32nd Parliament, 1st Session




































The House met at 2:03 p.m.



Mr. Philip: On a point of privilege, Mr. Speaker: I am concerned about the fact that certain residents of Metropolitan Toronto who happen to be members of the Federation of Metro Tenants' Associations were denied access to this building by certain security guards. When I was called from my caucus meeting to speak to the security guards, I spoke to one in particular who seemed to be in charge. He informed me that he had orders not to admit these people because it was a demonstration.

I asked him where those orders came from and he said he wanted to talk to me privately. I said, "These are my constituents and therefore anything you say is their business." He then refused to tell me where those orders came from. What we had was about 25 people who were trying to see members of this Legislature. Many of them had an appointment in the media studio at four o'clock this afternoon and therefore had business in this House.

I wonder if the Speaker would inquire into the incident because I happen to believe that my constituents and other people who are taxpayers should have legitimate access to this building. They were not conducting a demonstration, they were here to see members of the Legislature. In fact, many members of this House have seen deputations from that organization.

Mr. Speaker: Thank you.

Mr. Robinson: Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of privilege for the information of the House.

Mr. Nixon: I wonder if you would deal with that request, Mr. Speaker, because after all what the honourable member has put before you is an indication of what I called you about this morning. You indicated that there was no demonstration and that they were all admitted to the building. Perhaps you might give us your views.

Mr. Speaker: The only observation I can make at this time is that the matter which the member for Etobicoke (Mr. Philip) has raised is completely new to me. I am not aware of it, contrary to what the member for Brant-Oxford-Norfolk (Mr. Nixon) and I were speaking about this morning.

Mr. Nixon: There has to be some clarification, Mr. Speaker. I phoned you about precisely the same thing. You said there was no demonstration and that they were all admitted to the building.

Mr. Speaker: To the best of my knowledge there was no demonstration. Nobody was denied access and, as far as I know, those people who had appointments to meet with members did meet with those members. I am not prepared to discuss it any further until I look into the allegations of the member for Etobicoke.

Mr. Philip: With the greatest of respect, Mr. Speaker, they were only admitted once I confronted that particular security guard and informed him they had business in this House. At that time I understand they were admitted into the building. These are law-abiding people. They were not demonstrating in the Legislature. They were here to see members and to make what I, as the housing critic for this party, consider to be a legitimate point of view known to the members.

Mr. Speaker: Thank you for drawing this matter to my attention. As I say, it is completely new to me and I was not aware of it.


Mr. Robinson: On a point of privilege, Mr. Speaker: I wanted to draw to your attention and to the attention of the House that, as many of the members know, a little earlier today the great tug-of-war was held in aid of the United Way campaign for 1981. I would draw to your attention that not only members of this House, but members of your staff and officers of this assembly performed admirably in your service, Mr. Speaker, on behalf of that great cause.

I would particularly draw to your attention the hard and enthusiastic efforts of your legislative pages, who enthusiastically held off almost all comers although at one point with a certain amount of assistance from one of the substantial marble columns within the building itself.

Mr. Smith: Is the member referring to the Minister of Agriculture and Food (Mr. Henderson)?

Mr. Robinson: The Minister of Agriculture and Food stood firm.

I would also commend for the record, Mr. Speaker, the administration, your Hansard staff, your public relations staff and, as I mentioned, your pages.

Unfortunately, on the other side of the coin I must also draw to your attention that despite the billing that was put out advertising this memorable event, members of the opposition did not appear to take part in the final advertised event of this spectacle. I understood that team was to be organized by the member for Hamilton Centre (Ms. Copps). I can only assume her caucus copped out.

Mr. O'Neil: Mr. Speaker, may I remind the House and the honourable member that there was a Liberal who turned up; that was I. I figure I could have handled all the members opposite but they would not take me on.

Mr. Robinson: Had I been permitted I would have continued with that remark. If I may continue for one moment, Mr. Speaker, I would finally draw to your attention that this event raised $43 for the United Way. I would challenge the Liberal Party, in repayment and atonement for its absence, to match that amount.

Mr. Speaker: I am not sure whether that was a point of privilege.

Ms. Copps: Mr. Speaker, on the same point of privilege: I would like to throw a challenge to the member for Scarborough-Ellesmere (Mr. Robinson) to participate in the talent show on Thursday, since we were busy with government today. I would ask him to participate on Thursday with my colleagues in the Two Grits, which is going to be singing the praises or the woes of this province in an effort to assist the United Way.

Mr. Speaker: I thank the member very much. I think everybody appreciates the efforts of those members who took part to raise money for the United Way. It proved something I have always thought over the years, that the pages are the pillars of support in this Legislature.




Hon. Mr. Bernier: Mr. Speaker, copies of my statement have been delivered to the two opposition critics, the member for Rainy River (Mr. T. P. Reid) and the member for Lake Nipigon (Mr. Stokes).

I am pleased to inform the House that this month marks the tenth anniversary of the establishment of the service of norOntair, the local airline of the air services division of the Ontario Northland Transportation Commission, an agency of the Ministry of Northern Affairs.

2:10 p.m.

Mr. Martel: That is the one the minister wanted to sell, is it not?

Hon. Mr. Bernier: Never.

Since the airline's inception in October 1971, when it first provided the vital link of air passenger and transportation facilities for four northern communities, it has grown to become one of the world's largest commuter airlines. Today, as a feeder airline, norOntair services 21 scattered communities, providing them with essential service to larger centres, with links to Air Canada and Nordair.

These northern communities stretch from North Bay in the southeastern corner of northern Ontario to Red Lake in the northwest. In terms of unduplicated route mileage this is a distance of some 2,000 route miles, which gives norOntair one of the longest air-route structures of any commuter carrier on the North American continent and possibly in the world.

The actual operation of norOntair is contracted to private carriers, but it is funded as a subsidized operation of the Ontario Northland Transportation Commission. When the airline commenced service in 1971 it was recognized that operating subsidies would be necessary. I am pleased to inform the House that today the operating subsidy per passenger has declined to the point where nearly 80 per cent of the airline's costs are paid for by the users. As an example, the per-passenger subsidy in 1971 was $75. The airline's operation was so successful over the past decade that the per-passenger subsidy for the past year was down to $5.91.

The service operates with nine de Havilland Twin Otter aircraft, and has increased its passenger traffic from 500 a month in 1971 to well over 10,000 passengers a month this year. The ready acceptance and use of the airline stresses and exemplifies the need and benefits of air travel service over great distances and difficult terrain. It emphasizes the special role of the airline in virtual door-to-door service for passengers, freight and mail.

In addition, it highlights the benefits for businessmen and the communities they visit. For example, a recent survey revealed that nearly 70 per cent of the passenger travel was for business purposes; the remaining 30 per cent was travel for tourism and other personal reasons. For businessmen, norOntair has become an important aspect of industrial and commercial life in northern Ontario. They and their companies have come to depend on norOntair as an integral part of their day-to-day business activities in the economic development of northern Ontario. This reflects the airline's role of helping to reduce the isolation of scattered communities in the north and facilitating air service connections with southern Ontario.

NorOntair currently enjoys a very positive working relationship with Air Canada and Nordair by providing important connections to the regions for these larger carriers. Some 55 per cent of all norOntair passengers are connecting to or from other airlines. It is because of this connecting role in the northern routes that norOntair has developed this essentially close partnership, which is very much to the economic benefit of northern communities.

This government's approach to extending norOntair's service to particular communities has been guided, and will continue to be guided, by the principle that the private sector should be encouraged to offer those services it feels can be commercially viable. The option of subsidizing services directly through norOntair will be considered by the government only if demand warrants it and if the private sector is not prepared to provide the necessary service.

In this respect I am pleased to say that demand has been found sufficient to undertake further serious study of extending norOntair's service to three more communities: Hearst, Marathon and Manitouwadge, communities located east of Thunder Bay. In keeping with government programs the private sector will be encouraged to work in close association with norOntair in considering and evaluating the extension of air service into these communities. As part of this development, in late 1984 norOntair will become the world's first customer for Dash-8 36-passenger pressurized aircraft from de Havilland Aircraft of Canada Limited.

The airline's success is positive proof that it is aiding northern communities facing the changes and challenges of northern Ontario. We live in a world of shrinking distances, and I am personally pleased to extend my congratulations to norOntair for 10 years of excellent service. I know that members of this House will join with me when I say that I look forward to the next 10 years of continued success and progress for this mighty little airline. In fact, it is truly the air transportation success story of the past decade.

Mr. Speaker, in your gallery we have three gentlemen who are directly responsible for the operation of norOntair at this time. We have one of the directors of the Ontario Northland Transportation Commission, Mr. Peter Burns, who hails from Dryden; the air services branch director, Don Wallace, and the financial director, Mr. John Wallace. I know you will want to give them a hearty vote of congratulations.

Mr. Nixon: On a point of clarification; I don't think the public address system was working very well: Did the minister indicate that the passes that we at present have on the rail portion of the Ontario Northland Railway are going to be extended to include norOntair so that those of us in the southern part of the province can be encouraged to visit areas of the north other than Moosonee?

Hon. Mr. Bernier: No, Mr. Speaker, I did not say that, but I want to remind the honourable member that under the rules of this House he has the opportunity to go anywhere in the province four times a year, and if he uses those opportunities and he has need to go to northern Ontario, I would be glad to arrange transportation on norOntair.


Hon. Mrs. Birch: Mr. Speaker, today I would like to table the seventh annual report of the Ontario Advisory Council on Senior Citizens. This report, like the six before it, represents the excellent work carried out by dedicated members of this council.

It is particularly appropriate that the cover has pictures by young pupils depicting activities of children with their grandparents, because the council's fostering of intergenerational programs has led to enrichment in the lives of both young and elderly persons here in Ontario.

Mr. Speaker, the present chairman of the council, Doug Rapelje, and one of the two vice-chairmen, Florence Johnson, are in your gallery today, along with Hope Holmested, the council's first chairman, who did so much in setting the excellent base from which the council now works. Would you join with me in showing your appreciation to these fine people?



Mr. Smith: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Treasurer. I have in my hand copies of two interesting articles, one from the Globe and Mail, October 2, 1981, which says, "Miller urges Ottawa to Adopt Reagan Economic Plan," and one from the Globe and Mail, Monday, October 26, saying, "William Davis warned ... his party against ... moving towards the ultraconservatism of US President Ronald Reagan."

Does the Treasurer not find it just a bit tiresome having to continue to pretend that he is running the economy of Ontario? Does he not find the continuing saga of the differences between himself and the government just a little bit embarrassing, and has he already asked the Premier (Mr. Davis) for another portfolio?

Hon. Mr. Davis: The answer is no, and he wouldn't get it.

Hon. F. S. Miller: You mean I am totally out of a job?

Mr. Smith: You have been for two weeks, my friend.

Hon. F. S. Miller: I suppose -- no, I won't say that, Mr. Speaker. I will be kind today.

I am surprised, after the years in the position the member has held, that he would assume that something he read in the Globe and Mail automatically was a fair report. I have heard the Leader of the Opposition say that part of his reason for voluntary resignation was because the press never really understood his policies and never reported them accurately. I have not had that problem; I have always felt very fairly treated by the press.

One of the things I said at that point was this: Whether one believes in Reaganomics or not, one had better wish they work because we in Canada, whether we like it or not, are very heavily tied to the economic wellbeing of the United States.

2:20 p.m.

Mr. Smith: I have a supplementary that indicates further how we have tied ourselves to the economic wellbeing of the United States. Has the Treasurer had time to reflect now on the fact that the deal arranged by Ontario to buy Suncor not only is going to send out $325 million to begin with, but in addition the next $325 million is to be paid for out of withheld dividends? The Treasurer is familiar with that?

Is he aware that Suncor in its entire history of more than 50 years in Canada has never declared dividends? In order to accommodate Ontario's wish to be able to pay for its half share out of dividends, not only will the company have to declare dividends which will give Ontario $97 million a year, but it means that almost $300 million a year will be flowing out of the company and out of the country to the owners in Pennsylvania. These people heretofore always reinvested their money in Canada and have never declared dividends on common shares in the past.

Hon. F. S. Miller: Mr. Speaker, I think the Leader of the Opposition has jumped to a few conclusions about the methods of the financing. I think until those are totally complete, he would be wise not to jump to that conclusion.

Mr. Cassidy: Supplementary. Mr. Speaker: Since the Treasurer has been advocating Reaganomics to the federal government, could he explain how it would benefit the people of this province? When working people have had a cut in real incomes in the last four or five years in Ontario, why is the Treasurer recommending cuts in government services -- which means cuts in services to people on ordinary incomes -- while he wants tax cuts for people in upper income brackets? He also wants to cut the rate of capital gains tax, which also benefits people who are in the upper income bracket. Why does the Treasurer want to cut services to people who are poor and cut taxes to people who are rich?

Hon. F. S. Miller: Mr. Speaker, I think the honourable member is jumping to conclusions that I asked for cuts in services to the poor. It is just the opposite. I made an impassioned appeal to the federal government not to cut back on the one successful program it has negotiated with the provinces over the last few years. This was a program it promised would be a long-term one, relating to established program financing. I asked that it not be cut for the simple reason it had not led the growth pattern of federal government spending; in fact, it trailed the growth pattern. We in turn were not asking for cuts; we were simply asking for the same kind of efficient management at the federal level that we have seen at the provincial level for the last seven years.

Mr. Smith: Would the Treasurer admit his dividend-paying policy, in order to repay half the share, will cause an outflow of hundreds of millions of dollars a year to the United States? In addition to that, would he admit that taking the purchase price of Suncor and calculating the 10-year amortization of the price, and using a rate of 17 per cent interest on the money borrowed, the total amount that will be paid for the Suncor shares -- the 25 per cent -- will be $2,412,782,000, compounding the interest annually over the course of 10 years? Since he has to pay interest on the money he borrows, and he has to pay interest on the interest year after year, it does come to compound interest. Would the Treasurer agree that the total price over 10 years therefore will be more than $2 billion?

Hon. F. S. Miller: The old adage that figures can lie, et cetera, comes to mind.

Mr. Peterson: That is really profound for the Treasurer of this province.

Mr. Speaker: Order. Order.

Hon. F. S. Miller: I haven't heard a profound thing out of the honourable member since he became my critic three years ago.

Mr. Speaker: Just ignore the interjections.

Hon. F. S. Miller: If the member ever got above the personal level, he might make it to leader. He just might, but he has never been able to make --


Mr. Speaker: Order. Would the Treasurer address himself to the question please?

Mr. Peterson: Who just made the personal comment?

Hon. F. S. Miller: You did.

Mr. Speaker, that same kind of arithmetic could be applied to almost any investment any of us makes in a house, stocks, bonds or whatever. The fact remains that if one buys any good-grade Canadian security today, looks at the dividend and compares it to the interest rate, in most cases the interest rate exceeds the dividend. I think one would accept that. One has to allow for the fact that because of tax rules, in the hands of most of us a dividend is worth more money than the equivalent number of dollars as interest.

The fact remains that the replacement value of most major Canadian corporations far exceeds the share value. that is why we have seen many takeovers in Canada of major corporations. That is one of the reasons our investment in Suncor will stand the scrutiny of economic analysis.


Mr. Smith: I would like to ask a question of the Minister of the Environment, Mr. Speaker, regarding the Ridge landfill site near Harwich township. The minister is obviously aware of last Wednesday's decision in the divisional court of the Supreme Court of Ontario, which upheld a previous decision saying its certificate of approval is null and void. In other words, it never should have received five million gallons of liquid waste over the years 1979 to 1981.

Could the minister explain what he is going to do to enforce the decision of the court? I understand the site has now been closed. What will the minister do to make sure it stays that way, and what actions will he take with regard to the disposal of liquid and hazardous wastes that were originally destined for the Ridge site?

Hon. Mr. Norton: Mr. Speaker, the Leader of the Opposition is correct. The site is closed to the receipt of liquid industrial wastes at the present time, as a consequence of that court decision.

The staff of my ministry has now completed a review of the nature of the categories of liquid wastes that were being received there, for purposes of determining whether they would fall within the licences or permits of other receivers in that area -- for example, I presume Tricil would be one logical alternative -- and also to determine the volumes. At this point I am advised by my regional staff that there is no crisis, that the volumes that were being received and the types of waste that were being received can be taken by other sites.

We have made the proviso, though, that if a particular crisis should arise with respect to a specific load we would be notified and in that situation we would deal with it on a specific basis. In terms of any general problem, there does not appear to be one at the present time. We will continue, obviously, to monitor the situation and try to ensure that no liquid waste goes into that site. I am sure that if any is headed in that direction we will hear about it very quickly.

Mr. Smith: Supplementary, Mr. Speaker: Since that site found its licence declared void because it never had hearings when bringing in important changes to its original application, and since those are precisely the same conditions that exist at the Tricil site and at the city of Guelph site -- two other sites in Ontario that are equally illegal, having brought important changes into their certificates of approval without having had hearings -- is the minister prepared to say what he is going to do to dispose of the liquid waste if it cannot go to Tricil either?

Is he aware that the city of Guelph site and the Tricil site at Corunna both have exactly the same legal problem the Ridge landfill site has had? If he is not aware of it, why in Heaven's name has his staff not told him about it?

Hon. Mr. Norton: Mr. Speaker, I am aware that issue might well arise. To the best of my knowledge and on the basis of advice from my staff, we do not perceive it to be an immediate problem, but I can assure the honourable member we are watching that situation very carefully and we will take whatever steps are necessary to correct it.

Mr. Speaker: Final supplementary.

Mr. Smith: Since it is perfectly obvious that the minister has been taken by surprise and had no idea that both the Tricil site and the city of Guelph site were in the same spot, legally speaking, as the Ridge landfill site, will he take it upon himself to insist that his staff be cleaned out from top to bottom, to get people in there who know what they are doing, to look at the certificates of approval, and who recognize that there is a reason for having hearings in Ontario to determine if the land is suitable for liquid industrial waste?

Neither of those sites was licensed with proper hearings for liquid industrial waste. The minister is not protecting us. What action is he prepared to take in his ministry to make sure he gets up-to-date information in the future?

2:30 p.m.

Hon. Mr. Norton: Mr. Speaker, as is so often the case, those things that appear to be perfectly obvious to the Leader of the Opposition are not necessarily as obvious or simplistic as he views them. I am not, I can assure him, taken by surprise by any of this. I have had extensive discussions with both the legal staff in my ministry and the technical staff. I am well aware of the situation.

Mr. Cassidy: A supplementary, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker: New question. That was the final supplementary.


Mr. Cassidy: Mr. Speaker, I have a new question for the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations with respect to the future of rent review.

Is the minister aware of the statements by Professor Barry Cullingworth of the University of Toronto, an expert on rent review, suggesting that from his contacts with the ministry and with the industry he expects the provincial government to raise the ceiling on annual rent increases shortly to at least eight per cent and then subsequently to raise the ceiling by one percentage point every six months until a new unspecified ceiling is reached?

Could the minister assure the House that is not the intention of the government and that it is the intention of the government to maintain the present six per cent ceiling on rent review in Ontario?

Hon. Mr. Walker: Mr. Speaker, I cannot give an assurance as it relates to the last matter; in fact I have continued to say that at some time that six per cent percentage has to be looked at.

I would say that with respect to Professor Cullingworth I have no idea where he got his information, but if he got the information from the Ministry of Consumer and Commercial Relations it bore no relationship whatsoever to anything that has been discussed in the ministry, as far as I am concerned or as far as anyone who would normally be concerned is concerned.

I have never seen a more unfactual, inaccurate arid wrong report come out of any kind of government department. That is just not the case. I suspect he might have been having dreams one night and came up with those figures, since I do not know where he would have come up with them otherwise. He certainly did not arrive at them with respect to us.

I am interested in the fact that the leader of the third party makes his comment about the guideline adjustment. I remember the New Democratic Party caucus position on May 24, 1978, which was that "the guideline must, however, be adjusted annually to reflect actual increased or reduced costs for standard items in typical rental units." I suppose we are having this kind of suggestion from the leader of the third party now, are we?

Mr. Cassidy: Since I made it clear during the course of the 1981 election campaign that the NDP's position was that we believed the six per cent ceiling on rent increases should be maintained in Ontario, I suggest the minister does not have to go back to 1978 to find out what the NDP's position happens to be.

Mr. Foulds: We would like to reduce it.

Mr. Cassidy: That is right.

Would the minister be prepared to say whether the government is now prepared to acknowledge that there is a problem for tenants who are living in buildings that have been built since 1976, which are not covered by rent review and where rent increases in fact often exceed the six per cent by substantial margins? Will the government now undertake to bring newer buildings that have been built since 1976 under rent review, to give those tenants the same protection as people in older buildings happen to have?

Hon. Mr. Walker: That is an interesting suggestion that the honourable member has raised. We will certainly consider anything that he proposes in this House at a time when we are considering the matter.

If it is not necessary to go back to 1978 to quote the NDP position which suggested then that "the guideline must, however, be adjusted annually to reflect actual increased or reduced costs," I can go to 1981 and quote the NDP housing critic. It says here in a Toronto Star article, "'The six per cent ceiling on rent increases may be a little low,' said Philip, MPP for the Etobicoke riding and the NDP housing critic." He is the housing critic and I would have to assume that the position he is advancing is a reasonable one.

Mr. Smith: Supplementary, Mr. Speaker: When the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations himself faced a 72 per cent increase in rent in July of this year he, at his rental level and at his income, had the option of finding another place to live; but since most of the tenants represented today and most of the tenants in Toronto do not have the option of moving elsewhere, because there are no vacancies at affordable rents in Toronto, will the minister tell us what he is prepared to do to protect the supply of affordable rental accommodation that does exist by bringing in a policy to prevent the destruction of such accommodation or its replacement by luxury condominiums?

Now that the courts have struck down the bylaws which held off that phenomenon, as the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing (Mr. Bennett) noted, what will Queen's Park do to make sure that we do not lose the supply we now have?

Hon. Mr. Walker: Mr. Speaker, the honourable Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing has from time to time indicated that while there is a tightness of supply within the Toronto area, particularly in downtown Toronto, in Metropolitan Toronto something like 33 per cent of all tenancies change hands in any one year, so there must be a certain amount of mobility.

Mr. Cassidy: I would just like to point out to the minister, since he reads this into the record of the Legislature about once every two months, that my colleague from Etobicoke (Mr. Philip) indicated very clearly that the NDP is committed not only to continuing rent controls but also to expanding them, and he also insists that apartments built after 1975 should not be exempt from the controls.

That is a statement by our party's critic for housing, which is much more definitive than anything the minister has had to say.

Mr. Speaker: Do you have a question?

Mr. Cassidy: My supplementary to the minister is quite simple: Does he agree with the outrageous statement of the parliamentary assistant to the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, the member for Wilson Heights (Mr. Rotenberg), on television last night, that people on modest incomes may have to move out to the outskirts because they will not be able to afford to live in downtown accommodation?

Does the minister agree that the housing policy for his government should be to keep downtown communities for the rich and suburban communities for the poor? Or should we not be able to keep housing at an affordable level for people in all areas of this community?

Hon. Mr. Walker: I do not think there is any answer to the question that the member raised by way of merely making a statement. We do not support the position he is advancing on it, and all we say here is that rent controls are intended to stay.


Mr. Cassidy: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Minister of Community and Social Services (Mr. Drea). In view of the first report of the select committee on pensions, in which Mr. J. A. Taylor, Mr. Williams, Mr. Brandt, Mr. Cousens, Mr. Jones and Mr. Gillies of the Conservative Party in addition to the New Democratic and Liberal representatives recommended that the government of Ontario should increase without delay the payment for the guaranteed annual income system to bring single persons up to the adequacy level of available income recommended for the year in which the increase is made -- in other words, a report in which the Conservative as well as the Liberal and New Democratic members recommended an immediate increase to $550 a month in Gains for single people from the present level of $493 -- will the minister say when the government intends to implement that recommendation and bring single senior citizens out of the level of poverty in which they live now?

Mr. Jones: On a point of personal privilege, Mr. Speaker: The leader of the third party mentioned me among other of my colleagues who are members of the select committee. I for one have not signed that report; rather, the clerk is aware that I and other members of the committee are writing a dissenting report at this time.

Mr. Williams: A further point, Mr. Speaker: The report has not yet been officially tabled in this Legislature, having been withdrawn by the unanimous consent of this House. Therefore, I suggest that this question is out of order.


Hon. Mr. Drea: In any case, Mr. Speaker, I would think the honourable leader of the third party would know it is not a question for me; it is a question for the Minister of Revenue (Mr. Ashe).

Mr. Cassidy: I would so redirect.

Hon. Mr. Ashe: Mr. Speaker, I would suggest to you that the question is out of order, because the report has not been officially tabled in this Legislature.

2:40 p.m.

Mr. Cassidy: Supplementary, Mr. Speaker: I would go back to the Minister of Community and Social Services and say that in view of the recommendations of the Haley commission on pensions, which recommended that elderly single people should get at least 60 per cent of the income a married couple gets, and in view of the recommendations that were tabled today from the advisory council --

Mr. Speaker: Order. With respect, that is not a supplementary.

Mr. Cassidy: With respect, Mr. Speaker, of course it is. The question is exactly the same. It was suggested that this report of the select committee on pensions had been retired, so I am citing other authorities which indicate that this step should be taken now by the government, and I am asking the minister whether the government intends to act.

I direct that question to the minister, and point out to him that the Ontario Advisory Council on Senior Citizens, whose report was tabled in the House today, says quite specifically that the income required by a single person living alone should be closer to two thirds of that provided to a married couple.

When does the government intend to act on the recommendations from the Haley commission and the Ontario Advisory Council on Senior Citizens with respect to the income of single senior citizens?

Hon. Mr. Drea: Mr. Speaker, once again the decisions on Gains-A are specifically the administrative responsibility of the Minister of Revenue and, I presume, the policy decision of the Treasurer (Mr. F. S. Miller). The Haley commission on pensions was authorized by the Treasurer. It is my understanding that he is in charge of whatever decisions will be made about pensions. I am not involved in the thing at all.

Mr. Peterson: Supplementary, Mr. Speaker: Given the fact that the minister, when he was Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations, did bring in amendments under the Pension Benefits Act with respect to disclosure and was a reasonably progressive minister at that point, why would he not use his influence now to remove Ontario's veto for the childrearing dropout provision? Why does the minister not put pressure on the Treasurer, the Premier (Mr. Davis) and others at least to show some good faith in an issue that he used to care about, and I hope still does care about under his new portfolio?

Hon. Mr. Drea: Mr. Speaker, the honourable member is asking me to exercise my private moral persuasive powers. I do constantly exercise these powers, but I think it is a bit unfair for a member -- and I know he did not intentionally do this -- to ask a minister to respond publicly on a matter that is beyond his jurisdiction. What my personal feelings are and how I convey those to my colleagues, particularly the Premier, the Treasurer and others in cabinet, under our system unfortunately have to remain private.

Mr. McClellan: Supplementary, Mr. Speaker: I wonder if the minister can either explain or speculate about why it is that the parliamentary assistant was able to vote in favour of the recommendation to increase the guaranteed annual income system level for senior singles in the committee, and now he is repudiating it in the House? Is the minister aware of any particular pressure or thumping on the head applied by the Treasurer to the honourable parliamentary assistant?

Mr. Jones: Mr. Speaker, on a point of personal privilege again: As a matter of record, I did not vote for that motion, and I would ask the honourable member to withdraw the implication in his statement.

Mr. McClellan: I have no intention of withdrawing.

Mr. Jones: It is absolutely incorrect. I did not vote for that.

Mr. Gillies: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker: As the member for Bellwoods will be aware, I made the motion regarding that particular clause in the report. I signed it; I supported it then and I support it now.

Hon. Mr. Drea: Mr. Speaker, I am not infallible. I do not know why people do things. It is beyond my competency. Nobody has ever discussed this report with me.


Mr. Peterson: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Treasurer with respect to the Suncor deal. The Treasurer stated the Suncor deal would bear up to economic scrutiny if at some point in the future these facts become a matter for public discussion. My leader has established already that the interest compounded on a 17 per cent basis over the next 10 years will be $2.4 billion. Added to the capital cost of $650 million, the total cost is well over $3 billion. I would like the Treasurer to tell me what the undervalued assets are in the 25 per cent purchase of Suncor or the dividend policy. What kind of cash flow will be returned to the province to make this a good deal for the taxpayers of Ontario?

Hon. F. S. Miller: Mr. Speaker, I pointed out in my response to the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Smith) that if one applied the kind of arithmetic he enunciated to any investment, be it Bell Canada shares or whatever, one could come up with that kind of astronomical cost over a number of years. I did point out that the assets purchased have a higher value in our opinion.

For example, the synthetic oil plant; I think there is a capacity of 60,000 barrels a day in that plant. It strikes me that plants with a capacity of 100,000 barrels a day are running somewhere around $10 billion to $12 billion to replace right now.

Mr. Breithaupt: Do you have studies to show this? Table them in the House.

Hon. F. S. Miller: I am recalling figures put forward by companies like Esso and Shell in terms of their proposed synthetic plants in Alberta where they were talking of figures that were anywhere from $8 billion to $15 billion for the value.

Mr. Peterson: What is your dividend going to be with higher oil prices then?

Hon. F. S. Miller: Dividends are not the measure of an investment's value. The member knows full well that a dividend is a discretionary decision of a board of directors to share profits. The real question is, what is the likely growth in the asset value, what are the real earnings of the asset value and what kind of future returns can one expect? I would say that whenever one makes an investment in this country, one exhibits a certain degree of confidence not only in the corporation but in the economy of the country. This province has confidence in both.

Mr. Peterson: The Treasurer is also showing his confidence that oil prices are going to go up dramatically to make this an economic investment, which puts him in a very serious conflict of interest position.

Since the Treasurer said earlier that figures lie, I would invite him to lie to us and share with us the figures that make this --

Mr. Speaker: Order.

Mr. Peterson: Mr. Speaker, what is the matter? He said that figures lie.

Mr. Speaker: He turned it around a little. I am not sure you meant it the way it came out or as I understood it. I would ask you to redraft or rephrase it.

Mr. Peterson: Mr. Speaker, if you check with Hansard, I am sure you will agree with everything I said. The Treasurer said that figures lie and I invited him --

Mr. Speaker: Order. He said figures do not lie.

Some hon. members: He said they do.

Mr. Speaker: Order. Would you proceed with the question and rephrase it so it is acceptable?

Mr. Peterson: Mr. Speaker, with great respect, I think your recollection of some 30 seconds ago is faulty. However, let me ask the Treasurer this: Since the figures either tell the truth or lie, depending on how he views it, why will he not give us the figures so we can scrutinize this from a legislative point of view and make sure we are getting the proper value for the taxpayers of Ontario? Why is the Treasurer not giving us those reports right now?

Hon. Mr. Davis: Go and ask any analyst. You know them well.

Hon. F. S. Miller: That is exactly the answer I would wish to give. Mr. Speaker, with great respect, I did use the term -- I was reminded of the old adage -- figures lie. I was not accusing anybody at the time. I simply said that much and the record will show it.

I would say the great assets of the Liberal Party must surely allow them to go out and talk to some analysts who would tell them, in their opinion and based upon their assessment, whether we are or are not --

Mr. Breithaupt: We want your opinion.

Hon. Mr. Davis: We've already given it.

Hon. F. S. Miller: We gave our opinion with our cheque book. We showed our confidence in the company in that way.

2:50 p.m.

Mr. Foulds: Mr. Speaker, I want to ask the Treasurer a supplementary question: In view of the confidence that he is now expressing in the deal that he initially opposed --

Mr. Nixon: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order having to do with these figures: The Premier has just said he has all the figures there. Remember, Mr. Speaker, you were supposed to speak to him about tabling them, as is required under the rules? He has just indicated across the floor of the House that he has the information right there. Why do we not get it now? Under the rules, it is supposed to be provided.

Hon. Mr. Davis: Mr. Speaker, on this point of order --

Mr. Breithaupt: You don't know why you bought it, and they want to spend twice as much.

Hon. Mr. Davis: I will not debate with the member for Kitchener, but if the member for Brant-Oxford-Norfolk was listening carefully what was suggested across the House was that he get some analyst, and I heard him say something about the fact that he had not seen any analysis. I happen to have statements here from the Financial Times, from somebody on the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation and from one or two others who say it was a very excellent deal. I will be delighted to share those with the member.

Mr. MacDonald: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker: I have been authoritatively informed that there are bushel baskets of information in either the office of the Treasurer or the office of the Minister of Energy (Mr. Welch). Why does the government not make those bushel baskets of information available?

Mr. Foulds: Supplementary, Mr. Speaker: Now that the Treasurer is expressing such confidence in this deal, which he originally opposed, can he tell us what has given him that confidence in the last few days? If he had such confidence, can he tell us why it was he did not suggest that the government go for a full 51 per cent of Suncor?

Can he tell us whether he was dragged, kicking and screaming, into agreeing with the deal because he was finally persuaded that the Ontario government was buying into an oil and gas marketing corporation rather than an exploration one and, because it was primarily involved in marketing, his Treasury would benefit from the ad valorem tax he established last spring?

Hon. F. S. Miller: Mr. Speaker, I was supporting the member until now.

Mr. Foulds: You're disowning me? That means another 20 delegates. Thank you very much.

Hon. F. S. Miller: That he should use that kind of arithmetic to justify a purchase frightens me. I really wonder.

There was a lot of hearsay in that question. There were a number of conclusions reached based upon facts that allegedly came from other sources. I can only say that I have learned, as Treasurer of this province, that when the sum total of the knowledge that reposes in the people on the benches of this side of the House chooses a certain course of action, it is infallible.

Mr. Sargent: Supplementary, Mr. Speaker: In view of the fact that the minister has bought the biggest dog in the oil business in the purchase of Suncor, will he please tell me something? McLeod Young Weir was entitled to a $6-million commission on this $650-million deal. What were the offsetting points? What payoffs would they get if they did not take the commission? I understand they did not take the commission. What were the payoffs along the line?

Second, how can a man employed by the government, using the keys to the Treasury of the province, set up the deal and then resign to make it look as if there was no conflict? That is totally illegal.

How can the Treasurer explain those two important factors in this stinking deal?

Hon. F. S. Miller: Mr. Speaker, I think that kind of question does not deserve an answer in this House.

Mr. Sargent: Mr. Speaker, on a point of privilege: This is a $650-million deal. The people of Ontario are fed up with the government going on like that. I suggest he should answer the question.

Mr. Speaker: Order.

Mr. Sargent: Mr. Speaker, I am going to stand here until he answers the question. It is an important issue.

Mr. Speaker: I have to caution the member. Order, please. Will the member for Grey-Bruce please resume his seat?

Mr. Sargent: Mr. Speaker, I suggest --

Mr. Speaker: Then you leave me no alternative but to name you and ask you to leave this chamber for the balance of this sitting.

Mr. Sargent: What is the answer?

Mr. Speaker: Order. Will you please leave this chamber?

Mr. Sargent was escorted from the chamber by the Sergeant at Arms.


Mr. Cooke: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Minister of Industry and Tourism regarding the latest layoffs at Budd Canada in Kitchener. I am sure the minister is aware of these layoffs. I would like to know his opinion when he considers the fact that General Motors has transferred its contract from Budd Canada to A. O. Smith in the United States? Considering the fact that our trade deficit continues to increase in auto parts, has the minister decided to talk to General Motors to convince them this contract should remain in Ontario?

Further, has he taken into consideration the fact that just about everything that the Treasury's study on the automobile industry has predicted is coming true, including the fact they predicted General Motors would be switching more and more of their auto parts sourcing from Ontario to the United States?

Hon. Mr. Grossman: Mr. Speaker, as the member knows very well, the problems with Budd have been foreseen for a long time. It is basically a very simple function of the changing demands of the automobile industry. There are really no surprises there.

The member also knows fairly well, because he wrote me one of his weekly -- and weak -- open letters some time ago, that the name of the game is competition. It is a difficult market. One of the reasons A. 0. Smith was able to get some of this work from Budd is they became more competitive because they were able to make a more advantageous, from the standpoint of the company, arrangement with their union. In other words, the workers in the American plant decided to be more modest in their wage settlement than was the case in Canada. Whether the workers in Canada had a better case or not, whether there were different circumstances or not, the fact remains that as a result of the wage settlement south of the border the American plant, A. O. Smith, became a more competitive operation, able to produce at a lower rate the same parts that Budd was producing.

Given the state of the automobile industry, the member is not surprised at what happened. No one is really surprised that the work went to the plant that could make that part and supply it more cheaply.

Mr. Cooke: I guess what the minister is saying today is that the auto pact means nothing and that we can play worker against worker in order to try to get contracts and lose jobs. Would the minister not now agree -- instead of as he did in his response to my open letter where he criticized the UAW for not taking wage concessions -- with the editorial that appeared in the Kitchener-Waterloo Record which states the following: "Asking workers for concessions as Budd Canada Incorporated in Kitchener wanted from the United Automobile Workers Union shows competition in its most unflattering light, embracing all the charm of extortion in an attempt to entice workers to accept something less than their fair share for their labour"?

3 p.m.

Does the minister not agree with that statement? Why does he not talk to General Motors and tell them they have an obligation under the auto pact to keep jobs here in Ontario and to lower the auto pact deficit?

Hon. Mr. Grossman: To return to the facts, I think the member knows General Motors is not the main source, even a major source, of the deficit under the auto pact. Most of it comes from Ford's in-house parts plant sourcing, not from General Motors sourcing. General Motors will either meet its auto pact requirements or it will not. That is a job for enforcement by the federal government. Certainly this government has not only said the Big Three and everyone else in the auto pact should meet their requirements, but this government particularly has called for public disclosure of the details of compliance with the auto pact.

If this government had its way we would know whether GM for sure was meeting those requirements. In those circumstances, if they were not -- and the member has no evidence they are not -- some approaches to GM would be appropriate.

Mr. Cooke: You have no evidence they are.

Hon. Mr. Grossman: Let us be sensible. The federal government has an agreement with General Motors and everyone else. The federal government, we must presume, is enforcing that agreement; and GM, we must presume, are meeting their requirements or the federal government would take appropriate action against them. We would see an order in council relieving them of those commitments. We should clearly understand that part of the enforcement of the auto pact.

When the member talks about trying to keep Budd in business and keeping employment here, there is no question Budd is doing what everyone else is doing in industry -- that is, trying to lower their production costs. That comprises a lot of things. It involves the loss of a lot of income for a lot of auto parts people who have invested their own money but find themselves not competitive in terms of supplying components to Budd and other people.

It implies that many dealers and suppliers and agents have lost money because they are not able to be competitive. Everyone is trying to be competitive, and it is causing massive changes in the pattern of doing business traditionally in this country and in the United States. In the case of Budd and in the case of A. O. Smith, each of them did what they could with their unions to make sure their costs of labour were as competitive as they could be. Chrysler certainly did that. I believe the member supported that because the UAW in that circumstance determined that a wage concession was necessary to keep Chrysler in business. The union --

Mr. Roy: That will do, Larry.

Hon. Mr. Grossman: The member is here only two days a week. He might as well learn what he can while he is here.

Mr. Roy: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker: We are quite prepared to abide by the rules. We understand your enforcing the rules is necessary to keep order in this place, but we want to see the rules enforced equally. That member consistently gives statements instead of answering questions. When you are prompt to cut off a question as being too lengthy, I suggest you apply the same principle to the government members and then possibly we will get more order in this place.

Mr. Speaker: Order. The minister will address the question.

Hon. Mr. Grossman: Mr. Speaker, I can only say to the honourable visitor from Ottawa that on Monday and Friday I am succinct and brief. On Tuesday and Thursday I like to educate him while he is here.

May I say to the honourable member, who unlike the visitor from Ottawa does understand something about the automotive industry, these kinds of co-operative endeavours are going to be needed throughout the auto industry in the next period if they are to survive. Whether the company played fair or not there are mechanisms in place to determine that. But the reality of the situation is that the difference between the two operations was the cost of labour, or so we are informed.

Mr. Ruprecht: Supplementary, Mr. Speaker: The minister tells us the name of the game is competition, but as far as we understand --

Mr. Speaker: Question?

Mr. Ruprecht: This is the question. As far as we understand it, his portfolio permits him to be competitive. What has the minister done specifically in this case to make our industries and plant manufacturing companies more efficient so their jobs are not moving to the south? What has he done specifically in this case to prevent that and to make our industries more competitive?

Hon. Mr. Grossman: Mr. Speaker, I do not know where the member was -- I think it was last Thursday or Friday -- when I rhymed off 10 or 15 things. In the interests of time -- because I am always worried about time in this House -- I stopped at about 15 initiatives this government had taken to deal with those kinds of problems.

In the case of Budd, to give the member an extra supplementary question, we have spent a particularly long time dealing with the Budd people. We have been meeting with them beginning about two years ago right up until recently to see if there is anything this government can do to replace employment in that plant. We have done a great deal with Budd. The realities are as I indicated them earlier.

Hon. Mr. Norton: Mr. Speaker, I wonder if I might take this opportunity to draw to the attention of the honourable members the presence in your gallery of some special guests from the state of California.

Mr. Lawrence Kapiloff, an assemblyman from the San Diego area and chairman of the state's select committee on acid rain, is heading a delegation of political and senior technical people who are here --


Mr. Speaker: Order. Order.

Hon. Mr. Norton: -- this week to learn more about Ontario's acid rain problem and to share with us their experience. Also present is Marion Bergeson, ranking minority member of the committee and Charles Warren, special environmental consultant to the committee.

The staff of my ministry were in San Francisco earlier this summer at a special screening of our film, Crisis in the Rain. Because of the interest expressed during that visit by the California people we invited them to Ontario to take part in our ongoing program of acid rain tours for Americans. I would like to ask the honourable members to join me in welcoming these guests to our gallery, in spite of the rather bad manners demonstrated by our members opposite.

Mr. Speaker: Thank you. I will add two minutes to the length of question period to compensate for your statement.


Mr. Wrye: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Colleges and Universities (Miss Stephenson). The minister stated in both the House and to reporters yesterday that the $321 million her government has withheld from universities over the last four years would not have made any difference to the program of the universities. In addition she could not say whether the extra financing would translate directly into improvements in programs. Given this, how does she explain her warning issued just last week that reductions in federal transfers would, and I quote: "Have major implications for the structure of the system. Such reductions would clearly exacerbate already pressing problems."?

Why is a federal dollar so much more important to the quality of our university system than a provincial dollar?

Hon. Miss Stephenson: Mr. Speaker, if the honourable member would carefully reread what he has purported to read, he would recognize that I asked a question. I did not make a statement. I did ask that question and would ask it again -- whether over the past several years during which time the universities have been subjected --

Mr. Smith: That's marvellous. You know for sure if it's federal, but you have to question it if it's provincial.

Hon. Miss Stephenson: I do wish the member for Hamilton West (Mr. Smith) would stop rising and writhing daily. I am very much concerned about his cerebrovascular system.

Mr. Smith: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker: If the minister means it is quite easy to have a stroke listening to her trying to backpedal on what she said yesterday she is quite right. But if she is going to make reference, she ought to address herself to the matter that was asked. Regarding the $321 million from the province, if she has to ask a question about that, how come she knew for sure the federal dollars would do harm but she is not so sure about the provincial dollars?

Mr. Speaker: Order. Order.

Hon. Miss Stephenson: Mr. Speaker, I do have some concern about a leader who obviously believes his local members cannot ask questions that others can understand. There are circumstances in which that does happen, but the member for Windsor-Sandwich (Mr. Wrye) asked a question that I understood. I bow to the superior intellect of the Leader of the Opposition --

3:10 p.m.

Mr. Smith: Coming from you, that is faint praise.

Hon. Miss Stephenson: -- or at least his own impression of his superior intellect, which is shared by a minority of one.

Mr. Speaker, I did not in any way suggest there was not concern about the future of universities. That was the area I was addressing in my comments, which were made both within this House and in the committee examining my estimates. I do believe the exercise of constraint has been a valuable one for all the institutions for which government has some responsibility. I think it has been equally valuable for the universities, and I believe it will continue to be valuable to them as an exercise in ensuring they expend all the dollars available to them efficiently, economically and in the best interest of the objectives of post-secondary education in this province.

I do believe as well that the federal government has a responsibility to the universities of this country. I do not think it can unilaterally abdicate that responsibility without any discussion at all with the institutions or with the provinces.

Mr. Wrye: Supplementary, Mr. Speaker: It is really unbelievable that the only winner from this withholding of money has probably been the treasury of Ontario. Can the minister honestly try to tell us that when she holds back $321 million over four years, it is harmless, but, if the federal government in the fifth year cuts back its transfers by one dollar, it will bring our university system to the brink of destruction?

We hold back dollars for four years and nothing happens but the second they are withheld by the feds there is an effect.

Hon. Miss Stephenson: The comparison chosen by the honourable member is sheer idiocy. I would recommend he establish some more reasonable basis for comparison. I do not know whether the amount suggested by the Leader of the Opposition is the amount that would have been transferred to the universities. He cannot make that estimate. It is a figure he picks out of the air, like so many other figures he uses in this House. There is a federal responsibility for universities that cannot be abdicated. That is a very reasonable position, which the federal government, the member's friends, should understand.

Mr. Speaker: Final supplementary, the member for Sudbury East (Mr. Martel).

Mr. Martel: New question.

Mr. Speaker: The Minister of Community and Social Services (Mr. Drea) has a brief answer to a previously asked question.

Hon. Mr. Drea: Mr. Speaker, in fairness, the member who asked it is not in the House, so I will make it in a ministerial statement on Thursday.

Mr. Speaker: New question.

Mr. Sweeney: Supplementary?

Mr. Speaker: No, I have already recognized the member for Sudbury East with a new question.


Mr. Speaker: Nobody else stood up and I recognized him with a new question. I asked for a supplementary, with all respect, and it was identified as a new question.


Mr. Martel: Mr. Speaker, I have a question of the Minister of Labour (Mr. Elgie). However, I might suggest to the Minister of the Environment (Mr. Norton) that if he wants our American friends to get an unbiased position on acid rain they should meet with the member for Nickel Belt (Mr. Laughren) and myself.

The Minister of Labour will recall some months ago appointing a referee in the dispute between Falconbridge Nickel and Mine, Mill and Smelter Workers and he will recall the decision favoured the workers. Is the minister now aware that the company is appealing that decision and the Attorney General's office is intervening in this matter in conjunction with the company to try to offset the recommendations of the referee in this dispute?

Hon. Mr. Elgie: Mr. Speaker, may I, first of all, remind the member for Sudbury East (Mr. Martel) that, since it never rains in California, our visitors would not be interested in the problems in Sudbury.


Hon. Mr. Elgie: That is all right. I know it does not rain in Halton, either, but never mind.

The member has referred to the decision of the referee, Mr. Rory Egan, relating to the issue of work weeks. He chose to say it was a decision in favour of the workers. I like to think Mr. Egan was appointed to determine what the words meant. It is true that Falconbridge, the company involved in that decision, has decided to appeal it.

I am not quite sure what the member is driving at. If he feels anything the Attorney General or even I could do to facilitate that appeal and get it dealt with as quickly as possible is wrong, then I am not sure I have a problem. I suspect he has because my interest is in getting that issue resolved and determining just what the law is. If the company chooses to appeal that decision, I submit it is in the interests of everybody, including the employees of Falconbridge, that it be settled as quickly as possible.

Mr. Martel: I might just answer that question. The Minister of Labour should be defending labour and the Attorney General should mind his own business. If Falconbridge wants to appeal, let it appeal. Why should the Attorney General --

Mr. Speaker: Question.

Mr. Martel: Is there some truth --

Hon. Mr. Elgie: Mr. Speaker, that was a supplementary.

Mr. Martel: No, that was just an answer.

Hon. Mr. Elgie: Mr. Speaker, I submit we have had a supplementary.

Mr. Martel: Mr. Speaker, if I can have a supplementary: Is there some truth to the rumour the Ministry of Labour is interested in getting this decision overturned? I want to know, if that be true, what the Minister of Labour is prepared to do? Studies by his own ministry indicate that working a seven-, eight- or nine-shift schedule in a row on afternoon or graveyard shifts is detrimental to the health of the workers. What is he prepared to do to prevent the company from circumventing the intent of the Employment Standards Act, which was to see workers work no more than 40 or 44 hours in a given week, and not to play the calendar to beat the men?

Hon. Mr. Elgie: I think we should get certain things very clear in our minds. The Minister of Labour now has a referee's decision --


Hon. Mr. Elgie: Try it. The member might like getting the logic of it all clear in his own mind.

The member's constituents in Sudbury want to know the truth about this issue and I think they should hear it right here and now. If the Minister of Labour, who appointed Mr. Rory Egan to make a determination as referee on the meaning of that section, is not interested in accelerating the judicial process which was instituted by others, I have to ask the member for Sudbury East just who is really interested in the rights of the workers? I submit it is I. I want that issue resolved in law so this government can face what the law is, since that is now in jeopardy because the matter has been appealed.

Mr. Foulds: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker: I believe you called on the Minister of Community and Social Services to give an answer to a question. I believe the member is at present in the House and the minister could reply.


Mr. J. A. Reed: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Minister of Energy. He is, of course, aware of the study on peat potential in Ontario released yesterday, which confirms a view held by the opposition for a number of years that peat is one of the major fuel options of the future for this province. I wonder if the minister can explain how he could support the $650 million acquisition of Suncor, using money which adds to the provincial deficit, when such a profound alternative fuel potential is waiting for just such a large investment?

Hon. Mr. Welch: Mr. Speaker, as my honourable friend knows, it is not an either/or proposition. We have to make sure we are assuming positions of leadership in a number of areas in the energy field. The honourable member knows that with the initiatives taken in alternative transportation fuels alone we are involved in research and experimentation in a number of these that are set out in that booklet.

I do not think the honourable member serves the people of this province well by attempting to convey the impression we are ignoring other areas of responsibility. We recognize that half the oil used in this province is in the transportation area. There are indeed some very significant things that will be done in so far as the transportation area is concerned. These include the utilization of compressed natural gas, methanol, ethanol and ultimately in other areas of fuel alcohol and hydrogen.

I do not think we are neglecting our responsibilities in that area. The member should travel throughout this province. I am very pleased with the reputation this province has in assuming leadership roles in this regard.

Mr. J. A. Reed: Mr. Speaker, by way of supplementary --

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

3:20 p.m.



Mr. Nixon: Under standing order 33(b) I am presenting a petition on behalf of my colleagues that the annual report of the Civil Service Commission for the year ended March 31, 1981, be referred to the standing committee on procedural affairs.


Mr. J. A. Reed: Pursuant to standing order 33(b), I have a petition stating that the annual report of the Ministry of Energy for the year ended March 31, 1981, be referred to the standing committee on general government.


Mr. J. A. Reed: Mr. Speaker, I have a further petition under standing order 33(b) that the annual report of the Ontario Energy Corporation for the year ended December 31, 1980, be referred to the standing committee on general government.


Mr. Riddell: Mr. Speaker, under standing order 33(b), at least 20 members of the Liberal party petition that the annual report of the Ministry of Agriculture and Food for the year ended March 31, 1981, be referred to the standing committee on resources development. If there had been more room on the petition it would have been 34 members.


Mr. Epp: Mr. Speaker, I have a petition under standing order 33(b), that the annual report of the Ministry of Housing for the year ended March 31, 1980, be referred to the standing committee on resources development.


Mr. Conway: Mr. Speaker, rising under a similar provision, I enter into the assembly a petition signed on behalf of 20 of my colleagues to the effect that the annual report of the commission on election contributions and expenses for the year ended January 31, 1980, be referred to the standing committee on procedural affairs.


Mr. Van Horne: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to present a petition signed by 2,600 residents in London and district. This petition asks the government of Ontario to assist homeowners with the removal of urea formaldehyde insulation.

These 2,600 residents, more than 500 of whom have homes in London containing urea formaldehyde insulation, feel as I do that all three levels of government must come to the aid of these unfortunate homeowners whose health is in jeopardy because of this product.


Mr. Wrye: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to present to the Legislature two petitions, the first signed by 229 elected and appointed commissioners and key-operating personnel from around Ontario; the second signed by 334 customers of the Windsor Utilities Commission in the Windsor area.

These petitions are as follows:

"That the matter of reducing the differential between rural and urban residential electricity bills be referred to a standing committee of the House so as to provide for a more reasonable public examination of the significant change in the method of allocating cost of power to power consumers."


Mr. Martel: On a point of order: On April 28 I raised a question with the Minister of Natural Resources regarding the question of employment health and safety as is outlined in the manual or in the job description for employees.

The minister indicated he would review the matter and I want to ask the Speaker how long we are expected to wait before we receive replies to questions from ministers?

Hon. Mr. Pope: Mr. Speaker, the honourable member is probably aware that approximately 10 days ago I filed an operational manual with respect to the use of pesticides and herbicides for all employees of the ministry in this House.

Mr. Laughren: On that point of order: Perhaps the minister could tell us why in that same report there was no inclusion of the pesticides used?

Hon. Mr. Pope: I think it is clear that in our discussions last April on this matter, the pesticides that were involved were discussed, as was the fact that they were certified under the applicable federal legislation and the process used in arriving at that decision.


Hon. Mr. Wells moved that the select committee on pensions be authorized to sit after routine proceedings on Thursday, October 29, 1981.

Motion agreed to.



Ms. Fish moved, seconded by Mr. Robinson, first reading of Bill Pr18, An Act respecting the City of Toronto.

Motion agreed to.


Mr. Di Santo moved, seconded by Mr. R. F. Johnston, first reading of Bill 154, An Act to amend the Assessment Act.

Motion agreed to.

Mr. Di Santo: Mr. Speaker, the bill originated because of the situation of oil companies being exempted from paying property taxes in North York. The bill empowers municipalities to pass bylaws providing that lands not zoned for agricultural use but used for farm purposes shall not be assessed as farm land.


Mr. Martel moved, seconded by Mr. Samis, first reading of Bill 155, An Act to amend the Family Benefits Act.

Motion agreed to.

Mr. Martel: Mr. Speaker, the purpose of the amendment is to remove any reference to the sex of the parent, thereby enabling either the mother or father of the child to be eligible for family benefits.

3:30 p.m.


Mr. Ruston: Mr. Speaker, I just wanted to clarify a point in Hansard of October 19, 1981, when the Minister of Transportation and Communications (Mr. Snow) was remarking on the people elected in 1967. I wanted to make sure Hansard was aware that I, too, was one of those who were elected and that my name was not mentioned.

Mr. Speaker: I am sure we are all pleased and happy to hear that. Congratulations.



Mr. Andrewes, on behalf of Hon. Mr. Welch, moved second reading of Bill 141, An Act to amend the Power Corporation Act.

Mr. Nixon: Mr. Speaker, I recall very well the position put forward by the Liberal Party and my colleagues, particularly the leader of our party, calling for a reduction of the discrepancy between the amount paid for electric energy by people in rural areas -- farmers -- and that paid by people in urban areas. We are glad to see the government has responded, at least in some small measure, to the promise the Premier made before the last election to move towards the removal of at least part of that discrepancy. We feel however that building a continuing difference in the rate structure into the more or less established position of the government in advising and supporting Ontario Hydro does not serve the farm community sufficiently or in the terms the Premier promised.

I recall the day very well because the member for Grey (Mr. McKessock) had the galleries filled with farmers who were concerned about the economic pressures put on them because of the lack of leadership by the then Minister of Agriculture and Food in assisting with farm costs, particularly interest rates. That was in the days when these outrageous rates, which were pressing some farmers to the wall, particularly in the Grey area, were approaching 14.5 to 15 per cent. Now that those same farmers are required to pay 23 or 24 per cent we can well understand how outraged they were when they heard certain bank officials were reporting to the government it was only one or 1.5 per cent of the farmers who were concerned with these high interest rates.

The member for Grey had taken the initiative to put forward a private member's bill in the House on a Thursday afternoon, and many of the farmers in the Bruce Peninsula had come here to listen to the debate and, by their presence, support its contention. Just before the debate started the Premier got up and announced, in much the same offhand way and with as little consultation as he announced even the decision to buy 25 per cent of Suncor, that it was government policy to remove the differential between the urban and rural rates.

I think if one were to look up the debates both then and many years ago in this Legislature he would see the concept of a flat rate for electric energy has long been before this House. Unfortunately it was not accepted 25 or 30 years ago when other provincial jurisdictions made the commitment that users of electricity would pay the same rate wherever they were located in the jurisdiction.

This has been a continuing argument here because Ontario Hydro has had the strange opinion that somehow or other farmers should pay more because they are dispersed over a larger area than consumers of electric energy in urban areas. This does not make sense, particularly when one considers that farmers have to use electric energy for the production of farm products and also when one considers the additional stress on the farm community from the high-tension power lines that bring the energy from the generating stations to the urban centres.

After all, as my colleague the member for Halton-Burlington (Mr. J. A. Reed) has said so often, it was Ontario Hydro that decided that one of our principal atomic electricity production plants would be in the Bruce Peninsula and that extremely costly lines would have to he built to bring the energy to the urban centres.

Very near my own constituency, at Nanticoke, there is the largest coal-fired plant in the western world, perhaps in the whole world. We have to stand the stress and strain of pollution from that plant, and the high-tension lines taking the energy to the urban centres disrupt the farms and the smaller rural communities which are still expected, according to the policy of the government, to continue to pay those unnaturally high rates. This has gone on for a long time, and it has been unacceptable in the farm community for a long time.

The Premier, being the sensitive politician that he is and having a group of 300 or 400 farmers in the gallery, could not resist trying to steal the show that day -- and, frankly, he was pretty successful, since the farmers were very interested in it -- by getting up and saying, "By the way, while you are here waiting for the member for Grey (Mr. McKessock) to lead off in the debate, I am promising you cheaper electric power."

That was well accepted. But the people in the area did not accept the bribe and vote for the Conservative candidate. They are far too wise to do that, particularly with the quality of the representation they have had there since the election of the present member for Grey. But, in spite of that, it was a major political stand across the province. So, while this bill is acceptable in that it improves the situation, the discrepancies in the two levels remain.

It is of continuing concern that the Premier has not used his well-known influence at Ontario Hydro to have them accept a much broader and perhaps more advanced and progressive procedure for pricing electrical energy, particularly for household use, because naturally the basis for payment is the more you use, the less it costs. That is really a strange basis when we want to conserve an expensive resource. If this were going to be applied to industry, then naturally there would be every reason to believe that the rate structure should encourage an expansion of industrial utilization, whether it is in the farming industry or elsewhere, if it is going to lead to an expansion of the gross provincial product and the jobs associated with such an expansion.

We know that the honourable member whose services, Mr. Speaker, you have dispensed with for the remainder of the afternoon, the member for Grey-Bruce (Mr. Sargent), has repeatedly put on the Order Paper of this House a bill that would take care of one of the other substantial problems in the provision and pricing of electrical energy; that is, making the basic quantum the electricity necessary for the maintenance of a household, cooking food, heating water and providing the other essential amenities to a modern life, and making the cost of that amount of electricity very small so that everyone, our senior citizens and others, would have the basic amount of electricity needed for their life requirements available at a very low rate. On top of that, the people who move on to the more luxurious facilities in the consumption of electricity should pay more for it. It seems to me that a more progressive pricing structure might very well be built into what Ontario Hydro uses as its base.

The Premier has substantial influence with Ontario Hydro. The chairman is his close friend and was put there so that the government of the day would have a substantial say in what goes on in that office. Actually, I was quite relieved to note that the Premier's influence with the chairman's office was underlined, extended and strengthened by the appointment of his former special assistant, who certainly established himself in this House and its environs as a competent gentleman indeed. We were interested to see that his duties had been transferred from the Premier's office to the office of the chairman of Ontario Hydro itself. It is worthy of note that the gentleman is even present here today, since the chairman of Hydro would be far too busy to walk across the street and come up that steep hill to observe what goes on here. As a matter of fact, Hydro is well represented, even on that basis.

3:40 p.m.

When the Premier indicated in this House that he wanted the discrepancy between urban and rural rates abolished once and for all, I thought that would have been done forthwith and without the kinds of delays we have experienced since that day, more than a year ago, when the Premier made his promise. He has backed down from that a bit. The arguments came from Ontario Hydro, and I suppose one can see their point when they said: "Where is the money going to come from? Are you generous people on the Treasury benches going to back up your promise to reduce the rural rates so they are parallel with the urban rates? Are you going to back up that promise with the transference of sufficient funds from the provincial Treasury for the payment of the extra cost?"

The Premier is quite willing to make these gifts as long as somebody else pays the bill. Under these circumstances, Ontario Hydro has announced that it is going to raise urban rates to balance the responsibility of the relatively small reduction in rural rates. This is a matter about which we have already been given notice and which will be up for debate both in terms of the principle of the bill and when the bill comes before us for more detailed investigation on a clause-by-clause basis.

I am a farm user myself. I note that the basic program of the Progressive Conservative Party in the recent election -- which they won by the skin of their teeth -- indicated they intended to step up both the production and utilization of electricity. To do that, presumably they feel that, as a result of reducing the rates, the rural areas will increase their utilization of electricity.

There is a substantial question that has been put forward by members on all sides of the House as to the efficacy of such a program. Certainly, over the years since Adam Beck co-ordinated the municipal system into Ontario Hydro, the farmers, as much as any other group, have based the operation of their production on the availability of electrical energy at a relatively low rate.

One of the difficult things for farmers to accept in recent years has been the fact that provinces with which we compete, particularly Quebec, have been able to offer electrical energy in the farm community at a rate substantially lower than that which is charged in this province. As a matter of fact, our rates in the rural areas have been, and still are, higher than any other rates west of New Brunswick. New Brunswick makes all of its electricity from oil and has some reason to have higher rates than Ontario.

Ontario. through improper management of its electrical resources, has seen its rates go up faster than was necessary. The provision of substantially unnecessary additional overhead in the cost of production of electricity has resulted in an increase in cost that is unwarranted even by the rates of inflation we face. We would have been much better protected against those rate increases if Ontario Hydro had followed the lead given not only by many members of this House and by the chairman of the select committee but also by Darcy McKeough, who in some respects saved us from the unnecessary rates that would have come forward if the rate of expansion of Ontario Hydro had been maintained at the planned level before the then Treasurer cut it back.

We intend to support the bill. We have had representations that it should go before a standing committee so that representatives of urban areas, who do not like the idea very much, may come and express their views. We feel that the Premier, in expressing the new government policy -- from the seat of his pants or from the top of his head, whichever geography appeals to you, if I may put it that way -- has set in motion a procedure that is certainly not at an end yet.

We in the Liberal Party were among the first to call for a flat-rate approach so that the consumers of electricity in the rural areas would not be penalized on a geographic basis. We feel that the bill in principle can be and should be supported on that basis.

Mr. Foulds: Mr. Speaker, I rise to express my party's support for the bill. We support it with some reluctance, because we do not think the bill goes far enough. It is a step in the right direction but only a step.

We believe firmly that the principle of equalization of prices is one that should be embedded totally in the legislation. We in this party have fought for the equalization of prices between northern and southern Ontario, for example, in regard to oil and gas. We have fought for the equalization of prices for a number of commodities so that we could take the costs of the transportation of goods and equalize them across the province so that the consumers of this province, in regard to a number of goods, could benefit from the pleasure and pain of belonging to this province.

It is interesting that the provincial government can see its way clear through such government agencies as the Liquor Licence Board of Ontario and the Liquor Control Board of Ontario to equalize the prices of liquor and beer across the province. Rural and urban consumers pay the same price; southern and northern consumers pay the same prices. Those are government agencies, and they have developed pricing mechanisms so that happens. They continue to make a healthy profit at the Liquor Control Board of Ontario and the Liquor Licence Board of Ontario.

But somehow the government does not seem to be prepared to bring Ontario Hydro, another government agency, into that same line of thinking for the benefit of the consumers of Ontario. I would submit very strongly that it is far more important to equalize the price of electricity between urban and rural, and between north and south, than it is to equalize the prices of liquor and beer.

I submit that, important though the commodities marketed by the Liquor Control Board of Ontario may be, they are not essential commodities. It depends upon the time, too. However, electricity is a far more fundamental commodity and is in fact an essential commodity.

I want to suggest, and we will be addressing it in the clause-by-clause debate on this bill, that we should not embody in a piece of legislation what is being embodied in this legislation, which is a guarantee. We are legislating a guarantee that there will be a differential of 15 per cent between the urban and rural consumers.

Mr. J. A. Reed: Are you opposed to this bill?

Mr. Foulds: No. We are in favour of it. We are voting for it, unlike my friend's colleague the member for Windsor-Sandwich or wherever it is who presented the petition. It is going to be very interesting, it is going to be an absolute delight to see whether the Liberal Party is going to allow a free vote on this bill as it has in a number of other instances when faced with tough decisions.

It is going to be interesting to see whether the Liberal Party is going to try to stand on both sides of the fence on this issue or whether it gets the barbed wire straight up the dividing line. It is going to be interesting to see whether the Liberal Party and all its members will be able to fight as strongly as the Liberal Party claims it does for the rural consumer throughout this bill or whether they are going to be saying, as they have traditionally in the politics of this province, one thing in northern Ontario and a different thing in southern Ontario, one thing in rural Ontario and a different thing in urban Ontario. It is going to be very interesting to see.

3:50 p.m.

I admit, Mr. Speaker, I have been diverted by the member who interjected. I want to tell you that we in this party understand the difficulties presented by this bill.

Mr. Nixon: And you're solving it in a very novel way.

Mr. Foulds: We understand, more than the most recent interjector, the difficulties faced by consumers in rural Ontario. As a person who comes from a riding, Port Arthur, that has a mixture of urban and rural people, I feel this very strongly in a personal way, because there are people within 12 miles of the city of Thunder Bay who do not yet have electricity. Can members believe that? Can they believe this province has not yet completed its electrification plans for its whole area? And can they believe that there are, not communities but many householders, farmers and homesteaders within a 20-mile radius of the city of Thunder Bay who have not yet got electricity because Hydro has presented to them such a prohibitive cost in the additional units they must buy in support, in perpetuity, and additional costs in building the line, that they cannot afford it? The costs are simply prohibitive for one individual, one household, one small business or one farmer.

Hydro not only should be equalizing the rates, as it is failing to do in this bill, but it also should be taking steps so that the burden of getting electricity to people in the rural community, in a capital cost sense, is not borne entirely by those individuals. The principle that is important and crucial here is that we, as a rich, diverse and varied province, should be sharing those costs among the consumers and users across the province. That is the principle that we in this party support, and that is the principle we will be voting on. My colleague the member for York South (Mr. MacDonald) will be speaking in greater detail on second reading and will be presenting an amendment that would meet the principles I have enunciated.

Mr. J. A. Reed: Mr. Speaker, first of all, it should be put on the record that the Liberal Party in Ontario for a long time has been an advocate not just of reducing the undue differential between urban and rural rates but of eliminating that differential. We have a situation in rate structures right now where even a few urban municipalities pay rates as high as, or higher than, the rural rates have been up to this time. We have always been anxious, as a matter of social policy in this province, to work towards the time when we can have a single price for electric power.

As a matter of fact, on the government side, one of the former Ministers of Energy has supported that concept himself, the member for Prince Edward-Lennox (Mr. J.A. Taylor). He has called the differential between rural and urban rates a ripoff of rural Hydro customers. The member for Brant-Oxford-Norfolk has spoken many times suggesting that we in Ontario have the highest rural rates west of New Brunswick. The need to eliminate this incredible differential has been very obvious; it is really time that we got down to the business of eliminating that differential.

It was interesting to see the statement by the Treasurer (Mr. F. S. Miller) regarding hydro rates in his last budget. At the bottom of one of the pages -- I think it was page 16; I do not remember for certain; some of the people here may be more aware of exactly which page it was on -- the line said the government would eliminate the undue differential between urban and rural rates. Of course, the sentence was designed for all of us to accept the word "eliminate" as the operative word in that budget. The operative word in that sentence was not "eliminate;" it was "undue." It is a way of using the English language to somehow twist what one intends.

Mr. Nixon: The Premier wrote that part himself.

Mr. J. A. Reed: The Premier is very good at those things. So it became something of a convolution.

When we work towards this process of eliminating the undue differential or, we hope, working towards the Liberal Party's goal of eliminating the differential, one has to consider what mechanisms are to be used to achieve that goal. One of the studies suggested that there are two options available to the government. One is to put the cost of eliminating that differential into the Hydro rate system across the board: to make it like the beer business, if you like, where we pay the same price for beer in Georgetown and in North Bay. This means that one area is subsidizing another for the costs of transportation and so on.

That is one way of doing it. Another way that has been suggested to the government is the mechanism of direct subsidy. The government has chosen a combination of the two at the present time, and one must wonder just what tack it will take in the future, whether it will move entirely towards rates and eliminate the subsidy, or just how it will work.

There are some other considerations, though, that have not been looked at seriously by Ontario Hydro or the government. For instance, when we think of the industrial rate structure in this province we think of the fact that we are still selling electric power on an interruptible basis to industries that have not had their power interrupted for years. In fact, they get a very preferred rate.

I think the time has come for those industries to decide whether they are prepared to accept interruptible power as interrupted power when it is necessary to interrupt it or whether they want to have firm power. Such a decision would result in a change in the revenue from those corporations, and it would allow Hydro to adjust its investment or its prospective investment accordingly to use the process of interruption as a technique in managing the electric power system.

What we are doing now is building capacity on capacity, and there is no need to incorporate an interruption in the system. All of that costs money, and it involves a great deal of heavy investment. I submit that if we used interruptible power the way it was originally intended, as a mechanism for load management, not only would we reduce the amount of investment that is necessary or that we think is necessary to carry Ontario Hydro but also we would reduce electric power rates generally in the process. It seems to me that the whole question of how we apply our rates has to be considered when we are looking at the equalization of rates across the province.

4 p.m.

My colleague the member for Grey-Bruce introduced a bill, called the Lifeline bill, a couple of years ago; it was designed to provide a basic amount of low-cost electric power to every purchaser in the province. The result of it would be that someone who was a very modest user of electricity -- a pensioner, a person living alone, a person on a fixed income and so on, or a person very concerned with energy conservation -- would have some incentive to use less, because he could take advantage of quite a low price.

We did some cost studies and found that the impact on rates would be infinitesimal. It seems that when we are talking about putting the onus on one area to help subsidize the other area in terms of electric power pricing, perhaps it would be appropriate to dovetail those changes with a consideration of rate structures based on the lifeline concept.

If you go into various states in the United States that have much more expensive electric power than we have, we find that there is a lifeline policy in effect. I invite anyone to go to Massachusetts and look at the great structure that is there, because the initial block of electric power that is purchased by everyone in Massachusetts is purchased at a low rate, and then the regular rate structure applies after that.

There is also the new experimental area of time-of-day pricing that is under study by Ontario Hydro at present. We have a lot of things to consider. Any of these mechanisms could be used as a partial or perhaps total mechanism -- and I do not know the numbers, since I have never tried to crunch the figures on these things -- for accomplishing uniform rates across the province without imposing undue hardship on other people.

The NDP had supported the move towards uniform rates across this province, and I am very happy to be able to join with their support. As a matter of fact, I would like to put on the record some of the words of the member for York South (Mr. MacDonald), that endorse that basic position. He says: "There are four provinces in this country which have, if I may use the term, homogenized rates. They have uniform rates. BC, Quebec, Nova Scotia and Newfoundland have equal rates for rural and urban all across. That is not a foreign philosophy. It is a philosophy which this government accepts in many other areas."

He goes on: "If you want to buy beer in a brewers' retail outlet -- I do not care whether you buy it in Bobcaygeon or buy it in Toronto, it is the same price. If you want to pay for services such as OHIP services, health services, you pay a premium and the premium is the same all across the province. So it is not a foreign idea that you should have uniform prices..."

Then he makes a very interesting statement that we "should homogenize the price within Hydro so that the rural users are not going to be permanently penalized." He thinks we should homogenize the price within Hydro. It will be interesting to find out how the NDP proposes to homogenize the price within Hydro when we get this bill into committee.

One of the interesting comments made by the former president of Ontario Hydro in select committee -- and I am paraphrasing what he said at the time when we were talking about lifeline rates and structuring that would perhaps give some encouragement or assistance to people on fixed incomes -- was a suggestion that Ontario Hydro was not empowered to be in the social service business.

Yet we find in this bill Ontario Hydro is being empowered to be in the social service business through these amendments to the Power Corporation Act. In other words, it is given its powers through the Legislature and the Legislature can determine to what extent, if any, Ontario Hydro should be in the social service area. That is why we advocate the establishment of the lifeline process and feel it might be appropriate at this time.

The rural-urban differential is really greater than appears on the surface. That is one of the great reasons why the need is there to reduce or try to work towards eliminating this differential. The differential is greater than appears on the surface.

I am sure most of us who live in rural areas realize that a farmer, if he lives in on his farm, has to put up his own lines. He does not get them run into his house as he would in some other circumstance. The rural service will come in so many feet on to his property and there it stops. The capital cost of running that line the balance of the distance -- in my case it is 600 feet into my home -- has to be added to the actual hydro bill.

Conversely, it means the cost of distribution of electric power, which admittedly is higher in the rural areas, is not as high as it may seem on the surface because the rural owner is actually paying for some of that service up front and has to write off his own capital cost.

There were two petitions presented this afternoon by my colleague the member for Windsor-Sandwich (Mr. Wrye) which indicated to this House there was concern in certain areas about the speed with which this bill was being passed. There was a telegram received by my colleague the member for Windsor-Walkerville (Mr. Newman) which says, "The Windsor Utilities Commission protests the speed at which Bill 141 is being processed through the Legislature without anyone realizing the full implications of this change."

Because there are so many considerations and because there are options available in considering how these differentials are to be reduced, it is the position of our party to support this bill, but we will ask that it go to a standing committee upon second reading so that proper deputation can be made to the bill, arguments can be heard and opportunities to look at other options can be discussed within the government.

I am sure the Ministry of Energy in particular and those in Ontario Hydro would like to hear what the municipal utilities have to say about these rates. I hope some constructive suggestions may be put forward as to how this move towards equalization can be accomplished, perhaps even better than it is being done. But make no mistake, our party is supporting this bill. We support this bill in principle, but we feel arguments and alternative suggestions have not been heard for the reasons I have put forward in this debate. I look forward to dealing with them in the standing committee.

4:10 p.m.

Mr. MacDonald: Mr. Speaker. I wish I could be absolutely certain where the Liberal Party stands. Their House leader said they are in favour of uniform rates. That means the same homogenized rates for rural and urban areas across the province. The last member seemed to be talking about something a little different. He was not quite so explicit in terms of uniform rates. However, let me not be concerned for the moment about that.

Mr. J. A. Reed: On a point of clarification, Mr. Speaker.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Cureatz): I am not familiar with a point of clarification in the standing orders.

Mr. J. A. Reed: Let us make no mistake that my colleague the member for Brant-Oxford-Norfolk (Mr. Nixon) and I were talking about the same thing. He was talking about the principle of what we believe and I endorse that wholeheartedly. I was looking at the means of accomplishing it.

Mr. MacDonald: Looking at the means of accomplishing it is the interesting snare in that statement. We will come back to that again.

The differential between urban and rural rates, as everybody is aware, has stood at about 30 per cent for quite a number of years and it has been the focal point of growing criticism. In fact, it was such growing criticism that the government, with an election in the offing a year or so ago, decided it would have to respond to that because it had to hold some of those rural seats if it wanted to get its majority back. So it responded.

There was an interesting fudging of the issue as to whether it was to be an elimination of the differential or a reduction of the differential. On occasion, out on the hustings, it was referred to in such terms that the audience would assume it was an elimination of the differential, but if one read exactly what the Premier or the Minister of Energy said it was a reduction of the differential.

We will support this bill because it goes at least 50 per cent towards establishing, reflecting and enshrining the principle the government was speaking to, that the differential is unfair and therefore should be eliminated. But it is only going to be half eliminated. As usual with this government, we have the problem of reacting to half a loaf. One reacts with a degree of reluctance and regret because it is only a half loaf. On the other hand, half a loaf is better than none, so one supports it.

That is what we will be supporting, but we will be supporting it with the reservation that the government is not establishing the principle of eliminating that unfair differential. When we get to committee we will be making an amendment, a copy of which I have already distributed, to eliminate that and go down to a zero differential. I know the parliamentary assistant has a copy and I assume others have it.

Just let me review briefly what has happened, because it is a fascinating scenario. As we all know, in the spring of 1980, about April or May, the Premier announced that the government was finally going to come to grips with the problem of the differential between urban and rural rates. He had instructed his Minister of Energy, in conjunction with Hydro, to work out a means by which that could be achieved.

In the fall the election was getting even closer and there was information coming out that Hydro was resisting the elimination of the differential. Indeed, Hydro put out a document in the summer of 1980 that indicated the differential could be reduced to 15 per cent but not below 15 per cent, because the cost of distribution of power in the rural areas was 15 per cent higher and, therefore, those consumers should bear that extra 15 per cent cost. The government did not want to bow to that, because it would appear to be breaching the promise it had made to the rural areas on the eve of an election, so it solved the problem by dipping into the public treasury and providing a subsidy of some $20 million, as the first step towards doing something about the differential.

When the $20 million subsidy was made available to Hydro to achieve this start at the reduction it was indicated by the Minister of Energy that this represented a 30 per cent reduction of the differential. If $20 million represents a 30 per cent differential then the total differential is in the range of $68 million. If the government had pursued that course it would have had to go from $20 million to $34 million to cover half the differential, and it ultimately would have had to go to $68 million every year in perpetuity in order to remove that differential.

It decided it did not want to take that course in this age of restraint. So now it is bringing in a bill that says that dipping into the public treasury by way of subsidy partially to eliminate the differential is going to end. What it is going to do is to eliminate the differential by 50 per cent -- 15 per cent of the 30 per cent is going to be eliminated -- and instead it will pick up the money required to eliminate that 15 per cent by increasing rates in the bulk power sales to the public utilities by some one per cent to 1.5 per cent.

The interesting thing about this process is, as has already been pointed out by the member for Brant-Oxford-Norfolk and by my colleague from Thunder Bay, that what the government is now going to do, in effect, is to consolidate and to perpetuate for the foreseeable future that the differential shall be 15 per cent. It will be reduced from 30 per cent, but it will be fixed at 15 per cent.

I think that is regrettable. That is, in effect. saying to the rural customers across Ontario. "You have carried an unfair burden up until now. We are going to reduce the burden by one half, but you are going to continue to carry the other half." That, I repeat, is half a recognition. It is half of an acknowledgement of the principle. It is not a 100 per cent acknowledgement. That is the reason we have objections to this bill, even though we have to take that half loaf.

Let me focus on the reasoning for this, because I think there is some false reasoning here. Ontario Hydro dug its heels in and, quite frankly, when Ontario Hydro digs its heels in, it rules the roost -- not this government. It has always been the case and it still remains the case. Ontario Hydro says the cost of distributing power out in rural areas where the customers are more widely scattered is higher. It calculates it at 15 per cent higher and therefore it says, "Within the framework of our mandate, which is to provide power at cost, it is legitimate, it is a fair proposition that we should charge rural consumers 15 per cent more."

The falseness of that reasoning is that there is an alternative way of implementing power at cost. The alternative way is to put all the costs in for all the various categories of consumers -- major power consumers, public utilities, rural consumers -- who are direct customers of Hydro, and come out with a uniform price, a uniform charge to the consumers. That is what has been done in four provinces across this country -- British Columbia, Quebec, Nova Scotia and Newfoundland. For quite some time they have established uniform costs. They have homogenized the costs and homogenized everything, so that they have a uniform rate that is applied to all kinds of customers.

I understand in this day of rising prices why the public utilities' spokesmen say they do not want their rates increased to 1.5 per cent in order to eliminate this injustice of the rate differential in the rural areas. I understand that. But there is a principle involved. It is a principle we normally have lived and operated by in this province. That is, just because one happens to live in a rural area and the costs of distribution of goods or a service happens to be higher, one should not be penalized. If one happens to live in the north -- where the population is more scattered and therefore the costs of distribution are higher -- one is not penalized.

4:20 p.m.

As my colleague has pointed out, whether one thinks of Brewers' Retail store prices, liquor store prices or Ontario health insurance plan premiums where the distribution and servicing costs are higher out in the smaller, scattered rural and northern areas, they are not charged more. We have uniform prices across the province. Therefore, that principle is a valid one. It should be implemented 100 per cent and not 50 per cent by reducing that differential from 30 down to 15.

It should be pointed out to those who are objecting to a minor increase in urban areas in order to eliminate this injustice out in the rural areas that this kind of thing has gone on in the pricing structure of Ontario Hydro for a long time. I pick up on some of the comments the member for Halton-Burlington made. It is true we have been supplying power on an interruptible basis to industrial consumers for years when it has never been interrupted. They have been getting power cheaper than they should have.

We have a rate structure in Ontario Hydro which stipulates to the major power consumers, in defiance of the conservation ethic, that the more one buys the less one will pay for each increment of power one happens to get. The whole system had to pay the cost of new, unnecessary generation to supply these consumers at a lower cost. Nobody has objected to them getting that lower cost for the added increments they happen to purchase. I have not heard any great objection reiterated -- certainly nothing Hydro or the government has been willing to respond to -- from the spokesmen of the public utilities commissions.

It goes all across the board. My friend the member for Welland-Thorold (Mr. Swart) was just telling me that when the town of which he was reeve for years extended its boundaries and brought in a whole lot of rural areas, the net effect was the cost of electricity to the people who lived in the original town of Thorold went up some 25 per cent. This was because their public utility now was building up services in the rural areas around it. But they shared that cost.

My colleague the leader of this party refers to the fact that in the central part of Ottawa where there are concentrations of people and where the distribution of power would be cheaper because of that concentration, it would costless to deliver power to them than to the people who are on bigger lots and in scattered areas in the outer fringes of the public utility's area of distribution.

But we do not have different prices for those who happen to be in the outlying parts of an urban area in Thorold or in Ottawa. In other words this principle has been accepted by the very people in public utilities who are objecting to its extension here to eliminate the differential between rural and urban rates.

The principle is a simple one. It is a principle we have accepted and implemented down through the years. It is a principle which we should implement here. This bill goes 50 per cent towards its implementation. When we get into committee I propose to move on behalf of this party, an amendment that will eliminate the differential totally. It will suggest the price be made uniform across the board as is the case in British Columbia, Quebec, Nova Scotia and Newfoundland.

Mr. McKessock: Mr. Speaker, to make the differential between the rural and urban rates 15 per cent instead of 29 per cent is a help, but I will certainly support the amendment to eliminate it altogether proposed by the previous speaker.

The Ontario Hydro rate structure is dead wrong if it thinks there should be some differential. On the day in April 1980 which the member for Brant-Oxford-Norfolk referred to, when I introduced a resolution to eliminate the differential between rural and urban rates plus other things, the farmers who filled the galleries that day and heard the Premier make the statement committing the government to reduce rural Hydro rates were of the opinion that meant doing away with the differential, not reducing it to 15 per cent.

Mr. Nixon: That is what he meant them to think.

Mr. McKessock: The Liberal Party have been instigators in bringing about change towards reducing the unfair differential between rural and urban rates. It is ridiculous to suggest the party is not united on this issue because the member for Windsor-Sandwich (Mr. Wrye) presented a petition from his constituents to send the bill to committee. What would you do, Mr. Speaker, if your constituents gave you a petition to present to the House? As a member of a democratic system and as a representative of your constituents you would be obligated, if not compelled, to present that petition.

Yes, the farmers were looking for at least equal rates. I am even convinced now that rural rates should be lower, for reasons I will present. When these differential rates were established, hydro lines were coming from Niagara Falls to rural Ontario. Now, with the large nuclear energy generating station at Bruce, lines are running from the country to feed the large city usage. The huge nuclear expansion was not done for the minimal usage of the farm community but for the large urban user.

Hydro tells me the large costs of the nuclear plants and the large costs of the hydro corridor are capital costs in which everyone participates. They say that distribution is something else and that rural distribution costs more. I say that in recent years capital costs have largely been for urban expansion and that these expensive capital costs in recent years should be attributed more to the urban user. If this were the case it would counteract the extra difference in distribution. In fact I think one would find the rural rates should even be less than the urban.

Mr. Wildman: Mr. Speaker, I rise to participate in this debate because I believe this is really a debate about equity and about --

Mr. Nixon: Justice.

Mr. Wildman: Yes, justice -- and also about government keeping the promise.

Unlike the previous speaker, although I would benefit from being a rural resident, I am not certain I would argue that rural residents should necessarily have lower rates than urban residents. But I do believe there is no reason on earth why they should not have equal rates.

That is why I say this relates to keeping the promise, because that is exactly what the Premier said in April 1980. He may have said afterwards he did not really mean it that way, after he was told by Hydro he did not really mean it that way. But what he said the day the member for Grey (Mr. McKessock) had the resolution for debate in the House and there were many residents from rural Ontario in the gallery was that studies were being carried out to implement changes in the rate structure which would eliminate the differential.

Then he ran into a roadblock with a corporation that is supposedly under public control. One really wonders who controls whom over there. Hydro used the argument that since the act requires them to provide electricity at cost to the consumers they should again, as has been said by other speakers, split the consumers into the urban group and the rural group. And they said that since there is a less concentrated population, greater distances and so on, in rural Ontario the costs are greater. Therefore, in their mandate, they should charge those consumers more.

They apparently maintained this argument despite the commitment made by the Premier that he would follow the example of other provinces in this country and eliminate the differential. So we had a situation where the government, for some reason I cannot fathom, was unable to persuade the public corporation to follow government policy as enunciated by the Premier. It was unable to force Ontario Hydro to follow public policy as determined by the Premier and the cabinet of this province.

4:30 p.m.

After studies were done there did not seem to be much progress and the government then came up last fall with its idea of a $20 million grant to start to eliminate the differential. Of course the reason for the $20 million grant was not to bring down rates in rural Ontario. Rather it was to deal with the fact that Ontario Hydro wanted to increase rates and the provincial government provided a grant of public money to a public corporation to try to alleviate the increases that might be experienced by people living in rural Ontario.

It is ludicrous this government should find itself in the position of having to hand $20 million to a public corporation to persuade it not to increase rates when government policy is that those rates should be lowered.

I suppose this is, in a way, an attempt by the government to have the rural residents of the province share in the cost of distribution of electricity to rural Ontario through a government grant which comes from the revenues of all the taxpayers. It certainly was an attempt, through the back door, to have Ontario Hydro deal with the rural customers in a way the Premier of the province wished. It really was a ridiculous situation.

In parts of this province rural residents are paying between 30 per cent and in some cases, depending on the urban area one is comparing it to, up to 50 per cent more than urban consumers of electricity. In my area, where only one part of my riding is served by Ontario Hydro and where we have a private utility providing the electricity for a good portion of the Algoma district and for Sault Ste. Marie, the differentials may be significantly higher than they are in other parts of the province.

Despite Ontario Hydro's reluctance to comply with government policy, the Tories in last March's election campaign reiterated their promise. They were going to equalize the price. I heard Tory candidates -- not only in my riding -- saying they were going to equalize the price. In my riding the Tory candidate on occasion was perplexed at having to deal with Great Lakes Power, but at least he talked about the need to equalize the price, as did many other candidates and cabinet ministers.

They reiterated the promise the Premier had made the previous April. What happened after the election? Immediately after the election many of the opposition members had to endure the Premier on occasion getting up to say he had to tell us what the meaning of March 19 was. In this case the meaning of March 19 was that all previous promises were off. So much for the promise to provide equity in electrical pricing across this province.

Instead of talking about eliminating the differential now, suddenly we are talking about bringing the differential down. This from a government which often claims to represent the interests of rural Ontario better than either of the other two parties. It is really a cynical approach to the voters in rural Ontario.

It is amazing, hearing some of the arguments that were raised in the Ministry of Agriculture and Food estimates where this question was discussed, the responses from the minister and his deputy minister about this matter. They make clear that it was certainly under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Energy, but they were interested because of the importance of farming to the economy of this province and the tremendously high energy costs farmers have in the production of our food.

At that time, the Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Food said, "The issue should not be how much the owner of an estate lot is paying as compared to the owner of a house in a village, small town or city in Ontario, but how much the farmer is paying for the electricity he needs in comparison with what the small business or manufacturer is paying in the urban area." He made a very good argument, that one is talking about one business in comparison to another business when talking about farming and electricity rates. So instead of talking about rates in general we should be talking about the input cost to the business.

It is true that we have a system in this province where the more electricity is used the less the extra amount of electricity costs. There have been arguments about whether that should be the case and, in an age where we need conservation, perhaps we should be going the other route. But that is the way we have it now. So I suppose one could argue that it is more important in terms of farming to compare the farmer's input costs in terms of the amount of electricity he uses to a comparable business using a comparable amount of electricity.

Having said that, though, nobody has given us those figures. I fail to see how a farmer, whose initial costs for electricity are substantially higher than the urban rate, can compare favourably. I would like to hear if there are any figures that do show farmers compare favourably now, or even after we go down to the 15 per cent differential, with the input costs of their neighbours in business in the urban area. I would be very interested in that kind of an argument, because I just do not see how it could be made.

I want to raise in the debate on this bill a couple of particular issues in relation to my area since, as I said earlier, we are in an area only a portion of which is served by Ontario Hydro. We are served by a private utility. At the time the Premier made his promise in the House in April 1980 that the prices would be equalized across the province, I went to the Minister of Energy and said, "Does this just relate to the public utilities commissions and to Ontario Hydro or does it talk about all rates for electricity across the province, including the six or so private utilities in existence in the province?" At the time, the Minister of Energy said, "That is a very interesting question." He had not really thought about it and he was going to look into it.

Previously, I had talked to one of the present minister's predecessors about this issue and he had said the studies the ministry was carrying out at that time in 1978 did not relate to the utility companies served by Ontario Hydro specifically, but rather to the principle of power costing and the pricing that would apply anywhere in the province. I am not quite sure what that means. It seemed to mean that although they were not specifically talking about the private utilities in the province they were talking about the principles of power costing, and that would affect all prices.

4:40 p.m.

The present minister, however, was apparently not aware of what his predecessor told me and he said he would look into it. Subsequent to that, I got a letter from a Mr. D. H. Gordon, who was the president of Ontario Hydro at that time. He said, in respect to the question of private utilities and Great Lakes Power, "I can only say that we have been asked by the Minister of Energy to take into account in the proposals the relative rates of all municipal hydroelectric systems and to make recommendations on any action which may be appropriate to assist high-cost municipal hydro systems that have a higher rate than the resultant cost-assisted rural rate." That is interesting wording he uses.

"Strictly speaking, this does not include the customers of Great Lakes Power. Indeed, one might suggest that any subsidy in this regard might take place within the Great Lakes Power system itself. At this time our thinking has not developed to the extent that I can answer your question, but it is a matter that will be given consideration during the development of our proposals."

I raised this issue again when the committee was considering the estimates of the Ministry of Agriculture and Food. At that time the minister said yes, as far as he understood, whatever was going to be proposed in this bill would affect all of the customers, even the private utilities. I hope that can be confirmed today, because when we are talking about eliminating the differential between rural residents and urban residents whose power comes from Ontario Hydro directly or through public utilities commissions, and we are talking about the fact that this bill does not eliminate the differential completely but suggests that this differential should be at a lower rate but should continue, that is inequitable. It would be most inequitable if you were to say that those areas where Ontario Hydro does not compete with a private utility, where a private utility has a monopoly, that private utility, if it supplies a substantial amount of its own power without purchasing it from Ontario Hydro, should be able to charge a rate higher than what is considered in principle by the government a fair way to price rural electricity.

It has been suggested in this debate that half a loaf is better than none; that it is better to have a 15 per cent differential than a 30 per cent differential. I do not think anybody can debate that. But how can anyone accept a differential at all, especially when other provinces do not treat the situation the same way?

One of the things that was said by the Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Food during those estimates was that you could not compare Ontario to Manitoba, Quebec or Newfoundland, especially Newfoundland, because you were talking about a lot more independent public utilities commissions across this province as compared to the numbers of municipal power systems in the other provinces; there were far more in Ontario, it was far more complex, so you cannot compare them.

I would like to know why it is less complex to bring a differential from 30 per cent to 15 per cent than it is to bring a differential from 30 per cent to zero. Surely the process is a similar one. You are lowering a differential and by doing that the equation surely can still be worked out once you have accepted the principle of bringing down the differential.

The number of public utilities commissions in the province should not make it more difficult to go from 15 to zero than it does to go from 30 to 15.

While I support the position enunciated by other members of the opposition, since it would be unacceptable to vote against a bill that is going to lower the cost of electricity for customers, I say it is most unfortunate that this government does not believe in equity, and that this government is unwilling to live by the promises made by the Premier in April 1980 and is trying to weasel out of the commitment made by the Premier when he was faced by so many farmers --

Hon. Mr. Norton: Are you trying to get a rise out of me by saying all those nasty things?

Mr. Wildman: Are you the Premier?

Hon. Mr. Norton: No, but --

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Cousens): Order.

Mr. Wildman: I suggest that the member for Kingston and the Islands lives in an urban area and does not have to put up with the rates that I and my constituents have to put up with when paying for electricity.

The Acting Speaker: And you do not need to be distracted by the honourable minister either.

Mr. Wildman: I try not to be distracted by the Minister of the Environment even when he is making a statement in this House, but it is most difficult.

All I can say is that bringing this bill before the House for a 15 per cent differential instead of eliminating it, as the Premier said they were going to do in April 1980, is another example of this government welshing on its promises.

Mr. McGuigan: Mr. Speaker, I rise to support this bill, but one is very tempted not to do so because, as speaker after speaker has mentioned, it does not redress the problem as it deserves to be redressed. The previous speaker said the Minister of Agriculture and Food said, "You cannot compare Ontario with the other provinces."

Mr. Wildman: No, his deputy said it.

Mr. McGuigan: His deputy said it. That is so true. One cannot compare Ontario with the other provinces because the other provinces support their agriculture. They have not gone to a total industrial economy. They have not reduced the agricultural budget to less than one per cent, in fact close to one half of one per cent to the agricultural industry -- an industry in which less than four per cent of the people produce 20 per cent or more of the economic activity. One cannot compare Ontario to those other provinces and it is to the shame of this government that we cannot do so.

The Minister of Agriculture and Food asks us what we can do here in Ontario to support agriculture in the federal field. One thing we could do would be to support agriculture so that members of Parliament and back-benchers from other provinces could come forward and support their own government. Why should Ontario step in and carry the burden that Ottawa refuses to carry? The member for Algoma is right when he quotes the deputy minister as saying, "You cannot compare Ontario to the other provinces."

We have here a step in the right direction so I guess as politicians we have to support it, but I can certainly tell members on the left in the third party that this member will support their amendment. It just goes a little way to redress the other inequities rural people face. They get smaller grants for police protection. The evidence is already here that the fastest rising crime rate in Ontario is in rural areas and yet the rural areas get a smaller grant for police protection.

We pay a good deal more for many of the other services we receive and yet we provide cheap food for the people of Ontario. We pay more for the gasoline we receive because it costs more money to distribute it through our system. In many rural areas of Ontario we cannot get natural gas because it costs more money to lay the lines and the company is not willing to equalize the costs. We pay more on a weekly basis for the bread trucks and milk trucks that bring supplies. I know some might think we drink the milk directly from the cows on the farm. A former Premier of this province, in his great wisdom and daring, passed a law that said we cannot drink that milk unless it is pasteurized.

4:50 p.m.

Mr. Nixon: One of the greatest steps forward.

Mr. McGuigan: One of the greatest and most courageous steps forward that was ever made in this province some 40 years ago.

Mr. Nixon: The Tories were against it.

Mr. McGuigan: This bill goes only a small distance but we intend to go that distance.

The member for Algoma (Mr. Wildman) has raised an interesting question. The act repeatedly refers to "municipal residential premises" and only 1,000 kilowatt hours of power consumed per month. Under section 2(d), "rural residential premises" means premises that are supplied, either individually or in conjunction with a farm, with power by the corporation and which the corporation decides are used for residential purposes on a year-round basis.

Would the parliamentary assistant clarify this for us? Is it going to apply only to the farmer's residence? Is it going to apply only when Hydro is supplied on a single line to the house and the barn? What about those cases -- and I think this covers a good many of them -- where there are separate entries for the house and barn? Is the barn being denied these advantageous rates? I would think the member for Lincoln (Mr. Andrewes), who represents an area where there are a great many cold storages because of the fruit industry, would himself be concerned with that matter. So I would ask for clarification on that.

I think I have covered the points I wanted to cover. I guess we will reluctantly support this bill, although it does not go far enough.

Mr. Andrewes: I have a great feeling about this bill and I am very pleased the members opposite have chosen to support it. The proposed legislation will provide rate assistance to year-round residents in areas of Ontario that are supplied with electricity by Ontario Hydro. I would draw to the attention of the House that there are some 530 of these customers.

There seems to be a great deal of emphasis on the fact that some members of the House feel they have been deceived by the government in this legislation.

Mr. Wildman: Did anyone say that directly? You said it; we didn't.

Mr. Breaugh: And we want to agree with you wholeheartedly.

Mr. Andrewes: Misled.

I want to read into the record the statement by the Premier to the Legislature regarding rural electrical rates made on Thursday, April 10, 1980. I will read the first paragraph, because I think it clarifies the point for those members who are showing concern.

"Mr. Speaker, I want to advise the House that I have requested the Minister of Energy (Mr. Welch) to obtain from Ontario Hydro special electricity rate proposals designed to reduce the differential between the retail rate for electricity paid by rural residents and that paid by urban residents." I hope that will clarify some of the concerns of the members opposite.

Included in this legislation are those who live on farms as well as those who live in the rural residential areas. But to answer some of the concerns expressed by the member for Brant-Oxford-Norfolk I would have to say this: The assistance in this bill is directed towards residential electricity consumption and is not associated with the electricity required for general farm operations. I think that also clarifies the point raised by the member for Kent-Elgin.

It is interesting to note that rural businesses, including many farm operations, pay the same electricity bill as a business with similar consumption in the average municipal utility, if not more.

The rate differential has not developed just recently. Because of a combination of a large geographic supply area and a very low customer density, the costs per customer in the rural system have been significantly higher than in a municipal system; we all agree on that point. As a result the rates charged by the rural system have been higher --

Mr. MacDonald: Unfair.

Mr. Andrewes: -- up as high as 30 per cent, as the member for York South (Mr. MacDonald) has pointed out.

Because the comparison proposed in this bill between rural and urban bills is made using what is known as a weighted average of the 324 municipal utilities, it is inevitable that some of the utilities will have bills higher than the 15 per cent above this weighted average. I want to make this point here because it may address some of the concerns expressed to members of the opposition by certain utilities.

The local municipal utility concept has served this province extremely well for the past 75 years, and this government has no intention of eliminating or altering that process. In fact, the government is encouraging the formation of newer expanded municipal utilities where they are economically viable. These differences in rate levels will continue.

The legislation proposed here does not deal with those municipal utilities that may have higher rate levels. But in recognition of the possibility that there may be some utilities whose rate levels will be above the proposed rural assisted rate, the Minister of Energy intends to ask Ontario Hydro and the Ontario Municipal Electric Association to discuss and develop criteria and practices to deal with the applications for assistance from those municipal utilities with bills in excess of the rural assisted rate.

I want to clarify one point that has come up from several members in this debate: why there should be any differential at all. I do not think it is hard to recognize the higher costs involved in serving the rural areas. So the question arises quite naturally, why not eliminate the differential completely?

I will tell the members this: They probably need a little background before they can seriously address that question. Consider this: The distribution of electricity in Ontario has been handled, as members well know, through the municipal utilities for some 75 years even though, given the same supply, facilities and conditions, these utilities pay the same amount for the wholesale power. They pay the same amount to Ontario Hydro for the bulk power for a variety of reasons and decisions made at the local level.

5 p.m.

These rates then are adjusted depending on the method of financing, the method of capital expenditure, the customer mix and the level of service that municipality requires or is requesting. If the rural-urban rates differential were to be eliminated, a large number of utilities -- and we have identified them; some 209 out of the 324 utilities or about 65 per cent of them -- would have bills higher than the present rural rate.

This government is committed to the continuation of that municipal utility philosophy. To keep the number of utility customers possibly having to pay bills higher than the rural residents to a reasonably small level, and at the same time provide the rural resident with a significant discount off his bill, the 15 per cent level was decided on as being reasonable. Those are my closing comments.

Mr. Wildman: What about Great Lakes Power? You did not answer my question on that.

Mr. Andrewes: With great respect, I think I did indirectly. This bill is quite clear. It deals with Ontario Hydro.

Motion agreed to.

Ordered for committee of the whole House.

House in committee of the whole.


Consideration of Bill 141, An Act to amend the Power Corporation Act.

Section 1 agreed to.

On section 2:

The Deputy Chairman: Mr. MacDonald moves that subsections 2 to 4, inclusive, of the new section 90(a) be deleted and the following substituted therefor:

"The corporation shall eliminate the rural rate differential each year for the next following year and the corporation shall fix discounts from the rates to be charged for power consumed each month in rural residential premises in the next following year"; and that the subsections following be renumbered accordingly.

Mr. MacDonald: Mr. Chairman, I will just repeat what we said in second reading. In our view, if we are going to achieve equity, we should eliminate the differential totally rather than only by half. In other words, it should be reduced from 30 per cent to zero rather than from 30 per cent to 15 per cent, because to put it at 15 means consolidating and perpetuating that differential forever out in the rural areas.

I do not accept the rationale that the government has had this forced upon it by Hydro, because there is an alternative rationale; that is, to pool all the costs and come up with a uniform charge across the board for rural as well as for urban, as has been done in British Columbia, Quebec, Nova Scotia and Newfoundland.

What this amendment does is to take subsections 2 to 4 and telescope a portion of subsection 2 and a portion of subsection 3, to say "eliminate" rather than "reduce" the rural differential, and whatever procedure the corporation is going to engage in in terms of rebates will be carried on by reducing them to zero in the same way as the bill envisaged its being carried on when it was going to reduce them to only 15 per cent.

I hope all those members who are in favour of the principle of eliminating differentials rather than perpetuating them will support this amendment.

Mr. J. A. Reed: Mr. Chairman, I rise in support of this amendment, although I wish the amendment were more far-reaching and broader in its statement, because not only do we now have a rural differential but also in some areas we are creating an urban differential. That poses to us some very profound concerns.

While it may be said that the urban differential is minor in scope and does not affect very many communities, if we are really concerned with the process of heading towards equalization or what one might call flat rate for residents and farmers and so on in Ontario, then we have to take that into account.

While this amendment makes the statement about eliminating the rural rate differential, it does nothing to acknowledge the fact that, if an urban differential does not exist at the present time -- and it does now in some areas -- it will be accelerated or accentuated by this move. That is the very reason why we are anxious to move this, I hope with the support of the NDP, into standing committee --

Mr. MacDonald: You couldn't get your own party. You have 34 members, and you needed 20. Don't blame us.

Mr. J. A. Reed: All right. But you were not too enthusiastic either.

Mr. MacDonald: Don't blame us. The trouble is, you do not have the guts to stand up for the principle you are professing.

Mr. Nixon: That is one thing we have plenty of.

5:10 p.m.

Mr. J. A. Reed: I hope that statement did not have personal intent. We are concerned that what has to be worked towards here is not simply a token handout by the government about some partial elimination of this rate differential, but rather a recognition that the rural differential is still there -- the one we call the rural differential. This other differential exists and now is increased or amplified by this kind of move. There are even farmers now in the restructured Hydro areas who are paying higher than rural rates at present.

We should recognize that there is still a great disparity which has to be resolved and, in rising to support this amendment, we want to go on record as saying the story does not begin and end either with this bill or with this amendment. Our belief is that a flat rate should be arrived at and worked towards. We want it, and we still want to investigate and examine the ways that can be satisfactorily accomplished.

Mr. Riddell: Mr. Chairman, I just want to state that the amendment is very much in line with the government's policy as enunciated by the Treasurer (Mr. F. S. Miller) in his budget statement of November 13, 1980, when he definitely stated the government had decided to instruct Ontario Hydro to eliminate the undue differential between rural and urban electrical rates by 1982.

A little over a week later, the Minister of Energy (Mr. Welch) tabled in the Legislature a report from Ontario Hydro on proposals to reduce the differential between rural and urban retail rates. Ontario Hydro recommended that the differential be reduced to 15 per cent rather than eliminated. Of course, that poses the question: Who in hell is running the show? Is it this government or is it Ontario Hydro?

Inasmuch as the parliamentary assistant can stand on his feet and say the Premier (Mr. Davis) said he was going to reduce it rather than eliminate it, it is time the parliamentary assistant realized the difference between a political statement made by the Premier, who probably does not know what is going on within Ontario Hydro, and the policy of the government as enunciated by the Treasurer, who one hopes does know something about what is going on within this government.

I did not want the member for Lincoln (Mr. Andrewes), who is parliamentary assistant to the Minister of Energy, to have the last say by standing up and giving a political statement that was made by the Premier. Surely the statements we should go by are the policy statements made by the Treasurer of this province.

Mr. McGuigan: Mr. Chairman, I rise with a great deal of pleasure to support the amendment, not only the principle that it speaks to but also on this business of the first 1,000 kilowatt-hours.

We have the Minister of Energy making speeches around this province telling us how a little way down the road, when oil and gas prices escalate, hydro heating will be the cheaper alternative, and perhaps the only alternative, for those rural people who are not on gas lines.

I cannot say just where the cutoff point is, but I will hazard a guess that, when we go to hydro heating, 1,000 kilowatt-hours of power per month is not enough to cover hydro heating. I do not have a copy of the amendment in front of me but, as I heard it, I believe it eliminates this cap. On those two counts I wish to support my friend the member for York South.

Mr. MacDonald: Mr. Chairman, may I just make one brief comment? As I understood the parliamentary assistant when he was concluding his remarks -- and I do not think the member for Halton-Burlington (Mr. J. A. Reed) was listening at that point -- he said there are inequities remaining within the public utilities system such that there are farmers who now pay more, although they happen to live in a public utility system, than farmers outside at the 15 per cent level, and perhaps even more farmers if it went down to a zero level. He said he was going to meet with the Ontario Municipal Electric Association to see what can be done about that inequity.

Let me say to the member for Halton-Burlington that if this kind of inequity exists, and if it is going to continue, it is for a smaller number of rural people -- farmers. I agree that we should take a look at it and see how it can be reduced. But let us not fudge the issue with that smaller group who are going to bear the inequity as we seek now to remove the inequity in this larger way between rural and urban. That is why I think the amendment is worthy of support from all sides of the House and particularly from those on the government side, like my honourable friend from the rural area of Elgin (Mr. McNeil).

Mr. Riddell: And some of the back-bench farmers over there too. Let us see what they are going to do on this.

Mr. MacDonald: Some back-benchers sit in the front bench, and I was just pleading for their support.

Mr. Nixon: Mr. Chairman, I was quite interested in what the member for York South said. He makes a good point when he more or less asserts that his amendment does not cure all the ailments the rate structure has. Perhaps it is beyond the competence of this bill to do so. But it should not be beyond the competence of the Legislature itself.

I sense in the member for York South something that I do not often find in him: the feeling that we have to throw up our hands and work for something considerably less than perfection.

The parliamentary assistant has even indicated that the 15 per cent leeway is simply to provide sufficient cushion for the urban areas that are going to go above the rural areas; and this, of course, is not fair either. If only we had the ability -- and I assert, Mr. Chairman, that we have the power to establish a flat rate across the province -- then, of course, that ought to be the aim. But I do not believe we ought to accept the concept that simply because a person lives in a rural area, then -- I think the phrase the Attorney General uses is "ipso facto" -- they pay more for their electric energy. I think we are rejecting that concept once and for all.

The parliamentary assistant, who is a farmer himself, realizes that a good deal of the cost of farm installations has to be carried 100 per cent by the farmer himself. I happen to have a very long lane on my property. We just had to replace the line; it cost me something like $2,400, which, as a matter of fact, I was very surprised to be billed for. That is certainly an indication that under special circumstances the farmers carry first dollar costs for the service.

The member for Port Arthur (Mr. Foulds) indicated that some farmers in his area do not have electric power at all, because Ontario Hydro, according to him, has been so unbending on that basis that the direct and individual cost to the would-be rural consumers is so high that they simply do not have the electric service. I think that is just preposterous. There is no doubt that, over the many years since the lines went up and down the concessions, farmers have paid, because of the increased rates, many times over for the cost of the basic service. That argument ought to be discharged forever.

The only difficulty that is almost insurmountable is the role of the power commissions at the municipal level. They feel, with some justification, that they in fact are Hydro; that the local public utilities commissions were in operation before Hydro was established as a crown corporation -- or as a commission, as it then was -- and that they have the ownership concept, which enables them to act independently. I cannot do anything but support them in that.

In many instances they have been so good at their management that they have provided rates much more than 15 per cent below the rural rates. I know of many communities in my own area where the rural rates are a full 30 to 40 per cent higher than the urban areas in some of the smaller communities that have provided their own power for many years.

5:20 p.m.

In our own village of St. George, the rates are so low I have seriously considered getting a very long extension cord and plugging it into my mother's outside light and running it down to the farm. I have been told that would not be proper, and I know Ontario Hydro jealously guards access to its own customers. They feel their customer base has been so eroded that they are left more and more with only the customers who require additional costs, in the way they assess costs, to continue to service.

They feel, therefore, that the costs relating to their direct customers show a decreasing efficiency on the part of Hydro. It should be our aim not to solve the problem with this large and expensive 15 per cent cushion but to establish a procedure whereby all domestic consumers of electricity in Ontario get electricity at the same cost.

I believe the rate has to be restructured for a number of things, such as the lifeline concept that has already been referred to, the first 1,000 kilowatt-hours or whatever, and reduced costs for any industry, particularly the farm industry, where large amounts of power can be used in the off-peak period for certain processes involved in, for example, cooling milk, making ice and things like that which are characteristic of a requirement at the farm gate.

I certainly intend to support the amendment, but I think we should understand, and the member for York South has said as much, that it does leave inequities which really we should not be leaving.

If the minister is indicating, as he has, that he is going to try to deal almost on an individual case with the local public utilities commissions, I have a feeling he is not going to be very successful. The local PUCs do not like this bill very much, because it is going to mean an increase in their rates, relatively small compared to the advantages in justice, equity and fairness that is going to be the lot of the farmers. It still leaves that 15 per cent differential, which is a rather gross and untidy way of solving a problem that still besets Ontario Hydro and therefore besets us.

They are very conservative in their approach to the solution of these problems. They tend to go on as they have in the past with the attitude of "Who is to stop us?" We are the people who are designated with the responsibility to improve the situation, and I say neither the bill itself nor the amendment is as good as it could be and is not as good as it should be.

Mr. MacDonald: Mr. Chairman, I want to respond briefly, if I may, to what the member for Brant-Oxford-Norfolk has said.

There are continuing inequities, I agree, but those continuing inequities flow from the bizarre rate structure in Hydro, and what the Liberal Party was attempting to do in sending this to a standing committee and having the Ontario Municipal Electric Association and other people come in was to tackle that problem.

Mr. Nixon: Whoever can come in.

Mr. MacDonald: Okay. But let me remind you, Mr. Chairman, and let me remind the House, that Hydro had a two-year in-house study on its rate structure. They reported it to the government, the government referred it to the Ontario Energy Board and the Ontario Energy Board wrestled with it for two more years. Do you think a standing committee of this Legislature can start to hold hearings now for everybody, including the farmers, and resolve that incredibly complex problem?

Mr. Nixon: We want to resolve it. They didn't want to. They were stuck with the old pattern, and they think there is nothing but that.

Mr. MacDonald: I agree it should be resolved; and if Hydro is not going to resolve it and the government is not going to force Hydro to resolve it, just because we have a standing committee of the Legislature review it for another two or three weeks is not going to change the picture. If something has been reviewed for two years by Hydro and for two years by the Ontario Energy Board, it is a phoney proposition to send it out to a standing committee to rehash it a bit more.

Having said all that, let me go back. I am willing to agree with the member for Brant-Oxford-Norfolk that there are continuing inequities. The continuing inequities flow from the bizarre rate structure and the inequities that are in that rate structure; and when Hydro, the government and everybody else are willing to come to grips with them, then we can get at the residue of inequity that remains in this bill, but only when that is done.

Mr. Wildman: Mr. Chairman, I rise to urge the government and the parliamentary assistant to accept the amendment. Quite honestly, I do accept the arguments that have been made that, even with the amendment, there will remain some inequities.

The point is, the inequities that will remain are not nearly as serious as the decision by this government to perpetuate a differential in the amount of 15 per cent. I urge the government to accept the amendment as a friendly amendment, which is in line with the principle of the legislation and which deals with the reduction of the differential to the ends that I think all rural residents certainly and all representatives of rural areas in this House believe is necessary. It is not in opposition to what the government has said on many occasions it wishes to do. It is in line with the principle of the bill. There is no question that the rate structure of Ontario Hydro is a matter that has to be dealt with and one that is very complex.

Neither this bill nor the amendment deals with the overall changes that are necessary in Ontario Hydro's rate structure. I would suggest that any proposal for an amendment that would deal with that complex matter probably would have been out of order because of the way this bill is set up, just as any amendment that I might desire, to eliminate the inequity which this government apparently is unwilling or unable to deal with in terms of private utilities, probably would be out of order.

I hope all members of the House, including members of the government party, will accept this amendment as being in line with the principle of the bill, which does what the rural people of this province wish to be done, which will provide a much fairer system and which will do what the Treasurer and the Premier --

Mr. MacDonald: The Treasurer anyway.

Mr. Wildman: -- certainly the Treasurer -- and what most people understood the Premier to mean when he made the statements he did make.

I hope it will be supported by those members, especially the member for Prince Edward-Lennox (Mr. J. A. Taylor) -- oh, I notice he has just gone -- a former Minister of Energy himself who, after he left the cabinet, carried on a crusade in eastern Ontario against the differential. He was one of the first Tories to come out publicly fighting against the differential. He is also one of the few Tories I know who has actually suggested that Ontario Hydro should be brought under public control, that Ontario Hydro should implement the policies proposed by the government and should not throw roadblocks in the way of the public policymakers. It is unfortunate that member is unable or unwilling to speak in this debate, but I am sure he will support this amendment --

Mr. Mancini: He was mugged in the corridors of power.

Mr. Wildman: That's right; that was the term he used: "Mugged in the corridors of power." I do not want to dredge up those problems for the member for Prince Edward-Lennox, because I genuinely want this bill to do what the government said it wanted to do. For that reason, I hope we will pass this amendment and pass it unanimously.

Mr. Swart: Mr. Chairman, I endorse what has been said by the member for York South (Mr. MacDonald) and the member for Algoma (Mr. Wildman).

I sat in this House and heard what I thought were commitments given by the Premier and the Minister of Energy that there would be equality in rates between the rural and the urban areas of this province. Now we come along and find that they are only going to go halfway. As I have listened to the government spokesman, I say this is a breaking of faith with what was said in this House and with the commitments that were given to the rural people of this province.

5:30 p.m.

The principle of the amendment has been talked to both in the second reading of the bill and now. There should be this equality. It is something to which we in this party certainly subscribe, and I think every member of this House, including the Conservative members, deep down inside subscribes to it.

I rose to make one point which, to the best of my knowledge, has not been made to this time. It deals with the restructuring of hydro in the municipalities, particularly as it pertains to the Niagara Peninsula.

I remember those debates in this House in which I took part. I suggested at that time, because we had one rate for rural areas and one for urban areas, that the municipalities which were enlarged, such as Thorold, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Welland and all those municipalities in the Niagara Peninsula -- and not just those municipalities in the Niagara Peninsula but also municipalities in York, Peel and various other areas where restructuring took place -- should be able to extend their urban boundaries to take in urban areas that had been built up, such as the village of Fonthill, which the member represented -- I use that as an example -- rather than take in the whole municipality of Pelham.

The municipality could not have afforded to buy that out. Their rate would have been higher than it was even under the rural area. They should have been able to expand around the urban section and take that in.

We even moved an amendment in that regard, but the government said, "No, we cannot do that." The municipality had the responsibility to the urban section to carry the weight for the rural section. I suggest to the parliamentary assistant that he look back and read the debates that took place at that time.

Thorold had to extend its boundaries to take in all the rural area because of the principle put forward by the government that there should be equality within that municipality. They either had to stay where they were with that very minor urban area, an illogical urban area, or they had to take in the whole municipality. It was government policy that they were their brother's keeper. They were supposed to bear the burden of the rural area where, admittedly, it is much more costly to supply the service.

Now we have the government coming along with this bill and doing a complete reversal on the principle that they insisted the municipalities apply, saying, "We are going to perpetuate a system where there is an inequality between the rural and urban areas." When he gets up to reply to this, I hope the parliamentary assistant will make some comment about that and explain how the government can be so inconsistent.

After taking one policy for two, three, four or five years, they come around now when they have the authority to implement what they told the municipalities to do and they are not going to do it. I suggest to the parliamentary assistant that in itself, apart from the principles, should cause some members on his side who have gone through this procedure in their own regions perhaps to reconsider and to support the sensible and reasonable amendment that has been put forward by the member for York South.

Mr. Andrewes: Mr. Chairman, the member for Welland-Thorold speaks very compassionately about municipal utilities, and I am sure in his remarks he is indicating his substantial support for that principle. I have to go through what I said before, that in proposing and supporting this amendment, what the member is doing is threatening the fabric of that municipal utility structure. Some 209 of these utilities would have bills higher than the rural rate. I made those remarks earlier and I will not make them again. I just ask how we are going to retain that kind of rapport with those utilities that have served the Hydro system in this province for 75 years. How do we retain the kind of rapport that is necessary to make this thing work in supporting an amendment like this to the bill? We cannot support it, Mr. Chairman.

Mr. Deputy Chairman: Does any other member wish to participate in the debate on the amendment before the House? Are you ready for the question?

Those in favour of Mr. MacDonald's amendment to section 2 will please say "aye."

Those opposed will please say "nay."

In my opinion the nays have it.

Motion negatived.

Section 2 agreed to.

Sections 3 and 4 agreed to.


Resuming consideration of Bill 68, An Act for the establishment and conduct of a Project in the Municipality of Metropolitan Toronto to improve methods of processing Complaints by members of the Public against Police Officers on the Metropolitan Police Force.

On section 5:

Mr. Chairman (Mr. Cureatz): On the last day on the bill an amendment was placed by Mr. Elston concerning section 5, and we are dealing with that section. Is there any further discussion of the amendment?

Mr. Wrye: Mr. Chairman, I had just begun my remarks the other night regarding what is really the crucial amendment to this piece of legislation for it will, it seems to me, ultimately determine whether the legislation has any real chance of working. I had reached that stage in my remarks where I was commenting on the appointment of Sidney Linden as public complaints commissioner. I was noting that the appointment of Mr. Linden is probably the only thing that has made this legislation palatable, because he is a gentleman of outstanding background. He is a gentleman whose background and career lend themselves to the position he has assumed. His appointment will do quite a bit to lend the legislation some authenticity in the eyes of that group who will be most depending upon it.

But it seems to me that, as good as the appointment of Mr. Linden is, it cannot overcome the real problem in Bill 68, and that is the public mistrust of the police investigating themselves. Let it be very clear that the public deeply mistrusts the system as it is proposed. Group after group came before the committee to tell us in very eloquent terms of their distrust. The old slogan was said over and over again by these various groups during our committee deliberations, "For justice to be done it must be seen to be done." Nowhere was this more true than in this case. That seems to be the substance of the problem. Justice must be seen to be done by all concerned.

5:40 p.m.

Let me raise for members of the House one of the problems we will have if we do not accept this amendment. The fact that justice must be seen to be done is important for the policemen as well. A policeman falsely accused by a citizen could end up having his reputation forever scarred despite his innocence, all due to mistrust because the police conducted the initial investigation.

Yet, if an independent group were to conduct the initial investigation and were to say the complaint was without substance, the complaint was unwarranted and the policeman was innocent, it would carry greater weight. It seems to me there is a much larger chance the comments made by a team of investigators appointed by and under the direction of the public complaints commissioner would carry much greater weight than the comments of police investigators acting under the auspices of the chief of police.

The bill fails in that it has failed to gain any support whatsoever from the so-called visible minorities. Those are the groups the Solicitor General (Mr. McMurtry) commented on early in the discussions. Not one organization from the so-called visible minorities came before our committee in three weeks of hearings in support of the legislation. The lack of support from the visible minorities was publicized in the general press over and over again. Yet not one group came forward to say it supported the legislation as it is now proposed.

We even asked those members of the visible minorities who did come forward if they knew anyone who supported it. They said, "No." Yet the Solicitor General could suggest to the various groups who came forward what he suggested to Daniel Hill on the first Wednesday morning when the city of Toronto came and supported an independent investigation. He said: "Dr. Hill, you are obviously a gentleman who I have the highest regard for, as you know, and one who I am very happy to seek advice from on any occasion. But I would like to make the observation, with the greatest respect, that in my experience of working with visible minorities, and having spoken to a large number of people who might be generally regarded as members of visible minorities, the great majority appear not to be active in any particular association that gets involved in these issues."

What the Solicitor General was trying to say was that the views of the groups who came before us did not represent the population they allegedly served. In spite of that and in spite of our repeated request that this so-called silent majority come forward, they failed to come forth. They remained silent throughout. This leads us to wonder whether the silent majority, or at least the alleged silent majority, really exists at all, or whether groups such as the National Black Coalition of Canada Inc. and many others did represent the majority. The preponderance of the evidence would lead one to suspect they do because there is no evidence to the contrary. Not one group came forward.

I would like to speak briefly about some of the other methods the government used to defend this legislation, because I think it is crucial that we look at the proposals the government made and the reasoning behind them.

We heard a great deal about the reports prepared by Arthur Maloney, Mr. Justice Morand and others and the report this year of the McDonald commission. I am drawn first of all to the report of Mr. Maloney. I remind the House of a time in the history of the Toronto back in May 1975, six and one half years ago, when the climate was very different from what it is today. In his report, admittedly, Mr. Maloney came to the conclusion after investigating a variety of options that the police should conduct the initial investigation. He indicated he had come to this conclusion because there was not the mistrust in the community to warrant either a co-investigation or an independent investigation such as is proposed in this amendment.

I just want to read one sentence from that report, on page 211. He said, "I do not feel that this is a mistrust which at the present time is justified or deserved in Toronto."

The key words, I think, are "at the present time," because they really speak of the atmosphere, the mood, in Metropolitan Toronto in 1975, six and one half years ago. Yet much has changed in the period that has followed.

I should just like to mention the final report of Mr. Justice Donald Morand in June 1976, because the government has made much of the fact that Mr. Justice Morand has in effect endorsed Mr. Maloney's comments. It is not surprising he should do so exactly one year after the Maloney report came out -- that he would not really take time in his overall investigation to conduct anew the kind of investigation of this problem that Mr. Maloney conducted.

He says on page 186, "I gave particular attention to the report of Mr. Maloney. It is the product of considerable research and thought, and his recommendations are specifically tailored to the problems peculiar to the Metropolitan Toronto Police." In other words he did not really conduct his own investigation; he simply depended on the investigation of Mr. Maloney one year earlier. So he reached what was for him at the time a very logical conclusion. But to suggest that Mr. Maloney and Mr. Justice Morand conducted their own independent, extensive investigations is simply wrong on the facts.

The third instance that was used by the government to justify the method it has chosen was the report this year of the McDonald royal commission. I think it is well we should take a look at the commission, mainly because its final recommendations are so recent. I should point out at the outset and repeat, as several witnesses stated and as members of our party and the NDP stated during the committee hearings, that the McDonald commission itself used independent investigators. They were from other police forces, but the point is that the investigators were gathered from outside the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. Indeed, as I understand it one of them was a senior investigator from the Ontario Provincial Police.

As the minister pointed out in his opening remarks, there is no doubt McDonald came down in support of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, in their instance as a force in a very different circumstance than Metropolitan Toronto, in conducting the initial investigation.

5:50 p.m.

It seems to me what has been missed in this is a couple of the key comments that Mr. McDonald made later on, which were really pulling back from the statement he made. He said the commission itself had two concerns which led it to advise that the office of the inspector of police practices, or their public complaints commissioner, investigate allegations of misconduct.

He said, and I quote from pages 977 and 978: "Our first concern is the need for public confidence in the resolution of allegations of police misconduct. Sometimes, in controversial or very serious cases, the notion of the police investigating themselves may not provide the public with the assurance it needs that a completely thorough and impartial investigation has been conducted."

That proposal really suggests there are some serious instances where the police ought not to conduct the initial investigation. I might remind the minister and House that the bill, as it is amended now and from my reading as it is proposed to be amended later on, still does not allow for the initial investigation to be conducted by the Public Complaints Commissioner.

I want to read the second concern because I think it really comes to the heart of the problem we have in Metropolitan Toronto. Again quoting from the commission's final report: "Our second concern is that in some situations where there is tension or distrust between the RCMP and the community they serve, complainants or witnesses may not lend their complete co-operation to the investigators. Without such co-operation, the quality of the investigation will be poor and consequently the complaint will not be satisfactorily resolved."

It seems to me that is a situation we have with a great number of the complaints in Metropolitan Toronto. I am not sure if this is the largest city in Canada. I am not sure whether Metro Toronto is ahead of Montreal, but it is certainly the largest English-speaking city in Canada and one of the larger English-speaking cities in North America.

In growing and enriching itself it has acquired many of the problems of other urban centres, problems which are far from those faced by the RCMP, problems with the very groups who feel so left out of this legislation, the so-called visible minorities, the poor and other ethnic groups. I think that in taking a look at the exceptions proposed by Mr. McDonald we find that when one comes to Metropolitan Toronto those are not really exceptions. Those are rather the norm. Those are likely to be the rule.

Consequently if McDonald has proposed an independent investigation of what is for the RCMP an exception, it seems to me it follows that the independent investigation should be carried out here in Metropolitan Toronto where the RCMP exception is the rule of the day.

I want to put briefly on the record, just as an example, some of the comments of the National Black Coalition of Canada when it appeared before us. This is a very responsible, moderate group of black community leaders and some of their comments bear repeating because they raise for the consideration of the House some of the problems that the visible minorities and the groups who appeared before us are having in supporting this legislation in any way.

I would just like briefly to read from the comments of Sylvester Anthony, the national vice-president of the coalition. He says it has never been their intention "to question the integrity of those persons charged with the responsibility of supervising the department or ... those who sit on the board of police commissioners. The point, however, is: How can we reasonably expect the people who have been put in charge of the police force -- and by that I refer to what we call the upper- and middle-management levels up to and including the police chief and board of police commissioners -- to investigate allegations of misconduct against police officers without appearing to be biased? Therein lies the fundamental conflict: The chief of police, the police commission, the police supervisors and the rest are all ultimately responsible for the conduct of the officers being investigated."

So they go on. The coalition says if we leave the initial investigation in the hands of the police the ultimate problem will be that the very people this legislation is designed to aid will not come forward and will not bring their complaints and problems to the attention either of the authorities or ultimately, I would suggest, of the public complaints commissioner.

Finally I would like to put briefly on the record a couple of the comments made by Mr. Alan Borovoy of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association and remarks in the association's excellent presentation before our committee. It seems to me Mr. Borovoy raised many of the problems I feel will really linger on and may well damn this piece of legislation to failure if it is not changed. He said, and I quote:

"In our view, what it all comes down to is that a system essentially of internal investigation, even if monitored by external review, cannot adequately address the problem which has occasioned the impulse for reform, namely, the perception of bias. No matter how fair an internal investigation may be in fact, it is not likely to appear fair. From the standpoint of many members of the public, the investigating officers would continue to be vulnerable to the suspicion that they were covering up for their colleagues or fellow police officers."

That is really the problem in a nutshell. What has occasioned the beginnings of this pilot project for Metropolitan Toronto -- a project I hope will later spread and be placed in other communities such as Windsor -- is the problems that surround the issue of perceived bias of the police in dealing with citizen complaints. It seems to me we are not addressing those problems by allowing the police to continue to conduct the initial investigation.

To return to the comments I made at the outset, I think it is fair to ask if the legislation does indeed have its foundation, as the Solicitor General suggested, on co-operation rather than confrontation. I believe the evidence indicates it does not. The evidence indicates the decision of the Solicitor General and the government to ignore the nearly unanimous views of those most likely to be involved in the procedure -- the poor, the ethnic minorities and those from the visible minorities -- dooms the legislation to continue the period of confrontation that has been growing in recent years. I remind the Solicitor General that if he expects co-operation it will be difficult because most groups appearing before our committee said flatly they will not co-operate with this legislation.

To conclude before the clock reaches six o'clock, I hope particularly the members from Metropolitan Toronto will vote to support the views of their constituents, those most affected by this legislation. They have stated very clearly they wish to have a process that is independent from the police from the very moment the investigation commences.

Mr. Chairman: The member for Brant-Oxford-Norfolk. Are you rising on a point of --

Mr. Nixon: No, I want to speak.

Mr. Chairman: First I will recognize the member for Nickel Belt.

Mr. Laughren: Is it appropriate to move that the committee rise and report?

Mr. Chairman: No, I believe I should leave the chair and we will resume at eight. That is my understanding.

The House recessed at 6 p.m.