31st Parliament, 4th Session

L131 - Thu 4 Dec 1980 / Jeu 4 déc 1980

The House met at 2:01 p.m.



Hon. Mr. Norton: Mr. Speaker, I have a message from the Honourable the Lieutenant Governor signed by his own hand.

Mr. Speaker: John B. Aird, the Lieutenant Governor, transmits supplementary estimates of certain additional sums required for the service of the province for the year ending March 31, 1981, and recommends them to the Legislative Assembly, Toronto, December 4, 1980.


Mrs. Campbell: Mr. Speaker, I am rising on a point of personal privilege. I would like to say that a letter is circulating with the heading, “The St. George NDP Riding Association,” signed by John Goyeau. I will read the operative paragraph:

“After 37 years of Conservative government, and with a sitting MPP rapidly losing effectiveness due to age and ill health, the time is ripe for an NDP gain in St. George.”

My age is not in question. It is a matter of public knowledge. My effectiveness is undoubtedly a matter of judgement. However, I would like to point out to this House that as late as yesterday, with the concurrence of no less a person than the Solicitor General cum Attorney General (Mr. McMurtry), I am able to say that virtually single-handedly -- and he states that is no exaggeration -- I forced the establishment by the Attorney General of the liaison committee dealing with conflicts in the family. I am delighted to say, from my knowledge of its consideration of the matter, that that committee is operating very effectively in this serious area.

I was also delighted to have on the record yesterday that as a result of my protests, the police college has amended its curriculum to give insight to police officers in the very delicate fields of both racial relations and family violence.

I regret that those are the only two recent personal achievements of mine.

Mr. Breithaupt: Just one busy day.

Mrs. Campbell: I have not resolved the problems of acid rain or plant layoffs or the economy.

Mr. Breithaupt: But she is working on them.

Mrs. Campbell: The honourable member is right. I am going to turn my sights next on those problems.

I must say the NDP has always boasted of being the party of issues. It has boasted across this province of being the party concerned more than any other party with the rights of women. I sat through a debate the other night on the labour bill. I had the unpleasant misfortune of hearing the House leader of that group characterizing the Liberals as hypocrites.

Mr. Speaker: Order. Would the honourable member please take her seat? You have made your point. I do not know how much more you can say to express your displeasure as to what has been said about you outside the House, but in the interests of getting on with the business of the House, I am not sure how much longer I should allow the member to continue. I think you have made your point quite adequately.

Mrs. Campbell: Mr. Speaker, I would like to conclude. I shall be short. I would just like to say that as far as my ill health is concerned, I found that to be an outright lie. However, I cannot say that in this House, so I went to that other antiquated figure, Mark Twain, to draw to the attention of the House what he said when his death was reported. He said, “The report of my death is greatly exaggerated.”

Mr. G. I. Miller: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order.

Mr. Speaker: Order. What is the member for Haldimand-Norfolk’s point?

Mr. G. I. Miller: Mr. Speaker, I have a brief here from the region of Haldimand-Norfolk. I want to explain the brief.

Mr. Speaker: Order. You are out of order in explaining anything at this time.


Hon. Mr. Drea: Mr. Speaker, later today I will be introducing for first reading the Pension Benefits Amendment Act, 1980.

As honourable members of this House are aware, the report of the Royal Commission on the Status of Pensions in Ontario is due for release in a matter of weeks. While the entire matter of pension plans will be reviewed after release of that report, recent economic developments make it necessary to address certain problems immediately.

I refer to the problem of plant shutdowns and the subsequent hardship to employees who fail, by a narrow margin of time, to qualify for all the pension benefits negotiated in good faith with their employers. Another problem occurs when an employer decides to terminate a pension plan leaving accrued liabilities not fully funded.

The proposed Pension Benefits Amendment Act will accomplish two things:

First, at the time of termination of a pension plan, employees who are at least 45 years of age and have at least 10 years of continuous service, or who have been a member of a pension plan for at least 10 years -- the 45-and-10 rule -- would be entitled to exercise one of the following options:

2:10 p.m.

To receive an immediate benefit in accordance with the terms set out in the plan; where the pension plan provides for early retirement, to receive a deferred benefit payable at an early retirement age; to transfer a pension benefit credit to the plan of a new employer, provided the terms of the new plan allow the transfer; to transfer the pension benefit credit to a registered retirement savings plan; or to allow the employee to elect other forms of annuity, for example, joint and survivor benefits.

Second, in the event that a pension plan is terminated and assets are insufficient to meet accrued liabilities under the 45-and-10 year rule, the employer will be liable to fund the difference between the amount of vested benefits and the value of assets in the plan.

A guarantee fund will be established to provide protection for specific pension benefits for members of single employer plans, where an employer is insolvent and unable to meet the financial commitments to continue funding the plan. In this event, the situation would be examined by the Pension Commission of Ontario to determine if this is an insured event under the act. Decisions by the commission of what constitutes an insured event under the act would be subject to appeal.

The guarantee fund, which would be administered by the pension commission, would be financed through an annual premium from employers with pension plans not fully funded. The fund will initially be guaranteed by the Treasurer of Ontario. Pension plans and increases to pension benefits that have been in effect for less than three years are not covered by the guarantee fund.

Under these amendments, employers will also be required to provide plan members with specified information on a regular basis about the members’ entitlements. In addition, members wanting more detailed information about the plan will be able to request, and obtain, specified documents and information of a statistical, actuarial or financial nature.

The security of employees’ pension benefits is a matter of grave concern to all of us, and we believe the proposed amendments will significantly lighten the burden of economic insecurity on those who may be affected by plant shutdowns and the termination of pension plans.

Effective today, the amendments cover all plan terminations. In order that the government may be able to enact regulations and the commission process claims under the guarantee fund, we ask for swift passage of these amendments.


Hon. Mr. Parrott: Mr. Speaker, I would like to update the House on the results of today’s meeting of the member for Durham West (Mr. Ashe), Ajax Mayor Bill McLean, the new regional chairman, Gary Herrema, and the ministry’s director of approvals, Tom Cross.

As I told the members, the meeting was to discuss the Environmental Assessment Board recommendation to proceed on the proposal to convert the Ajax sewage treatment plant into a liquid waste treatment facility. Since the regional municipality of Durham is the proponent of this project, I felt it should have the opportunity to discuss the matter with the director before he made a decision on the board’s recommendations. In the normal course, Mr. Cross’s decision could take some time, as he would need further details on several of the conditions of approval recommended by the board. Concern was expressed at that meeting that the matter be cleared as soon as possible because of the controversy that now exists in the community.

The consensus of the meeting was that the region, as it is the proponent, should reconsider its position. So it is my understanding that at its December 10 meeting, council will be asked to consider a motion to withdraw its application. I will keep the members in this House informed as to further progress.


Hon. Mr. Wells: Mr. Speaker, it is a great pleasure today to inform the House that the government has decided on behalf of the people of Ontario to offer significant additional financial help in the amount of $500,000 to assist in the rehabilitation and reconstruction of those areas of Italy that have been affected by the terrible earthquake of Sunday, November 23 last, and subsequent quakes.

The honourable members will recall that last week we announced as a first gesture, special assistance of $100,000, which was pledged to the Southern Italy Earthquake Fund Committee. The contribution that I have just mentioned will also go to that committee and this brings our total commitment -- this is the commitment of the province of Ontario to that committee -- to $600,000 to date.

At this time I would like to draw to the attention of the House the members of the committee, who are sitting in the gallery:

Mr. Angelo Delfino, Rocco Lofranco, Fred Zorzi, Elio Rosati, Johnny Lombardi, Laureano Leone, Antonio Mazzotta, Paul Ariemma, William Villano and Tony Frino.

I think the efforts of this committee and the many who are working with it show real dedication and hard work in organizing quickly and effectively a massive relief effort. The result of their work is a great tribute to the community they represent. More than $950,000 has been raised through private and corporate donations alone in just the past few days. That is exclusive of the government pledges. Once again the people of Ontario have shown their generosity and willingness to help friends and neighbours in need.

I have communicated personally with someone who has just returned from the earthquake area to substantiate my belief that the really emergency supplies were being received. That was confirmed by this person. The work of this committee and the money pledged by this government and other governments is going to be very important in the long-term rehabilitation and renovation of those towns. That is very significant at this time.

I think all honourable members will want to assure that this community and Ontario continue to show the great generosity they have already shown to those who are raising funds for what will be a very long-term program of rehabilitation. It must not be forgotten in the months ahead as the memory of this very tragic quake goes a little further from our minds.

Our commitment will not be limited only to dollars and cents. We will work closely with the committee in the next few months to make sure reconstruction efforts receive all the necessary help so that those towns and villages now in ruin will again become vibrant communities.

In the coming weeks I am sure there will be people from those 30 towns and villages that suffered destruction who may decide to leave their native Italy and establish a new life here in Canada. I know all those who choose Ontario will be assured a welcome to their new home.

Mr. Mancini: Mr. Speaker, I would like to say on behalf of the Liberal caucus, we are gratified by the many hours of work and effort put forward by the committee. We congratulate them for their efforts. We also congratulate the government for seeing to it that a long-term relief fund has been put in place. We know this money will be put to good use and will assist many people who have lost their homes and livelihoods and many things they have cherished. We sincerely hope the victims are assisted in every way possible. Without further ado, we commend the government for its efforts to assist the earthquake victims in southern Italy.

Mr. Cassidy: Mr. Speaker, with all other people in Ontario I have been following with anguish the reports coming back from southern Italy in the wake of the earthquakes, wishing we knew what more we could do to help the 300,000 people in villages and towns affected by the disaster.

I also commend the fact that Ontario will be increasing its contribution to the earthquake relief fund. I hope we can do more and that every effort will be made, with the co-operation of the committee, to ensure that the assistance so badly required is there in the hands of people who need it at the very earliest opportunity.

2:20 p.m.

I had the opportunity to meet with the National Congress of Italian Canadians at its annual meeting in Hamilton the other day to express sentiments similar to these. I commend the committee for the excellent work it is doing. I trust the hearts of all people in Ontario will continue to reach out to people in Italy and that the concern of all of us in Ontario will continue to be reflected in a more generous contribution to this relief fund than we have ever made before in the case of a natural disaster outside Canada.


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



Mr. Nixon: Mr. Speaker, I would like to direct a question to the Premier having to do with the continuing inquest and disposition of the matter arising from the tragic and disastrous fire at Nakina 16 months ago.

Since the Attorney General (Mr. McMurtry) has ordered that the inquest continue in spite of charges laid by the parents against two of the employees of the Ministry of Natural Resources -- the minister has been absent for a few days, so I could not ask him -- would the Premier not feel that, whatever the results of the inquest, it is going to be necessary that a broader and further examination into responsibility and culpability, perhaps criminal if not otherwise, will have to be undertaken?

Is he aware the standing committee on resources development had some brief discussions about this which ended in a report to this Legislature which has yet to be debated and passed, although it is a brief report, simply enabling them to retain legal counsel?

Is it the Premier’s intention to assist his members on the government side, dealing with this matter in committee, to go forward with an investigation, or does he feel that, whether or not the inquest continues, some further review, perhaps even by Lieutenant Governor’s warrant or commission, might be undertaken so that the matter could be examined impartially and at arm’s length?

Hon. Mr. Davis: Mr. Speaker, I am a little concerned about some of the words used by the acting Leader of the Opposition. He perhaps did not intend them. I am never one to make that sort of judgement or make that sort of suggestion.

The government quite obviously is concerned about this matter. As I understand it, at the initiative of parents, certain charges have been laid and the Attorney General obviously felt the inquest should also proceed. I think it would be premature to prejudge what the inquest may or may not determine. I have no way of judging what the inquest itself will determine. From the government’s standpoint, we are as anxious as anyone to have full information and full public understanding of this tragic event.

I have made no predetermination of the suggestion about whether the route to go, depending on the findings of the inquest, is by the committee of this House. Perhaps the opportunity to discuss this by members of the House when the report is debated might provide some insight as to what other members feel as to a route that might be pursued. I emphasize this because I think the honourable member wants the process to move ahead. I do not sense from his question he feels the inquest should be terminated nor am I in a position to prejudge what the findings of that inquest would be.

This is a matter the government will continue to assess. Whatever misunderstanding there is, or if there is not full information -- I understand it has all been given to the inquest -- we are as anxious as anyone to have this information in the public domain.

Mr. Nixon: I hope the Premier is not unduly worried about the words I use. I certainly take full responsibility for them.

Mr. Speaker, I simply want to clarify this fact. The inquest has been going on for more than a year. There was a lengthy interruption, since one of the lawyers indicated there was an indication of partiality on the part of the coroner. This went to the Supreme Court of Ontario and the judge, signing his opinion, said there was an apprehension of bias. I think that is quite clear.

After the inquest had been resumed for just a few days, some of the parents withdrew from the inquest -- whatever that means -- and put forward charges themselves against employees of the government of Ontario. It is not like an ordinary inquest.

I would submit also that if we are going to give some responsibility to a committee of this House to review the matter, it will have to be done within the next few days, if that is the course we want to follow. The report is before the House. I personally feel the inquest is not working as satisfactorily as those parents, and perhaps the public at large, would wish. I am not at all convinced that a committee of this House is going to give the kind of review and disposition that all of us would seek.

I would simply say, since I have an opportunity to do so in this question, that the Premier ought to be considering the alternative of a royal commission, in a matter that has dragged on for 16 months and must be a tremendous burden for many of the people associated with it.

Hon. Mr. Davis: Mr. Speaker, I take notice of the fact that the acting Leader of the Opposition himself has expressed reservations as to whether a committee of the House would be the proper instrument.

Mr. Roy: Supplementary, Mr. Speaker, to follow up on my colleague’s questions:

Could the Premier advise on the effectiveness of an inquest, which, as my colleague has said, has already been challenged once in the courts? The parents have now withdrawn, and criminal charges have been laid. I appreciate that the criminal charges have been laid by individuals -- which is quite proper under the Criminal Code.

The question I want to ask the Premier is, how effective in this ambiance can an inquest be, especially when certain people charged under the Criminal Code are not now compellable witnesses in this inquest? I wonder how effective an inquest can be. It could be a problem.

I might just refer you, Mr. Speaker, to section 22 of the Coroners Act, which states, “Where a person is charged with a criminal offence arising out of a death, an inquest touching the death shall be held only upon the direction of the minister, and, when held, the person charged is not a compellable witness.” I would just put that to the Premier, and possibly he can refer the question to his colleague the Attorney General.

Hon. Mr. Davis: Mr. Speaker, I will refer a part of the question to the Attorney General, who I think would like to give certain information to the honourable member.

I would also make this observation. The member raised a question -- and I am not sure the Attorney General heard it -- which I find an interesting one; that is, the question of how much validity there is in an inquest being held at the same time as certain people have been charged. One might raise another question: How much purpose is there in a royal commission, when the people who might be the subject of discussion before it have also been charged?

The Attorney General wants to give some information regarding one or two of the parents who also have an interest.

Mr. Speaker: I will redirect the question.

Hon. Mr. McMurtry: Mr. Speaker, I did not hear the entire question, but I think I heard the substance of it. I believe the member for Ottawa East is concerned about the fact that, charges having been laid, the individuals who have been charged would not be compellable witnesses.

I just wanted to inform the House that the two accused have already both given evidence at length at the inquest. They have already testified, as a matter of fact, on more than one occasion, but their testimony has been concluded. This was a factor I took into consideration when, as Solicitor General, I directed that the inquest continue.

I should also point out that over the weekend, while I was considering this matter, the families of two of the young people who died in the fire sent me telegrams requesting me to direct that the inquest proceed. They believed it would be important to have the recommendations of the inquest jury. I think it is important that the members appreciate that as well. While not the overriding factor, the matter of their concerns in this respect was obviously of great importance to me.

2:30 p.m.

Mr. Foulds: Supplementary, Mr. Speaker, and I direct it to the Attorney General, although he could deflect it to the Premier if he so wishes: Is the Attorney General aware that the most recent hiatus in the inquest occurred because of questions being asked about the adequacy of the Ontario Provincial Police investigation? The question I would like to ask the Attorney General is, what forum do we have for a public accounting and questions that legitimately arise about the adequacy of an OPP investigation in such circumstances if it cannot be determined by an inquest, by this Legislature or presumably even by a criminal case in which other employees of the Ministry of Natural Resources are involved?

Hon. Mr. McMurtry: I think it is obviously in the public interest that this inquest be allowed to conclude. After the inquest has been concluded, Mr. Speaker, and the recommendations have been tabled by the coroner’s jury, then it is up to the House to discuss further whether or not any further hearing would be in the public interest, but I think it is premature to speculate as to the value of that at this time.


Mr. Nixon: I want to direct a question to the Minister of the Environment having to do with his decision to go ahead with the liquid waste dump at South Cayuga without an environmental assessment. What is he going to do about the fact that the regional municipality of Haldimand-Norfolk has a bylaw, numbered 5000-93-H, which designates the land for the liquid waste site as an agricultural A zone, and which states, and I quote from section 421 of the bylaw:

“No person shall, within any agricultural A zone, use any land or erect, alter or use any buildings or structures for any purposes except one or more of the following uses: an agricultural use or a home occupation farm industry, cemetery or church”?

How does the minister qualify it? As a cemetery?

Hon. Mr. Parrott: Perhaps the acting leader will again refer to the facility in its proper term --

Mr. Nixon: A repository.

Hon. Mr. Parrott: The honourable member should refer to it as what it is and it is no dump. I think the member should start to make the necessary adjustments in his thinking to understand those will be the best facilities the world has ever seen. That might not be a bad place to start

As far as dealing with the bylaw, the land use, I am sure there are the appropriate provisions within our act and within the powers of the Legislature that we can deal with that problem when it becomes necessary.

Mr. Nixon: As a further problem associated with this, I would ask the minister to consider a letter he wrote to Mr. Tony McQuail, RR 1, Lucknow, Ontario, and I quote one sentence:

“Before any site can be approved for development, it will be necessary to follow the environmental assessment procedures, which allow for full public participation through a hearing process, as well as a comprehensive review of alternative technologies and sites.” It is signed, “Yours truly, Harry Parrott.”

What has happened since the minister wrote to him about his concern for an industrial waste treatment and disposal site in the Huron area? What is the difference? Is it one justice for one part and not for another, or what is the minister trying to do?

Hon. Mr. Parrott: In the discussion that took place a week ago today, the member and I had a rather interesting discussion on whether we were obeying the law and I think he did become persuaded that indeed we were. It is section 41(f), if the member wishes to check it out.

Mr. Nixon: The intent of the law is to have a hearing. The minister may set it aside.

Hon. Mr. Parrott: The intent of the law is very specific. There is not only the intent of the law at stake here, but there is the safety of our environment which is going to be protected. There is a real problem which must be dealt with, and we are going to deal with that problem. There is no doubt we must deal with that problem.

Members are more than content on that side of the House to procrastinate as much as they possibly can because it might seem to them to be wise to do so. They are wrong. There is a problem that must be dealt with; it must be dealt with with the best technology possible. We are going to take all of those precautions. We are going to do the best we can, and five years from now members opposite will be saying, “Thank goodness somebody took that kind of direct action.”

Mr. Cassidy: Supplementary, Mr. Speaker: Since the minister has said he makes promises about environment assessment on one hand and then uses a loophole in the act in order to avoid fulfilling his promises on the other, can the minister now inform the House, since he has avoided the question for at least two days running, what precisely is the nature of the hearing that he intends to see take place with respect to the South Cayuga project? What assurance is there that interested parties will be able to look at the evidence, to participate in the hearings and to enjoy the rights that they would have if an environmental assessment took place, as we believe it should?

Hon. Mr. Parrott: Mr. Speaker, let me say to you first of all that had the leader of the third party and some of his members made such a concentrated effort -- and he does not have to look very far, just a little bit behind and to his right, to find a prime illustration -- had they made an effort to make the Environmental Assessment Act work, I think we would all be better served by it. They find it convenient to do what they want, wherever they want, and are not necessarily consistent around this province. I have not yet --

Mr. Roy: Why does the minister say different things on different days?

Hon. Mr. Parrott: It happens to be the truth. The member for Ottawa East does not always like to hear the truth. Nevertheless, once in a while we have to put the facts on the record.

I have not yet met with Dr. Chant. I will be doing so in the very near future. That was one of the conditions that he talked about that we said we would discuss. I will do that in the appropriate time; I will meet with him and we will answer the question more appropriately later.

Mr. Cassidy: On a point of privilege, Mr. Speaker: The minister appears to be levelling an accusation against the member for Welland-Thorold (Mr. Swart). Is that the minister’s intention? If so, he should speak clearly and accuse the member for Welland-Thorold of obstructing the environmental assessment. That is an untruth and the minister should withdraw it.

Hon. Mr. Parrott: If I were that far away from reality, it did not take the leader of the third party long to figure out my indefinite reference. He was absolutely correct. I did refer to the member for Welland-Thorold.

Mr. Swart: On a point of privilege, Mr. Speaker: I would inform the minister when he accuses me of impeding the environmental assessment hearing in Thorold that it was in fact not impeded by me at all, but by some 4,000 people who voted against the project there simply because of the breaking of the environmental law by Walker Brothers.

Mr. Speaker: Order. That is correcting the record; it is not a violation of your privileges.

Mr. G. I. Miller: Supplementary, Mr. Speaker, to the Premier: In view of the resolution that was presented to the Premier’s desk last week, and in view of the brief to the members of the Legislature regarding the South Cayuga hazardous waste disposal scheme, would the Premier rescind the decision of the Minister of the Environment and follow the province’s own environmental assessment process, which includes a full environmental study under the terms of the Environmental Assessment Act, an independent public hearing by the Environmental Assessment Board, before proceeding with any such facility?

Hon. Mr. Davis: Mr. Speaker, the honourable member, in his usual thoughtful fashion, did in fact provide me with the latest material from the regional municipality. I have not yet had an opportunity to peruse it. I certainly shall do so.

As I conveyed to the member when he had a number of his constituents here at lunch a day or two ago, I share their concern and the concern of the honourable members with respect to the responsibility that any government must have on issues of this sensitivity. I assured them -- and the member will corroborate this -- that we intend to work closely on the new agency with people within the region and with representatives from the regional municipality itself. We would make every effort to see there was public information.

2:40 p.m.

As the minister has said, it will be the finest facility. I took some time to explain, and I think one or two understood, that we expect agricultural uses could take place right up to the 100-acre site of the plant itself. I noticed one or two of the member’s constituents nodding in agreement that this probably could take place.

I want to assure the member so he can convey to his constituents that we understand their concerns. We are sympathetic to the problems they raised. At the same time, it is a major provincial problem that we, as a government, feel is a matter of responsibility that we have to resolve. As I said to the member’s constituents then, and I repeat it now, I give them every assurance that this facility will be environmentally safe. There will be no hazards to people who live in the surrounding community and it will be a model for all North America in the treatment of this very serious problem.

Mr. Speaker: A new question; the member for Ottawa Centre.

Mr. G. I. Miller: Mr. Speaker, may I ask one further supplementary?

Mr. Speaker: No.



Mr. Cassidy: I started to think they were banging their desks for me.


Mr. Cassidy: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Premier about the government’s handling of the Speaker’s warrants with respect to the Re-Mor affair.

Is the Premier aware of the activities of the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations (Mr. Drea) and of the Attorney General (Mr. McMurtry), who appear to be trying to obstruct the execution of the Speaker’s warrant that the justice committee requires for its investigation of the Re-Mor affair? Is it the intention of the government to produce the required documents and to comply with the warrant that has been unanimously endorsed by the justice committee? It should have every bit as much force with respect to the members of the government as it has for any other citizens of the province.

Hon. Mr. Davis: Mr. Speaker, I understand this is to be a matter for some discussion at 3:15 or whenever this question period is over.

Mr. Peterson: The sooner the better for you.

Hon. Mr. Davis: The member for London Centre (Mr. Peterson) is apparently far more knowledgeable about these trust things than I am. He should tell us all about it. I do not know much about it. Or the member for Kitchener (Mr. Breithaupt) can do so. They know far more about these things than I do.

I take exception to what the leader of the New Democratic Party suggested in the early part of his question. No one on this side of the House is obstructing the fair play, the equity and the preservation of the system. We will have an opportunity to debate this later on this afternoon. This government has nothing whatsoever to hide in terms of the material requested.

I say to the leader of the New Democratic Party -- and I look to the member for Lakeshore (Mr. Lawlor), the member for Riverdale (Mr. Renwick) and some of those who have some sensitivity as to the legal process in this province -- he should reflect very carefully on what it is he is attempting to do.

We have nothing to hide. The Ministry of Consumer and Commercial Relations has nothing to hide. We do feel we have an obligation to see the proper judicial processes are allowed to proceed in this province. We will have a chance to debate that this afternoon. That is when we will discuss the issue.

I resent the presumption of the leader of the New Democratic Party in suggesting we are obstructing anything. It is time he grew up and understood that in government people do have a responsibility. If he were any kind of man at all he would stand up and apologize.

Mr. Cassidy: Before the Premier carries on any further, is he not aware that the reason the justice committee was seeking this documentation was that it was bungling by the government which led to the licensing of the company? It should not have occurred and the government is responsible for the problems that have been suffered by the investors who were bilked. Surely the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations or the Attorney General should not be seeking to substitute their opinions for the opinion of the Legislature. If the government has nothing to hide, why does the Premier not say now, “Yes, we will produce the documents; we will have them now”? What is he trying to hide?

Hon. Mr. Davis: The leader of the New Democratic Party has really made a slip. Here he is accusing us of obstructing -- which is totally untrue -- saying he wants the committee to have an opportunity, but he has already prejudged the issue in his own mind; he has already said here this afternoon that the government was at fault. How much of an impartial judgement is the committee going to make when the leader of the New Democratic Party, leading that great group at the committee, has already made up his mind as to what happened?

If this documentation is provided, the leader of the New Democratic Party is going to be the most disappointed man in this Legislature.

Mr. Nixon: Supplementary, Mr. Speaker: While the Premier makes his low and convenient bows to the arcane procedures associated with sub judice, does he not understand that the members of the committee and all the members of this House should be concerning themselves with those citizens who invested in these companies and lost their savings?

How are we, as a committee, to find out where the responsibility lies unless these papers are provided to the committee? I would think the Premier should apologize for obfuscating the issue in such a serious way. If he is not prepared to make these papers available, he had better see that the Harold Ballard suite is dusted out.

Hon. Mr. Davis: Mr. Speaker, I only make this observation to the acting leader of the Liberal Party, who really got into this trap in 1975 and has paid a political price for it ever since, much to our regret on this side of the House --

Mr. Nixon: Was that the Fidinam trap?

Hon. Mr. Davis: It was just the way the honourable member did it. He really is not that kind of person; I have never believed it.

Mr. Nixon: But the Premier is.

Hon. Mr. Davis: That is fine. I say to the acting leader of the Liberal Party, it is for the very reason that we are anxious to protect those people who have been affected in this situation that the Attorney General is being very careful to see their rights are not prejudiced. That is part of this issue. If the members on that side of the House want to forget about them, then those of them who are lawyers do not understand the sensitivity, which I think is extremely unfortunate.

Mr. Nixon: Your sensitivity is very convenient. It only comes forward when you want to protect yourselves. This sub judice you dragged here for 10 years.

Hon. Mr. Davis: I say this to the acting leader of the Liberal Party, if this material is produced he, too, is going to be disappointed because, as in every issue he tried to raise five years ago, he will find it has no substance. That has been his fatal political flaw in the last six years as a politician in this province.

Mr. M. N. Davison: Supplementary, Mr. Speaker: in view of the degree of self-righteousness that the Premier has borrowed from the Attorney General in expressing his party’s alleged desire to protect the justice system in this province, is he not concerned about the contempt of his Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations for the justice committee of this assembly in not following deadlines set by that committee?

2:50 p.m.

Is the Premier not concerned about what I thought was the principle of nonpolitical direction of the police in Ontario? Is he not concerned about the way in which his Attorney General is misusing the Ontario Provincial Police, and his office, to the detriment of the public interest in this province?

Hon. Mr. Davis: Mr. Speaker, I think the Attorney General would like to reply to that allegation as to the misuse of the police.

Hon. Mr. McMurtry: Mr. Speaker, I would ask the member for Hamilton Centre -- or, should I say, the guttersnipe from Hamilton Centre --

Mr. Speaker: Order. It does no one any service in this, the highest court in the province, where we are supposed to conduct ourselves --

Hon. Mr. McMurtry: This is not a court.

Mr. Speaker: I happen to think it is. This is not a place for any member to get up and complain of the actions of another while engaging in the same thing himself. I would like you to withdraw that last comment.

Hon. Mr. McMurtry: No, I will not. Mr. Speaker --

Mr. Speaker: Are you prepared to withdraw the comment? I will give you the floor if you withdraw the unparliamentary comment.

Hon. Mr. McMurtry: What about the unparliamentary comment the member made?

Mr. Speaker: I will deal with that, but the immediate problem is the use of the word “guttersnipe.”

Hon. Mr. McMurtry: All right, Mr. Speaker, I will attempt to find some other term that would be more parliamentary.

Mr. Speaker: You will withdraw that one.

Hon. Mr. McMurtry: Yes, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker: Now, what is your point of privilege?

Hon. Mr. McMurtry: Mr. Speaker, as far as I am concerned, the member for Hamilton Centre has made a very serious allegation against the Attorney General of this province dealing with his integrity. I would like this issue to be dealt with by the House as a whole, in whatever forum he would like to choose. The allegation is that I, as Attorney General of this province, have directed the Ontario Provincial Police to somehow abuse or misuse their responsibilities in this matter. As far as I am concerned, that is an outrageous statement. He has attacked the integrity of the Attorney General. I ask that this be dealt with in the proper forum unless the member is prepared to withdraw that remark immediately.

Mr. Speaker: Order. Subject to my checking Hansard to be absolutely certain what it was I heard, I think I heard the member for Hamilton Centre accuse the Attorney General of misusing the OPP. In fairness, and so we can get on with the business of the House, I ask you to withdraw the comment in a spirit of generosity. Let us get on with the business of the day.

Mr. M. N. Davison: Mr. Speaker, I would prefer you to take the time to study the uses of the words --

Mr. Speaker: I would prefer that the honourable member withdrew the imputation of motives. I would prefer he withdrew it right now.

Mr. M. N. Davison: Mr. Speaker, you have ruled that is an unparliamentary use of the English language and I withdraw it on that basis.

Mr. Cassidy: Mr. Speaker, I have a new question of the Minister of Housing regarding the crisis in accommodation which has raised housing prices in Toronto to the point where the average family needs an income of $37,000 a year to afford an average house, and where people on modest incomes are increasingly having no choice but to be tenants.

Is it the government’s intention to keep rent control to protect tenants in Ontario, or is the government considering the removal of rent controls if it wins a majority in the next election, as was hinted by the Treasurer (Mr. F. S. Miller) in his speech to the Housing and Urban Development Association of Canada a few weeks ago in Ottawa?

Hon. Mr. Bennett: Mr. Speaker, I think this Legislature has made itself very clear about the issue of rent control or rent review in Ontario. It has been clearly indicated by some in the private sector as having a detrimental effect on the production of rental accommodations. There is a difference of opinion also in the private sector as to whether it truly does or does not have that effect.

I am not aware of the Treasurer’s remarks, but I can tell the member that this House has spoken clearly in relation to legislation under the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations (Mr. Drea), who answers for rent review. I think it is clear it is staying in place.

Mr. Cassidy: The minister is saying the Legislature has spoken clearly, which of course is correct. Can I have an assurance from the Minister of Housing that it is the government’s intention to keep rent review, or is he trying to duck that question right now because the government is hoping to get rid of rent review by the back door in the unlikely event that it ever got re-elected to this Legislature with a majority?

Hon. Mr. Bennett: We will be re-elected as the government of this province at the time we shall choose. As in every other issue we have dealt with in this province in respect to the general welfare of the people of Ontario, it will be dealt with in the way most expeditious for the best interests of the people of Ontario.


Mr. Mancini: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Premier. Our feelings concerning the long-term moneys that the government has made available for the earthquake victims in southern Italy have already been expressed and are on record. However, I am very sad and very disappointed to have been informed that this government has not made a single penny available for short-term relief, while other governments have, such as the federal government, which has made $300,000 available immediately to the Red Cross for short-term relief. The government of Alberta has made $100,000 available immediately to the Red Cross for short-term relief. The government of British Columbia has made $50,000 available.

Mr. Speaker: The member has not asked a question yet.

Mr. Mancini: I would like to know why the Premier of Ontario has not done the same. Why has he not made money immediately available to the Red Cross for short-term relief?

Hon. Mr. Davis: Mr. Speaker, it is really unfortunate that the honourable member would not just quietly discuss this with either the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs (Mr. Wells) or myself before he made that sort of statement. I said in this House, if memory serves me correctly, that we would have $100,000 available for immediate relief to the Canadian Red Cross. Does the member recall that?

Mr. Mancini: No.

Hon. Mr. Davis: He should ask one or two of his colleagues about it. At the request of those same citizens who were in the Speaker’s gallery just a few minutes ago, I went to the committee rooms on Ossington Avenue. If memory serves me correctly, that is the right street. There were representatives there from the Canadian Red Cross and there were representatives of the committee, the same group of people who were in the Speaker’s gallery.

They said to me: “Mr. Premier, in order to assist us in the development of the fund-raising campaign, rather than having that allocation go to the Canadian Red Cross for the immediate purpose, would you please have that allocation go to the citizens’ committee?” I took the advice of the Italian Canadians who are responsible for this and we made that commitment of $100,000 to them.

Mr. Mancini: A supplementary, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker: No. A new question. Will you take your seat?

3 p.m.


Mr. Swart: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations. I am sure the minister is aware that retail food prices have risen by 171 per cent since 1971. He probably knows the projection for next year by all authorities is for the greatest increase in decades, perhaps the greatest increase ever. The latest projection by the Agricultural Economics Research Council of Canada and officials of the Department of Consumer and Corporate Affairs is for an increase of 18 per cent to 20 per cent next year. In view of that, what new measures is the minister prepared to take to protect the consumers against this increase, particularly against price gouging by the middleman’s markups on the farm-gate prices, which will expand as a result of worldwide food shortages?

Hon. Mr. Drea: First of all, Mr. Speaker, let us get rid of this alarmist nonsense: there is not going to be a worldwide food shortage. Second, one of the reasons for the relatively pessimistic forecast about the prices of food in 1981 -- indeed, I mentioned it in my estimates -- is the fact that climatically, particularly in major food processing areas of the United States, 1980 was a dreadful year, not only in terms of crops but also in terms of animals that had to be prematurely put on the market or were unfit to put on any market because of very peculiar climatic conditions.

The truth of the matter is that in Ontario the prices will not go as high as the federal minister has forecast. He was talking about the national situation. The reason they will not go as high, and indeed the solution to this particular problem, is already in the very competent hands of many thousands of people in Ontario, the farmers of this province, who have always produced to the highest standards of agriculture regardless of climatic and other intrusions. I draw to the attention of the House that the truth of the matter is the average Canadian and particularly the average Ontarian -- because he or she is better than the average Canadian -- eats better for less than just about anybody else in the world.

Mr. Swart: How can the minister be so ignorant about the world food situation that he does not know that the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization has declared a world alert on it? How can the minister be so unconcerned about Ontario when Judge Leach in his report on supermarket discounting said he was concerned about the concentration in the food industry?

Does the minister not know that the Ontario Federation of Agriculture, which is an Ontario organization, shows that while farm-gate prices in the last year went up less than 11 per cent, the markup from there to retail went up more than 15 per cent? How can he say there is no need for government intervention? Why does the minister not implement the constitutional power of the government by establishing a fair prices commission and give some needed price protection to the consumers at this time?

Hon. Mr. Drea: I suppose a member is always frustrated when his private bill is not going to get on during the session, which is one of the reasons for this.

I am abundantly aware of the concerns of the United Nations about a food situation. I also draw to the member’s attention that part of the problem with world food is that some of beautifully centralized and operated farm organizations in the eastern part of the world cannot even grow corn, wheat or grain for their people. Furthermore, a few to the south of here, who have a peculiar standard of how they approach state control, have not done very well in a number of commodities either.

The people who will save the world in terms of food, and indeed the people who in an unglamorous and ordinary way have been doing it for so many years, are the agricultural producers of this country. It would be magnificent, and I would be the first to take a bow, if I could turn back the clock to sunshine every day, to 50-cents-a-gallon gasoline to transport food, to such little things.

Already this year, there have been three price increases for canned vegetable containers. To start suggesting there should be no increase or that something is happening beyond the farm gate is absolutely ridiculous. The farmers of the province need higher prices and in many areas deserve higher prices.

Second, it is a matter of record that profits in the food processing industry are at an all-time low. That is a subject of great concern to the Minister of Agriculture and Food (Mr. Henderson) and myself regarding the Canadian canning industry. I regret this did not come up during private members’ hour, when I could have dealt with it more extensively, but I appreciate the opportunity today.


Mr. Riddell: Mr. Speaker, I have a pork-barrel question for the Minister of Agriculture and Food, since it is the time when new appointments are going to be made to the Farm Products Appeal Tribunal. Can the minister explain to this House the reason he appointed two of his constituents to serve on the tribunal this year, neither of whom have any claim to fame in the agricultural community? They have no agricultural experience. One is the reeve of Petrolia and the other is a housewife from Corunna. What possible motive does the minister have for these appointments, other than the fact they are from Lambton county and both voted Tory?

Hon. Mr. Henderson: Mr. Speaker, I certainly cannot apologize because good people come from Lambton county. I am proud of the fact they come from Lambton county. The honourable member can look at the list of board members. I could read it out. The member’s caucus even had the nerve to phone the clerk of the town of Petrolia to see if there were any reasons Mr. R. L. Boyd should not be on the board. They are getting pretty low. These people are top citizens of Lambton. They can publicize it wherever they like. They will render fair decisions.

Mr. Riddell: Does the minister feel residence in Lambton county and political affiliations are sufficient qualifications to warrant special privileges by the Minister of Agriculture and Food of Ontario? What criteria will the minister be using for new appointments to the Farm Products Appeal Tribunal next year?

Hon. Mr. Henderson: This minister is not going to hold any prejudice against a person because he is a Progressive Conservative or because he comes from Lambton county.


Mr. MacDonald: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Premier, based on a news report, three paragraphs of which I will read to him. It is from the Kingston Whig Standard, dated October 24:

“Former energy minister James Taylor says the latest hike in rural hydro rates is evidence that Premier Davis does not have the political power to control Ontario Hydro.

“Ontario Hydro has announced an increase in the face of Davis’s statements and commitments to the Legislature and to rural people of Ontario, said Taylor, MPP for Prince Edward-Lennox and former member of the Davis cabinet. Ontario Hydro has flouted his wishes.”

The third paragraph is a direct quote from the honourable member, “Four provinces -- British Columbia, Quebec, Nova Scotia and Newfoundland -- have instituted uniform residential power rates.”

Mr. Speaker: What is the question?

Mr. MacDonald: Mr. Speaker, my question is this: Since the minister asked Hydro to give him a report, and on page four Hydro reported that this system, namely Hydro, has the greatest differential among customers of all publicly owned supply utilities across Canada and substantially greater differential than any other energy supplier, and since Hydro has also said it will not reduce the differential beyond 15 per cent, is the Premier going to confirm the views of the member for Prince Edward-Lennox that Hydro is laying down policy and he is tagging along, or is he going to lay down policy and insist that Hydro live up to it?

3:10 p.m.

Hon. Mr. Davis: Mr. Speaker, I am sure the very distinguished member for Prince Edward-Lennox when he was Minister of Energy was quite able to deal with Ontario Hydro and they always accepted his direction. That was the case then, and it is the case now.

Mr. Foulds: Hydro mugged him and you mugged him.

Hon. Mr. Davis: What was that again?

Mr. Speaker: Order. Just ignore the interjections.

Hon. Mr. Davis: It is so hard to ignore the interjections. In spite of what the honourable member may quote from that great newspaper in Kingston, in spite of what he may read from the very factual report from Ontario Hydro, the government has made it abundantly clear -- and this is the bottom line that he cannot ignore with all of his rural constituents -- that in 1981 the differential as between the rural and urban customers will be reduced by 30 per cent.

I know that will not have much impact in York South, but in the rural parts of Brampton it is a very significant accomplishment. The fact that they are all under the Brampton utility now of course becomes irrelevant.

I say to the honourable member that he should know better than anyone in this House on that side -- not on this side -- the complexities of dealing with the absolute reduction of the differential. If he reads the report very carefully, he will find there are areas in Ontario where the urban rate is higher than the rural rate. So we get around to the rather complex problems in a rural area right next door to an urban area, where the rural rate is lower than the urban rate, of how to reduce the differential.

I say to the member that we will meet our commitment. We are doing it by 30 per cent in 1981. He can make all the speeches he wants out in rural Ontario, where his party has been listened to with such enthusiasm for generations, but he will make no mileage. He will not get a single vote, because the rural people know this government looks after their interests better than any other party in this province. He knows that too.

Mr. Peterson: Let’s get all the farmers in here.

Hon. Mr. Davis: That is right.

Mr. MacDonald: Now that the Premier has done his electioneering, I hope he will address the question I put to him. The question was, when he requested Hydro to reduce the differential and Hydro in effect said, “Go chase yourself. You can reduce it if you want, but we suggest you don’t go below 15 per cent in that reduction,” was it not flouting his policy? Is the Premier laying down policy and Hydro following it, or is Hydro laying down policy while he is tagging along with whatever it dictates?

Hon. Mr. Davis: I give the honourable member full credit. He has become an expert on most matters in the few years he has spent in this Legislature --

Mr. Speaker: Order. There was not anything different in the supplementary question from what was contained in the original question. If the Premier is going to emulate the member for York South, that will take up the rest of the question period.

Hon. Mr. Davis: I have said to him before, there are some things about the honourable member I would emulate, though never his political philosophy, never his logic, never his approach to the issues, but in some respects I might.

I will come back to what I guess was at the basis of the question. The report from Ontario Hydro, as I recall reading it, very rapidly of course, made the problem fairly clear-cut. It is not a question of us ordering Ontario Hydro to reduce the differential. Quite obviously, Ontario Hydro will reflect government policy.

What Ontario Hydro is outlining in the report is that it has a modest complicating factor, that is, the role of the municipal distributing systems in this province, which is the concern of the Ontario Municipal Electric Association. I know the member would totally ignore them but we, as a government, will not. I have given an undertaking to the OMEA that we will not interfere with the rate structure until we have had consultations with them. They know the direction we are going, but it has to be reconciled.

I know the member likes to deal in confrontation, those have been his party’s tactics for generations, but they do not happen to be the tactics of this government. We will find a workable solution, and in the interim -- I repeat it -- we are reducing the rate differential by 80 per cent in 1981 consistent with the commitments this government gave to the rural people of this province.


Mr. Peterson: A question of the Premier, Mr. Speaker: In view of the mothballing of the two major synthetic oil projects in the west, the last news of which was Alsands yesterday, and in view of the important economic concerns of this province not only about supply but also the potential spinoff and economic benefits to the industry in Ontario, I am sure the Premier is most concerned about this. Can he share with this House what his view of the situation is and what he plans to do about it?

Hon. Mr. Davis: Mr. Speaker, I think it is a very fair question. I thought I had partially answered it for the honourable member the other day. In the closing remarks of my statement, I quite obviously upset the member for London Centre (Mr. Peterson) because I reminded him of the position of his leader on so many of these issues. I hope he learned something in the last three weeks. He cannot go around having the leader of his party taking position A in geographic location B, position C in geographic location X, and expect to get away with it. The member really cannot expect that to happen.

I am concerned about this. I have communicated to the Prime Minister of this country and to the Premier of Alberta that I would hope they would find some more common ground with respect to the solution of the energy pricing problems. I have communicated this to both first ministers. This does have a potential impact upon the economy of this province, not just in terms of the production of the pipe and other equipment but also in terms of security of supply.

The Minister of Energy (Mr. Welch) and the Minister of Industry and Tourism (Mr. Grossman) have made speeches. I have made it abundantly clear that we want to see an energy policy that makes sure those two major projects move ahead. That is the general direction of the things we have said and will continue to say.

I say to the member for London Centre, it does not help in terms of the general perception of this province by people out west when the leader of his party says, as he said not too many months ago, “Give Alberta not another nickel.” That will not solve the problem.

Mr. Peterson: Recognizing that no one listens to the Minister of Energy, and sending the Minister of Industry and Tourism out there is like putting itching powder in one’s jockey shorts, why does the Premier not go? Why does he not go and take a statesmanlike delegation out to that province, and try to lend his good office to break this logjam?

Hon. Mr. Davis: I find it very unfortunate that the member for London Centre believes no one listens to the Minister of Energy in this province. The honourable member may not listen but he should, because he would learn something. It would be good for him to accumulate a little knowledge the minister would be prepared to share with him. Ninety per cent of the people in this province not only listen to but also agree with every word spoken by the Minister of Energy -- in fact, 99 per cent; is that better?

Hon. Mr. Welch: Yes.

Hon. Mr. Davis: I can only repeat what I said when the member asked me this the other day. This government is most anxious to see some solution to the energy pricing problem. The solution lies between the governments of Canada and Alberta. We are anxious to see those projects proceed. Quite obviously it is in our economic interest to see them proceed, as well as it is in terms of security of supply. I make no bones about it, and that is the direction we are taking.


Mr. Makarchuk: Mr. Speaker, a question of the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations: Can the minister explain why once again his officials are starting to harass the legions and other veterans’ clubs inasmuch as they are not permitting them to operate their turkey rolls or feather parties as they have done for years? In fact, what he is doing is preventing the members of those clubs from buying drinks and taking them over into the area where they are playing the games of chance. Can he tell me why this practice, which has been in effect for years, is going to be cut off again this year?

3:20 p.m.

Hon. Mr. Drea: Mr. Speaker, I am blissfully unaware of any of my officials going to shooting rolls or turkey rolls or whatever it is. In fairness, I have had a communication from the member for Brant-Oxford-Norfolk (Mr. Nixon) which I was answering. It was a somewhat detailed communication.

The simple and fundamental rule, and I do not know why there is an upset about it, prevails almost everywhere. We are not talking about people standing up and holding their glasses; we are talking about selling the beverages a little bit away from the gambling. The reason for that is, first, we have had a number of complaints. Not everybody who likes to shoot, or whatever it is, has the manual dexterity to hold a bottle of beer and a glass at the same time without spilling it. There have been complaints about spillage.

Second, when there is a special occasion permit in conjunction with a Monte Carlo event -- and I presume that is what the member is talking about -- we have had some difficulty in the past with control of the funds. The funds from the bar must go to the charity for which a Monte Carlo event has been established.

All we ask is a little physical separation in answer to a number of complaints, particularly by females, that there is a little too much spillage around the gambling -- people spill drinks on their dresses.

Mr. Speaker: The time for oral questions has expired. I would like to remind all honourable members that we had four leaders’ questions and six other original questions. Perhaps, if you each individually reflect upon it, you will know where the 60 minutes went.

Mr. Martel: The Premier took 30 minutes.

Mr. Speaker: I said everybody.



Mr. Cureatz from the standing committee on general government reported the following resolution:

That supply in the following amounts and to defray the expenses of the Ministry of Treasury and Economics be granted to Her Majesty for the fiscal year ending March 31, 1981:

Ministry administration programs, $3,869,300; Treasury program, $2,911,000; fiscal policy program, $4,060,000; economic policy program, $134,258,000; central statistical services program, $1,201,000; Ontario Economic Council program, $956,000.


Mr. Breaugh from the standing procedural affairs committee presented the committee’s report and moved its adoption.

The committee’s report is as follows:

Your committee has met jointly with the standing committee on members’ services to consider the matter of an “electronic Hansard” and, with the concurrence of the members’ services committee, recommends:

That the Speaker assume responsibility for the immediate introduction of permanent and continuing television and radio coverage of the Legislature, under his authority and control.

Mr. Breaugh: Mr. Speaker, as you well know, following the recommendations of the Camp commission and subsequently the Morrow committee, this matter has been under consideration by several of the standing committees of the House, members’ services and procedural affairs being the last two to have a kick at it.

It was our consensus, arrived at over two sets of meetings --

Mr. Sweeney: We cannot hear you.

Mr. Breaugh: I rarely have a complaint that people cannot hear me. I will try to speak up.

We have met jointly on two occasions now. We have put to the members there all the reports that have accumulated over the years on this particular matter. We arrived at the consensus position now before the House simply by saying that we recognize there are financial considerations to which we must address ourselves. A number of problems will arise but the House had never clearly spoken on this one matter; we attempted to put together a resolution that does just that.

We have concurrence now from the majority of the members of both these standing committees on this resolution. As a matter of fact, I may say in this morning’s debate I did not hear anyone speak against the principle enunciated here. The concerns about costing, implementation and how it would be done are all there, and we all recognize that, but we did feel it was time a recommendation of this kind be presented to the House and the members had the opportunity, at some point, to debate this resolution and to vote on it.

I am tempted to seek unanimous consent, for I feel it is that close, but I will not. Instead, Mr. Speaker, I shall move the adjournment of the debate.

On motion by Mr. Breaugh, the debate was adjourned.


Mr. Philip from the standing committee on administration of justice reported the following resolution:

That supply in the following amounts and to defray the expenses of the Ministry of the Solicitor General be granted to Her Majesty for the fiscal year ending March 31, 1981:

Ministry administration program, $3,619,000; public safety program, $14,368,100; supervision of police forces program, $7,931,100; management and support services program, $31,109,700; operations program, $134,704,800.

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

Your committee begs to report the following bills without amendment:

Bill Pr41, An Act respecting the Institute of Chartered Secretaries and Administrators in Ontario;

Bill Pr49, An Act to revive Gradore Mines Limited;

Bill Pr51, An Act respecting the Hamilton Club;

Bill Pr53, An Act to revive McColl Farms Limited.

Report adopted.

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

Your committee requests that the House authorize Mr. Speaker to require that all material required through the provisions of the Speaker’s warrant of November 24, 1980, be delivered to the standing committee on administration of justice forthwith and no later than Friday, December 5 at 9 a.m.

Mr. Speaker: Mr. Philip moves the adjournment of the debate.

Those in favour will please say “aye.”

Those opposed will please say “nay.”

In my opinion, the nays have it.

Motion negatived.

Hon. Mr. McMurtry: Mr. Speaker, I was not sure whether the chairman of the justice committee wanted to address this matter.

There are a number of matters I would like to address in relation to this. In particular, I think there are three specific issues related to this very important debate: (1) the jurisdiction of the standing committee on administration of justice, (2) the sub judice rule and (3) my concerns as Attorney General with respect to the Speaker’s warrant.

3:30 p.m.

First, I would like to address the issue of the jurisdiction of the standing committee on administration of justice. In Votes and Proceedings for Friday, March 14, 1980, the standing committee on administration of justice was ordered established “with power to examine and inquire into all such matters” -- I think the next words are important -- “as may be referred to them by the House, with power to send for persons, papers and things as provided in section 35 of the Legislative Assembly Act.”

Mr. Speaker, regarding the resolution of the standing committee on administration of justice requesting you to issue a warrant and the subject matter of that warrant, I say with respect it has absolutely nothing to do with anything that has been referred to that committee by this House.

On November 18, 1980, Mr. Bradley presented the following petition, and I quote:

“Pursuant to standing order 33(b), the undersigned members of the Legislature hereby petition the annual report of the Ministry of Consumer and Commercial Relations for the year ending March 31, 1980, tabled in the Legislature on October 6, 1980, be referred to the standing committee on administration of justice for immediate and urgent consideration.”

Standing order 33(c) states: “Where a petition is presented under clause (b), the Speaker shall inform the House of the receipt of the petition and of the referral of the report to the committee requested. The chairman of the committee to which the report is referred” -- and again I would like to stress the following words -- “shall then arrange with members of the committee the allocation of time for the examination of the report.”

It is very clear in the order establishing the standing committee on administration of justice that the only power the committee has is “to examine and inquire into all such matters” -- again stressing the following words -- “as may be referred to them by the House.” It is also clear by standing order 33(c) that the only jurisdiction of a committee to which a report is referred is “the examination of the report.”

It is abundantly clear that the standing committee on administration of justice is not examining the report referred to it by the House but is engaged in an investigation of such matters that have not been referred by this House to any committee.

Quoting directly from a memorandum from Mr. Roderick Lewis, Clerk of the House, to Mr. Philip, the chairman of the administration of justice committee, dated September 5, 1978: “There is the well-established rule of procedure that committees of the House, whether standing, select or whole House, may only deal with those matters which are specifically and formally referred to them by the House.”

Bourinot’s Parliamentary Procedure, fourth edition, at pages 469 and 470, states: “It is a clear principle of parliamentary law that a committee is bound by, and is not at liberty to depart from, the order of reference. This principle is essential to the regular dispatch of business; for, if it were admitted that what the House entertained, in one instance, and referred to a committee, was so far controllable by that committee, that it was at liberty to disobey the order of reference, all business would be at an end; and, as often as circumstances would afford a pretence, the proceedings of the House would be involved in confusion.”

It is my respectful submission that the proceedings of this House are in this current confusion by reason of the fact that the members opposite, simply because they have sufficient numbers, are running roughshod over the rules of this assembly by camouflaging the real intent and purpose of an investigation under cover of a pretence of supposedly examining the annual report of the Ministry of Consumer and Commercial Relations. The committee is not even referring to the annual report. Indeed, it seeks to operate without any terms of reference passed by this House; it is free to make its own terms of reference, change those terms of reference from day to day at the whim of its members without any control by this House.

I say, with respect, the whole procedure, so enthusiastically supported by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. S. Smith), is simply a farce.

It is beyond me why a committee, which pretends to call itself the administration of justice committee, would choose a surreptitious procedure to investigate a particular matter rather than by coming before this House with a proper resolution outlining a proper investigation into a particular matter with proper terms of reference.

As Attorney General, I am simply appalled at the lack of understanding of the members opposite of the proper procedures of this House and at how the present improper procedures are totally unfair to this House, the members of this House, civil servants and members of the public who may be required to attend before the committee and produce certain documents.

It is my view that this Legislature is the highest court in this province and as such should conduct its business with the utmost fairness to everyone concerned. I regret to say it is also my view that this House, at this time, is not conducting its business fairly.

It is my submission that any committee of this House acts unfairly when it purports to examine an annual report of a ministry but, in the place of that examination, it decides to investigate what is a very important issue, no one is denying the importance of this issue, but it is unfair when it does so without any authority from this House and without any specific terms of reference.

The result is that witnesses are called and documents are required. I ask you, Mr. Speaker, very sincerely to place yourself in the position of a member of the public who is required to attend before such a committee which is operating without any terms of reference whatsoever. That member of the public, a civil servant or a minister can be examined on any matter and can be requested to produce any document in any area which the committee chooses to investigate since that committee is not controlled by any terms of reference from this House.

Under those circumstances the procedures of this House, I say with respect, are simply out of control and in confusion. As Attorney General, I am saddened that the elected representatives of the public of this province in the highest court of this province would allow the procedures to disintegrate to the point where the public can very easily lose confidence in the democratic process.

3:40 p.m.

I am requesting that the members opposite who decided to refer the annual report of the Ministry of Consumer and Commercial Relations to the committee with no intention of examining that report, but investigating an entirely different matter, simply come forward in this House with an appropriate resolution, with appropriate terms of reference for investigating the matter, which again I say is a very important matter to be investigated in the best interests of the public of this province.

Since there are no terms of reference enabling the committee to do what it is purporting to do, I submit with respect that the committee simply has no right to the documents requested.

Beauchesne’s Parliamentary Rules and Forms, fifth edition, at page 198, under the heading “The Power of Committees To Send For Papers,” says: “Committees may send for any papers that are relevant to their order of reference.” The committee’s mandate is to examine the report of the Ministry of Consumer and Commercial Relations. Again, I state simply, the documents requested in the warrant are not relevant to the committee’s mandate. Mr. Speaker, I say to you with respect, you should not issue a warrant for the production of documents that are not relevant to a committee’s terms of reference.

Second, I would like to make a few comments on the sub judice rule, or perhaps more accurately, as a result of the proceedings in this House in the past week, the lack of any sub judice rule.

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

Mr. Speaker, that rule makes you the final arbiter of the application of the sub judice rule. That certainly was the view expressed in the Speaker’s ruling of July 8, 1977. At page 57 of Votes and Proceedings for that date, the Speaker said:

“The House however has imposed restrictions on itself and one of these restrictions is that great care is exercised in discussing matters before the court, so that statements here do not deny justice to the parties involved in the courts. Standing order 16(a) places a duty on the Speaker to exercise discretion over debate in matters before the courts.”

The Speaker adopted parts of a House of Commons committee report and stated he saw no reason why similar principles ought not to guide members of this House.

The House of Commons report stated:

“Your committee has given consideration to the role of the Speaker in the application of the convention. It is submitted that, while there can be no substitute for the discretion of the chair, in the last resort all members of the House should share in the responsibility of exercising restraint when it seems called for.

“Your committee recommends that” -- and again I stress these words -- “the Speaker should remain the final arbiter in the matter, that he should retain the authority to prevent discussion of matters in the House on the ground of sub judice, but that he should only exercise this discretion in exceptional cases where it is clear to him that to do otherwise could be harmful to specific individuals.”

I have tried to impress upon the members of this House that compliance with the committee’s request for all the documents as set out in the warrant and the discussion of the all-encompassing issues in committee would seriously prejudice the trial of charges already before the courts and the very important ongoing criminal investigation. The irony of this whole matter is that the beneficiaries of such committee proceedings could very well be the persons already charged or who may be charged and the detriments will flow to the public in that the crown’s ability to prosecute wrongdoers will be impaired.

In the House on November 24, as reported at page 4525 of Hansard, Mr. Speaker, you said: “I beg to inform the House that even though the Legislative Assembly Act makes it discretionary with the Speaker as to whether or not he should issue a warrant, I feel that in view of the clear direction of the House on Thursday last, the warrant should issue. It will, therefore, be served this afternoon.”

It is once again very clear that the rules passed by this House and intended to govern the proceedings of this House are being shunted aside with the effect that you, Mr. Speaker, are unable to enforce the sub judice rule. As Attorney General, I regret that what this House has entrusted to you can so easily be taken away.

I find it difficult to find a set of circumstances that would be more deserving of the application of the sub judice rule. Criminal charges have been laid against the company and individuals involved in the very investigation of documents to which the warrant refers. Second, there is a very important ongoing investigation. A preliminary inquiry on the criminal charges was due to proceed when the warrant was issued, and a number of civil actions have been commenced against the crown and the former registrar of the Mortgage Brokers Act.

My concern is, however, mainly with respect to the criminal charges and the ongoing criminal investigation. It is my submission with respect to criminal matters that in view of the sub judice convention such matters should not be referred to in the House or in a committee of the House. Beauchesne’s Parliamentary Rules and Forms, fifth edition, states at page 118: “The sub judice convention has been applied consistently in criminal cases. The precedents in criminal cases are consistent in preventing references to court cases before a judgement is rendered.” At page 119, it says that the special committee on the rights and immunities of members recommended with respect to the sub judice convention that “the Speaker should remain the final arbiter in the matter, but should exercise his discretion only in exceptional cases.” I strongly suggest, Mr. Speaker, that this is an exceptional case and that your discretion should not be overruled by this House.

3:50 p.m.

I would now like to turn more specifically to some of my concerns with respect to the Speaker’s warrant which, by resolution of the committee, is sought to be amended. In the first place, the warrant, as framed, is far too broad in scope. That problem stems simply from the fact that this House has not passed terms of reference for the committee’s investigation. Again, this is what we have been requesting the House to do. Since the warrant is virtually a blanket demand for every scrap of paper in existence within the Ministry of Consumer and Commercial Relations with respect to certain companies and individuals, grave concern has been expressed by the Ontario Securities Commission because of the effect the required production of documents will have on the commission’s responsibilities to the public of this province in the securities field.

I strongly support the position of the commission and will quote a couple of paragraphs from a letter dated November 28 which I received from the chairman of the commission:

“The Speaker’s warrant and its terms undermine the ability of the commission to effectively administer the act [the Commodity Futures Act, 1978] by requiring the disclosure of evidence and information required, seized or given in response to requests to members of the commission and, in particular, its investigative staff. The integrity of the commission, and through it the integrity of the capital market system, is at stake.

“It is the commission’s view that the unfettered examination of all material demanded in the Speaker’s warrant, in the event that such a warrant is directed to and binding upon the commission, will destroy substantially the commission’s ability to function, inhibiting the free flow of information among (a) various branches of the government, (b) the other provinces and territories of Canada, (c) the parallel agencies in the United States and elsewhere and (d) various other law enforcement and surveillance agencies, without whose assistance effective investigation would be impossible. They could no longer afford to pass sensitive information to the commission and, within the commission’s immediate sphere, preliminary or informal investigations would be inhibited by the knowledge that confidentiality could not be maintained. It would give encouragement to those wishing to resist the commission in the proper exercise of the powers given to it by the Legislature.”

I also suggest the warrant is far broader than is needed for the committee’s deliberations. Although the committee has been given no terms of reference by this House, I recognize that the main concern of the committee appears to be a desire to investigate the role in which the Ministry of Consumer and Commercial Relations is placed in having issued a mortgage broker’s licence to Re-Mor Investment. As the member for Hamilton Centre (Mr. M. N. Davison) put it in the committee on November 19, “There is absolutely no other way open to the Legislature now to get to the bottom of this and to find out why the ministry was so negligent in licensing and in registering this company.”

I pause to note that one member of the committee already appears to have made up his mind that the ministry was negligent without seeing any of the documents or without hearing from any witness. I can hardly criticize the member who said that, because his own leader repeated the position virtually intact this afternoon. The leader of the New Democratic Party had already judged the matter.

Mr. Renwick: Come, come.

Mr. Cassidy: Are you saying you acted responsibly? Are you trying to say you are whitewashed?

Mr. M. N. Davison: The minister never gave a single reason why it should have been registered.

Hon. Mr. McMurtry: It may be that a committee will find this company should not have been registered, but I suggest such a conclusion should only be made after review of all the facts. In my view, it is very unfair to public servants involved to have a member of a committee prejudge an issue before the committee even commences its proceedings.

May I underline my position, Mr. Speaker? I agree that the circumstances surrounding the issuing of the registration to Re-Mor Investments are relevant matters for investigation by this committee. I can assure this House that, by our opposition to the warrant we are not attempting to conceal any actions by any ministry. If the mortgage broker’s licence should not have been issued, or if there was negligence or sloppy administrative procedures, the principle of ministerial responsibility will not be shirked. These matters should be investigated and recommendations made for the future.

I have no objection to the desires of the committee to investigate the role of the ministry or to have the documents relevant to the registration of this company. My concern is simply with the timing for the production of the documents. Let me try once again to explain my concerns.

As Attorney General, I cannot be satisfied with only the civil aspects of the ministry’s role, and this is important. I would be remiss in my responsibilities, and so would the crown law officers and the police, if there were no criminal investigation of the circumstances surrounding the issuance of the licence by the ministry. That investigation, as I have continually advised the members opposite, is taking place and has been taking place. The warrant was issued many weeks ago with respect to documents from the ministry, and the police have been requested to give top priority to this part of what really is a mammoth overall criminal investigation. It is my view that only the police can do a proper investigation and that an investigation by the committee, before the criminal investigation is completed, would seriously undermine the criminal investigation.

I am simply requesting once again that the committee delay its investigation until the police have completed their investigation of this particular issue. At the end of that investigation, if no criminal charges are laid, all the documents with respect to the circumstances surrounding the issuance of the licence will be available to the committee.

The chairman of the justice committee indicated to me yesterday afternoon, if my memory is correct, that the committee will be sitting again on Wednesday next to pursue this matter. As part of the statement I attempted to read to the committee yesterday but was prevented from doing -- I do not have a copy of it before me -- I indicated that the criminal investigation may well be completed by Wednesday of next week, at least as far as this aspect of the matter was concerned.

I repeat what I have stated to the members opposite. I am prepared, as is the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations, to appear before that committee when it meets on Wednesday next, because I think we probably will be in a position by that time to resolve these issues. Without going through the whole unhappy history, I can say I have been attempting for two weeks to have crown counsel address the committee to resolve these issues.

Again, I repeat, I am quite prepared to give a personal undertaking, on behalf of myself and on behalf of the Ministry of Consumer and Commercial Relations, that we will appear once again before that committee on Wednesday next. I am confident that the issues pertaining to the criminal investigation, which are of fundamental importance, can be resolved at that time. Mr. Speaker, I think that is an undertaking, with the greatest respect, sir, that you should take into consideration in making any decision with respect to amending your Speaker’s warrant at this time.

I am prepared to do that notwithstanding the fact that civil proceedings will be outstanding for some time. I am quite content to entrust the committee with the responsibility of dealing with the matter in such a way as not to prejudice the civil proceedings that are before the courts or any of the outstanding criminal charges.

I am simply requesting the members of this Legislature and particularly the members of the committee, to give the police the opportunity, it is to be hoped, to conclude their investigation by Wednesday next. If the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations and I appear, I hope we will be able to resolve the matter in which it is most interested. Notwithstanding the fact that there are no terms of reference, I would still be prepared to see that happen.

4 p.m.

As I have already indicated, yesterday I tabled a statement which contained two proposals: (1) that the committee request of the Speaker that compliance with his warrant be delayed for one week, during which time I will again appear before the committee and advise the committee as far as is humanly possible how long it will take the Ontario Provincial Police to complete the aspects of its investigation which concern the committee; that is, the circumstances surrounding the issuance of the licence by the ministry and (2) that the committee request of the Speaker that his warrant be confined to this committee’s area of concern; that is, documents relating to the issuance of the licence by the ministry. This request is made, I stress once again, to alleviate my concern that compliance with the warrant as worded at present will not only impair the integrity of the overall OPP investigation, the rest of which investigation will take several months, but also undermine the ability of the Ontario Securities Commission to superintend the financial community of the province.

My last volley, as it were, in this very important battle to uphold the integrity of the administration of justice and the procedures of this House is to warn those who would persist in demanding documents before the criminal investigation is completed that they run the risk of jeopardizing the criminal investigation to the extent that evidence to support criminal charges may not be available. That, simply, is the risk. If that happens, the losers will be the members of the House, the administration of justice and the public of this province, and the winners certainly will be those who may have been involved in some wrongdoing.

I have been in this House only a little more than five years, but I urge the members to consider how important this debate is and the important principles related to it. In my experience I have not before participated in a debate as important as this one, because very fundamental principles that have been enshrined for many years and protect all the citizens of this province are very much at stake in this debate.

Mrs. Campbell: Mr. Speaker, entering into this debate, it is imperative that I, as a responsible member of this House, give very serious consideration to those statements made by the Attorney General. It is unfortunate perhaps that those statements were not made prior to the issuance of the warrant but, of course, that lay in the lips and the hands of the Attorney General.

We are dealing with a matter that has great seriousness -- tremendous ramifications, I am informed by a person not privy to that, but I accept that the ramifications are very wide. We are also dealing with the matters of the responsibilities of legislators. We do have in our government the three arms: the executive branch, the legislative branch and the judicial branch. Without question, none of us here would wish in any way to encroach upon the judicial branch. That is not our function.

The Attorney General spoke about fairness. Unfortunately, those of us fixed with responsibility, particularly in the opposition ranks, must often perforce come to a conclusion not being privy to all the things in which we are engaging that are unfair. At this time, I regret that any unfairness, going by the Attorney General, would appear to be somehow the unfairness of the opposition parties in trying to do their job in this Legislature for the protection of the public of the province, particularly in the investment field.

May I now address the sub judice rule? The Attorney General has invoked the sub judice rule on many occasions and he has embarked upon the advice to his colleagues that they should not speak in the House because matters have been sub judice.

If I may give some of the examples we have seen of the Attorney General’s ruling on sub judice -- which is really what it amounted to -- let us go back to the Browndale issue. For years, the opposition tried using all of the appropriate methods to get the information about the Browndale matter. It was not unfair that we were stonewalled right up to the time when the Attorney General could find it within his heart to bring charges.

Subsequent to the charges being laid, this opposition dropped all the inquiries that were the subject to police investigation leading to charges and cases in the courts. However, we did take the position, that point having been reached, that it was open to us to inquire about a contract entered into subsequent to all of the matters before the courts. I think it is important that we understand this.

The Attorney General rose and defended the position that this was sub judice. The Minister of Community and Social Services (Mr. Norton) rose to say on the advice of the Attorney General that this was sub judice and he could not address any statements or answer any questions in this House.

We did not believe it was sub judice. I would point out that neither of those two ministers thought it was sub judice because the Minister of Community and Social Services, who was tongue-tied in this House, walked out the door and discussed the matter with the press. That is the way in which the sub judice rule is being operated in this House.

Let me say beyond the shadow of a doubt, I am not prepared to enter into a criminal investigation. That investigation properly belongs to the professionals, the police and the crown law officers.

It is true we are concerned with the proprieties surrounding the matter of licences and, as I should think the Attorney General would understand, surrounding the fact of whether or not a decision was made by the Ontario Securities Commission at a certain point in time that might have been prejudicial. The difficulty is that, without having access to the documents we have requested, we are not in a position to come to a conclusion. Perhaps it is because, at this point in time and with the recommendation to the House of the Attorney General, he would have the carriage of the matter, the timing of the matter and control of what it is the committee of this House is going to look at.

The Attorney General has made a great deal of his concerns about the way in which the committee will operate. At some stage the terms under which the committee would operate should become very much a part of the discussion, but I do not wish to take the time to read this somewhat lengthy document.

Needless to say, the committee members -- and I was not one of those present -- very thoughtfully, as I understand it, met with a crown law officer to determine a way to protect the documents. It was my information that the crown law officer was satisfied with the conditions under which the committee would operate. I think it is important that we understand that, because my information is that, save and except the date of Tuesday, December 2, he was satisfied.

The Attorney General has built a smokescreen around this entire issue. He has quoted from Beauchesne, but he is not distinguishing between cases and investigations. I think it is important we understand that just because somebody starts some kind of investigation the matter is then before the courts.

The Attorney General has made much of the fact that the committee does not have terms of reference. However, he agreed that if we will do what he tells us to do and be good little boys and girls, he will then make these documents available to us in his time.

Hon. Mr. Welch: As a former judge, surely the member understands what the Attorney General’s responsibilities are.

Mrs. Campbell: As a former judge, I am speaking.

Mr. S. Smith: As a former judge, she understands very well.

4:10 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker: Order. The member for St. George.

Mrs. Campbell: They may not believe I am taking this seriously, but I assure you I am, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Renwick: If my colleague will agree, I have a point of order, Mr. Speaker.

The Deputy Speaker: What is your point of order?

Mr. Renwick: I do not want to interrupt my friend the member for St. George but, as the debate is of extreme gravity and extremely important to us, it may well be that the Speaker may wish to recess the House for five minutes until the Attorney General returns.

The Deputy Speaker: A suggestion has been made by the member for Riverdale. However, I do not believe it is the custom to recess the House when someone has to leave the House for any matter; so I will recognize the member for St. George.

Mrs. Campbell: Mr. Speaker, I do not intend to go on at length. I would like to point out that police do not investigate matters of judgement or matters of propriety. I could give my assurance to the Attorney General, so far as I am concerned, that once I see the documents and understand what the documents disclose, then I am prepared, as I stated in the committee when the matter of counsel arose -- since I cannot make a determination any longer based on what the Attorney General says; I have to look at the papers -- to assure every member of this House that there is absolutely no way that I will become involved in the criminal investigations that are ongoing and the material relating to them. I want to see, however, if there are relations I should understand.

I cannot accept the Attorney General’s request. It is unfortunate. The Attorney General has said again in the House today -- and I hope the chairman of the committee will clarify it -- that he requested to have his crown law officers speak to the committee. To the best of my knowledge, on one occasion he himself attended with a crown law officer after the committee had adjourned. The committee normally adjourns, as the minister well knows, at one o’clock on Wednesday.

4:20 p.m.

Yesterday, it is true the Attorney General sent word that he would like to address the committee at two o’clock. The committee was engaged in this debate at 10 o’clock in the morning. He would have been welcome at that time. The critics for the Solicitor General’s estimates were not present and when they got to the meeting in the afternoon, having already voluntarily curtailed their estimates time, they did not wish to curtail it further. I think that is something the Attorney General ought to understand.

So far as the sub judice rule goes, there are obvious areas that are sub judice. At this time, however, those areas of basic concern to the committee ought to be of concern to the entire Legislature for the protection of people and the insurance of faith in our investment control mechanism in this province. Those matters should be examined by this committee; it is a responsibility, and I think the Attorney General very well understands they are not subject to the sub judice rule.

The Deputy Speaker: Does any other member wish to participate?

Hon. Mr. Norton: I am sorry, Mr. Speaker. I was asleep at the switch. I expected someone from the New Democratic Party might choose to speak in rotation.

I rise to speak to the matter that is before the House, not because I bring particular expertise or specific knowledge that others do not have but because I feel the issue before the House is one of truly profound importance. In my five years in the Legislature, I can think of no other issue offhand that goes so basically to the roots of the integrity of the system and the protection of individuals who are involved in the justice system of this province.

I cannot understand what the member for St. George (Mrs. Campbell) is trying to say in the distinction she purports to make. She understands, as I am sure do most of the members of this Legislature, there are certain fundamental protections in our society in terms of fair trials for those persons who are accused of criminal offences. The members know that in this matter criminal charges have been laid, and a criminal investigation is going on at the present time. I cannot understand why they would take the position they would not be willing to listen to what I believe is the very reasonable and articulate position that was put forward by the Attorney General on the question of the timing of the release of those documents or the delivery of those documents to the committee.

I do not wish to make this a partisan argument, but I suggest the honourable members are more motivated by a wish to embarrass the government in some way.

I agree that the position of integrity this government is taking in this debate is not the easiest one to put forward, because it does leave open to some individuals, if they choose to be less responsible than others in this Legislature, to try to raise doubts in the minds of others that there might be something that is being covered up. That is clearly not the case. When the time comes that the honourable members see the material, I am sure they will be satisfied of that.

I implore the honourable members to take very seriously the issue that is at stake. It is a question that goes to the basic matter of the rights of Ontario citizens, not just the individual or individuals charged in this case but also, it seems to me, to the roots of the rights of every Ontario citizen. If we are prepared, through impatience or whatever, to ignore the reasonable position put forward by the Attorney General in terms of the timing of the presentation of these documents, we are prepared to put at risk something as fundamental as a fair trial.

I just raise this with those members of the Legislature who happen to have some background in the law.

Mr. Worton: All those common people.

Hon. Mr. Norton: No. It certainly is not intended as an offence to anyone else. I am simply suggesting that, if one were defending someone accused of a criminal offence, and attendant upon that matter being before the courts the kind of publicity that might well prejudice that client’s right to a fair trial were to take place, then surely one would move before the court to have the matter dismissed. One would seize every reasonable legal opportunity to have that case dismissed.

I suggest to the members they may well be creating that kind of opportunity in the cases that are before the court at present or about to come before the court. The very individuals --

Mr. Roy: You always put the position at its worst.

Hon. Mr. Norton: I say to the member, he must be careful. He really must be careful and look at this thing as seriously as he ought to.

Mr. M. N. Davison: This is a Legislature -- not a law school.

Hon. Mr. Norton: What the honourable member is stating over there is his own lack of understanding of how serious this matter is. The member is dealing with a matter of basic civil rights in this province. I fear he does not understand what he is doing.

I suggest he is putting himself in a position where the very individuals who have been harmed through this transaction, whatever it involved, those individuals on whose behalf he is trying to act, may be the ones who suffer if it becomes impossible for the accused to be prosecuted. He may even jeopardize other matters, the civil proceedings before the court. He really must think carefully about what he is doing.

Ultimately it would appear that, if the members opposite choose not to accept the reasonable position the Attorney General has put forward, and choose not to wait a short time until the sensitive --

Mr. M. N. Davison: How long? How long?

Hon. Mr. Norton: That Attorney General has said he will meet with the committee and discuss that. I do not know the precise period of time.

4:30 p.m.

Mr. Speaker, it appears clearly the heavy responsibility is going to rest with you in the resolution of this matter at the conclusion of today’s debate. It is clear, as has been indicated, and is known to the members, that you do have some discretion in this matter and that the legislation is permissive in terms of the exercise of this discretion. It is clear to me also, sir, that you may have to see yourself today as the protector of the rights of Ontario citizens. Otherwise, I think what is at risk may be the very integrity of our system of justice in this province and it is vitally important that the members understand that. That is what is at risk. We must be very careful in how we deal with that because, as a result of an act that could be performed today in this Legislature, we might literally undermine that criminal justice system.

It is a very heavy responsibility when we consider the many centuries of effort that have gone into building up a system of justice we have inherited that does protect accused persons. When we consider that wars have been fought to continue to have the kinds of freedoms that this country ensures to its citizens --

Mr. Roy: Don’t get carried away.

Hon. Mr. Norton: My friend is the one who should not get carried away. It is a very risky thing that he does.

Mr. Speaker, I would urge that when the time comes that you consider the exercise of your discretion in the interests of the citizens of this province and in the interest of protecting a criminal justice system that does respect the rights of individuals to a fair trial.

I fail to understand the kinds of distinctions that the member for St. George (Mrs. Campbell) was trying to make. I simply have no response to her on those, because I think the very thing she pursues is the thing that is creating the risk. The Attorney General has put forward a very reasonable position; it is one in which, if it does not appeal to some of the members opposite for political reasons, I would urge you, Mr. Speaker, to weigh the argument of the Attorney General very carefully in your deliberations before you exercise your discretion in this matter.

Mr. Bradley: Mr. Speaker, this matter is not one which has come before this House or committees of this House in very recent days; it has been before this Legislature and committees of this Legislature as far back as last spring.

Members will remember that the matter of the collapse of these companies was first raised during consideration of the estimates of the Ministry of Consumer and Commercial Relations. At least I know it was raised in the justice committee in June by certain members, including the member for Kitchener (Mr. Breithaupt), and was discussed at some length at that time by the member for Lincoln (Mr. Hall) and others. The Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations (Mr. Drea) commented to a certain extent at that time, as did certain of his officials as well.

Then on October 7, of this year, a question was raised in the House concerning the potential responsibility of the Ministry of Consumer and Commercial Relations in the matter with respect to the money that was lost by various people. On November 4, the matter was raised again in a question which essentially asked what the provincial government was going to do to compensate these individuals for their losses. On November 6, the matter was raised once again and on November 7 yet again.

On Thursday, November 13, a question was raised in the House and, on a supplementary question by the member for Kitchener, the minister was asked to table many of the materials that are the subject of this warrant. He was asked to table these -- he shakes his head -- by the member for Kitchener. At that time, when he was asked to table some of these materials, he indicated initially a willingness to do so. I believe he said, “Certainly I hope to do it tomorrow but not later than Monday.”

Subsequent to that, I suppose there was a consultation with -- the term used was “law officers of the crown” -- the people from the Attorney General’s ministry. On Monday, November 17, the minister was asked, I believe by the member for Hamilton Centre (Mr. M. N. Davison) on that occasion, to refer the issue to the committee, and he indicated an unwillingness to do so.

This went on and on until eventually, on November 18, the minister was asked to table all materials with respect to Re-Mor, Astra and Mr. Montemurro. The minister responded that the matter was sub judice because there was civil litigation going on, but he had a consultation with the Attorney General’s ministry.

What I am pointing out in my initial remarks is that this is not a matter of very recent import; it is a matter that has been discussed publicly and in this House for some time. It was subsequently referred to the justice committee. On the first occasion I moved three particular motions: first, that the committee deal with this matter; second, dealing with the witnesses the committee would like to see and question; and, third, regarding the materials we felt would be required.

I am going to quote very briefly what we saw as the parameters of this investigation. I indicated at the time that through this particular motion we would like to examine the role of the Ministry of Consumer and Commercial Relations and, in particular, the registrar of mortgage brokers in relation to the issuance of a mortgage broker’s licence to Re-Mor Investment Management Corporation. Through this motion, we would also like to examine the role of the Ministry of Consumer and Commercial Relations and, in particular, the registrar of loan and trust corporations in relation to the denial of a provincial trust company charter to a trust company to be incorporated by Mr. Carlo Montemurro and the subsequent registration and monitoring by the registrar of Astra Trust Company; also the role of the Ministry of Consumer and Commercial Relations and, in particular, the Ontario Securities Commission in relation to investigations pertaining to C and M Financial Consultants Limited, Re-Mor Investment Management Corporation, Astra Trust Company and other related companies. These were the parameters established in terms of what we felt would be suitable for the committee to investigate at that time.

The motion was made that documents be produced. That is history at the present time. Subsequently, a motion was proposed by the member for Hamilton Centre to the effect that a Speaker’s warrant should be used to secure these materials. It was the view of the member for Hamilton Centre that these documents would not come before the committee unless a Speaker’s warrant were issued. Subsequently, the members of the committee, at least in majority, agreed to that motion. I look forward with interest to the contribution of the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations to the debate this afternoon and the comments he might have. I recognize we have not had co-operation as far as the Ministry of the Attorney General is concerned in the production of these documents. We have discussed certain matters with Mr. Morton of that ministry. We have seen that subsequent to our discussions we have had no documents at all produced to the committee -- not a single document. Trying to obtain a room in this building for the committee’s use in terms of the storage of documents was a very difficult proposition in itself. So it appeared to many members of the committee that a roadblock was being put up wherever we attempted to have compliance with the Speaker’s warrant and the wishes of the majority of the committee, and that is true.

4:40 p.m.

We continue to share the concern about the security of the documents in question. As a consequence, the chairman of the committee, the member for Etobicoke (Mr. Philip), the member for Hamilton Centre (Mr. M. N. Davison) from the New Democratic Party, Mr. Morton from the Attorney General’s ministry and I met and agreed to certain recommendations with respect to documents produced pursuant to the warrant of the Speaker issued and served on Monday, November 24.

It is important to know how careful members of the committee were about the security of these documents and how agreeable we were to protecting that security. As I go further in my remarks, it is interesting to note the items agreed to, particularly the first one:

“1. All documents should be produced to the committee by Tuesday, December 2, 1980.” Which of course they were not.

“2. An inventory of all documents will be taken by officials of the Ministry of Consumer and Commercial Relations. However, the taking of such an inventory should not delay the production of documents and may take place after their production.

“3. Each party should designate the members who will represent the party for the duration of the hearings on this matter.

“4. Only those members designated to represent their party during the hearings on this matter should have access to the documents.

“5. A member from each party should be designated as responsible for authorizing researchers to have access to the documents. Such authorization is to be made in writing, in advance, to the chairman and clerk of the committee.

“6. Photocopies of original documents in the possession of any court may be provided to the committee in lieu of the original documents to meet the requirements of the warrant.” In other words we were not asking for the originals.

“7. The original documents produced to the committee may be relinquished to the Attorney General, the Solicitor General or the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations on the written request of the minister, provided that a photocopy of such original documents is made and substituted therefor.

“8. The Attorney General, the Solicitor General and the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations shall designate in writing those persons from the ministries who shall have access to the documents produced to the committee.

“9. The Solicitor General will provide officers from the Ontario Provincial Police to ensure the security of the documents on an around-the-clock basis.

“10. All original documents and original photocopies of documents shall remain in the committee documents room and may not be removed except as provided in item 7 above.

“11. All members of the committee and authorized party researchers shall sign a book, indicating a description of the material inspected and the date and time of inspection.

“12. A member of the committee or an authorized party researcher may make a photocopy of any original document or any original photocopy for use during the hearing of the committee. Such photocopies shall be stored in the filing cabinet in the committee documents room and shall not be removed from the room except as provided in item 13 below. A record shall be kept of all documents which are photocopied and all photocopies shall bear the signature of the member or authorized party researcher making the photocopy, of the OTT officer present and the date.

“13. An OPP officer shall accompany photocopies of documents transported to and from the hearings of the committee.”

Committee members were prepared to be very careful about the security of these particular documents; we agreed to those provisions -- a reasonable response on the part of members of this particular committee.

We also agreed we would listen to submissions from any officials, presumably from the Attorney General’s ministry, regarding the advisability of referring to certain documents once these documents were produced. They may well wish to express some concerns. There is nothing to preclude the officials from the Attorney General’s ministry from expressing their concerns at that time to the committee after the documents have been produced.

We, as a committee, have bent over backwards to accommodate the Ministry of the Attorney General in reference to the security of these particular documents. Thanks to the roadblocks put in front of us, the public has the impression the government is attempting some sort of coverup. Many of us represent tidings where a number of people have been adversely affected; some are widows, and some are people who do not have a heck of a lot of money and their life savings have been lost. These people think the government is attempting to cover up incompetence or negligence or political influence or some inappropriate activity. That is the perception in the minds of these people who have lost the money.

Hon. Mr. Walker: I wonder how much you have contributed to that.


Mr. Bradley: I think it would be wise for those members who are interjecting to call these people on the telephone and give the government position to them.

The Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations, as I have mentioned previously, initially seemed willing to provide the materials. I appreciated that comment he made in the House -- I believe it was on October 13 -- and he has not indicated to the committee, at least when I have been sitting on it, that as a minister he would be opposed to providing the documents except with the cautions placed in front of him by the officials of the Ministry of the Attorney General.

We, as members of this committee, hoped the government would be co-operative. We felt it would admit there had been some initial problems but the documents would begin to appear by this hoped-for December 2 deadline. When it appeared there would be no co-operation with the committee in this regard to provide the documents by December 2, 1980 -- indeed, none has been forthcoming -- I felt compelled then to propose the motion that is the subject of this report, that a definite deadline be placed on the production of these documents.

I thought that was somewhat moderate, because there are some in the committee who felt the deadline was too generous in view of the lack of co-operation experienced with the Ministry of the Attorney General. Indeed, an amendment was placed before the committee which would have provided a tremendous penalty for the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations if he did not comply with the Speaker’s warrant.

That amendment, although it had the sympathy of probably the majority of members of the committee in terms of wanting to ensure the documents would be produced, was not passed. It was rejected by the majority, I think in keeping with a spirit of still wanting to be co-operative and still hoping the minister would make an attempt to provide these documents, or perhaps persuade the Attorney General to. So that kind of hammer approach was avoided by the committee, looking for the good faith of the ministers.

This is an interesting part. I found this rather gratifying. I do not wish to divide and conquer or anything of this nature, but I found it interesting that my motion received the support not only of the members of the opposition parties but also, if my memory is correct, of five members of the Progressive Conservative Party. They, I think -- and I give them credit -- were attempting to be fair to the wishes of the committee.

Subsequent to the Attorney General’s comments and so on there may be a different view, but I give credit to those members of the committee. So often we in the opposition characterize these members as being people who are simply carrying out the government’s wishes. If I am correct, the member for Timiskaming (Mr. Havrot), the member for Algoma-Manitoulin (Mr. Lane), the member for Burlington South (Mr. Kerr), the member for Middlesex (Mr. Eaton) and the member for Durham-York (Mr. W. Newman) voted for that motion. These individuals deserve credit for wanting to facilitate the committee.

If the committee were to avoid dealing with this matter, as the Attorney General has suggested, or if we were to postpone dealing with this matter because of ongoing criminal investigations, we would be placing the Legislature in the position of not being able to proceed at any particular time with investigation of certain matters because the Attorney General or someone else in the government says there are criminal investigations going on. This could be used in any instance. It concerns me as a legislator that we would not have the opportunity then to discuss matters the public expects us to discuss.

Only in very recent days have we seen any kind of conciliatory attitude on the part of the Ministry of the Attorney General. Initially it was sub judice; initially it was irresponsible. The minister suggested even today that production of these documents for the committee would be irresponsible. I think he has not abandoned that position.

4:50 p.m.

The only time we have seen a conciliatory attitude is when the opposition has been prepared to play it tough, to be strong in pursuing its particular goals. Then we start to get a conciliatory attitude: “Yes, maybe we will provide some of the documents -- maybe a week from now, maybe when the investigations are finished.” We start to get that. I suppose it is a step in the right direction, but it is certainly a long way from what we in the official opposition, and I am sure in the other opposition party, are prepared to accept.

What we have to ask ourselves ultimately is, what about those people who have suffered as a result of the licensing of this company? They are asking their legislators to pursue this matter and not to let them down. They expect from their government some kind of protection when they are dealing with a company licensed by that government. That is why some of them have been forced to go to lawyers to take certain actions to attempt to secure what they feel is justifiably theirs, to secure some compensation from those whom they feel might be responsible. In my view these people should not have to go that route; indeed, it is the responsibility of the legislators, if there is negligence or some other unfortunate activities have taken place, to provide compensation through the political process somewhere down the line to these people.

In my view and as an opposition member I recognize the government side may not accept my perception of this, the Attorney General constantly has placed roadblocks -- for what he feels are legitimate reasons no doubt; we do not feel they are legitimate reasons -- in front of the committee when we have tried to obtain what we feel are the required documents. This, in effect, leads the people of this province to ask the question, “What have you got to hide?”

Mr. Renwick: Mr. Speaker, I want to make a few remarks about the matter that is before us. There is no need for me to go into it at any great length because of the comments made this afternoon by the Attorney General and by the member for St. Catharines (Mr. Bradley) with respect to the background of the matter. Of course, the House had the opportunity, on Thursday evening, November 20, to canvass the ground which led to the original issuance of the Speaker’s warrant, I believe, on November 24.

The first thing we should bear in mind is that this is not an occasion where any particular form of words is going to persuade either side to alter its fundamental position. I want at some point to deal as best I can with what appears to be the position of the Attorney General in the closing remarks of his comments. I would also like to bear in mind the importance this matter has to the members of the House. Particularly, I want to pay tribute to the member for St. Catharines and to the member for Ottawa Centre (Mr. Cassidy). In the face of severe obstacles over a long period of time, they have tried to bring before this assembly and a committee of this assembly the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations to examine the role of his ministry with respect to the matters before the justice committee and the resolution the member for St. Catharines (Mr. Bradley) put to the committee, and which he read a few minutes ago, about the precise areas of concern to be investigated. I pay that tribute, because it needs to be very clearly stated that that is the exercise of responsible government. The minister is responsible to this House and to the committees of this House with respect to the work of the House. I want to emphasize that point, because that is the process through which the Speaker issued his warrant.

I say again to the members of the House -- and I speak to my colleagues in the Conservative Party as well as in the two opposition parties -- that we are speaking about the integrity of the processes of the House. That is not in any way to derogate from the integrity of the judicial system of the province or the integrity of the ministers of the crown who are charged with the operation of the judicial system in a responsible government.

I do want to put as concisely as I can how I see the situation on the basis of the facts as outlined by the member for St. Catharines and by my colleague the member for Hamilton Centre (Mr. M. N. Davison). Those facts -- and by no means are all the facts known -- raise a serious question to which the minister must respond. It is not an allegation that something is wrong. It is a recognition that the facts, as known, require an explanation by the minister, and by nobody else, to the committee of the House, which is what we are asking for.

Citizens of the province have lost substantial sums of money and the minister has played a role with respect to the events leading up to those losses, in the sense delineated in the resolution put by the member for St. Catharines, which he quoted today and which is in the record from the debate on November 20. That is the situation.

I specifically want the House to understand that if we follow the course recommended by the Attorney General, it will be years before the minister will be required to discharge his responsibility to the House. That is totally unacceptable to this party and, as I understand it, to the Liberal Party. We cannot afford the luxury of destroying the integrity of this institution by waiting for years before the minister discharges his responsibility to answer the facts before us and to give an explanation, not only to the members of the House but also to the public of Ontario. That is what we are asking for. As the Attorney General well knows, it will take years, if it is not possible in the orderly, proper conduct of its business for the parallel work of this House to go on at the same time as the investigation by the police or anyone else who may be involved.

5 p.m.

My colleague the member for St. Catharines read into the record this afternoon the very careful and meticulous guidelines for the protection and security of the documents. They were not negotiated directly with the Attorney General, but a representative of his ministry was present when they were negotiated. If the Attorney General and his senior advisers want to propose variations or to tighten up the security or otherwise deal with the security arrangements for the documents, they know very well they only have to contact my colleague the member for Etobicoke (Mr. Philip), who is chairman of the committee, to work out those arrangements. That is a very fair and proper arrangement.

It can only work, of course, if the Attorney General, Solicitor General and the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations respect the committee; in return, the committee will respect the ministers. Both sides have taken an intransigent position because of the way in which this matter has polarized; however, it is quite within the capacity of the committee of this assembly to secure the documents, to have them available and to have access tightly controlled as was outlined in the guidelines read into the record this afternoon.

I find it extremely difficult to make any recommendation, to my colleagues or anyone else, or to satisfy myself that it is possible to accede to the second proposal made today by the Attorney General at the end of his statement, which was contained in the proposal he filed with the justice committee yesterday. That is the proposal that the committee request the Speaker to confine the warrant to this committee’s area of concern, the documents relating to the issuance of the licence by the ministry. This request is made to alleviate my concerns, said the Attorney General who, went on to express those concerns.

I looked at that very carefully. When a body is charged, as the justice committee is charged, with the responsibility of carrying out this matter, one of the first things it requires is the production of documents. I do not need to talk to my friends in the profession about the importance of that step in any proceeding. It is then for the committee to decide, with the assistance of the law officers of the crown, which of those documents are pertinent to the matters before the committee as set out in the resolution, which is the terms of reference for the committee. The resolution I am referring to is the one put forward by the member for St. Catharines.

I am not in a position to accept item two of the Attorney General’s proposals. I am asking him if he will accept the very careful arrangements that can be made to provide for the production of these documents seen by the committee to be relevant to its considerations; other documents can be turned back speedily and quickly to those who require them, because obviously that is the nature of the production of documents.

That is a reasonable position rather than an intransigent position. It is a very fair position, and I think it can be carried out within the guidelines as outlined to the House this afternoon by the member for St. Catharines, or by other tighter, more carefully worded, restructured or redrawn guidelines that will have the confidence of everybody.

I am very reluctant on all occasions for the House and its committees to sit in camera. However, if it is essential for the purposes of this operation for the committee to sit in camera and make its report, then I think the committee or the House, although reluctant, may do that.

I am simply saying to the minister and to the government that they must have confidence in the committee. I think that can be worked out. To my mind, that evidence of confidence would go quite a long way to restore the deterioration that has been setting in around this issue because of the lack of respect for the committee of the assembly which has been demonstrated by the course of events up to the present time. That is well worth considering.

I say to the Attorney General and, if the Attorney General is too close to the game, I say to the Deputy Premier (Mr. Welch), that perhaps he in his wisdom might indicate to his colleague that is not, after all, an unreasonable position for the committee to take. I think that will protect everybody’s interests, and I think it will protect them very well.

I want to refer to the first part of what the Attorney General has said. At first blush, one would have thought it meant something. All it means, of course, and I state what he said, “The committee request of the Speaker that compliance with the warrant be delayed for one week during which time the Attorney General will again appear before the committee and advise the committee, as far as it is humanly possible, how long it will take the OPP to complete the aspect of their investigation which concerns the committee; that is, the circumstances surrounding the issuance of the licence by the minister.”

I want to point out clearly that I do not understand it -- I never have understood it throughout this debate -- but there seems to be some misunderstanding of the very clear and precise ambit of the resolution put by the member for St. Catharines (Mr. Bradley) that is not limited just to that one procedural device. The committee has wider responsibility. It is quite difficult to suggest, in some way, that is the only matter the committee has before it. I am not going to read the resolution again. I read it last week, and the member for St. Catharines read it again today, but apparently the minister and his advisers have never yet referred to the actual terms of reference which the committee has before it and which are its responsibility to discharge.

The particular suggestion of the Attorney General is that he will simply come and tell us the investigation is going to take longer. That is what he is going to tell us a week from now. There is no way in which that can be read in any other sense. He said he “...will again appear before the committee and advise the committee, as far as it is humanly possible, how long it will take the OPP to complete the aspect of their investigation which concerns the committee.” That, of course, is very close to the day when this session of the assembly is planned by the House leaders to prorogue. I find that is not any middle ground at all.

The sum and substance of the solution to this problem lies within the remarks I made a few minutes ago with respect to the guidelines, and the security with respect to the documents and the way in which that can be done. Reasonable men, when faced with matters like that, can find that solution within the framework as already worked out in a preliminary way by the chairman of the justice committee, the member for Etobicoke.

I want to say this because it has been a diversion, and therefore I want to deal with it simply as a diversion, but it must be dealt with; it is the surprising position taken by the Ontario Securities Commission with respect to its responsibility and the way in which it sees its responsibility. There is nobody in this House who wishes to interfere in any way with the integrity of the financial markets of this province or the operations of the securities commission anywhere else. That is, if I may say so, an inconsequential argument. I say to the new chairman of the Ontario Securities Commission, this illustrates if not a lack of respect then a lack of understanding of the processes of the House and the commission had better learn and understand these processes.

5:10 p.m.

I sat through the proceedings of the committee that dealt with the Securities Act. I have said on other occasions that this was a government bill worked out with the financial community in which this assembly played no part. Not a single amendment proposed in committee with respect to this bill was ever accepted or considered. It was a government bill worked out with the financial community. In the definition section, I want to point out it states very clearly that the minister “is the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations or such other member of the executive council to whom the administration of this act may be assigned.”

The Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations is the minister responsible for the administration of the act. The act then outlines how to set up the commission, including a statute that provides very clearly that there shall be a commission, that it will be a continuing commission and that the commission is responsible for the administration of the act. Responsible to whom? To themselves? No; of course not. To the minister. Who is the minister responsible to the House? I do not want to have a continuing argument with the securities commission about where their responsibility lies. Let us get that clear and perhaps the minister could reference the area at some time with respect to the investigations carried out by the commission and the obligation of the commission to furnish the minister with the information. I am not going to go into that at any great length.

I refuse to be trapped into a lawyer’s niggling game about what the English language means in that statute. I do not want anybody to misunderstand that. The Speaker’s warrant runs to the minister. There is absolutely no need for the Speaker’s warrant to run to the commission. The minister is responsible for that commission and is answerable in this assembly to the extent of the role they may or may not have played in connection with this matter.

I want to say to the Attorney General and the Deputy Premier (Mr. Welch) that the resolution of the matter lies in the good faith and co-operation of the committee with the officials of the ministries concerned, in this case, the Solicitor General, the Attorney General and primarily, of course, the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations. That kind of co-operation and good faith will strengthen the protections provided to the citizens of the province and will perhaps clear up for all time whether the people who have lost the money can look to the government for reimbursement. That is what it is about.

The Deputy Premier and I were in the House during the disaster at the Prudential Finance Company some years ago. The creditors of that company endeavoured to sue the government and were unable to get standing to do so. That may have disappeared. I am not suggesting that possibility does not exist. But that kind of lawsuit will cost the creditors a fortune to institute and carry through to conclusion.

In the case of the civil suits, apart from any suits in which the government may be involved, there is no chance of any money being recovered from the fraudulent empire which collapsed. None of that is going to go back to the creditors. They are entitled, as creditors who have lost their money, to understand from the government whether it had any role to play which would lead one to believe that perhaps there has been some negligence, oversight, mistaken judgements or whatever it may be that would impose an obligation on the government to respond to those creditors. That is the purpose of the exercise. It is not a trial. That is all it is: to look at the role of the minister. It is not for the purpose of condemning anybody. It is to find out what did take place in the circumstances of a situation where the facts call for a response.

The response was to be made to the committee of the assembly. The response must be made with the care and attention I have tried to indicate the committee will exercise with respect both to the documents and the witnesses who are called before that committee in the course of its hearings.

Let me end this part of my remarks with this note. As I said on November 20, if the committee does not get the documents it does not eliminate its responsibility. Just because it does not get the documents does not discharge the committee. The committee still has its responsibility under the rules.

I want to close by saying that the Attorney General, in his three remarks about the sub judice rule and the attack on the jurisdiction of the committee, has indicated quite clearly he disagrees with rulings made by the chair in this whole matter. That is what it is all about.

If he wants to challenge the chair, let him go ahead. If he wants to change the rules some day, let him come to the standing committee on procedural affairs. But the rules of this House have not been violated under any circumstances. I want to make that clear. Everything has been done in strict accordance with the rules -- not the Attorney General’s interpretation of the rules, but in accordance with the interpretation of the rules made by the officers of this assembly headed by the Speaker of the House, who is responsible to this House.

I am prepared to dismiss the three major points that occupied so much of the Attorney General’s time as mere rhetoric because the decisions of the chair are contrary to each of the positions he put about those matters. With those remarks and, as I say, seeking to find out whether the two proposals put by the Attorney General could be dignified as a movement on his part to some reasonable rapprochement with the committee, I have had to dismiss them for the reasons I have given.

In dismissing them, I call upon him personally, in his role as Solicitor General and Attorney General and now as counsel to the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations, to meet with the chairman of the justice committee and whoever else they want, with the Speaker of the assembly and Clerk of the assembly, to work out the best possible guidelines for the security and protection of those documents.

I have tried to listen to the world unfolding today to see whether there was some movement by the Attorney General which could have led to some flexibility and response from the committee. I think the committee has been flexible in its response and in the guidelines it has endeavoured to draw up. I call now on the Attorney General to co-operate as the minister of the crown responsible in the House for the work of the committee.

It is essential for the Attorney General to reconsider his position and, if he will not reconsider it, for the Deputy Premier and the other, wiser heads in the cabinet to prevail and not allow this intransigence to develop into the kind of confrontation which the Attorney General appears to enjoy in fighting with the committees of the House. It is a matter of fundamental respect. To the extent it has been shaken in any way, that matter has to be re-established. I suggest the gesture must come from the Attorney General.

5:20 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. MacBeth): The member for Cochrane South.

Mr. Martel: Is the minister going to talk about the food terminal?

Hon. Mr. Pope: I have the speech here if the member would like to hear it again. He ignored it last time.

Mr. S. Smith: This is the minister of freedom of information, isn’t it?

Hon. Mr. Pope: The leader of the Liberal Party ought to know. Let him tell us about his public opinion poll.

Mr. S. Smith: Yes, freedom of information.

The Acting Speaker: Order, please. Order.

Hon. Mr. Pope: Mr. Speaker, I feel compelled to enter this debate because there have been allegations with respect to the integrity of some of the ministers of this government. In spite of the denials by various previous speakers, these are allegations that have been raised, not by the public at large, but by members of the parties opposite. Let us be clear about that.

I sat in the House today and heard expressions such as “coverup,” “stonewalling,” “What have you got to hide?” I have read in the newspapers of this city the allegations of the member for St. Catharines. So let us not say this is the general public perception; it has been a perception orchestrated by the opposition parties for their own partisan political purposes. They want to impugn the integrity of the Attorney General and of the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations, in spite of his efforts to help the investors. They want to impugn the integrity of the staff of that ministry and of the Ontario Provincial Police. Nothing is beyond their net.

They make all sorts of allegations, parliamentary and unparliamentary. Even if they are withdrawn, allegations are made nevertheless. They say they want an explanation from the ministers. They want to hear their legal advice. The truth is, they do not believe the advice or explanations anyway; so what is the point in engaging in that kind of discussion? They do not want to believe it. They will not believe it. They are going to pursue this matter in spite of the explanation.

They say they want to hear the Attorney General, yet they refused to hear him when he appeared before the committee. Let us forget about the nonsense of them wanting to listen to anybody. They want to embark on a political witch-hunt. That has been their aim all along and it is what they are going to pursue. It will not matter what anyone says, whatever explanation, whatever legal advice they receive; they want to embark on a political witch-hunt. That is the truth of the matter. They do not care if they undermine the judicial system of this province to do it. They want to score points.

Mr. Bradley: Tell that to the people who lost their life savings.

Hon. Mr. Pope: I am getting to the member for St. Catharines.

They want to undermine the justice system that has served the people of the province well. They want to undermine the work of the police forces as they carry out their detailed investigations. They have made allegations about the Attorney General today and his role with the Ontario Provincial Police. They made allegations about the police themselves. It is consistent with their efforts in the last six months vis-à-vis the police forces of the province.

Mr. Bradley: Nonsense.

Hon. Mr. Pope: It is consistent. Don’t worry. We will get to that issue soon enough.

They say that we do not care about the investors who invested their good money in these organizations. If that is so, why have we carried out comprehensive investigations? Why have charges been laid and investigations been carried out if we do not care? They do not understand, they do not want to understand and they do not want to tell the people in their areas that we have carried out those investigations and laid those charges.

We have heard bilk in this assembly about the production of documents, about in camera hearings. If the doctors’ income issue is any example, I do not believe in the in camera hearings. The truth of the matter is, when we talk about production of documents and when we talk about compelling attendance of not only the ministers but also their staff, Mr. Montemurro and whoever else they want to bring in later on, they are not talking about getting an explanation from the minister. They are talking about having a trial in a committee of this House. They want to have a trial.

I want to quote from the record. These quotations have to be read, because I think they are appropriate to bear in mind as we examine this issue:

“In fact, all of our law is oriented and based on the fact of the recognition of the value of the individual human being in determining and protecting his freedom before the law, his freedom before us, his freedom before that giant branch of government which is the judiciary.

“The paramount consideration is not the freedom to sell the news and not the freedom to market events, but to protect the rights, the dignity, the freedom and the reputation of each and every one of us here and each and every one of us out there.”

And again: “We must protect the individual prior to his trial.”

And again: “Are we going to opt for freedom of the individual to support his civil rights, opt to support the individual in the eyes of his peers until such time as it is shown that view is uncalled for, or are we going to opt for the freedom of the newspapers and television and so forth to sell their newspapers or sell their programs on the back of what is possibly an innocent citizen?”

And again: “We assume in this country that there is innocence until guilt is proven. However, the publication of the identity and the charges against an individual before a trial begins often makes him guilty in the public eye ahead of time. There may be circumstances where he may have been subject to false arrest or where a mistake may have been found that removes the necessity for a trial or charges may be withdrawn because of lack of evidence.

“The consequences for the individual and the family have been well outlined by members of this Legislature. They include the family itself suffering in terms of its standing within social groups; the children in school being subject to abuse by other children who are making judgements based on publication of charges and the individual’s name; the unnecessary effect on those in the family who might be ill; the guilt by association that the family feels; attacks of a verbal or physical nature, telephone calls and things of this kind, all of which are suffered unnecessarily if charges are withdrawn.

“The accused himself may face mental and emotional instability, may perhaps contemplate suicide, may face the loss of a job or a chance for promotion, his reputation may be destroyed and he may be unwanted in service organizations and other organizations which he may wish to join.”

Very noble words, Mr. Speaker. They were spoken on April 19, 1979, by the member for York Centre (Mr. Stong), the member for Sarnia (Mr. Blundy) and the member for St. Catharines (Mr. Bradley). We are talking about individual civil servants and individuals in this province whom the members opposite want to compel to attend.

There have been arguments raised about the sovereignty of Parliament, and I agree the Legislature is supreme. We have a responsibility as a Legislature, as a matter of fundamental respect for the citizens of this province, to be cautious and careful in the exercise of our legislative power. I would like again to quote a couple of paragraphs for the members of this House.

“...the doctrine of supremacy of Parliament has attributes of fundamental importance to this commission:

“(1) In a matter of pure law, as long as it stays within the power conferred on it under the BNA Act, the Legislature has power to take away or curtail any of the rights that an individual may have, and in strict law it is not required to provide any compensation for the rights taken away or curtailed.”

We also believe: “The ultimate control of the legislative power of the Legislature of Ontario, within its constitutional limits, rests with the electors. In theory the direct exercise and control of power in the Legislature is in the charge of the elected representatives who are responsible for the policies of our legal and government system.”


The Acting Speaker: Order, please. The member for Cochrane South has the floor.

5:30 p.m.

Hon. Mr. Pope: It does not matter, Mr. Speaker. They never have listened. I understand.

“Under our parliamentary system a direct curtailment of liberties of individuals without their personal consent and without remedial compensation by a law enacted by the Legislature is presumed in theory to be justified in the general interests of the community. In theory, this is a premise upon which the democratic process under the parliamentary system is based. The reasoning is that a majority of the elected representatives who come from all areas, that groups and interests in the community are subject to the restraining influences of a vocal and informed opposition and that the proceedings of the Legislature are in public, are reported and commented upon by responsible and informed media of general communication. It is presumed that the majority of the legislators will work within the standards of justice and propriety generally recognized throughout the community so as to avoid onerous actions taking away or changing the rights of an individual or group, unless clearly justified in the general interest.”

Further along:

“Where the Legislature unnecessarily gives up control and fails to provide proper safeguards for the rights of the individual there is the possibility of an unjustified encroachment on those rights.”

And again:

“Such authority is generally conferred to be exercised in particular circumstances as a matter of convenience or it may be exercised having in mind policy considerations... Therefore the exercise of administrative authority may be a departure from the principle that legislative power should be exercised or controlled by the Legislature and also a departure from the basic constitutional concept of the rule of law...”

Again further along:

“Where power is conferred to take away or change rights of individuals without all practical safeguards, the mere existence of the power undermines the security of all rights that may be affected and is an encroachment on those rights. Sir Ivor Jennings, discussing the possible contraction of the ‘freedom of the individual’ during the war, said: ‘...Individually liberty is not so much a question of legal remedies as of government power. There has been no limitation of the remedies available to the citizen but his liberty has been restricted because governmental powers have increased.’

“The term ‘right’ could be substituted for ‘remedies’ in this quotation...”

The very important matters of the liberties of the individual within this province were further discussed. The most essential and fundamental characteristic of the courts of justice is that they be independent. The Magna Carta of the British judicial system, the Act of Settlement, was won only after hundreds of years of struggle and two revolutions to secure protection against arbitrary power exercised by or on behalf of the crown.

The caption of the act in its recitals not only describes its purpose but constitutes in some measure a declaration of the rights of the individual.

It is also important that impartiality reign in the courts, and I wish to quote from Viscount Cave:

“My lords, if there is one principle which forms an integral part of the English law, it is that every member of a body engaged in a judicial proceeding must be able to act judicially; and it has been held over and over again that if a member of such a body is subject to a bias (whether financial or other) in favour of or against either party to the dispute or is in such a position that a bias must be assumed, he ought not to take part in the decision or even sit upon the tribunal. This rule has been asserted, not only in the case of the courts of justice and other justice tribunals, but in the case of authorities which, through in no sense to be called courts, have to act as judges of the rights of others.

“From the above rule it necessarily follows that a member of such a body as I have described cannot be both a party and a judge in the same dispute, and that if he has made himself a party, he cannot sit or act as a judge, and if he does so the decision of the whole body will be vitiated.”

We have tried to embody these important principles in our justice system: trials shall take place in public, decisions will be based on evidence and judicial notice of that evidence, reasons for decisions will be given, an opportunity to answer charges will be provided throughout the proceedings, and a right to appeal is available.

We have recognized these important principles in our parliamentary traditions through the ages. Why? Because in 1487, Henry VII, to punish without a jury the misdemeanours of sheriffs’ juries, as well as riots and unlawful assemblies, set up a body. It got its name from the council chamber at Westminster where it met. By the end of the sixteenth century it fell into disrepute, because individuals were not being provided with information on the charges preferred against them, or given a right to answer those charges fully, or to meet their accusers publicly, to meet all the information brought before them publicly and refute it, if they wished. Because it met in camera, it lost its credibility. It had to meet in open court. It also lost its credibility because it tried to coerce. In the same way coercion is being exerted by the Speaker’s warrant, it tried to coerce individuals of society to appear before it and to make confessions. It tried to coerce confessions and documents out of them. That body was the Star Chamber, which is exactly what this committee is becoming.

The member for St. George indicated she believes there are areas in which the sub judice rule applied but, on the other hand, she says she does not believe the Attorney General’s explanation anyway; so she wants it all before her. Some logic. With the opposition parties in control, disorder reigns. Government is government by the opposition. It will do anything it wants. It will abuse its members. It will go on witch-hunts. It will distort political points. It does not matter if the people are trampled on in the consequence. It does not matter to them at all.

We believe the rights of the individual are important. The rights are to have justice, to have a fair trial, to be heard first and foremost in the judicial forum where the public’s rights, including the victim’s rights, will be determined according to a tried and true procedure, according to the rules.

We also believe in the rights of society to a thorough and complete investigation by the police, who have the experience in these investigations, without hasty disclosure which would prejudice intelligence sources, prejudice information, prejudice the preservation of documents and other physical evidence, prejudice the techniques to be used in investigation and prejudice the specific criminal activities we wish to investigate.

I, too, will be happy when justice has its day, when the wrongdoers are punished, when after a fair and full trial all documents in the hands of this government and the federal government are in the hands of this committee. The acting Leader of the Opposition today indicated it was not appropriate for a committee of this House to get involved in the Nakina matter because it was before the courts.

Mr. Nixon: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker: I said in question period there were procedures such as a royal commission which would be better than the committee approach.

Hon. Mr. Pope: The member said a committee of this House was not the appropriate forum for that and asked the Premier to consider a royal commission or some other organization. We will see when Hansard comes out, my friend.

Then we had the member for Ottawa East (Mr. Roy), who said, “How much validity will we have for an inquest? How much validity can there be in continuing an inquest when criminal charges have been laid?” They have already dismissed a House hearing and an inquest procedure where criminal charges have been laid. Criminal charges have been laid in this case and yet they want to continue with Star Chamber activities down in the other room. That is the truth. They want to charge after the bad guys. They do not want to leave it to the police, who have some experience in the investigation end of this. They do not want to leave it to them. They do not want to leave it to the courts to determine on the basis of fair and due process. They want to charge after the bad guys and they do not care whom they hurt in the meantime, whether it be the investors or anyone else. That is the truth of it.

Mr. Breithaupt: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker: The Minister without Portfolio has referred to the actions of a committee of this House as equivalent to the notorious Star Chamber. I think that is an allegation he should immediately withdraw as it is not worthy of a minister of the crown to describe a committee in that light.

Hon. Mr. Pope: In conclusion, I believe these activities are calling into question the processes of the legal system of this province. I want to say to the Leader of the Opposition when I was at Waterloo Lutheran University the first political leader I met was Andrew Thompson. I spent an evening with Andy Thompson and a few other people discussing the political processes of this province. The only advice he gave was that the mistake his party had made in the immediate preceding time was to run on a scandal a day, to try to allege that the crown and the government of this province was on a consistent basis involved in the kinds of things members opposite have accused this government of today. I say to the Leader of the Opposition he is too nice a man to suffer that same fate.

5:40 p.m.

Mr. Foulds: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker: I believe a previous member asked you to rule whether the minister should withdraw the allegation against the committee and its members in reference to the Star Chamber. Am I correct in that? Did you make a ruling?

The Acting Speaker: Yes. I am going to rule in the negative, because I feel the record will speak for itself in regard to what was and was not said. The member did not push for the ruling or press for it. If you are now asking for my ruling, it is in the negative.

Mr. Foulds: Mr. Speaker, are you aware of the proceedings, the history and the processes of the Star Chamber?

The Acting Speaker: Yes, I realize the Star Chamber does not have an enviable record. The member suggested this committee might be acting like the Star Chamber.

Mr. Foulds: Might be? I would suggest that is a very serious allegation for any member of this Legislature to make against fellow members, either individually or collectively.

The Acting Speaker: I do not agree with the member.

Mr. Foulds: One of the fights of parliamentary democracy since the time of Henry VII has been to reverse the processes and secrecy surrounding the operations of the Star Chamber.

The Acting Speaker: I have heard the representations of the member for Port Arthur in the matter. The allegation was not made against any one member nor was it impugning the integrity of any one member, but suggesting that an entire group in this House was acting in such and such a manner. I feel it is the right of the member to express that opinion if that is the way he feels. The record will speak for exactly what was said.

Mr. S. Smith: Mr. Speaker, I think it is very important that the people of Ontario gain a genuine understanding of what has been going on in this House concerning this topic over the last several months. I personally have spent more hours discussing this particular matter and thinking about it than on any of the other more urgent matters before the province and the official opposition. It is a particularly interesting and difficult matter. The opinions I shall express have been reached after very considerable thought and with every bit of sensitivity I am able to muster concerning the importance of the judicial process and our very respected police forces in Ontario.

What we are seeing is a possibly sincere view being expressed by the Attorney General (Mr. McMurtry) regarding what he thinks would be the harm done to the judicial process if the committee is able to obtain the documents it has asked you, Mr. Speaker, to obtain. I suspect, however, after reviewing several months of dialogue on this, after listening to the arguments put forward and considering other aspects of this case, that what we are really seeing is a government dressing itself in the cloak of judicial and investigative responsibility and doing so in a rather clumsy attempt to avoid serious embarrassment.

I ask you to consider the origin of this matter, Mr. Speaker. We have had a situation where hundreds of investors have found themselves losing in many instances their entire life savings. In many instances, these are elderly and handicapped people who have lost their life savings in what I suppose can best be regarded as a scam. Interestingly, the front for the scam, a trust company, is under federal licence, but while the federal government appears to have licensed the front for the scam, the provincial government licensed the scam itself.

You might say, Mr. Speaker, that this is the kind of thing that could happen; there might have been a lot of evidence brought in front of the people responsible for giving out these licences in favour of this particular mortgage company. Yet the province itself takes pride in the fact that it knew better than to license the trust company. Since the same principals and individuals were involved, one would have to wonder why it would not know better than to license the mortgage company.

In carrying that one step further, the officials had in front of them by their own admission a judgement by a respected judge in this province, pointing out that in its previous incarnation the mortgage company, operated by these same individuals -- and I recall the words used by the judge -- “treated the investors’ money without regard to fiduciary obligations,” in other words, as though it was their own money. They did with it as they liked without keeping in mind the responsibility one has to investors.

One can only say it is frankly incredible that not 13 days after one mortgage company, operated by these same people that the province refused the trust company licence to, goes under and has this statement made about it by the judge, the ministry licensed the same people in another mortgage company to do the same thing over again.

Understandably, we in the opposition have been asked by hundreds of people who are now ruined, whose lifetime of hard work and saving has simply gone down this dastardly drain, to do something to help them. We asked several months ago of the minister responsible, “Will you try to help these people?” and the minister told us repeatedly, “This is not for us. This, you understand, is a federal matter. It is covered by deposit insurance of the trust companies and, since they thought they were putting their money in a trust company, it is really a matter we can do nothing about provincially. We had nothing to do with it. It will all be handled by certain federal authorities, including the deposit insurance company.” Basically, he washed his hands of any provincial responsibility in this matter.

We in the opposition believe we have a serious responsibility to ascertain whether there was -- and, frankly, this is the only thing that entered my mind -- abysmally bad judgement and very poor quality control exerted by the people who hand out these licences. That was the question I had in my mind. I may be a little naive, but it honestly never entered my mind that the people who handed out the licences might have somehow been influenced by some dishonest practice to hand out the licence. I honestly felt, in this instance, it was simply massive incompetence.

We wanted, therefore, to have this incompetence drawn to light so that, as the member for Riverdale (Mr. Renwick) pointed out, there would be some recourse open to these investors who lost their money, there would be some recourse open to these elderly people so they could come to the province, and the government would have to admit that it did, indeed, have something to do with it, whether merely through incompetence or whatever, and that it had something to do with the law. That is what we were after.

We asked question after question, but we were given no answer. Finally, we asked, “All right, will you show us the documents that were in the hands of the people when they decided to give out the licence?” The Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations (Mr. Drea) said, “I will be happy to do that.” He went further than that. He said, “When you get them, you will see how wrong you are. It will blow you out of the water,” or one of the characteristic, colourful phrases for which he is well known.

5:50 p.m.

We waited for the documents and, lo and behold, the Attorney General apparently advised the minister he was not to release the documents. We could not have those documents. We are now speaking six, seven or eight months after the fact, with all the time that has passed, after time to investigate, after discussions in estimates, after weeks of telling us the province could not possibly have been negligent and could not possibly have been responsible for any of this.

First, we were told it could affect the case against Mr. Montemurro. Then we were told it was a civil case. Then we were told it was sub judice. Finally, they trotted out the argument that those very documents, and presumably the people who issued licences based on those documents, were now themselves, according to what was said by the Attorney General, apparently the subject of a criminal investigation. Six, seven or eight months afterwards we were told it was far from the province’s having no responsibility at all, far from being ready to blow us out of the water if we ever saw the documents.

It suddenly turned out we were to believe the very people who issued those, or had something to do with the documentation which went into the decision to issue them, might themselves now be the subject of possible criminal charges. We were told we could not look at any of those documents, that we would have to wait. The Attorney General says, “If you wait a week, I will tell you how long I think the investigation might have to go on.” It has already gone on eight months. What great news will we be given in one week’s time?

There is a contradiction in what the minister has said. If he were here, perhaps he would correct it. Somebody might ask him to do so. In Instant Hansard he said something different from what is in his printed text. What he said in Instant Hansard today, as opposed to the printed text he issued is this: “As part of the statement which I attempted to read to the committee yesterday but was prevented from doing so, I said that the matter, and I don’t have a copy of it before me, but I indicated that it may well be by Wednesday of next week that the criminal investigation would have been completed, at least so far as this aspect of the matter was concerned.”

That is interesting because later on in the printed text he does not say it would have been completed by Wednesday. He said simply that by next Wednesday he would be in a position to tell us when -- I think he used the term “as best as humanly possible to determine” -- the investigation of these matters might be completed. So there is a contradiction. I am not sure if he is saying it will be finished by next Wednesday, or if by next Wednesday he will be in a position to tell us when it will be finished. He said both during the course of his statement. I ask you, Mr. Speaker, to draw this to his attention.

Why should we stand back after all these months? Why should we stand back and permit the government essentially to cover itself so it need not suffer embarrassment? Let the record be clear. No one on this side of the House accused anyone in the ministry of dishonesty in the issuing of this licence. Let us be clear. It is the Attorney General of Ontario who has come into this House and said there is a criminal investigation into the issuance of the licence and into the documents pertaining to the issuance of the licence.

It is he, therefore, who is suggesting that in the very issuance of the licence there might have been criminal activity. Not a soul on this side of the House has ever made that suggestion. We see only prima facie evidence of massive incompetence. Whether the incompetence can be explained by corruption is not something we have ever suggested. It is conceivable, but it is certainly not what we have suggested. If it turns out that way from the criminal investigation, we will be as shocked as anybody else. The fact of the matter is we have never made any such accusation. Let the record be very clear on that.

What we do say, however, is there seems to be massive incompetence and the explanation for that incompetence will have to be gained by other investigations. We do not see a committee of the House as the proper place to conduct a criminal investigation. Clearly, that is not the function of a committee of the House. A committee of the House should discover if the interests of the public of Ontario were being well protected by the people who report to the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations. That is our job. It is too bad if people in the Ontario Securities Commission think they are somehow above such scrutiny, or if people within the ministry do not wish to come under such scrutiny. We are the highest court in this province and we have every right, every duty and every obligation to look into the way in which the minister has or has not been protecting the interests of the people of Ontario.

Instead of this clumsy attempt to cover up any embarrassment which it might have to suffer, the government would be much better off simply to tell us that some of the documents we want to see and some of the witnesses we want to speak to are very material to the question of whether criminality intervened in the issuance of the licence. All they have to do is say that is one of the problems and we will understand. We have no obligation to stand down in the face of a police investigation; it is not an obligation of this House to stand down simply because an investigation is going on. We have no obligation. However, most of us wish to be co-operative and, if the Attorney General would flag certain documents, tell us about certain witnesses and share certain information, the committee might well agree that those documents should be examined under tight scrutiny and tight security and only in camera. We can understand that and we are prepared to co-operate with the police.

The matter has been going on for eight months. Any person with common sense must come to one of two conclusions about the police investigation with regard to the issuance of the licence. One: the police have been trying for eight months to find evidence of criminality in the issuance of the licence and have failed to do so. If that is the case, I hardly think we ought to wait another eight months in case they manage to find evidence later on. Two: the police have not been trying for a very long time to make the connection and want to start to do so now that we have declared our interest in finding out whether there was incompetence or negligence in issuing the licence.

As we seek to find out whether there was incompetence or negligence, we will perhaps speak to some of the same people, ask some of the same questions and look at some of the same documents, as a policeman might in his search for the answer to the question of whether there was criminality in the issuance of the licence.

We are prepared to do nothing that would impede the access of the police to witnesses or information. We are prepared to allow the Attorney General to flag that information, to hear any such people in camera and to have consultation with the law officers of the crown before speaking to any such witnesses so that the law officers may advise us of certain lines of questioning that may be counter-productive to police investigation.

We are prepared to be co-operative, but there is no reason in the world why the Legislature of Ontario, elected as we have been to protect the interests of the people of Ontario, should be party to any attempt on the part of the government, however clothed in the fine silk of alleged respect for the system of justice, to cover up its potential embarrassment at having failed to protect the people of Ontario from dreadful and heinous losses. We have a right and we will exercise that right in the committee of the Legislature.

The House recessed at 6 p.m.