32nd Parliament, 1st Session























The House met at 10:02 a.m.



Mr. Smith: Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of privilege pertaining to a lengthy statement made in the House yesterday by the Minister of Housing (Mr. Bennett) concerning his involvement in official plan amendment number 95 of the town of Vaughan. I have a number of points to note, which arise by reason of the length of the minister's statement.

First, the minister stated that Mr. Webb did not represent the owners of the land but rather those who objected to ministry approval of this residential amendment. The record should show, as does the Ontario Municipal Board file, that Mr. Webb represented five clients who objected to have their nearby lands included in the hearing for the express purpose of seeking a change in the official plan from rural area to rural residential. Once these lands were included, Mr. Webb then argued in favour of the rezoning, and he is now petitioning the cabinet to have the OMB ruling overturned.

Second, the minister was trying to explain why he was seeking clarification from the Minister of Agriculture and Food (Mr. Henderson). He stated that his staff, not he, sought clarification from the Ministry of Agriculture and Food in November 1978. What he did not indicate, however, was the substance of the response, because he did get clarification on December 11, 1978. The response included comments on certain portions of the land that the minister did not mention, including a positive objection to lots 27 to 31, which constituted about two thirds to three quarters of the land in question.

The last point I want to make has to do with some comments the minister made regarding a letter I sent him on the subject of the so-called Stoney Creek fruit lands. I have made that letter available to the press. The point in the letter is perfectly obvious: the lands were not in need of rezoning, as the minister suggested, because they had been zoned industrial for some time, as is well known to the present member for Wentworth (Mr. Dean). The problem was the freeze that had been imposed.

At the request of the regional chairman and the mayor, and recognizing Hamilton's need, I suggested that if the lands could no longer support fruit growth, as most of them could not, the minister would want to reconsider. That letter has been made public. The suggestion of the minister is so silly as hardly even to bear discussion in this House.


Mr. Speaker: Order.

Mr. Smith: The real question, which the minister deliberately obfuscated, is that, although his staff sought and received clarification, the Minister of Agriculture and Food was none the less contacted after August 1979, after the matter went to the Ontario Municipal Board; it was already at the board, sent there by the Minister of Housing (Mr. Bennett). The point is that the Minister of Housing was then apparently in contact with the Minister of Agriculture and Food.

What this House will still have to know, despite the obfuscation of yesterday, is why, once the matter was already sent to the Ontario Municipal Board, the Minister of Housing still found it necessary to request a further clarification from the Minister of Agriculture and Food. That is the question that still has not been answered and I presume at some later point the minister might wish to answer.

Hon. Mr. Bennett: Mr. Speaker, I am sorry I missed the first comments of the Leader of the Opposition. Let me try to answer one or two of the points that it was suggested I omitted to look at.

First, in the case of Mr. Webb: Mr. Webb very clearly was opposed to the amendment that was being offered by the municipality of Vaughan, and in his letter of September 15 -- which I am sure the Leader of the Opposition happens to have in his possession, because he or his research people took a photostat of it from the file that happens to be in the Ministry of Housing -- in the last sentence he makes the request that this item be referred to the Ontario Municipal Board --

Mr. Smith: So that his clients would be included.

Hon. Mr. Bennett: I beg the member's pardon?

Mr. Smith: Because his clients had land nearby.

Hon. Mr. Bennett: I could not care less. He asked for it to be referred to the Ontario Municipal Board. The reasons that it was referred to the municipal board are entirely in the legal mind that he wishes to use.


Mr. Speaker: Order.

Hon. Mr. Bennett: The last comment I understand the Leader of the Opposition made was to the effect that, some time after the item was referred to the Ontario Municipal Board, I continued to communicate with the Minister of Agriculture and Food. That is not so, to the best of my knowledge, although there might have been a phone call or some other information.

Just so the leader of the second party will keep things straight: We received a letter from the Minister of Agriculture and Food in October 1978 indicating his position. I hope the member for Brant-Oxford-Norfolk (Mr. Nixon) is taking note of what I am saying. In November 1978, the ministry asked for clarification. On December 8, 1978, Mrs. Santo made a tour of the site. On December 11, the Ministry of Agriculture and Food referred to us, stating more clearly what their position happened to be on the land. On December 17, there was a letter from the owners asking for partial approval, as I noted yesterday.

On January 25, there was a memo from Mrs. Santo to me indicating very clearly she believed that the item should not be partially dealt with but that the whole item should be referred to the Ontario Municipal Board. On March 8, 1979, I referred the entire subject to the Ontario Municipal Board for its approval.

As the Leader of the Opposition knows, the decision was rendered by the Ontario Municipal Board. On February 24, 1981, official plan amendment number 95 was not approved. It is now being petitioned to cabinet by at least five or six people, if not more, who have varying views and opinions.

10:10 a.m.

Let me touch on the last item, the Leader of the Opposition's letter to me, which I am glad he did circulate, because he now is trying to say that the member for Wentworth North (Mr. Cunningham) is saying that the person he was talking about wanted only 20 acres. What we are really trying to do is discard principle for the number of acres.

Mr. Smith: What is the minister talking about? He is being silly.

Hon. Mr. Bennett: The Leader of the Opposition should not talk about being silly, because that is exactly what he is attempting to do.

Mr. Speaker: Order.

Mr. Smith: Read the letter into the record.

Hon. Mr. Bennett: I can read this letter as well as the Leader of the Opposition can. Since he has given it to the press, the need is not that great.

Mr. Smith: Read it into the record.

Hon. Mr. Bennett: Okay.

"Dear Claude: Re: Regional municipality of Hamilton-Wentworth official plan: Given the enormous need the city of Hamilton has for industrial land, and given the fact that a strip of land on the south side of the Queen Elizabeth Way was zoned industrial by the former township of Saltfleet, why do you persist in freezing development on the land against the wishes of the regional municipality?"

Mr. Nixon: What is the matter with that?

Mr. Bennett: I am not saying there is anything the matter with it.

Mr. Speaker: Order.

Hon. Mr. Bennett: I am suggesting that the sanctimonious leader of the member's party, who wants to talk about preserving fruit land, all of a sudden decided that maybe we should not preserve it.

Mr. Smith: Keep reading. Read the whole letter, please.

Mr. Speaker: Order.

Mr. Smith: Mr. Speaker, on a point of privilege: I demand the minister read the rest of that letter. There is another paragraph. There is only one more paragraph. He has to read it. He cannot read half a letter.

Mr. Speaker: Order. Mr. Smith, that was a very unfortunate choice of words.

Mr. Smith: What choice of words? I beg your pardon?

Mr. Speaker: You demand nothing. Mr. MacDonald.

Mr. Smith: On a point of privilege --

Mr. Speaker: Order. Order, please.

Mr. MacDonald: On a related point of privilege, Mr. Speaker: A week or so ago, when this whole episode was first raised in the House, the Minister of Agriculture and Food did some grandstanding. He said that if there were differences between the experts in his ministry and himself that was good and showed how much freedom they were given. We now discover in the Globe and Mail this morning that he is lecturing them never to do that again.

Mr. Speaker: Order. That is not further to the point of privilege.

Mr. Smith: On a point of privilege, please, Mr. Speaker?

Mr. Speaker: I think this is degenerating into a debate.

Mr. Smith: It is not. Good heavens!

Mr. Speaker: Order. Is it related to the same point?

Mr. Smith: It is the same point. It is exactly the same point.

Some hon. members: Sit down!

Mr. Speaker: Order. Continue.

Mr. Smith: I would request that the rest of the letter be read into the record by the Minister of Housing. But I will read the rest of the letter into the record since the Minister of Housing chooses the paragraphs he prefers.

Mr. Riddell: They are pretty shady over there -- pretty sleazy.

Mr. Speaker: Order.

Mr. Smith: I will read the rest of it following what the Minister of Housing quoted:

"Whatever posture you may wish to strike, albeit belatedly in support of fruit land, it must be obvious even to you that most of the land in question has not grown fruit for a good many years and much of it is totally incapable of doing so. Both the local and the regional municipality would like to use this land rather than letting it lie in a useless and idle fashion, and it is obvious that Hamilton requires additional industrial area. Where there is fruit being grown, and where there is some reasonable chance that it can continue to be grown in the long term, there is no doubt in my mind that measures to help the fruit farmers and to preserve the fruit land are needed. Where fruit cannot be grown, however, and where the zoning has been industrial, it seems to me that the province should allow the local and regional municipalities to decide the land use."

That is the letter. However, let us not obfuscate the main point, because the minister stood in the House on his point of privilege and stated that once it went to the Ontario Municipal Board he was not in contact with the Minister of Agriculture and Food. It went to the OMB in March 1979. The minister was not the minister until August 1979, and yet the Minister of Agriculture and Food stood in this House on May 28, 1981, and said:

"In the first instance, staff of the food land development branch reviewed the proposal and indicated some objection ... based on soil maps" and so on. "Some time later, the Minister of Housing suggested I review the matter to clarify the impact upon agricultural activity. At that time I asked my parliamentary assistant" et cetera.

If the Minister of Agriculture and Food is telling the truth, it had to be after the matter was referred to the Ontario Municipal Board that he heard from the Minister of Housing and was asked for a further review. One of them, either the Minister of Housing or the Minister of Agriculture and Food, is saying something that is incorrect. I ask that the two of them get together and come up with a better story than the one they have come up with so far.

Hon. Mr. Bennett: The honourable member is very interested in making sure his letter gets read into the files, and rather than going through a two-page letter I sent him he would like to see the high road the Minister of Housing happened to take regarding the fruit land.

There happens to be a slight difference between what land is zoned for and what it is used for. If he is trying to justify forgetting about the fruit lands because they are not under production, I suggest there is a great deal of land in this province that could find its way into industrial, commercial and residential use because it is not being cultivated at this time.

If the Leader of the Opposition wants to suggest that when lands are not used they should then drift into some other classification, I can only say there is going to be a real difficult time not only for the Minister of Housing but also for that member's party and others in this Legislature to decide what land use shall be in this province.

I think we have gone through this clearly and at great length. Yesterday I pointed out examples of members of the Liberal Party who had asked me, as the Minister of Housing, to review certain things, and I do not wish to imply that is the wrong thing to do.

The member for Wentworth North sent me a note yesterday saying he did not altogether appreciate my remarks. I welcome suggestions from him and other members of the Liberal Party and the New Democratic Party on how to resolve problems on behalf of their friends and their constituents. I do not wish to imply that they should not come to me or to any other minister.

Let the members opposite not be so sanctimonious in saying it is only the Conservative members I listen to. I listen to our backbenchers and try to resolve their problems, but let it not be said that there are not others in this Legislature and in the world of politics and business who do not visit the Minister of Housing and other ministers to get problems resolved.

Mr. Cunningham: Yesterday, Mr. Speaker, it was my impression the minister implied there was some impropriety in my contacting his ministry to expedite a development project in the town of Ancaster on what I believe is 20 acres of agricultural land, not 1,000 acres. This matter has been in the works for almost five years. For the information of members of the House, it is a senior citizens' project that is very badly needed in my constituency.

Hon. Mr. Bennett: For the information of the member for Wentworth North, I did not say that was an impropriety. Two weeks ago or thereabouts, I spoke to the member for Wentworth North, and he asked for Ministry of Housing support against an objection by the Ministry of Agriculture and Food on a development by one of his constituents in the Ancaster area. That is all I said.

Mr. Cassidy: Is this a new order of business, Mr. Speaker -- statements by the opposition?

Mr. Speaker: No, it is not.

Mr. McGuigan: Mr. Speaker, I too am concerned about my privileges, and I want to ask the minister what impropriety there was in my inquiring about a piece of property -- 190 acres, as I recall -- 40 acres of which was farmable. That 40 acres was divided into seven different parcels. This piece of land, as the Minister of Agriculture and Food knows, is bisected by gullies. In fact, it would be just a bit better than the badlands of South Dakota.

I want to know what impropriety there was in my making a request to the minister.


Mr. Speaker: Order. May we proceed with the business of the House?

Hon. Mr. Grossman: I always pick the wrong day for these things. It is unbelievable.

10:20 a.m.



Hon. Mr. Grossman: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased today to announce a move that will promote Ontario as a major tourism attraction and reflect the pride we all have in this great province.

Beginning September 1, all new vehicle plates issued in this province will carry the successful "Ontario -- Yours To Discover!" slogan. Over the next few years, as older plates are replaced and new plates are issued, we will eventually have more than 4.5 million vehicles promoting this province.

This move shows the co-operation of several ministries in helping promote tourism in this province. My colleague the Minister of Transportation and Communications (Mr. Snow) will ensure that all the plates issued will bear the new slogan, while my colleague the Minister of Correctional Services (Mr. Leluk) will ensure the production of the new plates.

In little more than a year since its introduction, the "Ontario -- Yours To Discover!" campaign has been adopted by many public and private sector tourism attractions. In fact, the slogan already has an 80 per cent recall factor, one of the highest for a tourism promotion in North America. For example, the Ontario Motor Coach Association, Black's Cameras, the St. Lawrence Parks Commission, Eaton's, various resorts, hotels, including Canadian Holiday Inns, as well as attractions and travel associations throughout the province, have already adopted the "Ontario -- Yours To Discover!" theme in their promotional materials.

Last year, tourism was worth $7.5 billion to the Ontario economy. That represents one eighth of our gross provincial product. This year, we expect tourism revenues to rise by 16 per cent to $8.7 billion. Our travel inquiry volume clearly shows the increased interest, particularly by Ontario and American residents, in discovering our province. In May alone, inquiries at our Queen's Park travel information centre jumped to a record 38,589; that is an average of more than 1,900 calls or letters each day. Travel counsellors worked overtime consistently to meet the 40 per cent growth in volume over last year at the same time.

This growth in interest is in part a result of last year's $9.6-million "Ontario -- Yours To Discover!" campaign aimed at the Ontario market and this year's vigorous efforts to reach the United States market. A $2-million increase in the ministry's tourism marketing budget this year, provided by the Board of Industrial Leadership and Development, has enabled us to step up our American advertising without diminishing our domestic efforts. Newspaper supplements promoting Ontario travel appeared in daily newspapers across Ontario and in 11 key US market areas from Minneapolis, Minnesota, to Syracuse, New York, on May 16 and 17. The majority of the Queen's Park inquiries followed the distribution of these newspaper inserts.

As government ministries and private tourism attractions look for more ways to promote "Ontario -- Yours To Discover!", I am sure all my honourable colleagues, as members of this provincial Legislature, will join me this fall in sporting the new vehicle plates with pride, knowing we are helping promote our second largest industry.

Mr. Boudria: Mr. Speaker, on a point of privilege: As the member representing the largest francophone community in this province, I want it to be known that my constituents will expect such a message to be in both official languages if it is on the licence plates of automobiles in this province.

I say further that probably "Ontario -- Keep The Promise!" would be a better message on those same plates.

Mr. Speaker: That might be better asked in the question period.


Hon. Mr. Elgie: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to advise honourable members that with my federal counterpart, the Honourable Gerald Regan, I am today releasing the report of our joint industrial inquiry commission, which has been reviewing safety arrangements and practices in the Ontario mining industry. Accordingly, I wish at this time to table the two volumes, which together are entitled Towards Safe Production.

I am sure honourable members will appreciate the speed with which the chairman, Kevin Burkett, and the members -- Keith Rothney of the United Steelworkers of America and Peter Riggin of Noranda Mines -- have completed their large and important assignment. It was just 11 months ago that Mr. Regan and I announced their appointment, and they subsequently held hearings in a number of northern Ontario communities as well as Toronto.

It might be well to review the circumstances that led us to commission Mr. Burkett and his colleagues.

In the three years from 1976, following the implementation of many recommendations of the Royal Commission on Health and Safety of Workers in Mines, chaired by Dr. James Ham, Ontario's mining industry substantially improved its safety performance. However, during the first half of 1980, there was some disturbing evidence that this pattern of improvement had been interrupted. As a result, Mr. Regan and I appointed the commission to examine the adequacy of existing arrangements and practices affecting safety in mines and mining plants in this province, including those in uranium mines, which are under federal jurisdiction.

The commission is to be congratulated on the quality of its report and the careful work manifested in its pages. I commend it to the attention of honourable members, who I believe will find it to be concise and readable.

The issues are well defined, and they are explored through balanced and well-focused discussion. The commissioners and their staff relied on hearings and formal research as well as extensive discussion and observation of the practices and attitudes of the persons and agencies involved in mine safety.

It is particularly gratifying to me, as Minister of Labour, that the commission found in the evidence it received, and in its own assessments, general satisfaction with the concepts underlying Ontario's occupational health and safety legislation and with the approaches inherent in its implementation.

In many instances, the report builds on concepts and structures that are already in place. As a result, it effectively develops and clarifies issues related to safety responsibility systems, worker representation and the nature and purpose of joint consultation and safety inspection.

This close integration of the commission's proposals with the elements of the existing mine safety system will facilitate government responses to its findings, and should serve both labour and management in the same way.

However, the fact that the commission was dealing with "existing arrangements and practices" did not limit the originality of its contribution. Those who study the report will find enlightening the analyses of how people, organizations and work practices affect safety performance in mines and mining plants.

In summary, the commission undertook to "determine how the Ontario mining community can improve its safety performance." It has identified principal participants, mechanisms and practices involved in mine safety and examined the influence they exert on work situations. Through comparison of performance within and outside Ontario industry, analyses of behaviour patterns, assessment of the completeness and relevance of programs, and other means, the commission has identified a number of potential opportunities for improvement. Some, of course, relate to concerns that had already been raised by workers, managers and administrators, and the commission provides some useful formal evaluation of these.

The government will now be examining the report, and I anticipate at the same time active public discussion of both the issues and the recommendations.


Hon. Mr. McMurtry: Mr. Speaker, today I am tabling the first three volumes of the Ontario Law Reform Commission's five-part report on the Enforcement of Judgement Debts and Related Matters.

The report is the result of more than 10 years of intensive research and analysis by the commission into one of the most cumbersome and archaic areas of the law. The enforcement of money judgements is sometimes more difficult and onerous than obtaining judgement itself. The deficiencies and vagaries of the law of debtor and creditor have come as a shock to many litigants who believed that winning their case in court was the end of their troubles.

The commission reviews the existing problems with the law and practice and puts forward 60 pages of detailed recommendations designed to bring order and greater efficiency into the enforcement of judgement debts. The commission's overall objectives were to revise and rationalize both law and procedure, to facilitate the collection of judgement debts while protecting the debtor from harassment, and to devise better procedures -- such as instalment payment plans -- for dealing with the difficult problems of the overcommitted debtor.

One of its central recommendations is the establishment, in each county and judicial district in Ontario, of a new integrated enforcement office supervised by the sheriff and responsible for virtually all enforcement of all money judgements from every court level.

10:30 a.m.

This is a very important, as well as a very complex, report. The government will welcome comments from interested individuals or organizations upon the report. I shall be reviewing the report with my cabinet colleagues with a view to developing further government policy and legislation in this very important area of the law.



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

The minister will recall having told this House in May that the reason he wrote his letter to the Minister of Housing, which eventually found its way into the Ontario Municipal Board file, was -- I am quoting now from the Minister of Agriculture and Food -- "Some time later, the Minister of Housing suggested I review the matter to clarify the impact upon agricultural activity."

Since the matter had already been referred to the OMB and since the Minister of Housing has just stated in this House that he made no such request of the Minister of Agriculture and Food, why did the Minister of Agriculture and Food tell this House he had heard from the Minister of Housing? Can the minister substantiate the date upon which he heard from the Minister of Housing and the nature of the request made by that minister?

Hon. Mr. Henderson: Mr. Speaker, the first document I have in this file is my letter to the Minister of Housing. Anything previous to that was strictly of a verbal nature. In reviewing the file -- which I do not have here, but I well remember it and I have read it in the last week or two -- I want the Leader of the Opposition to go back to the December letter he referred to from my staff to the Minister of Housing and to look at the last two lines on page one. It will tell him exactly the same as he told this House about the land out in his area. It will tell him there was very little visible farming going on in that area at that time.

All I have is my letter and my memory of being contacted by the office of the Minister of Housing. If the minister does not remember phoning me, I still say the call came from his office.

Mr. Smith: The minister is saying that a call did come from the minister's office after the matter had been sent to the OMB.

Hon. Mr. Henderson: No, I did not say that.

Mr. Smith: It had to be after the OMB!

Hon. Mr. Henderson: With all due respect --

Mr. Smith: He just said he had a call from the minister's office. It had to be after it went to the OMB.

Mr. Speaker: Order.

Mr. Smith: Mr. Speaker, let me finish my question.

Mr. Speaker: You are reaching a conclusion. Just ask the question, Mr. Smith.

Mr. Smith: I am sorry, Mr. Speaker, I am not reaching a conclusion. The minister was not the minister until after it was sent to the OMB; so I am simply saying --

Hon. Mr. Henderson: Well, I do not know that it was after --

Mr. Nixon: It happens to be a fact.

Mr. Speaker: Order. Mr. Henderson, wait for the question.

Mr. Smith: The minister is saying he did get a call from the Minister of Housing or from that minister's office. It had to be after the matter was sent to the OMB, since the minister was not the minister until some months after the matter had been sent to the OMB. He recognizes that he is in contradiction to the Minister of Housing on this, and I ask them to get their stories straight.

I ask a more important question now: Why has the minister said that people who testify in front of the OMB are not to contradict the minister in these policy matters, given the fact that when officials testify in front of the OMB they must swear an oath to tell the truth?

Does the minister not recognize that he is putting his officials in a position where they have to choose between saying what the minister prefers and what they believe to be the truth before God, according to the oath they have to swear before the OMB?

Does the minister not realize the gravity of what he is suggesting, where he is saying, in fact, "You are to lie under oath if necessary, but just don't contradict the Minister of Agriculture and Food"?

Hon. Mr. Henderson: Would the honourable member please show me where I said that in this House?

Mr. Smith: In response, Mr. Speaker, I simply point out that today's Globe and Mail article says --

Hon. Mr. Davis: He can deny it if he wishes.

Mr. Nixon: Let him deny it then, and say he was misquoted.

Mr. Smith: He is entitled to deny it if he did not say it. Today's Globe and Mail says, "Ontario Agriculture minister Lorne Henderson has told staff in the food land development branch of his ministry not to contradict him publicly again." What happened in the case of Keith Pinder, which was discussed here, is that Mr. Pinder was put under oath and had to say what he believed to be the truth -- and the minister knows that. He was forced to choose between what he believed to be the truth and the view that the minister would have preferred that he express at the OMB.

This is a serious matter. I would like the minister to recognize the seriousness of this and to deny the statement, if he wishes, and otherwise to rescind that order which he has given to members of his ministry.

Hon. Mr. Henderson: Mr. Speaker, that interview with the Globe and Mail is very clear in my mind. It happened yesterday afternoon. I told the Globe and Mail, and I presume the reporter is here, that it is up to the director of that branch to run his branch in any way he sees fit, but the policies of the government are to be put forth at any hearing.

Mr. Riddell: Supplementary, Mr. Speaker: In answering my leader's question, the minister made reference to the fact that this land was not actively farmed. How then does he explain a letter, which I am sure he has in his file, from the director, official plans branch of the Ministry of Housing, who toured the area and stated, "Although it was gently undulating, most of the area was treeless and actively farmed, certainly not conforming to our estate guidelines"? Furthermore, how does the minister explain the letter signed by 30 farmers, which I also assume he has in his file, stating that the land is "of soil highly suited for agriculture"? How does the minister explain that?

Hon. Mr. Henderson: Mr. Speaker, if the member wants to look at the land, the report is quite clear. Sixty per cent of the land is lower than class four, five, six and seven. If he wants to go back to the food land guidelines, he will find that we recommend the preservation of land in classes one to four, where it is possible.

In this case 11 per cent of this particular land is class one land. That one per cent is what my parliamentary assistant explained as a hog's back, something that modern-day equipment will not operate on. This land was quite operative back in the days when we had smaller machinery, smaller tractors. Forty per cent of it could be of that type of soil that we could work today, but the contour of the land does not permit the operation of it as productive agricultural land today.

If the member visited the land today or last year, as my parliamentary assistant did, he would find that land was not being farmed to any great extent, exactly the same as was stated in the letter of December from my staff to the Minister of Housing. The last two lines on page one -- I do not have it here, but I am sure the leader does.

Mr. Smith: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker: Apart from the OMB hearing, the minister has just stood and given figures in this House. I quote from the OMB hearing. Keith Pinder said, "Of the remaining 975 acres" -- by his calculation -- "42 per cent is class one, 11 per cent is class two, 11 per cent is class three, 27 per cent is class four" --

Mr. Speaker: That is not a point of order. Nothing is out of order.

10:40 a.m.

Mr. Nixon: But the minister just said 11 per cent is class one land. Mr. Speaker, the facts before the Ontario Municipal Board are as my leader has read them. Surely we have the responsibility to correct such misleading information?

Mr. Speaker: Order. Supplementary, Mr. Swart.

Mr. Mancini: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order: Yesterday, I tried to get up on a supplementary question to the Minister of Labour (Mr. Elgie) after the leader of the New Democratic Party (Mr. Cassidy) had his two questions and an NDP member had a question. You informed me I had missed my turn, Mr. Speaker.

This morning, the Leader of the Opposition had his questions and a supplementary followed by my colleague the member for Huron-Middlesex. Now you are allowing the member for Welland-Thorold a supplementary question in a manner you did not allow me.

Mr. Speaker: With great respect, it was not the same.

Mr. Swart: Supplementary, Mr. Speaker: I wonder if the present Minister of Agriculture and Food will recall that the previous minister, Mr. Newman, in answer to a question from me, gave the assurance that the members of the food land development branch could appear at Ontario Municipal Board hearings without any interference from the ministry or the minister and give their expert advice and opinions with regard to the land under consideration.

Are we now to understand that government policy has been changed and this will no longer be the case? Will there be no such freedom for them, or will the minister give a flat commitment to this House now that the policy of the former minister will be continued and they can testify without harassment or direction from his ministry?

Hon. Mr. Henderson: Mr. Speaker, I just confirmed that the director of the food lands branch must run his department.

Mr. Smith: Mr. Speaker, he is trying to muzzle the people in his department. I have a question for the Minister of Housing.


Mr. Smith: Yes, that is exactly what is happening and it is a serious matter if he thinks about it. They swear an oath to tell the truth at the OMB.

Mr. Speaker: Order.

Mr. Smith: I have a question for the Minister of Housing. For the second time now, the Minister of Agriculture and Food has told this House that after the matter had been sent to the OMB --

Hon. Mr. Henderson: No, Mr. Speaker. I said I was not aware when it was sent to the OMB.

Mr. Smith: Who cares what he was aware of? For the second time, the minister has said that since he became the minister, which is after the matter was sent to the OMB, he heard from him with a request to further review the agricultural matter on amendment 95 which was in front of the OMB. He has said that --

Why is the Premier shaking his head? He should stand on his feet and tell me why he did not say that.

Mr. Speaker: Order. Proceed with your question, please.

Mr. Smith: If the Premier would read Hansard he would know. Mr. Speaker, surely I am entitled to respond to some of the Premier's interjections? He spends most of his time responding to interjections in this House.

Mr. Speaker: It is your question period.

Mr. Smith: it is indeed. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The Premier might like to look at Hansard, page 1053, in which he says plainly, "Mr. Bennett suggested I review the matter."

Hon. Mr. Davis: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order: The Leader of the Opposition asked me to reply. I did not interject. I shook my head because I clearly heard the Minister of Agriculture and Food say, "the minister's office" not more than 10 minutes ago. The Leader of the Opposition should treat it accurately, fairly and objectively.

I want to make it abundantly clear that Hansard does not show when I shake my head on occasion. I have to say to the Leader of the Opposition there are many of his remarks where --


Mr. Speaker: Order. Mr. Smith, proceed with your question. Ignore the interjections and ask the minister your question.

Mr. Smith: I will ask the question again, Mr. Speaker. Since on May 28 the Minister of Agriculture and Food says he heard from the Minister of Housing with a request to review this matter, and since we know that that must have been after the matter had been sent to the Ontario Municipal Board, and since again today he has reconfirmed that he heard from the minister or the minister's office -- this being the latest change in the matter -- again at the time he was minister and therefore after the matter was sent to the OMB, will the Minister of Housing explain why he would have contacted the Minister of Agriculture and Food or had somebody in his office do so after the matter had already been sent to the OMB?

Hon. Mr. Bennett: Mr. Speaker, I make this very clear: the Leader of the Opposition is talking about phone calls -- and I trust he will realize that ministers do phone one another about various problems in relation to their ministries. I have no idea of the dates on which there might have been phone calls between myself and the Minister of Agriculture and Food or others in that ministry, or phone calls from my office that may have gone to the minister's office in that ministry. I have no idea of what time the phone calls took place.

I can only go back to what the files show in written form. Clearly, we asked in November for an expression of opinion and a confirmation of the views expressed by the Minister of Agriculture and Food on this specific piece of land we are talking about today, which is official plan amendment 95 in the community of Vaughan. On December 11 we got a response from the Ministry of Agriculture and Food.

I can neither confirm nor deny -- I already said that once this morning -- any phone calls that might have taken place between myself and the Minister of Agriculture and Food or between people in my ministry and his ministry in relation to this. I cannot even think of a reason why we would want to contact the Ministry of Agriculture and Food once the issue had gone to the OMB, because we are of the opinion --


Hon. Mr. Bennett: Would the member for Welland-Thorold wait just a moment? I am answering the question.

My ministry people, if they are required at the Ontario Municipal Board, will be subpoenaed by the lawyers of those who support or those who oppose the application, as will staff from the Ministry of Agriculture and Food, as will any of those from the Ministry of Transportation and Communications and other ministries that might have a part to play in an official plan amendment that would come about.

We look at the affairs of the municipal board as being dealt with fairly from all sides, and expect that the decision rendered would be what the hearing officers, from their point of view, consider the best judgement on the long-term land use factors in any given community. If people disagree with it, as is the case here, they have the right to appeal through the Lieutenant Governor to the cabinet for a decision.

Mr. Smith: Since the minister says he certainly does not recall -- although he refuses to deny -- calling the minister, and since he cannot even think of any reason why he should have wanted to call the Minister of Agriculture and Food once the matter was in the hands of the OMB, was the Minister of Housing not surprised to suddenly receive a letter from the Minister of Agriculture and Food in the midst of all this in March 1980 and a second letter in December 1980 saying, "We withdraw our objection"?

If it had not been requested and no review had been requested, and if the Minister of Agriculture and Food for just no reason at all decided suddenly to send the member for Elgin (Mr. McNeil) out to look at the land and then write a letter to the Minister of Housing, was the Minister of Housing not rather surprised to receive a letter? What was his reaction when he received this letter saying that the objection had been withdrawn if, in fact, he had had no previous contact at all?

Hon. Mr. Bennett: One might think that every letter that happens to come into the Ministry of Housing, of which there are thousands daily, would cross --

Mr. Smith: Addressed to you from the Minister of Agriculture and Food.

Hon. Mr. Bennett: I would suggest that -- no, I will not; I will keep that for another day.

If there were letters coming across relating to a file -- I trust the Leader of the Opposition will realize there are hundreds of cases before the --

Mr. Smith: From the Minister for Agriculture and Food?

Hon. Mr. Bennett: Would the member let me finish? I wish Hansard would show that he points more often than anything else in this House.


Mr. Speaker: Order. Proceed, Mr. Bennett.

Hon. Mr. Bennett: Nobody is stick-handling me, because the issue has now been resolved by the OMB and referred to the cabinet as a result of petitions. Regardless of what letters happen to be or do not happen to be on file or what opinions were expressed by people, the fact is cabinet will now deal with the issue.

10:50 a.m.

I can only suggest to the Leader of the Opposition that, if the letters came over from the Ministry of Agriculture and Food it was because, in its opinion -- and Mr. Keith Pinder is the same individual who gave the member for Kent-Elgin (Mr. McGuigan) the advice on the lands in his area --

Mr. Smith: Just answer the question.

Hon. Mr. Bennett: Oh, no; not "just answer." The member wants to take everything out of context, have it to his taste and not show that Mr. Pinder expressed some opinions on the area the member for Kent-Elgin was interested in, where he said 50 acres were good agricultural land. Sure; this is virtually the same situation we are dealing with in Vaughan.

As the member for Brant-Oxford-Norfolk will know, there sometimes happens to be land in the farm community that does not have agricultural productivity under modern day conditions. If the letters came from the Minister of Agriculture and Food, I thank him for them for completing the file. The advice of his ministry is always sought.

Mr. Swart: Supplementary, Mr. Speaker: Would the minister not agree this kind of action or pressure by the Minister of Agriculture and Food in withdrawing his objection and putting pressure on the Minister of Housing to have this farm land approved for development, and the action of the Leader of the Opposition in the Stoney Creek area, where the Minister of Housing stated at the time of rejecting the 1,000 acres of development that much of it was good farm land and should be retained, is perpetuating a policy within this province of using up our best farm land and building on it almost willy-nilly?

Hon. Mr. Bennett: Mr. Speaker, the simple answer is no.

Mr. Riddell: Supplementary, Mr. Speaker: It is not only the Minister of Housing's reaction to the Minister of Agriculture and Food's letter when he said he was withdrawing his objection, but what in the world took place in the discussion he had with the minister that caused him to withdraw his original objection to the rezoning of that land?

After receiving a letter from 30 farmers who farm in that area stating the land was highly suited to agriculture and was actively farmed, and after his own ministry officials said it was good farm land and was actively farmed, why in the world would the minister send his parliamentary assistant out to come back with a completely reverse report on that land? What is going on over there? Who is running the Ministry of Agriculture and Food?

Hon. Mr. Bennett: Mr. Speaker, I am glad the member for Huron-Middlesex wants to ask what the staff is doing because ministers in most cases take the advice and guidance of senior staff and it is not always accepted by the members of the opposition party when we do bring it in here.

Hon. Mr. Davis: They are always supportive of the staff when it suits them. They were planning to fire them all if they had won on March 19.

Hon. Mr. Bennett: Do not get them upset. I am going to have to --

Mr. Speaker: Please proceed, Mr. Bennett.


Mr. Speaker: Order, order. Let the minister answer the question.

Mr. Kerrio: Give him some time to dream one up.

Mr. Speaker: Order. Proceed, Mr. Bennett.

Hon. Mr. Bennett: We realize the member for Niagara Falls dreams most of the time. On this side, we try to deal with the reality of life.


Mr. Speaker: Order, order. I would just point out to all members that we have gone through half an hour of the question period. We have had two questions asked. Mr. Bennett, do you want to answer the question?

Hon. Mr. Bennett: Mr. Speaker, in relation to the substance of the question the member for Huron-Middlesex asked in relation to the minister and his people at the Ministry of Agriculture and Food changing their minds and views, I think I indicated clearly yesterday that quite often as a result of requests by members, by local politicians and so on, we send people back into the field to do --

Ms. Copps: What about the 30 farmers?

Mr. Smith: When it is before the OMB?

Mr. Speaker: Order.

Hon. Mr. Bennett: Mr. Speaker, we were not referring to anything being before the Ontario Municipal Board, we were referring in a very general --


Hon Mr. Bennett: I am just about at the point of asking the member to repeat his question. There has been so much confusion going on around here this morning.

As in the case of a number of areas where we have official plan amendments being made or other acts in the field of planning where local members, provincial or federal -- and I have had a few federal members come to me; I had a letter of thanks yesterday from a former federal member for some action we took to try and resolve his problem -- we will send a request to the Minister of Agriculture and Food, or the Minister of Transportation and Communications or the Minister of the Environment or the Minister of Health or other ministries, asking them to go back and do an assessment of a problem so we can make sure that all sides are being treated fairly.

Mr. Smith: When it is in front of the OMB?

Hon. Mr. Bennett: I say very clearly, I am not talking about bringing something in front of the Ontario Municipal Board.

Mr. Smith: That is what you are being asked.

Hon. Mr. Bennett: No, I am not being asked. He is referring to it in a general way, and I said very clearly to the Leader of the Opposition, in case he does not understand my English, that I do not recall a call from the Minister of Agriculture and Food. I am not denying it nor accepting it. I said I do not recall it. If that is not clear enough for him, I will try to have the member for Brant-Oxford-Norfolk explain it to him.

In this case, as in the case of the member for Kent-Elgin and various others, the same Mr. Pinder from the Ministry of Agriculture and Food went out and reviewed the situation and explained it to people. In the case of the member for Kent-Elgin, there were some changes made to accommodate what he and his constituents wanted. I make no apologies for that, because obviously on the reassessment, on a very physical basis on site, they were able to come to some other views of what the land's capabilities could be.

Mr. Breithaupt: Any hill is tough to climb for Ronnie.

Hon. Mr. Bennett: The member says any hill. As long as you are a groundhog, I suppose you can go and do some agriculture on a very steep slope. I tell members that with the modern day equipment that is not always possible.

Mr. McGuigan: On a point of privilege, Mr. Speaker: The member for Huron-Middlesex mentioned the 30 farmers who wrote in and disputed the use of that land. I would like to ask the minister how many farmers wrote in and disputed my case?

Mr. Speaker: Order. That is not a point of privilege.


Mr. Cassidy: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Premier about the increase in interest rates to a prime of 20 per cent, which occurred overnight as a consequence of the Bank of Canada rate setting yesterday.

Now that the bank profits for the second quarter are in, which show that bank profits are up by 32 per cent over last year -- the Royal Bank by 39 per cent; the Commerce by 32 per cent; the Bank of Montreal by 47 per cent; the Toronto Dominion Bank over 49 per cent and the National Bank by 96 per cent -- is the government now sufficiently concerned about interest rates that it will bring in an excess profits tax that will either force the banks to roll back this profiteering on interest rate increases or else will generate enough revenue that we can start to protect home owners and small businessmen and farmers from the effects of high interest rates?

Hon. Mr. Davis: Mr. Speaker, I must say I anticipated that this would be a matter of some discussion by about 10:15. I don't happen to agree with the suggested solutions of the leader of the New Democratic Party, but I do sense that this is a valid question to raise.

I think I should point out to the leader of the New Democratic Party, as I did the other day, that his rather simplistic approach is that there be an excess profits tax on the banks, but I will not be put in the position of defending the banks. He may try to put me in that position but he will not succeed.

What I said to the leader of the New Democratic Party the other day was that one can deal with the banks perhaps but when we get into mortgage interest and so many other areas, we are dealing with a lot of other institutions and a lot of individuals. We are dealing with individuals who may have, as their sole means of income, private mortgages that they depend upon to meet increased rates of inflation in their own personal expenses. We cannot just isolate the banks and say they are the only ones.

11 a.m.

I have not analysed the statements of the banks, but I recall reading somewhere that a part of the increased profits, for some of the banks at least, were on earnings from offshore. When I say offshore, I mean outside Ontario or outside Canada. I am not saying that is totally relevant, but I do not think it is something we can ignore. It is also fair to state that there have been occasions where the prime rate is up as it is today. I am one who hopes it will be down next week or the week after or sometime in the foreseeable future. I guess the leader of the New Democratic Party would introduce a tax that had some sort of sliding scale attached to it that might compensate for any losses that may occur when the rates go down.

I just say to the leader of the New Democratic Party that this government is concerned. We have made statements. I made one as recently as yesterday to a group of farmers out at the Constellation Hotel. I am not going to go through the ritual this morning of saying where the responsibility lies. It is obvious to everybody. There is no question the Bank of Canada in its wisdom or lack of wisdom -- I am not making that judgement today -- increased the prime rate yesterday to protect the Canadian dollar, because the prime rate in the United States had diminished somewhat.

I would only say we have to have this concern. We fully understand the hardships that are being created, but we do not have the control or the ability to reduce interest rates in this province. They are set by the Bank of Canada and, up until this point, supported by the government of Canada.

Mr. Cassidy: Does the Premier not agree that Ontario has the power to levy an excess profits tax on the banks? Since the banks have such an influence in determining interest rates for businessmen, for people who are buying for home improvements, in the mortgage fields and for farmers -- since banks have such an influence as pacesetters in setting interest rates, if Ontario were to exercise its powers this could have an influence right through the economy of this province in terms of bringing interest rates down or providing funds that could be used to cushion people who have to pay the interest rates.

Particularly, does the Premier not agree it is time for action by the province where it has the power to act, given the fact that six years ago the margin between what the banks paid for savings and their prime rate was 2.44 per cent, whereas today that margin has risen to four or 4.5 per cent between what the banks pay for savings and what they are charging as their prime rate? When the margins have risen so much, when their profits have risen so much as a consequence of those margins rising, is it not Ontario's place to say to the banks, "Either get your margins back to where they were six years ago or else we will bring in an excess profits tax that will ensure we get the revenues that will allow people to cushion against this kind of profiteering"?

Hon. Mr. Davis: Once again I preface my answer by making it abundantly clear that this government is not defending the banks. But I also point out to the leader of the New Democratic Party that he tends to oversimplify the issue. If one were to --

Mr. Cooke: What is your solution?

Hon. Mr. Davis: Does the member want a nonprovocative, serious answer or does he want to sit in the back row and be funny?

Mr. Cooke: Let us hear your solution.

Hon. Mr. Davis: All right, just give me an opportunity. The member knows it is Friday, he can get to Windsor late this afternoon, he can relax.

Mr. Speaker: Order. Just ignore the interjections, Mr. Davis, and proceed.

Hon. Mr. Davis: Quite right, Mr. Speaker. I think the leader of the New Democratic Party is oversimplifying the issue. Perhaps he has misstated the position of the banks when he says they set the interest rates. There is no question that individual banks determine a rate, but their rate is determined by the Bank of Canada. I am not going to try to give him a course, because he is an expert in economics, as he told me one day; I say that very kindly. But I think he is perhaps inaccurate in saying the banks lead in setting the interest rates. That is not true; they are set by the Bank of Canada.

I cannot argue whether the differential between the prime and what banks may charge was 1.5 or two per cent two years ago or 10 years ago, whether it is two or 2.5 per cent today, or whether that is valid in terms of their expenses, et cetera. I am not in a position to make that sort of judgement.

I think it is a valid area of concern but this government cannot determine interest rates. My guess about the suggestion for an excess profits tax on banks is that it would be getting into the whole area of foreign exchange controls, although I may be wrong on that. I think, with respect, it is a simplistic suggestion for a solution to a very complex problem.

Mr. Ruprecht: I am sure the Premier would agree he is supporting a fundamentally unjust system. On the one hand the banks are reaping such a profit they do not know where to put their money; on the other hand the eviction rates are going up.

Mr. Speaker: Order, order.

Mr. Ruprecht: When will the Premier act to help those families whose mortgage rates are coming up for renewal by indicating he would support a fairer system than he is supporting now?

Hon. Mr. Davis: On this Friday morning I will not remind the honourable member that the Liberal government of Canada and the federal minister from this great metropolitan area who is in charge of housing at the national level -- somebody I am sure the member has met in his municipal experience and whom I am sure he knows much better than I do -- have the abilities within their jurisdiction to deal with this problem. I am sure the member will convey his concerns to Mr. Cosgrove and others over the weekend. I am sure it will be the first phone call the member makes tomorrow morning.

Mr. Wildman: Supplementary, Mr. Speaker: In view of the Premier's statements that it really is a matter of federal concern, is he now prepared to state clearly his position and to recommend to the Prime Minister of Canada and the federal government that the setting of the prime rate no longer be tied to the selling of Treasury bills? Will he state that we should consider foreign exchange controls if that is necessary to bring down the interest rates?

Hon. Mr. Davis: Mr. Speaker, I will once again bow to the great knowledge and unlimited experience of the new financial critic in the New Democratic Party. If he is advocating, as a matter of policy --

Mr. Wildman: No, I am asking you.

Hon. Mr. Davis: This is implicit in the honourable member's question -- that this country or this province support foreign exchange controls. I am delighted to hear this new initiative. I am very intrigued to see whether the member agrees with that on Monday morning after careful consideration. I really think the member should assess that very carefully.

Mr. Wildman: What is your position?

Hon. Mr. Davis: No, we are not in favour of it.


Mr. Cassidy: Mr. Speaker, I have a new question for the Minister of Labour with respect to the pledges the government made to keep the promise. Could the minister explain why it is that workers who have been laid off in so many companies this year and last year would not benefit under the severance pay legislation the minister brought in yesterday, because they are victims of layoffs due to the reduction of operations rather than a permanent closure or a permanent partial closure?

I refer specifically to layoffs at Dupont, Canadian General Electric, Budd Canada, International Harvester in Chatham, Motor Wheel, Canadian Fabricated Products, Bell Specialties -- the list of companies is almost endless. In all of those companies, where more than 50 employees were being laid off, they would not benefit at all under the Employment Standards Act because they do not happen to have been hit by a permanent shutdown of all of the plant or of a portion of the plant.

The legislation the minister brought in yesterday would apply to only 10 per cent of the workers who had been victims of permanent or indefinite layoffs since the beginning of this year. How could the minister claim the severance pay law he has now proposed in the House is adequate to meet the needs of Ontario's workers?

Hon. Mr. Elgie: Mr. Speaker, as I and many other members sat here last night and listened to the debate, what we heard was very clear. We heard it from the member for Oshawa (Mr. Breaugh); we heard the great concern everybody has about plant closures. I ask the leader of the third party to read the Hansard of the debate last night. The bill this government introduced addresses the issue of severance pay in plant closures. If the leader of the third party reads last night's debate, he will see it was to that issue that members directed their attention.

11:10 a.m.

Clearly, this government sees there is a distinction. On the one hand, where there is a plant closure, be it partial or total, we see workers with varying levels of seniority, people with long-term commitments to that business, being laid off. We have great understanding and sympathy for that position and we have indicated that in the legislation we brought into this House yesterday.

On the other hand, where one has situations of businesses reducing the size of their operation for economic reasons and for economic survival, not only for the business but for the long-term employment of those employees who remain, we feel there is a distinction. Although in that situation those with the least seniority are probably the best able to search for other employment through the various programs that are available -- although it is hard on them; nobody denies that -- that bill introduced yesterday aims at protecting those people who are laid off, regardless of their seniority, and particularly the long-term workers who need that kind of assistance to be rehabilitated in society.

Mr. Cassidy: Could the minister explain how it is that while on the one hand the committee recommended the principle of severance pay, a week for every year of service, to apply to all workers who were affected by layoffs on a permanent or an indefinite basis, and made no distinction, as the minister is now making, the minister and the government overlooked the recommendation as it was put by the committee?

How is it, if one looks at last year's figures, that the ministry overlooked 21,000 workers who suffered permanent or indefinite layoffs due to reductions of operations, focused on only 9,000 workers who were laid off through permanent closures or partial shutdowns, and in the end provided legislation that will benefit only half of that group?

How is it that in last year's figures the minister could come up with only a measure that will benefit perhaps one worker in every six who was a victim of a layoff last year, and why was the government not prepared to bring in legislation that will protect all workers who lose their jobs on an indefinite or a permanent basis, without these kinds of narrow distinctions that mean nothing to a worker who may have 10 or 20 years of service and find himself out on the street, only to be told by the government, "Sorry, you don't happen to qualify"?

Hon. Mr. Elgie: I am not sure I understand exactly what the honourable member is saying and I am sure he does not either. That is one of the first problems.

The figures last year show that approximately 10,000 workers were laid off as a result of complete or partial plant closures. This legislation applies to them, so the member should not talk about all the other stuff.

Mr. Cassidy: There are 20,000 more. It does not even apply to half of them --

Mr. Speaker: Order.

Hon. Mr. Elgie: Mr. Speaker, don't let the member go saying it does not apply to half of them or any of those things. It applies to the 10,000 workers who were laid off as a result of complete or partial closures.

Mr. Cassidy: Then why do you list the other ones every month?

Mr. Speaker: Order.

Hon. Mr. Elgie: The member just cannot sit still and listen, can he? It is a basic problem he has. Perhaps if he gets to understand it, the world will go better for him.

Of the other 20,000 workers who were placed on indefinite layoff, approximately 13,000 to 14,000 of those, as the member knows, are in the auto industry, which is in a very critical state. Those workers are on recall, and I appreciate the problems they are having, but what we are saying in this legislation is that the greatest concern at the moment is for those people, regardless of seniority and particularly those with long-term commitment to that company, who need protection; that is what this legislation does.

Mr. Wrye: Supplementary, Mr. Speaker: The minister will be aware that there has already been criticism of the proposed legislation in that it protects workers only where 50 or more are laid off at the same time. There has been a point made that companies could simply get around the legislation by laying off 49 workers at a time and they would not have to pay severance pay. Will the minister make a commitment to this House today that he will look at this criticism and will act to tighten up the legislation so this loophole is closed?

Hon. Mr. Elgie: First of all, Mr. Speaker, I just remind the honourable member that the number of 50 workers was chosen by the select committee because of a great concern for small business. I think we still feel that way.

What the member is really saying is that under one of the sections of the Employment Standards Act it is possible to lay off 10 per cent of the work force over a period of four weeks and not come under the legislation. If the member reads yesterday's bill, he will see that we have said, "Workers laid off over a period of six months."

If we see people are trying to get around the legislation with some devious plan we will look into it, but we have taken that into account in the legislation as it is drafted, and I think the member will understand that as he reads it.

Ms. Copps: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker: With respect to the legislation and reading the legislation, I myself asked for a copy of it this morning and it is not available yet.

Mr. Speaker: That is not a point of order.

Mr. Cassidy: Final supplementary: The minister will be aware of the contract that the government of Ontario has signed with its own employees, which provides a week of severance pay for every year of service in a case where a worker is terminated, and makes no distinctions as to whether it is a permanent shutdown, a permanent partial shutdown, a reduction of operations or other reasons such as that. Can the minister explain why that standard of a week for every year of service in all cases is good enough for workers with the provincial government, but somehow this government feels workers in the private sector should be treated less fairly?

Hon. Mr. Elgie: Mr. Speaker, I simply remind the member of the facts. He does not often want to look at them, but the fact is that that is a negotiated severance pay. This government is not saying employees should not continue to have negotiated severance pay arrangements even in situations where there are reductions in the work force for reasons other than closure. I happen to support those kinds of negotiations, but this legislation deals with plant closures, be they total or partial. We think that addresses the major issue discussed last night and the major issue society faces today.


Mr. McGuigan: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Agriculture and Food. Is he aware that many hog producers are continuing to produce hogs, losing money on each hog, losing --


Mr. Speaker: Order. Proceed, Mr. McGuigan.

Mr. McGuigan: I will repeat the question, Mr. Speaker. Is the minister aware that hog producers are continuing to produce hogs even though they are losing money on those hogs and losing equity with every hog they ship off the farm? In other words, they are shipping a few square yards of the farm with each hog. They are doing so because they feel a supply management system might be brought in and they wish to continue their production in order to ensure they have their proper quota.

Is he aware also that the Pork Producers' Marketing Board has a study in hand, and that one of the options that may be recommended would be a supply management system? Since the minister has now himself come out in favour of a supply management system, would he make a statement that would set the base period for the selection of the quota?

It would take a good deal of study to determine what that base period should be, but the point is that it would allow those people to stop producing hogs, stop losing their equity and at the same time retain whatever rights might be forthcoming in the future. It would also stop those well-heeled producers who, seeing a quota system down the road, increase their production in order to acquire those rights. The minister is well aware that this was the case in the feather trade when those court assessments were brought in. Would he make a statement to alleviate the situation for these producers?

Hon. Mr. Henderson: Mr. Speaker, the honourable member has asked several questions. First, am I aware that the hog producer is losing $15 to $30 on each hog he ships? I am well aware of it. I happen to have a hog farm, so I think that answers the member on that. I do not have one myself, but I am involved deeply with my son in one.


Mr. Speaker: Order.

Hon. Mr. Henderson: In response to the member's question respecting a quota or supply management: At the annual meeting of the hog producers this year, a number or members in the area of 91, 92 or 93 voted in favour of supply management; about 110 voted against it. It might be of interest to him to know that the beef producers of Ontario voted exactly the same way.

11:20 a.m.

I am aware there are farmers who are really in a tight financial position. They feel they must continue to produce in order to maintain a quota if and when it comes. I would have to take it a step further and say -- and I think the honourable member would agree with me -- that if a quota was established, it would have to be not only in Ontario but across Canada before it would be effective.

The hog farmers of Ontario are about supplying the market of Ontario. The hog farmers of Quebec are supplying 30 per cent more than the market needs. One of the problems the hog farmers in Quebec are facing is that 80 per cent of the pork produced there is produced by people who have integration with large companies. It is really not the farm community except for about 20 per cent of their pork production.

I have made it quite clear, and I do not mind clarifying it here again, that I personally recognize the need for a supply quota. I have used the simple example of, "Why produce 100 hogs for $7,500 when they should be producing 75 hogs for $10,000?" It should be reversed to produce 75 hogs at $130 each. I have said that on several occasions.

The hog farmers in Ontario are very much concerned about the announcement by Ottawa a week ago respecting stabilization. I think it is important that this be reported this morning. They met yesterday at four o'clock with Mr. Whelan -- perhaps the Liberals do not want to know, but I know the member for Kent-Elgin wants to know. They pointed out to him the exact stabilization plan Ontario and Quebec have. It is the same for both.

Mr. Riddell: What did Mr. Whelan say?

Mr. Speaker: That is not part of the original question.

Hon. Mr. Henderson: Mr. Whelan told them that his staff gave him a different story.

Mr. Speaker: Reply to Mr. McGuigan, please.

Hon. Mr. Henderson: Yesterday afternoon Mr. Whelan informed the hog producers that he was going to speak to his staff today. He was going to his home riding and he was going to speak to his staff in Ottawa to see whether they can get that part cleared up.

Mr. Riddell: Supplementary, Mr. Speaker: I think the minister has missed the point of my colleague's question. If supply management does come and a provincial allocation is made, is the minister prepared to see that allocation is based on the last three years' production, to give the farmers an opportunity now to cut back on hog production on which they are losing money?

What is happening is that hog producers are continuing to produce hogs in order to get in on that quota -- if the quota system ever comes -- because the quota will be based on their present production. If the minister put it back three years, there would be no need for these hog producers to try to produce in order to meet a certain quota if it ever comes to this province.

Hon. Mr. Henderson: I recognize what the member for Kent-Elgin asked me and I recognize what this honourable member reinforced. They both know that will be decided by my farm products branch after dialogue with the hog producers themselves. I do not need to tell them that, they both know it.


Mr. Wildman: I have a question to the Attorney General. It relates to the statement made today by his colleague the Minister of Labour (Mr. Elgie) in tabling the Burkett report. Taking into account the views expressed by the commission and those expressed by the select committee on Ontario Hydro affairs in December over the lack of clarity on jurisdiction for health and safety in uranium mines, if the federal government does not act on the commission's recommendation to refer the question of concurrent jurisdiction to the Supreme Court within six weeks, will the Attorney General then act on the select committee's recommendation that the provincial government refer the issue of jurisdiction in uranium mines to the appropriate court?

Hon. Mr. McMurtry: Mr. Speaker, I would like to have the opportunity of reading the commission's report in order to better appreciate the dimensions of the problem. When I have had an opportunity of doing that I will be happy to respond to the honourable member's question.


Mr. Runciman: Mr. Speaker, I direct my question to the Deputy Premier in the absence of the Minister of Education (Miss Stephenson). It relates to the teachers' strike in Leeds-Grenville, which is now entering its fifth week with no resolution in sight. Based on the news release yesterday from the mediator, Professor Richard Jackson, there is not much hope in the foreseeable future.

Is the Minister of Education aware the Ontario Secondary School Teachers' Federation is targeting Leeds-Grenville as a test case in its efforts to get class size into collective agreements? Is she aware the federation is encouraging teachers in the Leeds-Grenville system to continue to strike by offering to pay teachers strike pay throughout the duration of the summer school break, thereby allowing them to recoup any financial losses they will suffer during this school year?

Based on this information, is the ministry prepared to consider a legislated end to this strike and thereby frustrate the unsavory efforts of the federation and allow the students of Leeds-Grenville to receive the education they are entitled to?

Hon. Mr. Welch: Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Education will be back in her place on Monday. In the meantime, I suggest we would want to see what success the mediator has with respect to the proposal for settlement he has put forward, and to provide some opportunity for the sides to review the proposal to which the honourable member has already made reference. But I will draw the Education minister's attention to the concerns expressed by the member.

Mr. Runciman: I believe that in the mediator's press release he indicates quite clearly he has gone through the various proposals with the two parties and there is no resolution in sight. He simply made his position public so that the public will be aware of what the issues and positions are. It seems to me that apparently there is no movement coming out of this. I would appreciate the Deputy Premier's further and more detailed reply to my question.

Hon. Mr. Welch: I have had an opportunity to look over the press release of the mediator. He says among other things that he has made a formal mediator's proposal dealing with all outstanding issues. At the end of the release he said it is his hope "that both sides will set aside their differences, take into account their responsibilities to innocent third parties and accept my proposal ... not only fair but administratively feasible." Since that has just gone out, we should at least allow both sides an opportunity to respond to that formal proposal.

I can assure the honourable member I will underline his concerns and bring his particular interest to the attention of the minister when she returns after the weekend.


Mr. Eakins: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Natural Resources. I am sure the minister is aware of a statement made by the outgoing chairman of the Provincial Parks Council that the ministry's provision for public participation in park planning is a scam. Would he comment on that?

Why will the public not be allowed to review all options for park development, in view of the fact that the minister's predecessor promised in a letter back in March that all regional systems plans for provincial parks would be made available for review by the public when they were received from the regions, and would not have to be reviewed first by a ministry-appointed parks committee?

Hon. Mr. Pope: Mr. Speaker, there has been some confusion in the mind of the outgoing chairman of the parks council as to the different planning programs that have been initiated internally within the Ministry of Natural Resources.

We did have a parks planning program initiated some time ago with general policy statements within the ministry, which were made available to the public and to the parks council. We have had, at the same time, the strategic land use planning program going on in northwestern and northeastern Ontario.

11:30 a.m.

The northwestern Ontario planning program started in 1974. I could read into the record the whole list of public meetings that were held throughout northern Ontario and the role the Provincial Parks Council played in those meetings. I could read into the record the complete mailing list and what was done in northwestern Ontario, including the names of the individual members of the parks council and how they were kept informed at every step during the process.

I could read into the record the number of meetings that were held, where they were held and how many people attended for the northeastern Ontario planning program, and the involvement of the parks council in that.

The fact of the matter is that there was district planning going ahead on the parks policy without any reference whatsoever to the district planning that had to be done on the strategic land use planning program of the Ministry of Natural Resources. We would have had two different hearings going on within six months of each other on conflicting issues. We then would have had to have a third set of hearings to resolve the conflict. What we wanted to do was get the two systems intermeshed and have full public discussion, and we will.

The two systems will be intermeshed. We are doing our district planning; we will have public input during that entire process; we will have site specific hearings, not only throughout northern Ontario but in southern Ontario as well, for a strategic land use plan. The public will be fully informed, and the public will be fully informed of the reasons we make site specific decisions.

There are a number of conflicting interests that have to be resolved. First of all, the resource companies have their point of view. Incidentally, the forest management agreements were given to the opposition parties in 1979 for their comment. The background rules and regulations were given to the opposition parties, to the parks council and to the Algonquin Wildlands League. We will have public meetings in Iroquois Falls with respect to the details of the forest management plan under the forest management agreements, and that process will be a public one.

The competing requirements of the resource industries, the proponents of the wilderness parks and the residents of every community in northern Ontario will be considered, as well as those of people in southern Ontario who wish to make use of the resources and the recreational opportunities in northern Ontario when we arrive at that decision. It will be done in a comprehensive planned way involving the people of Ontario.

Mr. Foulds: Final supplementary, Mr. Speaker: Can the minister then explain that strange memorandum that was sent out by the Assistant Deputy Minister of Northern Affairs that indicated there would be no public participation in the first -- I believe; I do not have it in front of me -- two stages of district strategic land use planning in northwestern Ontario?

Hon. Mr. Pope: Yes, I can explain that, and I thank the member for raising it. The memo was dated May 1, 1980.

Mr. Foulds: Nineteen eighty-one.

Hon. Mr. Pope: Nineteen eighty-one, sorry. It was written by Mr. McCormack, who is the Assistant Deputy Minister for Northern Ontario. He is not the Assistant Deputy Minister of Northern Affairs. It was an internal memo in my ministry and not in the Ministry of Northern Affairs.

That was a reference to the status of the district plans under the parks planning process. What he was attempting to explain was that there would not be hearings on the district plans for the park planning process until the strategic land use planning process caught up to it, and that they had to be intermeshed.

I want to emphasize, because I think it is an important point the honourable member has raised, that it will not result in any undue delay. We believe we can intermesh the processes and the principles by the end of the summer, we believe we can have it out for public comment in the fall, and we believe we can get into a system of public meetings throughout northern Ontario and in southern Ontario in the early part of the next year.

That is the timetable I have given everyone within the ministry to work towards. We are going to put an emphasis on very localized public meetings to get the input on the specific. This is what the district plan involves, site proposals that implement the strategic land use plan and the parks plan. These are the very hard decisions that have to be made and, therefore, they above all should be made in public.



Hon. Mr. Wells moved that notwithstanding order 65(g) a private bill respecting the city of North York may be introduced and given first reading, so that the bill may be considered by a standing committee on June 17, by which time publication of the notice will be complete.

Mr. Nixon: Mr. Speaker, the notice procedure is rather elaborate and designed to safeguard the rights of citizens in the area who may be concerned by the private legislation that may or may not be approved by the House. I do not see any objection to the motion, as long as the honourable minister can assure us that this in no way is circumventing the objections of citizens in the area who really ought to have all their rights protected under the rules of the House.

Hon. Mr. Wells: Mr. Speaker, I can give my friend that assurance. This bill has been the subject of discussion between the government and the mayor of North York over a fairly long period of time. It concerns a North York proposal for pension tax credits for senior citizens.

For some reason, the preparation of the bill has been delayed to conform with the advertising requirements and to conform with our rules and our time schedule here to get it down to a committee. If we cannot introduce it today and have the advertising continue, which would not be allowed under the rule we are asking to be waived, the bill probably will not get in here before we adjourn for the summer. This is really to accommodate that and to accommodate the wishes of the city of North York.

Mr. Nixon: I have no objection, but I suppose at the same time we are accommodating the platoons of lawyers in the ministry and for the North York council who might have been expected to know the rules of the House requiring notice -- they are not too esoteric or complex -- no doubt those people, if the Attorney General (Mr. McMurtry) will forgive me, are not going to do anything about the fees associated with the bill. We are covering up, really, bad management of the legislation.

Mr. Foulds: Mr. Speaker, I have no objection to the bill being placed, but I wish to be assured that the full complement of advertising will take place before the debate on the bill is terminated.

Hon. Mr. Wells: Mr. Speaker, I can give my friend that assurance. The notices that would be required will have been completed on June 13, and there will not be any consideration of the bill until after that time.

Motion agreed to.



Hon. Mr. Henderson moved, seconded by Hon. Mr. Welch, first reading of Bill 100, An Act to amend the Livestock Community Sales Act.

Motion agreed to.

Hon. Mr. Henderson: Mr. Speaker, the purpose of this bill is to amend selected existing provisions of the act which, because of changing conditions and the introduction of new technology, are unnecessarily restrictive. It grants the co-ops six sales a year in place of four, and it changes the cleaning-up methods.


Mr. Grande moved, seconded by Mr. Swart, first reading of Bill 101, An Act to amend the Education Act, 1974.

Mr. Grande: Mr. Speaker, the purpose of the bill is to ban corporal punishment in the schools. The bill provides that, notwithstanding the duty of teachers and principals to maintain discipline in the schools, teachers and principals must not administer corporal punishment to pupils.

Motion agreed to.

11:40 a.m.


Mr. Foulds moved, seconded by Mr. Swart, first reading of Bill 102, An Act to amend the Crown Timber Act.

Motion agreed to.

Mr. Foulds: Mr. Speaker, the purpose of the bill is to confer upon the Minister of Natural Resources a duty to ensure that the crown timber resources of Ontario are managed on a sustained-yield basis.


Mr. Williams moved, seconded by Mr. Lane, first reading of Bill Pr14, An Act respecting the City of North York.

Motion agreed to.



Resuming the adjourned debate on the motion for second reading of Bill 72, An Act to amend the Gasoline Tax Act, 1973.

Mr. Swart: Mr. Speaker, I am happy to rise to speak on Bill 72. As you would expect, I am going to speak in opposition to second reading of this bill. I am going to speak with vehemence and some feeling, because I think it is one of the worst pieces of tax legislation that has been introduced into this Legislature in the six years I have been here.

Member after member in this party has risen during the past two weeks to condemn the budget of which, of course, this bill is a part. They did that because it is in conflict with the beliefs and the policies we would pursue if we were the government of this province.

The budget is loading down individuals and letting corporations off scot-free, in addition to giving them handouts. It is widening the gap between the wealthy and the poor and is cutting back on purchasing power so we do not have effective consumer demand, with the end result that there are going to be more people in this province out of work.

We in this party and, I think from the debate I have heard, the Liberals are angry over this bill and over the budget in general. I have to say that this bill in some respects is perhaps a smart political move. That is one word we could use: smart. I suppose another word we could use is cute. Perhaps more appropriately, we could say the bill we have before us for gasoline tax is tricky, devious, perhaps invidious and perhaps even sleazy.

But, as I said, it is probably politically smart, and I suppose we have to give some credit to that government on the other side of the House. Although most of the measures they introduced are ineffective in terms of solving any of the problems -- in fact, they usually make them worse -- the fact is that the government has some smarts politically, and perhaps this bill is one of them. It knows that the next election is likely three or four years down the road and, with the memory of the public, there is a real possibility people will have forgotten the impact of this bill by the time the next election rolls around.

It also means they do not have to announce, year after year during the next three or four years, any increase in gasoline taxes. The Premier (Mr. Davis) will be able to go about the province in the next election and say, "We have not increased the rate of tax in this province on gasoline in three or four years."

Somebody may remind him, "Oh yes, but you are taking twice or three times as much out of the people of Ontario as you were back in 1981." He will say, "Oh, but we did not have anything to do with that; that is the federal government." He will point across this legislative forum and say to the Liberals: "It is your friends in Ottawa who raise the gasoline prices. We just have a tax on gasoline. They are therefore primarily to blame."

In that respect it is rather a smart move. It removes the right of this Legislature to deal with the tax rate year by year, because now they will not have to bring in any bill before this Legislature. The government once again is taking away some of the power this Legislature normally would have, and should have, and did have under the minority government. It will mean the government is going to get tremendous increases in tax revenue without having to increase the rate at all. With this ad valorem tax that will be the end effect.

I have a clipping here from the Globe and Mail dated May 18 of this year. The headline says, "Toronto Gasoline Rising at a Rate Double Inflation." The article says: "Despite the continuing impasse between the federal and Alberta governments over the appropriate price for Canadian crude oil, the price of gasoline in the Toronto area is soaring at more than double the rate of general inflation." That is not news to anyone in this House.

In the bill we have before us this sentence occurs in the explanatory notes, and I want to read it: "The bill makes provision for the minister to alter the price on which the tax is based so that increases and decreases in retail prices can be reflected by a corresponding change in the tax payable."

Whoever wrote that explanatory note sure had a sense of humour if he thinks there is going to be any decrease in gasoline taxes in this province. The whole purpose of the bill is to get more revenue as the price of gasoline increases; it has nothing to do with a decrease. We know a decrease is not going to take place.

Our research department points out -- and this was before we had this recent tax increase of two cents a litre, or nine cents a gallon -- that the tax was 4.6 cents per litre before this budget came out and that the tax went up to 5.4 cents after the budget came out. Now it has gone up again. By 1982, it will be 7.2 cents; by 1983, it will be 8.14 cents per litre. In fact, by the end of 1983, the tax collected on gasoline will be something like 77 per cent higher than it was before the budget was brought in this year. That is a tremendous blow against the people of this province.

To levy a tax that is going to take revenue at twice the rate of inflation and does not take into account the ability to pay is a disgrace to a government that professes to be concerned about the people. Double the inflation rates! Sock it to them! That is exactly what this bill does.

11:50 a.m.

Our research department also points out that the average family --

Mr. Grande: The Minister of Revenue (Mr. Ashe) is smiling.

Mr. Swart: Yes, it may be a joke to the members over there. I do not suppose there are many on that side of the House whom this is going to hurt, but the majority of the people of this province are going to be hurt. They are not in the income category of the people on that side of the House.

Our research department indicates -- and again these are conservative figures -- that in 1980 the average family made payments of $138 in gasoline tax; they will pay $168 this year, $218 in 1982 and $244 in 1983. The likelihood is that those will be higher and that the 77 per cent increase will be less than what actually has taken place. It is regressive, it hurts most those who are on low income and it hurts the economy.

I have a letter here that was sent to the Premier after the budget was brought down. It refers to the gasoline tax as well as other things, and I want to read it into the record. It is dated May 27, 1981:

"Dear Premier Davis: I am instructed by the executive of Local 523, United Electrical Workers of America, here in Welland, to strongly protest your recent budget. Your financial slap in the face to the working people in Ontario is very detrimental. Your grab of $603 million in higher income taxes will certainly cut into the take-home pay of many who cannot afford to get by now. Instead of eliminating Ontario health insurance plan premiums, you have increased the cost. Increasing gas and diesel taxes will hit the poorest the hardest.

"You keep giving the big corporations large sums of money, and now exempt them from any of the increased taxes. The poor and those on fixed incomes, along with many aged, will now have to bear a much heavier burden. Your budget does nothing to help the loss of homes, aid the farmers or small businesses now struggling to stay alive. Your budget does nothing for the unemployed. Your government has again proven that it is truly a big business government and leaves the average Canadian with no recourse but to try and survive by fighting for more wages in order to scrape by."

I personally endorse the sentiments expressed in that letter. I suppose one might expect a letter like that to come from the United Electrical Workers or from any of the unions, because they realize the impact of this budget on the working people.

But what perhaps is more significant is something that happened to me just a week ago last Sunday, when I was at an event in my municipality. A man and a woman there -- he held a very senior position in the Royal Canadian Legion -- came up to me. They had told me before this last election that they were going to vote for me this time, although they had been Conservatives all their lives. At that time I suggested to them that perhaps in the not-too-distant future they might be voting NDP across the board. They said, "No, we have been Conservatives all our lives."

I met them again a week ago last Sunday at an event. She came up to me with several people around and said: "Mr. Swart, what you predicted has come true. After the budget that has been brought down by the government of this province, we will no longer be voting Conservative either provincially or federally."

Although there may be a lot of people who will forget this kind of imposition on them by the time the next election rolls around, if that party keeps this up its support is going to be eroded to a point where it will not have the government of this province very much longer.

This is an extremely regressive tax, as we have already pointed out. Looking at the budget, I find that the personal income tax provides something like 25 per cent of the income of this province. The personal income tax is relatively progressive; there are provisions federally and provincially that give loopholes and escapes to the people who have higher incomes, but it is more progressive than many other taxes.

The retail sales tax provides something like 16 per cent of the budget of this province, according to the Treasurer's (Mr. F. S. Miller) figures; and although the retail sales tax theoretically is not progressive, because there are exemptions on some of the basic necessities of life, it is progressive to some degree. The people with lower incomes buy substantially less and buy cheaper products, and therefore to some extent it is a progressive tax. The corporations tax provides something like 11.2 per cent of the income. It is, at least to some extent, a progressive tax.

When we come to Ontario health insurance plan premiums, which provide 6.8 per cent of the income, they are the ultimate in regressive tax. If one is going to be in that plan, it is not optional whether one can buy a cheaper plan. If one is going to be in that plan, one has to pay it. One has to be all the way in and pay exactly the same fees if one is making $10,000 a year or if one is making $50,000 a year.

Now we come to the gasoline tax which, according to the budget, is going to provide just in excess of five per cent of revenue -- of course, it will go up substantially higher -- and we find a tax that is almost as regressive as the health premiums, because those with low incomes will pay exactly the same tax. They may not drive as much, but they will pay exactly the same tax on a litre of gas as those with higher incomes.

It is more regressive than that. If one checks the statistics, one finds that people on lower incomes generally have older cars, which is understandable. They have not been able to afford to trade them in on the new, lighter models; so proportionately they are going to be using more gas to go a mile than do people who are able to buy new cars. Therefore, they are going to be paying a disproportionate amount of this increased tax that is going to hit those on lower and middle incomes.

Also, it is going to hurt people in northern Ontario, not only because they drive much farther than do people in southern Ontario because of the distances, but also because the average income of people in northern Ontario is generally somewhat lower than it is in a place like the city of Toronto. I see the Minister of Northern Affairs (Mr. Bernier) is looking up rather quizzically, but he will find out that is the case. The people in northern Ontario are going to be hit hard by this tax on two counts; they are going to get a double whammy.

Outside places like Toronto, in the smaller centres where there is either no public transit or a very limited public transit system, people must get back and forth to work and make their various other trips by automobile. So people in the smaller centres, who once again generally have somewhat lower average incomes than do people in places like Toronto, are going to get hit hard by this. On all counts this is an extremely regressive tax and should never have been implemented in this form.

What makes it even more unacceptable to us on this side of the House is that while the Treasurer is now indexing the gasoline tax rates, he is not indexing them to the inflation rate or to average wages and salaries. He is indexing them to the commodity that is going to have the greatest price increase of any commodity in our society. He indexes taxes -- income tax, sales tax, now gasoline tax -- to this inflationary rate, but the government will not index to the cost of living the income that comes from provincial government so that the standard of living of those people will not drop.

12 noon

For instance, why does the government not index the minimum wage to the cost of living if it believes in indexing? In the last five years, the minimum wage has gone up 38 per cent while the cost of living has gone up 70 per cent. Why does the government not index that?

Why does it not index the income of people who are on permanent disability from the Workmen's Compensation Board? In the last five years, their income has not kept up with the cost of living. Why does the government not index the income of people who are on disability pensions? Their income has not kept up with the cost of living. In fact, the Ontario Welfare Council reports that people who have been on public assistance have had a loss of 31 per cent in their standard of living during the last five years.

This is tremendously objectionable to us. The government can index its taxes to an escalating inflation rate; yet, when it comes to income for those people who are far below the minimum income recommended by the welfare council and almost every other organization, the government cannot find it within itself to index their income so they do not become poorer and poorer in this society while the government is taking more and more revenue from those same people.

Finally, what infuriates us on this side of the House is the contrast in the way this government and its friends in Ottawa treat the gasoline consumer vis-à-vis the giant oil companies. During the recent election campaign, we saw headlines in all our papers and on radio and television which announced the major oil companies in this nation had ripped off the Canadian consumer to the tune of $12 billion in today's dollars.

Those on the other side of the House will say that is the fault of the federal government. To a substantial degree, it was the fault of the federal government. In that news report, it points out that every man, woman and child in this nation had 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.

As to the combines investigation, the report goes on to say: "In the press conference yesterday, Robert Bertrand, the director of the bureau of competition policy, said that matters have not changed much for the better since the investigation," which only went up to 1978.

Oil companies have increased their refining and marketing margins by an amount that increases their earnings by more than $1 billion a year. The pattern is still repeating itself. It is time to stop.

What representation did the Ontario government make to the federal government that the combines legislation should be changed so that sort of thing could not take place in the future? None, of course. In fact, there was a conference called last year in Regina by the federal Minister of Consumer and Corporate Affairs, Mr. André Ouellet, to deal with the combines legislation. That was its primary purpose. He is on record as stating they have known for 10 years that the legislation was inadequate and they have been trying to strengthen it.

Last year they had a conference. That was the first item on the agenda; I have a copy of it. I got it because the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations (Mr. Walker) said he did not know that was on the agenda. He made that statement in this House when I asked him why he had not gone. He did not even go to that conference. He did not even go a conference that was going to deal with a matter that could prevent a $12.1 billion ripoff of the Canadian consumers.

That same government does not bother to go to it. They made no representation whatsoever to pass legislation that the federal government should change its legislation so that this cannot happen in the future or even to change the legislation to recoup some of this money for the consumers, the people who drive automobiles in this province, in this nation. They bring a bill into this Legislature which is going to tie the tax to the rate of inflation for gasoline so they can collect double the average inflation rate in taxation.

I want to conclude by saying I think those reasons on their own, if nothing else -- and my colleague from Hamilton Mountain (Mr. Charlton) and many of the other speakers have given other substantive reasons why this bill should not be passed by this Legislature, why it should not become law in this province -- certainly show the bill is contradictory to the best interests of the people of this province. Most of all, it is once again going to widen the gap between the poor and the wealthy, a process that has been taking place, according to Statistics Canada, in this nation for the last 10 years, and is taking place in Ontario to a substantially greater degree than in any other province in this nation. Shame on the government for bringing in this kind of bill.

Mr. Boudria: Today I rise to speak on behalf of the electors of my constituency on this legislation. It is very regressive legislation and it does not please my constituents at all to see this type of thing, especially considering the events of the last week and the effect they will have on the so-called ad valorem gasoline tax.

In fact, ad valorem tax is a misnomer because it means a tax on the value. The Concise Oxford Dictionary identifies value as what something is worth. I suggest that in terms of the taxes we have on gasoline at this time, we are certainly not paying what gasoline is worth. We are paying a far greater amount than it is actually worth in the true sense of the value of the product. Therefore, ad valorem taxation is a misnomer because it implies that we are taxing gasoline on its value, and many of us do not think that is what that product is worth.

12:10 p.m.

Monsieur l'Orateur, je voudrais aujourd'hui discuter le Bill 72 que nous avons devant nous. Je reconnais que le gouvernement a besoin de fonds. Le gouvernement pour opérer des programmes sociaux, et cetera, qu'il faut faire dans cette province, il est nécessaire que le gouvernement se procure les fonds par le mécanisme d'impôts qu'ils ont besoin pour instituer les différents programmes. Ça, je le reconnais mais je refuse de croire qu'il est nécessaire d'augmenter le prix du carburant de la façon que le gouvernement le fait dans le moment. D'augmenter le prix du carburant quatre fois par année, surtout quand le gouvernement ne sait même pas ce que les autres gouvernements vont faire dans cet intervalle, ça devient très, très injuste.

Naturellement, le gouvernement de l'Ontario ne sait pas ce que le gouvernement, comment le gouvernement fédéral va augmenter le prix de l'essence dans ses négotiations avec l'Alberta. Il est impossible pour le gouvernement de l'Ontario alors de prédire comment d'argent qu'ils vont se procurer par ce mécanisme. Etant donné que ce n'est pas possible de prédire combien d'argent ils vont faire, je crois qu'il est très difficile d'utiliser ce système-là de taxation pour en arriver à un résultat qui va faire en sorte qu'ils vont avoir le nombre d'argent nécessaire pour instituer leurs différents programmes.

La situation présente nous indique que le gouvernement va avoir beaucoup plus d'argent par ce mécanisme qui va faire en sorte qu'ils vont avoir le nombre d'argent nécessaire pour instituer leurs différents programmes. La situation présente nous indique que le gouvernement va avoir beaucoup plus d'argent par ce mécanisme qu'il s'attendait à avoir lorsqu'ils ont introduit le budget il y a quelques semaines. Je crois que ce projet de loi est très, très injuste envers les électeurs qui demeurent dans les régions hors les grandes villes de cette province. Il est facile à accepter que les électeurs d'une grande ville peuvent se procurer le transport en commun, ils peuvent prendre l'autobus, le TTC, ou OC Transpo dépendant dans quelle ville ils demeurent, et obtenir ces services, ils n'ont pas nécessairement besoin de leur automobile à chaque fois qu'ils doivent sortir de la maison.

Cependant, les électeurs de mon comté n'ont pas le choix. Il n'existe pas de transport en commun dans la grande majorité des comtés de Prescott Russell. Il y a seulement le transport en commun dans la partie extrêmement à l'ouest de mon comté, soit le canton de Cumberland, là où le service OC Transpo a été institué dans les dernières années, pour desservir une petite partie de la population de mon comté. Hors cette région, il est impossible d'avoir du transport en commun et alors il est essentiel que mes électeurs utilisent l'automobile familiale, la machine familiale si vous voulez, pour se déplacer d'une place à l'autre. Pour se déplacer d'une place à l'autre, pour aller gagner leur vie, pour gagner le pain afin de pouvoir payer les autres taxes qui ont augmenté dans ce même budget que nous voyons.

Les députés de l'est de l'Ontario, les députés du nord de l'Ontario devraient en groupe s'objecter à ce projet de loi. Je remarque qu'il n'y a aucune de ces régions dans la Chambre en ce moment et peut-être que c'est parce que les députés, justement, ne voulaient pas entendre ce qui serait dit aujourd'hui parce que ça serait difficile pour eux de voter avec le gouvernement de cette province ayant compris que cette taxe aurait des effets néfastes envers les électeurs de leur comté aussi. Dans des comtés où les villes sont encore plus loin que dans mon comté, dans Cochrane nord, dans d'autres comtés, dans l'est de l'Ontario, les effets de cette taxe sont réellement négatifs, et je crois que c'est tres, très injuste.

Je remarque ici un article du Toronto Sun. L'article qualifie le budget dans lequel on impose cette taxe "A Budget for Dingalings." Alors, on voit ici dans cet article que tous les journalistes dans cette province trouvent que cette taxe est non seulement regressive mais qu'on doit s'objecter fortement à ce que le gouvernement essaie de faire dans ce projet de loi. Le rôle du gouvernement de cette province est de protéger les consommateurs de l'Ontario. Le rôle du gouvernement n'est pas du tout de tenter de rendre la vie plus difficile qu'elle l'est actuellement. Assurément ce n'est pas la raison pourquoi les électeurs de l'Ontario ont élu ce gouvernement lors de l'élection du 19 mars. Les électeurs de l'Ontario, de bonne foi, ont élu ce gouvernement parce qu'ils croyaient que ce gouvernement était capable de leur venir en aide. Alors quelle déception les électeurs doivent avoir.

On dit que ce budget n'affecte pas beaucoup les agriculteurs. On dit que les agriculteurs naturellement ne paient pas la taxe sur la gasoline en ce qui a trait à son utilisation sur la ferme. Mais c'est pas tellement vrai. Il faut se rappeler que nos agriculteurs doivent se déplacer d'une ferme à l'autre avec leur automobile familiale, et cetera, ils n'ont pas le choix. Les agriculteurs ne demeurent pas dans les villes, ils n'ont pas de transport en commun. Alors chaque fois que ces gens-là, du secteur rural, doivent se déplacer d'un endroit à l'autre comme ils doivent le faire maintes et maintes fois par jour, ils doivent payer ce taux de taxation sur ce carburant-là.

Alors je dois dire que nos agriculteurs ne sont pas très bien traités dans le moment par le gouvernement de l'Ontario, ils ont encore la vie plus difficile qu'ils l'avaient avant. On se souvient que le même budget parle des primes d'assurance-maladie et puis que là encore les gens du secteur rural, les gens qui travaillent dans la petite entreprise, les agriculteurs, tous ceux qui paient directement pour leur taux d'assurance-maladie, ces gens-là sont affectés plus que les autres. Encore ici les gens du secteur rural doivent payer une plus grande proportion que les autres dû au fait naturellement qu'ils demeurent dans des secteurs où ils doivent utiliser leur automobile tous les jours.

On nous dit que Monsieur Lalonde et Monsieur Leitch vont en venir à une entente d'ici peu sur le taux de taxation et sur les revenus du Bill entre l'Alberta et le gouvernement fédéral. C'est bien ça, excepté qu'on peut en conclure, afin d'arriver à cette entente, qu'il va falloir encore une fois monter le prix de l'essence. Le gouvernement de l'Ontario va encore, à ce moment-là, augmenter son côut de taxation puisqu'il est par le fait même ad valorem, ou basé sur la valeur comme on disait tantôt.

Les taxes sur les grosses corporations, les grandes entreprises, les banques n'ont pas été augmentées dans ce budget. Je crois en mon humble opinion qu'il aurait été beaucoup préférable d'augmenter les taxes sur ces grandes entreprises-là, si on avait besoin des fonds, plutôt que de les augmenter sur la valeur de l'essence. Même s'il est nécessaire d'augmenter les taxes sur la valeur de l'essence, je ne crois pas qu'il est essentiel de le faire par pourcentage, ou d'une façon ad valorem comme on dit dans le budget, parce que c'est injuste envers les gens qui peuvent se le permettre moins.

On voit ici le rapport de la Ligue d'automobile de l'Ontario, comme on dit en anglais, the Ontario Motor League. Ce rapport nous indique que les automobilistes en Ontario paient déjà une plus grande proportion des taxes qu'ils devraient payer. Ce rapport ici justement dit qu'en 1979, les automobilistes ont payé en taxe sur l'essence $1,005,503,000 et que les dépenses pour fins routiéres ont été seulement de $994,120,000, ce qui veut dire que les automobilistes ont payé 101 pour cent des dépenses reliées a la Voirie en Ontario. Si on se souvient bien, la raison pourquoi on a une taxe sur l'essence ou sur le carburant en Ontario, si on se rappelle dans l'histoire quand cette taxe a été instituée, ça s'appelait la taxe de la Voirie, ou comme on dirait en anglais, the road tax. Comment peut-on justifier d'augmenter les taux qu'on charge pour cette taxe si on n'augmente pas les services routiers en Ontario.

Ce qui m'amène au prochain point. Dans l'est de l'Ontario, notre système routier n'est pas adéquat. Le gouvernement ne nous parle pas qu'avec cette taxe, cette nouvelle taxe ad valorem, qu'ils vont améliorer le sort des routes dans ma région. Le gouvernement ne mentionne pas qu'ils vont construire la route 416 pour rejoindre la 401 à la capitale nationale de notre pays. Le gouvernement ne mentionne pas qu'ils vont améliorer la route 17 entre Orleans et Rockland.

Il n'y a rien de cela de marqué dans le budget. Ce n'est pas même dans le programme de cinq ans du ministére de la Voirie. Encore une fois le gouvernement ne parle pas qu'ils vont construire un échangeur à St. Bernadin sur la route 417. Toutes les améliorations nécessaires dans ma région ne seront pas faites aux routes. Mais les électeurs de mon comté paieront quand même cette taxe injuste, ad valorem, que le gouvemement prévoit instituer.

Le gouvernement nous dit pour justifier sa position que l'Ontario est l'une des deux seules provinces qui n'a pas de taxe ad valorem dans le moment. Bien depuis quand est-ce que l'Ontario est en compétition avec les autres provinces pour qui paierait les plus hautes taxes? Je crois que jamais ça été notre rôle ici en Ontario d'essayer de justifier pourquoi on paierait plus cher que les autres. On se flattait ici en Ontario de jouir des situations économiques meilleures que les autres provinces. Il y a seulement quelques années on appelait l'Ontario, en anglais, the province of opportunity.

12:20 p.m.

Comment peut-on dire que cette province jouit d'une situation économique meilleure que les autres quand on essaie en même temps de justifier pourquoi on devrait charger aussi cher que toutes les autres provinces dans le Canada pour la taxation sur la gasoline. Ce n'est pas une façon très valable de dire qu'on est dans une situation envieuse dans cette province. Peut être qu'on l'a déjà été. Mais on ne l'est plus dans le moment et le gouvernement refuse de reconnaître cette situation. C'est déplorable.

N'oublions pas, non plus, que l'Ontario au contraire des autres provinces est dans la situation où on consomme le plus de carburant que les autres. On nous dit que chaque consommateur d'essence devra travailler six ou sept jours de plus par année afin de payer pour cette augmentation. Bien moi, ça ne me plait pas beaucoup de travailler une semaine par année de plus pour la donner au gouvernement pour qu'ils puissent instituer des programmes ailleurs. Je crois que c'est très injuste parce que notre région, l'est de l'Ontario, n'a pas jouit comme les autres régions de l'Ontanio de tout ce que le gouvernement aurait pû faire pour nous.

Le rôle du gouvernement ils doivent trouver une solution au problème d'inflation dans cette province. Le rôle du gouvernement n'est pas de créer l'inflation. Mais c'est ce qu'ils font avec cette taxe. Cette taxe va créer l'inflation parce qu'elle est organisée de façon à contribuer deux pour un au taux d'inflation par le fait même que c'est 20% du prix, le prix de la valeur marchande de l'essence. Si cette taxe est si bonne, comme le gouvernement semble nous dire, si elle est si essentielle, si nécessaire et tous les autres adjectifs qu'on nous a énumérés pendant la presentation du budget, alors comment se fait-il qu'ils ne l'ont pas introduite avant l'élection du 19 mars? Serait-ce une coincidence? Non. Je ne crois pas. Serait-ce parce qu'il aurait été défait en chambre? Oui. C'est ça la raison que le gouvernement n'a pas introduit ces mesures avant l'élection du 19 mars. Parce qu'ils savent maintenant qu'ils peuvent s'en tirer indemnes, ou ils pensent qu'ils peuvent s'en tirer indemnes.

You know, Mr. Speaker, the government is reaping windfall profits from this taxation. How can we conclude that this government is dedicated to energy alternatives and all this type of thing when it is going to be actually losing money if it encourages alternative forms of energy? Every time they propose to us to change our automobiles for propane or this type of thing, I don't believe they are being really serious because it is to their disadvantage when something like that happens.

Of course, even though they tell us there is no taxation on propane, just wait until we change our cars to propane or compressed natural gas or whatever. As soon as we have converted our automobiles for that they will change the taxation on that in order to reap the revenues. This is just a pioy that we are witnessing at this moment. Surely one cannot believe what the government is telling us in that particular situation. If anybody is naive enough to believe that, they would be equally deceived as they were following the "keeping the promise" slogan of March 19. We know how well that promise was kept.

On voit ici un article que je lis dans le Toronto Sun, où on qualifie Monsieur Davis "the Benedict Arnold of the oil set." Et on parle là-dedans que Monsieur Davis se disait lui-même le champion des consommateurs. Comment se fait-il que le champion des consommateurs les a trahis? Très difficile à comprendre.

Je suis content de voir que le Trésorier nous est revenu en Chambre pour écouter l'exposé que je veux présenter de la part des commettants de Prescott Russell, et j'espère que le Trésorier portera attention parce que je crois que c'est très important pour les commettants de ma région, n'est-ce pas. Je lis un peu dans le budget.

On voit ici et je vais citer, si vous me permettez, simultanément je propose des augmentations de taxe suivantes. Bon, c'est la première de ces taxes-là que, qui est réellement, qui nous offense, nous dans les positions. Premièrement, la nouvelle taxe calculée sur la valeur de l'essence sera établie de façon à incorporer une augmentation moyenne d'environ un cent par litre alors que le nouveau taux d'imposition pour le carburant diesel comportera une augmentation de 1.1 cents par litre. Bien ça c'était peut-être même valable le jour où le budget a été fait. Peut-étre. Je ne suis pas sûr. Mais avec les évenements qui sont arrivés récemment à Ottawa, avec les coupes d'huile de l'Alberta, avec le fait qu'on doit augmenter les importations pour couvrir ce montant de coupe d'huile, que le gouvernement de l'Ontario va recevoir des fonds qu'il ne s'attendait pas d'avoir.

Le Trésorier ne peut pas nous dire qu'il s'attendait que le taux d'essence augmente de deux cents le litre comme on nous a annoncé cette semaine. Peut-être a-t-il une boule de cristal, mais personne d'autre le savait que le taux était pour augmenter de cette facon-là. Alors si le taux augmente, si le taux augmente d'une facon qu'on ne s'attendait pas, on peut en conclure que votre taux de taxation est maintenant devenu déraisonnable. Il est maintenant devenu excessif. Si le gouvernement a besoin de tous ces fonds-là qu'on énumère dans le budget, alors pourquoi pas fixer un montant de taxation sur la gasoline fixe pour l'année afin que les gens soient assurés de ce qu'ils auront à payer, afin que les travailleurs syndiqués lorsqu'ils vont négocier un contrat de travail, qu'ils pourront pas s'attendre qu'il va y avoir des taux d'inflation avec des variables qu'ils ne peuvent pas déterminer dans deux, trois, quatre, cinq, six mois d'astheure. Pourquoi ne pas dire, on doit imposer un taux de tel montant et le prélever. Je crois que ça serait une façon beaucoup plus équitable de le faire.

Je crois que si le Trésorier y songe très sérieusement, et je crois qu'il doit le faire par bout, il devrait être tenté de changer ce taux de taxation-là. Moi je ne serais pas surpris si le Trésorier n'a pas considéré dans les derniers jours de rétirer ce Bill et d'en ré-introduire un neuf avec un montant fixe pour la taxation. Le Trésorier nous dit que le pourcentage est fixe, mais le pourcentage de quoi Monsieur le Trésorier. Naturellement vous ne pouvez pas déterminer. Ah oui, oui, vous dites, pourcentage de la valeur marchande. Très bien. Mais vous ne savez pas ce qu'est la valeur marchande. Vous ne savez pas ce qu'elle vont être dans trois mois et dans six mois, cependant, lorsque vous avez compilez votre budget, vous le savez ce que va être vos dépenses pour un an. Comment pouvez-vous dire que vous avez besoin d'un montant de dollars fixe mais vous devez prélever un montant de taxe qui n'est pas fixe afin d'arriver à ce resultat fixe. C'est une contradiction.

Je lis un peu plus loin dans le budget, lorsque l'orateur s'adresse à vous, Monsieur l'orateur, Monsieur le Président, et on lit comme suit: J'ai décidé de ne pas modifier le taux d'imposition sur les profits des compagnies et le taux de l'impôt sur le capital à cause de l'importance que j'accorde à la préservation d'un climat favorable à l'investissement. Ça c'est remarquable. Je dois faire remarquer ici que nous avons déjà, au cours de ces dernières années, augmenté les impôts pour les compagnies. Peut-être vrai. Cependant, on doit se rappeler que le chef du parti NPD nous a énuméré ce matin que les revenus des banques, les revenus nets des institutions financières, ont grandi d'une façon considérable dans la dernière année.

12:30 p.m.

Alors on peut en conclure que si les revenus ont grandi de cette façon, c'est justement ces mêmes institutions qui peuvent se permettre de payer un niveau de taxation plus élevé et non pas les consommateurs de la province de l'Ontario et surtout pas les consommateurs du comté de Prescott Russell.

I have a few other things here, Mr. Speaker, that I would like to point out. Just in the last day or so, I have looked up a few matters I feel may be important just to remind the members of this House how they are being deceived by this government and how the government is not keeping the promise. I think we remember the words, "keeping the promise."

Let us read some of these fine things. This is an excerpt of a speech the Premier made to the Ontario PC Campus Association on September 15, 1979. Let us read some of it, if the members are interested in listening.

"But we also took the view that we have a price increase which generated the kind of cash for the government of Canada, the foreign oil companies and the government of Alberta which they could not possibly reinvest quickly enough to solve the energy security problems would be a mistake and a distortion and a clear raid upon the spending power of the average citizen of this province and Canada as a whole."

I think the Treasurer is holding the can of Raid right now and he is pointing it at the consumers of this province. Let me read a little further here, this is very interesting: "We also argue that there is only so much that you can take out of the economy by means of energy price increases before the economy begins to suffer and suffer seriously." I wonder if the members opposite recall that. I think perhaps it is good to bring it to their attention. I read a little further:

"I believe that if we were to have a massive move to world price, the kind of harm it would do to our economy would not only ensure that we followed the Americans down the road to recession, but that we did considerably worse." Just a reminder that some people in the Tory party, namely the Premier, made statements like that.

I have a few more here, Mr. Speaker, and if you would like I will read them to you. This particular speech was made --


Mr. Boudria: There were interjections there, but I will continue. This particular speech was made to the annual meeting of the Association of Municipal Electric Utilities. On page eight of that same speech, which is a speech by the Premier, he says:

"Our broad policy purpose will not change. It was and is the three-pronged objective of adequate and secure supplies at reasonable price." The word "reasonable" here is underlined in the speech, probably so that the Premier could put an emphasis on the word "reasonable" when he said it to those fine people of the electrical association. He probably got a good round of applause for that at that particular time, but I don't think he would get the same applause today. I read further:

"We did not compromise our position with the Clark government and it would be an error to assume that we will compromise it with the new government of Mr. Trudeau. To compromise on that policy would be to compromise the future of the people of Ontario. That we will never do." Notice the word "never." It is very interesting. I read further:

"I have no doubt that prices will increase, but equally, no one will be left in doubt as to the Ontario position. Price increases without a commensurate improvement in supply security and appropriate distribution of oil related revenues will be opposed."

Mr. Wildman: They are doing their own distribution of revenue now.

Mr. Boudria: They sure are. They are sure distributing the revenue to themselves.

I have here another speech made by the Deputy Premier and Minister of Energy (Mr. Welch). On November 15, 1979, the minister was speaking at the Canadian energy conference in Banff, Alberta. To these people he said the following:

"I should like to think in the context of assuring adequate oil supply that the industry views itself as implicitly holding in trust the revenue it receives from the consumers" -- I wonder if the government is worthy of the same trust -- "and I would like to think that the pricing of oil and natural gas will not be used as simply disguised taxation, a means of cascading additional dollars into the coffers of government."

Of course, the minister is saying he hopes this does not happen. I wonder if he sent a copy of that speech to the Treasurer. Perhaps not. Reading further:

"Surely it is reasonable to expect that our objective to attain self-sufficiency in oil as soon as possible will not be converted into a mechanism for simply expanding the cash flow of government."

I am sure they never thought of doing that. I have a few more here. This speech was made by a gentleman who is no longer in this Legislature, the former Minister of Natural Resources (Mr. Auld), at the energy ministers' conference in Quebec City on November 16, 1978. This whole speech deals with this topic, but I will not read it all, merely a few very pertinent excerpts from it:

"It is certainly ironic to hear the federal government now uses the same arguments in support of its case that it has always rejected when Ontario consistently advocated them for the past four years. It is still nice to see, however, that they recognize the need to restrain energy prices so as to minimize the effect on (a) inflation, (b) employment and (c) the competitive position of Canadian industry."

Mr. Wildman: We have beaten inflation now, haven't we?

Mr. Boudria: Maybe the Treasurer has wrestled inflation to the ground in this province, but I still think it is a problem. Reading further:

"Ontario has long recognized the direct relationship between price increases unrelated to the cost of production and these economic consequences."

I wonder if these price increases in that tax are related to the cost of production. I suggest we do not produce all that much oil here and we are increasing the taxes. Therefore, we can conclude that the policies of this Treasurer directly contradict the statements made to the Legislature by the former Minister of Natural Resources.

Here is another interesting one made by the former Minister of Energy (Mr. J. A. Taylor) on February 1, 1977, at the energy ministers' conference in Ottawa. Let's hear what he has to say: "First, we are opposed to any increase in the price of oil and natural gas."

I wonder if they could say the same thing today. If they were opposed to a price increase, they would be opposed to generating more revenue for themselves, which leads one to believe that when they go to Alberta and pretend they do not want price increases, Peter Lougheed will not believe a word of it. I would not blame him for that at all because it would obviously not be too easy to reject comments made to that effect by this government.

He went on to say, "We are opposed because the stated objective of this annual escalation -- that of ensuring security of supply through expanded exploration and development -- has not been met." Of course, this taxation would not increase supply either. "We are opposed because it will create further unemployment when the unemployment rate is the highest it has been in 20 years with nearly a million Canadians out of work."

12:40 p.m.

These are the same folks who were telling us that increasing the price of gasoline, which we are now doing at an astronomical rate, would cause unemployment. Therefore, we may conclude that one of the objectives of this budget is to create unemployment. They are the ones who said it was going to do this. I would not disagree with the member for Prince Edward-Lennox (Mr. J. A. Taylor) when he said that. He is a very learned gentleman and he said doing this would cause unemployment, so one can only assume this is one of the objectives of the government.

We will read a little bit further: "We are opposed because it further fuels inflation." Some of us on this side of the House have been saying lately that this would fuel inflation. But the government was saying "nay." Some of their members did not share that opinion. Perhaps that is one of the reasons they are not in the cabinet any more.

I will read further: "...fuels inflation, places an unnecessary burden on all sectors and individuals of our society" -- we have to note the word "unnecessary" -- "and places an intolerable burden on those least able to bear it."

Monsieur l'Orateur, cette partie-là est très importante. Parce que beaucoup des gens de mon comté sont sans emploi. Beaucoup de mes électeurs sont au bas de l'échelle salariale. Ces gens-là ne peuvent pas se permettre de s'acheter des automobiles neuves, de s'acheter des automobiles nouvelles qui consomment moins de carburant que les automobiles des années jadis. Alors ces électeurs-là doivent garder leur automobile, doivent garder une automobile qui prend plus d'essence, qui est moins efficace si vous voulez, et ces mêmes gens qui peuvent le moins payer, qui doivent payer les augmentations de prime d'assurance-maladie, doivent maintenant payer une plus grande proportion de l'augmentation de cette taxe sur l'essence. Alors comme vous voyez, Monsieur l'Orateur, c'est très, très, très injuste. N'êtes-vous pas d'accord? Bon, continuons. Je vais continuer avec l'exposé que Monsieur Taylor faisait et que je mentionnais tantôt.

Mr. Speaker, may I read further: "Any increase in the domestic price of oil and natural gas at this time would be gouging the Ontario consumer."

Mr. Wildman: Times have changed though.

Mr. Boudria: Well times have changed. Ministers have changed. Minority --

Mr. Nixon: What is the French for gouge?

Mr. Boudria: Darder. Les consommateurs de l'Ontario se font darder par le Trésorier. C'est ça qui arrive aux consommateurs de cette province. Je vois que Monsieur le Trésorier semble avoir eu de la pratique à darder parce qu'il semble avoir le coup de poignet approprié pour le faire.


Mr. Boudria: Pardon? Un professionel dardeur. Je suis sûr que les électeurs de mon comté partageront cette opinion. Continuons.

These are some of the reasons why the government of Ontario is opposed to any increase in the domestic price of crude oil and natural gas at this time. There are pages and pages of reasons why we should not increase the price of gas. It is just incredible.

Members should listen to this because it is very important: "I would hope that the Ontario government opposition to any such proposal is shared by all members of the Legislature because I feel certain that I have the support of consumers in this province."

Those are the same consumers who supported the position of not drastically increasing gasoline prices. Those same consumers are now being gouged -- to use the word of the government -- by the same government that told them it would protect them not long ago.

This sentence explains it all: "The public is fed up, and rightly so." That is in the text of that speech. If they were fed up at that time one can imagine how they feel right now. Just imagine what the consumers of this province think -- the people who can hardly afford to buy gas for their cars in rural communities to travel to the next town to go to work. If they were fed up at that time imagine how they feel now when they have to pay these ridiculously high prices for gasoline that will be imposed by this ad valorem tax.

I read further: "In terms of increases in domestic price of crude oil, the promises, the commitments for a secure supply made by the government of Canada over the past three years have not been fulfilled." Somebody is accusing somebody else here of not keeping the promise. I wonder if the government here is keeping the promise all that well. I wonder what the people of this province think about this keeping of the promise.

I will go a little further here. I hate to take up much more time, but --

Mr. Nixon: Go ahead.

Hon. Mr. Ashe: The member is doing very well at it.

Mr. Boudria: Well, fine. At the insistence of the Legislature I will read further. There is more to say. There is so much here about the different ministers of the cabinet and the Tory government that has been there a very long time and about the promises they are now breaking.

Mr. Lane: We will be here for a long time yet, too.

Mr. Boudria: Some members opposite say they will be here for a long time yet, but four years is not that long. I can wait four years; I am sure the electors of this province can wait four years. Not only are they waiting, but they will remember. This has happened enough times now. They will remember what is happening now. They will remember "keep the promise." They will sing the jingle right back to the members opposite in the next election, and they will not do it out of kindness, either.

I will continue. Again this very learned gentleman who was the Minister of Energy (Mr. J. A. Taylor) at the time says, "Ontario believes any national crude oil and national gas price policy should meet six basic objectives. It should develop additional supplies of crude oil, natural gas and, if need be, other sources of energy." These are the increases, of course. "It should protect the competitive position of Canada's industry. It should strengthen fiscal relationships among provinces. It should encourage the creation of new jobs." I would like to know how many new jobs are going to be created by this ad valorem tax, with the exception of those for a few Tories in high positions who are going to be in charge of administering this program.

I read further: "It should alleviate inflation." I wonder how much inflation will be alleviated by this. And lastly, "It should be equitable." I wonder what the people of this province would say if we asked them whether they think this is equitable.

I have read enough from this document. Perhaps I will move to other speeches made by other people at other times. There is plenty here to talk about, because the position of this government has always been in direct contradiction to what they are saying now.

This time I will read some parts of a speech made by a minister who is still here. This speech was made by the former Minister of Energy (Hon. Mr. Baetz) who is an eastern Ontario member. We said previously the people of eastern Ontario, especially the people of rural communities, were affected in a very particular way because of the distances between communities, unlike Metro and other places where one can take a bus and so on. I will read from this speech the member for Ottawa West made, and let us see to whom he said all these nice things.

This was a statement to the Legislature. Some members may recall it, I was not here at the time. This speech was made on June 20, 1978, and the topic was the proposed price increases for July 1, 1978, and Ontario's disapproval. Ontario, at that time, disapproved of a price increase. I will read what was said:

12:50 p.m.

"I should like to advise the members that during the past few weeks I have had discussions with the Minister of Energy for Alberta and with the federal Minister of Energy, Mines and Resources about the proposed price increases of crude oil for July 1 and for the proposed increases in the price of natural gas.

"Those discussions have been followed up by my officials. At these meetings we have made strong representation against any price increase at this time while the Canadian economy is soft" -- I suppose the Treasurer (Mr. F. S. Miller) thinks the economy is strong at this time -- "and unemployment is high, and when inflation is still not under control."

Of course, that minister opposed price increases when they would cause the types of things we see in this document. Perhaps the Treasurer thinks all these problems have now been solved. I do not believe they have. I happen to think we are probably worse off now than we have ever been.

I will read further. This is a press release dated July 25, 1978. In this press release it says, "Ontario views crude oil and natural gas price increases unrelated to improving Canada's security of supply as inflationary."

That was the former Minister of Natural Resources (Mr. Auld). He viewed price increases unrelated to increases in production as inflationary. Mr. Auld viewed what the Treasurer is doing now as inflationary because he is doing the exact thing Mr. Auld said here we should not do. He viewed it also as "a deterrent to job creation and a further factor in harming Canada's industrial competitiveness."

I know the government members are not paying all that much attention to this because they are talking so loudly I can hardly hear myself think.

Hon. Mr. Gregory: Did you ever ask yourself why?

Mr. Boudria: They always expect us to listen attentively to all their learned deliberations.

Hon. Mr. Gregory: We can listen to reading any time. Say something intelligent.

Mr. Boudria: I think some of us have something to add to this debate and the electors of my riding tend to disagree with the government whip. They think there was a more intelligent way of being represented than by the person who was there before me because they turfed him out of office and elected me in his place. That constituted the only Tory who lost his seat in Ontario. I would like to remind the government whip of that when he says I should speak a little more intelligently. If this is not intelligent just imagine what the remarks of my predecessor (Mr. Belanger) were like.

Mr. Havrot: That is why he was in for 15 years.

Mr. Boudria: Oh, there were no intelligent remarks. He never spoke.

I will read from another press release. This was on May 11, 1977. This is about a meeting the then Minister of Energy (Mr. J. A. Taylor) had. I want to read it:

"Upon leaving a federal-provincial meeting of energy ministers in Ottawa today, the Hon. James Taylor stated that on behalf of the government of Ontario he had vigorously opposed any increase in the price of oil and natural gas in 1977." He vigorously opposed it.

Mr. Newman: Who said that?

Mr. Boudria: That was Mr. Taylor. He was the Minister of Energy. He opposed this. This is a quote from the minister: "'I have stated the reasons for the opposition of the government of Ontario to such increases on a number of occasions,' the minister said. 'It is not the time to increase inflationary pressures in Canada. It is not the time to further decrease job creation, and it is not in the interests of Ontario or Canada to reduce the competitive capability of our export industry.' The minister added that in his view it would be downright irresponsible to escalate prices at this stage of economic recovery in Canada."

Of course maybe the honourable member opposite thinks economic conditions have improved now and it would be responsible now. I assume the member thinks inflation is under control, and unemployment is no longer high? Is this the recovery at this time the member opposite is saying must be here to make this type of action responsible? If it was irresponsible in 1977 with the economic conditions we had then, just imagine how responsible it is now, with the worse economic conditions we have at this time.

Mr. Havrot: How responsible is the increase of 60 cents a gallon by your federal counterparts?

Mr. Speaker: Order.

Mr. Boudria: Thank you, Mr. Speaker, for keeping the members in order here. I really appreciate that.

I will quote a few things from Hansard. One's speech just would not be complete without quoting some excerpts from Hansard, especially when one considers this is a speech by the Premier. He said on October 16, 1979, "Ontario is opposed to any immediate price increase beyond the current January 1980 agreement, which calls for a dollar-per-barrel increase." We have to remember this increased taxation here will cause an increase greater than a dollar-per-barrel. Of course, the government is supposed to be against it.

Let me read further: "If Canadian oil prices are allowed to rise substantially at any time, there must be a basic change in revenue flows and energy and economic policies to (a) achieve national oil self-sufficiency." How is this supposed to achieve national oil self-sufficiency, to use the words of the Premier? This taxation increase does not increase production, it does nothing of the sort.

I quote again from the speech, "(b) avert an unnecessary recession." If stopping a price increase in gasoline is supposed to avert an unnecessary recession, one can only assume that advocating an increase in taxation in gasoline will cause an unnecessary recession. Of course, this may be what will happen if the Treasurer does not withdraw this taxation.

I read again, "(c) avert undue hardship on the consumer." If this is not hardship on the consumer, I do not know how the consumers are supposed to feel comforted with this kind of an increase in taxation.

I have a lot more to say, Mr. Speaker. I am just wondering if it is not too close to one o'clock. Of course, I may continue ad valorem, to use the words that have been used here.

Hon F. S. Miller: Ad infinitum, ad nauseam.

Mr. Boudria: I do not believe speaking on behalf of my constituency constitutes anything that could be called ad nauseam as described by the Treasurer.

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

The House adjourned at 1 p.m.