The House met at 2 p.m.
STATEMENTS BY THE MINISTRY
PUBLIC OFFICERS' SECURITIES
An hon. member: The New Democratic Party is boycotting us.
Hon. F. S. Miller: I didn't notice the difference.
Mr. Speaker, I will be pleased to address this statement to members of my own party and to the few Liberal members who are here, in the complete absence of the NDP.
Mr. Sweeney: Look behind you.
Hon. F. S. Miller: No. One never looks behind one when one is a minister.
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: Even when the ones directly behind are other ministers.
Hon. F. S. Miller: They are the most dangerous kind.
Mr. Speaker, I am filling in time until there are some people present. The Public Officers Act requires that within the first 15 days of every session, I advise this assembly "of all securities furnished on behalf of public officers and of any changes made to securities" since my statement on March 14, 1980. There have been no changes in either category.
Mr. Smith: That's the best statement the minister ever made.
Hon. F. S. Miller: I am waiting for questions on that statement, because I think for 28 years we forgot to make it.
Hon. F. S. Miller: Mr. Speaker, later this afternoon I will be introducing a bill to establish the IDEA Corporation, to promote innovation development for employment advancement. At this point, I want to outline some of the general concepts and the operating principles of the corporation.
It is now well known that scientific research and the application of technological advances can bring substantial benefits to an industrial economy such as ours. In Canada, the United States and elsewhere, studies have demonstrated that research-intensive manufacturing industries with high levels of research and development spending achieve superior performance in employment and productivity growth and price performance.
As the world economy becomes increasingly competitive because of trade liberalization and the rise of the newly industrialized countries, the importance of supporting scientific research and encouraging its utilization will be even greater.
Mr. Cassidy: This is not red Toryism; it is blue socialism.
Hon. F. S. Miller: That is a white shirt, and it is only reflecting the honourable member's philosophy.
Mr. Martel: Then why is the minister moving into it then?
Hon. F. S. Miller: Innovation will be the key to our future economic wellbeing. These are the reasons we stressed research and development in the Board of Industrial Leadership and Development document Building Ontario in the 1980s, released by the Premier (Mr. Davis) in January 1981. The IDEA Corporation is an integral component of the BILD program for reinvigorating industrial development in Ontario.
The IDEA Corporation will bridge the gap between the public and private sectors by linking the tremendous research potential of our excellent public institutions in Ontario with the commercial opportunities and production facilities of the private sector, through a wide range of activities.
The IDEA Corporation will stimulate R and D that has the potential to lead to both innovation and employment, using the facilities of industry, universities or other government agencies. While not itself directly undertaking R and D activity, the IDEA Corporation will foster the development and commercialization of new scientific discoveries.
Mr. Cassidy: This is almost as dramatic as Saul on the road to Damascus.
Hon. Mr. Welch: That's the New Testament.
Hon. F. S. Miller: That's the New Testament? Thank you.
Mr. Cassidy: He became St. Paul. Remember?
Hon. F. S. Miller: The corporation will fulfil an entrepreneurial role as the catalyst for dynamic new activities based on industrial and commercial research in Ontario. The board of directors will be selected from among representatives of industry, labour, universities and government. Using the directors' personal experience and contacts in these sectors, the board will help to integrate research and development efforts among these sectors. It will take an active role in supporting scientific research having industrial and commercial applicability. The IDEA Corporation will link that research with corporations prepared to utilize it. It will actively encourage and support the establishment of joint endeavours; it will unite the various groups involved from the laboratory to the final production process. It will be a catalyst in the creation and co-ordination of joint projects that entail all stages of the development and application of new technology.
As I mentioned a moment ago, in carrying out these responsibilities the corporation will not directly undertake programs of research and development itself. Rather, all such programs are to be conducted through the facilities of industry, other government agencies or universities.
Mr. Cassidy: You know, when you combine blue and red, it is mauve.
Hon. F. S. Miller: The honourable member is colour-blind as well.
This approach will enable the corporation to focus on its entrepreneurial role of stimulating the introduction of technological innovation into the actual production process.
In performing this role, the corporation will be authorized to make grants, loans, guarantees or purchase equity. It will be authorized to participate in the ownership, licensing, royalties or use of any industrial property flowing from research and development undertaken by the recipient. In addition, the IDEA Corporation will provide advice to the government on general issues related to the enhancement of technological innovation in Ontario.
We believe that this bold new initiative will make an important and lasting contribution to Ontario's continued economic progress. The IDEA Corporation will report to me as chairman of BILD. Needless to say, I am extremely pleased to play a central role in this exciting new instrument for development in Ontario.
Mr. Cassidy: On a point of privilege, Mr. Speaker: Yesterday in the Legislature the member for Kingston and the Islands, the Minister of the Environment, stated that the figures I was using with respect to Ontario Hydro's emissions of sulphur dioxide and nitrogen oxide estimated for 1985 were incorrect.
According to Hydro's own document of January 26, the maximum levels to be fixed for 1985 total 450,000 tons of emissions, as I have stated in this House, and I ask the minister to withdraw his comment.
Mr. McClellan: Resign.
Hon. Mr. Norton: Not that easily.
Mr. Ruston: You're listening today, are you?
Hon. Mr. Norton: Yes. I am listening today.
Mr. Speaker, if the honourable member will recall, at the time he used that figure I believe he also made reference to present levels of emission, where he used the same figure and implied there would be no change in the levels of emission between now and 1985. In that respect, the leader of the third party was incorrect.
If there is confusion, the point at which the confusion arose relates to the statements made by my predecessor and the chairman of Ontario Hydro concurrently, or approximately at the same time.
In my predecessor's statement the sulphur dioxide emissions were broken out from the nitrogen oxide emissions. In the statements by the chairman of Ontario Hydro, the two were combined in terms of all the acid-producing emissions.
The correct figures, ones used by both at that time and still adhered to, are that the average level over the last three years is about 452,000 tons of sulphur dioxide emitted, while the figures for nitrogen oxide are in the range of 65,000 to 70,000 tons; I have forgotten the average figure. By 1985, the figures will be 390,000 tons for sulphur dioxide and 60,000 tons for nitrogen oxide. By 1990, the ceiling will be 260,000 tons for sulphur dioxide and 40,000 tons for nitrogen oxide.
There was, I suggest, an error in the honourable member's figures in that he was either using the wrong base figure or the wrong gross figure for 1985. He was also incorrect in implying that did not represent any substantial change from present levels of emission. That is clearly incorrect.
Mr. Cassidy: Mr. Speaker, on a point of privilege.
Mr. Speaker: Order, please. The point of privilege was raised, it was answered and there is no other point of privilege.
Mr. Cassidy: On a point of privilege, Mr. Speaker, if I may have a minute of your time.
Mr. Speaker: No, there is no point of privilege. It is out of order.
Mr. Cassidy: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker: I ask you to look at the information. I ask the minister to withdraw his allegation that what I said was incorrect. He has confirmed what I said was correct and I wish he would say so in this Legislature rather than trying to fog the Legislature with all sorts of other statistics.
Mr. Speaker: You may clarify that point during the question period, at which time you may ask the minister a question.
Hon. Mr. Norton: Mr. Speaker, in view of the honourable member's statement, I believe I now have a matter of privilege, because this member has implied that I was in some way in error or might have stretched the truth in the Legislature.
Mr. Speaker: You clarified the point very well.
Hon. Mr. Norton: He was incorrect and I will be glad to deal with this in question period or at some other appropriate time.
Mr. Smith: Mr. Speaker, I want to ask a question of the Treasurer. What will the government of Ontario be doing in the face of the highest interest rates in living memory?
Hon. F. S. Miller: Mr. Speaker, the Premier (Mr. Davis) asked during the election campaign, and I have asked subsequent to that, for a finance ministers' meeting and a first ministers' meeting to discuss what we consider to be critical economic problems in the nation. I have suggested to my colleagues in the provinces that the matter needs to be discussed. I will be glad to review almost all the kinds of questions we had in the late winter session. The fact remains that interest rate policy is a function of the federal government.
Mr. Smith: Since the government produced last spring a discussion paper on interest rate policy which said it was estimated there would be fewer than 20,000 households that might experience affordability problems at rates of 16 per cent, and now that the rates have gone to 17 per cent and higher, can the minister tell us how many households will be experiencing affordability problems if they have to renew their mortgages at present rates and whether the sum total of the response of the government of Ontario in this crisis will be simply to continue to refer to the matter as a federal problem, or will the government of Ontario at some point decide to do something to exercise its responsibility for home owners and small business people as well as farmers in the province?
Hon. F. S. Miller: I have never tried to say that governments cannot affect the inflation rate; indeed they can, as many elements in our economy can.
The fact remains that we can only do so much in this province in contributing to the solution, and that is to diminish inflation, because, as the member knows, an interest rate is simply a symptom of inflation and inflation is the disease.
I would like the honourable member to look at the efforts taken by this government, the very efforts he kept claiming were indications of the weakness of our economy, and the very fact that we have controlled our spending in this province better than any other province in Canada because we honestly believe that we have to keep our requests for borrowing to a minimum so that the money will not be taken out of the society.
The honourable member's friends in Ottawa do not do that and he basically shares their philosophy. He has to basically accept the responsibility for Canada's inflation with them.
Mr. Cassidy: Supplementary, Mr. Speaker: In view of the fact that the government has supported the federal government on the constitutional question down the line, is it not about time that the government of Ontario started to call in its chips with the federal government and insist that there be action now to bring down the spiral of interest rates and to protect consumers and home owners across the province?
Hon. F. S. Miller: Mr. Speaker, I do not disagree.
Mr. Smith: Mr. Speaker, can the Treasurer state clearly and unequivocally, so that everyone in Ontario can understand what was the importance of March 19, that in his view the government of Ontario will do absolutely nothing, will suggest absolutely nothing, and will come in no way to the aid of home owners, small businessmen and farmers?
If that is his intention, will he state unequivocally that he intends to sit on his hands in the face of the highest interest rates in history, do nothing for the people of this province and just blame somebody else? If that is what he is going to do, let him just say so clearly.
Hon. F. S. Miller: I am not going to sit on my hands. Mr. Premier -- Mr. Speaker --
Mr. Riddell: Right on!
Hon. F. S. Miller: I didn't make a Freudian slip; I had a Freudian nightmare.
Mr. Van Horne: The colour of your face matches your shirt.
Hon. F. S. Miller: Yes. It matches my shirt now. I am embarrassed.
Mr. Speaker, I am not going to be trapped into some of these generalized statements. I have listened to the Leader of the Opposition go around this province telling the world how bad a place this is to live. I have to tell him what we did learn on March 19 was that people did not believe him and they trust us.
Mr. Smith: They trusted you and they are learning quickly now, aren't they?
Mr. Smith: Mr. Speaker, now that the Solicitor General is back from doing his part to weaken our case in front of the Supreme Court, I will ask him a question with respect to the matter of enforcement of fire safety regulations in hotels, licensed and unlicensed.
Does the Solicitor General agree with the comments of the fire marshal, the comments of the two coroners' jury reports that I cited yesterday, the four lawyers testifying at the recent Inn on the Park inquest and a regional manager with the Liquor Licence Board of Ontario, all of whom agree that both licensed and unlicensed hotels should have inspections from one agency of this government rather than the current system of two?
Does the Solicitor General agree that both types of hotels should have the enforcement of fire safety regulations under the fire marshal's office and not a split jurisdiction as it is at the moment?
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: Mr. Speaker, I have not read the comments the Leader of the Opposition has referred to. Therefore, I am unable to make any detailed response. The fact is, as the Leader of the Opposition appreciates, that the inspectors who are responsible for the inspection of licensed hotel premises are agents of the fire marshal's office. They do receive training in the fire marshal's office; so to that extent they are acting under the aegis of the fire marshal.
Mr. Smith: The Solicitor General said two years ago in this House that he did not see any problem with the split jurisdiction at the present time, but he would talk to the fire marshal about whether there was a problem and pursue the matter. Therefore, surely he must be familiar with this matter now and should know that those who operate under the LLBO, although deputized to the fire marshal, have nothing but a few months of on-the-job training, whereas those who work for the fire marshal directly happen to have --
Hon. Mr. Davis: How many months did you have?
Mr. Smith: The Premier thinks this is quite a hilarious issue.
Hon. Mr. Davis: Not at all.
Mr. Smith: At the moment it is not considered that funny by the relatives of those who have been tragically killed in hotel fires.
Hon. Mr. Davis: I don't think it's humorous at all.
Mr. Smith: The Solicitor General will be aware that those who work for the fire marshal directly have graduated from the Ontario Fire College, have six months of training in various fire departments and on-the-job training in addition. All these experts, including his own fire marshal, have now called for these inspections to be unified under one ministry directly and totally. Will he finally unify it so that licensed and unlicensed hotels are equally inspected by people of equal qualifications in just one central authority?
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: I have nothing to add. At the conclusion of the inquest that is being wound up in relation to the Inn on the Park fire, I expect to be reviewing the situation with the fire marshal, as we do on a regular basis. There are distinct advantages in having the inspectors who are responsible for licensed premises, who are there on a regular basis, carrying out fire inspections.
I appreciate that there can be valid arguments made on both sides of the issue. At this point I am not yet satisfied that it is in the public interest to combine the inspection services in one ministry, but it is a matter we keep under very constant review.
Mr. Breaugh: Supplementary, Mr. Speaker: I want to ask the minister, does it not make common sense to have one standard of training for the inspectors, one reporting agency through his office and one set of regulations applying to all these very serious problems, instead of the hotchpotch we have? Can the minister not give us a simple commitment to work towards that by the end of this session?
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: Mr. Speaker, we expect to be reintroducing amendments to the Fire Marshals Act with respect to a uniform fire code. I think this will assist us in reaching that level of fire protection, which I agree is of utmost importance to all the citizens in the province.
Mr. Nixon: Mr. Speaker, will the Solicitor General not agree there is a serious problem in his statement that the review of the findings of the inquest may or may not result in a change in the regulation and statute when we can recall the same findings coming from the inquest related to the disastrous fire in the New Royal Hotel, Paris, Ontario, in my constituency, about six years ago?
The identical recommendations were made at that time: that the inspection on behalf of the LLBO was inadequate, that the same people were inspecting on the suitability of the entertainment and the flushability of the facilities in the washroom, when their qualifications were nothing more than their support of present and continuing administrations? In that instance as well there were deaths and clear recommendations for an improvement in the inspection.
Now the minister is going to look at it again. Will he not agree that it is intolerable and unacceptable?
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: Mr. Speaker, the qualifications of these inspectors are continuously being upgraded. I think people who suggest -- I do not think I have anything further to add at this time, because the Leader of the Opposition obviously is not taking it very seriously. He has the nerve to criticize the Premier. Why does he not cut out this supercilious approach he has to every important public issue?
Mr. Speaker: Order. Will the minister take his seat, please. Order.
Mr. Speaker: Order.
HARLEQUIN ENTERPRISES LIMITED
Mr. Cassidy: Mr. Speaker, if the Supreme Court justices saw what was happening today with the Attorney General in this House, they might reconsider their justice.
Mr. Speaker: That is not a question.
Mr. Cassidy: Mr. Speaker, I have a question of the Minister of Industry and Tourism arising out of the fact that Harlequin Enterprises Limited, a Canadian company that publishes Harlequin Romances, is laying off 70 workers in Stratford, Ontario, this week, and is transferring its mail order operations from Stratford to Tempe, in Arizona, a right-to-work state of the United States of America. Given the strong evidence that this shutdown and loss of jobs was unnecessary, what action does the minister intend to take to keep those jobs in Ontario?
Hon. Mr. Grossman: Mr. Speaker, I will be pleased to look into that but, as the honourable member well knows, this government is not in the business of declaring, as he is, that a certain plant closure or a decision by a company to close down operations is not justified. We are not in that business.
Mr. Cassidy: Given the fact that Harlequin in 1979 accounted for three quarters of the $52-million operating profit of its parent company, Torstar, also the publishers of the Toronto Star; given the fact that the Toronto Star has been a leading advocate of economic nationalism here in Canada; and given the fact that the company has been systematically transferring its production from Ontario to the United States, why will the government not accept the need to make companies like this justify shutdowns in Ontario by establishing a job protection board and by putting legislation in place that will protect Ontario workers?
Hon. Mr. Grossman: If the member has certain comments on the activities of the Toronto Star or Torstar and how they carry on business, I say to him to feel free to relay that information to them next time he visits the editorial board.
I can only repeat what I said earlier, that this government is not in the business of reviewing decisions made by companies carrying on business in our economy; companies that currently are employing about 101,000 more people in this province than they were a year ago; companies that are providing, in terms of where Canada is on the unemployment rate, substantially less than the average rate of unemployment for all Canada. We do not believe that it is appropriate for this government to get involved in reviewing decisions made by the private sector.
While I may not agree with all the decisions companies make from time to time, and certainly the honourable member never will agree with the decisions companies make from time to time, I have a lot more faith in their ability to make the right decisions in the long term to build a strong economy here than I do in presuming that some boards sitting somewhere can exercise better judgement and omnipotently say, "No, I don't think that plant should be allowed to close in this province." I just do not think that is the proper view of life, and the experience in every jurisdiction supports that particular view.
Mr. Mancini: A final supplementary, Mr. Speaker: If the minister feels it should not concern the government whether plants stay open or are closed, why did he bother making a presentation and why did he bother appearing before the select committee on plant shutdowns? Why did the minister not tell us back then that he did not care if these plants stayed open or closed?
Is it the minister's intention now to completely disregard all of the work that had been done by that select committee and just to pretend that plants do not close and that people do not suffer when they lose their jobs?
Hon. Mr. Grossman: Mr. Speaker, I attended at that committee for several reasons.
One, we do care on this side of the House.
Two, I was asked to attend before that committee, and I do not have to wait for a subpoena; if a committee wants to see me, I am only too glad to attend.
Third, as the members will recall, the day I appeared at that committee I argued exactly the same case that I have just finished arguing.
Fourth -- it was absolutely the same way. The member has been spending a little bit too much time listening to various views in his caucus, which alter from week to week. On this side he will hear the same sort of policies day in and day out. We do not change our story depending on where the latest plant closure is.
Before I sit down, I cannot resist reminding the parties across the floor that it is interesting to note that on occasion companies that are not foreign-owned companies -- that is, Canadian-owned companies -- also make decisions to close out plants in this province, and that these decisions are almost always based on financial decisions and not on any sense that Canada is somehow a colony of any other jurisdiction.
It is interesting that apparently these same kinds of conclusions are reached from time to time regardless of where the company is owned. It is very interesting.
Mr. Cassidy: Final supplementary, Mr. Speaker --
Mr. Speaker: No, Mr. Cassidy. Order, please. That was the final supplementary. We have had three supplementaries.
Mr. Cassidy: Two supplementaries, with respect, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Speaker: You have had two, the opposition one. A new question, please.
Mr. Cassidy: Mr. Speaker, I have a new question for the minister of high-priced housing to mark the fact that last month in the Metropolitan Toronto region the price of an average detached home rose beyond the $100,000 mark.
Can the minister explain why it is that for the last two weeks he has been telling this House that people on modest incomes should look outside of the core into the suburbs to find a home that they can afford, yet last Friday he went to the Organization of Small Urban Municipalities (Ontario) and the Association of Municipalities of Ontario, and informed them that "perhaps suburban living will become a luxury that we can no longer afford"?
If the minister maintains that people on average incomes cannot afford to buy a home in the core, and if he tells AMO that, for those same people, living in the suburbs is a luxury they cannot afford, will he kindly tell the House where people on modest incomes should be looking for a house of their own at a price they can afford?
Hon. Mr. Bennett: Mr. Speaker, the opposition have the great opportunity of just reading into a statement all they want and eliminating whatever they want.
My comments were made very clearly on the fact that I thought the development of urban and suburban areas would take place and that some consideration regarding capital costs in those areas had to be given by the local councils. I was cautioning against going into things without having done a complete assessment of the cost of that particular service.
At that time in the speech, if the member looks at it carefully, I did relate to the government's participation in certain programs to assist municipalities in bringing serviced land on at a more realistic price.
Mr. Cassidy: Perhaps the minister can respond to this question: If people cannot afford to move to the suburbs because it is a luxury the minister says they cannot afford, and if people cannot move into the core because the minister admits that housing in the core is out of their reach, then where do families on average incomes look for a house at a price they can afford in today's market?
Hon. Mr. Bennett: I guess the member of the third party will find it convenient each and every day to ask a question relating to the price of housing. I have gone through the price of --
Hon. Mr. Bennett: Never in my fondest dreams did I wish to imply that there were not some very expensive homes available in the suburban areas of this province; never in my fondest dreams regarding Brampton and various other places. They do have fairly high-class homes which are fairly expensive, but in that same market there also are homes available at reasonable prices and, as I said yesterday and repeat again today, at prices that will be within the range of all income groups in this province.
I want to emphasize again that not everyone in this province is going to wish to own a home and not everyone wants to own property in Ontario or anywhere else for that matter.
Mr. Epp: Supplementary, Mr. Speaker: Aside from the fact the minister is claiming to be minister of municipal affairs and housing in his press releases even before the ministry has been created -- he is a great pretender, I suppose -- will he tell us exactly what people in Metropolitan Toronto are supposed to do to overcome the high interest rates and to be able to afford modest homes on their earnings? We have had a lot of words from over there, but the minister has not suggested any government policy to overcome the problems and dilemmas these people are facing.
Hon. Mr. Bennett: Mr. Speaker, I have been accused of not having sufficient inventory for all the people who want to buy homes in this province. Now a member is saying that interest rates are too high and are not allowing people to buy real estate. Surely there seems to be some imbalance in the two comments being made by the opposition parties.
I want to make it clear in answer to the member's remarks relating to interest rates that I concur with the federal minister, who happens to be of the same political stripe as the member asking the question, which happens to be the Liberal Party in Ottawa. Clearly, interest rates are part of the cost of ownership. For any government at the provincial level to try to step in and offer some incentives or reductions in interest rates would be a foolhardy move and one that the economy of this --
Ms. Copps: Abolish the ministry if you can't do anything.
Hon. Mr. Bennett: If the member for Hamilton Centre would take up the habit of listening, she would be okay in this Legislature. She should not try to perform like the former member for St. George. She got into the habit of yelling and shouting and made little or no sense. The member for Hamilton Centre is following very adequately in her footsteps.
Hon. Mr. Gregory: She is better looking.
Hon. Mr. Bennett: The only thing I would say to the member for Hamilton Centre is she is better looking than the former member for St. George. I give her that remark.
Mr. Speaker: The minister will ignore the interjections, please.
Hon. Mr. Bennett: I have said clearly we are not going to tamper with the interest rate.
Mr. Speaker: That was the final supplementary. The Minister of the Environment has an answer to a question which was previously asked.
Mr. R.F. Johnston: Mr. Speaker, on a point of privilege: Did I understand the minister to comment that the member for Hamilton Centre is better looking than the previous member for St. George? That kind of sexist comment from over there is totally uncalled for.
Mr. Speaker: That is hardly a point of privilege.
Mr. Speaker: Order. I had already asked the Minister of the Environment to answer a question which was previously asked.
Ms. Copps: On a point of privilege, Mr. Speaker, my name was mentioned.
Mr. Speaker: Order. That was not a point of privilege.
Mr. Hennessy: Back to the kitchen.
Mr. Foulds: How can you rule on this, Mr. Speaker, before you allow her to raise it?
Mr. Smith: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order: I do not know what point of privilege the member for Hamilton Centre wishes to raise, but I distinctly heard her name mentioned. She was referred to in terms of whether her looks were better or otherwise with regard to the former member for St. George. There was a comment from the other end of the Conservative benches about whether she should go back to the kitchen or something of that kind.
Whatever her point of privilege will be, you may wish to rule it out of order once you have heard it, Mr. Speaker, but with the greatest respect I think she should be given an opportunity to express that point.
Mr. Speaker: With all respect, I would just remind the members that this is their question period. Time is running on. The point of privilege was raised and I think dealt with satisfactorily. But if the member for Hamilton Centre has a separate point of privilege or a new point of privilege, I would be willing to hear that.
Ms. Copps: On a new point of privilege, Mr. Speaker: I did not hear the second part of that remark but, as my colleague from the New Democratic Party has stated, I feel it is derogatory. I also feel that the first part of his remarks, which speak of the former member for St. George, Mrs. Campbell, in a derogatory fashion, should be withdrawn because she is one of the finest members this House has ever seen.
Mr. Speaker: Order.
The minister had the floor. I did not hear the interjection to which the member refers. Actually, interjections should be ignored anyway, but I would say that was the same point of privilege I had ruled on earlier. Now we will get back to the Minister of the Environment.
RIDGE LANDFILL SITE
Hon. Mr. Norton: Mr. Speaker, in my absence on Friday last the member for Kent-Elgin (Mr. McGuigan) directed a question to the Provincial Secretary for Resources Development (Mr. Ramsay) relating to the operation of the Ridge landfill site in Harwich. As I believe the honourable member is aware, the continued operation of that particular site will be the subject of a full public hearing under the Environmental Protection Act. As a matter of fact, it is expected that the dates for the hearing will be announced later this month.
With respect to the specific concern he raised in the question regarding the quantities of liquid waste received in the Ridge landfill, the information supplied in support of the application for a certificate of approval indicated 15 per cent of the waste as being liquid waste with an estimate -- and I repeat estimate -- of 8,000 gallons per day, or approximately two million gallons per year.
I would point out that the figure the member used of 3.4 million gallons during the period between August 1, 1979, and July 31, 1980, is a correct figure to the best of my knowledge. But I would further point out that it is obviously impossible during any or all 12-month periods to hold a landfill site to precisely an exact amount. I would point out to him that if he had chosen to use the calendar year of 1980, I believe the amount of liquid waste deposited during that time was just slightly over the two million figure; in fact, it was about 2.3 million gallons. Those fluctuations can readily be explained in terms of the rate of operation of certain industries in that area, for example, the automotive industry and other industries which might create waste which is delivered to that site.
Mr. Smith: It is not supervised.
Hon. Mr. Norton: Of course, it is not a question of not supervising, it is a question of --
Mr. Smith: It's exactly the same for the Upper Ottawa Street site.
Hon. Mr. Norton: Mr. Speaker; I will respond to the member for Hamilton West in a moment.
I would also point out to the member who raised the question that even at the high period which he cited in terms of the deposit of liquid waste, the total amount was still well within the 15 per cent figure that had been estimated in the documents that were submitted.
I would further point out that we are currently reviewing the process with a view to issuing certificates of approval with conditions attached, which was not the practice at the time that particular approval was issued. Obviously, it is our commitment to eventually eliminate the carriage of liquid industrial wastes to landfill sites as soon as an alternative can be put in place. To relieve his concern, the site in question is probably the most closely monitored site in the province. There has been no indication in any of the testing that has been done of any contamination in the surrounding area, the surrounding water wells or in the surrounding soil.
Mr. McGuigan: Supplementary, Mr. Speaker: in a co-disposal situation such as we have at Harwich, is it not true there is a relationship between the amount of solid waste and the amount of liquid waste? It is based on the fact that the solid waste absorbs the liquid, and then they put earth cover over it. If the liquid waste far exceeds the amount of solid waste, then free liquids flow out of the side of the earth that has been filled. This has been observed and documented by many of the nearby residents. Does the minister not feel this relationship should be adhered to? This is one of the reasons the people of the area are so mistrustful and resist such proposals as have been made in Harwich and in Cayuga.
Hon. Mr. Norton: Mr. Speaker, I would acknowledge that a shift in that ratio would be a matter of concern. But even during the period the member cites and during the time the volumes reached the level they did, the ratio of liquid waste to solid waste at no time approached the 15 per cent that had been set out in the documentation. It was still well below the 15 per cent; so the ratios were never breached.
Mr. Sweeney: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Minister of Industry and Tourism which refers to the secondary education review which was tabled yesterday and specifically to the point made in it that the task of job training and career preparation ranks very high in public priority. Given the very specific recommendation that school boards be required to establish procedures that would ensure the participation of employers in the development of job-oriented programs, what specific incentive is his ministry proposing in conjunction with the Ministry of Education which would encourage employers in industry to comply with that specific recommendation?
Hon. Mr. Grossman: Mr. Speaker, the task for developing those kinds of policies has fallen to the Ontario Manpower Commission which reports to my colleague the Minister of Labour, to whom the member might wish to direct that question.
Mr. Sweeney: May I redirect the question to the Minister of Labour then?
Hon. Mr. Elgie: Mr. Speaker, would the member repeat the question please?
Mr. Sweeney: The reference is to the secondary education review project that was tabled yesterday. They indicate very clearly that the task of job training and career preparation ranks very high in public priority. They make the specific recommendation that the school boards of the province be required -- and I am emphasizing certain words -- to establish procedures that would ensure the participation of employers in the development of work-oriented programs. What specific incentives are the Ministry of Labour and the Ministry of Industry and Tourism working on to encourage employers and industry to enable this to be fulfilled?
Hon. Mr. Elgie: Mr. Speaker, as the member well knows, there are now some 57 industrial training councils throughout the province and the number of apprentices in the employer-sponsored training program increases weekly. In addition, in the economic document published by the government in January, which the member has praised very highly on many occasions during the election campaign, I know, there was a clear commitment by the government to meet with members of industry to determine whether or not there is that kind of commitment to training we require. If not, we intend to get into consultations with our federal colleagues. Failing success in that arena, we will have to proceed on our own.
Mr. Sweeney: Supplementary: To respond to a statement in the report, it says within industry there is a reluctance on the part of management to accept students. Now we know that Ontario is one of the few industrial jurisdictions in the western world that does not require its industry to participate in skill training in some way. We know that the Minister of Industry and Tourism signs over a thousand immigration release forms every year to import skilled workers into this country.
This whole project cannot possibly work if the Ministry of Labour and the Ministry of Industry and Tourism do not provide some kind of incentive or some kind of requirement. What does the minister propose to do? The reply just cannot be more and more, "We are going to look into it." The ministry has been looking into it since 1963. That is 18 years ago. We still do not have that kind of incentive or that kind of requirement in this province.
Hon. Mr. Elgie: There is no question of passing any buck. Anybody who did not understand that there is a problem really has a difficulty. It is an international problem. The member knows that and I know that. But this province, as one of the rare examples of a jurisdiction that is tackling the problem, I think is approaching it very appropriately.
We are going in a variety of directions. We are going through the secondary education review project to try to relate the educational process to industrial training. The member knows that. We have the employer-sponsored training program, which is very directly involved now with 57 communities. We have the government's firm commitment to get on with the job of meeting with industry and either getting firm commitments or proceeding. I think that is pretty positive action.
CLEANUP OF SPILLS
Mr. Charlton: I have a question for the Minister of the Environment, Mr. Speaker. It is now 14 months since Bill 24, the spills bill, was passed and received royal assent. Can the minister tell us what is delaying the proclamation of that bill and how long we can expect to have to wait before that very important piece of legislation is in place and in operation in this province?
Hon. Mr. Norton: Mr. Speaker, it is my intention that the honourable member shall not have to wait much longer.
Mr. Charlton: Supplementary: It is our understanding that there has been a fairly substantial lobby by some industries and by the Canadian Manufacturers' Association against the strict liability provisions of that bill. Is the minister prepared to assure us that the intent that was very clearly expressed in this Legislature when that bill was passed will not be weakened by the regulations that are attached to that legislation?
Hon. Mr. Norton: There are very few occasions when there is not some lobbying done by various interest groups when legislation is brought before this House. I can assure the member that the fundamental integrity of the purpose of that legislation will not be compromised.
Ms. Bryden: Supplementary, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Speaker: A new question. We have had sufficient supplementaries. The questions are getting repetitive. The minister has given a very clear commitment.
Mr. J. A. Reed: I have a question for the Minister of Energy, Mr. Speaker. I wonder if the minister would explain why special nuclear surcharges are being proposed for the 1982 Hydro rates -- surcharges that will amount to $1.2 billion by 1990.
Hon. Mr. Welch: Mr. Speaker, as the honourable member knows, these are the sorts of questions that he no doubt would want to ask when this matter becomes the subject of discussion and consideration by the Ontario Energy Board. The matter is there for him to go through. If he needs any further explanation in his preparation, he can put the questions he has with respect to the Hydro submission on the Notice Paper and I will get him the material he needs to prepare his presentation to the Ontario Energy Board.
Mr. J. A. Reed: Supplementary: Is the minister telling us with that kind of answer that he just does not know the information, that he does not want to know, and that he is not prepared to answer for Ontario Hydro in the Legislature?
Hon. Mr. Welch: No, I did not say any of that. I said if there are particulars the member wants with respect to the Hydro submission, with respect to its rate increase for 1982, which I have referred to the Ontario Energy Board, he need only put it on the Notice Paper or get in touch with Hydro to get the information he requires.
Mr. Sargent: A supplementary, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Speaker: I made it very clear that was the final supplementary.
Mr. Sargent: There was no supplementary. I want a supplementary to the question.
Mr. Speaker: Order. I said very clearly that was the final supplementary.
Mr. Sargent: Why does the Speaker not allow me one supplementary?
Mr. Speaker: I recognize Mr. Samis with a new question.
Mr. Sargent: I challenge the Speaker's ruling.
Mr. Speaker: I would point out to the member, with all due respect, he cannot do that during the question period. I would suggest he read the yellow book of standing orders. I say that with the greatest of respect. I recognize Mr. Samis.
Mr. Sargent: With the greatest respect, Mr Speaker, I have tried on three occasions --
Mr. Speaker: For the last time I say order. Please sit down. Mr. Samis.
Mr. Samis: I have a question of the Minister of Correctional Services, Mr. Speaker. Could he tell the House what action we can expect on the recommendations from the coroner's jury about the need to replace the outdated and overcrowded 150-year-old Cornwall jail as a result of the tragic death of an inmate several months ago?
Hon. Mr. Leluk: Mr. Speaker, any death in our correctional institutions is both regrettable and tragic. I want to say to the honourable member that the staff in my ministry do an excellent job of supervision, taking into consideration that in the 50 institutions we operate we had over 65,000 admissions last year, some of these people being disturbed, anxious and depressed.
This ministry has closed or replaced 20 jails in the past 10 years, and five of these have been in eastern Ontario. As a new minister, I would like to be able to say to the member that I will replace all the older jails, but I think one has to be realistic. We do not have the money to do this. It would be less than honest for me to say to him that I will be replacing the Cornwall jail at this time or in the near future.
Mr. Speaker: A final supplementary from Mr. Samis.
Mr. Sargent: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Speaker: Mr. Sargent on a point of order.
Mr. Sargent: My point of order is this. With all respect, for the past three years the Minister of Energy (Mr. Welch) has never answered one question I have asked him in the House. He is therefore obfuscating. Either he is stupid or he does not know what is going on.
Mr. Speaker: Order, please.
Mr. Sargent: The minister never answers any questions.
Mr. Speaker: That is not a point of order.
Mr. Sargent: It is a planned awareness of stupidity.
Mr. Samis: Mr. Speaker, I have a supplementary to the minister. Can he give some assurance to the people of the united counties of Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry that since this is the oldest jail in the province outside of L'Orignal and since juries have repeatedly recommended its replacement by a new and modern facility he will give the replacement of this institution top priority within his ministry now that he is there? Second, can he assure us that the other recommendation of the coroner's jury about training for the staff will be implemented as soon as possible?
Hon. Mr. Leluk: Mr. Speaker, taking the second part of that question first, the correctional officers do receive first aid and lifesaving training, I believe, for eight hours. The supervision staff or the senior officers receive 16 hours of training in this area.
As I mentioned earlier, I would like to replace the old institutions under this ministry but the money is not there when one takes into consideration the cost of a new maximum security institution runs over $70,000 per bed. We just do not have that money at the present time.
ENTRENCHMENT OF LANGUAGE RIGHTS
Mr. Roy: I have a question to the Premier in the absence of the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs (Mr. Wells). I wonder if the Premier could advise me as to what sort of contribution his soundly defeated candidate in Ottawa East is going to make to the government. The Premier holds the view that Franco-Ontarians are well treated in this province and that there is no problem. But Omer Deslauriers was quoted in the Globe and Mail on February 28 as saying: "The Indians have their rights. I do not see why Franco-Ontarians should not have some too. After all, we have been here 200 years." What sort of contribution is he going to make in Franco-Ontarian affairs when his views are so different from the Premier's? Is it not a fact that he is benefiting now from the promise made to him to entice him to go and commit political suicide in Ottawa East?
Hon. Mr. Davis: Mr. Speaker, I must say as leader of the Progressive Conservative Party that I was highly honoured that Mr. Deslauriers and 123 other extremely able men and women offered themselves as candidates for our party.
I do not want to get into comparisons. I do not want to continue to fight the election of March 19 but I think the people of this province made a judgement too on the capacity of those men and women who offered themselves as candidates. I think it is fair to state that I was quite aware of the views held by Mr. Deslauriers on some issues before he became a candidate. Unlike the Liberal Party of Ontario which sometimes runs as 125 independent candidates, we do not dictate to our candidates in terms of their personal points of view. So there is nothing inconsistent in having a candidate who expresses a point of view that may not be exactly the same as mine.
If the member is going to get into this issue, Mr. Deslauriers was expressing his support of the entrenchment of section 133 in the constitution. Rather than ask me, the member should do himself a service and debate this with his leader. In the minds of francophones at one point in history he was in support of section 133, but during the campaign he found some way to say he was not in support of its entrenchment. They are still trying to have it both ways.
Mr. Roy: Supplementary: We know how the Premier gets people to run for him. Is it part of the overall scheme in getting people like Mr. Deslauriers to run to promise him a job like the one he has been given, or maybe better things? Is it part of the scheme as well that not only should Deslauriers have a job with this government but also his wife apparently has a job in the translation services with this government and his former secretary has a job with the government as well? Is that part of what the Premier calls the largess of the Conservative Party here in Ontario?
Hon. Mr. Davis: Mr. Speaker, I am not really aware of the activities of Mr. Deslauriers' former secretary. I am not aware of the activities of the member's secretary. I do not go around checking other people's secretaries. I guess the member has a lot of free time.
Mr. Speaker: Order. The Premier has the floor.
Hon. Mr. Davis: If the member for Ottawa East wants to keep debating this issue I challenge him, because this is an important, sensitive issue. He should not look across the House at me and challenge me on section 133. I have been consistent and I have not tried to have it both ways as has the leader of the Liberal Party of Ontario. The member should go and debate it with him.
PROTECTION OF ARTEFACTS
Mr. Foulds: Mr. Speaker, I want to ask the Minister of Culture and Recreation what steps his ministry is taking to protect the documents, tapes, experiments and artefacts on Whitewater Lake left to his ministry by a deed or gift of articles by Wendell Beckwith.
Hon. Mr. Baetz: Mr. Speaker, I can only give an interim answer. We are looking into it and taking every necessary step to ensure the protection of those papers.
Mr. Foulds: I want to ask the minister to outline the value of the artefacts, buildings and so on that Mr. Beckwith has left to the ministry, whether his top officials recognize their importance and what concrete steps his ministry can take to retain those things for the people of Ontario in view of the steps taken by a Mr. Worth of California, who is claiming to be Mr. Beckwith's partner?
Hon. Mr. Baetz: As I indicated in my first reply, we are taking the necessary steps to ensure those artefacts and papers will remain in this country and will not be going to California.
INCORPORATION OF CITIZENS' GROUPS
Mr. Epp: Mr. Speaker, it seems they have a committee over there called "The committee looking into it."
I have a question for the Attorney General. In view of the Ontario Municipal Board decision of April 23, 1981, in which a group of citizens appealing a decision was not permitted to be heard by the board because it said the group was not incorporated, and in view of the fact the board has permitted appeals in the past by unincorporated citizens' groups as long as the appeal was launched by one person belonging to the group, will the minister undertake to have this situation remedied so citizens' groups can be advised of the board's practice when they appear before it, rather than simply being prohibited from having their appeals heard?
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: Mr. Speaker, I think most citizens' groups, ratepayers' groups and neighbourhood associations are well aware of the legal requirements with respect to appeals. They have existed for some time to protect all parties. Sometimes an objection is not raised.
As the honourable member has pointed out, there is no requirement that would require a citizens' group or a neighbourhood ratepayers' association to incorporate. But if it does not choose to incorporate, somebody must take the legal responsibility of launching the appeal. It can sometimes incur costs. For example, if it is a frivolous appeal, it may be subjected to costs.
When associations do not incorporate, as the honourable member mentioned a moment ago, at the appeal or the proceeding the application is launched in the names of one or more individuals, because the law has long recognized that an unincorporated body has no legal standing. For people who may be affected, who may be subjected, for example, to unnecessary costs in relation to a frivolous appeal, then there is no one against whom the board can make an order of costs. I think the situation has been the law in this province for some time and, quite frankly, I am not persuaded that it should be changed.
Mr. Epp: In view of the fact that the board on numerous occasions has permitted these groups to be heard and has sometimes applied costs to the group, why does the minister not give direction to the board that these groups should be heard?
The minister is obviously aware of many situations, including one where the Homewood Ratepayers Association was not heard against the Four Seasons development. He is aware of the fact that they went there prepared to make their presentation and they were not being heard. They expected to be heard, based on a number of precedents, a number of times when different associations that were unincorporated were heard.
Why does he not give a directive to the board to hear these groups?
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: I do not believe the board has ever made an order of costs against an unincorporated organization. That is the best of my knowledge at the present time.
The fact that the board may have allowed the matter to proceed when none of the other parties raised any objection is not surprising. But once a party raises an objection, then I do not think the board has any alternative but to apply the law that has been the law of this province for many years. An unincorporated body does not have legal standing; it is not a legal person.
Ms. Bryden: Supplementary, Mr. Speaker: Can I ask the Attorney General, does this not mean that in future the opponents in all cases will raise the objection against an unincorporated group and therefore unincorporated groups will not be able to appear before the Ontario Municipal Board?
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: Mr. Speaker, as I said a few moments ago, I think the overwhelming majority of ratepayer organizations are well aware of this requirement and if they are unincorporated usually one or more members of the executive or association lend their names to the application. It has not been a significant problem.
Mr. Breaugh: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations. What can he do to help those 952 Ontario residents who bought property in Florida from a thing called Tampa Downs Ranchettes, now called Quail Hollow Estates? These people bought lots in Florida from real estate agents here in Ontario, they have been able to pay taxes and improvement charges on them but nobody has been able to find the lots yet.
Hon. Mr. Walker: Mr. Speaker, is that a suggestion that we have a select committee to search out the lots?
I suspect that will involve Florida law and Florida problems. To the extent that it involves companies in Ontario selling those lots, we can have our business practices division investigate and determine whether there is some impropriety there.
Mr. Speaker: The time for oral questions has expired.
COMMENTS OF MINISTER
Mr. R. F. Johnston: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order: I am little concerned that what we might have had today was a precedent-setting event in which sexist language was allowed to be used in this House without a reprimand. I request that you look at Hansard to review the comments by the Minister of Housing (Mr. Bennett) in response to the interjection by the member for Hamilton Centre (Ms. Copps).
Mr. Speaker: I assure the member I will take that into consideration and I will indeed take a look at it. I am sorry the remark escaped me.
INTRODUCTION OF BILLS
IDEA CORPORATION ACT
Hon. F. S. Miller moved first reading of Bill 47, An Act to establish a Corporation to promote Innovation Development for Employment Advancement.
Motion agreed to.
MASSEY-FERGUSON LIMITED ACT
Hon. Mr. Grossman moved first reading of Bill 48, An Act respecting Massey-Ferguson Limited.
Motion agreed to.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: Mr. Speaker, the purpose of this bill is to authorize the government of Ontario to purchase shares of Massey-Ferguson Limited should we be required to do so under the terms of agreements to be entered into between the company, Massey-Ferguson, and the governments of Ontario and Canada. Under those agreements, the federal and provincial governments may be required to purchase from the holders thereof up to eight million series D preferred shares having a stated value of $25 each. Canada's and Ontario's liabilities are apportioned at 62.5 per cent and 37.5 per cent respectively, with Ontario's dollar liability limited to an amount not exceeding $78 million. The government guarantees will enable Massey-Ferguson to complete its refinancing package, which totals in excess of $700 million.
FOREST RESOURCE MANAGEMENT ACT
Mr. Foulds moved first reading of Bill 49, An Act to ensure the Regeneration and Reforestation of Forests in Ontario.
Motion agreed to.
Mr. Foulds: Mr. Speaker, the purpose of this bill is to require the Ministry of Natural Resources to prepare a forest resource analysis and forest resource program at regular intervals, to assist in ensuring the wise management of forest resources in Ontario.
The bill also makes it a duty of the minister to ensure that the forest resources of Ontario are managed on a sustained yield basis. This bill will be known as the Foulds-Martel bill and is more silviculturally sound than the Martel-Davis amendment of two for one.
BEER IN THE BALL PARK ACT
Mr. Samis moved first reading of Bill 50, An Act respecting the Sale of Beer at the Canadian National Exhibition Stadium.
Motion agreed to.
Mr. Samis: Mr. Speaker, the purpose of this stimulating, refreshing bill is to declare the Canadian National Exhibition stadium to be a licensed premises for the sale of beer at games played by the Toronto Blue Jays baseball team.
LONDON BAPTIST BIBLE COLLEGE AND LONDON BAPTIST SEMINARY ACT
Mr. Sweeney moved first reading of Bill Pr 10, an Act to incorporate London Baptist Bible College and London Baptist Seminary.
Motion agreed to.
Mr. Sweeney: Mr. Speaker, the purpose of this bill is to incorporate the London Baptist Bible College and London Baptist Seminary as a degree-granting institution in Ontario.
CHANGE OF NAME AMENDMENT ACT
Mr. Epp moved first reading of Bill 51, An Act to amend the Change of Name Act.
Motion agreed to.
Mr. Epp: Mr. Speaker, the purpose of the bill is to provide additional exemptions from the application of the Change of Name Act. The act currently provides that a woman may change her name without having to make a change-of-name application if she changes her surname to that of her husband upon her marriage or if she adopts her maiden name upon the annulment or dissolution of her marriage. A man who wishes to change his name to that of his wife must make a change-of-name application to a judge under the act.
The effect of the amendment contained in the bill is to permit a man to change his surname to that of his wife without the necessity of bringing a change-of-name application.
ORDERS OF THE DAY
THRONE SPEECH DEBATE (CONTINUED)
Resuming the adjourned debate on the amendment to the amendment to the motion for an address in reply to the speech of the Honourable the Lieutenant Governor at the opening of the session.
Mr. Wrye: First of all, as I join this debate I would be remiss if I did not congratulate you, Mr. Speaker, on your appointment to this very important and challenging position. I am confident you will ably fill the role of Speaker and bring a fair and even-handed approach to all of the business of this House.
In addition, I congratulate all the members who were successful in the election of March 19. The next four years will be difficult ones for this province and for this country, and it will be up to each of us to lead Ontario back to the economic prosperity that we enjoyed in previous years.
It is traditional for a newly elected member in his maiden speech to wax eloquent for a few minutes about the unique history of his area, the beauty of his riding and the cultural diversity of its citizens, but there is no time for such talk today. The county of Essex, the city of Windsor and in particular my own riding of Windsor-Sandwich are caught in the grip of an economic crisis that threatens the viability of our community and the wellbeing of its citizens. It is to that crisis and the government's lack of response that I wish to address myself in the next few minutes.
We have been told during the last few years that this province of ours, this Ontario, is the province of opportunity. It is, to borrow a phrase from the popular song, "a place to stand and a place to grow." For too long now the people in my community have done most of their standing in an unemployment line, and the most significant thing growing in Windsor-Sandwich is the list of broken homes, broken marriages and broken dreams. Opportunity has turned to despair.
From those on the government side of the House nothing has been offered -- nothing in the speech from the throne to help the people of my riding. Indeed, the only response from the Treasurer (Mr. F. S. Miller) during the election campaign was that Windsor should pull itself up by its bootstraps. How ridiculous. How insulting. I might add that it was a member of the party who was running for the government in an east-end riding in Windsor who alluded to those comments of the minister and suggested that the minister was, in his words, "an SOB."
It is not that the people of my community do not want to work; in fact, just the opposite is true. Last year more than 20,000 people turned out to apply for 2,000 jobs at the new General Motors transmission plant -- 20,000 applications for 2,000 jobs. But unemployment is feeding upon itself. The lack of jobs throughout the automotive and auto parts industry has now spread to the service industry, where layoffs and closings have become the order of the day, and in the springtime of 1981 there is no end in sight despite the rosy words of the speech from the throne and the glib talk from the Minister of Industry and Tourism (Mr. Grossman) last week when he was answering questions on auto industry layoffs.
It is perhaps ironic that one closing I learned of this past weekend was that of Mario's of Windsor, a restaurant once considered among the best in the city. Each year about this time the owner of that restaurant imported hundreds of tulips from his homeland of Holland as a welcome to spring, a way of giving thanks to Windsorites for our help in the efforts to liberate Holland during the Second World War. This year there will be no tulips at Mario's because, as in so much of my community, there is no real springtime.
Out in the west side of the city, right in the heart of my riding, a large building stands idle. It has just been sold and there will be some minimal employment there, but for hundreds of Bendix workers and hundreds of workers at plants that used to supply Bendix, the beginning of May brings them just one month closer to exhausting their unemployment benefits, one month closer to the welfare line.
During the election campaign, as I walked the streets of my riding, I saw a stark reminder of the depths of despair in the community -- not on the faces of some of my constituents, though they are troubled, and not in their voices, though many did talk to me at length of their difficulties. The stark reminder was in the empty homes and apartment buildings where people used to live that now stand unused, because those people have simply given up and left the city, and often they have left the province as well. That is an intolerable situation and the speech from the throne does nothing to redress it, nothing at all.
What can be done? At one level the Ontario government can help out both workers and industry with programs that complement the massive federal effort now under way. Windsor is part of Ontario too, and it is time the provincial government moved in with programs to help the community in its time of need. In addition to directly aiding both workers and business, the province could surely find a meaningful role in helping the municipality. Since they have done nothing yet, let me offer them a few suggestions.
For years now Windsor has been shortchanged on resource equalization grants. Each year this municipality marches down to Queen's Park to demand its fair share so that taxes can be held down and so that services can be increased, and each year Ontario has come up grudgingly with a few more dollars, but it has never been willing to right the wrong that exists. I note the member for Sarnia (Mr. Brandt) is here in the assembly, and he knows what I am speaking about, because he also has joined in these annual trips down here to see what can be done about this wrong. And it still exists.
Last year Windsor received only one half of the approximately $8 million that was rightfully owing to it. Faced with this inequity, an inequity compounded by the long unemployment crisis that has hit our city, the mayor of Windsor, Bert Weeks, last month wrote to the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs (Mr. Wells) asking for a meeting to review the whole situation. But the minister, in a letter dated eight days ago, has refused even to give the city officials an audience. He will not even talk to them. He has refused to reconsider what he himself knows to be an injustice that now totals perhaps as much as $60 million. If that arrogant refusal is part of the message of March 19, then Windsor and the rest of the province are in for some very hard times in the next four years.
There are other initiatives the province could take. For example, it could pick up an extra 10 per cent of the cost of welfare once unemployment reaches a certain level for a certain period of time. This would be a very important initiative. Let me give an example again from my own community.
Last year Windsor had budgeted less than $7 million, about seven per cent of its budget, for social assistance. By the end of the year it had spent $8.5 million. This year the figure will probably push well beyond $10 million and could go as high as $12 million. The municipality and the people who live in it cannot afford to pay the 20 per cent share of these added costs without some help. It just is not possible.
In addition, the cost of police and fire protection continues to skyrocket. This year the bill in Windsor will total nearly $20 million. And what has been the provincial response? It has increased the per capita police grant from $10 to $12, pumping all of 400,000 new dollars into the city. Worse, it continues to give municipalities $5 less per person than regional governments, a practice that means $1 million a year less for Windsor than it really deserves. It forces the municipality to further burden the taxpayers, who are already paying among the highest property taxes in Ontario.
I want to say a few words about last week's announcement that doctors in this province will receive an increase of nearly 15 per cent this year, an increase that could mean as much as an extra $12,000 in new income for the average doctor. I have read all the comments about just how far behind the medical profession had fallen in terms of increases in the last few years, and indeed there is some truth to those comments. Certainly doctors in Ontario have fallen somewhat behind their colleagues in the rest of the country.
But I want to make it clear that I believe that this increase, while perhaps justifiable, is a very generous one. Many of the people in my riding do not even make $12,000 a year when they are working. I think an increase of that amount is a very tangible indication that we accept that doctors, given the life-and-death nature of their work, should be among the highest paid and should be the highest-paid profession in the country.
What did the people get for this increase? We needed only one thing: a return to the Ontario health insurance plan by each and every doctor now practising outside that scheme. It is intolerable that patients who pay their taxes, who pay their OHIP premiums, find themselves being presented with an extra bill by some medical practitioners who believe they should be making even more.
First, it places a hardship on people who really cannot afford the extra bill but are too proud to ask their doctors for what some believe is charity. Second, it ultimately provides two levels of medical service: one for the rich, who can afford the extra, and another for the poor, who cannot and will not accept the charity.
There is a very simple solution for a government with a little political courage. It is a solution suggested by my colleague the member for Essex North (Mr. Ruston), and it should have been acted on in this round of negotiations. Doctors should be given a period of time to return to OHIP. Those who do not should then realize that they are on their own, that the patients they see will not be reimbursed by OHIP for any portion of the bill.
I believe such a system would very quickly put an end to the practice of extra billing, which not only attacks the universality of our medicare scheme but also represents an affront to the vast majority of doctors who have remained faithful to the system.
Windsor-Sandwich has been described as a blue-collar, working-class riding, and I am proud to represent an area with such a concentration of men and women whose skills help make Ontario the industrial giant of Canada. But the recent trauma experienced by the automotive industry has shown us a grave deficiency in labour legislation.
I was pleased to see the previous Legislature recognize that deficiency last year by setting up the select committee on plant shutdowns and employee adjustment. I have read much of the testimony before that committee and I urge every member of this assembly to do so. It will show in very graphic terms the real and pressing need for change -- change that some may view as radical, especially the Minister of Industry and Tourism, who believes that any change is radical, but which I believe has now been shown to be very realistic. However, I fear there will be no change and no relief.
I want to tell this government that the so-called reality of March 19 was not a mandate to return to the good old days where men and women, thrown out of a job through no fault of their own, were simply ignored by government.
The select committee recognized the need for change. That is why in its interim report -- not even its final report which it never got to present -- the committee recommended legislation to establish the standard of one week of severance pay for each year of employment, a recommendation the Minister of Labour (Mr. Elgie) agreed to on behalf of the government. I might point out that the chairman of the select committee is also now a minister of the new government.
In the aftermath of March 19, the commitment has been forgotten as if it never even existed. Now we are warned that we would be destroying the business climate of the province if such radical legislation were introduced. There is nothing radical about protecting a person who, for example, has put 20 years of his life into the same company, who owns a house with a mortgage, who has just bought a new car and is making payments on it, who has a couple of children to clothe and feed. There is nothing radical about giving him 20 weeks of protection from the suffering he will experience if he wakes up one morning to find out his company has shut its doors, he does not have a job any longer and after 20 years he will not be working alongside the same men and women -- indeed, will not be working at all until he can find new employment.
I just want to tell the members opposite to think of what it will be like four years from now when many of them find that the people have given them instant unemployment and the rest of them face the psychological impact of moving to the opposite side of the House and watching a new Liberal government in action. Let them think of that.
If severance pay is radical change, then a public justification process for proposed plant closings would put Ontario right into the middle of the revolution. I submit that is exactly what is needed. I say this with regret because many plant closings are justified, but there have been an increasing number of shutdowns which are simply unacceptable. A government, it seems to me, is mandated to protect the interests of all the people, weak and strong, rich and poor. We have seen in some of the recent plant shutdowns that there was no such protection.
The Minister of Industry and Tourism argues that we cannot have legislation requiring such justification because it would provide what he believes to be a disincentive to new investment. I want to say to him -- and I hope he reads these comments -- that I am growing a little tired of watching Ontario wait for just about every other province and just about every other state to enact some piece of progressive legislation before we timidly put our toe into the same waters. Surely we have enough advantages in Ontario in terms of a skilled labour force, relatively cheap energy and many other attractive incentives that good corporate citizens will not be scared off by the notion that they may actually have to hold talks with the people in their plants and in their community and indeed with the government if for some reason they wish to close their doors.
Let me give an example of one company that, in my opinion, has forced this re-examination upon us. Last year, as thousands of other Windsorites wondered what they would do for jobs in a city where unemployment was nearing 20 per cent, the workers at Bendix Automotive woke up one Friday morning to find out their plant, a facility in A-1 condition, a facility that had made money until just a few months before, would be closed permanently.
Bendix took those jobs, took its money and went back to South Bend, Indiana. It gave the workers the minimum layoff notice possible, and only after hard bargaining was there any decent benefit offer. Then the spokesman for Bendix came before the select committee and bragged that the company had met or exceeded its legal and moral commitments.
I would like to quote briefly a comment made to that committee by Earl Smith, president of Bendix Automotive of Canada because it seems to me that comment, made to the member for Essex South (Mr. Mancini), speaks volumes on the need for public justification of such closings. When he was being questioned by the member for Essex South he said, "We feel Ontario and Canada offer companies in the process of completing plant location decisions considerable incentives, not the least of which is a productive and meaningfully motivated work force."
Then he continued: "The potential for the development of restrictive plant closing legislation would represent a significant disincentive to prospective investors and certainly would not be in the best interests of the free enterprise system that has served us so well."
It was not serving the men and women of Bendix Automotive very well at all. That came from a man who had just overseen the shutdown of a viable auto parts operation, throwing another 500 workers on to the street to join 20,000 others looking for jobs. It speaks volumes for the need for legislation.
Finally, there is one further area where I believe immediate action by this assembly is needed to protect working men and women, but especially working women since they are as a group more unorganized and underpaid. I refer to the need for first-contract arbitration.
The recent history of first-contract negotiations for newly certified unions ought to be enough to point to the desperate need for change. Fleck Manufacturing, Artistic Woodworking and, most recently, Radio Shack, all troublesome labour disputes, make the case for first-contract arbitration as strongly as any words I can use in this assembly today.
Those are not the only incidents. Several years ago workers at the two K-Mart stores in Windsor were organized and began bargaining for a first contract. The fact is that K-Mart had absolutely no intention of bargaining in good faith. When the workers went on strike they simply cut the legs out from under the dispute by turning the two stores into gigantic loss-leader outlets. It was understandable, though regrettable, that thousands of people, some of them trade unionists, crossed that picket line in search of a bargain. First-contract arbitration probably would have changed the whole scenario and prevented the bitterness that exists even today among the workers who had to tolerate that.
I conclude my remarks by saying that I consider it a privilege and an honour to be in this chamber as the representative of the people of Windsor-Sandwich. I believe deeply in the democratic process and I abide by the decision the voters throughout Ontario made a little more than a month ago, although I obviously would have been a little happier were I on the other side of the House -- but next time.
I ask those on the other side, whose duty it will be to govern for the next period, to remember their own slogans and songs about keeping the promise. The promise of Ontario can be fulfilled only by a government that is willing to take an activist role in shaping the future of our province. The industrial sector faces very real problems. They will not be solved by a government sitting on the sidelines with no real involvement in the changes necessary to make this decade of the 1980s a decade of real progress for all of the people who make up this great province.
Mr. Swart: Mr. Acting Speaker, like most of the rest of the members, I want to congratulate you on your election to your position and also the Deputy Speaker and the Speaker. From the years I have been associated with the Speaker I have concluded that he is one of the best liked members in this House. I hope somehow or other he will find the balance between being firm, fair and congenial so that after he has served his term he will still maintain that position of being well liked. I am sure he will.
I am pleased to take part in this throne speech debate. The throne speech is a general statement of policy and philosophy. The comments I am going to make will fit into that pattern as well. I participate in this throne speech in a mood of considerable frustration and perhaps even anger. It is shared to a large extent by my colleagues in this part of the House. If there are three things this party and, for that matter, the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation before us have battled for over the years, they are a high degree of social security; a greater equality in the division of income and standard of living among the people in our society; and the implementation of economic planning and economic strategy to provide full employment to utilize fully our productive capacity and human resources in this province and nation.
Some of us who have been around for a while witnessed some real progress in these areas. When I say around for a while I mean in this province, not in this House, particularly in the two or three decades following the Second World War. Since about 1975 there has been a reversal and, unfortunately, the pace of that reversal has been accelerating, particularly in this province and by this province.
The throne speech which we are now debating indicates that reversal to a lesser degree of security and to a greater inequality will continue unabated. It is shameful, inexcusable and contrary to all moral and ethical principles. Let there be no mistake about it. These cutbacks in social security and the widening of the gap between rich and poor are the deliberate and conscious policy of the Tory government across the House from us. The economic stagnation is really due to the same kind of philosophy, giving a free hand to the wealthy and powerful to make economic decisions in their own interests, whether or not it is good for Ontario.
I want to refer to two documents relating to this widening gap. The first is called The Report of the Special Program Review, perhaps more commonly known as the Maxwell Henderson report, tabled in November 1975. That report expressed the philosophy of the Tory government. Those of us who have been here for a while know the architect of it, although it is called the Henderson report, was Darcy McKeough who was chairman of the committee which produced that document.
It recommends as one of its first recommendations that the expenditures of the Ontario government as a percentage of the gross provincial product should decline. It states that the program outlined in the document would save something like $3.5 billion for the people of Ontario in the first two years. That sounds commendable on the surface, but if we go a bit further and find out the recommendations it was making to bring about that saving, it certainly brings into question the wisdom of what they were doing and sets the stage for the cutback in social security and the widening gap in the standard of living.
For instance, the committee recommends that: "The province make it clear to all agencies receiving taxpayer support that they cannot expect provincial assistance to offset inflationary wage settlements." One can read there of such things as the agencies for the mentally retarded which are still paying many of their workers in the neighborhood of $4, $4.50 and $5 an hour.
It also recommends in the report that: "The level of government support be gradually adjusted over a period of several years so as to allow an increase in the proportion of university and college costs covered by tuition fees." It goes on to recommend that: "The province's support for part-time general interest courses in colleges of applied arts and technology be phased out so as to put them on a full cost-recovery basis and the colleges be encouraged to direct their efforts towards providing vocational and technical training of the highest calibre." It suggests phasing out many of the courses in our colleges.
It recommends that: "Consideration be given to phasing out surplus beds and expensive treatment facilities in some hospitals, particularly those in or adjacent to urban centres" and that: "There be a thorough examination of public hospital operating costs with particular concentration on ways of reducing the total paid hours of hospital staff." Of course, we know many of those recommendations have been carried out.
That philosophy of the government goes much further than that. It also has a section in it with suggestions for operating existing programs more efficiently. It says to limit spending to programs that meet the needs of the whole population. On the surface, that doesn't sound too bad, but listen to this next one.
In 1975 the government of this province said medical insurance should be returned to the private sector through Physicians' Services Incorporated, Blue Cross and similar plans. That is the philosophy of the government. They would offer fewer subject options in high schools, discontinue all grants for arts, ethnic culture and sports programs, recover total cost of parks, day care centres and similar facilities through user charges, but would not establish a provincial dental care plan or finance it through the Ontario lotteries.
Finally there is this classic, namely, that welfare parents should be sterilized or permanently excluded from the welfare system. That is a document of the Ontario government in 1975. Shortly after that document was published, two things happened. The government brought out a white paper on it which adopted the general philosophy of it but dissociated itself from some of the more reactionary recommendations. In fact, they were pretty well all reactionary.
The second thing that happened was that all of these books fell apart. Although the book fell apart, that program of the Tory government is largely intact and would set the stage for what is happening in this province today in the cutbacks and in the widening gap between the poor and the well-to-do. Darcy McKeough still rides on in this House.
The second report I want to refer to is that which was published in the paper during the election campaign and was published by the Ontario Welfare Council and the Social Planning Council of Metropolitan Toronto. They had done a survey of the situation in the province with regard to those on low income, particularly those on family benefits and on welfare. Let me read something of what it says. It starts right out by saying that provincial spending restraints have been carried out largely at the expense of the poor. This is as a result of a deliberate attempt by the government of Ontario to restrain government spending at the expense of those most needy and least able to protect themselves.
It goes on to say increases in Ontario social assistance rates have been sporadic and far below increases in the cost of living. The seven per cent increase in assistance rates announced last year by the Minister of Community and Social Services still leaves most welfare recipients with 13 to 22 per cent less in real income than they had in 1975 when this document was published and became the bible of the Tory government of Ontario. For two decades Ontario's social assistance program has kept welfare recipients poor. Since 1975 the poor have become poorer.
In 1980 a mother of three children had an income of $7,718 on family benefits. This was 31.7 per cent below the Statistics Canada poverty line. A single disabled person on general welfare assistance had an income of $2,892 or 44.7 per cent below the poverty line. There are tables in here which I think every member of this House should see and which I suggest should be compulsory reading at least for those members across on the other side. They show the dramatic drop in real income to the people on family allowance and welfare assistance.
It is not only welfare recipients and those on family benefits whose lot is worsening. It is really everyone on the low end of the income scale. If one checks minimum wages -- and there are at least 200,000 people, I believe, on the minimum wage in this province -- the minimum wage in May 1975 was $2.40 five years ago; now it is $3.30. That is up 38 per cent in those five years. But do members know how much the cost of living has gone up in those five years? It has gone up from 134 points to 228 points. That is up 70 per cent. Simple mathematics show, therefore, that the people who are on the minimum wage in this province have had a reduction in their standard of living of 32 per cent since 1975 through the conscious policy of the Conservative government of this province.
Incidentally, during the last five years for which figures are available profits have gone up from $11.5 billion to $23 billion. That was a 100 per-cent increase in the profits of the corporations in this nation. If we had the figures available for 1979 and for 1980, we would find that it would be up in the neighbourhood of a 150 per-cent increase during the last five years, while those on the minimum wage have had a reduction in their real standard of living of some 32 per cent.
But much worse than those statistics indicate are certain other factors connected to this. Low-income earners spend a higher percentage of their income on food, double that of those in the $25,000-income range. That has gone up much faster than the average increase in the cost of living.
Another factor we forget all the time too is that the cost of living does not go up in percentages; the cost of living goes up in dollars and cents. When the doctors are given a 14.7 per cent increase, they are going to get $12,000 a year. But if one gave the same percentage to the people in the lower-income groups, they still would be much worse off because the cost of living goes up in dollars and cents, not in percentages. It is the dollars that really count.
Their worsening situation over the last five years -- and this could be documented in many other ways -- has been aggravated by extra charges by hospitals and by property tax credits which have not been increased. Oh, yes, there has been some increase to the senior citizens, but all those others on the basic wage have had no increase, and so the percentage of the property tax they have paid has gone up dramatically. An increase in OHIP premiums has taken place in those five years, and a further increase is likely going to be imposed on the people of this province again this year through the budget.
I say that this is a serious condemnation of our Canadian society. Although some provinces, particularly Saskatchewan -- which incidentally has a welfare rate for a family of four about $100 higher than ours and has a supplement program for low-income workers that would be a model for any place, and which that government over there should study; it wouldn't make much difference whether they studied it or not, they wouldn't implement it -- have dealt fairly with those on low income, generally speaking what has happened in this nation is a condemnation of our society. When things are tough, largely through the government's own fault, they put it on the backs of the low-income earners.
Because Ontario is one of the wealthier provinces, because Ontario is where the gap has widened the greatest and because it is a conscious and deliberate policy of this government it deserves the greatest condemnation of all.
We in this party know -- and sometimes those across the way don't always give us credit for this -- that all social security programs and assistance programs have to be borne by the gross national product or the gross provincial product. We also know our gross provincial product is faltering, largely through the fault of the economic policies of this government. But, I repeat, it is inhuman to make the poorest in our society bear the burden for our failing economic policies and the government's deliberate restraint programs.
This government can be characterized not only as one that has deliberately widened the gap, but one that will not alter the power structure nor intervene in the economy to protect the public good. This is really what separates this party from the Tories across the floor and, for that matter, separates us from the Liberals here on the right as well.
Mr. Roy: I will tell the member what separates us -- about 15 seats.
Mr. Swart: I see the member for Ottawa East is here. Fifteen seats separate us, but the separation in philosophy between the Liberals and the government cannot be measured because it is so minimal. The people over there and the Liberals to the right are prepared to leave all the major economic decisions to the corporate giants in our society, mostly multinationals, whose interest in Canada and this province is predominantly what they can get out of it. By contrast, this party would ensure that those economic decisions are made on the basis of what is good for our society, what is good for employment and what is good for production. It is on this issue more than any other than we in this party separate from the Liberals and the Conservatives.
That issue was clearly put in the interim report of the plant shutdown committee which was read into the record of the House by the member for Hamilton East (Mr. Mackenzie). The committee made it abundantly clear that a decision had to be made.
It said: "It is clear from the cases studied by the committee that the decision to close has been a company monopoly. The decision is not only a head office decision but in branch plants one which is made with little input from Canadian management. It is equally clear in these cases that the unions representing the workers had no influence in terms of the closure decision. The union's role was reduced to that of trying to negotiate the best possible settlement after the fact."
The report then goes on to state, and I think this is the important paragraph in this section of the report on plant closures in Ontario: "These conclusions clearly indicate questions which must now be addressed by the committee. Should government take a role in the decision-making process prior to plant closures and should protection be offered to workers and the communities affected if a closure must proceed?"
We have today in this House the Minister of Industry and Tourism (Mr. Grossman) standing up and giving an answer which he would not have given a year ago, but now they have got a majority he will give it. He said, "The government doesn't intend to get into the business of reviewing decisions by companies that shut down their plants." They totally opt out on any of the decision-making processes, any of the economic decisions that are going to affect the welfare of the people of this province and the nation. They totally take a hands-off attitude.
The same is true of interest rates. We have the front-bench cabinet ministers including the Treasurer (Mr. F. S. Miller), standing up to criticize the interest rates and saying the federal government has the responsibility. But not once do they make a suggestion that the federal government should intervene, use the power it has with the Bank of Canada and force those interest rates down. They never do that, and neither do the Liberals here on our right. They do not believe in interfering in the economy to protect the welfare of the citizens.
I doubt if there is a person in this House who has done a careful examination, or even a cursory examination, of the interest rate situation who would not say that it was good for Canada to force down those interest rates. They realize that, but they do not do it because it means intervention and they are not prepared to intervene.
Mr. Martel: Unless it is a way to give some money away.
Mr. Swart: Oh, yes. I will come to that in a minute. Of course, if it is a case of giving money away, they will intervene. But they will not intervene in the decision-making process to protect the public; they leave that decision with the giant corporations who make it on the basis of what is good for them or what is good for the parent corporations in the United States. In effect, our government is saying: "To hell with the people of Ontario. We are not going to interfere to protect them even if those decisions do hurt them" -- and they do.
Another area I want to cover before I conclude is the refusal of this government not only to intervene in the decision-making process but also to interfere in any way in the escalating crisis of inflation in this province and this nation. In the first part of the throne speech, the government said there should be a federal conference to deal with inflation. They want the Prime Minister of Canada to convene a conference of the first ministers to deal with this matter. Yet this government refuses to use any of the power it has itself to deal with matters of inflation, which of course is rising prices.
There is simply no social responsibility required by this government of the corporations in setting of consumer prices. The throne speech said the problem of inflation must be faced in a comprehensive way on a national front without delay. Everyone knows inflation is a major problem, and this government refuses to use any of the power it has. In making those kinds of statements in the throne speech, the government is really mouthing hollow rhetoric.
An example of this is the matter of the ripoff by the major oil companies of the consumers of this nation. On March 4, during the election campaign, we all saw headlines in the paper for two or three days about the oil companies pocketing $12 billion that they should never have got because of collusion in setting prices. The report stated: "That means every man, woman and child in Canada would have been bilked of $2,500." To put it another way, $12 billion would have paid the salaries of 600,000 families earning $20,000 annually.
The report goes on to say: "It was decided a conviction was unlikely under existing combines legislation which the government has been attempting to strengthen for the same 10-year period." There is all kinds of other documentation showing that, in trying to strengthen that, the corporations opposed it and they backed off.
The point I want to make is that last fall, Mr. Ouellet, the federal Minister of Consumer and Corporate Affairs, called a conference of the consumer ministers of all 10 provinces to take place in Regina. The first item on the agenda was to strengthen the combines legislation. What was the reaction of the Ontario Minister of Consumer and Corporate Relations (Mr. Drea) at that time? He did not bother going to that conference. He indicated in the House he knew it was on, but he was totally indifferent to it.
The combines legislation at the present time is so weak that the oil companies have ripped off Canadian consumers to the tune of $12 billion. I see the present Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations (Mr. Walker) is in the House, and I hope he will take a different kind of attitude to that combines legislation and any conferences that are called to deal with and strengthen that combines legislation.
The second point is that this government itself refuses to investigate excessive pricing even where prima facie evidence is brought to it. The member for Riverdale (Mr. Renwick) and myself, a year ago last December, made quite an issue in the estimates of the Ministry of Consumer and Commercial Relations about what power the Ontario government had and whether it had power to do something about retail prices.
The end result was that, because we had minority government, we forced the minister to get a statement from the Attorney General (Mr. McMurtry) on what power they had. I just want to read the last paragraph with regard to retail prices. The conclusion says this:
"So long as it does not purport to regulate interprovincial or international trade or conflict with valid federal legislation in relation to the same matter, it would be within the competence of the Legislative Assembly to authorize the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations to regulate, control or roll back prices in the province of Ontario."
There is no question that this government has the power on that. Yet the minister, after I have repeatedly documented instances in various commodities of unreasonable and unjustified price increases, either has refused even to comment on it or has defended the companies that raised those prices.
Whether this Tory government actually believes it or whether it is part of the Tory smokescreen to shield its corporate friends, it tells the world that competition will protect the consumer. If they actually see it that way, and that is possible with their private enterprise blinkers, they are living in a dream world of the past. The concentration, the near monopoly, has interfered with that protection from competition and has caused consumers to pay too much for many of the commodities that they have to buy.
I have an article here from the Washington Post -- I have much more than the article; I have other documentation on it -- and I want to read the first part of this. It says:
"American consumers are probably paying more than $16 billion a year in overcharges on food because of industry concentration, the agriculture department said yesterday." This is dated May 6, 1980.
"Department economists explain that the overcharges partly go into profits for the companies and partly result from higher costs for such promotional activities as advertising which have been spawned by major food conglomerates and are passed on to consumers.
"In 1975, the total spent on food advertising was $4.1 billion, most of it for television, radio, magazines and newspapers, the department said. The department's chief economist, Howard W. Jordan, told a House small business committee that in 1975 at least $10 billion and possibly as much as $15 billion was lost by consumers due to monopoly in the United States food manufacturing industry."
I suggest that too should be compulsory reading for the members on the opposite side of the House and to my right, who say that somehow or other competition will protect the consumers and provide a reasonable price.
In this province we have fewer food processors than they do in the United States, but we have even more monopoly and neither the provincial government nor the federal government has even bothered looking into the situation in this nation and in this province.
On the same basis as they found in the United States -- and, incidentally, they are taking action under the antitrust legislation against some of these corporations -- we are being charged $400 a year per family too much for our food in this nation because of monopoly concentration.
The second reason the government needs to get into some price protection and some investigation and to give itself power to deal with unjustified price increases is that most of our processors and manufacturers here are multinationals. Something like 65 per cent of our manufacturers are multinationals. And it is their policy, which I have documented over and over again, to add the Canadian-US dollar differential at 17 cents, or whatever it may be, to the Canadian price of their products even though they are totally produced here from Canadian materials.
The forest products industry is the classic example. Most of these companies produce two or three of these different forest products in their mills. Newsprint is sold here at C$470 a metric ton; it is going up to $500. It is sold in the United States at US $470 a metric ton. It is produced here and sold here at that price. But when we come to lumber, which is produced by the same companies, we find that it is sold in the United States at $200 for 1,000 feet of two-by-fours, but here it sells at $240 a 1,000 feet -- something that is produced here.
When we come to the fine grades, such as bathroom tissues, not only do they add the United States-Canadian dollar differential, which is 17 or 22 per cent depending on the way it is computed, but also they add an import duty to it; so we pay 35 to 40 per cent more for products such as toilet tissue. These are made in this country, the majority of them by multinational corporations. And they even sell them cheaper in the United States than they do in this country.
Why do they not charge the US-dollar value for newsprint? I suggest it is because the big newspapers have enough clout they do not dare charge that artificial price. But when it comes to such things as lumber, bathroom tissue, Kleenex or those things where the little consumer is involved, they charge United States dollars; and if there happens to be an import duty, they charge that, even though it is made in this country.
There is every reason why this government should be using the power it has to investigate and when it finds that prices are unreasonable to order them held or rolled back. The competitive system is just not protecting the consumer in this province.
The third reason we need government to investigate is the excessive advertising that is done by the supermarkets in this nation. Believe me, it has escalated tremendously during the last few years. I have here the supplements from last Wednesday's Toronto Star. There are 28 pages in these supermarket supplements, and there are another 12 pages, for a total of 40 pages in the Toronto Star -- coloured pages, expensive advertising. And the cost of that, of course, is passed on to the consumer. In fact, the advertising on one day in the Toronto Star, one news medium, is about $300,000, which cost is passed on to the consumer.
Loblaws alone has a contract with the Star for $2 million -- just one newspaper and one supermarket. That comes to a dollar for every person living in the greater Toronto area. Adding it all up, a family in the city is paying between $50 and $100 a year for that excessive advertising.
The federal government had the courage to intervene a number of years ago when they wanted to bring in the food stamps. The member for York South (Mr. MacDonald) may have been here at the time when the federal government introduced that legislation. I know it was debated in this House, because it was going to be passed on to the consumer.
The day has arrived when the government of this province and the government of this nation should intervene in this kind of excessive advertising for which consumers have to pay.
It is not just a case of trying to inform the public about the prices in the stores. That can be done with advertisements one fifth that size. It is a case of the giant supermarket trying, through this loud shouting and advertising, to entice people into the store instead of using price competition, which should really be the case with regard to consumer items.
These three theoretical reasons justify intervention by the Ontario government.
I am not going to read them, but I have here investigations that have been done into such things as bread and into such things as milk, where the farmer has to justify every penny he gets. The dairies can raise the prices as they see fit. Talking about monopoly control, the number of dairies in the last 10 years has been reduced from 167 to 52. That is the reduction and that is the progress of a monopoly.
Prestone is perhaps the classic example. Only two companies make it in Canada. It has gone up 75 per cent, double what is charged for it in the United States. Take such things as salt, where we have only two companies providing that product in this province. I could go on and on with those items, but I do not intend to do that at this time.
We need government intervention. For this, I have presented a proposal for a fair prices commission to this House which would implement the power the Ontario government constitutionally has, on an ad hoc basis, to investigate prices and to order them held or rolled back where they are unjustified.
I have introduced a bill for a public advocate where an ombudsman, in a sense, would represent the consumers at rate hearings, whether for Bell Canada, natural gas or hydro, and give some adequate protection to them.
I have introduced a bill for an insurance rating board which would make the insurance companies justify their tremendous increases in rates, whether for auto insurance or fire insurance.
Finally, I have introduced a bill that would require that tags be kept on, that supermarkets be prevented from ripping off tags from the stock on the shelves as they did with peanut butter. It is standard practice now throughout the industry to put new tags on products that were bought at old prices.
Because we need measures to ensure that the economy is operating in the public interest, that there is fair sharing, that there is a high degree of social security, we in this party will keep fighting the battle until we become the government -- and we are going to -- until that government is forced, even before that time, to introduce some of this legislation.
The back row of that party has received a lot of attention during the throne speech from this side of the House, and rightly so. They are new members. Let me congratulate them. Let me say to them they got here the easy way. Most of them were elected the first time they ran; perhaps not all, but the majority of them were.
I want to tell them it took me eight times to get here over 25 years. Perhaps I hold some kind of record.
They have joined the status quo. They have joined a comfortable majority. Let me tell them something. They really are not going to accomplish anything over there. They are not going to make any beneficial impact at all on our society.
History shows it is the minorities that popularize and bring about improvements in our society. They have fought the battle for fair treatment and a humane and just society, often against popular opinion and at their own political peril. They are the ones that brought about, over the course of decades and centuries, the abolition of child labour, the elimination of slavery, the right of workers to organize, the first old age pension, unemployment insurance, health insurance, rights for women and, in places like Saskatchewan and Sweden, the use of resources for the public good and not just the making of wealth for the privileged few.
Make no mistake about it: When the history of this nation is written, it will be the Woodsworths, the Coldwells. the Douglases, the Don MacDonalds, the Lewises and, yes, the Cassidys who will be credited with the social and economic reforms. So I am proud to be a part of this team, to hold my head up high and to say the future of this province belongs to us, not you.
Mr. Stevenson: Mr. Speaker, I regard it as a great honour and a privilege to have the opportunity to speak to the Legislature and join in the debate on the speech from the throne. The speech that opened this session of the Legislature was most comprehensive. I believe this province is fortunate in having a government so well equipped to deal with the problems facing us today during 1980 and over the next five years and beyond.
Before I begin my remarks, Mr. Speaker, I wish to join with my colleagues in the House and in the caucus in congratulating you on your appointment. The job of Speaker is a difficult one and, as a freshman member of this Legislature, I appreciate the difficulties that you face every day as you take your place in this Legislature.
I would like to take this opportunity as well to thank the people of Durham-York for the splendid support they gave me on March 19. That contest was my first experience in electoral politics, and I was able to pass the test by winning the riding. Now I realize that I face even greater responsibility in providing good representation for the people of Durham-York.
I wish also to express my sincere appreciation for my predecessor, Mr. Bill Newman. Bill is well known to the members of this House and has provided leadership in Ontario in the areas while he served as Minister of Agriculture and Food and Minister of the Environment. He is also well known and well respected in Durham-York, where he started many years ago at the municipal level.
Some of the members here may also remember another predecessor of mine, Dr. Matthew Dymond, who represented Durham-York many years ago. His frequent claim to being just a simple family doctor did not obscure the tremendous contribution that he made to Ontario as a provincial cabinet minister.
It is my intention to do my best to live up to the fine tradition of these two former members, and I will do all that I can to work for the benefit of Durham-York within a stronger and more vigorous Ontario. Having heard the progressive plans of this government as outlined in the throne speech, I am sure that this goal is within grasp.
The riding of Durham-York is unlike many in this province, because it has no distinct urban centre. It is not a riding like that of the Speaker's, which is dominated by a large town or city. Durham-York is a rural riding. In some areas it is blessed with a balanced growth through the attraction of manufacturing and recreational industries.
Physically, Durham-York is a large riding. If it were set down near the city of Toronto it would stretch from Yonge Street to the eastern boundary of Oshawa. Obviously, such a large area of land presents difficulties for government. Services have to be co-ordinated across a wide area, adequate transportation provided and the growth of the various communities within its boundaries made as complementary as possible.
As I said earlier, there is no large urban centre to dominate or direct the activities of Durham-York. Each region in the riding is under the influence of centres that lie outside the riding's boundaries. Many residents of my riding commute every day to Newmarket, Oshawa and Toronto. Local entrepreneurs centre their activities in the communities dotted throughout the riding in, for example, Port Perry, Uxbridge, Holland Landing, Sutton, Beaverton and many others.
We also have several areas of excellent farming communities. These farming communities produce meat, grain, fruit and vegetables that appear on the dinner tables in this city and throughout Ontario. There is manufacturing in Durham-York as well. The small industries located in the centres sprinkled throughout Durham-York give a significant boost to the local economy. They provide jobs, revenue and impetus for many Durham-York communities.
I am pleased to say that industry in my riding has received support from this government. In Cannington, for example, an Ontario business improvement loan was made to Sullivan Strong Scott Limited, which will result in 42 new jobs over the next five years.
Again, in Port Perry, Comco Metal and Plastic Industries Limited has received support under the same program, and this support should result in 100 new positions over the next five years.
This kind of support is important to areas like Durham-York. The incentive to grow strengthens our community and acts as a catalyst to attract further growth to our region. It is my hope that Durham-York industries will continue to receive similar support to that which I have described.
Recreation is another industry that Durham-York has to offer. It may come as a surprise to many members here, but my land-locked riding has a considerable amount of waterfront property. Lakes Simcoe and Scucog present great potential for all forms of recreation. It is my hope that the potential of this resource will be recognized and developed over the next few years, and I will say more about that later.
Because of its size and diversity, Durham-York has a variety of needs. Many of these needs it shares with other areas of Ontario; some are unique to certain parts of Durham-York alone.
The proposal in the speech from the throne of the Board of Industrial Leadership and Development program and the commitment made by the Premier (Mr. Davis) and the cabinet throughout the recent campaign filled me with optimism. This government recognizes what needs to be done to keep Ontario strong throughout the 1980s and to strengthen the infrastructure of communities and services that will attract and sustain further growth.
As I mentioned earlier, transportation is a priority for Durham-York. This past week we have seen the excellent final report of the Task Force on Provincial Rail Policy. I congratulate my colleague the member for St. David (Mrs. Scrivener) for the thorough and thoughtful analysis she made of the rail situation in Ontario and her suggestions for possible improvement.
However, roads are what keep my riding humming. Radial roads connecting the many small communities of the riding with the larger cities and the great concentrations of Newmarket, Oshawa and Toronto are of the utmost importance for the economy of the area. During the election, I was pleased to see that this government intends to continue the expansion of the radial roads system in the Metro Toronto area. I am pleased today that this commitment has been honoured by the throne speech.
I and many of my constituents are watching with intense interest the environmental hearings on the extension of Highway 89, east from Highway 400, across the Holland River, to Highway 12, north of Sunderland. Let me assure the Legislature of the need for this highway. The area it will serve has a variety of agricultural, recreational, industrial and commercial resources, and all resources require servicing by excellent roads. The present road system through this particular area means it is almost impossible to conduct business to the potential that this area can achieve.
Not only will this highway serve the local region, but also it will be of benefit to central Ontario as a whole. Highway 89 will provide a direct link between the Georgian Bay and Lake Huron area with the Kawartha Lakes district. Recreation and business in both areas is bound to improve with the construction of this highway.
In addition, Highway 89 intersects all major north-south roads between Toronto and the Lake Simcoe area. All those who know central Ontario and the Durham-York area well, recognize the necessary for extending Highway 89. Its need and rationale are evident.
I believe the environmental assessment report published by the Ministry of Transportation and Communications to be more than satisfactory. I believe there will be no significant environmental impact resulting from the construction of this important highway.
I strongly support the construction of this road. I know my views are shared by other MPPs from the area who also happen to be colleagues in the government caucus. My colleagues and I have expressed our support to the Minister of Transportation and Communications (Mr. Snow) and look forward to the completion of the environmental hearings.
The communities of Durham-York have great potential for growth but they need our services and incentives to attract growth. I am pleased that this government will continue to provide support for communities to modernize their sewer and water systems. These services are mandatory if any community is serious about expansion. Both industrial and residential growth require modern sewer and water systems. At present, growth in these services is near a standstill in Durham-York. Indeed, there is one community that may have to stop construction of services when the job is only partially completed. The reason for this standstill is the position of the federal government. Ottawa has decided to cancel its community service program. The federal Minister of Public Works, Paul Cosgrove, has said there will be no additional funds from Ottawa to support these projects.
More funds are needed to support the development of services in our community. Serviced communities are stronger communities and stronger communities lend their strength to the overall health of the province and the nation. This government's commitment to continue for the growth and strengthening of our communities is a beacon of hope for many centres in Durham-York and all around Ontario. I look forward to action in this area from the province and I hope the example we set in Ontario will persuade Ottawa to change its negative stance and support growth at the community level.
The Board of Industrial Leadership and Development program is a remarkable document. It provides a co-ordinated picture of growth in every region and industrial sector of Ontario. Speeches were made throughout the recent campaign outlining its various proposals and the beneficial effects it will have on our province. As the results of the vote on March 19 demonstrated, BILD does indeed have something for everyone. It is a thoughtful, thorough and progressive document for development in Ontario.
My background is that of farming and research. I have taught agriculture at the Ontario Agricultural College and have been involved in research at the University of Guelph. My interests, therefore, lie in research and development as well as agriculture. Research and development is a priority in the BILD program. This kind of activity has kept Ontario in the forefront of world trends, and is even more necessary now in the competitive world of the eighties than it was a decade ago.
Fundamentally, our world is undergoing great technological change. In several fields Ontario has the opportunity to become a world leader. These opportunities must be seized. The programs proposed in BILD and endorsed in the speech from the throne will go a long way to ensuring that Ontario remains a world leader. One program that impresses me is the IDEA Corporation. IDEA will promote the development of new technologies in Ontario. Its work will increase the supply of skilled manpower and speed the application of the latest technology in industry.
What impresses me most about IDEA, however, is its mandate to co-ordinate the activity of new research centres as well as to monitor and evaluate the programs of industrial research and development throughout the province. In addition, IDEA will also act to initiate research in areas of critical concern. I am in support of greater co-operation in research in Ontario. In the agricultural sector, I am pleased to say, this is already a fact. As a researcher at the University of Guelph I saw the harmonious co-operation between an academic research facility and agribusiness. This relationship worked well and has been working for many years.
I am certain IDEA will ensure that Ontario industry in all sectors is sensitive to technological change and aware of new techniques of production. The result of this effort will be more efficient industry, increased employment and more prosperous, thriving communities.
The Deputy Speaker: Possibly the member should wet his whistle. I know the member for York South is waiting in anticipation of the conclusion of your remarks. Are you not waiting in great anticipation of the conclusion? I am sorry. I thought you were.
Mr. MacDonald: Mr. Speaker, I do not think you have any capacity to read my mind and in this instance you are wrong.
Mr. Stevenson: BILD also has proposed a new centre to research auto parts and auto parts technology. This commitment is welcome news to Durham-York. Many residents in my riding work in Oshawa, the centre of General Motors activity in this province. The health of the automotive industry in this country and on the continent as a whole is of great concern to these people.
In addition, there are several auto parts manufacturing plants located in my riding. These plants provide local employment and are helping the growth of communities in the riding. Many other residents are affected indirectly by cycles in this important industry. The BILD proposal to erect an auto parts technology centre will ensure that Canadian components of the North American automotive industry keep up with the rapid change which has overtaken the automotive industry as a whole.
Close to my field of expertise is the commitment to support biotechnology research. Biotechnology is the manipulation of genes and micro-organisms for the production of new compounds and substances. A gardener who creates a new hybrid rose is participating in a form of biotechnology. There will be benefits for agriculture from biotechnology research. For example, in food processing, such as preparation of cheese and milk, biotechnology will bring greater efficiency and new breakthroughs. In all areas of industrial activity, biotechnology will bring new techniques and efficiency. This government's commitment to biotechnology demonstrates our ability to plan ahead to develop new strengths and to foresee new trends.
Another area of government's ability to plan for the future is in the energy field. Energy Ontario already has many plans and projects encouraging the use of alternative fuels. From the solar heated senior citizens apartment in Elgin county to programs to encourage more efficient fuel use in the family car, this government is committed to reducing Ontario's dependence on imported energy.
There are a number of programs which the Ministry of Agriculture and Food and the Ministry of Energy are carrying on in the area of agricultural research in increasing energy efficiency. Just to mention briefly, there is the methane gas research facility at Arkell, at the swine research station just outside of Guelph. Another is the ongoing efforts of the Ministry of Agriculture and Food to promote experimentation in the use of fuel alcohol on the farm. These have been heavily supported by these two ministries and have received favourable reception in the agricultural community.
This government is working to reduce energy costs for rural areas, and because of the situation in the agricultural industry these days everyone can appreciate the logic in that statement. Agriculture is the chief concern of Durham-York. My riding is a rural riding and we are blessed with fertile soil and available markets for our produce.
I am a farmer, and until I was nominated to represent the Progressive Conservative Party in Durham-York I operated a farm in Georgina township. While I have made arrangements for the management of the farm since I have become an MPP, I am still deeply involved in farming matters. The concerns of farmers are my concerns. I share their successes and their problems. This is why I would like to take a few minutes to discuss agriculture in a general way.
To begin with, I would like to commend this government for its proposal to support the construction of storage facilities for homegrown fruit and vegetables. The Keswick Marsh and the Queensville area are centres of vegetable production in Durham-York. There are pockets of production elsewhere in the riding, but these are the two main areas.
The vegetables grown in Durham-York have a short shelf life. This means that during harvest time farmers are at the mercy of what processors and retailers wish to pay them for their produce. The orderly sale of these crops at this time can be reduced to something similar to a fire sale, and farmers are eager to unload as much of their harvest as possible in order not to be caught with unsold, rotting produce.
Proper storage facilities will greatly reduce this situation. Farmers will be put in a better position to bargain prices with the buyers and to store produce for sale later in the season. A longer buying season for Ontario produce will be a good thing. Farmers will benefit from the opportunity to receive a fairer price and consumers will benefit from the opportunity of buying local produce rather than paying for goods shipped for miles by truck from the sunny shores of California.
The developments in agriculture during this century are unmatched by any other industry in Ontario. The gain in efficiency and the output per man cannot be matched by any other industry. Research, much of it funded by this government, has kept Ontario farmers competitive with all other farmers in any major agricultural area in North America. The expanding supply of new varieties of fruits, vegetables, grains and forages, advances in animal breeding, improvements in animal nutrition, improvement in food and feed quality, advances in engineering, advances in all areas of agricultural production are ample testament to the excellent agricultural research establishment which has been created in Ontario.
I was part of this agricultural research community for seven years. I can personally attest to the quality and dedication of the professionals who are involved in agricultural research in this province. The throne speech pledged this government to keep Ontario at the forefront of agriculture in Canada and North America. I know that we have the will and the expertise to do so.
There is one last thing which I wish to mention about a situation in the riding. Durham-York, as I mentioned at the start of my remarks, is blessed with many miles of waterfront property. The Lake Simcoe and Lake Scugog areas provide excellent recreational facilities for the Metro Toronto region. With provincial advertising to encourage more tourist activity in Ontario and with increases in gas pushing up the cost of travel, the proximity of Durham-York's recreational facilities makes it seem ideal for development.
Unfortunately, Durham-York has not benefited from grants and loans for the development of tourism to the same degree as some other areas. My riding has the potential to become one of Toronto's playgrounds. I believe this potential should be encouraged by support from this province.
Those using Durham-York recreational facilities fall into two main groups. First, there are the summer residents. They are generally vacationers who spend some time in the region, providing a boost to local retailers and service industries. The second group is the day-trippers. These people travel to the area, stay for as short as a few hours, they spend little in the region and often leave a mound of garbage behind to be disposed of by the local municipality. I would like to see funds, either in the form of grants or loans, sent to Durham-York to help develop the kind of tourist facilities which will encourage longer stays by vacationers. These kinds of facilities will have the best overall effect on the area economy.
In my view, attention should be given to the north end of the riding. The recent survey of York region shows that Georgina township is suffering from the lowest employment rate and the lowest income levels in York region. The north and central areas of my riding require economic assistance. The encouragement of tourism in Durham-York will go a long way to improve the picture of municipalities like Georgina township.
Last November, the Treasurer (Mr. F. S. Miller) unveiled a program of supplementary measures to stimulate the Ontario economy. At that time, the Treasurer proposed a program for development of rural counties of central Ontario, which included funding for tourist operators to upgrade facilities. I would like to see the addition of funds to act as a capital incentive for the startup of new tourist facilities.
Tourism is an important factor in boosting regional economies. According to figures from the Ministry of Industry and Tourism, the arrival of 1,000 tourists in a town or region generates an average of $99,000 in income and creates five man-years of employment. This is the kind of incentive we need in Durham-York.
The comprehensive approach of this government, as represented in the BILD program and last week's throne speech, demonstrates this province is well governed. The policy of this government is to give people the freedom and responsibility to take control of their lives, contribute to their communities and build careers and homes.
Progressive policy in research, in energy, in agriculture, in manufacturing and in tourism have made Ontario one of the best places on earth to live and work. The gentlemen opposite have spoken of Ontario as a place of economic decay. They have ignored our successes and dwelt on our shortcomings. They have described our province as a place to leave. This is not the kind of Ontario which the members on this side of the House are working for. We believe in the future of this province and we believe in its people. We believe Ontarians have the genius, the skill, the spirit of enterprise to develop new technology and industry. There is a bright future for Ontario, a future in which this province provides the leadership in the most advanced technology possible.
This is the promise of Ontario. This is the goal for which all of the members on this side of the House are working. With the progressive proposals of the speech from the throne and the framework for development provided by BILD, the promise of Ontario will continue to be fulfilled.
I urge all members of this House to act as one for the future of Ontario. I urge the passing of this throne speech and the co-operation of all members in the work that lies ahead. Thank you.
Mr. Mancini: Mr. Speaker, I noticed over the past few moments a tidal wave of members making their way to this chamber. Now that just about every single seat is full, and everyone is anxious, and the galleries are full, and I notice the press gallery is full, now that everyone is here and listening and awaiting these remarks I think I would first like to start off by congratulating the member for Peterborough (Mr. Turner) on his nomination and on his acceptance of the role of Speaker. I want to congratulate the member from Durham East (Mr. Cureatz) on his nomination as the Deputy Speaker, and I want to congratulate the member for York Centre (Mr. Cousens), who has been appointed Deputy Chairman of the committee of the whole House.
Before I leave this subject, though, I would like to make some comments on the role of Speaker, on some of the things that I have seen take place over the past four or five years, and some of the things that have been changed and possibly need to be re-evaluated or at least looked at a second time.
For some time now the previous Speaker, the member for Lake Nipigon (Mr. Stokes), a man for whom I have great respect and who I believe did a fine job in the Speaker's chair, had started a tradition which allowed the Speaker, officers of the table and other employees of the assembly to start a procession from the Speaker's office, proceed up the grand stairway and, of course, end at the Speaker's chair. That tradition has been eliminated, and I believe that is very unfortunate.
I had the opportunity on many an occasion to watch the procession. I had the opportunity to see hundreds of school children lined up on both sides of the hall, and I am telling you they enjoyed it thoroughly. Their school teachers and anyone else who happened to be with them on the trips, I could see by the number of pictures that were being taken, by the smiles, by the size of their eyes as the Speaker would go by, were enjoying that tradition, were enjoying that procession, and I am sorry to see that has been eliminated. I would hope that some time in the future the Speaker would give consideration to having the procession as part of our proceedings again.
I would also like to say I am concerned that now the Speaker refers to us by our names and not by the ridings which we represent. I feel -- and it is the tradition in the House of Commons -- that all members should be recognized by their ridings. I am not sure as to the logic or the reason or what enhancement we in this chamber receive by being acknowledged by our names. Certainly we refer to the person in the chair as Mr. Speaker. We do not refer to the person in the chair by his name, and I believe the same respect should be accorded to all members of this House.
Finally, I want to bring to the Speaker's attention what I consider a privilege which has been lost by all members of this House. It has been the practice for the past three years for members of this chamber to redirect questions to other cabinet ministers when the occasion arose and when the occasion was proper. We have now been told that this tradition, which had been used extensively but had not been abused as far as I could see by any member, also has now been abandoned. I ask you and I ask all the members in the House what objection they would have if an individual member were to question a minister, and then that member were to feel he or she could get a better response from another cabinet minister who is in the chamber, who is seated, who has heard the question, who would probably be prepared to answer the question if the question were redirected to him or her?
What benefit are we receiving in this chamber by not allowing individual members that opportunity? We must continue to remind ourselves that we are here to question the government during question period. I even notice that some of the government's own back-benchers ask questions of their cabinet colleagues; and frankly that surprises me, because they should be able to have access to all of that kind of information.
But I just want to get back to the point: what, in any way, are we doing to stop the proper procedure of this chamber by redirecting the supplementary questions? It is done in the House of Commons every single day the Commons sits, and I reject completely the argument that because this is not done in our mother Parliament in Westminster it should not be done here. I say to you, Mr. Speaker -- and you are very well aware of this -- we do many things in this chamber and in question period which are not done in Westminster.
We do not prepare our questions in advance; we do not submit our questions in writing to the ministers in advance of our having placed them. I am sure no member would ever want to get into a situation like that, which was the way it was here in this chamber some time ago. I believe we have made some progress with the rules. Let us keep the rules.
Just because the government has now won 70 seats does not give it the privilege to change the rules of this chamber arbitrarily. Just because it has an overwhelming majority, just because it was re-elected to govern on March 19, does not give it a mandate to be arrogant, does not give it a mandate to take away our privileges, and does not give it a mandate in any form or fashion to prevent us from doing our jobs responsibly.
I would also to take this opportunity to thank the people of Essex South for returning me to this chamber. This is my third election.
Mr. McLean: Lucky!
Mr. Mancini: If you think 53 per cent of the vote and 5,000 majority is lucky, then I guess it is.
Mr. Roy: On the third time, not bad.
Mr. Epp: That was after the recount.
Mr. Mancini: It is certainly a privilege to represent a riding as diverse as mine. Many of the new members possibly are not familiar with the Essex South riding. It stretches along the southern boundary of Essex county from Amherstburg on the far west right through small rural communities such as Harrow and Kingsville, through Leamington, the tomato capital of the world, and it ends at the village of Wheatley. We have a very diverse riding. We have a large agricultural sector. We have a fishing industry and a large industrial base. With this type of diversity go many benefits and many problems. The members who were here prior to the last election, I am sure, heard on many occasions my description of the riding and some of the things I have been very proud to mention. I do not want to go into that at this particular time.
I want to speak of the election which has just passed. On election night -- it was quite late -- my wife and I were driving home. All the festivities were over. I must have shaken hands with nearly a thousand people and had received their congratulations and was happy to see so many of my friends at the victory party. On our way home, we were driving along and tuned in to the CBC because we could not believe the Tories had won a majority. They had done nothing to earn a majority. They had run a crass political campaign. We wanted to tune in to the CBC to make sure what we heard at about 8:15 on March 19 was true, that the Tories had been returned with a majority. The CBC was interviewing the newly elected member for St. George (Ms. Fish).
Evidently, the interviewer was quite impressed with the victory the new member had achieved and said: "Well, I expect you to go to Queen's Park and I expect you to be put into the cabinet. Are you looking forward to these things?" She said: "No, no. I don't think I'll be put in the cabinet. I'm going to have to spend the first two or three weeks trying to find out where the washrooms are." I thought that was rather hilarious, that a person who had been involved in city politics here in this large city of Toronto, less than four or five blocks from the Legislative Building, would have to spend the first two or three weeks looking for the washroom.
After I got here I saw some 20 new members, all dressed almost identically in blue suits -- they must have had a run on blue suits over at Stollery's the week before -- I said to myself, I am sure they are going to need two or three weeks to find the washrooms, all of them.
I want to say, before I get carried along too far into my remarks, that I was really fortunate in this past election that I had the opportunity to run against two very fine individuals. Both the Progressive Conservative candidate and the New Democratic Party candidate were really outstanding gentlemen.
I have run in several elections, both provincial and at a local level, and this is the first time I can say I was involved in a campaign where everyone carried themselves in a very honourable fashion. I think both the other parties should know that their standard-bearers were both excellent campaigners and both were very fine gentlemen. I hope they do as well next time.
I do want to talk a little bit, not about the local campaign which was run in Essex South or in Windsor and Essex county, where the Liberals were tremendously successful. We won four out of five seats and Liberals have a majority government in Windsor and Essex county. We know the new member for Windsor-Sandwich (Mr. Wrye) is going to be here, and he is going to speak on the important issues and he is going to be dynamic and he is going to represent the people of Windsor-Sandwich in a way that has not been done for some time. Yes, the truth hurts.
I do want to talk about the broad general provincial election. I have to say I was quite surprised at the whole thing. I did not know that the Tories could be that crass. I did not know they would be willing to use the civil service as a political instrument. I did not know they would be willing to use government funds to promote their own end results.
I have a small clipping here, Mr. Speaker, just so you know that I am not making up these facts. I want the Speaker to know I am not making up these facts. I have a clipping here from the Windsor Star, that great daily newspaper that serves the people of Windsor and Essex county. I want, in particular, the member from Sarnia (Mr. Brandt) to pay close attention to this. It says here, "Food ad campaign to cost $500,000." Can you believe that? Half a million dollars.
Listen to this: "Two days before calling a provincial election, Ontario's Conservative government dug $100,700 out of the taxpayers' pockets to crank up a controversial advertising campaign. The government advertising director, Campbell McDonald, confirmed this week additional air time for a campaign plugging Ontario foodstuffs was purchased in the last week in January."
Can you believe that? Just a few days before the provincial election was called -- it says here in the Windsor Star, just two days before the provincial election was called -- and they ended up spending $500,000. It also says here that they would feature "fat cows and farmers, singing in the fields, good things grow in Ontario."
That is what they did. That is how crass this party has been. Unfortunately, Mr. Speaker, and I know you have a lot of sympathy for this, Windsor, and Essex county to some extent, is in an economic depression. When people are losing their livelihoods, when people are losing their homes, when they cannot make ends meet and are feeling destitute, the last thing these people need is crass politics.
For quite some time now the Ministry of Industry and Tourism has been dangling in front of the people of Ontario an automotive parts technology centre. If anyone wanted to know about banking, if the person had any smarts he would go to Bay Street. If anyone wanted to know about greenhouses, if he had any smarts he would go to Leamington. If anyone wanted to know about auto parts and the auto industry he would have to go to Windsor. That is only logical. But the Conservatives would rather play crass politics; they would rather ignore the needs of many people who have suffered and are suffering today in the Windsor and Essex county area because of the downturn in the car industry. That community needs that auto parts centre.
But what did we hear from the Ontario Tories during the election campaign? I quote from a famous daily, the Windsor Star: "When announced, just before the election was called, the centre was slated for either Chatham or the Niagara region. Both places are where Conservative candidates are in trouble." Politics before people once again.
"But for the people of Windsor, Correctional Services Minister Gordon Walker, in Windsor Monday drumming up votes, claimed the centre could be built somewhere between Chatham and Windsor." There we have it. That is what the government had to offer to the people of Windsor and Essex county and that is why it is zero for five. It should not ever count on winning a seat in Windsor or Essex county until it starts putting politics before people. I am shamed, I am shocked.
Some hon. members: People before politics!
Mr. Mancini: I am sorry, people before politics.
Mr. Mancini: That should read "people before politics." You guys know what I mean; do not be funny.
An hon. member: We are just trying to help.
Mr. Mancini: Thank you. I will be helping you in a minute.
The government should not even consider winning a seat in Windsor-Essex county until it starts putting people before politics. I am ashamed, appalled that it would play that kind of politics when we in the Windsor area have suffered nearly 20 per cent unemployment. What do those people think they are there for?
Mr. Roy: It is called cynical politics. It is sleazy.
Mr. Mancini: Mr. Speaker, I will address my comments to you so I will not be interrupted by some of the Tories.
In the year 1981, Christmas came in March and Bill Davis was Santa Claus. In nearly every community he appeared in he brought with him a cheque. What offends me the most about the kind of election campaign we saw was that this political party used the civil service to develop the Board of Industrial Leadership and Development program which they turned into a political document. It should refund the Treasury of Ontario for the cost of that document. Shame on you.
When we look at this chamber and we see 70 Tories, 34 Liberals and 21 New Democrats, we have to ask ourselves, "How were they able to get 70?" I maintain it was in collusion with the New Democratic Party and I am going to provide evidence of that in very short order. I maintain that the Conservative Party of Ontario was able to achieve a 70-seat party here in this chamber with collusion from the New Democratic Party.
Mr. Mancini: Just listen to the facts. In 1980, after having given this government three years to put in place the famous Brampton charter and after having watched it do nothing for three years -- not do a single thing to deserve re-election -- we on this side of the House in this party came to the conclusion it was time to turf out that old party once and for all.
Mr. Mancini: You see, Mr. Speaker, the NDP do not understand political reality. In the election of 1975, when the people elected a minority government, they wanted us to come to Queen's Park to work, not to play politics. The Conservative Party played politics in early 1977 and the people of Ontario said: "No. Go back to Queen's Park the same way," and they returned another minority government. They sent us back here to work on their behalf and not to play politics like my friends on the left. That is what they did.
After having given this government three years to put into place the Brampton charter and after having watched it do nothing but squander that time, we decided it was time to turf it out once and for all. We could probably have defeated them back in 1980, except that collusion was taking place between the Tories and the NDP. When we introduced a proposal to alleviate the tremendous impact of high interest rates on home owners, on small businessmen, on farmers, the Ontario Tories said, "No" and the Ontario NDP said, "We agree with the Ontario Tories." Our proposal went down the drain. We had a no-confidence motion --
Mr. Breaugh: And the Ontario Liberals said yes and no.
Mr. Mancini: If the new members who have not had a chance to read Hansard go back to the Hansard of Monday, March 24, page 164, they will see a no-confidence motion. They will see it says: "This government has failed to protect the people of Ontario from escalating high interest rates on residential mortgages, small business loans and farmer loans." We moved a motion of no confidence and the NDP quickly jumped into bed with the Conservative Party. That is the collusion I am talking about.
Mr. Eaton: The member's federal colleagues caused it and he wants somebody else to correct it.
Mr. Mancini: Hang on. It is my turn to give a throne speech. This government introduced a policy which takes money away from the elderly needy. The Toronto Star on March 3 said -- and I am quoting the editorial -- "Tax switch hurts needy." It says here: "The Ontario government made a mistake last year when it replaced property and sales tax credits with outright grants to ease the burden of sales and property taxes for the elderly. For many of the elderly the results of that mistake are now painfully apparent." They go on to describe how the poor elderly receive less money under this new program and the elderly who had incomes in excess of $20,000 a year received more.
We put forward a proposal which said that no person should receive less money under the new plan than they did under the old plan. Not only that, but we introduced a no-confidence motion Monday, April 28.
Mr. Mancini: This is the collusion I am talking about. That's why they are down to 21 seats and I want them to know why. On April 28, 1980, page 1205 of Hansard -- you new members should read this -- the motion of no confidence condemns the government for giving public moneys. It says, "It deplores the fact that in provision of additional assistance to senior citizens the government has chosen to do so in an inequitable manner, giving less to those most in need." Less to those most in need. That party voted with that government to defeat this no-confidence motion and the poor elderly are paying for that now. And they want to know why they are down to 21 seats?
Mr. Mancini: I sat in the House a week ago, watching the member for Hamilton East (Mr. Mackenzie) as he introduced a slough of private member bills, amendments to the Labour Relations Act. Where was the NDP and the member for Hamilton East when this government introduced Bill 89? In case my NDP friends have forgotten, Bill 89 allows strikebreakers to participate in a vote to approve a contract that has been put forward by management to the union. These people helped the Ontario Tories pass a despicable piece of antilabour legislation.
As I travel through my riding and meet with union leaders they shake their heads in disgust and say: "How could Bill 89 pass through the chamber? How could that happen?" But it did happen. It happened because the Conservatives and the New Democrats got together, made a sweetheart deal, sold the working man down the drain and passed Bill 89. Now we have to live with Bill 89.
Mr. Piché: Do you believe what he is saying?
Mr. Mancini: I want the member for Cochrane North to read Bill 89 and report back to the House to see what you think. Will you do that?
Mr. Piché: I will, I promise.
An hon. member: Or get someone to read it for you.
Mr. Mancini: I will send him a copy. I also want to take this time to talk about the moneys this government has given to wealthy corporations. The April 30, 1981, Toronto Star stated, "Millions Wasted in Forest Industry Grants, Says Report." What we witnessed here was the biggest heist since the great train robbery. This government took millions and millions of the taxpayers' dollars and gave it to wealthy corporations that did not have a need for it.
Mr. Mancini: No, not in Windsor.
It says here there was nobody bidding to have the forest industry move from the north. We were in no bidding war with the state of Ohio, so you guys check up on the facts. It says here: Spruce Falls Power and Paper Company, $4.65 million from the Ontario government; Great Lakes Forest Products, $25 million from the Ontario government; Abitibi-Price Limited, $15 million from the Ontario government; E.B. Eddy Forest Products, $16 million from the Ontario government; Domtar, $10 million from the Ontario government. I could go on and on and on.
I do not know how the new members of the Conservative caucus are going to be able to go home to their ridings, look their constituents in the eye and say: "Yes, these rich multinational corporations needed this money and that is why we gave them $100 million of the taxpayers' share of the general treasury. That is why we did it -- because they needed it."
I would like to wind up by making a comment --
Mr. Mancini: I have a lot more things I could say. Do you guys want me to go on? I need a little encouragement.
Mr. Gillies: We will give you a standing ovation if you stop.
Mr. Mancini: In that case there are a couple of other things I would like to say. By living in the Windsor-Essex county area we are deluged by American propaganda through their media. I have been trying for some time to get the Ontario government to live up to its commitment as far as TVOntario is concerned so it can be received in the Windsor-Essex county area.
You people over there give TVOntario $20 million a year to provide Canadian television to Canadians. It is downright shameful that in the Windsor-Essex county area this service is not being provided because of the poor reception.
I was on the procedural affairs committee and we had Mr. Jim Parr, the chairman of TVOntario, come before us. He agreed with me at the committee hearings that something should be done to improve the service of TVOntario so that we as Ontario citizens could watch a television station that did not necessarily show M.A.S.H. or Dallas, but had some Canadian content.
However, after the committee hearings were over and I wrote to him asking him when he was going to take on this endeavour, when he was going to improve the reception by better towers in the Windsor-Essex county area, he said, "No, everything is fine, just fine."
That gentleman is really not representing the interests of all Ontarians. We in Windsor-Essex county pay our fair share of taxes that go to TVOntario. Part of that $20 million comes from the people of Windsor-Essex county and we have every right to be able to tune into that station which is paid for by the people of Ontario. In Windsor-Essex county there are 300,000 people and anyone who tells me proper service cannot be provided to a large group of people in such a compact area does not know what he is talking about or just does not want to do his job. It appears to me the Tories do not want to do their job as far as TVOntario is concerned.
Those guys have money to burn when it does not really count. When there are people suffering, when there are people in need, there is always restraint on, but when there is money to waste they seem to have a lot of it.
I want to bring a report to their attention, and I know the member for Mississauga East (Mr. Gregory) is listening intently. The member for St. David (Mrs. Scrivener) was appointed chairman of the Ontario Task Force on Provincial Rail Policy. It was entitled The Future of the Role of Rail in Ontario, Final Report. It cost $300,000 to produce this report. The only good thing about this report is it has a flashy cover. It is an outstanding cover. The people who were commissioned --
Mr. Eaton: Do you not think the content is any good?
Mr. Mancini: I will get to that in a moment. The people who were commissioned to prepare this cover I am sure were paid well and they did a good job. It is just too bad the content could not match the cover. What they did after a couple of trips, I assume, here and there -- I know they made a trip to Europe because it was very important to go to Europe to see what was being done there so they should make this report and table it in the House -- is they tabled this report, and they made almost 200 recommendations that are nothing but motherhood statements.
They did not attach a single cost estimate to any of the nearly 200 recommendations. They did not attach a total cost estimate to the whole package. Finally, they did not say what the detrimental effects to Ontario would be if these recommendations were not put into place. What is the use of this report? Why did they not ask the people who were on this commission to make some kind of recommendation in a less glamorous form to the Mississauga railway accident inquiry or to the Canadian Transport Commission? They did not have to spend $300,000 just to give some kind of public relations image to this endeavour. That is why I say these people always seem to have money to burn when it is not necessary.
They have been successful over the last 38 years in winning elections. As far as giving good government is concerned, their track record is lousy. As far as I am concerned, they are fat, complacent and arrogant. This will be their last four years in office, and good riddance to them.
Mr. Samis: M. le Président, j'ai l'honneur de participer à ce débat au nom des électeurs de la circonscription de Cornwall et j'aimerais vous féliciter sur votre nomination comme Président de l'Assemblée législative.
Je vous souhaite beaucoup de succès dans votre tâche et je peux vous assurer que vous aurez l'appui de tous mes collègues dans notre caucus dans vos efforts pour ce qui est l'impartialité de votre position. Je crois que c'est très important de continuer la tradition établie par votre prédécesseur, le député de Nipigon, car l'Assemblée a fait du progrès important au cours de son terme.
Monsieur le Président, j'aimerais également remercier les gens de Cornwall pour avoir renouvelé mon mandat en tant que leur porte-parole ici à Queen's Park et j'aimerais remercier particulièrement les gens ordinaires de Cornwall, parce qu'ils sont responsables pour ma victoire. Ils savent que je ne suis pas le porte-parole de la haute finance, des grosses sociétés, des intérêts privilégiés, des avocats, des médecins, des entrepreneurs et des gens qui cherchent du patronage. Non, Monsieur le Président, les gens ordinaires savent que je représente, je parle, et je lutte pour les gens ordinaires de ma circonscription et qu'ensemble, nous avons battu la fameuse machine bleue le 19 mars. Les francophones de Cornwall, Monsieur l'Orateur, sont déçus par le discours du Trône et par ce gouvernement.
Ils sont très déçus par la politique constitutionnelle du gouvernement de M. Davis et son refus d'accepter l'article 133 pour la minorité francophone dans cette province. Ils se demandent pourquoi y aura-t-il deux mesures pour deux minorités dans les deux provinces centrales: une pour les anglophones au Québec et une autre pour les francophones en Ontario?
Ils sont déçus par le refus de ce gouvernement d'accepter le principe d'un Conseil scolaire homogène pour les francophones d'Ottawa-Carleton.
Ils sont déçus par le fait qu'il n'existe pas en ce moment une école secondaire moderne pour les francophones de la région de Pénétang. Ils se rappellent les promesses faites par le Ministre de l'Éducation (Mlle Stephenson) qu'il y aurait une école francophone à partir du premier janvier cette année, mais ils savent aussi que les étudiants francophones doivent aller à une école inférieure aux normes exigées, soit à Lafontaine.
Ils sont déçus par le discours du Trône parce qu'ils savent qu'il n'y a aucun programme, aucune nouvelle initiative pour stimuler l'économie dans l'Est de l'Ontario. Ah oui, la région de Toronto a reçu toutes sortes de promesses tandis que l'Est n'a reçu que des petites "bouchées" seulement. Ils ne cherchent pas à avoir des privilèges dans cette province.
Non, ce qu'ils veulent c'est simplement pouvoir jouir de pleins droits, à juste titre, et ils savent que ce gouvernement s'intéresse plus aux victoires électorales qu'à la justice pour notre minorité francophone.
Monsieur le Président, j'aimerais dire que la population francophone, comme la population d'autres comtés de cette province, sont très déçues par la politique linguistique, culturelle et constitutionnelle de ce gouvernement. Ils demandent pourquoi seulement le parti Conservateur a refusé d'accepter leurs droits linguistiques dans une nouvelle constitution comme était accepté par le premier ministre conservateur du Nouveau-Brunswick.
Mr. Speaker, on behalf of the electors of the riding of Cornwall I want to take this opportunity to extend my congratulations to you on your election. I know you have broken a rather well-established tradition in the riding of Peterborough by being able to overcome the jinx whereby every successive election the people have seemed to change their representative, and I congratulate you on that.
As a private member, I have to say that I hope you will maintain the tradition established by the member for Lake Nipigon (Mr. Stokes), the impartiality that he established and the way he asserted the role of the chair and did not allow himself to be intimidated by any side of this House, especially this side.
Second, I want to take this opportunity to thank again the people of Cornwall for renewing my mandate. I am especially proud of the fact that we spent only $13,500 to defeat the famous Big Blue Machine, and I attribute my victory not to the big-money boys, nor to the lawyers or the doctors or the vested interests or the privileged interests or the fat cats or the pork-barrel seekers, but to the good, honest, hard-working, ordinary people of Cornwall, to whom I owe the privilege of representing the riding of Cornwall and to whom I owe my deepest thanks.
In terms of the throne speech, to me it is essentially a recycling of the Board of Industrial Leadership and Development program, which is all based on the election campaign. So at your discretion, Mr. Speaker, I want to concentrate the bulk of my remarks on the recent election campaign, because I think that is the pertinent issue here in reality, not the throne speech.
First of all, as an Ontario politician and as a member of this House, I have to express my concern and disappointment at the turnout in this election. When I say that virtually one in two voters in this province was not sufficiently interested even to bother to vote, something is seriously wrong in our political system and in our political process, and if we do not face that reality we are living in a dream world.
In 1967, something like 66 per cent of the voters cared enough to go out and vote; in 1971, 73.5 per cent; in 1975, 66.7 per cent; in 1977, 65.6 per cent; and now we are down to 57 per cent.
When the Americans had their Presidential election, many of us up here sort of pooh-poohed it and said, "Isn't that terrible, the turnout down there?" It is pretty pathetic when virtually half the electorate are not sufficiently interested to go out and vote.
Angus MacInnis had an interesting description of Canadian politics, and there may be more than a germ of truth in it. He used to describe politics in British Columbia as pure entertainment, politics on the Prairies as religion, politics in Ontario as a business, politics in Quebec as a way of life, politics in the Maritimes as a disgrace. Here in Ontario I think there is a lot of truth to what MacInnis said: politics is a fairly impersonal business.
I just compare the turnouts. If people say this declining interest is a nationwide phenomenon, I point to the turnout in the last two federal elections, which was between 75 and 80 per cent. I point to the recent election in Quebec, where there was a decline in the voter turnout and some people were worried about it; it went down from 83 per cent to 82 percent. But we are at 57 per cent.
Something is seriously wrong, I suggest, in the body politic of Ontario. I am not sure of the reasons. I do not have any easy answers, but I want to advance a couple of ideas that may have something to do with the decline in interest.
Starting first with the Legislature, Mr. Speaker, because I think this is where it does start, I want to call to your attention to what is happening in the question period. As a private member, I feel there is a tremendous gulf between what the question period was designed to do and what is actually happening.
It is now two weeks that we have been in session, and I have been keeping an informal record of what happens day by day. I think we have averaged -- at least we in this party; I cannot speak for the Liberals -- between two and three questions a day beyond the leadership questions.
Today, for example, if I am not mistaken, the leaders took up 35 minutes of the question period. It is fairly common now that they take up at least half the question period every day and we are lucky on this side, in this party at least, if we get in two questions a day for back-benchers.
I really do not think the question period was designed to be monopolized by two people competing for those god almighty cameras. I really think the back-benchers have something to contribute. I think we can introduce more topics, more problems and more concerns in this Legislature, and something has to be done about this monopoly of the question period by the leaders.
I do not blame you, Mr. Speaker, because I noticed in the closing months of the previous Parliament we had the exact same problem. I just hope as you begin your term that you will try to do something before we get caught in this rut again. It seems to me we are off to a bad start, and I hope you will do something about it. I do not ascribe blame to any particular side, because I think we must take our share of the blame here sometimes in terms of needless, time-consuming supplementaries for the sake of getting into print or on camera, which really do not contribute much to the House.
A second thing that I think would improve the proceedings here in the chamber is the whole question of voting patterns and voting habits in the Legislature. Some people would disagree with me, but I happen to think excessive discipline is exercised in our version of the parliamentary system. Most votes are done virtually sheeplike: one party votes one way and every single member follows along, whether it is the Liberals, ourselves or the Tories. I do not see any party showing much freedom of spirit or individuality.
I think we as members have to take part of the blame, because we accept such a system, but I really think it is time we asserted our individuality, asserted more in the interests of our own constituents and our own conscience and stopped submitting so frequently, so submissively to the discipline exercised by whips and leaders and House leaders -- as heretical as that may sound to some.
Sometimes you even wonder about the relevance of your own constituents in these votes. How often do we as members say: "What do my constituents think about that? I wonder what they think about it? What do I feel or do I just fall in line?" On the government's side I can understand the back-benchers are under unique pressure, because they want to get into the cabinet. Over here there may be other pressures; they may not be as strong, but there are similar pressures exercised. My simple point is, I think the end result is that it has a bad effect on the spontaneity, the freedom and the creativity of this chamber, and I think the voters are the losers in the long run.
Third, I want to suggest something that really was brought home to me in this campaign. Campaigning in the afternoon at two o'clock when the House of Commons was in session, I was astonished at how many people actually watch question period broadcast live on television. It is not just the senior citizens: it really covers a broad spectrum of people. They were actually interested in it and would talk about it when you came to the door.
In my riding, which is very distant from Toronto and where provincial politics is tertiary -- and a very poor third, I may say -- there is very little interest in what goes on in this chamber, and the media impact is virtually nil. Part of that is because we have a particular situation. CJOH-TV in Ottawa tends to dominate the region; it is federally and municipally oriented and gives short shrift to the provincial Legislature.
We have to reconsider the idea of expanding our facilities to provide for additional TV broadcasting. I think TV is the one medium that reaches people, not the paid advertisements but things such as question period and major events.
Mr. Eaton: You mean you guys never got any of the question period.
Mr. Samis: That is right. When I talk about TV I am not talking about giving the leaders added time. It is guys like the member and myself and the member for Scarborough West (Mr. R. F. Johnston) who should get more publicity.
Mr. Eaton: It would be worse if you got the member for Scarborough West in.
Mr. Samis: Not him; I'll take that back.
The fourth proposal I want to make for consideration is the whole question of campaigning. One problem is that people tend to think parties are dominated by vested interests and vested groups who have the money or clout of their organizations and the ordinary individual is pretty minimal. He is manipulated and used at election time and that is it; then the backroom boys or the big money boys take over.
I noticed in Quebec, which had an 82 per cent turnout, the Parti Quebecois has more than 300,000 paid-up members. Even the Liberal Party has 250,000 paid-up members. I cannot explain it in simple terms, but I did notice one thing about their election laws that might have some benefit in Ontario: no corporation or union is allowed to make a financial contribution at election time.
That means the political parties have to go out and reach the individual voter to convince him to contribute. They have pretty strict laws on how much one can contribute, on disclosure, as well as good laws on advertising limits. It means the political parties have to forget going to the corporate or union donor. They have to knock on doors, get on the phones to contact individuals and get them involved in the political process.
Even the Union Nationale, which got clobbered in the election and did not win a single seat, was still able to claim a year prior to the election that it had 25,000 paid-up members. Everybody had written them off by then as a spent force in Quebec politics. I wonder how our politics would be affected if we were to adopt a similar law in Ontario, with no corporate or union donors of any sort.
I want to address myself to what actually transpired during the election. I want to preface my remarks by emphasizing that I accept the results fully. I do not bear any malice or sour grapes over the results. The voters made their choices. I accept that. I emphasize we are back with only 21 seats.
I believe that, as New Democrats, we have to accept our own full share of the blame for our poor showing. I do not deny such factors as our leadership problems and the failure to convince people of the merits of our leader. We have to look at our own campaign in terms of convincing labour people what their role should be or should not be in politics. We failed to interest the broad scope of the electorate in our perception of what the main issues were in the economy and in the election, especially the economic issues. We obviously failed to interest them on that.
The simple reality is that, for a variety of reasons, many of our own supporters did not even bother to go out and vote for us this time. Those things should not be blamed on the government side. They should be blamed on ourselves. We should look at ourselves as a party and ask, "Why did we not do better in each of those categories?"
As a member of the NDP, I accept the contention we are more to blame for our own situation than any of our adversaries or the electorate. But having participated as a candidate in five elections in this province, four of them general elections and one a by-election, there were certain aspects of this election I found to be regrettable, reprehensible and repulsive.
Let me make it clear I accept certain rules of the game. The fact is that the Quebec election, which was right on the heels of our own election, provides interesting and revealing comparisons. Let us talk about the use of polls, for example. Both the Parti Quebecois and the Parti Conservateur, the PCs, made extensive use of polls. In fact, I would argue this is a government that rules by polls.
I look at my friend the member for London South (Mr. Walker), the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations. This is a man who, when he was defeated, I recall, engaged in extensive letter writing and got publicity he was not seeking by denouncing the whole role of this government and its intervention in the economy.
Last week, we had the amazing sight of the same member getting up and defending rent control in this House. Any small-c conservative would absolutely abhor the idea of a Conservative Party instituting, continuing and pledging to continue a system of rent controls.
It is such an absurd situation that I had a constituent come up to me during the campaign and he said, "Samis, you know I do not vote for you." I said, "I know that." He said, "Well, what the hell do I do?" I said, "What are you talking about?" He said: "There is not a Conservative Party left in Ontario. I read the paper last night. Davis is going to continue rent controls. They want to spend more money on the campaign. They want to help out the corporations. Where does a Conservative vote these days?".
Why would people who call themselves Conservatives be doing such things? Obviously, a simple reason was provided this week in the Toronto Star. The Goldfarb poll showed a massive proportion of voters, especially in this city, want rent control to continue. On a whole host of riding issues, I dare say there is not one on which the Premier (Mr. Davis) spoke in the recent campaign on which they did not have a detailed, in-depth poll done first before the Premier took a policy stand.
I want to emphasize that I do not like polls. In fact, I would ban their publication during election time. But I accept them as part of the political system, even though it gives the government side a tremendous advantage, because polls are expensive and they have the money to pay for them. I accept that as part of the game, the use of the polls and how they can help one party more than others.
Mr. Eaton: The Liberals do them over their own phones.
Mr. Samis: That is right. We do them. I do not deny it. If I had my way, I would do away with them.
Second, in regard to another part of the recent campaign, it is very interesting to compare our province and Quebec in the use of goodies. The Premier of this province made it his personal specialty to go around to selected ridings with the old cheque book and hand out somewhere in the range of $275 million worth of goodies. A goody a day will keep the opposition away.
I noticed -- I forget the riding -- the Premier doing the old cheque book routine, where a reporter was overheard to say: "Aw, let us cut out this crap. Sign the cheque and let's move on to the next town." It is getting pretty bad when it reaches that level.
That was not the only thing. On top of that, we had the fall mini-budget, when everybody thought there might be an election. A quarter of a billion dollars was spent on goodies then -- $275 million on this campaign and $250 million last fall.
I have to admit René Lévesque learned a few lessons from this campaign. He went around to his selected ridings, his targeted groups, whether they were occupational or interest groups -- in Quebec, they are a little more visceral; they call them "gainsburgers." The Premier goes around and hands out the "gainsburgers" in the riding.
As an opposition member, it is hard to argue. They both won with massive majorities. We like to think people are too cynical to buy that sort of stuff, but obviously in certain ridings, with certain types of people, it works. I resent it at times, but I want to emphasize that I accept it as part of the political game today.
Third, let us look at mass media. In this province the PCs made absolutely massive use of the media, especially radio and television. There were very few limits whatsoever on spending, as we all know. There were the jingles on radio, which nauseated probably eight million people in this province, about keeping the promise. In my own riding, every 15 minutes on the English radio station, people had to put up with that nauseous ad.
But we all know they had expensive market research done. They bring in special experts for the campaign. They do all sorts of special advertising research. Then they come up with the campaign. And it was slick; I make no bones about it.
Again, I have to confess it is not just the PCs who do it. If we look at the election in Quebec, René Lévesque did the same thing. The Parti Québecois did the same thing -- massive advertising, extensive use of ad agencies and market research -- and again, very smoothly, cleverly and slickly done. I do not like that sort of politics, I do not think it is healthy, but I accept it as part of the political game today.
Fourth, if we talk about leaders and issues, look again at the comparisons between Quebec and Ontario. Both the PCs and the PQ made extensive use of their leader in their ads. We saw all those signs, ads and proclamations around Ontario, "The Davis candidate in your riding is... Vote for the Davis candidate." In my riding, the PC candidate did not have a single ad in the newspaper without being shown alongside the Premier. Sometimes you wondered who was really running in Cornwall, the PC candidate or the Premier himself. But I accept the reality that it is not just the PCs who do it.
When I went down to Quebec during their election campaign --
Mr. Samis: If I can have your attention, Mr. Speaker, since obviously I do not have theirs, when I went to Quebec I saw these huge billboards done in a very dark blue. I would say that about two thirds of the Mediacom billboards were big pictures of Premier Lévesque with, as I said, this dark blue background. What did the big print say? "Faut rester fort l'équipe Lévesque" and, in very tiny print, "le Parti Québecois." Those guys over there must have been rolling in their trough, seeing a perfect imitation of what was going on here.
I noticed the way they used the Premier in Quebec, wearing dark suits, cutting down his cigarette smoking, having his wife with him at most appearances. They kept his appearances down to two a day. He was always seen in proper backgrounds, for example. Whenever he spoke they had a 20- or 30-foot stagedrop for the speech always arranged in advance, always conveying the aura of the authority of the office. It was the same as happened in this province.
Again, that is part of the game. Sometimes we say that is exploiting the office. Sometimes I think it is a bland, reassuring, noncontroversial, father-type campaign. But I accept that is what a party in power wants to do. If they think they can win on that basis, then why not try it? There is nothing illegal or illegitimate about it.
In this province I would ask, if they had such confidence in their leader and his polls were so favourable at the beginning of the campaign, why would he refuse the debate with the two opposition leaders on the issues of the campaign? I do not think it is a coincidence that only 57 per cent of the people bothered to vote and there was no election debate in this campaign among the three party leaders. If there is one thing that stimulates interest, I think it is a debate among the leaders.
Jimmy Carter was not afraid to debate Ronald Reagan, although he paid the price for it obviously. Valery Giscard d'Estaing is going to have his debate tonight. We know why he is debating tonight. We will see on Sunday what happens to him. But even in Quebec they make this parallel. René Lévesque had agreed to debate with both opposition leaders. Interestingly enough, it was the leader of the Liberal Party who refused to debate. The Premier of Quebec, who had the polls showing him in the lead, was willing to debate on television or on radio. It was Claude Ryan who did not want to debate. It makes me wonder.
Obviously the Premier was able to appeal very successfully to the very smug and, I suppose, somewhat parochial nature of this province. He stressed continuity and tradition very effectively. Obviously that means something to a lot of people. Obviously we in the opposition do not really understand that enough or we would not be here.
René Lévesque ran a fairly smug campaign in his own context, but at least he was not as bland, I do not think, as the Premier of this province. At least he had a fairly good legislative record to defend. But there is no question it was a highly controlled, deliberately noncontroversial, reassuring type of campaign. Again, I emphasize that I do not like that kind of politics, but I accept it as part of the game, and I am prepared to live with it.
These are the four aspects of political campaigning today that I do not particularly like, but I accept them as part of the game. But there are certain things that happened in this recent campaign I did not like, and I deeply resent, and I would like to speak to them after the supper hour.
The House recessed at 5:59 p.m.