what we are on. Let us forget about the other members of the House, because I think a lot of them have forgotten us.

Mr. Roy: Mr. Chairman, if I may complete my remarks, we have the tirade and the posturing going on from one member to the next. I look at the amendment proposed by my colleague the member for Kitchener-Wilmot. What is the terrible man doing that is so undermining the very principle of the amendment proposed by the Minister of Education; that is undermining the whole principle of this act? In one line he is changing the word “pupil” to “children.” It is terrible that he should be doing that. It is extremely offensive that he should be doing that. It is so underhanded that he should be proceeding so directly to undermine the very principle of this bill.

In the next step, he is adding the word “appropriate.” The member for Bellwoods said: “That is terrible, adding the word appropriate. It should be defined.” We are going to be defining every word in this act if we start defining “appropriate.” Why do we not define the words “reasonable” or “minister”? We should define everything in the act. I know I have limited knowledge of the English language but are we going to start defining words such as “appropriate”?

They are annoyed because he changes the word “free” to “without payment of fees.” Is that the change that is made? That is a terrible amendment as well. It is extremely offensive and, again, the man has betrayed the principles he stated on second reading of this legislation.

Finally, he sets up an appeal mechanism in this section and that is, I suppose, the worst and most underhanded move of all.

Mr. Nixon: The NDP is going to vote against that

Mr. Roy: Exactly. Finally, that is the key, that is what the NDP has been so annoyed about, it is because my colleagues in the Liberal Party have taken the initiative, something the NDP forgot about. Maybe at some point when talking about special education for exceptional pupils, people may have differing views as to what is appropriate, so they set up an appeal mechanism. I would have thought the NDP would think about something like that. That is why they are so --

Mr. McClellan: On a point of order, Mr. Chairman --

The Deputy Chairman: I will listen to this point of order.

Mr. McClellan: The point of order is brief. It is obvious the member has never read the bill. If he had, he would see in section 7 the appeal procedure which was introduced in committee and supported by his own colleagues. I rise simply to correct the invincible ignorance of the member.

The Deputy Chairman: I realize the word “appropriate” is defined in section 7, but that is not a point of order.

Mr. Roy: I am talking about the appeal process as proposed by my colleague. It has the NDP so annoyed one can come to only one conclusion: When the NDP cannot take the initiative about a bright idea, when it cannot take credit for something, it starts doing what is called political posturing. I heard the leader of the NDP say, “I love children,” as though he is the only one in the province who loves children or cares about them. My God, that has to be your motto in the next election, “We are the only ones who love children.”

What rubbish we have heard this evening. When it comes to sincerity and caring about children with special problems and about education, I would just as soon rely on my colleague from Kitchener-Wilmot.

Mr. Isaacs: Mr. Chairman, I was moved to participate in the debate on this subamendment by the member for Erie (Mr. Haggerty) who started talking about the relationship between property taxes and free education in this province. I wonder where the Liberal Party stands on that

Since then, I have heard quite a number of contributions that have talked about the relative merits of positions taken by both sides. None of those contributions have been as telling as the interjections from Liberal Party members which have indicated to me this subamendment is a compromise. When it comes to providing the best possible education for all the children of this province, I will not accept any compromise. I want to say to the member for Kitchener-Wilmot that I understand --

Mr. Van Horne: Let’s talk about what’s best for the kids.

Mr. Isaacs: Get serious about education, I ask you. I want to say to the member for Kitchener-Wilmot who moved this subamendment that, if I understand correctly, he indicated to a member from the Hamilton-Wentworth chapter of the Ontario Association for Children with Learning Disabilities just a few days ago by telephone -- and that person may be in the gallery this evening -- that he would not accept any amendment which weakened this bill in any way and if such an amendment came forward and he was forced to vote on that amendment he would resign. I call the member for Kitchener-Wilmot to make good on that promise and to resign as a result of his plan to weaken this bill here tonight.

9:50 p.m.

Mr. Chairman, I think we should look at the subamendment before us with regard to some of the comments made by some of the lawyers and some of the barrack-room lawyers who have spoken on this tonight. Right out, the subamendment suggests we change “exceptional pupil” to “exceptional children.”

We have talked about the definition of terms within the act. We have talked about how, if we do not define things properly, everybody might get sued in court. I suggest that “exceptional pupil” is at least defined in the act where “exceptional children” is not defined in the act.

We have talked about adding the word “appropriate” to the term “special education,” Yet we have not properly defined, in this section, how “appropriate” is to be determined. We talked in vague terms about an appeal without specifying here how that appeal process is to work.

We have talked about “without payment of fees” as being better than “free.” My colleague the member for Bellwoods has indicated we are prepared to talk about that word “free” if, indeed, there is good legal advice that it causes a problem. But, Mr. Chairman, the citizens of this province believe they have a right to free education for the children of this province. I suggest that today that belief is incorrect. But if this bill is passed without the amendment the minister has moved, and without the Liberal subamendment, for the first time the children of this province will be guaranteed a free education regardless of their situation.

It is about time we stop putting children into categories; time we stop saying, “These children need special education, these children do not,” and dealing with things in that kind of partitioned way. It is about time we had in our Education Act a statement which says the minister shall ensure all children in Ontario have available to them a free and appropriate public education. Anything less than that commitment from this Legislature is totally and utterly unacceptable.

Hon. Miss Stephenson: Mr. Chairman, if I may, I should like to comment briefly. For the past hour and a half our ears have been assailed by the greatest collection of hyperbolic, hyperaemic, hypercholeric hypocrisy from that side of the House that I have ever heard in my life related to this section.

No rights are being defiled. No rights are being removed. This section of the act specifically defines the responsibility of the Ministry of Education, the boards of education and the educational system to provide programs for all exceptional children in this province. There is no question about it. There is no question that is the purpose of this bill, and there is no question that is the intent of the amendments that have been introduced.

Mr. Foulds: Why are you watering down the sections?

Hon. Miss Stephenson: There is no watering down. The vision of that party is indeed myopic. It really requires some correction at this point. It is inappropriate for members of that party to make the kinds of remarks that have been made --

Mr. Van Horne: Which party?

Hon. Miss Stephenson: The New Democratic Party, about other members in this House.

Mr. Foulds: On a point of grammar --

Hon. Miss Stephenson: The members of the New Democratic Party --

The Deputy Chairman: Order. Will the member for Port Arthur please be seated? There is no such thing as a point of grammar.

Hon. Miss Stephenson: I would be delighted to tell members that my children call the party the party of the knee-deepers. I will leave them to decide what they are knee-deep in.

There is no doubt in my mind that the amendments which have been provided will provide the framework for the responsibility -- because this is responsibility legislation -- to be delivered on behalf of all the exceptional children in this province. I believe the subamendments which have been provided are indeed appropriate as well. Therefore, we are in support of those subamendments.

10 p.m.

The committee divided on Mr. Sweeney’s amendment to the amendment to section 2, which was agreed to on the following vote:

Ayes 62; nays 29.

The committee divided on Hon. Miss Stephenson’s amendment, as amended, which was agreed to on the following vote:

Ayes 62, nays 29.

Mr. Warner: On a point of order, Mr. Chairman, when the division bells ring they should be ringing in all the members’ offices. In the north wing on the fourth floor, the division bells were not ringing. I would request the chair direct that repairs be made so the division bells can be heard in all the north wing.

Mr. Chairman: I will bring that to the attention of the Speaker.

The committee divided on whether section 2, as amended, should stand as part of tire bill, which was agreed to on the following vote:

Ayes 62, nays 29.

On motion by Hon. Mr. Wells, the committee of the whole House reported progress.


Mr. Speaker: I would like to advise the House that in accordance with the authority given me by an order of the House passed on October 28, 1980, I have today issued warrants for certain documents requested by the select committee on plant shutdowns and employee adjustment.

The House adjourned at 10:30 pm.