32nd Parliament, 1st Session

























The House met at 2:02 p.m.



Mr. Cassidy: Mr. Speaker, I have two points of order I wish to raise with you in the hope that some of the difficulties of last week in this House may be overcome.

The first point is a matter that I raised briefly with you in this House on Friday. The Toronto Star's account of Thursday's events quoted the Speaker as saying: "Calling the vote was a deliberate mistake." That was the vote on whether the decision to name the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Smith) and evict him from the House would be upheld.

Mr. Speaker, because of the fact that if that quotation is correct it would indicate you had deliberately flouted or decided to deliberately break the rules of the House, this House is entitled to know to what extent you intend to enforce the rules of the House.

Mr. Speaker: Order, please. That point of order was raised previously, and I did say I would take it under consideration.

Mr. Cassidy: Mr. Speaker, in view of the importance of the matter --

Mr. Speaker: Will the member carry on with his second point of order?

Mr. Cassidy: Yes, Mr. Speaker, I will. But I ask, will you not be prepared to give us your judgement on that specific question, because it does relate to the confidence the whole House can have in the chair if there has been a decision of the chair not to uphold the rules of the House?

Mr. Speaker: I think I dealt with that very clearly on Friday last. May we listen to your second point of order?


Mr. Cassidy: My second point of order relates to the question of parliamentary language, which was an issue in front of the House and led to a loss of several hours of sitting time on Thursday, when the allegation was made that a minister of the crown was a minister of cover-up.

I have taken the liberty of consulting Erskine May to find out which expressions are parliamentary and which are not. I have yet to be able to establish whether the word "cover-up" is unparliamentary language, although members of my party -- and, I suspect, of all three parties -- have used it in this Legislature on a number of occasions without being called to order by the Speaker and without having that expression questioned by other members of the Legislature.

I suggest that the word "cover-up" is hardly in the same class as the unparliamentary expressions that are listed by Erskine May. The Leader of the Opposition could have called the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations (Mr. Walker) a ruffian, a slanderer, a stool-pigeon, a swine, a traitor, treasonist, vicious or vulgar. He could have said he was a villain, wicked, a hypocrite, impertinent or impudent. He could have said he was behaving like a jackass, that he was lousy, that he was making a malignant attack or that he was a murderer.

I will not go through the whole list. I was going backwards and was only at the is.

What I want to suggest is that, in view of the sequence of events we have seen since this House came together in April up until last Thursday or Friday, one that has seen a number of episodes in which government members have consistently prevented the opposition parties from gaining a continuation of the investigation of the Re-Mor affair, I believe the allegations were justified. I also believe the word itself is not unparliamentary. I want to suggest to you, Mr. Speaker --

Mr. Speaker: Order, please.

Mr. Cassidy: Mr. Speaker, I have not finished my point. May I may finish it?

Mr. Speaker: No. With all respect, I think that matter was dealt with clearly on Thursday last and now is closed.

Mr. Cassidy: With respect, Mr. Speaker, since there is certainly the possibility, according to accounts in the press, that this matter is going to be raised again and since as a consequence of that we take the risk --

Mr. Speaker: Order. I do not think we can anticipate what may or may not happen. The incident of last Thursday was dealt with and is closed.

Mr. Cassidy: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order --

Mr. Speaker: There is no point of order, with all respect.

Mr. Cassidy: Mr. Speaker, as a member of this House, I feel I have the right to conclude my point and to make the recommendation I intended to make to you now.

Mr. Speaker: No. The matter is closed. It has been dealt with. It is not debatable, and that is the end of it.

Mr. Cassidy: Mr. Speaker, my proposal quite simply is that you refer the question of whether the word "cover-up" is parliamentary language to the standing committee on procedural affairs, to take the matter out of this Legislature so the Legislature can get on with the business we have to conclude.

Mr. Speaker: Order. Your doubt certainly will be taken into consideration as you have pointed out but, as I said before, the matter quite clearly has been dealt with. It is closed, it is not debatable and we will proceed with the business of the House.


Hon. Mr. Drea: Mr. Speaker, I rise on behalf of a vast number of Ontarians to pay appreciation to John H. Stafford, an outstanding Canadian who died yesterday.

Jack Stafford was more than a distinguished Canadian as an entrepreneur in the field of business and commerce. He had a long life as not only one of the country's better-known horse breeders and owners but also as one its most important horse breeders and owners.

Mr. Stafford was a very distinctive Ontarian for whom nothing came easy. He worked as a salesman for years, right into the peak of the great Depression, before being able at that time to start his own business, one that flourished and, even without his presence for the last decade, is one of the significant industries in the food processing field.

In the particular field in which he chose to excel during his later years, years during which many would have considered retirement of sufficient interest, everything in the horse industry came from hard work. It took him 21 years of hard work to enter the decade of the 1970s, when the Stafford farm stable was so outstanding, not just in Ontario or Canada but also in the United States.

I suppose he will be best remembered by countless Canadians as the breeder and owner of a very distinctive Ontario horse, Overskate, because, like his owner, that horse excelled not from outstanding talent but by virtue of very hard work and the possession of an extremely great amount of personal courage and endurance.

I am sure that the members of the assembly will join with me in extending our condolences to the family of Mr. Stafford as well as our appreciation for the lifetime of a most distinctive Ontarian.

2:10 p.m.


Mr. Smith: On a point of privilege, Mr. Speaker: I am not sure if this is a point of privilege or a correction of the record, but you will recall that the member for York North (Mr. Hodgson) stood in the House on June 11 and made certain statements about the town of Vaughan official plan amendment number 95. There is just one matter I want to deal with as a point of privilege. There are others that may come up as questions.

The member said that the holdings range in size from nine to 100 acres, and he said, "There is certainly no massive land assembly and no big-name developer." Had the member looked a little deeper he would have found that four of the owners are associated and have the same corporate address of 4101 Steeles Avenue West, suite 202, in Toronto. Some 587 acres are owned by the Kirby West group of developers, a group very well known to the member for York North. That represents 48 per cent of the land area of official plan amendment number 95.



Hon. Mr. Timbrell: Mr. Speaker, I wish to table the report of the Toronto East General and Orthopaedic Hospital review committee. At the appropriate time later today I will introduce legislation to give effect to the committee's recommendation.

I would be less than frank if I did not tell the House how disturbed I am at the extent of the problems that the committee found. One reassuring factor is that the committee has been able to recommend action that can be taken to deal with these shortcomings.

I met earlier today with the chairman and other representatives of East General, and I have asked them to respond to the report and produce a plan to deal with the issues in the report that affect them.

I have also told them that I am introducing legislation today to allow the government to appoint a supervisor to oversee the administration of hospitals in circumstances such as these. I intend to appoint a supervisor as soon as this House has dealt with the bill so that we can ensure that the recommendations are fully implemented.

In reading the report, members will recognize that this very thorough review, which includes a number of detailed audits by an outside firm, has not turned up any evidence of criminal action by any member of the board or the staff. Rather, the committee found that in many cases the staff and trustees were motivated by a sense of service to the hospital and to the community. Unfortunately, they appear to have lacked an understanding of the rules of contemporary public service as well as the sophisticated organization, skills and controls required to operate a major urban hospital like Toronto East General.

On a personal note, this whole issue has a specific meaning to me. The Toronto East General serves a significant section of my riding, and many of my constituents have a long and affectionate connection with what they consider to be their hospital. Many of them share with the review committee their loyalty and personal support for the hospital and will be equally concerned at what this study has found. Because they know trustees and staff as neighbours and friends, they will find some comfort in the committee's characterization of their dedication to this hospital. Clearly, they were trying to do their best.

In this regard, it is useful to recall that this review was originally requested by the hospital board as a means of responding to what they believed to be unfair and inaccurate criticism of the hospital in the Toronto media.

The report speaks for itself, and no useful purpose would be served in the House today by reciting the litany of problems it identifies. Over the next few days members will have an opportunity to review all aspects of the report so that we may deal expeditiously with the bill that I will introduce shortly.

Although the report has just been received, members of the committee were sufficiently concerned with what they were finding to alert both the administration of the hospital and my senior staff to specific issues so that critical problems could be addressed in an ongoing way.

At the same time, they shared with the ministry the limitations of the Public Hospitals Act to deal decisively with inadequacies such as they found at East General. In these cases, the government must be able to intervene in the interests of the broader public whom we all serve.

The change we are recommending to the legislation is based on provisions that most other provinces already have to deal with problems of this same sort.

This brings me finally to the members of the review committee. As Minister of Health, I have direct dealing with a great many people who give incredible amounts of time, energy, skill and devotion to the health care system of this province, but I can recall few who have given it with the sense of purpose and generosity that characterized the work of Charles Clark, Pat Blewett and Dr. Louis Wadsworth.

They have met on an almost continuous basis for the past five months to examine this problem in detail. They solicited opinions throughout the community, and they personally interviewed more than 150 persons who felt they had something to contribute to the review.

This is all the more remarkable because Mr. Clark had also simultaneously to maintain his very active law practice in Windsor, Mr. Blewett is the executive director of University Hospital in London, Ontario, and Dr. Wadsworth had full-time responsibilities at Shaughnessy Hospital in Vancouver, British Columbia.

It is clear that we all have immediate reason to be grateful for their efforts, and I believe the hospital community of Ontario and the citizens they serve will be indebted to them.



Mr. Smith: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations.

Following our discussion of last Thursday, I want to ask the minister a question on the matter of the Astra/Re-Mor affair, since the minister knows full well that the courts have been asked to address themselves to some very specific and relatively narrow legal issues, and many important questions will not be answered in the courts, such as questions concerning discrepancies in the testimony of ministry officials before the standing committee on administration of justice committee, the role of the Ontario Securities Commission in this whole affair and so on.

Will the minister assure this House that he will recommend to his cabinet colleagues that the justice committee should be allowed to resume its inquiry or, failing that, that a royal commission on Astra and Re-Mor should be established so that an end can be put once and for all to the current government policy of continued cover-up and stonewalling?

Hon. Mr. Walker: Mr. Speaker, on April 23, when I gave a statement in this House on the resumption of the Legislature, I indicated that I expected at some time the whole question of licensing would be properly entertained, likely by some kind of committee of the Legislature. Whether ultimately that is the justice committee or some other committee obviously remains to be seen. At the moment I can give the member no undertaking of that indication.

Mr. Smith: Since we are not talking about the whole question of licensing, but about the Astra/Re-Mor affair, I hope the minister will be more specific in his further answers.

On the more specific matter that the minister took exception to last Thursday -- that is, the claim that possible organized crime links existed in the Astra/Re-Mor affair -- the minister suggested it was mere innuendo and I was unwilling to name other names or give other evidence.

The minister surely knows or should know the general nature of the documents that are in the possession of his ministry and were made available to the justice committee. He also knows that members of the screening committee who looked at those documents are bound by their oath to the Speaker concerning the specific contents of these documents.

Does the minister therefore intend to ask the Speaker to release these people from their oath so they can say exactly what they have seen that pertains to organized crime in the documents, which I am sure the minister has seen or should have seen by now, or will he acknowledge that information exists in his possession that strongly points to these links and stop this sanctimonious protestation to the contrary?

Hon. Mr. Walker: The matter I referred to on Thursday arose out of the press conference at which the Leader of the Opposition, when posed a question by a member of the media relating to any criminal underworld connections, made some reference to one individual who had some federal connection but then indicated that was the only one he cared to talk about at that moment.

2:20 p.m.

To my way of thinking, that left the Leader of the Opposition with some information I felt should be communicated to the police forces. I want the police forces to be made aware of whatever it is he cares to talk about at the moment. If there is some additional information, I hope that will be communicated to the police forces so we can benefit from it.

At this time, the only impression left in my mind is that there must be some information in the mind of the Leader of the Opposition that should be addressed relating to some criminal underworld connections in this entire matter. I am not aware of what they are. I know the name he floated out during that press questioning period. I am just interested in having him communicate the balance of the information to police forces so it can be properly investigated.

As the Leader of the Opposition well knows, there are criminal charges before the courts at present, preliminary hearings have been held and people have been bound over for trial with respect to the matter. If there are additional criminal charges to be laid, I want those things to be continued.

I do not have the benefit of knowledge from the files. I was not on the committee at the time, and I was not privy to those matters. I have been dealing with the matters as they were presented to me on my arrival in the ministry two months ago.

I say to the Leader of the Opposition that if he has additional information -- and he must have, because he said, "That is the only one I care to talk about now" -- then in the interest of justice, I wish him to bring that information forward and have it transmitted to the police forces.

Mr. Cassidy: Supplementary, Mr. Speaker: Will the minister say what the government intends to do to keep the promises to the Re-Mor investors, promises that were made during the election campaign when the Conservatives were seeking to get back into power and have subsequently been broken?

Specifically, will the minister explain why it is that during the election campaign the government said they hoped the matter of the investors would be resolved by midsummer, whereas now no court cases will be undertaken at least until September or October?

In addition, will the minister explain how those investors will be able to collect on the promise made by the Premier (Mr. Davis) himself, that they would be compensated if government negligence was shown, when the only cases now before the courts are to determine legal liability and not the question of negligence? What does the government intend to do to establish whether negligence occurred?

Hon. Mr. Walker: On the question of negligence, Mr. Speaker, we anticipate and hope that the test cases will establish the kind of answer that would be required in that situation. We realize in our continuing negotiations with Ottawa -- and I have had a number of discussions with people in Ottawa -- that the question of our defence has to be properly asserted. Consequently, those test cases are essential to establish the degree to which negligence is present. We are continuing that aspect of it.

In addition, we are satisfied there are some problems that were amply displayed during the hearings as they relate to my ministry and the manner in which it deals with registration or licensing. I attempted to address those on Thursday night and brought out about five or six points in response to a question posed by the member for Ottawa East (Mr. Roy) which related to alterations we have made within my ministry.

For the benefit of the record, that is the first time I have ever been asked a question about Re-Mor. I have been asked many questions in this House about the committee and whether it should be dealing with one matter or another, but it is interesting to note that I have been asked no questions by any member relating to what we as a ministry are doing in respect of the Re-Mor matter. There are a number of areas we have addressed.

Some hon. members: Tell us.

Hon. Mr. Walker: For those members of the opposition who are saying "Tell us," I will be very pleased, if I may, to repeat my answer to the question.

I see you shaking your head, Mr. Speaker. May I then simply refer members to the answer I gave on Thursday night and say that those are half a dozen of the things we are doing. There are more things we intend to do to address the problem. We intend to tighten up the whole registration concept.

As I indicated in my statement on April 23, it is my intention to ultimately address this whole question of licensing and what the public really expects from a licence. There are different aspects of licensing that are very important. For instance, the matter of licensing as it relates to a mortgage broker is quite a bit different from its relationship to a marriage licence, which of course would not have the same guarantees as well.

In addition, I addressed the Ontario Mortgage Brokers Association not too long ago. I will be pleased to supply members of this House with the proposed changes as they relate to mortgage brokers alone and the way we are tightening up on that. It is interesting that, although press accounts appeared, no one chose to ask me a question about that. The only questions were on the committee and when the Ontario Securities Commission was going to answer.

Mr. Smith: Given that the minister has now stated that he has not bothered to familiarize himself with the file on the Re-Mor/Astra matter, will the minister undertake to do so? Once he has done so, will he then admit to this House that there are documents there that give clear relationships that might be possible between organized crime and the Re-Mor/Astra companies in the whole affair?

Will he either release my people from the oath they have taken so they can state what those relationships are or, at the very least, admit that the material is there and recognize that this is only one reason, among many, why we need a royal commission to clear up this entire affair?

Hon. Mr. Walker: I have to say that the Leader of the Opposition is posing some interesting questions. One aspect of the question involves an oath taken, and I do not feel I am in a position where I can release a person from that kind of oath. I am sure that has to be a decision taken by someone other than myself; I presume either by this House, the Speaker, the crown attorney or somebody.

Mr. Smith: Read the file; admit it is there.

Hon. Mr. Walker: Will the Leader of the Opposition please allow me to finish the point I am making? It is a courtesy I think I have extended in terms of his asking the question.

Some of the members of the committee have not been re-elected in that period of time, and they too were under the same kind of oath.

My only point is that the Leader of the Opposition -- who was not a member of that subcommittee, to my knowledge, but I may be wrong; I do not believe him to have been a member of the subcommittee -- seems to have some information that he suggests on the record is there about some organized crime. If that is the case, I think it is his duty to this House to reveal that information to the crown attorney. If I can facilitate that information --

Mr. Smith: It is in your file.

Hon. Mr. Walker: I just want him to reveal the information he has on it.

Mr. Smith: Will the minister look at his own file? Will he undertake to do that much?


Mr. Smith: Mr. Speaker, a question for the Minister of Health: Is the minister aware that hospitals in Metro Toronto are in a position of having to close their doors to ambulances carrying emergency patients for several hours each day? In the case of the Toronto East General Hospital, just as a topic of conversation, two or three times a week it is having to close its doors. In the case of the North York General, it is happening almost every single day; as recently as June 8 they had to book themselves out of service for the duration of the entire evening shift.

Does the minister not understand the hardship that this imposes on people who need immediate help and who are put at some risk because they have to be transferred from hospital to hospital? Is he aware that there is now a problem resulting in ambulances being diverted from hospitals on a fairly regular basis in Metro Toronto, just as in the very similar situation in Hamilton which I brought up some months ago?

Hon. Mr. Timbrell: Mr. Speaker, when he takes a look at the report I tabled today, the honourable member will find that one of the observations it makes with respect to the emergency department at the East General is that it seems to be, for its size and location -- I am paraphrasing now -- handling more than its share.

Mr. McClellan: "Overcrowded" is the word.

Hon. Mr. Timbrell: I will come to that too. I took a number of hours to read the report; the honourable member has had about 20 minutes.

Mr. McClellan: That is your fault; not mine.

Mr. Foulds: You are a slow reader.

Hon. Mr. Timbrell: I just take time to think. That is the basic difference in our approach. We have to look at the question of the distribution of the emergency case load.

2:30 p.m.

Mr. Speaker: Direct yourself to the question, Mr. Minister.

Hon. Mr. Timbrell: I was aware that the honourable member was calling certain of the hospitals about this. I have to tell him, first of all, that no hospital turns away anybody who presents himself at its emergency department, including the ones the member called. Nobody is turned away.

Mr. Smith: Nobody is turned away? The ambulance is turned away.

Hon. Mr. Timbrell: Secondly, the law that requires an ambulance attendant to take a person whose life is in danger to the nearest facility still prevails. Such persons are not going to be denied.

There is no question that certain of the emergency departments have pressures on them. A number of them have been updated in the last couple of years. One of the recommendations in this review of the Toronto East General is that its emergency facility should be updated; it was improved a few years ago with the addition of a 10-bed observation unit. They make further recommendations for improving the physical plant and expanding the availability of ambulatory care programs.

It would be wrong to leave the impression unchallenged that people are being denied entrance to the emergency facilities if they arrive on the scene or are taken there and are in a condition that is life-threatening. In cases where they are not, in central dispatch they do try to even the load as much as they can among the hospitals in Metropolitan Toronto that have emergency departments, and of course not all hospitals have emergency departments.

Mr. Smith: Is the minister not aware that what happens is that the emergency department calls the ambulance service and books itself out of service for several hours at a time, or for an evening shift or whatever?

Is the minister also not aware that it is not just the Toronto East General where this is happening? At Humber Memorial Hospital, for instance, they do not like to book themselves out of service but they have to from time to time, and currently one out of seven of their active treatments beds is occupied by a chronic patient who should not be there. At North York General Hospital they also have had to book themselves out of service from time to time.

Does the minister not realize that this means ambulances carrying ill people will have to take these people to hospitals where perhaps their doctors do not practise or perhaps their cases are not known? Does this not indicate to the minister a very serious discrepancy in terms of the number of doctors practising in any given place or the number of emergency facilities available, as well as a serious discrepancy in the number of beds available?

Does the minister not admit that a situation where emergency departments are repeatedly booking themselves out of service to ambulances is a very serious one indeed and is not exemplary of what he likes to call the best health care system in the world?

Hon. Mr. Timbrell: I do not think there is any doubt about that. Even the report I tabled today makes the observation again that we have one of the best hospital systems in the world.

First of all, not every hospital has an emergency department; so it is entirely possible, to use the honourable member's example, that one very well might be taken to a hospital where his physician does not practise, because the physician may be very well practising in a hospital that does not have an emergency department in the first place.

Secondly, I have already indicated that it is my understanding, from discussions with my staff and a number of the hospitals, that of the people who take themselves to hospital -- do not forget that not everybody goes to the emergency by public transit, so to speak; i.e., ambulance -- nobody is turned away.

Third, it is my understanding that the legal requirement on an ambulance driver to take a person whose life is in danger to the nearest facility still prevails, and such persons are not turned away.

I accept that a number of facilities get overtaxed. We try, within the bounds of our operating and capital budgets, to recognize that as much as possible several hospitals have already expanded their emergency departments, and several others are in the process; in fact, I anticipate that the Toronto East General will be one of them in the next couple of years.

But let us not leave the impression unchallenged that people are being denied care in life and death situations, because such is not the case.

Mr. McClellan: Supplementary, Mr. Speaker: In dealing specifically with the problems identified at the Toronto East General Hospital, does the minister concede the difficulties within the emergency department identified in this report are attributed by the authors of the report to a shortage of acute medical beds, and specifically to the fact that there are approximately 130 patients in acute wards who should more properly be in long-term institutions? What does he intend to do about that?

Second, what does he intend to do about the recommendations for the opening of an ambulatory care unit run by family practitioners, again to take pressure off the emergency department at that particular hospital? Finally, could he comment on the applicability of these two suggestions to other hospitals within Metropolitan Toronto, because I suspect they have general application?

Hon. Mr. Timbrell: I do not know whether they have general application, Mr. Speaker, because every hospital has a different range of specialties available to it. I have mentioned the fact that some of the hospitals do not have emergency departments. For instance, Mount Sinai Hospital down the street here does not have an emergency department. There are two across the street at Toronto General Hospital and the Hospital for Sick Children. Certainly I would anticipate we will see plans develop for improvements in emergency departments.

I would point out to the member again that if he were to read the whole report he would find they do make mention of the fact there was a recent rather significant capital program at the Toronto East General Hospital to the extent of -- I think I am correct -- about $23 million, which involved the addition of, I think, in excess of 50 acute care beds.

Ms. Bryden: They are not yet open.

Hon. Mr. Timbrell: The honourable member is quite right. Fifteen are not yet open, because they cannot get the nursing staff to operate them.

In addition to what is there, I should point out that in recent months we have been able to get close to 30 of the longer-term-care patients out of Toronto East General Hospital due to additional beds in existing nursing homes. Above that, as I reminded the House recently, we approved the conversion of more than 200 beds to chronic care at the Providence Villa and Hospital, which is very near the Toronto East General Hospital.

With time, that decision and the conversion of those beds to chronic care will start to help the Toronto East General Hospital to relieve the pressure there, as will more than 200 beds, the bulk of which are chronic and rehabilitative -- about half, I guess -- at Scarborough Centenary Hospital, plus a 300-bed hospital at the L'Amoreaux site in Scarborough, to be run by the Salvation Army. At least 100 of those beds are likely to be chronic care.

That is not to say we cannot do more. Perhaps there are other specific things. I have had discussions with several hospital staff members in the east end who have certain ideas about things they could do for the long-range future. We will be looking at those as well.

The report does not deal with the things that have already been done; they are significant.

Mr. Van Horne: Mr. Speaker, I would like to go back to the response the minister gave our leader on the Humber Memorial Hospital. It is our understanding that an administrator, in making reference to the problem, suggested the real nub of the issue last summer was the shortage of active treatment beds, and that last summer was wild but this summer it is going to be even worse. Can the minister give us any assurance that the active treatment bed situation at Humber Memorial Hospital will be better this summer?

Hon. Mr. Timbrell: Mr. Speaker, I have it directly from the administrator, the chairman and vice-chairman of the board -- and indeed the whole board, which I called in at one point last fall -- that at this point last year, based on a review of utilization of the hospital in the previous couple of summers, they made certain decisions with respect to the numbers of beds that would be staffed and available. They found by midsummer that the utilization of their hospital was quite different from what they had experienced in previous years. In fact that appears to be happening system-wide, for whatever reasons.

The utilization of acute care beds is not dropping in the summertime as it traditionally used to and this is causing some problems. So it was not a case that they were ordered to close X, Y or Z number of beds. They made a decision based on a review of past utilization. The past utilization trends did not prevail and they found by midsummer that they had to try to gear up. Of course they had based their entire holiday schedule and everything else about the hospital on that review. But they geared up --

Mr. Smith: Quote, "Last summer was wild but this one is going to be worse," unquote.

Hon. Mr. Timbrell: Mr. Speaker, I do not know why the Leader of the Opposition hates to let anybody answer a question. He loves to listen to himself.

They geared up as quickly as they could to put the beds back into service.

2:40 p.m.


Mr. Cassidy: Mr. Speaker, I have a new question for the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations (Mr. Walker). I would like to know whether he will be a bit more eager in trying to protect the people who suffered as a result of the collapse of Co-operative Health Services of Ontario than he has been in the case of the investors in Re-Mor?

Has the minister had a chance to familiarize himself with the sequence of events that has led Mr. Peter Clarke, the fired general manager of Co-operative Health Services, to take a $633,000 profit from the sale of property that was initially put into the name of Co-operative Health Services and subsequently has been the subject of legal wrangling as to whether or not it should belong to him or to the company that has gone bankrupt?

Has he also familiarized himself with the fact that his predecessor, the former Minister of Community and Social Services (Mr. Drea), called Co-operative a scam, and said specifically that it was financially unsound and had entered into legally improper investments that would help to lead to its bankruptcy?

In view of all those circumstances, and in view of the fact that the receiver has now entrusted the matter to the courts, in an effort to reserve that $600,000 profit that is in Mr. Clarke's pocket until it can be established whether the money should go to Mr. Clarke or to the 140,000 people who suffered from the bankruptcy, will the government now bring in legislation that will reserve that money until the legal wrangling is over, so that those people who suffered from the collapse will not lose that major portion of what should be coming to them?

Hon. Mr. Walker: Mr. Speaker, I will look into that very question. I will say that in essence it was the province that pulled the plug on Co-operative Health Services of Ontario, placed it into bankruptcy and thereby preserved, hopefully in sufficient time, as much as possible of the assets that remain in this particular company.

It hits rather close to home because my own parents-in-law were members of the plan, so I have had rather intimate knowledge of it over the last while. I will say that the one thing that was very surprising in all this was that the money that was lost was run down over a period of two months. Up until then they had been maintaining proper floats and maintaining a proper degree of liquidity, and that was being continuously supervised on the regular routine basis. What happened in a period of June and July of one year was that practically all the money in the whole place just disappeared, all the money that was lost. That has been creating a regrettable problem; it is a regrettable collapse.

On the point that the honourable member raised I would have to have some more professional advice from the financial institutions branch, but I will certainly seek that information and relay that to the member.

Mr. Cassidy: Does the minister see the urgency of this question? The fact is that once that money is paid out to Mr. Clarke, he has said he intends to use it to pay off other personal debts that he may have. The result of that would be that $500,000 or more, which is equal to the remaining assets of Co-operative Health, may be funnelled away from the company and put into Mr. Clarke's own personal pocket. In fact, that is what is now occurring, unless there is legislation here to stop those transactions, to freeze the funds until the courts establish who should get them.

Why will the minister not come to the defence of the people in Co-operative Health Services, to keep that money in trust until it can be established who it belongs to? Why are they never prepared to come to the benefit of little people who suffer when companies go belly-up here in Ontario?

Hon. Mr. Walker: That just is not the case. When we delete the rhetoric from the question that has been posed, I would merely say the matter is in the hands of a receiver. A receiver is attempting to accrue as much as possible of the continued assets. The courts have dictated the manner in which that will be decided.

The member has introduced an aspect to this that merits an answer. I would like to go back about three paragraphs and tell the member that the answer I made at that moment was that I will elicit the information from our financial institutions branch about the question he has posed, and in response to that question I will provide that information to him.

He has asked how quickly, and I will see to it that he gets that, hopefully, within the next couple of days.

Mr. Cunningham: Supplementary, Mr. Speaker: Is the minister not aware that his own superintendent of insurance was prepared to shut down both this company and its predecessor, Delta Dental Plan, because of its excessive ratio imbalance as per the ministry guidelines, some one year before its ultimate collapse, notwithstanding the fact that the former minister referred to it as being solid as the rock of Gibraltar?

Hon. Mr. Walker: No, Mr. Speaker, I am not aware of that; in fact I believe that was not the case but I will check that out.

Mr. Renwick: Supplementary, Mr. Speaker: Is the minister clear in his mind that, as I read the report of the case, the money has already been paid over to Mr. Clarke and the minister will have to move with immediate speed to introduce legislation here to hold it in trust until the ultimate ownership of those funds is determined?

Hon. Mr. Walker: Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the point the member for Riverdale has made; it is identical, of course, to the point made by the member for Ottawa East (Mr. Roy).


Mr. Cassidy: Mr. Speaker, I have a new question for the Minister of the Environment about the reports of dioxin in fish in the Great Lakes, not just in Lake Ontario.

On May 26 the minister told this House there was nothing at this stage that would indicate any cause for alarm. He then assured the House that if there were any indication of any cause for alarm from dioxin in fish in the Great Lakes we would proceed to ban fishing or take some appropriate action.

In view of the reports that have now come from the United States Environmental Protection Agency, and in view of the minister's own statements that the government has established levels of 22 parts per trillion of dioxin found in fish in Lake Ontario, would the minister now agree there is cause for alarm? What action does he intend to take to protect the people of this province against this known carcinogen?

Hon. Mr. Norton: Mr. Speaker, first of all there are a couple of incorrect assumptions in the honourable member's question. I believe he said, if I heard him correctly, that we had established levels of 22 parts per trillion of dioxin in certain fish in Lake Ontario. That, to the best of my knowledge, is not correct. I think the reporter in question -- if the member is relying upon the news media for his information -- showed me certain figures in a confidential American document that had come into his possession, and pointed out a figure of 22 parts per trillion as a level that, under one of two alternative criteria that were examined in that particular document, might raise concerns about health.

I responded by saying we had not detected any levels that high. I did notice in the newspaper report that this somehow came out as saying we had not detected any higher than 22. That was not what I said, and I think the import of those two -- my response and the way in which it appeared in the report in the newspaper -- are somewhat different, in fact quite dramatically different.

I would also suggest the report to which the member refers, that is the document from the EPA, again to the best of my knowledge is not a final report. I have not seen it other than to see a copy in the hands of the reporter. As I understand it, it was a document that was, among other things. examining the question of the health implications of the ingestion of even small quantities of dioxin. There were two different approaches: the one was based on the testing of rats, which came to one conclusion when extrapolated to human beings; the other was taking the American drinking water standard and extrapolating that to fish.

I have no way of knowing, nor do I believe the reporter had any way of knowing, how that extrapolation was conducted. In any event that report, as I understand it only from conversation with the reporter, is a draft internal document of the EPA. I do not know to what extent the final report, when it is completed, will be accepted by the scientific community as establishing valid health standards.

I do not think the responses the member suggests might be appropriate at this time can be based on that document in that condition, when in fact two quite different levels are discussed in that report, one of which would place anything we have found -- as I understand the report -- well within a safe level. If one takes the extrapolation from the drinking water to fish, then it does raise some real concerns. But no one is in a position at this point to know which of those is more valid or whether either will be accepted in the final report.

2:50 p.m.

Mr. Cassidy: Mr. Speaker, the minister is clearly saying there are levels of dioxin found in the ministry's own testing, although he says it is not as high as the 22 parts per trillion quoted in the press. Is the minister not aware his own ministry's report on the health implications of contaminants in fish says quite explicitly that in the case of carcinogens like dioxin no absolutely safe level exists?

In view of that, is the minister saying that despite the findings of his ministry three years ago that there is no absolutely safe level, he is determined there is an acceptable level of cancer which can be tolerated from fish coming out of the Great Lakes and that is the standard he intends to permit, or is he prepared to say there is cause for concern because he has found levels of dioxin? If that is the case, what are the levels of dioxin the minister has found and what is the government going to do about them?

Hon. Mr. Norton: Mr. Speaker, I do not mean this initial response to be treated as facetious by any means. We are discussing a serious subject, but by the same token I could not give the leader of the third party any guarantee there is an absolutely safe way in which to cross the street. There are no absolute guarantees in life. Surely he is realistic enough to understand that and I am not going to pretend there are.

However, if he is asking whether I am saying there are safe levels, I am not saying there are levels that are safe or not safe. In regard to the work that is at present under way, my reference, as I have indicated in the House before, is to raw data and preliminary results. The final results of our tests, as a result of the cross-checking for the round robin testing, are not available to me yet. I expect they will be by the end of this month.

Once those are completed and there has been a comparison of the results with the American research that is going on, and in co-operation with the Canadian government as well, it is our intention to publish a comprehensive report on the results of those tests as triple-checked, along with medical advice in so far as we are able to obtain it. That is being sought and drawn together at this time, so that when the report is available it will contain the best advice we can give in terms of any known medical implications of the levels that have been detected.

Mr. Kerrio: Supplementary, Mr. Speaker: That information supposedly was going to be given to the House by the former minister months ago. I suppose the minister is aware of that.

There is another thing I am concerned about. When the minister is studying acceptable health hazards from dioxin, I wonder whether he is going to look into the synergistic effects of dioxin, DDT, PCBs and mirex mixes in the lake?

If the minister is even going to allow certain concentrations, will the minister consider taking advice from the International Joint Commission's Great Lakes science advisory board, which in 1980 suggested the concentrations of such dangerous compounds be limited to detectable limits of the best available technology because they pose such a great threat to the people in the Great Lakes basin?

We really do not know the interplay. There could be a great deal more danger than we might know from each of these individually. Until we are positive, we should eliminate any we can detect and not talk about safe concentrations.

Hon. Mr. Norton: Mr. Speaker, as far as the human ingestion of any levels from water are concerned, no detectable levels of dioxin, for example, have shown up. I can assure the honourable member that if that were to occur it would be quite a different matter from finding very low detectable levels in certain very limited numbers of fish samples out of the total of a much larger scientific sampling.

If the member is asking whether I will accept advice, I will accept advice from any knowledgeable person who is willing to offer it, and will take it into consideration in trying to reach conclusions on these matters. I am not closed to receiving advice provided it is carefully thought out advice. The question referred to the synergism of all these various, although minute quantities -- nevertheless, in some instances detectable quantities of contaminants in water -- and obviously that is something we have to continue to look at very carefully and try to determine.

If there is any indication, on the basis of the most advanced medical knowledge and on the basis of the most advanced testing technology we have, of any hazard to human health, of course I would not hesitate to act responsibly in the interests of protecting the health of the people of this province. At this time, on the basis of the best medical and other advice I can obtain, I do not believe that kind of action is indicated.

Mr. McClellan: Mr. Speaker, it is starting to sound like asbestos all over again. Is the minister not personally aware of the January 25, 1980, document filed by the EPA with respect to the hazards of TCDD? Specifically, is he not aware of the laboratory testing that has established that animals with doses at least as low as one ten-millionth of a gram of TCDD per kilogram of body weight were susceptible to induced cancer? Is he not aware of the data that indicated TCDD injures or kills animal embryos in doses as low as one billionth of a gram per kilogram of body weight per day? Is he not aware from that same document that the EPA in the United States has accepted it as scientifically valid that humans are as susceptible to these effects as those animals which appeared in the tests?

If he has not seen that material, will he kindly make himself familiar with it so that he will come to the only rational conclusion, which is that there is no safe level for TCDD in fish? If he has detected any amounts of TCDD in fish, he has a moral obligation as minister to make the results of that testing available and public immediately so that citizens can take whatever action they need to protect themselves and their families.

Hon. Mr. Norton: If I recall correctly, I believe the honourable member is referring to Brett's tests on rats. If he were to take those results, based upon the body weight comparisons to which he referred, I think he would find that is part of the same information that is being used in this draft document his leader referred to as one of two ways in which the question of tolerable levels is being approached in the EPA document. From those data they do extrapolate to human consumption based on body weight, and come up with a figure of, I believe, 22 parts per trillion, and then suggest a safe consumption level of half a pound of fish a week, or some figure like that.

If that is what the member is referring to, yes, I have some familiarity with that, but again I don't think even the scientists who are working on the preparation of the draft document upon which his leader is relying in his question would come to the same conclusion he has, which is that there are no safe levels. That may ultimately be the conclusion of this exercise within the medical and scientific community, but I don't think people who are much more medically and scientifically trained than either I or the member have reached that conclusion yet.

In the meantime we are working to try to establish what levels may exist in our environment. We don't know, nor does the member know, what the existing background levels might be prior to any injection of contaminants from industrial sources, for example. As soon as we have completed that information and can pull together the best medical information we have, as we will shortly, we will release that information to the public, share it completely in the context of the best knowledge that is available --

3 p.m.

Mr. McClellan: The minister should take his time. We have learned from asbestos how to deal with these problems.

Hon. Mr. Norton: I know, Mr. Speaker, that I should not respond to interjections, but I do think those of us in this Legislature, when we have information, must bear a degree of responsibility to share it openly and freely with the public, along with the very best advice we can give, and not to respond in an unnecessarily alarming way with a little bit of information without giving full and complete information if it is available.


Mr. O'Neil: Mr. Speaker, my question has to do with the dumping of radioactive waste in the vicinity in the Bancroft area, and it is directed to the Minister of the Environment.

Since I have been told within the last week that the Atomic Energy Control Board is only an active agent for a federal-provincial task force concerning this dumping -- in other words, that approval has to come from both the province and the federal government -- I wonder whether the minister can tell me what the present situation is as to plans to dump that radioactive waste in the Bancroft area. Could I also ask him whether any pressure has been exerted on him by the Honourable Paul Cosgrove or the member for Scarborough North (Mr. Wells) to get rid of that stuff from their ridings?

Hon. Mr. Norton: Mr. Speaker, I can tell the honourable member that although the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs (Mr. Wells) thinks there certainly has, in the relatively short time I have been in the ministry pressure has not been brought to bear on me by anyone other than perhaps the member for Hastings-Peterborough (Mr. Pollock). He obviously has a very direct interest and concern in this matter on behalf of his constituents, and it has been a matter for constant and ongoing communication between him and me.

The problem, of course, is that, contrary to whatever information the member may have, I am advised I do not have any decision-making authority in this matter. As has been indicated before, it is correct that there was some consultation on this matter at the staff level in the ministry. I believe it has also been indicated that there was some communication with federal counterparts by persons in the Legislature who have a particular interest because of constituency involvement and so on. But I do not believe that if I were to stand here today and say it ought not to go in there it would make one whit of a difference.

I have indicated, and would still maintain, that on the basis of the best advice I can get on the matter, the level of contamination in the soil is so low as not to constitute a threat. I said before that it may have the effect of reducing the ambient radiation in that particular area from the mine tailings, which have, although perhaps not a hazardous level, a higher level of radiation than the soil.

Mr. O'Neil: If the minister were to speak to his people I think he could certainly put a stop to this. But I will ask this: Since many people are very upset about this -- not only the residents of the area but a lot of municipal people and even the past member of the Legislature, Clarke Rollins -- I wonder if I could have the minister's comments on a recent letter that was sent to the Honourable Marc Lalonde and the Honourable Paul Cosgrove from Mr. Jennekens, who is president of the AECB, in which he states:

"However, it is evident that we must not cease our efforts in the Bancroft area, which is of considerable natural beauty. There is a clear obligation on the part of the federal and the provincial governments, acting in consultation with county and township authorities, to establish a comprehensive remedial action program covering the abandoned tailings areas previously operated by uranium mining companies which have long since ceased operations in the Bancroft area."

I ask the minister whether he will not intervene, since it is his people who are on this joint commission, to put a stop to this, to tell them himself that he does not want that material dumped in the Bancroft area. If the minister is saying it is not harmful, why is he taking it out of Scarborough? Why does he not put it somewhere else in that riding or take it down to his own riding?

Hon. Mr. Norton: There are many times when I wish there could be what we might call an opposition day in which the people on this side of the House could ask questions of those on the other side. If I were in such a position, I would be interested to know just what communication the member for Quinte might have had with Mr. Cosgrove on this matter. If he is so deeply concerned, he might well choose to communicate with his federal Liberal Minister of the Environment, who he acknowledges has a very keen interest in this matter.

I have not seen the memo to which the member refers. Mr. Cosgrove does not necessarily share his memos with me. Obviously he does see an advantage from time to time in sharing his memos with the honourable member.

I point out once and for all that there is a difference between ministry staff working in co-operation with federal staff and my ministry or this government having the decision-making responsibility. I have tried to make that distinction and, if the member thinks about it, he can understand that distinction.

If the member would like to ask that question again, he might face in the direction of Ottawa and raise it with Mr. Cosgrove. He may have more influence in this than I. To try to suggest that the provincial government has the decision-making authority in this instance is barking up the wrong tree.

Mr. O'Neil: On a point of privilege, Mr. Speaker: Just so the minister will be aware of it, I did not get a copy of that memo from the federal minister; I got it from Mr. Jennekens, who is with the Atomic Energy Control Board.

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

Mr. Charlton: Supplementary, Mr. Speaker: Regarding this situation in Bancroft, will the minister tell us why his ministry staff are telling people there that there is nothing the Ontario Ministry of the Environment can do, because the AECB has exclusive authority, while on the other hand the minister makes a very uncategorical statement to the press that, after the soil is moved to Bancroft, there will be no further movement of anything else to that site. If the minister does not have any authority, how can he make a statement like that?

Hon. Mr. Norton: There is an erroneous assumption involved in that question, Mr. Speaker. The question I was asked -- and I do not recall that it was necessarily asked by the press; I thought it was in the House, but it might have been by the press outside the House -- was, "Does the provincial government have any plans for developing a waste disposal site?" Clearly, there was no reference in that question to radioactive waste.

I made it clear in my response that we had no jurisdiction over the question of radioactive waste, but I could assure them that we had no plans to develop a waste disposal site in that area. I could not speak for all the municipalities there, because municipalities from time to time do have to look for waste disposal sites for their domestic waste. At that time, they would require some involvement with my ministry.

In responding to that question, I did not intend to imply, nor did I imply, that we had any jurisdiction over radioactive waste disposal at this time.

Mr. Pollock: Supplementary, Mr. Speaker: The mayor of Scarborough went on record as opposing the placement of this radioactive soil in a sanitary landfill site. Does that indicate to the minister that the soil is not dangerous?

Hon. Mr. Norton: Mr. Speaker, I have received opinions from people who are much more expert than I in the area of radioactive waste, particularly in this instance of very low levels of contamination. My conclusion is not formed as a result of the opinion expressed by the mayor of Scarborough. I do not wish to offend the mayor, but my opinion is based upon more expert advice than I suspect he could offer me on this subject.

3:10 p.m.


Ms. Bryden: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Minister of Labour.

In view of the report in this morning's Globe and Mail that female players on teams competing in an international soccer tournament sponsored by the Canadian Youth Soccer Association later this month will not be permitted to play in this tournament, will the minister clarify whether this kind of discrimination will continue to be allowed under the new Human Rights Code contained in Bill 7? If so, will he undertake to amend that bill to make it clear that discrimination in sports on the basis of sex will be clearly outlawed?


Hon. Mr. Elgie: Mr. Speaker, the member for Scarborough West (Mr. R. F. Johnston) apparently wanted to join a girls' soccer team. Is that what the applause was all about?

I am sure the member for Beaches-Woodbine (Ms. Bryden) well knows that the particular case referred to in the paper today falls within the realm of the Canadian Human Rights Commission and not the Ontario Human Rights Commission. She also well knows the Supreme Court of Canada has said on two occasions that our human rights commission does not have jurisdiction in such matters.

As to whether the new code addresses those issues, that is a matter we can discuss in committee.

Ms. Bryden: In view of the fact that the sponsoring organization receives public funds directly or indirectly, can the minister discuss with them this discrimination and see whether a change can be made and, if necessary, see that there is a change in the Human Rights Code as well so that it does not happen again?

Hon. Mr. Elgie: That is a very interesting point, but the member has overlooked my point, namely, that the particular matter she referred to falls within the jurisdiction of the Canadian Human Rights Commission.

Ms. Copps: Supplementary, Mr. Speaker: In an effort to cover the loophole that currently exists in the Ontario human rights legislation, will the minister assure the House that he will propose an amendment to include services such as athletic activities and facilities and that he will extend those provisions of the code to people under the age of 18 so that the new Human Rights Code will cover all the people of Ontario?

Hon. Mr. Elgie: Mr. Speaker, those are matters that may indeed be covered by the present code, and they can be discussed directly. The member can put her opinion very clearly and have that view questioned, along with mine and other members', at the time of the hearing on this matter.


Mr. Shymko: Mr. Speaker, seeing that the Minister of the Environment is so popular today, I think I will join my colleagues with a question. My question concerns the air pollutants being discharged by a number of companies in the Junction triangle area in Toronto's west end.

For years now the residents of High Park and the surrounding community have been subjected to extremely unpleasant odours emanating from a number of industries in the Junction triangle. This area is bounded by Bloor, Dupont and Dundas Streets and Lansdowne Avenue. The physical makeup of the area is a combination of industry and single-family homes.

Will the minister, in conjunction with the Minister of Labour, assure the people of High Park and the surrounding area, and the employees of these companies, that (a) the ministry guidelines are stringent enough to prevent health problems, (b) the guidelines are being complied with and (c) the people living and working in the area will not suffer either short-or long-term health effects from the chemicals being discharged into the air by these companies?

Hon. Mr. Norton: Mr. Speaker, the concern the honourable member expresses with respect to any possible health implications of the emissions in that community already have been the subject of considerable concern on the part of my ministry and the ministries of Labour and Health.

The only established standards now existing, that I am aware of, relate to occupational health and safety and the levels at which exposure under those circumstances would be regarded as safe. I can assure the member that any levels that currently exist in the Junction triangle are well below those levels.

The further concern is what effect longer-term exposure at very low levels might have. There is no absolutely certain view medically on that now, although it is believed the levels are not medically harmful.

There are three companies in that community which, I suppose, are principal sources of the unpleasant odours. They are at present under orders from the ministry or under various controls. To a large extent they have been co-operative, with the exception of one that has one appeal of an order from the ministry under way. That has yet to be finally resolved.

I can assure the member we will continue to monitor that situation carefully. We will continue to seek further views from the medical community in terms of any possible risk, even though none is believed to exist at present. We will also continue to work to reduce the levels of emissions that are there at present.

Mr. Shymko: The minister mentioned three companies. One of them, the Anchor Cap and Closure Corporation, was issued a control order in 1978 which the company has yet to comply with. On May 22, 1981, Dr. J. McEwan of the Ministry of Labour stated: "Our medical advisers in the ministry have attempted to assess this aspect of the matter but are hampered by the lack of specific knowledge in the scientific literature." He continued by saying: "It is not possible to state whether minor decrements to health could result from long-term residence in such an environment."

Will the minister do everything within his power to expedite that specific company's compliance with the control order of 1978 at the earliest possible time, considering that there has been two and a half years of delay in complying with the order? That is totally unacceptable to the people in the community whose health and peace of mind are of the utmost importance.

Hon. Mr. Norton: I suppose the simple answer to that is yes. However, I point out that to a large extent that is exactly what we have been doing.

One portion of the order issued in 1978 was complied with very co-operatively by Anchor Cap and Closure. However, there was a second part of that order which it chose to attack and appeal. That appeal has not yet been resolved. There is little I can do while the matter is under appeal. I can assure the member I am optimistic about the outcome of that and we will act promptly as soon as we know the results.


Mr. Nixon: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker: Perhaps you are responsible for this. Do you recall the thoughtful taxpayers installing a water-chilling apparatus in this building at a cost of several hundred thousand dollars? It was supposed to make the atmosphere somewhat more conducive to attention and careful work. How come it is so hot in here? Why can we not cool it off?

Hon. Miss Stephenson: It is those lights.

Mr. Nixon: Oh, they are on every day.

Mr. Speaker: I sympathize with the member, but I ask him for some sympathy having regard to what I am wearing. I do not have an answer, but I will endeavour to find out.



Mr. O'Neil: Mr. Speaker, I wish to table a petition signed by 344 citizens from the riding of Quinte and surrounding areas who are objecting to the dumping of radioactive waste from Scarborough into the Bancroft area. These residents feel that the long-term effects of this action may have serious repercussions and that the Minister of the Environment should find an alternative solution.

These are added to the petition presented by the member from the Bancroft area, the member for Hastings-Peterborough (Mr. Pollock), on Friday.

3:20 p.m.



Hon. Mr. Timbrell moved, seconded by Hon. Mrs. Birch, first reading of Bill 113, An Act to amend the Public Hospitals Act.

Motion agreed to.

Mr. Foulds: Mr. Speaker, since the minister made no statement on the previous bill, and I do not believe the opposition critics have been supplied with the compendium of information that is supposed to accompany such bills, I wonder whether the minister will rectify that situation.

Hon. Mr. Timbrell: Mr. Speaker, I thought I had covered that in my statement at the beginning of the proceedings today and that, in effect, the report meets that requirement.

Mr. Foulds: By way of clarification, does the minister then consider the report the compendium of information?

Mr. Speaker: Is that agreeable?



Mr. Roy moved, seconded by Mr. Boudria, first reading of Bill 114, An Act respecting French Language Services in Ontario.

Motion agreed to.

Mr. Roy: Mr. Speaker, this bill places a duty on the government of Ontario to provide, as of right, public service in the French language to the citizens of Ontario, subject to certain conditions set out in the bill.

The bill also establishes the office of the French language service co-ordinator and the language service board to aid in improving the availability of French language services in Ontario.

You will recall, Mr. Speaker, that this bill was first introduced a couple of years ago. Bill 89, as it was at that time, received the approval of the Legislature, including the approval of the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs (Mr. Wells); unfortunately, it was viciously vetoed by the Premier (Mr. Davis) and never came up for third reading.

I am presenting the bill again, hoping that the Legislature will take a more progressive view of this, especially in the light of the fact that the Conservative candidate in the last election in my riding, Omer Deslauriers, said he would present the same bill. I am trying to assist him as well in putting the bill forward one more time.

Monsieur le président, cela me fait plaisir de présenter une autre fois le projet de loi 89, comme de raison on va avoir un nouveau numéro cette fois.

Ce projet de loi oblige le gouvernement de l'Ontario à assurer le droit aux services publics en français dans la province de l'Ontario sous réserve de certaines conditions énoncées dans le texte.

Ce projet de loi établit aussi le poste de coordonnateur des services de langue française ainsi que le Conseil des services de langue française afin d'améliorer la disponibilité des services en langue française en Ontario.

Je voudrais faire référence au fait que ce projet de loi avait reçu l'approbation de la majorité des membres de la Législature en 1978 mais malheureusement avait reçu un veto du Premier ministre de la Province et le projet de loi n'avait pas procédé plus avant.

J'espére que dans l'avenir la Province, c'est-à-dire la Législature, va accepter ce projet de loi et je le présente aussi au nom du parti conservateur, Monsieur le président, vous allez comprendre cela, car Omer Deslauriers, allait présenter ce genre de législation.

Mr. Speaker: Order.

Mr. Foulds: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order: The previous speaker was simply trying to outline the purpose of the bill in both English and French, and I am disturbed that you would rise to your feet to interrupt him while he was giving the explanation in French.

Mr. Speaker: At that particular point, he had departed from his explanation of the bill, in my opinion.


Hon. Mr. Wells: Mr. Speaker, I wish to table the answers to questions 63, 68, 76, 83, 112, 117, 118 and 136 and the interim answer to questions 103 to 111 standing on the Notice Paper. [See Hansard for Friday, June 19.]



Mr. MacQuarrie, on behalf of Hon. Mr. McMurtry, moved second reading of Bill 59, An Act to amend the Fire Marshals Act.

Mr. Nixon: Mr. Speaker, does the parliamentary assistant want to make some statement of introduction to the bill?

Mr. MacQuarrie: Mr. Speaker, in essence, the bill provides the legislative framework to permit the establishment of a uniform and comprehensive provincial fire code governing fire safety standards. I think the bill is straightforward, and I hope it will receive easy treatment.

Mr. Nixon: Mr. Speaker, I have a few comments to make in connection with the bill. I simply want to say, as the member for Brant-Oxford-Norfolk, that I have a special concern particularly at the delay of the introduction of this bill.

Hon. Mr. Ashe: It is here now.

Mr. Nixon: The interjection from the Minister of Revenue, who as usual is over-eager to participate, is singularly out of place in this connection, because I have before me the transcript of the verdict of the coroner's jury dated January 13, 1975, looking into the deaths of William Aulsebrook, John Cubitt, William Duncan, Ronald Marsh and Arthur Cole, all of the town of Paris in that constituency, who were asphyxiated or burned to death as residents of the New Royal Hotel in the town of Paris.

I can recall very well the shock that this disaster had on the community, and naturally the reverberations even came into this chamber, with questions being asked by myself and others as to the inadequacies of the inspection system. The New Royal is a licensed premises, and it seemed to be the prime responsibility of the liquor inspectors as to whether the residents were properly protected in the event of fire.

I do not want to comment on the capability of the liquor inspector concerned. I suppose it is partly irrelevant to draw to your attention, Mr. Speaker, that he was the principal spokesman for the Conservative Party in the various election campaigns in which I had the honour to be the Liberal candidate.

He was the gentleman, when the Conservative candidate could not bring him or herself to appear at public meetings, who would appear as the principal spokesman for the Progressive Conservative Party. That does not necessarily dismiss him as completely incompetent.

I do not want to make a joke about this because he was the person, along with the other inspectors responsible to the Liquor Licence Board of Ontario, who allowed the situation to go on in this particular hotel which resulted in these deaths.

I cannot blame the individuals concerned. I do blame the inadequacies of the law of Ontario. That is why I say I am deeply concerned about the delay. I simply say this was an important case in which there was a serious loss of life and where there were clear recommendations from the coroner's jury about actions that should be taken and could only be taken by the government of the day to correct the situation.

3:30 p.m.

Recommendation number five from that coroner's report is as follows: "That a special committee be established to study and recommend improvements in the relationship, in lines of communication, in lines of authority, in defining responsibilities and in securing cooperation between those various authorities having jurisdiction over structural, electrical, fire safety, health and licensing matters as related to hotels."

The evidence before the coroner's jury was frighteningly clear that there were no clear lines of responsibility. It was thought at the time that the government would take action without delay to correct what really was a dangerous and, in fact, lethal situation.

I draw to your attention as well, Mr. Speaker, something you probably are very well aware of, and that is a similar fire that occurred in Hamilton. The fire was in the Wentworth Arms Hotel. Once again it was an older structure, one that had substantial patronage and a number of permanent residents, and it resulted in the death of five citizens of the Hamilton area.

The coroner's jury was convened on October 2, 1978. Its first recommendation was that all fire-prevention inspections in the province should be carried out under the general supervision of the Ontario fire marshal's office.

These were reasonable and quite apparent recommendations, which called for the sorts of changes that would not have permitted the kinds of tragic losses of life to occur that have been a part of our experience in this jurisdiction.

The thing I find most irritating is that it took a couple of fires in Las Vegas, which everybody saw on television, and of course the tragic loss of life at the Inn on the Park more recently, to activate the Solicitor General (Mr. McMurtry) to take the steps that culminated in the introduction of the bill.

I really feel it is a tragic loss of our responsibility that even though these clear recommendations came from coroner's juries in Paris and Hamilton -- those are the two of which I have direct knowledge, whose transcripts have been provided to me -- they were not followed up in an effective way and we did not have the kind of fire inspection that would have avoided the loss of life which has occurred more recently.

No one can explain how the owners of these properties can permit the fire extinguishing system and the fire warning system to go out of service. They can be held responsible and culpable. But, of course, all of us are even more responsible in that we have a system that supposedly enforces inspection in such a way that owners of hotel properties cannot operate if they are not properly protecting the residents of their hotels.

There have been a number of questions in the House, as you are aware, Mr. Speaker, in which the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Smith) and others have put the direct question to the ministers responsible. The present Minister of Consumer and Commercial Affairs (Mr. Walker), answering on May 4 of this year, just said, "The unlicensed hotels are not under the Hotel Fire Safety Act and that is the rationale" for the government's position.

In other words, the Hotel Fire Safety Act applies only to hotels that are licensed under the Liquor Licence Board of Ontario. So the inspectors who go in to see whether the dancing girls have their costumes properly arranged and that sort of thing are also the ones who are supposed to go and test the fire warning system and so on. It really is absolutely ludicrous and tragic, as we have seen in the light of these recent events.

The Minister of Revenue, who is always in his place and always prepared to participate in these debates, even though without sufficient knowledge to make his comments useful on all occasions, is in this instance right again. At least the bill is before the House now. It is simply a structure by which we enable the government to move forward through its proper agencies to establish a hotel fire safety code, which should surely be a substantial improvement.

The Solicitor General, who is not in his place but whose parliamentary assistant is here, has indicated publicly that it is his intention to tighten this up in such a way that the sorts of problems we have experienced in the past cannot occur again.

But, naturally, we have felt that our coroner's jury system was practically infallible, that the citizens would investigate the circumstances pertaining to local tragedies involving the loss of life and make recommendations that responsible governments of the day would then review and implement where their judgement felt these recommendations were proper. I would certainly say, in this instance, the Solicitors General over the years -- it has not always been the present minister; it just seems that way -- have had ample opportunity to improve our fire safety regulations and statutes. They have not seen fit to do so, and in some respects all of us can be held responsible for the very serious, in fact tragic, effects of those circumstances.

I know the bill itself is going to be sent to a committee so that members of the Legislature will have an opportunity, I trust, to have those who are versed and knowledgeable in these matters come in and talk to them about the direction this tightening up of fire safety regulations will take. I personally believe that even the publicity associated with that review will be helpful. We should certainly serve notice to all those people responsible for public premises, particularly hotels, that we will not stand for any laxness in this connection. If it involves closing up the premises while they come up to standard, then that is the way it must be.

It is interesting that after the fire at the Inn on the Park the fire inspection officers of Metropolitan Toronto visited most of the major hotels. There was certainly a good deal of scurrying around to see that fire warning systems and prevention systems were in operation. Normally one would expect that hotel facilities in a metropolitan area where there are large numbers of people using them would be in good shape, and I think in general that was found, in that they came up to the standards approved perhaps a decade ago. Unfortunately, we now know those standards are not good enough and that these matters are going to have to be substantially improved.

Perhaps just as serious are those older structures in the smaller communities of Ontario where the residents are fairly permanent. Often they are using the facilities as a permanent home and oftentimes the cost of such a residence is relatively low. Because of lack of sufficient revenue, the hotelkeepers feel they cannot come up to the standards we are demanding. We have to make it clear, naturally, that there can be no exceptions and that the kinds of tragedies I have brought to your attention, Mr. Speaker, will never again be repeated in this jurisdiction.

I close by condemning the government for its delay in bringing forward even this simple bill, because it is simply the bare outline of a structure that will give the various authorities under the jurisdiction of the Solicitor General the responsibility to expand and at the same time make more restrictive in many ways the fire code that has in the past been so dangerously, fatally and tragically lax in this jurisdiction.

Mr. Breaugh: Mr. Speaker, I want to speak in support of this bill. I hope I am doing so on the clear understanding that the bill itself will go out to a committee, because I know there are a fairly large number of groups in the province who will want to speak to the specifics of this particular bill.

We have some reservations about it. In part, as the previous speaker said, it looks like a rather simple piece of legislation. In fact, it is a very complicated piece of legislation. One of my concerns is that much of the mechanics of the bill will be done by regulation. The provisions of the bill speak to that. That is an unfortunate principle, although there is a good side in that it allows the government of the day some flexibility to change regulations from time to time and in a bill of this nature, which is very complicated in the detail work, there is a necessity to keep that flexibility in the hands of the government so that it might be updated. It also means in this House we are left debating the principle of the bill in general terms, and I hope the arguments will occur when the bill goes out to committee.

We have also just completed the estimates of the Solicitor General, not very successfully, but they did eventually grind to a halt. On that occasion we had an opportunity to go at some length into the problems inherent in this piece of legislation, the reasons it is now before the House, and all the tragedies which have occurred in various municipalities in this province. Because we are exposed to the media from the American side, we are also influenced rather heavily by the tragedies that occur in the United States.

3:40 p.m.

One of the saddest things about this bill is the admission that by the time it is implemented almost a full decade will have gone by in the history of this province from the time when people first began to notice, usually through rather dramatic fires and the coroners' inquests that followed them, that there were severe problems in the multitude of building codes, regulations and inspection services.

It takes a long time in this province before one can get the government of Ontario to react to that. It does not seem to have the capacity to provide a ready response to something of that size. In part I suppose the very nature of the bill causes the problem. For example, in this instance it involves inspection by different ministries, involves regulations set one way or another by municipal councils and by the province, and involves invading to a rather significant extent the realm of the corporate sector where profit is the motive and where profit does not always put safety in its proper perspective.

The bill does a lot of things. It does them in a number of ways. The tragedy I would pinpoint is simply that, from the time the need was first identified most clearly about 1974 to 1976 -- and of course the need was there prior to 1974 -- there were several major fires in different parts of the province. They were not in Metropolitan Toronto. Perhaps if those fires had occurred in downtown Toronto hotels where there were lots of media nearby so that lots of exposure would have come from that, this government would have responded in a slightly more expeditious manner. But they were not here. They happened in smaller municipalities.

There was the establishment of a fire code advisory committee in 1976 which, of course, worked its way through a couple of years of recommendations and discussions. In 1979 it was put into the Ontario Gazette and at that point municipal fire departments, municipal councils, people in different ministries began the process that is known around here as public comment.

There has been considerable discussion about the issue of all the specific regulations which may be set, about how retroactive they might be, about how these things might be inspected more thoroughly and about what precisely should be the nature of the changes that should occur. We have had that kind of in-house discussion.

At the same time, there has been reasonable notification to other municipal councils and fire departments in many parts of the province. We should also understand in many parts of the province there is neither the municipal organization nor the full-tilt professional fire department such as we might have in Metropolitan Toronto, but this fire code will apply across the province and in many different circumstances. We are trying to draft a fire code which makes sense in downtown Toronto with high-rise hotels and also makes sense in places like Shining Tree where there is not exactly the same sophisticated response from a firefighting agency.

It is a difficult problem. We feel if it does go to committee, there has been sufficient discussion to date, we have a good framework there, and the provision of putting it out to committee will allow those critical arguments that still have to be resolved to be done in sufficient manner.

I want to conclude by saying one of the principles I enunciated at the beginning holds true this afternoon. I am sure if there were a major hotel fire or a fire in a major apartment building in downtown Toronto, the minister himself would be on the scene promptly seeing what kind of media coverage he could get and attempting to explain to the people of this province that he is doing all he can. But this afternoon when the guts of the bill are before the House, when the nuts and bolts are here, the minister is nowhere to be found. That may point out something we should be aware of, that this bill is nowhere near the brink of being implemented.

In the course of the estimates we had an opportunity to pursue some other elements which are part and parcel of this Fire Marshals Act. It is fine to propose legislation that says there will be a much more sophisticated level of inspection, that there will be details as to how buildings are put up and for the gathering up of the firefighting equipment and all that. It is one thing to put it in legislative form. If one is talking about actually implementing that, one must have the resources to do so. It became clear in the course of the estimates that the ministry does not have those resources at hand. It is now in the process of trying to amalgamate from other ministries people who will do the inspection services, but it does not have the budgetary approval to implement a bill of this nature. In many parts of the province, particularly the northeast and northwest and most rural parts of Ontario, there will be a shift in the level of fire inspection services because there will be a concentration on the metropolitan areas. It will be a tragedy if that is the way this continues.

The minister was fairly frank in the committee. He said he does not always win his arguments about financing in the cabinet. What he is proposing this afternoon in this act to amend the Fire Marshals Act is a dramatic difference in the level of service provided to the people of this province on matters concerning fire safety.

Part and parcel of that is the mechanical work, how we build the buildings and how we regulate and inspect them. Part of it involves an indication of a very clear shift in priorities by the government. It deems those matters to be so important that it will give to them the financial resources necessary to do the job.

In a nutshell, we may have good legislation in front of us this afternoon and it may be eminently supportable in principle and members should vote for it. I believe that is true, but if the government does not change its priorities; if it does not provide the staff to carry out inspection services; if it does not provide firefighting equipment in communities where they do not have it; if it does not move to co-ordinate the services that are currently provided by municipal fire departments and by the fire marshal's office itself in a more systematic and logical manner, the bill will be virtually useless.

The bill is worthwhile. The fact that it goes out to committee provides all those who are concerned the opportunity to reiterate those concerns and to resolve some of the conflicts that still remain. But it may not do anybody any good unless the minister is successful in convincing the cabinet and therefore the government of Ontario that there is a serious problem, which has been clearly identified in many parts of the province with matters respecting fire safety. They require some attention, not just when the television cameras are turned on, but on afternoons like this when the minister and his assistant are not even in their seats.

Mr. Haggerty: Mr. Speaker, I want to address myself to Bill 59, An Act to amend the Fire Marshals Act. In breezing through it, I wondered if it had sufficient teeth which the fire chiefs in Ontario are seeking. From reading it, I am afraid it does not give them the ammunition or the support they want to inspect many old and new buildings in our municipalities, nor do I know if the bill is going to remove the matter of conflicting jurisdiction that has taken place in the past.

I have a brother who is the deputy fire chief in the city of Port Colborne. He is concerned about the area of conflicting jurisdiction related to different institutions such as nursing homes in Ontario. Who should be doing fire inspections? Who should have the final say about the safety of a building based on modern building techniques?

I can recall a nursing home not far from Toronto where there was a number of deaths. The question of final inspection was raised in that case. Should it have been done by the Ministry of Consumer and Commercial Relations, the Ministry of Health or the fire department?

My colleague mentioned the problem of hotel inspections. I can recall a problem brought to my attention by the deputy fire chief and the fire chief of Port Colborne. A new hotel or motel was built in that city and carpeting was installed across the floor and four or five feet up the walls. The man who was looking after the liquor licence asked the fire department to make the final inspection. This put the onus on the local fire department to say whether or not it was safe.

The fire department would not approve the building and there was turmoil for a couple of weeks. The liquor inspector said there was nothing wrong with it. However, carpeting material apparently has some fire resistance. I guess that means one can put a match to it and it will take a certain amount of time before it will spread. But that is on the floor. When it is put on the wall the fire resistance changes and it can go up in a mass of flames very quickly and spread fast. These are areas in which I hope this bill will provide fire prevention and safety.

3:50 p.m.

There were two youngsters fatally burned in a fire in Port Colborne not too long ago. They were in a rental unit. The inspectors of the fire marshal's office said if there had been smoke detectors in that building it could have saved those two lives. Yet there is nothing in this bill that says there should be smoke detectors in every older building and every rental unit.

Under the building code now if one is up three floors one must have them, but I think below three floors one does not require smoke detectors. This is the area in which this bill should put more enforcement, so that we will have regulations to give fire inspectors the opportunity to say, "We are not going to allow this to become a residential unit unless you meet certain requirements."

It makes reference here to the building code of 1974. In the sense I interpret it, anything before that is exempt. I do not think this should be the case. It should be according to the age of the building. If it does not meet fire standards today then it should not be permitted to be used for residential use.

They are more concerned now with going metric in fire departments than about fire prevention and safety. It has been pushed by the Solicitor General, who is in charge of the fire marshal's office. I suggest this is an area that will be very costly. I hope the province does not go metric all the way -- changing the threads for the hose and pumper connections and so on. It is already standardized without going to the metric system.

But the bill does not say that it "shall." It says, "The Lieutenant Governor in Council may make such regulations as are considered advisable or necessary for the purpose of establishing a fire code for Ontario governing fire safety standards for buildings, other structures and premises including, but without limiting the generality of the foregoing, regulations." It gives about seven or eight there.

Then it says, under limitations of application: "The fire code does not apply to a building that is under construction within the meaning of the Building Code Act, 1974." It already says there is an exemption there. When a new building is going up, that is the time there should be proper inspection for fire purposes. One should not wait until the building has been put up to try to enforce some of the regulations, or hope to enforce them, when the code says "may."

This is long overdue. It has been discussed here in the House on a number of occasions by myself and other members concerned about fire safety in Ontario. I do not think the bill is strong enough to give the fire chiefs, the fire prevention officers and the fire inspectors of the different departments sufficient clout to bring about security for those living in apartment buildings and hotels or motels.

Another area of concern, as the previous speaker mentioned, is the cost involved. The cost of inspecting -- say the inspection officers of small fire departments -- will have to be picked up by somebody. I hope it would be by the minister responsible for it, and that we just do not pick out larger communities that can afford a full-time fire inspection officer. I think there is going to have to be an inspection officer from every fire company in every municipality. I suggest we should be looking for a means to help provide some assistance to these municipalities that may have difficulty in funding such a program.

I would not want to see that happen, that assistance would not be available to smaller municipalities, because then we are going to be faced with picking up a newspaper almost every day and seeing a fatality in a fire incident where, if they had the proper inspection, or could afford it, it would never have happened.

I suggest to the parliamentary assistant that the ministry should come forward and say there will be some assistance given to the smaller communities that cannot afford a full-time fire inspection officer. I am deeply concerned about this particular area, because it may be the downfall of this bill if there is not sufficient funding to carry out the intent. The intent is good as it relates to reducing the number of fire deaths in the province and fire prevention.

I think of the five firemen who lost their lives in the eastern part of the province not too long ago. I introduced a private member's bill a year ago, endorsed by all members of the committee, to set aside one day a year as a memorial day for firemen who have given their service and their lives to the community and to the province. I suggest that is an area that would not cost anything but would still give recognition to the firemen, both paid and volunteer, who really do a great job for the residents and people of Ontario. I suggest the parliamentary assistant and the Solicitor General should be moving in this particular area to set aside a memorial day for firemen who have sacrificed their lives for the safety of all residents of Ontario.

Mr. MacQuarrie: There is very little to say by way of reply, Mr. Speaker. As I understand it, the fire code as proposed will complement the building code. The building code, as the member knows, has extensive provisions in it which deal with fire safety and construction. The fire code will apply to buildings that were constructed outside the provisions of the building code; but in addition, the fire code will provide for inspection of all buildings.

Traditionally, fire departments -- in fact, fire chiefs and departments with fire prevention divisions -- have been named as assistants to the fire marshal, and any inspections they carried out --

Mr. Haggerty: They have that power now under section 19 of the act.

Mr. MacQuarrie: They were supposed to carry out inspections under section 19 of the act, and did, in fact, in most municipalities carry out such inspections. But they proceeded on a rather ad hoc basis depending on an individual's expertise and knowledge. What the code proposes is to make consistent the application of a uniform code across the province.

Motion agreed to

Mr. MacQuarrie: I have been requested, Mr. Speaker, to take the bill through second reading. I am sure the Solicitor General would like to be in attendance when the bill is dealt with on third reading.

The Deputy Speaker: Which committee?

Mr. MacQuarrie: I think it should be referred to the committee of the whole House and would so move.

4 p.m.

Mr. Breaugh: No. Mr. Speaker, you will excuse me, but it is my clear understanding that this bill is moving outside to committee -- I would think the justice committee, but I am not sure which one the House leaders have agreed to. I do not mind parliamentary assistants who have a little difficulty with it, but that is the clear understanding that was put to my caucus, and that is acceptable. To have it dealt with in committee of the whole House is not.

Mr. MacQuarrie: I would defer to the member for Oshawa and have the matter referred to the justice committee.

Ordered for standing committee on administration of justice.


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

Mr. Laughren: Mr. Speaker, the minister without many things, but in particular a portfolio, just interjected and suggested I was probably going to oppose this bill. As a matter of fact I am, but the members opposite should understand something. This bill has now been before the House for about two weeks, not in continual debate, but most of the two weeks set aside for legislation has been on this particular bill. If the members opposite think it is simply because of March 19 that this bill is being dragged out so long, or that it is a knee-jerk reaction to oppose a government bill that increases taxes, then they are sadly mistaken. That is not the reason, and they have missed the whole point of the debate coming from this side of the House.

The speakers from both opposition parties have put the message very clearly that it is the nature of the tax we are so opposed to, rather than the fact that it is simply an increase in tax. This government has turned the term ad valorem into a household word, and that is no minor accomplishment.

I know it is very nice to increase revenues in such a way, but there are other ways to increase revenues that the government seems to have overlooked. I will mention a couple of them in a few minutes. The government seems to think it has received a mandate to increase virtually every regressive tax that is in place, and to create some new ones.

The reason this bill has been debated for two weeks, and in a very thorough way, is that the opposition feel we have all been betrayed by this bill. The government has betrayed not just the Legislature, but all the people of Ontario with this particular bill, using this particular kind of tax to increase tax revenues.

We all expected that after the election there would be tax increases. Post-election tax increases are a way of life not just in Ontario but elsewhere too, but this kind of tax increase is what has given us a sense of betrayal.

Secondly, the pronouncements of not only the Premier (Mr. Davis) but any number of cabinet ministers in the past couple of years would certainly have led any of us to believe that this kind of tax would not be imposed on gasoline in Ontario. That is why we have this sense of betrayal. The government members should understand this. I do not intend to repeat all the statements that were made by the Premier and by the cabinet ministers -- that has been detailed very well by previous speakers -- but cabinet minister after cabinet minister, including the Premier, has talked about the need to keep gasoline prices down because of what that does to industry in Ontario, what it does to inflation and what it does to job creation in the province.

We heard all these pronouncements over the last several years, by Ministers of Energy, the Premier and so forth, and then they come right in and do exactly the opposite of what they have been preaching. That is why we can quite accurately accuse the government of having betrayed what it was that it led people to believe would be forthcoming in the way of tax increases. On top of the fact that we in Ontario have the highest personal income taxes in Canada, it takes a lot of nerve to do this to us as well.

Hon. Mr. Sterling: Higher income tax than Quebec?

Mr. Laughren: Yes, Ontario has the highest level of personal taxes of any province in Canada. That is not even debatable as a matter of fact.

Hon. Mr. McCaffrey: Well, that ends that.

Mr. Laughren: That ends that, yes. Unless the member can show me otherwise, it ends that. By the way, when are the Conservative members going to speak on this bill? Are they waiting for us all to finish and then they will get up one after another well into the month of July and put forth their arguments for support of this bill?

Hon. Mr. McCaffrey: Yes.

Mr. Laughren: I have not heard a word, not a word. I do not understand that. It takes a lot for an economic and fiscal dinosaur like John Crosbie to get excited or upset, but this is what he said when the Treasurer of Ontario brought in his budget: "It's a pretty grim concoction, and I can only commiserate with the people of Ontario."

Hon. Mr. McCaffrey: Who said that?

Mr. Laughren: That was John Crosbie, former federal Tory Minister of Finance.

I know there are some government members who would say that Crosbie was just getting even at the Premier and the Treasurer for their comments when he was the federal Minister of Finance, but I know better than that. I know John Crosbie is not at all partisan. He was looking at this budget as an economic and fiscal document and came to the conclusion that it was a grim concoction and that he should offer his commiserations to the people of Ontario.

I must say I have listened to the members quoting the different cabinet ministers and the Premier's statements about increasing gasoline prices and heaping abuse on either Ottawa or Alberta -- and I hear them giving precise quotations -- so I went back and I dug out the quotations too.

The member for Prince Edward-Lennox (Mr. J. A. Taylor) had a juicy quotation. The former Minister of Natural Resources, James Auld, had one. The Minister of Energy (Mr. Welch) had one. And, of course, the Premier had one as well. Those were all people who were heaping abuse on those who would increase the price of gas and oil.

We know now that those were simply crocodile tears and were designed to embarrass other governments. I guess there is no loyalty among thieves. What the Premier and the other cabinet ministers were doing was simply squeezing every political advantage they could out of everything that the federal government or the Alberta government was doing to increase the price of oil and gas.

I would like to hear the Premier, the Treasurer and the Minister of Energy now complain about anything that Alberta or Ottawa does concerning the price of oil and gas. They would be laughed out of the conference rooms, because Ottawa and Alberta would see that the Treasurer and the Premier, or whoever else is in the room, are talking out of both sides of their mouths.

Out of one side of their mouth they are condemning Ottawa and Alberta and crying for Ontario's industrial base, saying that this increase in the price of oil and gas is going to do damage to our competitiveness. That is what they are saying on one side of their mouth. On the other side they are saying: "Stick it to us, Peter," and "Stick it to us, Mr. Lalonde. Every time you raise the price we are going to bemoan the fact but, nevertheless, we are going to be happy deep down because our revenues are going to go up substantially as well."

We could have used Madison Avenue to orchestrate this whole scenario. Once a year, the Treasurer and the Premier and the boys get together and stick it to the Ontario consumers. It is called budget night. This time they did it through an incredibly regressive, inflationary and extremely unfair tax; there is no doubting that at all.

In the long run, I believe the Treasurer and the Premier and the boys are really going to stick it to themselves as much as to anybody else, because they simply will no longer be able to argue with conviction when they are talking to Ottawa or Alberta about any of their policies dealing with oil and gas. They will simply not have conviction. If they pretend they do, as I said earlier, they will be laughed out of the room. There is very little doubt about that.

4:10 p.m.

People all over Ontario feel they were betrayed by the Treasurer with this bill. It certainly exacerbates the already serious increase in the price of fuel. If the Treasurer felt he had to have some substantial revenues, it is not as though there were no alternatives.

A couple of years ago he abolished the succession taxes on estates over $300,000 in value; that is what he did. There were all those estates out there valued at $300,000 to which the succession duty applied. He said, "It is not fair to those poor people," and he removed the succession duty completely from all estates over $300,000. Revenues could have been obtained from there.

There could have been a one per cent increase in the corporation tax, and there could have been an end to the incredible number of tax expenditures, as they have come to be known now, that are really corporate tax write-offs; there could have been an end at least to some of them.

I have always wondered why municipalities and other public bodies are being told they should go to zero-base budgeting, where they start right at the beginning and every program must be justified to get money the next year -- they cannot just build on to what is already there -- while that does not apply to tax expenditures in the private sector. Why do they not go back to zero-base budgeting when it comes to tax expenditures?

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Cureatz): You are working your way back to the bill?

Mr. Laughren: You read me correctly, Mr. Speaker.

If there are revenues to be derived, then surely the gasoline tax is not the appropriate one to raise money. I was using zero-base budgeting of tax expenditures as an alternative to the gasoline tax for raising money. There are other methods -- we have barely scratched the surface potential for resource revenues in the province -- and yet we get this kind of bill.

When I was thinking about the bill and reading it over, the word that kept coming to me was "betrayal." I say over and over again that we have been betrayed by the Treasurer and by the Premier who allowed this bill to come in.

I can imagine how the Conservative caucus was consulted on this. I am sure they were called in and told, "You know there are going to be some tax increases." I can see them all nodding in unison over there. If they fail to nod in unison, somebody throws a fish in their direction and then they nod. Pretty soon there is unanimity in the back benches that there are going to be tax increases.

However, I do not believe for a minute that anybody was told there was going to be a gasoline tax increase of this nature or one so serious. But of all the people in Ontario who should feel betrayed by this increase, there are none more so than those in northern Ontario, where the price and the consumption of gasoline are both higher because of the distances.

I have done some very deep thinking, and it seems as though the more Conservatives there are in the north, the more the north gets the back of the hand. The more Tories are elected in northern Ontario, the less concern there is for northern Ontario.

I can remember 10 years ago, and in some of the intervening years, no budget would ever have been brought down, no throne speech would ever have been read without at least a nod to northern Ontario and some of the specific problems faced in the north. Now that has gone by the board. They have the number of members, I guess, they think are necessary to maintain their majority, and northern Ontario gets the back of the hand. It seems as though the more Tories there are in the north, the less gets done for northern Ontario.

I can think of all the studies that used to be announced for northern Ontario, the development strategies for northeastern and northwestern Ontario, the transportation studies and so on. There was even a fuel study done by Mr. Isbister. Also in the past, licence plate fees were reduced to $10. It used to be that every budget had some reference to and something for northern Ontario. This one had something for northern Ontario too, but it was a substantial tax increase.

Now that this is being done and the north is being ignored so much, it is safe to say that the new Conservative members for the north will simply not last; they will not be around for very long. They are here because they raised people's expectations as to what a government party member could do for that particular part of northern Ontario.

We know that those expectations will never be realized when we see the kind of budget that was brought down this spring. So some of those members will get a rude awakening four years hence. The government will not back them up on the expectations they have raised: they simply cannot do it, and we have seen that already.

What is different about this latest crew is that they are not speaking out. This group is so docile, they are not saying anything. In the past, the northern Tory members were rebels; they spoke out. I can remember the member for Cochrane South (Mr. Pope) and other northern members yelling and screaming about a food terminal for Timmins and about other things.

I can remember the member for Algoma-Manitoulin (Mr. Lane) yelling about the price of gasoline. He had a private member's bill equalizing the wholesale price of gasoline in northern Ontario. What happened to that? His own colleagues blocked it.

There is very little doubt that northern Ontario has been had by this bill, and the Conservative members for the north will have to deal with that in the years to come. In my own riding the price of gasoline is substantially higher than it is in southern Ontario, and people are very unhappy. I can imagine the heat the Conservative members are feeling over there.

Hon. Mr. Ashe: Mr. Speaker, there is no doubt that during the last few days a lot of points have been raised by the --

Mr. Nixon: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker: My colleague was prepared to speak, and he is very anxious that he not miss an opportunity.

Hon. Mr. Ashe: Mr. Speaker, I have the floor.

Mr. Nixon: My colleague has been waiting patiently to join in this debate.

Hon. Mr. Ashe: Mr. Speaker, I have not relinquished the floor.

Mr. Nixon: Mr. Speaker, I am up on a point of order, and that precedes what the minister is talking about. You will have to make a ruling, sir, and I ask you to do so.

Hon. Mr. Ashe: Mr. Speaker will have to recognize your point of order first. I duly waited, Mr. Speaker. Nobody else rose, and I rose in my place and was duly recognized.

The Deputy Speaker: On the point of order, Mr. Ashe: In following the standing orders, technically I should have asked if any further members would like to participate in the debate. I did not ask that question.

Are there any other members who would like to participate in the debate on Bill 72?

Hon. Mr. Ashe: Mr. Speaker, with all due respect, on the point of order I hope you will check back to the actual proceedings that led to this situation. I think you will find that there was ample time for any honourable member who wished to continue speaking on this issue to rise.

I did not immediately bounce to my feet, anticipating -- maybe with great finality -- that we were reaching the end. Always recognizing the prerogative of the chair to make a ruling, I will abide by it accordingly, though I am not quite sure the record will show that the circumstances were as described by the member for Brant-Oxford-Norfolk (Mr. Nixon) and deemed to be in order by you.

The Deputy Speaker: Thank you, Mr. Ashe. In recognition of earlier proceedings during question period, where the Speaker was advised to adhere strictly to the standing orders, I think it is only appropriate that as Deputy Speaker I try to run the House according to the standing orders.

4:20 p.m.

Mr. McGuigan: Mr. Speaker, I apologize to the member. It was my understanding that another of our speakers was in turn. However, that person is not here. I failed to jump up soon enough. I am sorry for the inconvenience.

I am pleased to take part in this debate regarding Bill 72, An Act to amend the Gasoline Tax Act, 1973. Like my colleagues on this side of the House, I am opposed to this bill. Before proceeding with my opposition to the bill, I wish to point out the significance of the date in the title of this bill.

The year 1973 is mentioned because it is when the previous act was passed. Nineteen seventy- three really has nothing to do with the government in power at the time or the particular phase of the constellation of that time, but it does mark the year that our world economy and our history changed.

One would probably have to skip back over the years 1939 to 1945, the period of the Second World War, to find a period in our history as significant. I do not pass over the war years lightly. That time would be July 1929, when the first shock wave started in the stock market of the day. July was just a tremor of what was to happen later, on Friday, September 13, 1929.

From then until the low point was reached in 1933, it was all downhill. Those hard economic times persisted until the early 1940's when under the forced draught of war the world's economic fires were rekindled and we began the almost uninterrupted economic good times that the new generation enjoyed until 1973.

I did not lightly skip over 1939 to 1945, a time when 20 million people suffered death all over the western world and millions more experienced untold agony, inhumanity and suffering. The year 1929 set the stage for the Second World War. The breakdown of the economic system and the impoverishment of nations and individuals set the stage for leaders who said: "Follow me. No matter where I lead, you cannot be any worse."

As a background to our dependence upon petroleum, I want to read an introduction to a 50th anniversary issue of Business Week magazine. The particular issue concerns the Depression brought about in 1929. This leads up to it:

"In retrospect, 1929 was the watershed year of the twentieth century, the start of the great Depression which swept away all that had gone before and which forever changed the economic face of not only America, but the world. But in 1979, only a half century later -- just as an aside, we have had a history going back for centuries showing that we have a depression approximately every 50 years -- "in the twinkling of an eye, as history goes, the world seems poised to change again.

"The post-Depression economic mechanism which fostered great growth also set an inflationary fire that no one knows how to put out. Balanced against the government intervention in everyday life that the Depression brought on is the growing demand for less intrusive government. The success of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries has broken up the well-ordered industrial world and forced every nation to fight for economic life for costly and scarce energy."

The world could change as completely between 1979 and 2029 as it did between 1929 and 1979. To understand what comes next, it is first necessary to understand what has gone before. That is why I am going over some of this history, because the things we are dealing with in this gasoline tax bill are very important to the future of this country.

I am one of the older members of our caucus. I have very vivid memories of the Depression and what it did to people in those terrible years. I am probably on this side of the House rather than the other side, because of the lack of measures taken in those days to bring us out of the terrible time.

It began with the crash on Black Tuesday, October 29, 1929, when the United States stock market collapsed in the worst market break in history. In dollar terms, the 1973-74 bear market cost investors more money. In percentage terms and psychological impact, the 1929 collapse was worse.

I have some interesting figures here. By 1932, the index of stock prices had fallen to 30 from the 1920 high of 210. Commodity prices, including gold, had dropped 40 per cent. Industrial production had shrunk 50 per cent. Imagine a drop of 50 per cent in production. International trade had slipped 30 per cent, and the International Labour Organization --

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Cousens): Mr. McGuigan, does this pertain to Bill 72?

Mr. McGuigan: Yes, it does.

The Acting Speaker: Would you please draw that out?

Mr. McGuigan: I wish to point out how we have built up a dependence on petroleum and the events that have taken place since that date. Perhaps I can read a little more quickly if it suits you, Mr. Speaker.

The Acting Speaker: I am just interested in seeing that it does pertain to the bill at hand.

Mr. McGuigan: I think you will agree, as I go along, that it does. Many of the comments already made here have required careful listening and one had to wait until the end to discover --

Hon. Mr. Elgie: With a certain degree of anticipation.

Mr. McGuigan: I am sure the member is listening to every word.

Mr. Roy: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker: You are questioning my colleague about the relevance of his statement. You will understand that the bill under discussion is the percentage tax on the cost of oil. My colleague is talking about how the cost of oil is steadily increasing.

The Acting Speaker: That point of order is not accepted.

Mr. Stokes: Can't he speak for himself?

Mr. Roy: It was a point of order. I was just pointing out that I thought my colleague --

The Acting Speaker: Order. Mr. McGuigan, you have the floor.

Mr. McGuigan: It is very interesting to note that during today's question period the members opposite were quite subdued and very different in character than they were for the last few days. Perhaps they have forgotten the lesson they learned the other day. It shows how soon that arrogance returns. It is a disease we cannot seem to fight.

The Acting Speaker: Carry on, Mr. McGuigan, on Bill 72.

Mr. McGuigan: I was talking about 1929. With the help of my colleague, who has explained the reasons for my background material, I will go on with the main body of what I have to say.

Mr. Stokes: Help? I thought he interrupted you.

Mr. McGuigan: No, he was helping. Surely the former Speaker can contain himself.

Mr. Stokes: I'm trying to help you and protect you from your friends.

Mr. McGuigan: He is one of the members I respect most highly, and I appreciate his help.

The Acting Speaker: Carry on, Mr. McGuigan. You have the floor.

4:30 p.m.

Mr. McGuigan: Let us return for a minute to the technical side of the 1939-45 war. Governments on both sides corrected an error they had made in 1914-18; that is, taking their students and scientists out of the universities, their laboratories, the mines and the forests and putting them into the front-line trenches. The case used as a great example was the atomic scientist in Britain who was on the verge of discovering the secrets of the atom in the early part of the First World War. He was taken out, put into the front lines and was killed on his first day in action.

The governments adopted a system of selective service. They kept a corps of scientists to develop the great amounts of basic research that were accumulated between the two great wars, research that eventually led to the splitting of the atom and the war coming to an end in a blinding flash over the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945.

That research, put to peaceful purposes, has brought us to the threshold of a period when we believe the power of the atom will solve at least part of our energy needs. As far-reaching as these developments have been, the most immediate effect of the Second World War was to change the whole concept of war by using the energy of petroleum to make war into a mobile war of machines in the air, on the land and on the sea. We also came to recognize that, through the miracles of science and engineering, we could revert to petroleum power rather than muscle power.

We came to recognize two principles of engineering: that harnessing the power of gasoline and fuel could replace muscle power, and that machines built to do a job without much reference to their cost were in the final analysis the most economical.

Prior to 1939, most machines were built to sell at a certain price because the belief was that consumers would only pay a certain amount. As an example, most farm tractors in that day were about 25 to 30 horsepower and it was thought farmers would not pay more than say $1,000 for a tractor. But it was discovered there were great economies in going to larger machines. In fact, the largest experimental farm tractor now is 800 horsepower.

Through those engineering changes and changing attitudes, we became very dependent upon petroleum as our source of energy. My point is that we raised our material, if not our spiritual, standard of living many times in one generation. Simply by using the abundant petroleum resources we were able to reduce the percentage of our population producing food from a third of the population when I was a youth to just under four per cent of the population.

Think of it. The basic needs of man are shelter, clothing and food. Up until fairly recently in man's history it took 100 per cent of the time to satisfy these needs. Today the basic food component is four per cent and it is rapidly falling. If one does not think it is falling, he should just ask some of those young farmers. Also there are some old farmers who are going bankrupt. In economic terms they are being declared surplus. As an aside, this government so far has been prepared to watch them being declared surplus. We hope the Treasurer will have some announcement in a day or two.

I know members will say the fuel costs for farmers are rebated. But the rebate, unless one changes it, is a specific rebate; it is not an ad valorem rebate. Even if they correct this situation, they are introducing a great many indirect costs. Manufacturing and delivery costs of the input and output of the farm will rise on an exponential growth curve. I want to add a new term. We have heard a great deal about "ad valorem;" I thought I would bring in the word "exponential."

The adverse effects will impinge even more harshly on small business people who rely on a mobile population to patronize their businesses. Tourist operators, hotels, motels, sports facilities, marinas, camp operators and related industries will all suffer from a reduced flow of customers.

While the honourable members might think of my riding of Kent-Elgin as an agricultural area -- and it is; I believe it has the greatest dollar volume of any county in Ontario -- they would be only partly correct. Lake Erie and to a lesser extent the Thames River provide a great deal of recreational activity. Many people know Rondeau Bay as a great sports fishing ground. The lake is the greatest inland fishery in the world.

The products of that fishery are shipped exclusively by trucks -- trucks that are now fuelled with gas or diesel fuel that is taxed in an exponential or ad valorem manner. I happen to live on Highway 3, where a great deal of this produce, both agricultural and from the fishery, travels to the markets of Ontario and the world. I am very familiar with the amount of truck traffic carrying those products.

My riding has thousands of workers who report daily to parts plants in Tilbury, Blenheim and Ridgetown. Speaking of Ridgetown, I was grateful that my opponent in the 1977 election visited one of the parts plants just a few hours before I did. The workers there were quick to notice that he was driving a foreign car. I was quite amazed, coming from an agricultural background as I do, to find the number of parts plants that are in my riding. When you stop and analyse it, it is 60 to 70 miles from the great assembly plants in Windsor and also is on Highway 401, giving it a direct line to Oshawa and to the other assembly plants. There are parts plants in Bothwell, Thamesville and Dresden.

There are no parts plants in the towns in the Elgin part of Kent-Elgin, but there are woodworking plants in West Lorne. These plants have reversed the traditional flow of raw materials going from Canada to the United States to be turned into manufactured goods and returned. They import oak logs -- I believe they come from Pennsylvania -- and in West Lorne they are turned into flooring and stair treads and shipped back to the US. That all goes by truck. This tax is going to impinge adversely on that and raise the costs.

Just running through the names of my riding brings to mind the Premier's four visits to the riding during the recent election. I was favoured to be the host for the Premier and many of his cabinet colleagues during this election. My only regret is that he did not visit every town, for in each of the four towns he visited I gained a few votes and in those he failed to visit I unfortunately lost a few votes. For the next election I issue an invitation to him now to visit all those towns and villages.

I want to draw the House's attention once more to the title of this bill: Bill 72, An Act to amend the Gasoline Tax Act, 1973. That was the year of the Arab-Israeli war. The Israelis, of course, won ground in the air and sea action and enlarged the land area of their tiny country. The Arabs lost land, prestige and many lives, but they won a perhaps undreamed-of lesson in economic muscle. That was due to the interruption in the flow of oil to the industrialized countries.

When I was a student, our professors told us there was no such thing as a monopoly, that there was always a substitute for whatever material you might try to control. That may be correct in a historical, long-range view, but I think we have come to understand that those who control the oil really do have a monopolistic hold on the rest of us. If we are to free ourselves, and in fact we must free ourselves if mankind is to enjoy a decent standard of living in the next century and beyond, the truth is that for the next generation, or two or three, the cartel that controls the price and movement of oil does have a monopoly power.

4:40 p.m.

We may, in the years to come, develop hydrogen as a fuel. We may develop a practical storage battery. We may develop systems that are only being dreamed of at the moment, developed by scientists working in the most advanced facilities in the world, or discovered by some lonely genius working in his basement shop. The fact remains, Mr. Speaker, that when the clock reaches 10:30, and you return to your office to clear up the telephone calls you no doubt have, as we do, and you decide to go home, you are almost certain to make the trip in a gasoline or diesel powered vehicle. If you are a farmer, and return to your farm this weekend, you may decide to go out and do some field work. Most likely you will do that on a tractor or some other vehicle that is powered by petroleum. If you decide to spread some fertilizer or spray your crops with some sort of a pesticide, you are going to be using a product of the petroleum industry. The one that is most notably tied to petroleum is nitrogen, where the hydrogen ion is part of the chemical compound and the cost of those fertilizers is directly tied to the cost of fuel.

Last summer, while travelling with the select committee on Ontario Hydro affairs, we visited Elliot Lake and I had my first experience of descending into a mine. I can understand now some of the experiences we are often told about by our members on the left. It seemed almost ironic that the huge underground drilling and transporting machines in a uranium mine -- which is to provide the fuel for a nuclear industry -- are powered by diesel. There are certain things about the engineering qualities of the machines and the fuel that make it the best fuel for the purpose.

The truth is that the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries has a monopoly on the price and the allocation of petroleum supplies. Some substitutions can be made. We could go back to the coal-fired steam locomotive. It was my experience some 16 years ago to travel on the railroads in China. It was quite a revelation to see these coal-fired steam engines still being used in China. I do not think we encountered one diesel locomotive.

It would take us about 50 years to make the conversion, to produce all these new machines, open new mines and so on. We could go back to an animal agriculture, I suppose, but that would take another 50 years to breed the horses and the stock to do the job. It would take an estimated 20 to 25 per cent of our land area to feed these animals, and that would mean starvation in other lands. We would have to abandon air travel completely. There is no substitute for petroleum.

Mr. Haggerty: The member for Lincoln (Mr. Andrewes) should listen to those facts. He would learn something.

Mr. Andrewes: I have not heard anything yet.

Mr. McGuigan: I thought the member for Lincoln, being a farmer, would appreciate these things. I know he is listening with great --

Mr. Andrewes: I do not know what the relevancy is.

Mr. Ruston: He is going to be in the front row by the fall. He will be taking over from the Minister of Agriculture and Food (Mr. Henderson) before the Christmas break.

Mr. McGuigan: I would certainly welcome him as a horticulturalist myself. As the member is a horticulturalist, if that took place, I would be the first to congratulate him.

There is no substitute for petroleum, a lightweight fuel that carries a tremendous wallop of power, and burns it in a lightweight engine. All other fuels are heavy and it takes heavy engines to use them. Even hydrogen, which is a light fuel, has to be contained in a very heavy vessel so that rules it out for air travel.

While 1973 will be looked upon by future generations as the beginning of a financial bust for the western world, a somewhat risky prophecy, one can easily forecast that it will be looked upon as a turning point in world history. If we go back just one year, to 1972, we come to another milestone. That will be remembered as the year the USSR pulled off the heist of the century, the great grain robbery. While it is popular to berate the Soviet agricultural system for its inefficiency, the fact remains that most of the Soviet grain producing lands are north of the 49th parallel and the best of these lands compare to the worst of the US grain lands, that is the state of North Dakota. North Dakota is the worst in the United States, which of course is the number one producer in the world.

While we recognize that the Soviet system is not the best and does not encourage production, since it does not give returns to the producer, nevertheless, not all of the blame for their problem should be laid on their system. Part of the problem is their climate. Prior to 1972, that regime met grain shortages by killing off its livestock population, a sort of cannibalism. By eating the animals they provided food for their people and ended the need for the coarse grains. Then came a long period of rebuilding -- it took many years to build up the grain stocks and many years to build up the animal stocks again.

Those people who live in a country that was able in 1959 to put up the Sputnik, were no longer willing to put up with that sort of a boom-and-bust cycle in their food supplies. We know the results. We now have high priced grain, high priced land and some would say high priced food. We need to sell the grain to Russia and China and some 30 other countries to buy oil from the OPEC countries to produce more food to sell to our growing list of customers. We must sell the food in order to get the foreign exchange to pay for the foreign oil. So one can see what sort of a treadmill we are on in that respect.

Mr. Speaker, you have been patient, but you might wonder what all the background has to do with the government's exponential sales tax. You have been very good, I commend you for it, but it is simply this: The government of this province has failed to read the signals, failed to listen to a warning that was given by Dr. Hubbert in the United States. In 1956, Dr. Hubbert laid out the whole scenario of what was going to happen in the oil business. This man was speaking in San Antonio, Texas, and playing host to about 500 petroleum engineers in town to attend a three-day meeting of the production division, southern district of the American Petroleum Institute.

There was nothing of special significance expected to come from this three-day meeting, which began on Wednesday, March 7, 1956. The first speaker of the morning was expected to give broadbrush extravagant figures saying the United States would just never run out of oil. Petroleum geologists, engineers and corporate officials all shared an intuitive judgement that went something like this: "We have been in the oil business in this country now for almost 100 years. We have made a lot of money, had a lot of fun and the future looks just great."

Mr. Nixon: Sounds like Rockefeller.

Mr. McGuigan: That's right. The meeting got under way quite close to schedule. The first speaker was introduced. His name was Dr. Hubbert, a native of Texas who had taught at a number of universities and who had for the last 13 years worked as a geologist with Shell Oil of Houston. He was 52 at the time. He was not a big, imposing man in size or appearance and not the kind of forceful speaker who brought an audience to a fever pitch. He was addressed as Dr. Hubbert because he was a holder of several degrees and was a true man of science.

4:50 p.m.

He committed heresy on the platform right in front of their eyes. Contrary to the unwritten but well-established rules of conduct for petroleum industry figures, he started to point out to his audience that American petroleum reserves were not as vast as they had always been assumed to be and that American oil production could be expected to reach its peak in another 10 to 15 years -- remember, that period is behind us -- and then drop down each year on its way to depletion.

He committed another unpardonable sin by reminding his audience that the US was already importing oil equal to about 20 per cent. That is now about 50 per cent for the United States. He went on to document the Hubbert curve to show that most of the oil in North America had already been discovered and that we were on the declining side of a bell curve.

Dr. Hubbert and others warned us and failed until recently in trying to lead us out of our petroleum predicament. The government failed to act sooner to get us off oil. Not only the American and Canadian governments but the Ontario government as well bears some responsibility. One of the reasons, no doubt, has been the fuel taxing policies, the fact the government saw fuel taxes not as a just way, but as a painless way to extract money.

It has been easy to tax transportation fuel because the public has shown a willingness to buy these products. It has shown a willingness to use its discretionary purchasing power in this manner. By taxing fuel in ever-increasing amounts, and now in an exponential fashion, the signal is sent out that we should continue to use this diminishing resource until it is all gone. If the decision had been made to tie transportation taxes to a fund to be used to develop alternative fuels or to develop intracity and intercity transit, one might at least be persuaded it is a necessary evil.

I know it is not a good example, but I refer members to the creation of a highway transportation fund in the United States which has resulted in fuel taxes being used to build the best highway system in the world. Perhaps that is an example of a wrong use, but it does point out that certain funds are earmarked to be used for another purpose.

That country now is importing a full 50 per cent of its petroleum versus our 20 per cent and that has got it into a lot of trouble. That money might have been put to better use in building railways.

Last weekend I visited a constituent who has his home next to a US railway. There are several that run through southern Ontario from Detroit to, I guess, the riding of the member for Erie (Mr. Haggerty). This one is used almost exclusively for freight. Freight trains travel at a lower speed than passenger trains and do not require quite as good a roadbed. Still, looking at this roadbed, it was rather enlightening to see the ties were split and splintering and to see the spikes were coming out.

As a matter of fact, there were spikes that had been pulled all the way out of the ties. They lay at the side of the tracks. There were bolts that connected the rails to each other that had had the nuts come off and were held there by the grace of God, I guess. I remember reading a piece about the state of US railroads and the engineer who passed over one particularly bad stretch that was restricted to 10 miles an hour said he could always tell when the train jumped the track. That was when the train started to run smoothly.

The government is not using the exponential growth in fuel taxes to solve our petroleum predicament; it is using the money to finance the extravagance of land banking, government advertising, even overbuilding energy plants beyond our ability to deliver and use the product. Our gas tax money is even being used to build reactors that our party has suspected for a long time are ultimately being built to supply electricity for export, a charge the government categorically denied. In the new intoxication such as has not been experienced since 1971 -- and some government members have never had the feeling before -- the first lessons in educating the public to accept reactor plants for export power are being introduced. Some of the money taken in by this exponential tax system is being used to finance that.

The government is sending another signal to the oil industry: there is no limit to the expenditures that can be directed towards petroleum exploration and extraction. I remember a political cartoon two or three years ago showing an agonized planet being twisted like a sponge while the last drop of oil was being squeezed out. The government is sending a signal that it approves of that. Transportation fuel has been added to the list of "sin taxes." The message is that it is okay to sin provided the government gets its cut and on an exponential escalating curve at that -- or, as some have said, by an incremental curve.

I have outlined some of the background of my opposition to the principle of an ad valorem or exponential tax. To realize the pyramiding effect of an exponential tax, I want to give a few examples. These admittedly use a 100 per cent rate rather than a 20 per cent rate, but they illustrate the dangers of such a system.

Money put into the bank at seven per cent compound interest will double in 10 years. A system of exponential growth is one in which the entire system grows by a certain amount each year, such as the money example above. To get the doubling time in years you simply divide the number 70 by the rate of annual growth. Thus a five per cent compound interest rate -- something from the past -- would double your accounts in 14 years.

Those who remember the chain letters recall that one would simply ask two friends to join the scheme and then each of those would ask two friends and so on. That is doubling each time. Just 28 doublings would exceed the present population of the United States. In 32 doublings one would exceed the four billion population of the world. Yet in starting a chain letter one thinks only of finding 28 people to take the letter.

There is an interesting story about a Persian king who was fascinated by the game of chess. One of his court attendants brought the king a present of a beautifully hand-carved ebony chess board inlaid with mother-of-pearl, gold and precious stones. The king was delighted. "What can I give you to show my appreciation?" The answer was, "A few grains of wheat, Your Majesty -- just one grain for the first square on the board, two grains for the second square, four grains for the third square and so forth."

The king was delighted to get out of his obligation so easily. But when it came to the nineteenth square they found it took just a little over half a million grains of wheat, and soon his storehouse was empty. He called his wise man to ask him to work this out; next he called for his servant and had him done away with. They found that 64 doublings would require the entire world's annual wheat crop for the next 2,000 years to fill the board. Of course, that was in terms of the wheat crop back in those Persian times. It is just to illustrate how you multiply things when you use that type of system.

Our petroleum predicament goes much deeper than the exponential tax policies of this government. The import of this predicament is that the steep upward climb is inevitable if we are to believe that the past history of petroleum prices will continue. As I have previously pointed out, our dependence on petroleum and the finite character of petroleum supplies guarantee that the price of crude oil, and therefore the price of refinery products, will continue to rise. Every member knows about the price rise by the federal edict of $4.50 a year for the next three years on the price of crude.

This present government, entrusted with the wellbeing of the people of Ontario for the past 38 years, must shoulder its share of the blame for our petroleum predicament. One can say in good conscience that, as the government of a province that has to import 99 per cent of its oil, the government should have been concerned. We in the western world were warned, and I have already told the members about that. To sum up --

Hon. Mr. McCaffrey: Oh, come on.

Mr. McGuigan: I have lots more. Does the member want to listen to it?

Hon. Mr. McCaffrey: I thought the member was rather weak on the Spanish Civil War.

Mr. McGuigan: To sum up, this government has really not sent out the proper signal: that we need to conserve our supplies, because for the next generation or two we need those supplies to bridge the gap between petroleum and the great future we have in nuclear energy, in solar energy, in alternative fuels and perhaps in elements not yet discovered -- although I think we would base it on present knowledge, because there is so much available on which we must build.

The government is sending out the wrong signal to everyone when it sends out a signal that the government is quite content to raise more and more money on an exponential ad valorem system to finance all sorts of activities unrelated to energy production, energy conservation and discovering new ways of guaranteeing our supplies for the future. I do not believe in that signal; I do not think it is responsible.

Another aspect is that it relieves the government of the necessity of coming to this chamber each year or two as the need arises to justify its case, to bring to the attention of the public the petroleum situation of the time -- our need to conserve or, if some great discovery has been made, our freedom not to conserve.

5 p.m.

It is possible that we might suddenly discover some new source of oil, but I rather doubt that, because one would have to believe that there is still some great discovery to be made out there, that we drilled in all the hardest places first. I could go on with Dr. Hubbert, who shows in a graph giving the amount of oil discovered according to the number of feet drilled since the first well in Titusville, Pennsylvania, in 1859 -- our people here in the Minister of Agriculture and Food's riding dispute that; they say the first well was drilled at Oil Springs two years earlier -- that through the years our drilling has produced less and less oil for a given amount of drilling.

We are now going off into the worst reaches and the most inhospitable parts of the world to try to discover that oil, and it only becomes more and more costly. As it becomes more and more costly this government's take becomes greater and greater, and it continues to send that same signal, "Keep using it; that is fine, because we profit from it." It becomes a very easy way of collecting money. I think I sometimes agree with my friends to the left of me that by far a more equitable way of raising money is by the income tax rate.

Hon. Mr. Ashe: The member is going to support the income tax bill, then?

Mr. McGuigan: I might just do that. We will take a look at it.

I believe, as do many members here, that a far more just way of raising taxes is not to attack an essential element such as this and send the wrong signal out to the users.

I see our other speaker is here. Mr. Speaker, I thank you for your intense interest. You have listened to the great pearls of wisdom on history that have descended from my lips. I await your applause.

The Acting Speaker: Is there any other honourable member who wishes to participate in this debate?

Hon. Mr. Ashe: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker: When your predecessor, the Deputy Speaker, was in the chair, I was on my feet and had commenced the windup of the debate on second reading. However, it was drawn to our attention that at that time there was one more honourable member, namely, the member for Kent-Elgin (Mr. McGuigan), who had some points to offer. I relinquished the floor to him, but it was not on the basis that there was more than one member to be recognized.

On that basis, I assume that I have now resumed my place on the floor and can sum up and close the debate on second reading of this bill. I await your ruling.

The Acting Speaker: The chair will give the opportunity to speak to any other member before the final speaker. Are there any other honourable members who wish to speak to this bill? I recognize Mr. Breaugh.

Hon. Mr. Ashe: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order --

The Acting Speaker: Mr. Ashe, in standing order 55, this is the regulation.

Hon. Mr. Ashe: Mr. Speaker, were you aware of the discussion with your predecessor in the chair?

The Acting Speaker: What is your point of order, Mr. Ashe?

Hon. Mr. Ashe: The point of order is that I think the issue was made at the time I was on my feet and had started to speak. It was not just a matter of jumping up; I had actually started to sum up the debate, as I think Hansard will show. When an additional member indicated he wanted to speak, I relinquished the floor to that honourable member. I think it was understood at the time, at least by myself, that it was to be only one honourable member.

Mr. Nixon: You are wasting time.

Hon. Mr. Ashe: We might as well waste some of it; those members do it all the time.

The Acting Speaker: Mr. Ashe, I am going to give the opportunity to any other member who wishes to speak to Bill 82 before I give you the final opportunity to speak.

Mr. Wildman: A very equitable ruling.

Hon. Mr. Ashe: And you say the Speakers are on our side.

Mr. Treleaven: This is the third time he's spoken.

The Acting Speaker: Order. The member for Oshawa has the floor.

Mr. Breaugh: I am trying to get the floor, Mr. Speaker, but there is so much disorder on the opposite side that it is difficult. I am a little ashamed to see them over there. Even some who should know better are challenging your ruling.

Mr. Williams: Mr. Speaker, I thought the member for Oshawa had spoken on this bill earlier in the session.

The Acting Speaker: Has he spoken?

Mr. Stokes: He wouldn't have been recognized if he had.

The Acting Speaker: He has not spoken, Mr. Williams. Mr. Breaugh has the floor.

Mr. Wildman: We understand the rules; the members opposite do not.

Mr. Breaugh: I see they are trying everything to shut down the opposition members. It is closure once again in a different form. If the members are so anxious to say something, why do they not pop up? They are allowed to speak to these bills also.

Mr. Rotenberg: This is your leadership speech.

Mr. Breaugh: Not with the member for Wilson Heights around, it would not be.

Mr. Williams: I thought you had spoken the other day.

Mr. Breaugh: Are you sure? The member should write these things down.

The Acting Speaker: Mr. Breaugh has the floor. Carry on.

Mr. Breaugh: Mr. Speaker, I want to speak in opposition to this bill. I think it is an interesting exercise. A year ago I had the opportunity to use some remarks made by the Treasurer (Mr. F. S. Miller) in this House about how substantially increased energy costs would "rip the guts out of the industrial sector of the province of Ontario." That speech was made here by the Treasurer, who went on to list that there would be 20,000 jobs lost in our industrial sector, that there would be severe damage done to it -- all the rather eloquent package put together by the Treasurer at that time was used extensively in the federal election campaign.

5:10 p.m.

The gist of the argument is precisely to the principle of this bill. The gist of the argument was very straightforward. It said simply that if governments across the country -- and in that instance the Treasurer was making reference to a federal Tory budget -- wanted to move in the energy field to increase their price of energy by any means, either at the wellhead or through their taxation or distribution system, whatever the reason for the increase, if the end effect of that was to alter substantially and escalate the price of petroleum products in this country, it would have disastrous effects on the industrial heartland of Ontario.

I find it amusing that the Treasurer and the Premier had such strong views about escalating energy prices less than a year ago and did something rather abnormal by standing in the House and making a statement directly contrary to their federal counterparts.

There was a federal budget at that time which addressed itself to energy costs. The Premier and his Treasurer held a pitched battle here. They made a concise and well-put-together argument, coming directly to the point of this bill: If there were a dramatic and sudden upsurge in the cost of gasoline to our consumers and to our industrial sector, we would suffer tremendous damage.

It must have been a very convincing argument, because I heard people in almost all political parties using it. I heard provincial Tories using that speech and all those statistics. I heard federal Liberals using it. I heard New Democrats using it. It seemed to us that we had, the three of us, all arrived at a consensus that, if energy prices were boosted in this province, it would have disastrous effects.

So I was surprised when I came in on budget night and saw the same Treasurer of Ontario -- it is true he had switched from his little plaid jacket to a slightly plainer jacket -- on that particular evening proposing to get in on the act himself. He did not talk a great deal about how many jobs we are going to lose, and he did not talk about the devastating effect that increasing energy prices would have on the people. He does not seem to care that we are now going to lose the 20,000 jobs he fought so hard for last year just before the provincial election. He now seems to think that is okay: "Never mind, give us a piece of the pie."

The ingenious little device they have stuck on to this is the automatic escalator clause. When he and the Premier sit down with all the important people from Alberta and Mr. Lalonde and argue about what would be a rational way to deal with energy prices and price increases across the country, the Treasurer of Ontario has made it nice and clear. He has made a neat little change in position. He has done a little flip and a flop to boot. He has decided he is no longer there to defend the consumers and the industrial sector; he is there with his hand out, collecting at the till. As the tax escalates automatically, he is happy because he has his chunk of the action. He does not own an oil well, he does not really sell it at the pumps; all he has is a collection agent out there grabbing in the money.

Mr. Wildman: His name is Ashe.

Mr. Breaugh: Yes, as a matter of fact, it is. I find it amazing that in the short period of a year the government of Ontario could so dramatically change its position. I remember those arguments. They were good ones; they were valid. Those statistics were pretty tough.

I saw Ontario fighting the good fight to save some parts of its industrial sector, to save some jobs. I saw it fighting for consumers. I thought it was a little unusual, but why not? Anybody can join in the battle. We have fellow travellers all over the place. We will even take them from that side of the House.

I thought it was dramatic; it was good stuff. If the government was finally showing a little guts and running against the federal Tories, what was wrong with that? Surely, in Canadian politics today, we ought to have some room for dissent, even within the Tories, and even to allow that to happen publicly between the Premier, the Treasurer and Mr. Joe Clark for that short period of time when he was the federal Tory Prime Minister.

That is all right. Here was a group of people who at least had the guts to stand up and fight, to tell it like it was; to say exactly what happens when one escalates those energy prices; to put in one nice, concise speech just how dramatically all this great grabbing at the gas pumps has a monumental effect on our industrial sector, and how it has such a dramatic effect on the lives of each and every one of us. Literally no one in the province is spared from this kind of taxation.

From the Treasurer's point of view, the nifty part of it is that he does not have to do anything from here on. Once this bill carries, once this tax is put in place, it is so good he does not have to do anything about it after that. It automatically escalates. The government's chunk of the pie goes up automatically.

It is a nifty idea because he has to play the bad guy in the process only once. Only on one occasion does he have to come in here wearing his black hat to say, "I want more money from the gas pumps." Once he gets that act done, he can sit back, relax and collect the revenue. He does not even have to do that. He has another guy in a black hat, the Minister of Revenue, who will do that for him. He is here this afternoon saying he does not like all the debate about this thing. He does not want members on the opposition side to stand up and object to it.

What if Joe Clark had said that less than a year ago? Think if Joe Clark had stood up in the Parliament of Canada and said: "We do not want to hear from Ontario on this energy price stuff. We are supposed to be Tories. Sit down and shut up like a good Tory does."

Mr. Nixon: Less than two years ago.

Mr. Breaugh: Less than two years ago -- my, how time flies. I was waiting for my friend to make his usual valuable contribution to the debate.

Mr. Nixon: I like to help you in every way I can.

Mr. Breaugh: I appreciate it.

There is an evil undertow in this bill. There is a sense of the machiavellian about the principle of this bill. It gets one today but, more important, it puts in place the mechanisms to get one every day of one's life from here on.

It gets one where it hurts, right at the old gas pump. The beautiful thing is, they can steal money out of people's pockets and they do not even know it is being done. It is the difference between someone who is a mugger in a park and somebody who is a pickpocket in a crowd. These people have simply decided they would rather be pickpockets. They do not want all the messiness of mugging in the park.

Mr. Nixon: This is a great speech.

Mr. Breaugh: I thought it was not bad.

Mr. Laughren: The member for Prince Edward-Lennox (Mr. J. A. Taylor) helped him write it.

Mr. Breaugh: I remember him when he was Minister of Energy. He is the only one who has ever been honest enough to admit that ministers of the crown get mugged in the halls around here.

Mr. Nixon: He did not last.

Mr. Breaugh: He did not like it. He had to pack up his little bag and leave.

There is an evil about the principle of this bill. There is something mean and nasty about it. If one were sitting over on the other side, I suppose one would say there is a beauty to it: one gets to steal from them today, tomorrow and every other time they drive up to the gas pump.

I thought I heard, just before the last provincial election, a lot of talk on the other side about a great concern for the people of Ontario and particularly those people who work in the automotive industry. I thought I saw them rushing to hand out money to companies like Chrysler. I thought I heard them say they had all kinds of detailed plans for the growth and development of the automotive industry. I thought I heard all kinds of concerns expressed by different ministers about how necessary it was.

Mr. Nixon: They thought they were going to win in Oshawa.

Mr. Breaugh: They should have known better than to try that stuff in Oshawa.

Mr. Nixon: We thought we were too.

Mr. Breaugh: Again, that did not happen. I sensed a concern on the other side that they did not want to do anything that would damage the Canadian auto industry. Deep in that premise is the price of energy, because right now our automotive industry is competing with offshore imports and trying to get on stream cars of its own design which are extremely energy-efficient. But the reality of the day is that most of our consumers still do not have an automobile that is energy-efficient, and many of the automotive products we still make in this province are going to get hit worse by this kind of taxation process.

There is the meanness of this bill. It looks like a small, nasty piece of business, another taxation bill. There is just a little bit of pain associated with it. But it gets one every time one goes to the local gas station. It is one's friendly corner gas station attendant who will get it for the government. Even though he does not want to be, he is an unwitting accomplice in this piece of theft.

5:20 p.m.

But it also gets to those people who are working in the automotive industry. As they drive to work in their pickup trucks and Chevy V-8s, it gets them on the way to work and it gets them on the way from the job later on in the day. It also gets them while they are at work, because it is going to be very difficult to convince the public it ought to buy the big Chevs and Pontiacs we make in Oshawa when they are going to get hit with this kind of taxation at the gas pump.

The people of Ontario who are driving around in those Chevs and Pontiacs are reasonably concerned about the price of energy. They understand that the large V-8 motor or the V-6 motor they have in their car, or even the smaller little four-cylinder jobs that are out there now, are not quite as energy-efficient as they might be. But they are trying to make it through. Yet while they are doing that, and probably listening to the Minister of Industry and Tourism (Mr. Grossman) telling the world about how much he is trying to do for the Canadian automotive industry, the Treasurer is trying to put these people out of business.

To be honest, this government should take this little bill around to every automobile showroom in the province, stick it up on the window and give the consumers fair notice. It should say to them that if they want to buy a car made in Windsor, Oakville or Oshawa they at least ought to know the province is going to steal from their purse while they are driving it. The bigger car one buys, and the larger motor it has, the happier the Treasurer of Ontario is going to be because he will get even more money out of the consumer's pocket.

Mr. Treleaven: The rich should help the poor.

Mr. Breaugh: The rich should help the poor. This is a case where the rich are stealing from the poor and attempting to convince them it is okay to do that. I do not understand that.

Mr. Wildman: It is the poor who have the old energy-inefficient cars.

Mr. Breaugh: The last time I looked, it did not cost any money to go into the showroom; it was getting out of there that was the problem. I read Robin Hood a long time ago, and I think those members have the story all wrong. Robin Hood robbed the rich to give to the poor, not the other way around. Those members are playing it a little backwards.

Peter Lougheed has some friends in here now. He has on the opposite side a whole troop of folks who are more than happy to raise energy costs in the province. A little while ago they did not like that, but that was before the provincial election. We are now turning over the coin; this is after the provincial election. They got what they wanted. They got their mandate. They got their opportunity to grab a little bit more, each and every day, out of everybody's pocketbook.

Someone from the opposite side said, "We are helping the poor." The poor are not the people who are out there in the car showrooms buying new cars. They sure as hell are not buying them at 15, 16 and 17 per cent interest rates. They are not buying anything. They are trying to get that older car -- if they have one of those -- to go a little bit farther. They are trying to use the vehicles they have -- that capital investment they have made -- and to stretch it out. The problem is that in doing so it may not be exactly in top operating condition; it may be even less fuel-efficient than it ever was.

What is the smiling Treasurer doing? He is happy again. He is not here this afternoon. I suppose he is out in his government limousine, tootling around Ontario. He is not too worried about this bill. He thinks the Minister of Revenue is in here and that he will carry it through. He is not worried about whether it is going to cause him excess pain at the gas pump, because he has one of those little government credit cards. He cannot lose on this one; he has eminent protection.

Perhaps one should reverse that role and say to all of the poor people in this province: "We on the government side who have all this money will accept the principle in this bill. We will buy that gas at the old gas pump and give you all the limousines and drivers and credit cards at our disposal." It would be an interesting technique, would it not? It would be a good way to redistribute the wealth.

Why does the government not find a housing project in Metropolitan Toronto and say: "Here are all the limousines normally used by the cabinet and here are all our gas credit cards. We are going to protect you from the evil things that are in this bill. We are going to solve that problem for you so that it will not affect the poor."

At the same time, they should say to the cabinet: "Now get out there, boys, and get yourself a brand-new, fuel-efficient Chev or Ford or Chrysler product." They should say that to the cabinet and make them buy it out of their own pockets, and let them pay this kind of tax out of their own pocket as well. But I do not see them doing that. I think they have this one little idea in the back of their small heads, and that is to tax as many people as they can in this province. They want to tax them as many times as they can, and they like it best of all when they are not even seen to be the person doing the taxation.

This bill, which is going to substantially augment the coffers of the province, will not be implemented on a government form. We can bet our lives that there will be no notices going out to consumers as there were with the senior citizens' property tax rebate program saying, "Here is your cheque from Lorne Maeck."

There will be no notice to consumers. They will not be getting a letter from the Minister of Revenue saying: "Listen, when you go up to the Esso station on the corner and get nailed for the ad valorem tax today, that wasn't me; that was somebody else." There will be no identification. There will be no trillium put on the gas tanks either. There will not be any trilliums such as we see on the street cars, the buses and down at Ontario Place and anyplace else where the province wants to identify to the people of Ontario that here is your friendly provincial government doing something.

I do not sense that they are going to put out a little sticker that will go on the gas pumps saying, "The reason you got nailed an extra two bucks this morning when you filled up your tank is that the province of Ontario stole it from you with this ad valorem tax." There will not be any identification like that, will there?

It would be an interesting concept if the government of Ontario decided in its wisdom that, every time it was going to tax somebody in a way that they cannot see it, it would send them proper notice. They would put a little sticker up on the showroom window and say to people who were contemplating buying vehicles that are not exactly fuel-efficient: "You will pay a heavy penalty for this, but it is okay, Bill and the Big Blue Machine are the ones who are grabbing it. We may not be there, we may not be the ones taking it out of your hand, but we are the ones who caused it."

It would be a different matter if they took this bill and stuck it on the gas pumps so that consumers, when they are buying, could find out exactly who it is ripping them off at the old gas pump. A lot of them are under the illusion that it is only the producers in the western provinces who are causing high energy prices. I suppose we could make an argument that if we sat at the gas pump, we could analyse how much of the cost of a gallon or a litre of gas is due to taxation in various forms. People might be informed about that, but that is a little tricky and it is going to be even trickier with this bill.

When this principle is put in place, we will have the kind of ultimate ripoff of the consumer. They will not --

Hon. Mr. Ashe: A little simple arithmetic will do it. I realize you'll have trouble, but most people will know 20 per cent is an easy figure to work with.

Mr. Breaugh: Well, go ahead. I am waiting for the member to make his point.

Hon. Mr. Ashe: I am just saying that 20 per cent is an easy figure to work with; you might have trouble with it, but most people won't.

Mr. Breaugh: I see. Sometimes the wit of the minister absolutely astounds me.

I want to say that I oppose the principle that is inherent in this bill. It strikes me that it is a major attempt on the part of the government of Ontario to get its foot in the door on energy prices. It is not doing so in a positive way that would create for the people of Ontario any mechanism that would assure them of greater supply, that would assure them of consistent energy prices or that would assure them of better distribution. What we have here is a straight grab at the consumer's pocketbook and an attempt to put that in a form that I find particularly offensive.

Because if they succeed, for example, in stifling debate in here this afternoon, as the Minister of Revenue has tried to do on about four different occasions --

Mr. Rotenberg: That is not true. Nobody has tried to stifle debate.

Mr. Breaugh: -- if they succeed in shutting down that basic operation of a parliament, then they will also have succeeded in putting into place the type of taxation that is most unfair, because it then becomes very difficult for the consumers, the taxpayers and the people of Ontario to see exactly who is taxing them. It is going to be very difficult for the consumers.

Mr. Rotenberg: It says right on the gas pumps. Don't you ever read the gas pumps? It shows how much is provincial and how much is federal.

Mr. Breaugh: Does the member want to participate in this debate? That is the other thing: I would like to hear from all these Tory back-benchers. I would like to hear the inspired words from all of those people from the north and the rural areas. I want to hear them tell me how the guys who are driving pickup trucks are going to like this kind of tax. Let them tell me about that.

Why does the member not stand in his place and defend this tax? If he thinks this is a nice piece of business, then I ask the member for Cochrane North to tell me how people who drive pickup trucks through his area are going to love this kind of taxation. Let me hear his views on that.

5:30 p.m.

That is what I find offensive here. As I see the whiz kids on the front bench down here, they are saying: "This is a nifty piece of business, boys." Then there is a great silence emerging from everybody else. Where are all the people from the rural areas? Where are their voices on this particular matter? Do they think this ad valorem tax is --

Mr. Piché: Silence is a virtue.

Mr. Breaugh: So is chicken-heartedness a virtue from time to time. If the member for Cochrane North wants to get into the cabinet, he had better learn to keep his mouth shut back there. Is that not the secret of it all? I am inviting a response from members who have constituents who drive a lot of miles. I am inviting a response from those who have farm constituents. They are going to be using a lot of gasoline and going to get nailed by this perhaps more than anybody else. Where are these members?

Where are all my friends over there on the other side who want to bring the world into Ontario to see our lakes and our rivers -- at least the ones that are not polluted, to see the ones where at least we have not posted: "Do not eat these fish; they will kill you"?

Where are those members now? We know they want to draw the tourists into this area. They want them to travel around Ontario. They want them to see exactly what we have to offer to the world here in this province -- and I think that is a good idea. But if they stick this kind of taxation measure in place, it is going to cost them more and more and more. I bet when the government puts this tax in place it is going to hear from the tourist operators and the farmers.

Mr. Rotenberg: It is still cheaper than American gas.

Mr. Breaugh: The parliamentary assistant has this little problem in his head. This province is not yet part of the United States of America.

Mr. Rotenberg: I know, and it is going to remain independent.

Mr. Breaugh: An independent nation; is that the term the parliamentary assistant is using now?

Mr. Rotenberg: No, part of an independent country. We are still getting American tourists up here.

Mr. Breaugh: I thought the parliamentary assistant was trying to attract all these people into the province to use the road system, which the government built at great expense. In many parts of the province it is a good one, but for many parts I apologize. In many parts of northern Ontario the road system is not quite as good as it is in the southern part of the province. Maybe if the parliamentary assistant spoke up a little more, maybe if we had an opportunity to hear the members from the rural areas, from the north, from the east --

Mr. Boudria: The member for Leeds (Mr. Runciman) will speak on it.

Mr. Breaugh: Yes, that would be interesting. I heard the member for Leeds give a very interesting maiden speech in here, and I heard him criticize the government. I wonder how often he is going to do that, because that is an interesting principle.

The member could convince some of his colleagues to put before the cabinet the problems his constituents will have with the principle in this bill, and to do it now before the bill is implemented. Do not sit around and wait for six or eight months. Do not wait until the end of this summer when the tourist camp operators come in and say, "Gee, the number of people who are travelling from the southern urban centres up into the rural areas in the northern part of the province is declining rapidly because the energy costs are really pretty dramatic and people who have campers or recreational vehicles are really feeling the pinch of this ad valorem tax."

I bet outside in the lobby on the other side, by the fall of this year, we will be hearing all those guys. There will be a silent protest in the lobby on the government side. Would it not be nice if the members opposite had the intestinal fortitude to come in here this afternoon? The members opposite know those arguments are going to come to them over the course of the summer. The members opposite know the farmers and tourist operators are going to be unhappy with this ad valorem tax. The members opposite know it is going to cause problems for their constituents, but they do not have the intestinal fortitude to stand and put on the record of this House their exact opinion on all this. I have not heard them.

Maybe the vow of silence in the question period this afternoon extends to all bills as well. I thought it would be interesting to hear in this debate different views from members who represent different constituencies around the province.

Mr. Wildman: Even the member for Cochrane North is quiet.

Mr. Breaugh: Yes. One can hardly invoke a heckle these days. They are all on their best behaviour.

The Deputy Speaker: Continue the debate, Mr. Breaugh.

Mr. Breaugh: I am trying to, Mr. Speaker, but I think they are attempting to interject. They are trying to work up their courage to get an interjection in. I would be happy with an interjection on the record. I will give the member for Cochrane North a little space here. He does not have to do a whole speech, just a couple of words.

I do not know whether Hansard can record a chuckle on the part of the member. When we go up to that part of the country in the summer and fall and hear complaints from his constituents about the ad valorem tax and the price of energy costs, I want the record to show what his response was when this bill was going through the House. His response was a little chuckle. Some say they heard it in both languages, but I only heard it in one.

Mr. Rotenberg: Which one?

Mr. Breaugh: French.

Ms. Copps: It was definitely a French chuckle.

Mr. Breaugh: It was definitely a French chuckle.

The Deputy Speaker: Never mind the interjections. In conclusion --

Mr. Breaugh: In conclusion? Do I sense that the chair itself is moving to move closure on the members? Do I sense that my --

The Deputy Speaker: That is hardly the case, if you were here about an hour ago.

Mr. Breaugh: I was looking for you Friday night, Mr. Speaker. We had a little gathering on Mary Street North in your riding, and I thought it would have been nice if the honourable member for Durham East had participated in that gathering. We would have welcomed you.

The Deputy Speaker: You have me at a disadvantage, Mr. Breaugh. Would you continue with the debate, please?

Mr. Breaugh: Maybe the chair should not interject, then.

The Deputy Speaker: I am interjecting because you are not speaking to the principle of the bill, remember?

Mr. Breaugh: Let me get back to the principle of the bill. The principle of this bill is kind of institutionalized stuff. It is the government of Ontario moving into the use of computers to elicit tax money from the people of this province, to get a face of decency on the taxation measures, because that is what this does; it is institutionalized increases for taxation purposes. It is not as if we have an opportunity to deal with the budget here; we have a chance to deal with this bill this afternoon, and that is it. The next time the tax increase, which is an integral part of this bill, kicks into place, we will not have the opportunity to say that.

Mr. Rotenberg: That is the way the sales tax works.

Mr. Breaugh: There is a little bit of difference between the sales tax and this.

I want to make sure the record shows I left a little time for other members in the Tory caucus -- those from rural Ontario; those from northern Ontario; those who have tourist camp operators; those who have people interested in the use of recreational vehicles; those who have constituents who drive the larger, not-so-fuel-efficient cars; those who have constituents who, by the nature of the province, have to hop into a pickup truck and drive 80 or 90 miles to get some groceries. They are the ones the government is going to nail with this ad valorem tax. The government is going to get them today, it is going to get them tomorrow and it is going to escalate that.

I want to leave a little bit of time, too, for those members who represent industrial ridings in this House -- most of them are on this side, but there are one or two over there who have their finger in an industrialized area. They will recall the words of the Treasurer (Mr. F. S. Miller) at the time of the great Joe Clark energy debate about what increasing the energy costs, as they are doing in this bill, would do to our industrial sector.

I want to leave a little bit of time so that those members who serve some of the 20,000 unemployed who are the consequences of this kind of energy escalation and pricing have an opportunity to participate in this debate. I want to give those who have constituents who run small businesses, the smaller industries -- maybe not quite as efficient as the larger corporate entities -- who will get hit once again by this kind of taxation, a chance to rise in their places and tell their constituents on the record -- never mind the world at large -- they think this kind of taxation process is unfair.

I think they should tell their constituents they think the principle embodied in Bill 72 is an unreasonable way for the government to proceed. I think they should have the chance to say they at least had the guts to stand up in this House and testify before all the other members that this kind of taxation is unfair and is going to cause their people pain.

Before we wrap up on this bill I want to make sure all members who have that kind of intestinal fortitude, who represent those kinds of ridings, will get the opportunity to stand up and say so. Those who do not --

Mr. Rotenberg: Sit down and give us an opportunity.


Mr. Breaugh: If it were anyone other than the member for Wilson Heights who was threatening to speak I would do just that.

I want to conclude by saying very simply that the principle of this bill is evil in its nature. The principle of this bill is taxation without letting people really see how the taxation is occurring. The principle of this bill is wrong. It has immense ramifications for the Treasurer of Ontario. I am rather interested in the principle he has there from a revenue-gathering point of view, but I do have to point out that it shows a dramatic change in the government's thinking about where it stands on energy prices. It puts them right in the big leagues.

5:40 p.m.

Every time Shell Canada, Imperial Oil or any of the larger corporations want more money, any time the federal government wants a bigger chunk of the pie, any time any of the western producing provinces want more money, I know where Ontario is going to be, standing there smiling with its hands outstretched because it is now part of the oil cartel.

They are happy because anytime anyone in the system bumps the price upwards either onshore or offshore, Ontario will be able to say, "My, you really should not do that, but sincerely we were really glad you bumped up the price because now we get an even bigger chunk."

That is unfortunate because at one time I thought I saw a government that was prepared to tell it like it is about escalating energy prices, to fight back, to represent its industrial sector and to represent its consumers. Now I see there is something which has changed its mind on that position. It is something called greed.

The Deputy Speaker: Let the record show the member for that part of Oshawa was at a function on behalf of the handicapped children in my riding of Durham East.

Ms. Copps: Mr. Speaker, I must proceed with less than my usual voice today because I am suffering from a slight cold. I hope it will not limit the message I am going to try to get across to the government.

I feel a peculiar and particular responsibility today to address the issue of this insidious and sinister ad valorem tax. Not only do I have to answer to the members of my party and the members of this House but I have some of my own constituents in the gallery. I would like it to be known that those constituents in the persons of Don Drury and Dan Abrahams are the kind of people we have been talking about. They are students. They are those on fixed incomes. They are those who are going to be the hardest hit by this tax upon tax, this profiteering on inflation.

If the government saw the kind of car Don Drury is at present forced to drive, with the present situation of high gas costs, it would understand my concern that Don Drury may even have to give up his transportation altogether with the introduction of this insidious ad valorem tax.

It is easy enough for members of the government to say as they roll around in their limousines that the common people should absorb this index on inflation, but there are many people like Don Drury who cannot afford to keep up with the kind of inflation this government is setting up by this ad valorem tax.

We have had much discussion over the last week and a half -- I hope it continues and I dare say it will -- on the issue of the ad valorem tax, but I would like to take members back a few years. I would like to take a look at the true meaning of ad valorem. I always considered Latin a dead language but in this tax it has truly come to life. For those who have not had the benefit of taking Latin and who do not know what case ad valorem is, it is in the accusative case. I say accusative because I think there is only one method in which we can look upon this tax and that is accusing the government of an index on inflation.

J'aimerais aussi dire que cet impôt accuse, on doit accuser le gouvernement de l'Ontario parce qu'il donne de l'inflation en taxe. Je pense qu'à l'issue de taxe ad valorem on doit considérer qu'il y a des gens comme monsieur Andrewes ici qui n'ont vraiment pas les moyens de continuer avec le système tel quel. Si on ajoute la taxe ad valorem ça va continuer à être de pire en pire.

As many have done on the opposite side and some on this side of the House who have legal backgrounds, I would like to develop a case in the best legal sense in discussing the insidious nature of this tax.

Just to bring this into perspective, I used to work as a newspaper reporter for the Ottawa Citizen. One of my responsibilities was to cover the court on the Quebec side of the river. In my capacity as reporter I often had to cover murder trials, et cetera. I would say the most brilliant execution of the law I ever saw in my brief career as a journalist was the case of an alleged drug dealer who had allegedly beaten one of his cohorts over the head with a sledgehammer, stabbed him with a pick and buried him in a very shallow grave.

Apparently the case against this gentleman was airtight. However, we were all waiting with bated breath to see what kind of brilliant defence the defence lawyer could mount. The alleged attacker had a number of previous convictions against him and therefore chose not to appear in the witness box. In our common law, if a person chooses not to appear in the witness box no record can be made of his previous offences. This applied even though this gentleman had been up on a number of charges including murder. Because he chose not to appear in the box, we were not allowed to make any comments about his record.

In order to execute his defence, the defence lawyer called a witness who had received a first-hand confession from this man who had allegedly beaten, bludgeoned and ice-picked a fellow drug dealer.

The Deputy Speaker: Wait a minute, Ms. Copps.

Ms. Copps: Do you not want to hear the end, Mr. Speaker?

The Deputy Speaker: I am having difficulty seeing how it relates to the bill.

Ms. Copps: I will get to it very briefly, Mr. Speaker.

Even though I did not have much respect for the alleged criminal, the defence lawyer was brilliant. He invited the witness to the stand and said, "You have a first-hand confession. Where did you get this confession?" The witness had garnered the confession from this criminal when they were together at Kingston penitentiary. Anyone who is familiar with our legal system knows that in order to get to Kingston one has to be a criminal with a record that includes at least a two-year sentence. On this simple point of law the whole case was immediately thrown out. The lawyer crucified the opposition with their own words and that, Mr. Speaker, brings me to the point.

I will continue in French for the benefit of the member for Prescott-Russell (Mr. Boudria).

On doit considérer qu'il y a des gens comme monsieur Andrewes ici qui n'ont vraiment pas les moyens de continuer avec le système tel quel. Si on ajoute la taxe ad valorem ça va continuer à être de pire en pire.

Je vais expliquer un peu. J'aimerais expliquer un peu ce qui arrive dans cette cour où -- c'était vraiment une cour très bizarre parce que nous avions vraiment -- un monsieur est arrivé. L'avocat a demandé à celui qui était le témoin, mais où avez-vous trouvé cette information? Et le témoin a dit, je l'ai trouvé quand j'étais avec lui à Kingston. Alors c'est exact, si quelqu'un fait -- pour dire que l'autre personne avait un record criminel toute la cour était foutue dehors et on devait continuer. Je dis cela pour dire à monsieur l'orateur qu'il faut prendre les paroles du gouvernement conservateur pour vous démontrer vous-même comment vous trahissez les gens de l'Ontario.

One of the things we must also consider, notwithstanding the ad valorem tax, is the kind of tax burden --

Mr. Wildman: I thought you were going to get to the point of your story.

Ms. Copps: The point of the story was that the defence lawyer was able to have the whole case thrown out because the witness testified he was in the penitentiary and therefore had a criminal record. Therefore the evidence was not allowable and it had prejudiced the case. They had to start all over again. I am going to attempt to do that here.

5:50 p.m.

According to Statistics Canada for 1980-81 we have already had a 31.4 per cent increase in car and truck fuel. That is notwithstanding the ad valorem tax. Let us look at what that will do to the consumers of Ontario.

Excuse me, my throat is bothering me.

The second problem we have, again from Statistics Canada, is that the increase in alcohol and tobacco prices through the budget was 9.9 per cent. The only thing I can do is take the words of this very government which is now proposing the ad valorem tax. Let us see what they had to say in the past -- during the election, in 1979, in 1978, in 1977, in 1976, in 1975 and for as many years as they have been in government. I am hoping that what goes up must come down, and eventually this government will come down and we are going to bring it down.

Let us hear what the Premier (Mr. Davis) says about increases in energy taxes. On December 18, 1979, according to the Globe and Mail, he said, "A large increase in excise tax would be a wilful attack on the individual consumers and the general economy of Ontario and would not serve to advance self-sufficiency." Have we seen anything in this budget of 1981 that will encourage self-sufficiency? Has there been any initiative on the part of this government to use the ad valorem tax to further our self-sufficiency in Ontario? Nothing of the sort. It has been a mere tax grab. As the member said, "Instead of mugging -- "

How did the member put it?

Mr. Nixon: "Instead of mugging you in the bush, he is picking your pocket."

Ms. Copps: Right: "Instead of mugging you in the bush, he is picking your pocket." I think that is right on. Let us see what the member for York Mills (Miss Stephenson) had to say in her election material. "Many economists have identified excess government spending and lack of fiscal management by government as two factors which fuel inflation."

Mr. Rotenberg: Mr. Trudeau is a pro at it.

Mr. Wildman: You are just jealous because you are not as good at it as Trudeau.

Mr. Rotenberg: At least we are honest about it.

The Deputy Speaker: Order, please.

Ms. Copps: She cites one of the reasons people should vote for her and for the Conservative government is that they have not increased major taxes; there has not been a growth of government spending, they have been attempting to reduce inflation. This was all prior to the realities of March 19. What do we see now? Everything they have spoken against is becoming a sad reality for the taxpayers of Ontario.

Over and over again in this campaign literature of a government that alleges to have kept the promise and that it will keep the promise we see this same tone -- this same empty promise of keeping taxes down, of not allowing such a tax as an ad valorem tax ever to come into existence, heaven forbid, in this province.

This is from the flyer of the Minister of Health (Mr. Timbrell): "Provincial income taxes have not increased since 1977 despite the pressures of inflation." I quote: "The Progressive" -- I use the word loosely -- "Conservatives have led Ontario through a tough economic time by providing sound government management -- "


Ms. Copps: I am glad to see they are clapping because I am sure they will be clapping when I read the rider: "and despite inflationary pressure, provincial income tax, which is the largest source of government revenue, has not increased since 1977." Now clap.

However, as our party has said and will continue to say, according to the Conference Board of Canada, Ontario has been last in gross provincial product growth, last in per capita gross provincial product, last in per capita income, last in rate of public investment, last in residential construction. The Premier's reply was, "It is unfair to compare Ontario with Prince Edward Island."

I would like to compare Ontario with Prince Edward Island because there was a time when Ontario was not as quick to get on the taxation bandwagon. I refer to the original introduction of the gas taxes. Many of the members may not have been born then so I will fill them in on the historical perspective.

Let us take a look at the history of gasoline taxation. The first tax was introduced in the United States in Oregon in 1919. In 1922 Alberta, as usual taking the lead in this field, was the first Canadian province to introduce gasoline tax. But Ontario held back, because at that time they realized they had a certain responsibility to the people of Ontario.

Between 1922 and 1925, Manitoba, British Columbia, Prince Edward Island and Quebec began taxing gasoline. Did Ontario take the lead as in the ad valorem tax? No. It waited until May 11, 1925, which was the momentous day when the Ontario consumers were levied with a three-cents-a-gallon tax on gas. It has been going up ever since.

Some on the opposite side of the House -- I was not there at the time -- may remember a few short years ago when the government did speak out against resource tax increases which carried no responsibility to encourage conservation of supply or development of alternative sources.

J'aimerais aussi discuter un peu de la situation historique pour l'essence. Comme vous le savez, en Ontario, on n'est pas toujours les premiers à commencer avec les impôts sur l'essence. Si on voit l'histoire de la taxation, c'est arrivé premièrement aux Etats-Unis en 1919 suivi par la province de l'Alberta en 1922. Comme d'habitude l'Alberta a pris position en premier au Canada pour mettre la taxe sur l'essence. Pour continuer, entre 1922 et 1925 le Manitoba, l'Ile-du-Prince-Edouard, la Colombie-Britannique et le Québec ont commencé cette sorte d'impôt. C'était seulement le 11 de mai 1925 que le gouvernement de l'Ontario a commencé cette taxe. A ce moment-là ils ont fait un impôt de 3 cents sur le gallon et il faut dire que cela a continué à augmenter depuis ce temps-là.

The reason I am translating is for the benefit of those who may not know. There are people in this province who do not speak English and who have the right to hear services in both languages. When this House gets a translation service equal to the kind in other provinces we will not have to carry on this dual translation.

Hon. Mr. Ashe: A lot of people understand it.

Mr. Roy: You aren't getting the message in either language.

Mr. Rotenberg: It is six o'clock. Mr. Speaker.

The Deputy Speaker: Order, please, from all members of the Legislature. Ms. Copps is not feeling well.

Ms. Copps: Do you want me to adjourn now? I am prepared to adjourn.

I would like to tell the members what the Treasurer has to say.

Le trésorier de l'Ontario et le ministre de l'Economie. Il a fait un discours le 10 juin 1981 au Ottawa Men's Club. Et qu'est-ce qu'il a dit au Ottawa Men's Club à propos de cette taxe vraiment répréhensible?

"I want to point out one thing many people do not realize is that Ontario's taxpayers have the second lowest tax burden in the country." That may be the case if one does not include OHIP premiums or this insidious ad valorem tax. The Treasurer may well have a case, but every newspaper in the province has verified that with these taxes Ontario is second to none in provincial income taxation.

The Deputy Speaker: And at that point you will be adjourning the debate.

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

The House recessed at 6 p.m.