32nd Parliament, 1st Session




























The House met at 2 p.m.



Mr. Speaker: As the members may have noticed, I entered the chamber today from the side rather than by way of the main entrance. It is my understanding that the way the Speaker enters this chamber is his prerogative, and I prefer what was until recently the tradition of this House, that is, to enter from the side.

I realize that a recommendation came from the procedural affairs committee during the last parliament, but I regard that as a recommendation at the request of the Speaker for the opinion of a committee of that parliament to that parliament, and I personally prefer our own tradition. However, if any members wish to send me a note regarding this matter, I will be pleased to consider their opinions. Thank you.



Hon. Mr. Davis: Mr. Speaker, I am not used to that sort of reception, but once it started, I looked across the House to see what degree of unanimity one might achieve.

I fully understand the reluctance of the members opposite to join in. I am not offended, neither do I take it in any way in a personal sense.


Hon. Mr. Davis: I would only say to the member for Niagara Falls (Mr. Kerrio) not to provoke me today or I will recall the events of March 19. I have no intention of doing so today.


Hon. Mr. Davis: I would think the member for Rainy River (Mr. T. P. Reid) should be even more nervous than the member for Niagara Falls.

Mr. Speaker, I rise in my place this afternoon to pay tribute to the former Speaker of this House, the member for Lake Nipigon (Mr. Stokes). In my view the former Speaker performed an invaluable service as Speaker of this assembly and as an arbitrator of the proceedings and rules that govern our debates in this House. He did so with a sense of fairness, of balance and of determination which served the interests of the people of this province as well as members of this assembly.

This assembly represents, for better or worse, all the citizens of this province and the choices they have made about the representation they have selected. None of us is perfect. All of us are sometimes prone to forget the basic and fundamental respect for each other's right of expression in this House. One or two of us on occasion may even have tested the patience of members in terms of the length of some of our replies to the penetrating questions that were asked. The role of Speaker is to bring order to our deliberations so that despite our partisan divisions, despite those controversies that may prevail, we are able, as a people's parliament, to choose and decide on their behalf.

The member for Lake Nipigon not only did that job admirably, but he has set an example that all who follow will want to emulate, not only in this Legislature, but in other legislatures of this country. He has earned the respect, the gratitude and the friendship of all members of the assembly, our predecessors who are no longer with us, and through his example I think he has strengthened the institution of Speaker.

On behalf of the members on this side of the House, I wish to express to him, through you, Mr. Speaker, our profound gratitude. Whatever partisan divisions may now divide us, I want him to know that, sitting to your left, Mr. Speaker, the member for Lake Nipigon has 70 admirers on your right. There was nothing philosophical in my reference to the fact that the member for Lake Nipigon is sitting on your left, Mr. Speaker. I would never introduce that into these remarks.

May I also take this opportunity, of course, to express our thanks from this side of the House to the member for Perth (Mr. Edighoffer) who as Deputy Speaker during the last session discharged his responsibilities so well. The standards of parliamentary debate that prevailed had a lot to do with the kind of role that distinguished member played in the Legislature over the past few years. I think other members will concur with me when I also express our appreciation to the former member for Humber, Mr. MacBeth, for his distinguished service as Deputy Chairman of the committees of the whole House.

2:10 p.m.

While I am on my feet, may I extend my personal congratulations to the member for Hamilton West (Mr. Smith), to the member for Ottawa Centre (Mr. Cassidy), to all of the members sitting opposite who were successful on March 19, although with numbers somewhat reduced. Mr. Speaker, you will understand why I might say with some pride that I would also like to congratulate and extend my best wishes to this rather large and distinguished group on this side of the House.

Mr. Smith: Mr. Speaker, with only half as many, you have to clap twice as loud, unfortunately.

I certainly want to rise to join with the Premier in paying tribute to the previous Speaker, the member for Lake Nipigon. I enjoyed serving under your predecessor, Mr. Speaker; I believe he raised the level of Speakership in the traditions of our assembly. He was truly nonpartisan in the way he conducted the role.

I confess that from time to time I may have disagreed with the occasional decision he made, particularly when he would demand that the Leader of the Opposition get to the point. I seldom understood why he would insist on something as difficult as that, but he did. I sometimes felt that he might have asked the Premier to get to the point a little sooner, but that would have been asking for the impossible, I suspect.

I do feel, however, that what the Premier has said about the member for Lake Nipigon is absolutely true. I believe he has served us selflessly. I believe he has served us not only in the chamber but as a spokesman among his fellow Speakers, among Commonwealth Speakers.

In dealing with various delegations of a parliamentary nature from other parts of Canada and the world, I can say that he has always conducted himself with great dignity and has brought considerable credit to Ontario and to the Legislature of Ontario. In fact, so much do I agree with what the Premier has said about the member for Lake Nipigon that I might even, without any disrespect to yourself, sir, wonder aloud as to why this worthy gentleman was not reappointed to the job.

I personally believe he served this Legislature extremely well. All of us are proud to be associated with him as members of this House and we certainly wish him all the best in any other role which may come his way as time passes. I know that members join with me in that.

With regard to the former Deputy Speaker (Mr. Edighoffer), he has taken on a far more difficult role now in terms of having to keep order and decorum. He is now the chairman of the Liberal caucus. I can only say that the experience he has gained in this House while sitting in the chair which you occupy, Mr. Speaker, has at least been a minor league preparation for the task which he now has before him every Tuesday at caucus; an apprenticeship indeed.

Certainly, I also want to pay tribute to Mr. MacBeth who is a person for whom I have the greatest personal respect.

As I did on television on the night of the election, I congratulate the Premier and I congratulate all members of this House on achieving election to this House, some with razor thin majorities, others with huge, whopping majorities despite my best efforts, and maybe in one or two instances because of those best efforts.

Mr. Hennessy: That's right.

Mr. Smith: Gratitude is showing itself in many ways.

I wish all members on all sides well and I look forward to the conduct of the present session of the Legislature.

Mr. Cassidy: Mr. Speaker, I think this is a moment to be savoured. It is a moment of calm before the partisan storms begins to burst on this assembly.

I want to join the Premier and the leader of the official opposition in saying some words of tribute to my colleague and my friend, the member for Lake Nipigon, who I believe will go down in the history of Ontario as the finest Speaker to serve this Legislature during the life of the Conservative government since 1943. His appointment as the first opposition MPP to be the Speaker of the Ontario Legislature was an innovation. He will be remembered as the Speaker who presided over this chamber during a period of great innovation in the Ontario Legislature, and as a Speaker who himself was responsible for encouraging and for introducing many of those innovations.

He has played an enormous role in restoring respect for the chair in our Legislature, a Legislature which at times has had a certain reputation for being almost unruly, if not vigorous; and he has done so because of the firmness and determination that he brought to the job in the three and a half years that he held it since October 17, 1977.

There were times, I confess, when his colleagues from the New Democratic caucus felt that the member for Lake Nipigon was ruling with an exceptionally firm hand. I understand that members of other caucuses also felt that at times, because that was in the nature of the job as the member for Lake Nipigon chose and saw his duty to carry it out, that is that Mr. Speaker should be independent and should be impartial, and that he had a task to uphold the tradition, not just for this Legislature but for parliamentary assemblies everywhere. The independence of the speakership of a parliamentary assembly is absolutely vital in our democratic form of government. Mr. Speaker, it was a service that the member for Lake Nipigon gave, to affirm and to reaffirm every day that he sat in your chair, that principle of independence and of impartiality.

We have seen great changes in this place in the three and a half years since the member for Lake Nipigon assumed the chair. The control of the legislative building is finally being transferred to the Speaker, and that, I believe, is something that must not be lost sight of.

The administration of the office of the services of the Legislature is now in the hands of Mr. Speaker and of the Board of Internal Economy, and even though the board is controlled by government members, it is a tripartite board, and it is a board of members of the Legislature, whereas in the past the legislative services were controlled by the government.

We have seen dramatic changes in the rules, including innovations which are almost without precedent in legislatures across the world, in terms of the use of private members' hour.

We have seen substantial use of Speaker's warrants, particularly in the select committee on plant shutdowns and layoffs, once again, where the power of the Legislature through the Speaker was being exercised and being exercised effectively.

We have had a complete reform and rebuilding of the legislative library.

All of these were in part the product of minority government, but the member for Lake Nipigon had the wisdom and the foresight to help make them happen. In addition to that, he is responsible for a number of innovations personally, ranging from the daily Speaker's parade, which was modelled after Westminster, after Mr. Speaker visited the mother of parliaments, to the annual Christmas party which was introduced by the member for Lake Nipigon and which brought together not just the Premier and members of this Legislature, but every one of the people who make the Legislature possible, from the cleaners and the cooks and the secretaries and legislative assistants to the cabinet ministers and leaders of the three parties, bringing the legislative family together at least once during the year, a tradition which I hope will continue.

The most important legacy however, which the member for Lake Nipigon leaves, is the manner in which he upheld the independence of this Legislature. That is a legacy that Ontario cannot afford to lose.

I would like to join with the Premier and with the Leader of the Opposition in also paying tribute to the member for Perth (Mr. Edighoffer) and to the former member for Humber, Mr. MacBeth, for the role that they played as Deputy Speakers and as the chairmen of committees over the course of the last parliament. Nothing, in my view, would commend the new Speaker to the Legislature more than that he and his Deputy Speaker and chairman of committees would seek to carry out their duties with the same independence, firmness and impartiality which have been demonstrated over the period of their tenures by my colleague from Lake Nipigon, and the member for Perth and the former member for Humber.

2:20 p.m.

I would also like to join in congratulating all members of this Legislature on their arrival in this place. To the rather large number who are gracing the back row of the Conservative benches, I can assure them that they may be here only once. They may wonder, after a few weeks, why they came here at all. Nonetheless as participants and as fellow MPPs, they are welcome.

I would in particular like to say a word of tribute on behalf of my colleagues who retired or were defeated in the course of the election campaign, and who served this Legislature, this province and their party with ability, energy and determination. They served this province well, and I believe that they will be missed in the life of the 1981 parliament, as will those members of the Liberal and Conservative parties who took their retirement by choice, or were defeated in the recent election.

Mr. Stokes: Mr. Speaker, first of all I want to congratulate you personally, sir, on your election to the highest and what I consider to be the most important office in this assembly. It will not be an easy task. You will be tried. You will need an abundance of patience and your usual good humour in order to survive.

I feel you have all of the qualifications to carry out the onerous responsibilities you will have as the chief presiding officer, as the chairman of the Board of Internal Economy and as president of the Ontario branch of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association. You have an excellent bank of human resources with you and behind you that will stand you in good stead. I am sure that has been something which has been made quite clear to you just in the two days in which you have held this honourable office.

I want to offer to you personally, sir, any support, moral or otherwise, that I can give you in this onerous task. We have had some discussions within the last 48 hours and I want to say publicly that if I can assist you in any way, you know where you can reach me.

I also join with my colleagues who have already spoken in paying tribute to a very close and dear friend who has stood with me and by me during the past three and a half years, the honourable member for Perth (Mr. Edighoffer), for his service, dedication and sense of purpose in the office of Deputy Speaker and Chairman of the committee of the whole House, as well as to our colleague, the former member for Humber, John MacBeth. It was as a result of their support and encouragement that I was effective in carrying out the duties of Speaker.

There were many others, Mr. Speaker, the table officers in particular, who were of very great assistance to me in carrying out my duties, especially those dealing with procedural matters. To them, I am forever grateful.

One person in particular who has served well, in every sense of the word, not only this Legislature, but the people in Ontario, is the secretary of the Ontario branch of the CPA, namely, John Holtby. I think we all owe him, personally, a great debt of gratitude for the way in which he has carried out the responsibilities of our liaison with the Commonwealth family of nations. The Leader of the Opposition referred to that aspect of the Speaker's responsibilities and the activities and the role played by Ontario as a member of the Commonwealth family, and I would like to pay particular tribute to John Holtby for the contribution he has made in that regard.

I would also like to thank the Sergeant-at-Arms, Tom Stelling, for the supportive role he has played in making my task a lot easier. I must apologize to him personally for not having looked after him in a much better way, and I hope that is something you will be able to resolve, Mr. Speaker, in a way that I was not able to.

Mr. Stelling now occupies a small room just to the west of the Amethyst Room on the main floor of this building. He shares that room with his secretary and with Mr. Michael O'Neill, who is now the manager of parliamentary and public relations on our behalf. We can only do so much with the space we have but that is one of the things I feel badly about having left undone. I am sure that you, Mr. Speaker, will look after that particular problem at your earliest opportunity.

I also want to pay particular tribute to the security staff in this building, particularly the assembly platoon, who under very trying circumstances have stood us in good stead, have carried out their duties with decorum and in a true sense being good public relations personnel on our behalf. Under very trying circumstances they have performed yeoman service on our behalf, and for that I thank them.

I would also like to pay tribute to Mr. Robert Fleming, our director of administration for the Office of the Legislative Assembly and all his staff; and the members of the Board of Internal Economy, representing on that board all members of the Legislature.

This is the first opportunity I have had to pay tribute to someone who served long and hard in a very dedicated fashion on our behalf, namely, Mr. Bill Wilson, who was our director of personnel and passed away shortly after Christmas. There was not an opportunity for any of us to state publicly how much we appreciated the service he performed with us, for us, and on our behalf. I think I would have been remiss if I had not made mention of that fact at the earliest possible moment.

I would also like to pay tribute to Mr. Brian Land, who is our director of library information and research services. I am sure that all the old members and some of the new members will appreciate the services that are now available on the fourth floor. They will shortly be in the inner core of the basement, in the north wing. Some of them, because of the shortage of space, will have to be located on the sixteenth floor of the Hydro building.

We have an excellent group of people in our library research and information services. I think a good deal of the credit goes to Mr. Brian Land for having provided that service to us. I felt it incumbent to mention that to members.

I would also like to mention publicly the excellent relationship I had with the Office of the Ombudsman, who reported to this assembly through the Speaker's office, and also to the Commission on Election Contributions and Expenses, the chief election officer, who is also our Clerk, and the provincial auditor. It was as a result of the very close relationship I had with all those people that I was able to carry out my duties as Speaker on the members' behalf.

I would like to say it is unfortunate that all members of the assembly could not have the opportunity I have had, in the way I have had, over the past three and a half years. It is an experience that I value highest among all my experiences. It is one that has broadened my horizons somewhat. It has more than anything else taught me to be a good listener. I would like to say a personal thanks to everyone who has supported me in any way possible. It was an experience I will never forget. I want to thank all the members here for their support, their encouragement and for making that experience possible. Thank you very much.


2:30 p.m.

Mr. Speaker: As Speaker of this assembly, while everyone is in such a good mood I am not going to let this opportunity go by without taking advantage of it to pass along to the member for Lake Nipigon officially the best wishes of the Premier, the Leader of the Opposition and the leader of the New Democratic Party.

I would also like to add my own best wishes and congratulations and pay tribute to you for the work you did, and for the help which you have been so generous in giving me.

To the member for Perth (Mr. Edighoffer) and, of course, to the former member for Humber, Mr. MacBeth, I would like to extend the best wishes of the three leaders and myself. Thank you very much.



Hon. Mr. Wells: Mr. Speaker, I would like to indicate to the House that on tomorrow's Notice Paper I hope to have motions standing in my name which will propose to re-establish a standing committee structure which will be virtually identical to the system in the last parliament. Only the size and, of course, the parties' ratio of members will be different.

The motions that are on the paper will not refer to any select committees. However, I would like to inform the members that it is the government's intention to move to establish certain select committees shortly before we adjourn for the summer recess, so that these bodies might take up special responsibilities to be assigned to them over the summer recess.

I might say that at this time we are contemplating a revival of the select committee on company law, the select committee on the Ombudsman and, as indicated in the throne speech, the appointment of a select committee to examine various proposals for pension reform. It may be that additional committees will be appropriate and if so, and if it is considered wise to establish them, they will be considered before the summer recess.

I also want to indicate to the House today with respect to some of the business of the last parliament, firstly that the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations (Mr. Walker) will today be making a statement on the future of the last parliament's annual report referral to the standing committee on administration of justice of what has been called the Re-Mor matter.

In addition, there are consultations under way as to how this House might have brought before it the work of the former select committee on plant shutdowns so that this House can consider that work. Further, as the Minister of Labour (Mr. Elgie) has already announced, he will be introducing a bill dealing with certain matters studied by the select committee on plant shutdowns and this bill will be considered, of course, not only by this House but at the appropriate standing committee, again giving opportunity for full discussion of these matters.

I might also inform the House, Mr. Speaker, that we are considering bringing the report of the last parliament's standing committee on administration of justice on the Ontario Housing Corporation and local housing authorities to the House for discussion.

While I am on my feet, Mr. Speaker, although I realize it is not completely proper, I think etiquette would dictate that I draw to your attention that in the Speaker's gallery there is a group of legislative interns from the state of Ohio who are here for a few days to study and consult with many of our legislators and legislative people here. I am sure, Mr. Speaker, you would want that this House would warmly welcome them to our proceedings.

Mr. Speaker: I just want to add my best wishes and recognize the interns from Ohio and also welcome them to Ontario and, particularly, to this assembly. Thank you very much.


Hon. Mr. McCague: Mr. Speaker, in accordance with the House rules, I am today tabling the special warrants approved while the Legislature was not in session. Copies of these special warrants have been placed in the postal box of each member.

A special warrant is an order under section 4 of the Management Board of Cabinet Act, signed by the Lieutenant Governor, authorizing expenditures of an urgent nature for which no appropriation exists, and is permissible only when the Legislature is not in session. It differs from a management board order primarily in that an MBO may only increase the spending levels of an appropriation that already exists, whereas the special warrant has the effect of creating a new appropriation.

The two special warrants that were approved were both of an urgent nature that could not be delayed until the current session of the Legislature, since authority for making payments had to be in place on April 1 for the beginning of the new fiscal year. Normally these payments would be made upon a motion of interim supply being adopted by the Legislature. Each minister has requested an amount based on the anticipated cash flow for the first three months of the fiscal year. When the 1981-82 expenditure estimates are tabled, the amount provided by special warrant will be deducted from the amount to be voted.

For particulars concerning these special warrants, I would suggest that questions be directed to each minister.


Hon. Mr. Walker: As the new Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations, I wish to advise the House on the government's plans to deal with the various issues arising out of the financial collapses of Astra Trust, Re-Mor Investment Management Corporation and related companies.

The various issues to be considered fall quite logically into three groupings. First, there are the issues related to the Astra/Re-Mor investors. The basic question in respect of these issues is what the government intends to do about the claims being made for compensation. Second, there are the issues related to the general administration of laws affecting mortgage brokers and related financial institutions. The basic question in this respect is what administrative or legislative changes are necessary to avoid the recurrence of another Astra/Re-Mor situation. Third, there are the circumstances that have led to the laying of criminal charges.

Dealing first with the concerns of the Astra/Re-Mor investors, some members will recall that, at the dissolution of the last parliament, efforts were being made to resolve the claims for compensation by following two quite different courses of action. Pursuant to undertakings made by the Premier (Mr. Davis), by the Attorney General (Mr. McMurtry) and by my predecessor, the member for Scarborough Centre (Mr. Drea), the law officers of the crown have been attempting to expedite the lawsuits that have been brought against the crown and the former registrar of mortgage brokers.

It was hoped that several representative test cases could be agreed upon and brought to trial at an early date. Under this proposal, the Ontario government will pay the legal costs of counsel for the Astra/Re-Mor investors in the test cases and, by reaching an agreement with the counsel for the investors on the facts and issues, the usual drawn out and costly processes that seem inevitably to accompany civil litigation will be avoided. The results of these test cases will provide guidance for the resolution of all the claims against the crown.

This process was initiated in recognition of the government's responsibility, as clearly stated by the Premier, to act justly, not only in its dealings with the claimants but also in the discharge of its responsibility to the public at large.

Because of the federal government's responsibility for Astra Trust, a fair determination of the extent of the province's liability can only be made if there is a determination of the federal government's liabilities. Unfortunately, it is not possible to add the federal government as a party to these test cases, and any judicial determination of the federal liability can only be made in a separate set of cases in a federal court. The federal crown law officers have made it clear to our crown law officers that they expect the province to rely on all its legal defences against the claims of the investors.

This means, if the province does not rely on its legal rights in these cases, the federal crown will resist payment of any claim against it for contribution to the investors on the ground that the province did not properly defend itself. This attitude has made it much more difficult to reach agreement with the counsel for the investors on the issues that should be argued in the test cases.

2:40 p.m.

At the same time as the provincial crown law officers have been attempting to expedite the legal processes, officials of my ministry have been attempting to find common ground with the federal Department of Insurance and the Canada Deposit Insurance Corporation that would allow a fair and just negotiated settlement of the claim with the Astra/ Re-Mor investors.

Our negotiations were in part based on recommendations made by the receiver-manager and trustee in bankruptcy of Re-Mor. As an independent person charged with winding up the affairs of Re-Mor, the receiver-manager had been advised by his legal counsel that there was a substantial basis upon which the federal Department of Insurance and the Canada Deposit Insurance Corporation might be found liable for the claims of the investors.

Our offer to open negotiations on the basis of the receiver-manager's observations and suggestions has not been accepted by the federal officials. Instead the federal officials are waiting for an opinion from their legal advisers before making any commitment. This was the position taken in February and today, some two months later, we are still waiting for the federal officials to advise us of their legal position on the investors' claims. Faced with these circumstances in which both of the provincial initiatives to obtain an expeditious result have been hampered by the lack of federal government cooperation, let me now state our position clearly.

The government wishes to reaffirm its offer to expedite the legal proceedings and to pay the legal costs of test cases. The crown law officers in the Ministry of the Attorney General will renew their efforts in this regard and take all reasonable steps to facilitate an early trial of the cases. The province will use its legal defences in the argument of these cases so that if it should subsequently be necessary to sue the federal government, we will not then be met with the criticism that we did not properly defend the interests of the provincial taxpayer. At the same time we will continue to pursue discussions with federal authorities and the receiver-manager in regard to any and all possibilities that could lead to a fair and equitable solution to the investors' financial position.

Turning to the second group of issues related generally to the administration of laws affecting mortgage brokers and other financial institutions, we believe this is an area that requires an in-depth review. The Astra/Re-Mor collapse raises a number of questions about the registration and control of mortgage brokers and other financial agents.

When the Mortgage Brokers Act was originally passed in 1960, the problem being addressed was the unfair terms under which mortgage funds were lent to borrowers. The problems before us today are the investment practices of mortgage brokers that may put funds they are dealing with for investors at an undisclosed risk. In other words, the focus of our attention has moved from ways to protect the borrower of mortgage moneys to ways to protect the investor in mortgages. Our preliminary review of the various investment practices indicates that at least four acts could be involved in a review of these practices.

Certain types of syndicated mortgages and practices involved in marketing such syndications result in trading in securities. However, the present legislation in some circumstances exempts such trading from control under the Securities Act. The question can be properly asked to what extent should these exemptions in the Securities Act be reviewed.

Some of the investment procedures involve mortgage brokers in situations where for all practical purposes an individual is acting very much like a loan and trust officer. However, since it is an individual person rather than a corporate person, the Loan and Trust Companies Act does not apply. The question therefore arises, is there a need to bring such arrangements under that act?

Some other recent financial difficulties have involved related companies acting in concert in a way that avoided the Mortgage Brokers Act and the Loan and Trust Companies Act. Should these arrangements be more closely regulated and should the Business Corporations Act be amended to stop these practices?

An alternative to more regulation that should be looked at is less regulation, coupled with fuller disclosure requirements. Would the Astra/Re-Mor investors have been more cautious if there had been a requirement of a clear warning of risk on all documents issued in respect of noninsured investments?

Would the system be more effective if we did not require the registration of mortgage brokers who provided their services as an adjunct to other professional services, such as lawyers and accountants, and if we tightened up on the qualifications of those who are registered or licensed by the province to operate as a financial intermediary? Can we improve the system by prohibiting a wider range of non arm's-length investments and intercompany dealings by trust companies, mortgage brokers and related companies?

Should there be a very basic review of the actual and perceived significance of provincial registration of a person or business? A prime purpose of registration is to prevent known undesirable registrants from entering a field and to provide a mechanism for removing them when they are subsequently discovered. If it is now perceived by many that registration provides some form of guarantee, should the government ensure that there is some form of compensation available to make such a guarantee effective? And if a guarantee is to be provided, who should bear the cost, the registrants or the public?

Alternatively, should registration have a more limited significance and greater effort directed towards advising the public of their responsibility to assess the risks they are undertaking? What problems are created by the divided jurisdiction shared by the provincial and federal governments? How can these problems be minimized?

These are some of the questions and issues that the government is going to address in the next few months, and from this review we will be bringing forward our proposals for an improved system for the administration of mortgage brokers and related financial agents and institutions. These proposals could, of course, be reviewed by this House or a committee thereof.

Finally, with regard to the third set of issues, those that have led to the laying of criminal charges, I must of necessity be careful about what I say.

The president of Astra Trust, who was also the president of Re-Mor Investment Management Corporation, has been charged with theft, fraud and conspiracy to steal and to defraud.

Similar charges have been laid against various officers and employees of these companies and a number of other persons involved in the collapse. As I have indicated, it is not appropriate for me to comment further on the charges or to relate them to my earlier comments.


Mr. Speaker, I have a second statement, which deals with the matter of rent control. First, let there be no mistake, rent control will continue. This is a position made abundantly clear --


Mr. Speaker: Order.

Hon. Mr. Walker: -- by the Premier (Mr. Davis) on a number of occasions during the past two weeks. It is a position echoed by me since assuming this post.

Secondly, last Tuesday the Premier, in a meeting with media on other matters, responded to a question about the six per cent ceiling. He said that, in the light of an inflation rate of about 13 per cent and a prime interest rate of 17 per cent, he would not be married to the six per cent rate and that it is conceivable the ceiling could be varied. This is a position I support.

Let me make it clear as minister responsible for the rent control program, there is no review of the matter under way in my ministry. I have not personally reviewed the matter, and to my knowledge, no one in the Ministry of Consumer of Commercial Relations is considering it.

While a variety of observations have been made in the context of interviews on the matter of the ceiling and other areas of fine tuning, any attempt to rouse the public into thinking this program, which is considered to be basically sound, will be dramatically altered is just nonsense and is not justified.


Hon. F. S. Miller: Mr. Speaker, I would like to advise the members of this House that on May 19 at 8 p.m. I will be presenting my budget to this Legislature.

2:50 p.m.

Mr. Nixon: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker, just before the question period begins, I want to bring to your attention that the present standing order 27(b) states as follows:

"The order of oral questions shall start with two questions from the Leader of the Opposition, followed by two questions each from the leader or leaders of the other opposition parties in order of their membership in the House; all parties shall then rotate in questioning, starting with the official opposition."

I am sure you understand, sir, that one of your prime duties is to see that each individual member has a fair and equitable access, not only in question period but in other matters that come before the House. Since there has been a change in the ratio of members, I bring to your attention that if you stick with the order as it has presently been utilized by your predecessors, it will mean that the members of the New Democratic Party will have an unnaturally expanded opportunity in the question period.

I would suggest that you might use your undoubted authority, particularly with the support of all sides, to amend the procedures in that connection so that all members will have a fair, equal and equitable opportunity in this and other matters.

Mr. Speaker: That is an interesting point of order and I certainly shall take it under consideration. Right off the top of my head I would be inclined to refer it to the procedural affairs committee. However, I will certainly consider it. Thank you.

Hon. Mr. Davis: That would be about seven questions for each ministry.

Mr. Nixon: All the Premier's executive assistants would be making up fancy questions for us.




Mr. Smith: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Premier. I would like to quote from the Premier's statement, as reported in the Citizen on March 7, during a recent election campaign, and I want to quote his words on the subject of rent review:

"I just want to make it abundantly clear I said some weeks ago -- I have repeated it since -- that we have no intention of altering the existing rent control program. That is specific. It is definitive."

How does the Premier jibe that statement with the statement just made in this House by the minister responsible for that program?

Hon. Mr. Davis: Mr. Speaker, I have no difficulty whatsoever. I will not even suggest that certain members of his party at public meetings indicated their support for and consideration of alterations, and I am looking at the member for Waterloo North (Mr. Epp), where there was some suggestion made with respect to the ongoing rent review program that quite obviously at some point in time some consideration would have to be given to the parameters that make up the program.

Mr. Peterson: He had the guts to do it before.

Hon. Mr. Davis: I know the position of the member who just interjected. He would do away with rent review altogether. I know that is probably going to be a part of his leadership campaign as he addresses the Liberal delegates. He will be saying, "Elect me leader and there will be no more rent review program." He will probably get his father-in-law's vote for that. He would not go to his meetings.

I have to be very careful in commenting on the total accuracy of that statement, but I made it abundantly clear during the campaign in reply to erroneous, unfair -- and I could even become more extreme -- suggestions by certain still members of this Legislature as to what the policies of the Progressive Conservative Party would be. I made it clear then, and I have made it clear since, that rent control would remain. That has not altered and it will not alter as long as I am the Premier of this government and of this province. I make that clear.

I know that I am not supported by a lot of members opposite. I know that Paul Cosgrove has caused them substantial embarrassment by indicating that we should remove the rent control program, but in spite of Paul Cosgrove, the rent control program will remain.

Mr. Smith: Mr. Speaker, by way of supplementary, since the Premier's statement was, "We have no intention of altering the existing rent control program," and since the six per cent guideline is absolutely fundamental to the present program, can we assume, therefore, that the Premier agrees with his minister that the six per cent guideline is somehow something meaningless?

Why did the Premier not mention during the election, when he tried to give the clear impression that the program would remain unaltered, that he might just change the key element in the program, an element about which we had an election five years ago? Why did he not mention that that element would be changed?

When it comes to telling the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, I guess during election campaigns two out of three is not bad.

Hon. Mr. Davis: Mr. Speaker, if I have made it two out of three times, that is 100 per cent better than the Leader of the Opposition did during the election.

Mr. Cassidy: Mr. Speaker, I want to make a prediction before this House and I will put it in the form of a question. The prediction is that it is only a matter of months before rent control as we know it in Ontario will be taken away by this government, whatever the Premier has to say right now.

He will either increase the six per cent ceiling, or he will go forward with a selective decontrol which has been proposed by the minister responsible, or else he will proceed with the proposals of the minister on the air this morning to take rent control away from apartments renting for more than $400 a month. Which of those three is going to go first?

Hon. Mr. Davis: Mr. Speaker, if the leader of the New Democratic Party is as accurate in the predictions he has made here today as he was before March 19, you will understand just how fallacious those predictions are.

Mr. Peterson: Supplementary, Mr. Speaker: It is absolutely beyond me that the Premier has no shame in this matter. He has hoodwinked everybody in this province and he comes in after the election and changes it. Does that not bother his conscience just a little bit or does he not have one?

Hon. Mr. Davis: I realize the member for London Centre is always concerned about conscience. I can only say to him that he should look at his own conscience in terms of some of the questions he asks and some of the positions he takes publicly and privately, particularly as related to some economic issues.

I will not get into his positions publicly and privately on matters like energy. I know he is campaigning for the leadership of his party so I fully understand the tenor and the nature of the question he has asked.

Mr. Philip: Supplementary, Mr. Speaker: Would the Premier assure the House that any changes in the rent review program would first be put into a paper similar to the green paper on continuing tenant protection which was published in 1978 and go out to committee before any changes in legislation are put through, so that tenant groups and other interested groups can at least have a public input into those changes?

Hon. Mr. Davis: Mr. Speaker, I would only say to the honourable member, and I said this on the day of the discussions with the press over the throne speech, that I cannot give any such commitment because, as I said to the press, I am not contemplating and have not been contemplating any changes to the program.

Mr. Martel: What is the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations doing?

Mr. Cassidy: What is he doing?

Hon. Mr. Davis: Members on this side of the House are charged with the responsibility of running their ministries. They have to give thought to a lot of things. It is time the members opposite started thinking for a change. They would not have had such a diminution in population if they had been thinking a few weeks ago.

I would say to the honourable member who asked the question, if memory serves me correctly, he was one of those at a meeting with tenants who indicated that at some point in time some consideration might have to be given to the six per cent. Correct me if I am wrong. I happen to think he said that.

3 p.m.

Mr. Smith: A final supplementary if I might, Mr. Speaker. Would the Premier put this matter to rest by making a commitment right now that rent review will remain throughout the life of this Legislature until at least the next election?

Hon. Mr. Davis: Mr. Speaker, I give my commitment that rent control will remain as long as I am the Premier of this government, yes.


Mr. Smith: A question for the Premier. All of us heard the Premier give his personal assurances to the Re-Mor investors during the course of the campaign that they would be dealt with fairly and quickly. He said they would not be put through legal hoops of any kind or over legal obstacles of any kind. A quick test case would be arranged and the whole thing would be very simply dealt with.

He was on an open line program that I happened to hear. Now how --


Mr. Smith: I had nothing else to do that day.

Would the Premier now please explain how he can possibly face the people of Ontario in these circumstances? His minister today has used the feeble excuse that if it should sometime be necessary to sue the federal government, it might have been well to have put the Re-Mor investors through all kinds of legal obstacles first, so as to strengthen the province's case. But on that flimsy excuse, is the government now going to put the Re-Mor investors through a difficult and lengthy court process so that these elderly people who have lost their life savings will have to somehow defeat the province using every conceivable legal argument at its disposal? Is it going to do that rather than what it should do?

The government gave them the licence when it should not have given it to them, so it should reimburse the investors and then go and negotiate with the federal government for that money.

Hon. Mr. Davis: Mr. Speaker, the Leader of the Opposition, as is his custom, tends to oversimplify these issues. I know what he said to the Re-Mor investors during the course of the campaign. He would write them a blank cheque.

I was always very frank with the Re-Mor investors. I made it abundantly clear to them. I said it many times -- far more times than he did because they came to more of my meetings than to his. He would have satisfied them and every other group the first time they appeared. He would give away the store.

I made it abundantly clear that as Premier of this province, I have a responsibility --


Hon. Mr. Davis: Of course he would. He was going to give a billion dollars away to a methanol program. Did he ever calculate how much his 60 per cent to Metro of the educational cost would be? It would be 100 per cent in Moosonee. Does he know he would have bankrupted the province?

I was so embarrassed for him we did not even do any calculations. We refer to those as policies from the back of the bus. Bumpy --

Well, never mind. We are debating and I did not mean to do this.

But I am delighted to know he listened to me during the campaign. I never had that opportunity to listen to him because I was out campaigning. I was hard at work. I was enjoying myself.

I said to the Re-Mor investors I would see that every effort is made to expedite what claims they may have. But I also pointed out to them, which is not that easy for me, that I have a responsibility to eight million plus other Ontarians. If the government makes a payment to the Re-Mor investors, then it is the public of this province who is then responsible in terms of the moneys that are paid. And I have to satisfy myself, the government has to satisfy itself, there is a basis for that payment. I made it clear that we would expedite it.

The Attorney General's law officers have met with members of the legal profession. They are prepared to meet again, in fact are initiating it, to find ways and means of expediting it.

The Leader of the Opposition might give the Prime Minister a call. Perhaps he might have done this during the campaign; while he would not have the Prime Minister here for breakfast, I think he will still talk to him. He could ask the Prime Minister to talk to the federal ministers and get them to understand that Astra Trust was very directly involved in this. They should show the same degree of reasonableness the Ontario government is prepared to show, and maybe we could get this issue resolved much more expeditiously.

Let the member give them a call. Let him call them this afternoon and tell them what his point of view is.

Mr. Smith: By way of supplementary: since we have in this instance hundreds of Ontario people who have lost their life savings after a lifetime of hard work in a situation in which the federal government licensed the front for the scam, but in which the Premier and his government erroneously -- and I use that word charitably -- erroneously licensed the scam itself, why is he going to put these investors, who have lost their fortunes through the negligence of this government, why is he going to force them to go through these legal hoops, all kinds of red tape, every conceivable legal argument?

Many of them will die before they receive their money. Why doesn't he pay them the money they deserve and then negotiate on a political basis, not necessarily a legal one, with the federal government, to get a fair share from that government as well? That is what he should do.

Hon. Mr. Davis: With great respect, Mr. Speaker, we have done the latter, and I am just saying to the member, if he really is interested, let him give his federal friends a call and tell them. He should give them a call.

I am glad that he is being charitable. He should have showed a little charity over the last couple of years, he might have done better.

I would only say to the member, this government is committed to seeing that equity is done, but at the same time, we have to have a basis. There has to be a determination of negligence or liability. We are not putting up a lot of red tape. We are not putting up a lot of fictitious defences. We want to see this issue resolved.

I happen to have met a number of these people. I have a respect for them. I am sympathetic. I have told them that. But I have also told them that being Premier is a lot different from being Leader of the Opposition. I have a responsibility to the total community and I am going to discharge that responsibility as I see it.

Mr. Swart: Supplementary, Mr. Speaker: The Premier went much further during his campaign, according to many newspapers, than just saying he would expedite the court proceedings. He made a statement that he would compensate the Re-Mor investors if government negligence in the licensing of Re-Mor is proved.

Is he willing to reaffirm that commitment here today? And recognizing the question before the court is not the proof of negligence but is relative to legal liability, will he ask the court now to determine if there was government negligence and then keep that commitment if the court rules that way?

Hon. Mr. Davis: Mr. Speaker, I do not want the member from Welland-Thorold to become apoplectic. If he will really read what I said carefully or understand what I said carefully, he will see I chose my words very carefully. I said if there was either negligence or liability. That commitment still stands. I said negligence or liability.

Mr. Kerrio: Mr. Speaker, is the Premier aware of the fact that some 15 years ago British Mortgage and Atlantic Acceptance Corporation Limited were licensed by this province and it is just within the last few months that those people in that connection have been given some satisfaction? They were given the promise at that time that it would not happen again.

I wonder if he is familiar with that case and if that is what is going to happen this time again.

Hon. Mr. Davis: Mr. Speaker, I have some modest knowledge of it, although I, being much younger than the honourable member, I do not have the same degree of recollection that he does, but I do not know what relevance that has to this particular issue.


Mr. Cassidy: I have a new question for the Premier with respect to the promise which was made by the Minister of Labour (Mr. Elgie) last December when he said that the government was prepared to introduce severance pay legislation by way of amendment to the Employment Standards Act at the earliest possible time in the next session of the Legislature, presumably at 3:30 p.m. or 4 o'clock this afternoon.

Is the Premier not ashamed that an hour before the throne speech was even read he was disowning that promise which had been made on behalf of the government by the Minister of Labour last December, and will he now tell us whether a promise is a promise with respect to severance pay or not?

Hon. Mr. Davis: Mr. Speaker, I think there is just a little more history to this than the honourable member has suggested. As I recall -- and I am going by recollection -- in answer to the questions in the House, certain statements were made. I think it is also fair to state that, as I recall it, there was some discussion of having the committee, then of the House, continue some of its discussions in January or February with respect to other people who wished to make appearances before the standing committee.

I see the newly elected House leader of the New Democratic Party and I congratulate him on his re-election. I think it is tremendous -- I guess.

3:10 p.m.

Mr. Martel: It hurts, doesn't it?

Hon. Mr. Davis: It doesn't hurt me at all. I understand the member's leader broke the tie.

Mr. Martel: It was even closer than that.

Hon. Mr. Davis: My recollection is that the committee was going to continue its deliberations, that in fact there were still other groups to be heard.

I just want to make it clear -- the member may want to direct a question to the minister himself -- that the government is in the process of preparing legislation for consideration by this House. It will not be today, it will not be necessarily next week -- that is what the minister said -- but it will be in this session.

Mr. Martel: It was what the Premier said on Tuesday.

Mr. Cassidy: Mr. Speaker, the minister in fact said it would be introduced at the earliest possible moment, and since the committee twice unanimously recommended that severance pay should be based on a week of severance pay for every year of service, will the Premier commit the government to that as the basis of the legislation to be presented to the Legislature this spring?

Hon. Mr. Davis: Mr. Speaker, I should perhaps take this opportunity to explain some of the realities of March 19 to the leader of the New Democratic Party. The reality is that certain things have changed.

I am not going to give an undertaking to the leader of the New Democratic Party on the contents of proposed legislation. Traditionally they are made apparent when legislation is introduced, and that is when members will find out what is in it.

I myself do not know, at this point, exactly what will be in it, so I am not going to give any assurances at this moment. Members will see it and will have an opportunity to debate it. I expect that, when sanity returns, the leader of the New Democratic Party may even end up voting for it.

Mr. Smith: Supplementary, Mr. Speaker: If this is a matter where the government has every intention of following through on its promise, unlike the matter of Re-Mor or rent review; if in this instance the Premier is going to be able to keep his promises without needing to be reminded, may I ask whether the Premier merely overlooked this matter as unimportant in the preparation of the throne speech, and why he found it necessary to point out to the people of Ontario, "I haven't promised anything" on the matter of severance pay?

If, in fact, the only reality of March 19 is going to be that promises made before March 19 are not going to be kept after March 19, then it would appear that the arrogance has already set in, earlier than I expected it.

Hon. Mr. Davis: I don't want to be provocative today, but if there is anyone who can define arrogance in this House, it is the member for Hamilton West, and it showed for 44 days, in living colour, as he was packing his bags, heading west. I did see some of his commercials.

Mr. Smith: I thought the Premier was out campaigning, but he had time to watch television.

Hon. Mr. Davis: I watched television after the late news and those commercials were usually on at 12:05. Actually, I haven't the foggiest idea when they were on.

Mr. Smith: They came right after Foodland Ontario and before "Preserve it, conserve it."

Hon. Mr. Davis: I really do not know what the honourable member is inquiring about. I have made it quite clear that the government intends to introduce a bill. I have not been, neither am I, able to tell or give commitments as to its contents.

Mr. Smith: But it wasn't in the throne speech.

Hon. Mr. Davis: The honourable member asks why it was not in the throne speech. I have more news for him. There will be about another 30 or 40 pieces of legislation in this session that were not included in the throne speech.

Mr. Mackenzie: Supplementary, Mr. Speaker: I remind the Premier that the reality is not the result of the election. Probably the most definite statement I have heard by a minister in this House was that we would get severance pay legislation. It was sufficiently specific also to state that the legislation would be retroactive to the beginning of this year.

Can the Premier tell us if that will also be part of the legislation we shall get?

Hon. Mr. Davis: I am not trying to be difficult, but the honourable member must wait until the legislation is introduced in the House.

Mr. Mancini: I would like to redirect a supplementary question to the Minister of Labour, who would be responsible for the legislation, Mr. Speaker.

I can recall back last December when the Minister of Labour stood in his place and stated to the House very clearly that he had accepted the principle of severance pay, that principle would be put in legislation and that principle would commence as of January 1, 1981. I want to know from the Minister of Labour if he intends to keep his promise.

Hon. Mr. Elgie: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order, I am quite delighted to respond to my friend, whom I am glad to see back in the House, by the way, but would you please tell me if this is a proper redirection or if it is, indeed, a new question?

Mr. Mancini: Why is the minister afraid to answer the question?

Hon. Mr. Wells: Mr. Speaker, I would like to indicate that I think we have perhaps fallen into a habit of redirecting in a way that I think is detrimental to the processes of the question period.

To ask supplementaries to an original question to the person to whom that question was asked is perfectly proper, but to start using supplementaries and redirecting to other ministers is really asking a new question. The member should stand in his place, and in the place with other members, and take his turn to ask a question of the member.

I think it may be argued that we were doing that in this place, but I was watching question period at Westminster a couple of weeks ago. The honourable former Speaker referred to that as the mother of parliaments, and they certainly would not allow that kind of redirect at Westminster. I think it would be well for us early in this session, Mr. Speaker, to decide that we are not going to have that kind of redirection of questions.

Mr. Nixon: I certainly want to bring to your attention, Mr. Speaker, that the example set by the mother of parliaments in question period is one we should not be following. Ours is far better.

What would be more reasonable under our rules, or for anyone with common sense, than that the matter having to do with severance pay and put as a matter of policy to the Premier should be redirected to the Minister of Labour for comment on his commitment to this matter? He has, as we would all agree, the right to refuse to answer, and I could even understand that he might refuse under these circumstances, but surely a referral is quite in order.

Mr. Martel: I find it strange, Mr. Speaker, that the House leader for the government would rise in his place today with that sort of interjection. It seems to me if he wants, and we have already agreed to discuss these matters, he could do so, but I do not think it is the role of the House leader to get up and attempt to direct the Speaker as he is obviously attempting to do. This started to develop some time ago, and at no time did I see the House leader or anyone else suggest to the former Speaker that he should change the rules in the middle of the game to suit the government. But that is, in fact, what is going on.

If the Premier and the Minister of Labour are slightly embarrassed by the Premier's statement last Tuesday in suggesting that this might go to House leaders and all that nonsense, I would remind the Premier that his friend, the Deputy Premier (Mr. Welch), was also involved in those discussions with respect to severance pay.

If either the Premier or the Minister of Labour do not wish to answer the question, fine, but I wish the House leader would not interject in this way to avoid that. The Minister of Labour could simply say, "No, I do not want to answer it," or the Premier could get up and redirect the question as he is wont to do when he is caught in other embarrassing situations.

Mr. Speaker: It is my opinion that this, in fact, was a new question. The supplementary had been directed to the Premier. If there was to be a redirection of the question, it should have been to the minister or by the minister involved, which it was not.

Mr. Martel: Could I ask the Speaker for some guidance? In the last couple of years, Mr. Speaker --

Mr. Speaker: Order, please, order. I have given my opinion. It is not debatable. If the member wishes to challenge it, fine.

Mr. Martel: I am asking for your guidance. I am trying to find out how it is that a procedure which has been followed for the last couple of years on direction from the House leader becomes a new question.

Mr. Speaker: I would argue that. It was my observation for the past few years that this was not employed.


Mr. Foulds: Mr. Speaker, would you undertake to review the precedent of direction both in this House and in the House of Commons to see how many have been allowed by the questioner and report to the House?

Mr. Cassidy: I take it that was a yes and that the Speaker will review it. I appreciate that.


Mr. Cassidy: I have a new question for the Minister of Housing, Mr. Speaker, and it relates to the speculative frenzy which has led people to line up for 25 or 30 hours overnight in order to get a home they think they can afford. It has brought hundreds, if not thousands, of people into the housing market, buying houses almost sight unseen. It is bringing foreign money and money from western Canada into the housing market in cities like Metropolitan Toronto and it is driving the costs of housing out of the range of ordinary families in Metropolitan Toronto and across the province.

Is the government now prepared to reintroduce a land speculation tax which will stop that speculative frenzy and stop house prices being driven out of the reach of average families in Ontario?

Hon. Mr. Bennett: Mr. Speaker, I know if the leader of the third party would look clearly at the situation in this province -- not just take one specific issue, but look at things on a more general basis -- he would find that housing prices, other than for core communities, have been on a very general increase. They have not been beyond the rate of inflation that we are experiencing in this country and would not bear comparison with it.

In relation to the situation in Mississauga, this government --

3:20 p.m.


Hon. Mr. Bennett: I must say to the member that I don't happen to own a condominium. I do have a single-family residence in this community, as well as in Ottawa.

The latter part of the question in relation to the leader's question should be directed under a new question to the Treasurer.

Mr. Cassidy: Supplementary, Mr. Speaker: If the minister wants to redirect, I want to direct a question back to the minister responsible for housing.

Does the Minister of Housing have any plans or any proposals at all to defend people who are finding the dream of a home is going past them week after week because prices are going beyond their reach?

Does the Minister of Housing really believe that average families in Metropolitan Toronto, in Ottawa, London or Windsor, can afford housing when house prices have gone in many cases beyond $100,000 for a house that wouldn't have sold for $40,000 three years ago?

Hon. Mr. Bennett: Mr. Speaker, it's great for the member to be in opposition and look at what his position might be in Ottawa and this community. He has been able to sell his home and gain some rather interesting capital positions. I trust the members would look at the statistics that not only come from this community but from the province of Ontario.

If one looks at the listings and the sales that were made in this metropolitan area last year -- and I hope members will -- almost 70 per cent of the units were under a market price of $80,000. Also 40 per cent of the sales were under $60,000.

The inflationary factor we have experienced in the real estate market has been generated by the construction industry and the real estate people and the newspapers which love to talk about the great profits that are being made in the metropolitan core area.

If one looks at the central part of these communities there has been a tremendous increase in price, far beyond what the average income earner would anticipate paying. But in the perimeter areas of this community and of Ottawa, if the leader of the third party would look at them on the odd occasion when he might visit that community, he will find that the prices are not beyond the middle income earner's opportunity of purchasing. I challenge him to show me in specific terms.

Mr. Smith: Supplementary: Is the minister not aware that to buy the average home in Metropolitan Toronto today requires a family income of $36,780 and that the average family income in Toronto is approximately $9,000 a year lower than that?

Is the minister not aware that right now in Metropolitan Toronto alone only one out of 10 people renting apartments can afford to buy the average home that might be available in Metropolitan Toronto? This is not the core; this is all of Metropolitan Toronto.

Finally, is the minister not aware of reports that have large amounts of foreign money coming into Toronto to buy, virtually sight unseen, any home that might come on to the market in certain instances?

What is the minister going to do to dampen the speculative fever that has now pushed Toronto homes at least out of the range of ordinary citizens?

Hon. Mr. Bennett: When I listen to the two questions now being asked, one is talking about the lineup of people waiting to buy homes because of inflation, speculation and so on, while I have the Leader of the Opposition wanting us to do something to dampen the market so people won't buy.


Hon. Mr. Bennett: That is exactly what they are coming to.

Mr. Cassidy: The Premier should have made the minister resign a long time ago.

Hon. Mr. Bennett: The public dealt with the leader of the New Democratic Party on March 19 and he announced his own destination about March 21, which a great number of people were delighted to hear about.

Frankly, if we get down to looking at the basic cost of shelter -- and this was one of the things the Toronto Star indicated very clearly in a report yesterday or the day before -- I say to the Leader of the Opposition, we have two problems.

We have people who want to buy housing and they usually want to buy at the top end of the range. Secondly, they are not only looking at the opportunity of shelter, but they are also looking at the opportunity for investment, an investment that is going to return to them some capital gain in not too many months or years down the road.

One cannot take into consideration the debt servicing cost of one's income to maintain a home when he or she is also looking at the fact that a portion of that expense is really on an investment. If we look at it fairly and frankly, if we are only talking about shelter and not the potential of a long-term investment or a short-term investment, we would not be talking about 30 per cent for a gross debt service coming from one's income.

I think it is faulty for us to believe here or in Ottawa that by trying to implement more programs to reduce or freeze housing prices government is going to help this economy. It will help the economy in a reverse direction because the moment one tries to freeze prices and not other areas relating to the cost of development, I think one will find there will be very few developers left wanting to get into the housing market in Ontario.

Mr. Cassidy: By way of a final supplementary, Mr. Speaker, I believe I understand the minister to be saying that this government is not prepared to lift a finger for ordinary families looking to buy a house and finding the prices going out of their reach.

I would like the minister to be more specific. He said in response to me that he claimed the price of housing is not out of reach for middle income families. Would the minister say whether he believes the price of housing is within reach of working families across the province, or is it now the position of this government that working people in Ontario should no longer be able to own a home of their own?

Hon. Mr. Bennett: Mr. Speaker, I did not say that, neither would I ever say it. We have tried to maintain the opportunity for all people in all income levels to own and operate their homes in this province.

Let me just draw to the attention of the House that the very same individual was criticizing the federal government and this government for getting into the assisted home ownership program a few years ago. I trust he will recall that program.

In the last session of this House I listened to criticism from the New Democratic Party that we sucked some people into housing ownership who couldn't afford the new mortgage rates we are going to experience in all of Canada.

Quite often what happens is that government gets involved in trying to put together a program that encourages to get into the purchasing of a home certain people who, for fair and just reasons, shouldn't be there because their incomes are not sufficient to meet the rising costs of ownership.

3:30 p.m.

Mr. Cassidy: Exactly what I said.

Hon. Mr. Bennett: If the honourable member will sit there and listen for a moment --


Hon. Mr. Bennett: Mr. Speaker, if we are of the belief that everyone in this country is in a financial position to own a home, then there is going to have to be a drastic change in the price of housing, the price of land and the price of labour going into it.

I think we have to be realistic -- in fact, one of the things about being in government is that we have to be realistic. The opposition can be as unrealistic as they want, but here we do become somewhat realistic. I have said it publicly -- I am sure members read the Ottawa paper the odd time, the only one left in the city of Ottawa -- where it indicates clearly that I have said it is not possible that everyone in this economy is going to own their own home, but the government has tried to assist. Let us take some credit as a government.

Going back not so many years ago, this public realized there had to be some heavy capital investments by the government in putting infrastructure in place to allow for much more land to be serviced and put on the market. This government, through the Treasurer, invested $106 million under the Ontario home assistance program which allowed Mississauga, the Ottawa-Carletons, Toronto and others to put on the market vast amounts of serviced land. Brampton is also included -- not Main Street, Brampton, unfortunately, but the rest of Brampton.

The number of units that will come on in the medium price range in those communities is rather substantial over the next period of time.

The inflation, to some extent, Mr. Speaker, has been generated by the news media and a few others --


Hon. Mr. Bennett: Read the press. They talk about a shortage. Let us look at the situation.


Hon. Mr. Bennett: Mr. Speaker, the member for Ottawa Centre should not talk about how much it has gone up. He should look at his own case. As a New Democrat he does not even believe in capital gains but he will take whatever he can get, and his has gone up considerably.

Mr. Speaker, in this situation there happens to be a very substantial amount of land available for development and I would only like to say one thing very clearly. There is not, in the principal areas of this province, a shortage in serviced land available for the construction of private, single-family homes or multiple units.

I make it very clear, there is not. If the press and others want to continue to say there is, as the minister I want to say there is not a shortage; there is ample land.

Mr. Peterson: Supplementary, Mr. Speaker: Given the fact that there is some evidence that there is a considerable amount of foreign money flowing into this province at this time, not only in farm land, as we have already established, but it appears now in housing also, would the minister be prepared to do an exhaustive study of that?

If, in fact, there is evidence of a large influx of money adding to the speculative frenzy going on in this city in particular and in others, would he be prepared to do something about it?

Hon. Mr. Bennett: Mr. Speaker, I am sure some have read the federal government's answer to that very same question in the House of Commons yesterday. They do not know where all the foreign money we keep hearing about as coming into this country is coming from, either through direct investment or through trust company investments. I am not prepared at this time to undertake any massive review of investment capital in Ontario.


Mr. Riddell: Thus far, Mr. Speaker, the questions posed in this assembly have been taken lightly by the government ministers, and if the question I wish to ask the Minister of Agriculture and Food is taken as lightly, then I would have to say that the people of Ontario, who gave way to arrogance over good government, are deeply in trouble.

My question is to the Minister of Agriculture and Food. Knowing the serious problems facing Ontario farmers today, with bankruptcy increases of 91 per cent last year over 1979 and a 77 per cent increase in the first three months of this year over the same period last year, how can the minister continue to ignore the effects of high interest rates on the agricultural industry and simply blame the federal government?

Hon. Mr. Henderson: Mr. Speaker, we are very much concerned over the situation that the farmers of this province are experiencing. We could take it to other parts of the industry as well.

The honourable member who is asking this question appears to be very seriously mixed up. This debate should be going on in the House of Commons, as he full well knows.


Mr. Riddell: Supplementary: I guess I expected that response, but is the minister aware that Ontario is lagging far behind other provinces in financial assistance programs to agriculture?

Why does he continue to shirk his responsibility in this manner and not bring in an emergency low-interest relief program and a low-interest long-term program that will give Ontario farmers an equitable financial position in Canadian agriculture?

Hon. Mr. Henderson: No, I am not aware of what the honourable member states. This province is taking its place with any other province in Canada.

Mr. MacDonald: Since the throne speech, presumably the minister is concerned about this problem. Will the minister explain why, after last year, when in advance of an election he allocated $25 million at least as a palliative, he has spent only $5 million? He washes it out after the election and does not spend what has already been authorized by this House.

Why does he not back up his concerns by at least using the money which the House has authorized?

Hon. Mr. Henderson: Mr. Speaker, the honourable member has made a statement which he knows is not the truth.

Those two honourable members were at a radio station with me and our position was pretty clear in that radio broadcast. The honourable member knows what I said that day full well, that we in our party recognize that the government of Canada has increased the interest to curb inflation and we believe that government should be responsible for any intervention. That was said long before election day by this minister on many occasions.

Mr. Martel: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker, I would ask, in view of the fact that my friend, I think inadvertently, tried to mislead the House into believing my colleagues are not telling the truth, that he should, in fact, withdraw that comment.

Hon. Mr. Henderson: Mr. Speaker, I should have said that they were inaccurate and I apologize.

Mr. MacDonald: On the point of order, Mr. Speaker, the government allocated $25 million and the minister said they were spending $5 million. That is what I said; it is strictly accurate.


Mr. MacDonald: I have a new question for the Premier on the same topic.

Since the Ontario Federation of Agriculture yesterday postponed for three months a vote on the request that the Minister of Agriculture and Food should resign, is it possible that the Premier, since the Minister of Agriculture and Food apparently does not have any real influence in the cabinet, will come up with a program that would conceivably reflect what the Ontario Federation of Agriculture has presented to him today following its board of directors' meeting, or is he going to have nothing in terms of an answer to this other than passing the buck to Ottawa?

Hon. Mr. Davis: Mr. Speaker, I have been somewhat busy and so far -- I am sure it is in my office -- I have not yet received that communication from the Ontario Federation of Agriculture. It may be there. I will certainly look at that communication and then perhaps answer the honourable member's question. But until I receive it, it really puts me in the somewhat difficult position of not being able to comment upon it with any degree of accuracy because I am not familiar with its contents.

Mr. MacDonald: Supplementary --

Mr. Speaker: I think there have been enough supplementaries.

Mr. MacDonald: That was my first supplementary on this question.

Mr. Speaker: All right.

Mr. MacDonald: Supplementary: When the Premier has a chance to read it, he will discover that in it, as part of their program, is a subsidization of interest rates. Will the Premier, as he has at least 51 per cent of the votes in the cabinet, reinstitute the unexpended $20 million in last year's appropriation for subsidization of farm interest rates, or is he, cynically, going to wash it out totally, now that the election is over?

3:40 p.m.

Hon. Mr. Davis: Mr. Speaker, my answer is still the same. I have not seen the contents of the brief.


Hon. Mr. Davis: I would say to the member for York South that he referred to a part of the brief. I must see the total brief before I comment on it. I should make it clear to the member for York South that we do not vote in cabinet.


Mr. Roy: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Premier. This is the last day of the constitutional debate in Ottawa, and the Supreme Court of Canada will shortly be hearing the submissions of the federal government, including the Premier's submissions on the constitution. The Premier now has a majority and there has been another important development, the re-election of the Parti Quebecois in Quebec recently.

In view of these facts, would the Premier not accept the advice of one of his colleagues in the federal Conservative Party, Ron Atkey, who wrote in the Globe and Mail recently that the Premier assume the role of nation builder? Would the Premier not guarantee to the linguistic minority here in Ontario the same status that has been guaranteed to the minorities in Quebec, Manitoba and New Brunswick?

Hon. Mr. Davis: Mr. Speaker, I could become a little bit partisan and say that the Liberal Party policy in Ontario, as I understood it, prior to March 19, was not to have entrenchment of section 133 apply to Ontario. That is what they said throughout the entire province. The Leader of the Opposition is nodding his head in agreement.

If the honourable member is saying to me that the Liberal Party of Ontario has changed its policy once again on this issue, as it has on so many issues, that is fine. I do not quarrel with that.

I would say to the honourable member that we took a position on the question of entrenchment of language. It is a very sensitive issue. We think we have given some real direction and leadership in provision of services to the francophone minority of this province, and I think a number of representatives from the Franco-Ontarian community would support that point of view.


Hon. Mr. Davis: Let me finish. We have had a fun question period today, but there have been some modest interruptions.

Mr. Roy: I did not interrupt the Premier.

Hon. Mr. Davis: The member was in the process, as always.

In our discussion of the language question, we made it abundantly clear that, as we saw our responsibilities here, we were not prepared to accept the entrenchment of section 133, and that position has not changed.

We can say that there has been an election and therefore one can change what one happens to believe in. I happen to believe that the route this government has been following in relation to the Franco-Ontarian minority has been one of extension of services and one of leadership.

What I have always perceived to be fundamental in the preservation of culture or language, and the question of assimilation, relates to the field of education. It was not the easiest decision in the world for this government to suggest -- and I made the suggestion -- that we entrench the educational rights of the minority, whether it is in Ontario or Quebec.

That is the position of Ontario and it is the one we have proposed. I would say to the member for Ottawa East, that position has not been endorsed with enthusiasm by the present government of Quebec, neither, in my recollection, was it supported enthusiastically by the leader of the Liberal Party in Quebec.

We are supporting that. It is in the package, and from our perspective at least, we think it is the answer to the language problem.

I was delighted during the campaign because I did not think this was the honourable member's position. I did not sense it was necessarily the position of, perhaps, some area of the party. I do not know that. All I know is that it was brought to my attention time and again that the leader of the Liberal Party agreed with the position we have taken.

Mr. Roy: Supplementary, Mr. Speaker: The Premier knows full well that if he is prepared to give leadership in this field, he will not get opposition from the parties on this side.

Secondly, if the Premier is looking for signals of Canadian unity from the Parti Quebecois, whose underlying principle is the independence of Quebec, that is not a very good place to be looking.

Does the Premier not realize that in a few short years another referendum may be called on this constitutional package? How are we going to respond in Ontario? What are we going to tell the majority in Quebec at that time -- that after the first opportunity in nation-building, in changing a constitution, we were prepared to accept a double standard, one standard for the minority in Quebec and another standard for the minority in Ontario? How is that going to wash in the next referendum?

Hon. Mr. Davis: Mr. Speaker, I would only say that I am not aware of any other referendum.

Mr. Roy: Well, if the Premier hangs on, he may learn something.

Hon. Mr. Davis: That's fine. I expect I will hang on in this profession longer than the member opposite will.

Listen, it is a serious question, and it is fine for the member to come in here and play games. I want to remind him of something. We have debated this matter in this House. He knows the position I have taken. I think this government, in terms of the present constitutional debate, has, as much as any other province in Canada, demonstrated its commitment to patriation, entrenchment and moving the constitution to this country. It would have been a lot easier on some occasions to be on the other side, but I do not happen to believe in that position.

I also made it clear in this House that we would not support the entrenchment of section 133. We happen to believe we can do things internally in this province that are workable. I just ask the member for Ottawa East to turn around and speak to the member behind him, and just about every other member of his caucus, and he will find they agree totally with the position I have taken now for many months.

Mr. Cassidy: Mr. Speaker, I speak to this issue in sorrow and in anger, and in this case, unlike the member for Ottawa East, I speak on behalf of the New Democratic Party of Ontario. We have consistently said that we believe Ontario should be prepared to take the initiative and take on the obligations of section 133 with respect to Franco-Ontarians and the French language rights in this province.

I ask the Premier, now that he has the position of a majority in Ontario, if he will not undertake to do two things: First, to accept those obligations; and second, on behalf of the government and the people of Ontario, to start seeking ways now in which this province can re-establish the links and relationships with our sister province, Quebec -- that he will undertake to recognize that the Parti Quebecois, having been re-elected, is going to be there in Quebec for a long time and is not there on a temporary basis; and it is about time that Ontario and Quebec started to get together to solve common problems with respect to nationhood, with respect to our economy, and with respect to the rights of our linguistic minorities.

Hon. Mr. Davis: Mr. Speaker, I find the leader of the New Democratic Party once again very contradictory in this question period.

At one point in the question period he was accusing this government of not meeting its commitments prior to March 19 in other areas. I made a commitment to the people of this province in this area. That commitment was that we were committed to patriation; we were committed to entrenchment; we were committed to the entrenchment of the language rights in the field of education.

But we also said we were not prepared to accept the entrenchment of section 133. The member opposite may play politics in a different fashion. Just because we have a majority does not mean I am going to change what I happen to believe.

I believe in the route we have gone. I believe in what this province has contributed to the constitutional debate. If we had not made that contribution, I doubt the debate would be where it is today. I do not think it would have got off the ground.

There is no question that the members opposite have been consistent on section 133, but their leader should not come in here and tell me at 2:30 in the afternoon that I am being inconsistent in what I said on some issues before March 19 and then, 20 minutes later, ask me to break my commitment to the people of Ontario on another issue.

I do not care whether I have a majority of five, of 50 or a minority. I happen to believe in the positions we have maintained. The member opposite can accept his position; we disagree. But he should not put it to me on the basis that I did not believe in what I was saying prior to March 19. I believed it then and I believe it now, and that maintains our position.


Mr. Speaker: Order, please. Order. May I point out -- and I think this is important -- the question period, once again, has been dominated by the leaders. The back-benchers have not had a fair opportunity to make themselves heard. We did get out of order with respect to the motion by the member for York South (Mr. MacDonald) and I came back --


Mr. Speaker: Now just a minute. I was keeping track of it and that is my opinion. It is a fact. That was the final supplementary. I recognize the member for Hastings-Peterborough (Mr. Pollock). Now we have a new question from that member.


Mr. Pollock: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Minister of Agriculture and Food.

In view of the importance of the dairy industry to that portion of the province which I represent, and in view of the minister's indications that the Ontario Milk Marketing Board is reviewing the possibility of disposing of the Belleville Cheese Exchange, which it owns and operates, I would like to know the current situation regarding this review.

Hon. Mr. Henderson: Mr. Speaker, I think it is an honour to be asked a question by one of our new members on the first day of debate in the House. The question refers to a very serious situation. The members who were in the previous House know we debated this at quite a length during my estimates.

My memory tells me that the Ontario milk producers, at their annual meeting last summer, decided to see if there was not another way to make use of this facility. It was an expensive facility. The word went out that they were going to dispose of it or close it down.

I have had several meetings with the chairman of the milk marketing board, at the last of which I was informed that this building was now being used to a greater extent. He and the board hoped they could find a way to keep this facility open. The board plans to meet with the farmers, the cheese producers and the business people of that area. The last assurance I had was that it would continue operating as it is now for at least two years.

Mr. Speaker: The time for oral questions has expired.



Hon Mr. Wells moved, seconded by Mr. Nixon, that the member for Durham East (Mr. Cureatz), be appointed Deputy Speaker for this parliament and that the member for York Centre (Mr. Cousens) be appointed Deputy Chairman of committees of the whole House for this session.

Motion agreed to.



Hon. Mr. Wells, on behalf of Hon. Mr. Snow, moved first reading of Bill 2, An Act to amend the Toronto Area Transit Operating Authority Act.

Motion agreed to.

Hon. Mr. Wells: Mr. Speaker, the bill that is being introduced is exactly similar to one that was introduced in the last session of the last parliament concerning changes to TATOA. It was fully explained at that time.


Mr. Foulds moved first reading of Bill 3, An Act respecting Advertising by Government Organizations.

Motion agreed to.

Mr. Foulds: The purpose of this bill is to control the type of advertising placed by the government of Ontario in broadcasting and print media.

The bill prohibits the placement of advertisements by the government of Ontario that have the effect of promoting, directly or indirectly, the political party to which the members of the executive council belong. The bill authorizes the Commission on Election Contributions and Expenses to receive and inquire into complaints concerning government advertising. If the commission determines that a government advertisement does, directly or indirectly, promote the political party to which the members of the executive council belong, the government of Ontario must immediately withdraw the advertisement from further use.


Mr. Foulds moved first reading of Bill 4, An Act to amend the Election Finances Reform Act.

Motion agreed to.

Mr. Foulds: The purpose of this bill is to prohibit advertising by the government of Ontario during a provincial election campaign. The bill contains exemptions from the general prohibition for advertising related to the administration of the election itself and advertising required for emergency purposes. The purpose of both bills is to prevent the abuse that we saw during the last year leading up to the previous election.

4 p.m.


Mr. Newman moved first reading of Bill 5, An Act to amend the Consumer Protection Act.

Motion agreed to.

Mr. Newman: Mr. Speaker, this bill requires that every product that is marked with the universal product code offered for sale by a retailer must also be clearly marked with its individual purchase price.


Mr. Riddell: Prior to the orders of the day, Mr. Speaker, and pursuant to standing order 34, I move that the ordinary business of the House be set aside to discuss a matter of urgent public importance, namely, the crisis facing the farmers of Ontario because of increasing interest rates that are forcing many farmers to lose their businesses and pushing them into bankruptcy with no suitable relief from this government.

Mr. Speaker: The notice of motion was received in time and complies with the standing order. I will listen to the honourable member for up to five minutes as to why he thinks the ordinary business of this House should be set aside.

Mr. Riddell: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Having spent most of my life working in and for the agricultural industry in Ontario, I do not recall a time such as the one we are now going through when so many farmers have gone into bankruptcy, and many more have been forced to sell their farms before they lose all their equity in the business. If this is not checked it will be a sad day, not only for the agricultural industry in this province, but for the consumers of this country.

There is no question we have reached the crossroads of a crisis for the farmers of Ontario. Increasing interest rates are forcing many farmers to lose their businesses and pushing them into bankruptcy because there is no suitable relief from this government.

Although my remarks will focus mainly on the crisis facing Ontario farmers, I do not want to diminish in any way the same crisis that is facing many of our small businesses throughout Ontario. Farming is just one sector of the small business community, and the major causes of the current financial crisis faced by Ontario agriculture hold true for many small businesses as well.

The farmers of Ontario face an uncertain future. If the Minister of Agriculture and Food for Ontario had taken the pulse of the farming community he would know that many farmers, 124 last year alone in Ontario, have met their occupational demise, and that many more farmers have been struggling for survival. Farmers are being forced out of a farming life that has been a tradition of their families for many generations. A lethal combination of high interest rates and unstable meat prices means they must sell their land and their livestock in order to meet their debts.

Last year, farm bankruptcies increased 91 per cent in Ontario over the previous year, and for the first three months of this year, farm bankruptcies increased 77 per cent over the same period last year.

The Ontario Federation of Agriculture estimates that for every farm bankruptcy that is recorded in Ontario there are at least 10 other farmers who decide to get off the land while they still have some equity left in the business.

I am sure the Minister of Agriculture and Food understands that high interest rates take a particular toll of agricultural enterprise, since farming in the 1980s requires infusion of an immense amount of capital in order to remain competitive. The cost of production has soared in the past 10 years and, conversely, the average farm income has declined as steadily as farm costs have increased.

Agriculture Canada estimates that farm income in this province in 1980 dropped by some 23 per cent, and there is not expected to be much change in the situation in 1981. Clearly, the level of government assistance offered in this province is simply not enough to prevent many farmers from being caught in the farm cost/income squeeze.

As farmers leave the land in frustration, or are forced off by bankruptcy, all too often that land is sold either to foreign investors, who have no intentions within the foreseeable future of coming to this country to farm the land, or to developers who will seek other ways of making a profit off that land other than by producing food. This would have a deleterious effect on the entire provincial economy, considering that the farm community not only provides us with food for domestic consumption and export but also provides jobs.

If the agricultural activity is allowed to decline further, society will have to bear an increasing load of unemployment as well as the cost of importing more and more of the food which we will not be able to produce domestically. This, of course, means much higher food prices to the consumer.

It is imperative that this government introduce an immediate emergency interest program to prevent further farm bankruptcies, foreclosures and the exercise of the power of sale by creditors. This crisis can be prevented. I don't want to hear the Minister of Agriculture and Food simply say that it is a federal responsibility, for he knows that other provinces have put into place an extensive and well-used set of low-interest programs for their farmers.

If this minister continues to renege on his responsibility, then I will have no other choice, as the agricultural critic for the Liberal caucus, to join the many farmers and the organizations representing the farmers in calling for his resignation.

The farming industry in Ontario needs immediate assistance. There was never a time when there was a greater need for a Minister of Agriculture and Food who was prepared to make an immediate solid commitment to the agricultural industry of this province. If the Minister of Agriculture and Food is bereft of ideas for an immediate relief program for the farmers --

Mr. Speaker: The member's time has expired.

Mr. Riddell: -- then my colleagues and I have several proposals we would like to make. For this reason, I have called for an emergency debate. Without question, time is the essence for the farmers in Ontario.

Mr. Cassidy: Mr. Speaker, since the question before us is whether we should have an emergency debate or not, I want to say that the NDP believes that this is a matter of such urgent importance that we need a debate today and we need action announced by the government now in order to ensure that farmers can keep their farms and in order to ensure that the agricultural industry of this province does not go down the drain because of neglect from this government with its new majority.

For years agriculture in Ontario has been teetering on the brink in the absence of a comprehensive farm policy from the provincial government. While year after year the imports of farm products to the province rose to the level of $1.5 billion, this government did nothing. While three million acres of farm land went out of farming, this government did nothing. While 1,300 food processing plants went out of operation in the last 20 years, this government did nothing. Now with the final blow, beginning a year ago, we have had the escalation of interest rates to the point where farmers are finding themselves financially unable to stay in operation under any circumstance at all.

Last year the government came up with a short-term program. They said it was a temporary affair, but now we find interest rates are back to last year's level and this government says that it intends to do nothing. That's why we need to debate this issue and that's why we need to try to seek action from the government now.

Last year farm bankruptcies were up by 91 per cent over 1979 when other bankruptcies were up by only 18 per cent. That measures what the farm community has been suffering. For many farmers it is a matter of $20,000 or more per year in terms of interest costs. For the farm community as a whole it is a matter now of an interest bill which is amounting to $800 million or more a year and that ultimately has got to be passed on to food consumers. The Ontario Federation of Agriculture estimates that foreclosures would be 10 times as high in this province if it weren't for the fact that farmers are anticipating foreclosures by selling out before they are forced to the wall.

Last year there was some response, but when one got down to it the government advanced only $5 million out of the $25 million that was promised in interest rate relief. They failed to come up with any other kind of comprehensive policy to put farming on its feet. The throne speech we had two days ago failed to propose measures to put farming on its feet. By God, it is about time we had some action right now and if this minister can't do it, then it is about time that the Premier found someone in the government who can do the job as far as farmers in the province are concerned.

4:10 p.m.

The Ontario Federation of Agriculture has traditionally been close to the government. When the federation's executive comes along and calls for the resignation of the minister, that is very serious indeed.

I would ask that the government take this request for an emergency debate and our request for action very seriously indeed, because they cannot allow the bankruptcies to continue. They cannot allow the foreclosures to continue. They cannot allow an industry such as agriculture, which is so vital to our province, to continue to be pushed to the wall by rising interest rates. They cannot leave it up to the federal government only. We need short-term relief, we need long-term policies, and we need that action now.

I know there will be an argument from the government side through you, Mr. Speaker, to say that next week it will be possible to talk about farm policy in the throne debate, but that is too late. That will be mixed in with concerns about the automobile industry, about housing, about rent, about other matters that are also of urgent concern.

The problem of our farmers needs action now. We want to know if the government has any proposals to put forward apart from the throne speech. The way to do it is to use the vehicle, which has been used traditionally in this Legislature, of an emergency debate.

This is an urgent problem. It demands action now and, quite simply, the government has two choices in making its advice to you, Mr. Speaker. They can either say they do not care about farmers in the province, or they can support the official opposition and the New Democrats in having an emergency debate that will put the focus on farm problems and that I believe should come up with some long-term and short-term answers for our farmers in Ontario now.

Hon. Mr. Henderson: Mr. Speaker, there certainly is a problem in the livestock industry. It is not confined to interest rates. Part of the problem is farm prices. About two years ago hogs were $76 per hundredweight. A year ago the price fell to $46 per hundredweight. It is now about $61 per hundredweight, a reduction of 25 per cent in two years.

For beef, the situation is no better. A large part of the beef problem is because of the United States' influence. In February I wrote to the federal Minister of Agriculture and said: "I do not have to outline the depressing effect which live cattle imports are having on cattle prices in Ontario and in all of Canada. Some form of import protection is urgently required. I would strongly urge you to employ the methods at your disposal to alleviate the serious situation in the meat industry."

The minister replied that he thought the situation was temporary and the long-term gains were really not worth the short-term pain. It is not a question of low prices. Input costs are up. In fact, if livestock producers are going to keep up with inflation, the price should be up by 25 per cent instead of down by that much.

As members can see, interest rates are not the whole problem. While they have moved up and down quite a bit this past year, they are presently about the same rate they were a year ago. They are a problem, however.

I would like to point out the interest rates are established at the federal level, not at the provincial level. I want to repeat that they are established by the federal government, not the provincial government. I want to emphasize that.

For several years it has been the policy of the federal governments of both Canada and the United States to fight inflation with high interest rates. This policy was reconfirmed only last month by the Bank of Canada in its annual report. Bank officials defended high interest rates as a means of supporting the dollar. Even the Farm Credit Corporation rate has gone up 30 per cent in two years. There is not enough money in the program to meet farm borrowing needs. That is another government of Canada policy.

I would suggest that the proper arena, Mr. Speaker -- and I want you to listen this -- for such a debate on the interest rates is the House of Commons, not the provincial Legislature. Yesterday Charles Mayer, of the federal riding of Portage-Marquette --

Mr. Smith: What do we need you for at all then?

Hon. Mr. Henderson: Members opposite are really not interested or they would listen. They really don't care. Shame on the whole bunch of them over there. They should really want to hear this.

Mr. Riddell: We are tired of the minister passing the buck. That is the reason.

Hon. Mr. Henderson: They are a little bit of a disgrace to the farm community. Yesterday Charles Mayer, of the federal riding of Portage-Marquette, put a motion before the Commons standing committee on finance. I would like to quote that motion. He said:

"I therefore move that this House immediately order its standing committee on finance, trade and economic development affairs to undertake an immediate review of the interest rate policy of this government and the Bank of Canada and for this purpose the governor of the bank and the Minister of Finance appear before it to explain their action."

Late in March Dr. Gary Gurbin, of the federal riding of Bruce-Grey, placed the motion before the Commons agriculture committee to examine interest rates and their effects on the farming community. Both of these motions were rejected by the federal Liberal government.


Hon. Mr. Henderson: It seems the federal and the provincial Liberals have taken opposite positions on this matter. Since interest rates are a federal matter, I have raised the issue with Mr. Whelan. Last Tuesday I requested him to convene a meeting of the country's agriculture ministers to discuss --

Mr. Speaker: The minister's time has expired.

Hon. Mr. Henderson: Mr. Speaker, I wish to indicate that the government, while genuinely concerned about the high interest rates, does not believe that an emergency debate on this problem will serve any purpose, however serious the criteria for an emergency debate. I would therefore ask that you rule that this debate not proceed.

Mr. Speaker: I have listened carefully and with great interest to the comments of members of all three parties. Quite frankly, I recognize it as a serious problem and I don't diminish it in any way.

However, it is a problem which affects a very large segment of our society, not just the agricultural community. I am of the opinion that it would be more adequately and perhaps even better addressed during the debate on the speech from the throne when all the members have more adequate time to prepare themselves more fully.

Mr. Riddell: Deep in my heart I have reservations about challenging the ruling of a new Speaker, but I must tell you, sir, that every space in my heart is taken up with the plight of the farmers in this province, and therefore I have no room left in my heart for you and I must challenge your ruling.

Mr. Speaker: Shall the Speaker's ruling be upheld?

5 p.m.

The House divided on the Speaker's ruling, which was upheld on the following vote:


Andrewes, Ashe, Baetz, Barlow, Bennett, Bernier, Birch, Brandt, Cousens, Cureatz, Davis, Dean, Eaton, Elgie, Eves, Fish, Gillies, Gordon, Gregory, Grossman, Harris, Havrot, Henderson, Hennessy, Hodgson, Johnson, J. J., Jones, Kolyn, Lane,

MacQuarrie, McCaffrey, McCague, McLean, McNeil, Miller, F. S., Mitchell, Norton, Piche, Pollock, Pope, Ramsay, Robinson, Rotenberg, Runciman, Scrivener, Sheppard Snow, Stephenson, B., Sterling, Stevenson, R.

Taylor, J. A., Timbrell, Treleaven, Villeneuve, Walker, Watson, Welch, Wells, Williams, Wiseman, Yakabuski.


Boudria, Bradley, Breaugh, Cassidy, Charlton, Conway, Cooke, Copps, Cunningham, Di Santo, Eakins, Edighoffer, Elston, Epp, Foulds, Grande, Johnston, R. F., Kerrio, MacDonald, Mackenzie, Mancini, Martel, McClellan, McKessock, Miller, G.I.,

Newman, Nixon, O'Neil, Peterson, Philip, Reid, T.P., Riddell, Roy, Ruprecht, Ruston, Samis, Sargent, Smith, Spensieri, Swart, Van Horne, Wildman, Worton, Wrye.

Ayes 62; nays 44.



Consideration of the speech of the Honourable the Lieutenant Governor at the opening of the session.

Mr. Gillies moved that a humble address be presented to the Honourable the Lieutenant Governor as follows:

To the Honourable John B. Aird, OC, QC, BA, LLD, Lieutenant Governor of Ontario:

May it please Your Honour, we, Her Majesty's most dutiful and loyal subjects, the Legislative Assembly of the province of Ontario, now assembled, beg leave to thank Your Honour for the gracious speech Your Honour has addressed to us.

Mr. Gillies: Mr. Speaker, it is an honour and a privilege for me to move this speech from the throne marking the first session of the thirty- second Parliament of Ontario.

As a new member of this Legislature I am particularly honoured to be able to express, I am sure on behalf of all members of this House, our thanks to His Honour the Lieutenant Governor for the vigour and dignity he has invested in his office in the past months. I know my constituents are looking forward to welcoming His Honour to the Brantford area in June when he is coming to officially open the new Kiwanis children's camp at Apps Mill, a project of which I had the pleasure of being chairman. It is in the riding of Brant-Oxford-Norfolk, I might add.

Members may be interested to know that this new camp is located only a few hundred yards from the home of the late Lieutenant Governor W. Ross Macdonald. Mr. Macdonald was Brantford's most distinguished and beloved citizen. I spent several delightful afternoons as a teenager sitting in his study listening to him discuss the affairs of the day. His wit, his intelligence and charm left a lasting impression on me as a very model of a public servant. On the few occasions I have had the honour of meeting our new Lieutenant Governor I sensed the presence of many of the same outstanding qualities that I so admired years ago.

I should also at this time like to congratulate you, Mr. Speaker, on the assumption of your new responsibilities. I have had the pleasure of knowing Mr. Speaker and Mrs. Turner for about five or six years now and I am sure I speak for most members of this House in wishing you well during your tenure of office.

I did not sit in this House during the term of office of the member for Lake Nipigon (Mr. Stokes), but I am well aware of the esteem in which he was held by honourable members and of the judicious and firm control he held on the affairs of this Legislature. About four years ago when I was working in the Premier's office, I did have an office just across the floor on this floor of the Legislature and there were occasions when the member for Lake Nipigon was disciplining members of this House. On occasions like that we did not really need the PA system that was being piped into the office to hear what was going on. I would assure you, Mr. Speaker -- and I am sure I speak for those of us in the back row here -- that we will never give you that kind of trouble.

5:10 p.m.

I hardly need to remind members that we have just come through a provincial election campaign and that there are some 28 new members of the Legislature, most of them on this side of the House. In the days ahead we will be feeling our way through the maze of rules and regulations which govern the affairs of this chamber. I hope you will be patient with us, Mr. Speaker, for a few hours anyway until we get our sea legs.

If I might be permitted a few partisan comments, I would like to say how delighted I am at the outcome of the recent election. I am not only happy to be in this chamber myself, but I am also pleased that many other new Progressive Conservative members have joined the seasoned and competent team which the people of Ontario want to lead them into the next decade.

I recall hearing the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Smith) saying during the campaign -- I see that he has left, but he is represented by some of those who aspired to replace him -- that he did not think the people of Ontario would be like blind sheep tap-dancing their way to the polls.

The voters of Ontario were certainly not blind. They quite clearly saw the alternatives they had to choose from for the future. The voters were not like sheep. They examined the issues and the party platforms in a judicious, reasoning fashion and they made an intelligent decision based on the government's record of solid achievement. If the voters danced, it was with anticipation at the prospect of a renewed and strengthened Progressive Conservative government under the leadership of our own illustrious Premier (Mr. Davis), who is welcome in Brantford at any time for any occasion.

With reference to the fortunes of the third party, let it suffice to say that a number of us are sitting in this House at the expense of New Democratic MPPs. There are a number of reasons for this, but I feel very strongly that the greatest problem for our colleagues on that side of the House is that the people of Ontario have rejected and will continue to reject the economic proposals of pure socialism.

The waste and inefficiency engendered by government-controlled economies can be demonstrated throughout the world. While I believe strongly in a compassionate government, a government that responds positively to the needs of all its people regardless of their circumstances, I do not believe that we want or need the kind of economic stranglehold that existed in Jamaica or Sweden, where socialist governments killed the motivation to achieve and excessive taxation acted as a disincentive to success.

If I might pose an example that is very near and dear to me, I would remind the House of the agreement reached last year between the governments of Canada and Ontario and Massey-Ferguson. The two governments agreed to guarantee the capital risk of new equity investment in Massey-Ferguson to a limit of $200 million, of which $75 million was the provincial share. The government guarantees will enable the company to complete its refinancing package, totalling in excess of $700 million.

The package was a good deal for Massey-Ferguson and it was a good deal for the taxpayers of this province for a number of reasons. First, the refinancing did not require the massive outlay of public funds. Rather, the guarantees will allow the issuing of 20 million nonconvertible preferred shares subject to mandatory redemption at the end of 10 years. The governments of Canada and Ontario agreed that if any dividends were missed, or if the shares were not redeemed at the end of the 10-year period, they would purchase the shares at the original share price.

The bottom line is that the governments are providing a framework within which the company can continue to operate in the private sector of the economy. If Massey-Ferguson continues to operate and regain a profitable position in the market, the loan guarantees will not have cost the taxpayers a penny. Massey still has its obligations to its creditors, but I am very optimistic, in view of Massey's market share actually increasing in the last year, that it will continue to operate and continue to be an asset to my community, to the province and the people of Ontario.

In the meantime the workers in my riding of Brantford are steadily going back to work now and the economic devastation we experienced in my community is starting to be repaired. You may not be aware, Mr. Speaker, that 25 per cent of the work force in my riding is employed in the farm machinery industry. The working people of Brantford were well aware of this government's constructive efforts in this area when they went to the polls on March 19. The commitment by the Progressive Conservative government was one that helped to provide the economic climate needed to strengthen one sector of our economy without having to absorb it into the public sector.

Our commitment was in marked contrast to the stand taken by my predecessor as the member for Brantford, who said that an NDP government would buy Massey-Ferguson. I would ask you, Mr. Speaker, to consider a more preposterous proposition than the nationalization of a company that had close to $2 billion in liabilities, a company that employed but 12 per cent of its work force in Canada, a nationalization which would merely serve to bring all of the company's private obligations into the public sector so that the taxpayers of Ontario and Canada would be bailing out international banks and bringing the financial obligations of the company into public indebtedness.

It was that sort of thinking that the people rejected on March 19, and it strikes at the very core of the philosophy of the third party. The answers to the problem of Massey-Ferguson were provided on this side of the House and the citizens of Brantford certainly recognized that.

If I might diverge for just a moment, I would like to point out that the remaining 75 per cent of Brantford's work force is engaged in a great diversity of activities. My community has long been a centre of invention and innovation. Members of this House are probably aware that Alexander Graham Bell invented the telephone at his summer home just outside of Brantford and that the first long distance phone call was made from Brantford to Paris, Ontario.

Mr. Nixon: In Brant-Oxford-Norfolk.

Mr. Gillies: In Brant-Oxford-Norfolk.

Hon. Mr. Davis: It was the member's father who took the first call.

Mr. Gillies: Many of Graham Bell's later inventions were designed to improve the lot of handicapped people. I feel it particularly appropriate that my city is also home to the W. Ross Macdonald School, formerly known as the Ontario School for the Blind. Students come from all over Canada and from some other countries to the school in Brantford for what is considered to be the most advanced education available for visually impaired young people anywhere in the world. Our Ministry of Education can be very proud of that facility, and I can assure you, Mr. Speaker, the staff of that school are among the most accomplished and dedicated educators I have encountered anywhere.

The city of Brantford can boast of many other accomplishments: the invention of the electron microscope and the building of the first Pullman railway car. Our community has also produced great men of letters: Emily Pauline Johnson, the noted Indian poetess; the great Victorian novelist, Thomas B. Costain; and Sarah Jeannette Duncan. The centre of Canada's farm machinery industry since before Confederation, the Brantford area is steeped in history.

Brantford today is a city of marked contrasts. We have, I am led to understand, the youngest MPP in the province. But we also have, in 89-year-old Alderman Charles Ward, the oldest elected official in Canada. I would really like some of my colleagues in this House to have an opportunity to meet Alderman Ward. He is a man of great wit and tremendous charm and, I might add, is a thoroughly shrewd politician. I might add that he has been on Brantford city council since before I was born, and he never hesitates to remind me of that fact.

I think also that our image is one of contrasts. Publicity in recent years has centred on the problems that Brantford has had economically. But I can assure members that most of our diverse industries are thriving. With the help of the Ontario Development Corporation, a number of foreign-owned companies have been purchased by local people and are now thriving under local Canadian ownership. With an upturn in the farm machinery market, my city will in the very near future overcome the unemployment problem that has plagued it in the last two years.

5:20 p.m.

Quite frankly, the people of Brantford elected me because they wanted action, and I do not intend to disappoint them. It is very important to my community that Highway 403 be completed westward from Brantford towards Woodstock and eastwards from Brantford to Ancaster. I will be urging the Minister of Transportation and Communications (Mr. Snow) to press ahead with this project as soon as possible, with construction starting this year if at all possible.

I will also be asking the Minister of Colleges and Universities (Miss Stephenson) to look seriously at some expansion and improvement of the facilities at the Braneida campus of Mohawk College of Applied Arts and Technology. It would seem consistent with the aims of our government's BILD program that we must be upgrading our skills-related education facilities in our industrial centres. If my riding is to attract new high-technology development, it will need a pool of highly trained workers equipped with the most modern technological know-how.

I am also very pleased that this government is co-operating with the city of Brantford and with Campeau Corporation in the revitalization of our downtown core. Our Minister of Housing (Mr. Bennett) has pledged a low-interest loan of over $6 million towards this project. I have had a long interest in this project and have lobbied for it as a private citizen. I am very proud indeed that due to an extraordinary amount of work by our municipal government this downtown project will be well under way during my first term in this Legislature.

Brantford also has two very fine art galleries and a stable of excellent local artists. We have a tremendous local performing troupe known as Theatre Brantford and we are blessed with one of the finest symphony orchestras in all Ontario.

As the Stanley Cup draws near, I would certainly be remiss if I did not remind members that Brantford is the home of the world's greatest hockey player, Wayne Gretzky.

Mr. Nixon: He lives in Brant-Oxford-Norfolk though.

Mr. Gillies: I was just getting to that. Quite apart from his being a superlative athlete, Wayne is a very fine fellow and makes a great contribution to his community.

Mr. Peterson: And what happened? He went out west. We told you so.

Mr. Gillies: I have to confess to you, Mr. Speaker, that Wayne Gretzky lives in that suburb of Brantford which is actually across the boundary in Brant-Oxford-Norfolk, but I am very sure that if he lived in the riding of Brantford, he would vote for me.

Sound economic planning was evident in our party's BILD program and in the throne speech which His Honour delivered on Tuesday. We have developed a program that boldly confronts the problems of a modern industrialized society through new initiatives in job creation, a more aggressive export policy and increased productivity through greater emphasis on the research and development of new technologies.

In a sense, this whole province is standing at a crossroads. The direction we take throughout the rest of this decade will have profound implications on our province's economic future and, by extension, on the economic future of Canada. I am confident, however, that our decision to embrace the risks and rewards of high-technology development is the correct one.

Our economic strategy for the 1980s obviously meets with the approval of the majority of the people of Ontario. We believe that by supporting it so wholeheartedly on March 19 the people of Ontario have given us a clear mandate to move ahead with an explicit program for economic growth and development so that indeed the promise of Ontario can be kept. The BILD program is an ambitious undertaking. There is no doubt it is an essential one. The world is moving into a new technological era, and our government must provide the incentive for business and industry to pursue aggressive research and development programs and to keep in the forefront so that not only Ontario, but Canada, can compete more effectively in an increasingly competitive world.

There is no way our government could have afforded to launch the massive $1.5-billion economic development strategy if its fiscal performance over the last five years had not been so exemplary. Our economic record is sound, despite what members opposite might have to say. In these difficult times of high inflation we have succeeded in making slow but steady progress in all economic areas.

While other jurisdictions have been consistently increasing their budgets and expanding their bureaucracies, we in Ontario have been setting an example by practising restraint, which is not an easy accomplishment in this inflation-ridden period. While Ottawa, for example, increased its civil service complement by 20,000 in the last five years, Ontario has actually reduced the size of its civil service by some 4,500 in the same period. Our successful restraint program has proved that retrenchment can and does work if legislators are serious about reducing the burden of government spending.

The battle of inflation, unfortunately, does require federal co-operation if a successful attack is to be mounted. That cooperation has not been forthcoming. We hope, though, that the Prime Minister's acceptance of the Premier's invitation to hold a federal-provincial conference on this important matter in the near future will set the stage for some long overdue action on the national scale.

Meanwhile, Ontarians should be proud to learn that we have the lowest rate of inflation of any of Canada's 10 provinces. In fact, by reducing our deficit, holding the line on taxes and reducing our public service, Ontario has been an anti-inflationary force almost alone among Canadian governments. Wherever possible, our government has acted responsibly to keep the inflationary forces at bay. There is no question that rising oil prices and escalating interest rates are the two most pervasive inflationary forces facing us today. The constantly rising price of oil not only creates some home heating and transportation costs, but it affects everything we buy.

As members know, our Premier has led the fight against letting oil prices be dictated by the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries cartel, thereby protecting Ontario's manufacturing industries and consumers from even higher costs. We believe that Canadian crude oil prices should be set in Canada by Canadians with any increases tied directly to achieving self-sufficiency and closely related to the cost of producing the oil. In fact, our provincial energy policy is geared to reducing Ontario's demand for crude oil to a significant degree. The target date is early in the 1990s.

An integral part of developing alternate energy sources is tapping the full potential of Ontario's electrical capability. Under the BILD program the importance of conservation and electrical power to Ontario's energy and economic future is stressed through a number of initiatives which encourage greater use of this cheaper energy form. Home owners, for example, will be able to take advantage of government assistance in converting their home-heating systems to electricity under the new residential electrical services program to be introduced early in this session.

While escalating interest rates are primarily outside our government's control, being a federal responsibility, we have recently taken steps to reduce the burden of high interest costs for an important sector of our community. Soaring mortgage interest rates are probably the greatest disincentive for those wishing to build rental accommodation. The new Ontario rental construction loan program, announced at the end of January, provides the private market rental industry with interest-free loans of $4,200 per unit to encourage the construction of affordable rental accommodation.

The alacrity with which this industry has responded to the program prompted the Premier to announce a 50 per cent increase in funding during the campaign. Where we had originally hoped that the program would yield 10,000 new rental units this year, we are now confident that 15,000 units will result. Since applications for close to 10,000 of the units have already been filed within a month of the program's announcement, we have every reason to be optimistic that the new target will be met.

Measures such as this and the residential electrical services program are some of the means at our disposal, in the face of Ottawa's inaction, to shield Ontarians from the ravages of inflation. Judging by the response to the rental construction loan program, such actions are both appreciated and obviously much needed. But a competitive efficient economic base is still the best hedge against inflation.

Strengthening and improving Ontario's economic base is a vital objective of the BILD program, one which we believe is a farsighted and effective response to the challenge of reducing inflation.

5:30 p.m.

Turning now to other aspects of our economic record, let us look for a moment at the question of job creation. Recently released Statistics Canada figures confirm the strength of Ontario's job creation record. There were 4,067,000 Ontarians at work in March of this year compared to 3,972,000 in March of last year. This represents an increase in the work force of 95,000 in just one year. Our seasonally adjusted unemployment rate in this province of 6.6 per cent for March continues to fall below the national trends.

Our job creation picture has yet to reflect the impact of BILD initiatives. Once jobs created through BILD-related programs begin to materialize, we anticipate a substantial adjustment in our employment figures. Our government's record in creating jobs in the past provides a solid base on which new jobs can be built in the future. Initiatives outlined in the speech from the throne will enable us to continue building on our strengths as we look ahead to even brighter prospects.

Manufacturing has traditionally been the mainstay of our province's economy, and we intend to continue working in a creative partnership with our entrepreneurs and risk takers in the private sector through our new economic development program. The facts demonstrate extensively that our manufacturing and industrial base is tough, resilient and here to stay. Our record in manufacturing is an impressive one. Ontario leads its competitors throughout the industrial world in employment growth in manufacturing. Last year our manufacturers invested $5 billion in the future of our province. This was well over half of all manufacturing investment in Canada. Between 1975 and 1979, the so-called years of deindustrialization, Ontario created over two thirds of the manufacturing jobs in this country.

Despite serious employment declines in the automobile manufacturing sector last year, our economy generally resisted the recessionary trends operating throughout North America because 75,000 new jobs were created in Ontario in other sectors of the economy.

As we move towards greater involvement in high technology, we would do well to review our record in this area because it highlights the tremendous potential for this kind of development here in Ontario. Over half of all Canadian research and development is performed in Ontario. On a per capita basis this expenditure doubles the average of the other provinces. Of the 1,000 Canadian-controlled advanced technology companies estimated to be in Canada, some 70 per cent are located right here in Ontario. Furthermore, a recent Toronto Stock Exchange study of 10 representative high technology companies, all of which were formed in the 1970s, discovered that sales are growing at almost 60 per cent each year; over 50 per cent of output is exported; skilled employment is growing at a rate of 38 per cent each year; research and development spending averages 14 per cent of sales; and productivity growth is 32 per cent every year.

This is a time of critical choice, not only for our province but for our country. The directions we take now will have far-reaching repercussions for the future. The course we have chosen to take in the economic area through our BILD program is the result of careful planning and consideration. We believe that our economic development strategy is capable of addressing our economic shortcomings and stimulating our economic growth rate, so that Ontario remains the centrepiece of the Canadian economic union.

I am very pleased that His Honour spoke on Tuesday of the need to expand the business and industry training initiatives of the Ministry of Colleges and Universities, with specific reference to increased funding for technological equipment in our community colleges. This commitment will work hand in hand with our BILD commitment to ensure greatly increased training efforts by private industry. Enrolment is growing steadily in our colleges of applied arts and technology, and the students in those colleges must have, as one of their options upon graduation, that of apprenticeship training in industry on a larger scale than we now offer.

The government also proposes to strengthen the training initiatives available to small and medium-size businesses through encouraging the development of co-operative training efforts whereby a number of firms could pool their training activities, making greater use of trained staff and training facilities.

This government has illustrated how we, in concert with business, labour, community groups and educators, can best meet the challenges of the coming years.

The Premier of Ontario placed before the Prime Minister last March a proposal for a first ministers' conference on inflation. Despite pressures to delay such a meeting until late in the summer, our Premier responded again by emphasizing the need for an earlier meeting of first ministers. This government, despite our concern over constitutional and energy matters, will not allow the problem of inflation to be moved to the back burner. There is no doubt in my mind that the only sure route to the lowering of interest rates is through a strengthening of the Canadian dollar. The federal government has to take steps to restore international confidence in the Canadian economy.

I do not think it an overstatement to say that the lack of a federal policy for economic development has made our nation a laughing stock in the international community. People I have met from other countries cannot understand how a nation with such boundless resources and with a healthy, educated population can spend so much time fighting and squabbling over such a wide spectrum of issues.

I would like to add one small voice to the national debate by simply stating that I think it is time that the governments and people of Canada started spending less time fighting and more time working. It is time we stopped passing more and more regulations to strangle our small businesses and started tearing up some of those regulations. It is time we stopped loading more and more conditions on to the ownership of private property and looked anew at the rights of the small property owner. It is time that we examined seriously the desire of thousands of handicapped people in Ontario whose only wish is to take up a productive role in society. This Legislature can provide them with the framework within which this can be accomplished.

It is time for us to look at the methods available in our system of taxation to encourage and strengthen the volunteer sector in our communities. There are any number of local projects and programs which could be more economically and efficiently implemented by the volunteer sector than by governmental agencies.

These are a few of the reasons I ran for this Legislature, a few of the areas in which I feel we need to improve. But these and other initiatives will not go far towards helping our people realize their aspirations unless we tackle the overall menace of inflation. This is why a federal-provincial conference is so very important. There must be co-operation among all provinces and the federal government to ensure that our fiscal policies are working together harmoniously. Let me be clear on this point. What is the value in Ontario keeping a firm hand on government spending when other governments spend with abandon? A meeting in Ottawa could mark the beginning of a plan to counter inflation on a national scale, and the government of Ontario will be there, pushing for control over government spending at all levels.

We must also question the effect of a tight money policy on our home owners, small businessmen and our farming community as they struggle already with high interest rates. As a province, we have to question the practicality of the federal government's further extending its present monetary policy.

Whatever the intention of Mr. MacEachen's October budget, the end product will not be a change in the inflationary picture. The federal government is going to have to consider severe measures if it is serious about ending the inflationary spiral. It is time for the government of Canada to set an example for all of us as individuals, for other levels of government and indeed for the international community.

There is little doubt that energy is a major villain in the war against inflation. We introduced in the fall of 1980 programs to help business and industry begin the changeover from traditional to alternative energy supplies. Proposals outlined by this government to aid home owners in energy conservation and off-oil conversion will benefit every Ontario resident.

5:40 p.m.

There is little doubt that increased productivity in Canadian industry will also help us win over inflation. An integral part of higher rates of productivity is the development and use of newer technology. To this end R and D must and will play a prominent role in our economic development.

Increased productivity in Canadian firms will help us compete in both domestic and international markets. Let me be clear: increased productivity does not mean simply producing more; it means producing more without substantially increasing costs.

This is where technology and Canadian know-how can help every Ontarian. The Ontario Research Foundation will lead the way in aiding high-technology manufacturing. The IDEA Corporation will co-ordinate and fund research centres whose purpose is to bring new technology to industry. The economic base of this province rests on our manufacturing sector and we intend to see that it develops and increases its productivity in the immediate future.

The initiatives of this government will lead to energy costs which are not dictated by foreign suppliers. Our program will spur the development of new technology and new markets. With this will come a new, skilled work force and young, dynamic workers able to help maximize Ontario's potential.

Yet we cannot afford to look too far down the road for an inflationary cure. There are people in our midst, individuals and families on fixed incomes, who feel the effects of inflation more dramatically than others. The welfare of our pensioners cannot and will not be neglected. This government still has to consider all the recommendations of the Royal Commission on the Status of Pensions in Ontario. An equitable means must and will be found to protect our senior community and allow them to enjoy the quality of life we have come to take for granted. After all, these senior people built our province and we have an obligation towards them.

My riding is a purely urban one, but it is uniquely dependent on the strength of the agricultural economy because of the farm machinery industry centred in Brantford.

Ontario farmers are now producing annually over $4 billion worth of agricultural products. Ontario is the largest food producer in one of the greatest food-producing nations in the world. We furnish more beef for market than any other province in Canada. We are also the largest producer of fluid milk, poultry and eggs and the second largest producer of hogs. We are also dominant in fruit and vegetable growing. In short, we process about 60 per cent of the food in this country.

Recognizing the importance of the farm industry to this province, over the years we have tried to maintain a strong partnership between government and the farming community, a partnership which has produced policies and programs designed to help the farmers help themselves.

Our province leads in providing advisory services to farmers and has committed more resources to agricultural research than any other province in Canada. We have invested in an extraordinary range of projects from tile drainage to crop insurance. Overall, we have sought to develop an approach to agriculture that is premised on assisting farmers where we can, while not interfering in those activities that the enterprising farmer does best himself.

The Progressive Conservative government has promised the people of Ontario decisive action, not only to maintain but to expand our agriculture and food industry. The strength of the agricultural sector is integral to that of our overall economy. As such, it is fundamental to our plans for growth and prosperity in the 1980s.

The first aspect of this development is that one million acres of farm land in eastern and northern Ontario will be upgraded into high quality agricultural land. The large capital input required for this effort will increase greatly the productive capacity of our total agricultural sector and the capacity of our industry to permit the expansion of high-value crops in areas where agricultural potential has not been fully realized.

Second, food products such as perishable fruits and vegetables currently have to be imported into Ontario in the off growing season, yet the effective marketing period for Ontario produce can be significantly extended by expanding the storage facilities for such perishable crops and thereby replacing these imports. This government has introduced a special capital incentive through BILD for the construction of new storage facilities and the replacement of old facilities. The development of new technology for the production, storage and processing of fruit and vegetables is essential for the long-term viability of the horticultural industry in Ontario.

Third, this government will support development areas of Ontario where food production can be expanded -- in particular, the Cochrane clay belt region with its millions of acres of soil and its proximity to the Ontario Northland Railway.

Fourth, Canada's growing market for processed food and convenience food products offers great potential for expanding food processing facilities in Ontario.

Fifth, and finally, a special incentive program will be established to assist farmers in undertaking the production of products currently being imported.

This government plans to invest more than $400 million in the next five years in our resource centre including agriculture, forestry and mining.

A major step towards realizing our goal of agricultural self-sufficiency was outlined by the honourable Lieutenant Governor in his speech from the throne.

This government will introduce legislation to enable Ontario Hydro to sell industrial steam to the Ontario Energy Corporation. This is a major step towards realizing the full potential of the Bruce agripark, combining the estimated potential of 400 acres under glass at Bruce and 240 acres at Pickering. This would render Ontario capable of growing enough tomatoes to replace about 25 per cent of our present imports.

This government, in developing new greenhouse projects throughout Ontario, has not forgotten our existing greenhouse farmers. Research into the energy efficiency of various greenhouse designs is now under way and alternative heating systems using methane and hydrogen are currently being developed, as are various methods of insulation.

Working towards food self-sufficiency is integral to securing a strong and secure future for Ontario. Many of the programs outlined by the Lieutenant Governor in the throne speech on Tuesday addressed this goal directly. Through them, our agricultural community is assured the encouragement and incentive to develop.

My riding of Brantford is situated in the heart of one of Ontario's major agricultural districts. Many of my constituents depend on a strong and secure agricultural industry, which is one of the largest and most diversified of any in Canada.

Farmers too, Mr. Speaker, are going through a period of high inflation coupled with high interest rates. Ontario farmers are one of the groups hardest hit by this recent upsurge in interest rates. They are hurting from inflation and they are hurting from the high interest levels. I was very pleased on Tuesday to hear that this government will pay special attention to the impact of interest rates and other economic indicators on Ontario's agricultural sector.

The goals of this government to reduce food imports by at least one third and substantially raise farm incomes are most commendable. By listening to the views and suggestions of those in the agricultural sector and by working together to overcome short-term economic difficulties, I believe Ontario can obtain self-sufficiency in agriculture in the very near future and maintain prosperity for those who serve us all by producing our most vital resource, the very food we eat.

In his address on Tuesday the Lieutenant Governor described many of the steps this government is going to take to strengthen the economy of the province. While I have no doubt that these measures will go far in preparing Ontario to meet the challenges of the 1980s, we must remember too that our provincial economy is but a part of the much larger economy of Canada as a whole. The economic health of Ontario is closely linked to the health of the Canadian economy and the wellbeing of the economies of our nine sister provinces. National prosperity is the best guarantee for prosperity here in Ontario.

A few statistics will demonstrate the degree to which various parts of Canada depend on each other for markets, for goods and for services. Ontario is the largest customer for the manufacturing enterprises in other parts of the country. We purchase more than half of all the interprovincial shipments originating in the rest of Canada. In return, about one quarter of Ontario's manufactured goods, worth $13 billion, is sold in other parts of Canada.

This province sells twice as many manufactured goods to Atlantic Canada as it does to the European Economic Community, including Great Britain. In short, Canadians are all partners. The health of the Canadian market is vital to all of us and for this reason Ontarians applaud the burgeoning prosperity in the west and we applaud the exciting prospect of prosperity to come in the east. We can applaud, not only because our fellow Canadians are at long last diversifying their economies, but also because they know that in the long run they will see that Ontario benefits from this development as well.

5:50 p.m.

Encouraging as these signposts to the future are, we must also deal with a major, self-imposed, straitjacket on the national economy. I am referring, of course, to the barriers to interprovincial trade and the possibility of internal balkanization mentioned by His Honour in the throne speech. The harm done to the Canadian economy by these internal barriers to trade is of great concern to this government. Things have now reached the point where Canada's ambassador to the European Economic Community has publicly stated that there are now fewer barriers to trade among the countries of Europe than there are among the provinces of Canada.

For example, seven provincial governments have adopted narrow, province-first, procurement policies. Newfoundland cannot sell electricity from Labrador to the US because Quebec is holding that province to an old marketing agreement. British Columbia applies a 10 per cent preference in favour of BC suppliers. Newfoundland gives Newfoundlanders-only preference on jobs associated with its offshore oil industry. Professionals and tradesmen are forced to pass tests and licensing procedures which hinder their movement from province to province.

We, in Ontario, are not blameless in this matter of provincial preference. Every province at one time or another has been guilty. The basic problem arises from the nature of Canadian federalism itself.

There are naturally competing regional economic interests in this country. Since each provincial government is responsible only to the people of its own province, these regional interests are protected by policy. It cannot and should not be the responsibility of any provincial government to arbitrate between competing regional interests. Instead, that is the job of the national government with a comprehensive national policy that serves the interests of all Canadians no matter in which province they live.

As in the nationwide fight against inflation, we need a national economic leadership program to ensure that Canada remains one united economy and does not become 10 fragmented ones. If the provinces cannot agree among themselves on how to minimize the practices that set one region against another, then the necessary action may have to be taken at the national level by the federal Parliament. Unfortunately, in recent years we have not seen such leadership from Ottawa on this front.

In the absence of any moves in this direction from the federal government, Ontario has made a number of proposals. This province has suggested that interprovincial nontariff barriers respecting goods, services, capital and people be prohibited much as they are prohibited in the European community. This would be backed by a national capacity to intervene should a government erect a barrier affecting interprovincial trade and labour movement.

These provisions ideally should be entrenched in a new Canadian constitution just as basic mobility rights will be entrenched in the proposed charter of rights and freedoms which is before the federal Parliament this very day. I might add that mobility rights were included in the charter largely at the insistence of the government of Ontario.

We are also taking positive action through the office of procurement policy. This office will work to ensure that public sector spending in Ontario gives purchasing preference to Canadian suppliers. I emphasize Canadian because this is not an Ontario-first policy, but one that I am sure will benefit suppliers all over Canada, thereby strengthening the Canadian common market.

The potential benefits arising from greater economic cooperation between the regions and provinces of Canada are enormous.

My colleague, the Minister of Industry and Tourism (Mr. Grossman) has published an important paper entitled, Interprovincial Economic Cooperation towards the Development of a Canadian Common Market. I would highly recommend this document to the members on both sides of the House. It is a gold mine of information regarding the current status of the Canadian market and the rich future which awaits us, if and when we co-operate. It delves into the great possibilities inherent in import replacement and procurement, in research development and energy-related projects, and suggests the structure for a proposed Canadian domestic marketing development agency.

This excellent address with which His Honour has favoured us outlines the first steps in the implementation of the BILD program, which is going to reshape Ontario. This program speaks to the youth of Ontario, to the potential and untapped talents of our students and to the resourcefulness and the adaptability of our working people. It speaks of new technologies, new sources of energy and new patterns in trade. The future I see through this program is exciting and practical, and it starts today.

During the election campaign, I spoke to many people who were impressed with the scope of the Progressive Conservative platform and who were pleased that, unlike those opposite, we were laying the groundwork for the future of this province rather than rehashing the battles of its past.

There are members opposite who would say that the Progressive Conservative government is tired, old and has been in power too long. I would ask you to take a second and more objective look.

Contrast our team of ministers with that lackadaisical bunch on Parliament Hill. Look at the breadth and experience of our caucus members from all parts of Ontario. Particularly, I would suggest that you take a look at the back bench at the class of '81 because I think you are looking at the future of Ontario when you look along this bench.

Mr. Speaker, I am honoured indeed to move acceptance of this most excellent speech from the throne. I know that members on this side of the House eagerly anticipate the opportunity to implement this legislative program.

On motion by Ms. Fish, the debate was adjourned.


Hon. Mr. Wells: Mr. Speaker, pursuant to standing order 13, I would like to indicate to the members of the House the business for the rest of this week and next week.

Tomorrow morning, at the beginning of orders of the day, we will consider the motion on the Order Paper concerning committees, and then continue with the debate on the speech from the throne, at which time the speech by the seconder will be given.

On Monday, April 27, the House business will be the reply by the leader of the official opposition to the speech from the throne. I might also draw to members' attention that the private members' ballot is to be held at 11 a.m. on Monday, April 27.

On Tuesday, April 28, in the afternoon, the business will be the reply by the leader of the New Democratic Party to the speech from the throne. Next Tuesday, we will begin our evening sessions and the members will then take part in the debate on the reply to the speech from the throne.

On Thursday, April 30, in the afternoon and evening, we will continue members' replies to the speech from the throne.

On Friday, May 1, we will also continue with members' replies to the speech from the throne.

The House adjourned at 5:59 p.m.