32nd Parliament, 1st Session





















The House met at 2:02 p.m.



Mr. Wildman: Mr. Speaker, I have a point of privilege to raise with you. It is in regard to the answer to question 147, which was tabled in the House on October 29, and its apparent contradiction with information that was presented before the standing committee on resources development on October 15.

In the answer tabled October 29, the Minister of Agriculture and Food (Mr. Henderson) stated that, under the agriculture technology transfer subprogram, "Costs incurred following the date of application and prior to approval by the management committee may be approved." But in the committee debate, Mr. Galloway of the ministry stated that the management committee "has to give approval prior to initiating the project."

There appears to be a direct contradiction between the written answer given to me by the minister and the statement made on the record in the committee by his staff, and I ask you to raise this matter with the minister and determine what is the fact, what is the procedure, and have the matter clarified for the record.

Mr. Speaker: I suggest that the honourable member take that matter up with the minister himself at the appropriate time.


Mr. Speaker: On Thursday last, the member for London North (Mr. Van Horne) asked me to consider a petition relating to urea formaldehyde foam insulation.

While the petition appears on the face of it to require the expenditure of public funds, the member did make the point that it is possible to interpret it as asking the government to assist in some way that would not entail the expenditure of money.

The member did raise an interesting point; so the petition has been given the benefit of the doubt, and I want to inform all honourable members that the petition will be entered as received as of today.



Hon. Mrs. Birch: Mr. Speaker, this is the third year that the Ontario Youth Secretariat is sponsoring Ontario Career Week in elementary and secondary schools, colleges and communities throughout the province. Many members will recall the activities that took place in their communities last year that assisted young people in learning about career choices open to them. My parliamentary assistant, the member for Brantford (Mr. Gillies), and I expect many members will be participating in career week events in their own constituencies again this year.

The theme for Ontario Career Week 1981 is "A Step Toward Tomorrow." We feel it is a chance for young people to find out about and to explore career options. We hope that discussions and exchange of information between young people and educators, the business community, service clubs and labour and trade organizations will help them to do this.

In particular, career week is an important opportunity for young women to find out about careers in which women have been underrepresented in the past. Informing women students about nontraditional jobs gives them an impetus to take courses and learn skills that may lead to better and more interesting employment. As well, it will increase the pool of young people who can fill employers' demands for technical and trade skills.

We have been assisted by the Ontario School Counsellors' Association, members of the teaching community who have written some of the material, the Canada Employment and Immigration Commission and the Canadian Forces. This kind of co-operative effort on behalf of our young people can only be positive and rewarding for all concerned.


Hon. Mr. Welch: Mr. Speaker, later today, in conjunction with my colleague the Minister of Agriculture and Food (Mr. Henderson), I will be tabling a report called Energy and Agriculture. This report is the product of a year-long study by the Ontario energy and agriculture policy committee, which we established in June 1980.

This is a good report. The people who prepared it deserve our thanks. They point out that Ontario farmers are efficient and productive: in 1940, the average farm in this province produced enough food for 15 people: today it feeds 80 people.

The report acknowledges that Ontario agriculture has the opportunity, not only to satisfy the growing domestic market hut also to grow. process and supply the international demand for food. However, in the last 10 years. energy prices have quadrupled, and in the next two decades the price of energy will continue to rise. What this means is that the food production industry must conserve energy, especially oil, as well as develop and use alternative fuels. To do this, the committee report recommends that the government of Ontario develop a comprehensive 20-year strategy for energy management in the agricultural sector, and it outlines an initial five-year agricultural energy management program.

In addition to suggesting that farmers use fuels other than oil, the report says the farm itself may provide energy for use in the future. The report confirms the wisdom of our decision to advocate the use of surplus industrial heat to expand Ontario's greenhouse industry.

As I mentioned, members of cabinet will be considering this report in the near future and, in continuing the responsible and open style in which this report was developed, the government will make its policy decisions only after further consultations with the agricultural industry. The programs developed as a result of this report will become an integral part of the co-operative energy activities already under way between the Ministry of Energy and the Ministry of Agriculture and Food.

2:10 p.m.

I remind the honourable members of the work being done by the Agricultural Energy Management Resource Centre in the Ministry of Agriculture and Food. It was established in October 1980 to co-ordinate and expand research and demonstration programs. Although it has only been operating for a year, there are already a number of important projects under way. These include, for example, on-farm fuel alcohol demonstrations and the evaluation of vegetable oils that could he used to replace diesel oil on Ontario farms.

Members will also remember that in March 1981 the Premier (Mr. Davis) established a greenhouse advisory committee to consider the energy future for the greenhouse industry. That committee includes four commercial greenhouse operators and government staff, and their report is in the final stages of preparation.

I also wish to add that, in addition to these initiatives, many of our present research and development programs are geared to improve energy efficiency. Pest management systems, fertilizer applications, tillage operations and manure storage systems are just a few examples of areas receiving priority study now. I think it is perfectly clear that we are concerned and that we are taking action.

I want to thank the committee again for its excellent work and to assure the members that this report is receiving very careful consideration.

Mr. Nixon: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker: I am sure you understand how difficult it is when members of the Legislature are asked by their constituents and the media to comment on a report that has not yet been made public although they, at least in the ease of the media, have copies in their possession.

I want to lodge with you, sir, my protest that the honourable minister would attempt to manage the news by dribbling this report out to some of his friends in the press without giving it to the House in a proper and acceptable way.

Mr. MacDonald: On the point of order, Mr. Speaker: We have just completed the estimates of the Ministry of Agriculture and Food. We had 18 hours, and we spent at least an hour and a half or two hours of the 18 discussing the energy issue, which the deputy told us represented 18 per cent of farm input costs.

I find it irresponsible, outrageous and totally inexcusable that this report should have been sitting here in this building -- it was delivered to the government at the end of August, and it could have been printed, as I suspect it was, before the middle of October so that the members of the committee were denied the basic information in it needed to discuss sensibly and substantively, rather than in vacuo, the ministry's estimates.

Hon. Mr. Welch: Mr. Speaker, both members are entitled to some explanation with respect to the points they raise.

I think the honourable House leader for the official opposition should be reminded that the minister himself certainly has not leaked the contents of any report to any member of the media. It is my understanding that the first official copies of these reports are being turned over to the media now, in connection with this particular statement.

Some particular journalist may have had access to this report. I ask the honourable House leader to reserve his comments until he reads the report. I invite him to read it and to read the media account to find out whether there was access to the report or only speculation with respect to its contents.

The report to which I am making reference, if I can speak to the member for York South (Mr. MacDonald), is just being bound today, and one of the reasons we have waited until now was that the full report was not available to date. All we had up until now was the executive summary, and we felt that members were entitled to have the backup and the complete report. We have been working all morning to get this particular report available, and it is now available at least in numbers for members of the House. There has been no intention to withhold any information.

To show how secret this report was, we had been running advertisements in agricultural journals over the last two or three months telling people the report was on its way and inviting people to write in. I have copies of those ads here. We announced the study more than a year ago; so there is certainly nothing secret about the fact that this House has been advised there was such a report. We have been indicating to people that they have been working on it. We have had outside membership on the committee. There has been consultation with all sorts of people with respect to this.

Any research at all would have provided members with ample evidence of the fact that work was going on. For any questions that could come up. we felt it was important to release both the executive summary and the full report, and that is what we are doing today.

Mr. MacDonald: Mr. Speaker, the minister really has not addressed the point of order. He asked the Liberal I-louse leader to reserve judgement until he had read the report. That is not the point of order.

The point of order is that this material was available if the government had wanted to make it available for consideration where it should have been considered, during the estimates of the Ministry of Agriculture and Food. He sat on it until the estimates were over.

Mr. Martel: On the same point of order, Mr. Speaker: Might I ask the acting Premier whether, in view of the fact that the estimates now have been completed. he is prepared to arrange adequate time so the standing committee on resources development and members of the agricultural community will have an opportunity to discuss it? In other words, is he prepared to give more time so that this matter can he discussed in detail before the standing committee' ?

Hon. Mr. Welch: Mr. Speaker, as I indicated in my statement, before any government action is announced with respect to a follow-up to this report, we want to have a wide consideration of this report throughout the agricultural community. I would think what we would want to do would he to have some opportunity to review this report. Indeed, we want to consult as far and wide as possible with respect to it.

I am a hit disturbed by any suggestion that there was any deliberate attempt to withhold this report. I want to make it quite clear that the report is being tabled today. In fact, we had some difficulty getting enough copies of the report hound for this announcement today. which we felt was important in view of the fact that there would appear to he some evidence someone may have had access to the executive summary in advance of members of the House. Mr. Martel: I asked the acting Premier a specific question: Given all the things he has said, is the acting Premier prepared to arrange time for it to he discussed by the agricultural estimates committee? Is he prepared to arrange somewhere down the road -- a month from now, or two weeks from now -- an opportunity for the committee to review that document?

Hon. Mr. Welch: It is my understanding from m past experience that is the sort of thing we sometimes have found time for on Thursday evenings in the House. some type of a wide- ranging discussion on various reports that have come forward, If the House leaders want to make some arrangement to discuss this particular matter on a Thursday evening. I think that is something I would leave with our House leader to discuss with his colleagues.

Mr. Breaugh: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker: I would like a ruling from you on whether it is proper for a deputy minister of the crown to comment publicly on a report that has not yet been tabled in the House. I read in Saturday's Globe and Mail. I believe it was. comments by Malcolm Rowan on this particular report. It is m impression that parliamentary tradition says senior civil servants of that nature do not comment publicly on reports that have not yet been tabled in the House. I would like your ruling on that.

Mr. Speaker: I will have to take that under consideration and report at a later date.



Mr. Smith: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Minister of Energy. The report that was leaked in the press. that was withheld until after estimates and that has been kept from us for this long finally has been placed on our desks -- at least the summary and recommendations have been. It makes very clear that Ontario's agricultural production -- and I use the words of the report -- will not keep up with the growing provincial population unless there is a radically different energy attitute and program."

Can the Minister of Energy explain how it is that just the simple interest alone per year on the Suncor deal is 29 times what he is planning to spend in total over the next five years on the development of fuel alcohol in the form of ethanol? Can the minister explain by what sense of priority he is able to spend 5650 million plus the interest to he in a situation where the interest alone is 29 times what he is going to spend on the very program which, according to this report. is necessary to rescue and maintain our agricultural industry?

Hon. Mr. Welch: Mr. Speaker, the summary to which the Leader of the Opposition makes reference, having identified areas that require attention, goes on to point out the 20-year strategy plan to which I made reference in my statement, together with the more immediate five-year plan.

The honourable member also knows I have indicated that, since we have now received this report, we are anxious to have an opportunity to review it thoroughly and in particular to review it with the agricultural community, following which we will announce initiatives in response.

2:20 p.m.

The Leader of the Opposition also knows that the Ministry of Energy is not the only ministry within which energy initiatives lie: the Ministry of Agriculture and Food itself already has addressed and attached a very high priority to this whole question of energy. I feel quite confident that we, along with the agricultural community, will measure up to the challenge the report points out.

I do not think that has any particular relevance to the way in which he was trying to get the other issue into the discussion. We are now faced with an excellent report, prepared for us by very well-informed and competent people. They have provided a plan to us, we are now going to discuss it, and then we will respond to it. I feel quite confident we will meet the challenge that report has presented for us.

Mr. Smith: What conceivable basis can there be for the minister's so-called confidence when his government is squandering almost $1 billion, including the cost and the interest just in the next year or so on the Suncor deal, and when the very important program of fuel alcohol is left at the moment in the hands of two farmers in Ontario, the only two people apparently who even have stills on their farms, Mr. Philip Durand, who is still testing his and Mr. Leslie Adamkewicz, who has a unit and is not operating it yet?

This being the grand total of his great 20-year strategy so far, leaving us strictly at the mercy of fuels coming in from outside Ontario, how can he possibly sit there and say he is giving sufficient attention to the fuel alcohol program while he is willing to spend $1 billion on buying a share of an Alberta company, where the money leaves Ontario never to be seen again?

Hon. Mr. Welch: The Leader of the Opposition knows very well about the other initiatives that have been undertaken by the ministry: its five-year alternative transportation fuels program involving some $75 million, a report of which was thoroughly discussed during the estimates of the Ministry of Energy, and the work that is being done on a number of fronts with respect to finding substitute fuels.

The Leader of the Opposition will also know that he is being well advised that for the foreseeable future there still will be a strong dependency on hydrocarbons. Oil and gas still will form about 60 per cent of the total energy requirements of this province, and any initiatives taken by this government with respect to the security of supply of those particular fuels is just as important to the agricultural industry as it is here.

The honourable member knows that there will he no development on those lands owned by Suncor without access to the attractive incentive grants that come as a result of the national energy program, and that this government announced more than a year ago that it would find a role for the Ontario Energy Corporation to assist in the Canadianization process. It is absolutely essential to get on with that exploration and find more oil and gas, and that is why the people of Ontario will support the involvement of their government in that particular project.

Mr. Cassidy: Mr. Speaker, there has been a broadening of concern about the preservation of prime agricultural farm land as a result of the report the minister has tabled in the House today. The report is quite clear on the fact that the lands close to the metropolitan areas have got to be preserved, because those lands are the most energy-efficient both to crop and from which to ship produce into market.

The report says specifically that "preservation of prime food land and soil conservation should be central components in Ontario's agricultural and energy policies." Given that we have lost 93,000 acres of prime farm land in Ontario for every Conservative MPP who sat in this House on March 18, 1980, will the Minister of Energy say what the government now intends to do to implement this policy and get those 93,000 acres of farm land back into production here in Ontario?

Hon. Mr. Welch: Along with the leader of the third party, Mr. Speaker, I did take note of that particular part of the report making some very responsible comments with respect to the development of additional farm land. It seemed to be consistent with other areas of our economy, thinking in terms with respect to planning that was related to, and had in mind, the energy requirements.

Coming from an area that has a fair acreage of land still in agriculture -- in fact, I come from an area where there is an official plan now that actually defines agricultural land and preserves agricultural land -- I think we should all take pleasure in the fact that the Ministry of the Agriculture and Food is quite satisfied that the present agricultural and food guidelines will address the concerns that are pointed out in that report.

Mr. J. A. Reed: Mr. Speaker, in his answer the minister has concisely stated the necessity for Ontario to get off oil as quickly as possible and yet in the last five years his government has allowed more renewable energy to be destroyed in this province than has been created. The minister knows that; it was brought up in supplementary estimates last year. What is he going to do about the continued rape of the small water power sites in this province which he has allowed to be destroyed never to be renewed again?

Hon. Mr. Welch: Mr. Speaker, as my colleague the energy critic of the official opposition has pointed out, we have a long-term plan. I remind him of the publication of the Ministry of Energy setting out targets for the next 10 to 15 years in this province to provide for the situation to which he makes reference. In that document is the provision of 2,000 more megawatts of electricity --

Mr. J. A. Reed: What about the ones that he has allowed to be destroyed in the last five years? They have destroyed more than they have created.

Mr. Speaker: Order.

Hon. Mr. Welch: We are talking about the total recognition of how we move into new areas of energy and renewable areas of energy. I am quite satisfied that will require a period for transition. The honourable member knows that. One has to look after the immediate needs as one prepares for the future transition. I happen to feel that Ontario is really in the forefront with respect to many initiatives in that line. Anybody who approaches us in a very detached and objective way would be the first to agree.


Mr. Smith: A question to the Treasurer, Mr. Speaker: With respect to the letters that were tabled by the Minister of Energy in response to our request for the documentation leading to the purchase of Suncor shares, Mr. Speaker, you will be aware that the only things tabled were two letters, one from McLeod Young Weir and one from Price Waterhouse, and that no reports actually were tabled.

Given that these letters contain no evidence whatever of any cost-benefit analysis of the Suncor deal; no evidence of the impact of a dividend policy or any analysis of any other options to pay for the purchase; no analysis of short-, medium- and long-term implications of the deal; no evidence that the experts thought the deal was a particular bargain; and, most important, no recommendation to purchase at all, how does the Treasurer square these particular letters with the statement made by the Premier (Mr. Davis) that he was assured by McLeod Young Weir and Price Waterhouse that the negotiated price is a sound investment for Ontario taxpayers?

All the letters say is, "If you want to buy the shares, this is the price you are going to have to pay." There is nothing to speak of in terms of whether this is a sound investment, a foolish investment, a bargain or anything that will possibly be of benefit to the people of Ontario over the short, medium or long term.

Hon. F. S. Miller: Mr. Speaker, I hope the member will have ample opportunity to continue with this during this afternoon but, in the meantime, I will point out that there are a number of negotiations still going on to complete the financing of the $325 million that was taken back by some type of debt instrument. I am sure the Leader of the Opposition knows that kind of negotiation is not normally done under the glare of lights. It is the kind of thing that is best done with some degree of confidentiality.

Second, a good deal of the kind of the information that is required in any of these arrangements --

Mr. Smith: It's our money.

Mr. Peterson: Nobody else wants to buy it. Why does it have to he confidential?

Mr. Speaker: Order.

Hon. F. S. Miller: A good deal of the kind of information involved in the appraisal of any investment often requires access to confidential financial records, which we believe are the kind that one would not normally expect anyone to have to reveal.

For example, the member knows that I have access to his personal income tax information. He would expect me not to reveal that in the House, and I believe it is a requirement under the law for me not to do that. At the same time --

Mr. Nixon: Thanks a lot.

Mr. Smith: I am not seeking to have you buy 25 per cent of my assets, as you are trying to have the people of Ontario --

Mr. Speaker: Order.

Hon. F. S. Miller: I can only say if I tried to buy 25 per cent of that member, he would have to pay me to take it.

2:30 p.m.

Mr. Smith: The analogy used by the Treasurer has hit a new low. I am not seeking any silent or blind partners, but Suncor apparently wants a partner not only silent but also blind.

With respect to the statement by Mr. Kierans that says public disclosure of the information would be "in violation of the confidentiality agreement signed with Suncor, designed to protect its commercial and competitive interests," may I ask the Treasurer what is this confidentiality agreement signed with Suncor?

Who signed it? Who was authorized to sign away our right to know the facts here in the Legislature?

Hon. F. S. Miller: The Minister of Energy (Mr. Welch) has just told me the Ontario Energy Corporation had that ability.

Mr. Smith: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker: The Treasurer has said the Ontario Energy Corporation has that power. Did it sign it or not? It is a very important matter.

Hon. F. S. Miller: As I pointed out, at times there are some details which the Minister of Energy is obviously more aware of than I am. This is one of those cases. He says, "Yes, they did sign it."

Mr. Wildman: Mr. Speaker, is the Treasurer telling the House that, because of the agreement for confidentiality, we must settle for the assurances of McLeod Young Weir and Price Waterhouse that we paid a fair price?

Hon. F. S. Miller: Mr. Speaker, I think the reputation of those two firms is such that when an appraisal is made one would think some of the most competent people in Canada have joined in that appraisal.

Mr. Smith: In his first answer, the Treasurer implied that McLeod Young Weir and Price Waterhouse did have something more to say about whether this was a good long-term investment, a good bargain and something that ought to be purchased.

Does the Treasurer agree that all we have received by way of these letters indicates simply that, if one wants to buy 25 per cent of Suncor, this is the price one is going to have to pay and says nothing whatever about whether it happens to be a particularly good buy, whether it is in the interest of Ontario, whether the benefits outweigh the cost, what the implications for financing are and certainly nothing that suggests one should go ahead and buy it?

It simply says, "If you insist on buying it, this is the fair price as best we can determine." Is there a recommendation to purchase anywhere in the compendium that is being withheld from us?

Hon. F. S. Miller: When the Leader of the Opposition looks at the letters, as he has done, he will see that both letters use the same kind of phraseology. In fact, the McLeod Young Weir letter and the Price Waterhouse letter use almost exactly the same words in certain parts.

Mr. Breithaupt: I wonder why that is.

Hon. F. S. Miller: That is not a coincidence. I am not as suspicious as the honourable member implied. The purpose of a second opinion, as I understood it, was to make sure we were at least getting two points of view. They agreed. They are saying the range was somewhere between $550 and $675 million for a block price.

Mr. Cassidy: I have a question for the Treasurer, Mr. Speaker. How can we judge an acquisition which probably makes a lot of sense for Ontario but which at this time we are not in a position to judge?

Mr. Smith: Oh, sure!

Mr. Mancini: Throwing the people's money down the drain.

Mr. Cassidy: Why don't you talk to your federal colleagues?

The documentation that was tabled indicates that, in addition to the purchase of Suncor, the Ontario Energy Corporation and Suncor intend to set up a new sidecar company to qualify for the maximum petroleum incentive payments under frontier land programs. Because of the fact that Suncor will Be only 25 per cent Canadian owned at the outset, this means well over that proportion of the sidecar company will have to be financed by the Ontario government.

Can the Treasurer say how much of a commitment Ontario has made to this exploration subsidiary on top of the $650 million, over what time that money will have to Be spent and what the prospective returns are from that exploration in return for what investment from this province?

Hon. F. S. Miller: Mr. Speaker, those are the kinds of questions that will Be dealt with in the context of the Ontario Energy Corporation. Those questions are best directed to my colleague.

Mr. Cassidy: I would like to redirect the question, Mr. Speaker.

Hon. Mr. Welch: Mr. Speaker, a decision with respect to those amounts has not yet been made. I can understand the difficulty here, and I would really like to he helpful. I think it is very important to understand that the negotiations are still going on. We have a tentative agreement on the overall situation as far as this deal is concerned, but during the negotiations it was obvious we really had to maintain strict confidentiality and secrecy until the agreement was reached.

Mr. Smith: Why did the minister announce it prematurely?

Hon. Mr. Welch: We had to because of the rules and regulations that govern the shareholdings in the United States. Their rules of disclosure require, I think, that as soon as the company was involved in these negotiations they had to be notified within such a time period.

But I am talking about other deals. I am saying the purchase price has been settled -- how much of it is in cash has been settled; how much is going to be secured as far as repayment is concerned has been settled. What we have not finalized is whether or not there are some terms and conditions that may be more attractive to Ontario. We are still in the middle of those negotiations. Those details all have to Be settled before what is called the final closing can take place.

All we are saying is that having decided we wanted to translate the policy decision of the government on Canadianization in some meaningful way and that we got the proper advice on valuation -- that the price was right from a business point of view -- we took the decision to enter into that agreement.

Even now the deal is not complete. We have to maintain this degree of secrecy until the final agreements are executed. I would think there are people who understand that when we consider buying these shares we have to get information on things such as earnings forecasts, reserve estimates and marketing projections, all of which we must have access to in order to make a determination on the price But which, of course, the company would not want to make known to its competitors in the marketplace. I do not think that is unreasonable; I do not think that is inconsistent with what goes on during these transactions. To suggest there is something sinister about that, I think, is irresponsible.

I have looked at comments from a number of people in the securities business, all of whom have been quite anxious to go on the record as indicating what a positive deal this is as far as Ontario is concerned. I have got them all here.

Ontario has struck a good bargain: it is a very profitable plan. Ontario's price of $50 a share for Suncor was a comparatively good one, according to people who are analysing this matter. We are only trying to be responsible and to honour the undertakings we have given at this stage of the negotiations to maintain some privacy with respect to the information we had to have in order to come to a proper decision. But it should not, at this stage of the game, be public information.

Mr. Cassidy: Supplementary, Mr. Speaker: The minister is saying that even now the government is not in a position to say exactly whether the deal was worth while at the price at which it was struck or what is going to come out of it. He is not prepared to say how much the government will commit itself to in terms of the exploration corporation that will be set up as a joint venture between the Ontario Energy Corporation and Suncor. He is saying that many aspects of the deal have yet to be finalized.

Under those circumstances would the Minister of Energy then say what the documentation was on which he went forward? What, for example, led the government to state, "It is a good investment for Ontario, with a rate of return of more than 15 per cent."? I hope that is true, because I suspect it is a good deal. But if the government is going to defend this deal it has to be able to show whether or not that is the case.

Did the minister have a study on the rate of return of the investment? Where is that study. and why can we not have a look at it now in this House?

Hon. Mr. Welch: Mr. Speaker, if I may continue on this theme, we have to remember we are buying shares in a company that is facing strong competition in the oil and gas industry. Surely common sense would demand we not release detailed information on the company which would be valuable to its competitors at this stage. I suggest it is totally irresponsible -- I think this should be on the record -- to seek full disclosure of the transaction that would undermine the negotiations at the present time. i would think in due course, to answer your question --

Mr. Cassidy: You misunderstand what parliament is all about.

2:40 p.m.

Hon. Mr. Welch: I am only pointing out that would not be acting in the best interests of the people of this province at this time.

We are quite satisfied we have a good deal. We have plenty of evidence it is a good deal. I do not understand why the member would not understand that.

Mr. Cassidy: Oh boy, you're happy with your majority aren't you. You think its great.

Mr. Speaker: Order. The member for Ottawa Centre asked the minister a question and the minister was addressing it.

Mr. Cassidy: Hes abusing this Legislature; that's what he's doing.

Mr. Speaker: Order. I would ask you to allow the minister to continue answering the question.

Mr. Smith: Supplementary: I take it the minister is undertaking that when the deal is eventually signed -- and I certainly hope it will not be signed -- the compendium will be released at that point? Or will the minister continue to hold it back, allegedly because of the necessity of confidentiality?

If it is the latter, upon whose legal advice did the Ontario Energy Corporation sign away the right of the Legislature to know? Surely Suncor realized when it was getting into a deal with the people of Ontario the people of Ontario might need to know more than would some other ordinary purchaser? Would the minister therefore tell us upon whose legal advice our right to know was signed away by the Ontario Energy Corporation? And will the compendium be released after the matter is signed?

Hon. Mr. Welch: Mr. Speaker, the Honourable Leader of the Opposition knows the compendium has been filed. I point out that --

Mr. Smith: That is a blatant lie.

Mr. Speaker: Order. That language is unacceptable and I would ask the honourable member to withdraw it please.

Mr. Smith: The statement that the compendium of information upon which this purchase of Suncor was made -- the basis for the purchase -- has been tabled in this House is a totally false statement.

If the words "blatant lie" upset parliamentary procedure, I am prepared to withdraw them. But it is a totally false statement, and deliberately so.

An hon. member: Same thing.

Mr. Speaker: Thank you.


Mr. Speaker: Do you have a response?

Hon. Mr. Welch: Mr. Speaker, may I say in defence of myself -- if I might he allowed as a matter of privilege I fail to see the difference between a blatant lie and a deliberate falsehood.

Mr. Smith: Neither do I.

Mr. Breithaupt: Moving right along.

Mr. Speaker: Order. This language, as I pointed out before, is totally unacceptable and I would ask the Leader of the Opposition to withdraw his remarks.

Mr. Smith: Mr. Speaker, I am prepared to withdraw the remarks that are considered unparliamentary. I do not want to prolong this.

I do say the minister knows these letters are not the compendium upon which the deal was based. There is no recommendation to purchase in these letters. The Treasurer himself implied there was much more information that was available. The minister ought also to be a gentleman and not leave the implication the genuine compendium has been tabled, when he knows it simply is not so.

Hon. Mr. Welch: Mr. Speaker, I find myself in agreement with the Leader of the Opposition when he makes some reference to the two letters he just dropped on his desk. The two letters are part of an answer to a question, which answer was tabled in the House on Friday. I was not making reference to those letters as a compendium.

I am going hack about a week ago or so when there was some reference that a compendium had not accompanied the Premier's (Mr. Davis) statement. I drew to the attention of the leader of the third party at that time that we had filed material in response to the rules for a compendium. The member will see, if he goes back to Hansard at that time, I drew attention to the fact that the leader of the third party had been a member of the select committee studying the Camp commission report on the Legislature. I noted it was in that report that the concept of compendia was mentioned.

If he goes to the Camp commission report and looks for a definition of compendium, it tells him there. A member of the select committee or any member of this Legislature would understand that. The report uses, as an example of a compendium, the procedures that are carried out in the House of Commons in Great Britain. It talks in terms of a compilation or collection of documents that are available and relevant to the subject, or whatever the words in Camp were. I took the position, which I was reiterating just prior to the exchange with the Leader of the Opposition, that what we filed as a compendium to the statement made by the Premier came within the definition of compendium as set down in the very report from which the whole concept came to be included in our rules. That is the point I was wanting to make.

Mr. Cassidy: Final supplementary, Mr. Speaker: The minister is really saying that now there is a majority in this Legislature, the government is doing its best to give as little information as possible to the opposition and also to the people of Ontario. All we received was a copy of the press kit that was released, plus the annual report of Suncor and nothing else. If that is the basis on which the government carried out the decision to spend $650 million, then I would say it was acting irresponsibly when it made the purchase. That is exactly what happened.


Mr. Speaker: Question.

Mr. Cassidy: My question, Mr. Speaker --


Mr. Speaker: Order.

Mr. Cassidy: My question, Mr. Speaker -- since right now the Treasurer cannot pay his bills because of the obstinacy of the Minister of Energy in refusing to give the information on which this deal was based -- would the Minister of Energy share with the House the answers to these questions? Was a study requested by the ministry as to the advisability of buying 51 per cent of Suncor rather than 25 per cent? What advice did the minister receive, either from his own officials or from McLeod Young Weir or Price Waterhouse? Is the government of Ontario required to pick up the option if 26 per cent of the shares are not sold privately, and at what price? What are the commitments into which Ontario is entering as part of this deal?

Mr. Speaker: There were at least five questions there.

Hon. Mr. Welch: There were two main questions, Mr. Speaker. The answer to both is no.

Mr. Cassidy: It is unbelievable the government of Ontario would be looking --

Mr. Speaker: Order, order. I am asking you to ask a question, not make a statement.


Mr. Cassidy: My question is to the Treasurer, Mr. Speaker. In view of the financial plight of farmers here in Ontario is the minister aware that back in 1978 the money farmers spent in interest was equal to only 36 per cent of the money they took in net income from farming? Is he aware that last year the banks took 80 per cent as much out of farming in this province in interest as farmers took home in net income?

Given the increase in farm rates, the banks, without ever putting a hole in the soil, driving a tractor or anything else, will take as much or more money from farmers in interest payments as the farmers will take home in net income payments. Does the Treasurer not think that is sufficient reason to justify Ontario's becoming involved in giving finance to farmers at a rate they can afford, so they can continue to put food on our tables at a price people in this province can afford?

Hon. F. S. Miller: Mr. Speaker, it is a complicated question. Of course, the total interest charges for farmers have climbed in the last three years, as have the total interest charges for people with homes or for the member or myself, wherever we borrow money. I get a little tired of the implication that all the interest flows to a bank. It does not. I do not know what the member does with his spare money, but if it happens to be in a certificate of deposit, the bank is flowing it through to the depositor, working on two or three per cent or whatever is the normal margin on borrowed money.

They can make as much money at an eight per cent rate as they can at an 18 per cent rate -- something people tend to forget. The real beneficiaries of the high interest rate policy happen to be people who have money to lend, not banks specifically.

2:50 p.m.

Mr. Cassidy: Supplementary: Given that what the financial institutions have been taking in interest rates and interest has gone from a quarter of a billion dollars three years ago to something over half a billion dollars today, does the Treasurer really believe his Minister of Agriculture and Food (Mr. Henderson) when the minister says only one per cent of the farmers in the province are in serious financial troubles? Does the Treasurer not agree it is at least 10 times that many, which is what the Ontario Federation of Agriculture has been saying? What action does the government now intend to take in order to rescue Ontario farmers who are being driven to the wall because of the high interest rates?

Hon. F. S. Miller: My colleague the Minister of Agriculture and Food has on a number of occasions recited the steps he has taken this year. The Ontario Federation of Agriculture has a special committee looking at the problem now. I think all of us realize a statistic given by a bank or a set of banks, which said 450 farmers were in serious financial trouble, was based only on an analysis of whether they are or are not able to repay their loan in the immediate future. I do not see that as a measure of the problem for the farm community. I am sure the member agrees with that too.

I certainly do not think it is limited to one per cent of the farmers. Those are the people who now may be in the process of losing their farm. I think the very reason the federation has this task force out looking around is to assess in greater depth the real extent of that trouble. I am sure, whether the member chose farmers or any other group in society, the immediate statistics do not underline the overall problem, the one that has more or less submerged waiting to pop up.

Mr. McKessock: I would ask the Treasurer, after the federal budget is introduced on November 12, if there is nothing satisfactory to the farmers of Ontario through the Farm Credit Corporation, would he at that time consider reinstituting Ontario's junior farmer loan program, not just for junior farmers hut for farmers of any age, at a reduced interest rate for a long term period to allow these farmers who are in financial difficulty to refinance their present debts?

Hon. F. S. Miller: Mr. Speaker, I think it would be foolish for me to rule out anything. The advanced intelligence we have is that the Minister of Finance for Canada intends to do something for farmers. I sincerely hope this is right. I sincerely hope this information is right, and that he will have some measures in the budget, be it lower rates for farmers through the Farm Credit Corporation or a variation on the small business development bond so that it covers operating loans for unincorporated farmers.

Ontario stands ready to forego its share of any tax income if there is a federal policy in place. Together, the impact of both will be useful; alone, neither one quite does the job.

Mr. MacDonald: Is the provincial Treasurer aware of the fact that Ontario has the lowest amount of per-farm provincial government extended credit in this country? The rates range from a high of $17,000 in Quebec, to $1,199 to the average farm in Ontario. That being the case, does he not think it is time for him to quit saying this a responsibility of Ottawa's and to pick up solving the problem at the provincial level, as every other province is doing at least to some degree?

Hon. F. S. Miller: My friend has been around this House too long and has followed the progress of agriculture for too long to feel the statistic he has given me means Ontario's farmers somehow are neglected. The truth is we have the best, most productive farm land in Canada. The member knows that. The fact that some of the cash crops at present are not in trouble has implied we did not have to have the same degree of --

Mr. MacDonald: The usual evading of the problem.

Hon. F. S. Miller: I am not evading it. I am staling the fact exactly. Show me where they grow soybeans in some of the provinces that are in trouble. I would also point out this province is a net contributor to equalization of $1.7 billion a year roughly. That flows out of his pocket and mine through a federal program, $1.8 billion of it going to Quebec alone.


Mr. Breithaupt: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Minster of Energy. The Minister of Energy? Hello?

Mr. Speaker: The member for Kitchener has the floor.

Mr. Breithaupt: I will certainly try to place my question with the undivided attention of the Minister of Energy, Mr. Speaker.

Since a preliminary report of the Ontario Economic Council has stated that the energy pricing agreement between the producing provinces and Ontario is likely to create a fiscal drag on the economy because there is a shift of revenue from the corporations to government, what guarantees can the minister give us that the anticipated rate of return on Suncor will be 15 per cent, above and beyond the 17 per cent interest we are going to be paying?

Hon. Mr. Welch: Mr. Speaker, I am not sure I really understand the question. Did the member ask me about the guarantee being above and beyond? Would he mind repeating that?

Mr. Breithaupt: What guarantee can he give us the anticipated rate of return on Suncor will be 15 per cent?

Hon. Mr. Welch: If that is the question he is staying with now, that is not what I thought I heard the first time. On the basis of all the information we have and the advice we have received, we have taken the decision which we have. I do not know what further assurances we can give him at this time except that the strength of the information we have had and a very in-depth analysis of the whole transaction would lead us to that conclusion

Mr. Breithaupt: Since the minister is not sharing that detailed analysis with the House, can he advise us if the McLeod Young Weir and the Price Waterhouse reports both took into account the effect on Suncor of the energy pricing agreements?

Hon. Mr. Welch: Most assuredly; that was a very important part of the whole transaction.

Mr. Cassidy: A supplementary, Mr. Speaker: A 15 per cent return on a $650 million investment implies that Ontario expects to get about $95 million to $100 million per annum in return on its investment. If that is the case, that implies either that Suncor will earn $400 million the first year Ontario is a participant and that all of it will be paid out in dividends, or else that somehow Ontario sees the money coming from some other source.

Would the minister say on what basis the government stated that from the outset the return on Suncor will be 15 per cent and how much actual revenue Ontario expects to get from the Suncor investment, beginning when?

Hon. Mr. Welch: Mr. Speaker, I cannot really add any more information than I did to the main question. We certainly had all of these matters carefully analysed for us. We have the assurance of those studies and we now are in the process of completing the arrangements on the strength of that advice.


Mr. Cooke: Mr. Speaker: I have a question for the provincial Treasurer. Is he aware that so far this year in the city of Brantford there have been 94 foreclosures on homes, in Sarnia 72 homes have been repossessed that are on the market, in Chatham there are 65 homes on the market that have been repossessed and five more are coming in per week, and in Windsor there are 600?

Is the minister still sticking by his line in the emergency debate when this House resumed in October that a lowered interest rate at the federal level would result in a lower dollar and, therefore, there would be more damage done to the economy, implying that high interest rates have to remain? Or is he prepared to state clearly today on behalf of the government of Ontario that interest rates should be lowered by the Bank of Canada immediately?

Hon. F. S. Miller: Mr. Speaker, I think the Economic Council of Canada has just issued some advice to the federal government looking at the ability of the Canadian dollar to withstand changes in the interest rate vis-à-vis the United States. To answer your question -- am I aware? -- my answer is, "No, I am not aware of specific statistics," and I am sure he knows that.

I have been aware --

Mr. Cooke: Would the minister now answer the second part of the question -- what is his position?

Hon. F. S. Miller: I have been aware that until recently the actual foreclosure rate on houses this year had been somewhat less than last year's. I may not have the most recent statistics and the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing (Mr. Bennett) probably does. I can only say that was the way it was.

3 p.m.

As I answered for farmers, that again does not mean there are no problems; far from it. It does mean to some degree that the current slump in purchases of capital goods is caused by the fact that many people are putting off purchases that require cash outlays or time-payment commitments in order to maintain what they consider their most important priority, their home.

One can wish for a sudden drop in the rate and say it will not cause a massive outflow of Canadian capital or add to the massive outflow we already have. But the truth is money can move very quickly. The world we live in is not as regulated as the member would have it.

Mr. Philip: Supplementary, Mr. Speaker: Would the minister not agree that foreclosures do not give a true picture of the actual desperate situation we are facing? Many people, now recognizing they are going to lose their homes, are simply dropping off the keys and walking away from them. Would the minister be prepared to introduce legislation similar to the Mortgage Relief Act of the 1930s and prohibit foreclosures of houses and of farms until such time as interest rates drop and the situation remedies itself?

Hon. F. S. Miller: Mr. Speaker, I thought I had said a moment ago exactly what the honourable member started out with in his question -- that it was not simply a measure of the situation on the basis of foreclosures. I accept that; I accept there is a major problem out there. As to the advisability of such a move or the fairness of it, I think one would have to look at it because again there are always two sides to every equation.

I mentioned in that emergency debate, as I recall, that perhaps five to 10 per cent of all outstanding mortgages are in the hands of banks and the balance is in the hands of other people. Banks are relative johnny-come-latelys to the mortgage market, as I am sure the member knows. I think the Bank Act was not changed until 1966 to permit them to be in that market. The banks have been a group that has not been consistently in that market because they find they can make more money in other places at times and at other times they move back into mortgages. I would say trust companies and others have been much more faithful supporters of the mortgage market.

Most companies or individuals who lend money are not really anxious to take back real estate. They are anxious to have some agreement that allows the person to continue with his payments if they can work one out. I have a good deal of faith that is being done by many people.

Mr. Mancini: Supplementary, Mr. Speaker: If the Treasurer is concerned the sudden drop in the interest rate will affect the dollar, why does the Treasurer not move ahead by himself and use the funds available to the Ontario government to assist home owners, so they are not forced up against the wall; so they can keep their largest investment, their home; so they can keep the family intact; and so they can go about their jobs and try to make some semblance of family life? Does the Treasurer not agree the social costs associated with families losing their homes is going to be far greater than the actual loss of the home itself?

Hon. F. S. Miller: I do not know how one puts the cost of support for the mortgage sector in perspective. There are many billions of dollars out there. I think one has to recognize that this government does not have the kinds of resources or, quote, "the moneys available." It seems a bit ironic the honourable member should be asking me that question on the very day his leader is not only preventing supply but accusing us of being spendthrift to begin with.

Mr. Mancini: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker: The Treasurer has told the House his government does not have money to assist people facing high interest rates, yet it was his government that promised --

Mr. Speaker: Order, order, order. The member for Essex South will please resume his seat.

Mr. Sweeney: A question to the Treasurer, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker: Order, order. There was a party over here that I did not recognize. The member for Lincoln.


Mr. Andrewes: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I have a question for the Treasurer. Can he help me advise my constituents who called on the weekend -- we had several calls over the weekend -- as to which group of recipients of government cheques will be disadvantaged by the present delay in interim supply?

Mr. Mancini: What a nonsense question. Sit down, you trained seal.

Hon. F. S. Miller: I would say the trained seal on my side of the House talks a lot more politely than the trained seal on that side.


Mr. Speaker: Order. The Treasurer will address himself to the question.

Hon. F. S. Miller: Mr. Speaker, I do not know whether, in choosing to attack this government by the route he has done, the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Smith) realizes what he is doing and how it can backfire on him. I think it needs to be pointed out that come this Thursday, for example, when some 75,000 employees of this government do not get their pay cheques, they will --


Mr. Speaker: Order.

Hon. F. S. Miller: One thing I have learned about the Leader of the Opposition --

Mr. Smith: You are the one who is depriving the people.

Mr. Speaker: Will the Leader of the Opposition please contain himself.

Mr. Smith: On a point of order, this is a set up question and perfectly obvious --


Mr. Speaker: Order. Will the Leader of the Opposition please resume his seat. Order, order. You are expressing an opinion.

Hon. F. S. Miller: I have learned that this gentleman is a great advocate of law and order until he is crossed, until the question seems to be hitting somewhere where it hurts him.

Can I answer the question, Mr. Speaker?

Mr. Speaker: Please do.

Mr. Speaker: Please address yourself to the question, Mr. Treasurer.

Hon. F. S. Miller: I am doing that right now. Each day this gentleman and this party prevent interim supply from being passed, there will be 15,000 OHIP recipients who do not get their cheques. There would be moneys flowing to hospitals and schools. As a matter of fact, tomorrow 650 farmers would have received beef assistance payments --

Mr. Speaker: Order. The Leader of the Opposition will have ample time in the resumed debate.


Mr. Sweeney: A question to the Treasurer, Mr. Speaker: In view of the fact that Mr. Tom Kierans, the president of McLeod Young Weir, the consulting firm that analysed the cost and the validity of the cost for the Suncor purchase, is the same man who spoke two weeks later before the Ontario Economic Council and personally said he could not support such a purchase because of the way it was butchering, to use his term, our relationship with the United States, how can the people of Ontario have any confidence in a decision taken by this government influenced by a man who himself says he cannot support it? Does the government not recognize that is the very reason the public of this province and the members of this Legislature have a right to know the basis upon which it made that decision?

Hon. F. S. Miller: I happen to know whether Mr. Kierans supported Ontario's purchase. I also happen to know Mr. Kierans acted as a hired professional throughout that whole piece, to do certain duties and to give us an opinion on certain things. He did them with eminent skill. What Mr. Kierans says in his own speech is his own business.

Mr. Sweeney: Supplementary, Mr. Speaker: In that same speech Mr. Kierans said the people of Ontario would not support this deal if they knew the cost. Does the Treasurer not believe if the people of this province are going to support his government's decision, they have to know what the cost of it is?

3:10 p.m.

Hon. F. S. Miller: I think the member has misread something in the speech. I have not read the full details of the speech, but it is my understanding that he talked, not specifically about the Suncor deal but in general about the kinds of purchases by Canadians of assets that belong to other nationals at this point in history. He did not say Suncor was a bad deal and he opposes it; that is the insinuation the member is trying to put on it.


Hon. F. S. Miller: I would argue that the letter the member has tabled before him clearly states the professional assessment and opinion, not only of Mr. Kierans, but of his company, which we asked to do this work.


Mr. Smith: And you are to blame.

Mr. Wildman: Supplementary, Mr. Speaker: Will the Treasurer tell us whether Mr. Kierans recommended the purchase as a professional?

Hon. F. S. Miller: Mr. Speaker, I never tell anybody what advice I get. One of the great things about advice is, if one is able to give it to somebody knowing in full confidentiality that one's name will not be tied to it either pro or con later, one gets free advice; but if it is quoted all around the world, one gets no advice.


Mr. Wildman: I have a question for the Deputy Premier, Mr. Speaker. Can the Deputy Premier tell us if the government is satisfied that the 21 per cent rate increase for electricity consumers in Algoma and Sault Ste. Marie announced this morning is justified in view of the 10.3 per cent increase in hydro rates and the high interest rates charged to Great Lakes Power? If so, would the Deputy Premier agree with the statement made to me this morning by Mr. Harris, the manager of Great Lakes Power, that this is an example of high interest rates fuelling inflation rather than lowering it?

Hon. Mr. Welch: Mr. Speaker, I am not familiar with the circumstances surrounding the question. I will make myself familiar and perhaps be in a much better position to give an intelligent reply.

Mr. Wildman: Supplementary: Surely, as Minister of Energy, the minister is aware that Great Lakes Power has discussed this with Ontario Hydro and has to get Ontario Hydro's approval. If that is the case, does Great Lakes Power have Ontario Hydro's approval for a rate increase? If so, is this an adequate increase or is it too much? Surely the minister knows something about what Ontario Hydro has had to say about it.

Hon. Mr. Welch: Mr. Speaker, Ontario Hydro has not consulted me about this particular matter, and I will simply repeat my answer to the main question. I will make myself familiar with the situation and give the honourable member a reply.


Mr. Peterson: Mr. Speaker, I will ask my question of the Minister of Energy since the Treasurer (Mr. F. S. Miller) is not here. The viability of the Suncor deal depends upon Suncor's Canadianizing 51 per cent of its shares, thereby qualifying for the tax concessions in the national energy program, and the price break offered by these concessions is, as I know the minister will understand, a federal tax expenditure, 40 per cent of which Ontario taxpayers will pay for. Is part of the McLeod Young Weir study, or the mystery report that the government will not show us, consideration of the cost of additional taxes from Ontario taxpayers needed to pay for the tax breaks Suncor hopes to qualify for?

Hon. Mr. Welch: We are quite satisfied that all the relevant information was taken into account by those giving us some advice respecting the purchase price. The implications of the national energy program and policy were very much part of that particular consideration. It was very essential that we satisfy ourselves as to the implications of that program and that policy with respect to that company before we completed our transactions at this stage.

Mr. Peterson: Supplementary, Mr. Speaker: Given the fact that the government indicated some concern about doing studies of so-called tax expenditures and the macroeconomic effects of certain actions on the Ontario economy, what effect will this purchase have on the Ontario economy in terms of money going out of the economy, jobs coming back in and taxes lost through transfers to the federal government, which will go to other areas of the country under the equalization laws? How much will be drawn out of this province as a result of this expenditure?

Hon. Mr. Welch: Mr. Speaker, I think it is very important to understand that the Canadianization process is essential in order to have access to these incentive moneys. It is also quite obvious that this company would not do the exploration without the incentives these moneys will provide. That is why, from the standpoint of the security and expansion of our supply, it was important for us to be identified with the Canadianization process.

Under the circumstances I would think that, rather than dwell just on the question of the new jobs created, we might well think of the jobs that are protected and of the economy, which is going to enjoy that particular limit of involvement because we are doing something, addressing ourselves to this whole question of the provision of these supplies in this way.

I think it is important to recognize that over a year ago we stood in this place and told the opposition that as far as we as a government were concerned we wanted the Ontario Energy Corporation to play a very important role in the whole Canadianization process. This is not new. This is why that policy statement is part of the compendium that was filed at the time of the Premier's statement.

Mr. Wildman: Supplementary, Mr. Speaker: Can the minister indicate whether McLeod Young Weir was asked to look only at the price of 25 per cent or whether it was also asked to look at the cost of a 51 per cent purchase in order to Canadianize the company?

Hon. Mr. Welch: Mr. Speaker, this is another way of restating the question that was asked earlier by the leader of the New Democratic Party. At that time I made it quite clear that at no time were we talking about the acquisition of 51 per cent; we have always talked in terms of this block of 25 per cent.

Mr. Speaker: A new question, the member for Etobicoke (Mr. Philip). The member for Beaches-Woodbine (Ms. Bryden).

Mr. J. A. Reed: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker: If one of the respective parties misses its turn, does the turn not move across?

Mr. Speaker: Nobody missed his turn.


Ms. Bryden: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Minister of Transportation and Communications. Since the House adopted a motion two and a half weeks ago in favour of legislation to make child restraints mandatory, will the minister tell us how long he is going to continue to leave Ontario children at risk when travelling in automobiles? When will he bring in legislation to protect our youngsters?

Hon. Mr. Snow: Mr. Speaker, I fully expect that all the federal regulations and standards will be ready by this fall or early next spring. I intend to recommend to my colleagues in cabinet next spring that that amendment be included in the Highway Traffic Act.

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


Mr. Cooke: Mr. Speaker, I have a point of privilege. It relates to a debate that took place in this Legislature on May 25, 1981, concerning Massey-Ferguson. At that time the Minister of Industry and Tourism (Mr. Grossman) said the following: "For those members of the assembly who have been concerned about the contents of those agreements, I can assure all members those agreements will be tabled in this Legislature upon completion."

As I understand it, the negotiations have been completed and there are agreements signed. If that is not so, perhaps the minister should indicate that to the House; if the agreements are signed, I would like to know when the minister is going to fulfil his commitment to this Legislature and table those agreements. I have tried on four occasions to get the agreements from the minister and have not received them as of today.

Hon. Mr. Grossman: Mr. Speaker, as I understand it from the federal side, the federal government is currently working through the same process we are to make sure that the information is in a form in which it can be tabled. I am also informed that that should not be very much longer at either the provincial or the federal level. As the honourable member is aware, it also involves clearance from all the lawyers involved, including those acting for the province and those acting for Massey-Ferguson.

3:20 p.m.

Mr. Cooke: The minister is contradicting what he said in this House during the debate, which was that the agreements would be signed by mid-June and that was why the legislation had to be rushed through this Legislature so quickly without our getting the background material that we requested. Is the minister saying that even though there were 600 layoffs last week and that company is still in trouble, there is no agreement signed as of today? If there is a signed agreement, will he table it?

Hon. Mr. Grossman: No. I presume the member understood, because he was showing so much interest in it, that the agreement was signed in late June or early July. What has been done subsequently is an attempt to make sure that the information is in a form in which it can he tabled. That is what I said a moment ago. There is obviously a great deal of information contained in those documents that would put this firm at a severe disadvantage in terms of its international competition.

I presume the member would share with me the very great concern that this firm -- which obviously has a competitive situation, a competitive problem -- does not want to have to disclose information that its competitors do not have to show to all of their competitors.

Mr. Cooke: Why can't we get the agreement? You tabled the Ford agreement.

Hon. Mr. Grossman: Because the Ford agreement did not contain anywhere near the information, quite obviously, that the Massey-Ferguson agreement contains. The Massey-Ferguson agreements were with about 300 people. The Ford deal was with three parties. It is obvious there is a great deal of information. I know the member will share with me and Massey-Ferguson the concern that we only make available to its competitors that information which is appropriate and needed in terms of scrutiny of the agreement. and not place the company in a disadvantageous competitive position. That will be available very shortly.


Hon. Mr. Gregory: Mr. Speaker, prior the orders of the day, I wish to inform the House that we will be resuming the adjourned debate on the government motion. Should that debate not he concluded by 6 p.m., we will resume sitting at eight o'clock and sit until 10:30 p.m. this evening.



Resuming the adjourned debate on the amendment to the motion that the Treasurer of Ontario be authorized to pay the salaries of the civil servants and other necessary payments pending the voting of supply for the period commencing November 1, 1981, and ending March 31, 1982, such payments to be charged to the proper appropriation following the voting of supply.

Mr. Smith: Mr. Speaker, I would like to begin by making sure that the people of Ontario have this telephone number, which is 965-6361.

This is the number of the Treasurer of Ontario (Mr. F. S. Miller). Before he and his colleagues begin to let everybody know that we might somehow or other prevent their cheques from coming in the mail, I would say that it is the Treasurer of Ontario, my friends, and only the Treasurer of Ontario who is preventing the cheques from going through.

The moment he is willing to play an honest game with this House, the moment he is willing --

Hon. F. S. Miller: On a point of privilege, Mr. Speaker: I do not think that is parliamentary language.

The Deputy Speaker: I am sorry, Mr. Treasurer, I missed the discourse.

Mr. Smith: The moment the Treasurer is willing to be honest with this House and to table in this House the information upon which the Suncor deal was made --

The Deputy Speaker: Order, please. In terms of parliamentary language, and under the standing orders, I cannot emphasize to the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Smith) more that his phrase in terms of reference to the Treasurer's honesty is out of order. Would he be so kind as to consider a retraction?

Mr. Smith: I am saying if he will be more honest with this House and if he will table the facts upon which the Suncor deal was consummated, then the cheques will go through. In the meantime we will let anybody who wishes to know -- including the stooge who was set up to ask the question earlier, the parliamentary assistant to the Minister of Energy, the member for Lincoln (Mr. Andrewes) -- the number of the Treasurer of Ontario, because it is the Treasurer alone who is preventing the cheques --

The Deputy Speaker: Order, please. We have a point of order from the member for Lincoln.

Mr. Andrewes: On a point of personal privilege, Mr. Speaker: I think the honourable member has referred to me as a stooge. I would ask him to withdraw that comment. If he were so kind as to act on the part of his constituents and to ask questions of the Treasurer that were direct and accurate, I think he would find himself in much better order.

The Deputy Speaker: I say again to the member for Hamilton West (Mr. Smith), I do have some problems with that. I recall an earlier ruling when the Minister of the Environment (Mr. Norton) made reference to the term "twerp," and now I have difficulty with your reference. Under the circumstances, I will leave it to the good judgement of the honourable member if he feels that is parliamentary or not.

Mr. Smith: Mr. Speaker, I offer the member the phone number to give to his constituents. If he wishes to inform his constituents accurately, he will give them the Treasurer's phone number because he is the one who is preventing the cheques from going through.

Having done that, we will keep it handy. Whether or not the member for Lincoln is a stooge, I believe it was a set up question designed to try to help the Treasurer and the Minister of Energy (Mr. Welch) get across to the people of Ontario an impression that somehow or other we are heartless people preventing succour from going through to those who need it, milk from being delivered to babes in arms, heat from being delivered to the apartments of the elderly, when the simple fact is there is only one party here that is preventing the cheques from going through. It is the Treasurer of Ontario who will not table the truth in the House and will not let the people of Ontario know the facts. If I may proceed --


The Deputy Speaker: Order, please. I would like to remind all members that the member for Hamilton West does have the floor, notwithstanding some of his provocations. If we could hear the member for Hamilton West.

Mr. Robinson: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order: Are we now to take it that the Leader of the Opposition has responded to your request for good judgement related to his unfortunate comment about the member for Lincoln?

The Deputy Speaker: I do not find that a point of order. I heard the member for Hamilton West question his own specific statement in terms of the phrase he used to the member for Lincoln.

Mr. Smith: Mr. Speaker, we in the opposition are being seriously provoked by the kinds of statements that are being made by the government, day after day, allegedly in its effort to defend itself on Suncor but really in its effort to hide the facts.

Earlier, the Minister of Energy stood in this House, for instance, and said: "We told you earlier. We told you back when I made a statement in the Legislature about my energy program that we were going to get the Ontario Energy Corporation into helping the Canadianization program."

That is why we got the pile of garbage that he referred to as the compendium, just some old propaganda releases. That is why he says that was really the compendium upon which our policy was based. The simple fact is, and the Minister of Energy knows it if he would look at that statement, there is nothing whatever in that statement to imply that.

The statement makes it clear they are trying to assist Canada, not in achieving ownership of the oil companies but in achieving oil self-sufficiency. That means that the oil used by Canada will ne produced in Canada. There is absolutely nothing in a purchase of 25 per cent of the shares of Suncor that is going to guarantee, in an way, more oil from Suncor for Canada than would otherwise be the case. There is nothing here to indicate a purchase of an oil company: the entire statement is based entirely on substitution for oil, and that is where the money should be going, instead of out of the province and out of the country into the pockets of shareholders in Pennsylvania.

3:30 p.m.

We are indeed finding ourselves in a situation where we are being provoked daily. The Premier (Mr. Davis) played fast and loose with the truth when he said Price Waterhouse and McLeod Young Weir had determined the purchase price was a good investment for Ontario. How can that purchase price be a good investment for Ontario? If the honourable members think about it they will realize he was playing with words, because there was nothing in the McLeod Young Weir study we have seen -- at least the summary that has been shown to us; we have not seen the study -- to indicate it was a good investment for Ontario. All that was indicated was that the price was, roughly speaking, what one would expect to pay if one wanted to buy those shares, period. There is nothing there to imply it is a good investment.

One can always say that paying a fair price for anything is a better investment than paying a bad price for anything, and I suppose in that sense one could argue that the Premier was telling the truth when he said McLeod Young Weir said the purchase price was a good investment for Ontario. But in any reasonable sense there is nothing whatever in the McLeod Young Weir summary of the study to indicate it was a good investment for Ontario. That surely is of paramount importance, because the people are being hoodwinked into believing that very important brokerage houses, very important accountancy houses, are standing behind this deal and think it is a terrific investment.

No such statement was ever made by either McLeod Young Weir or Price Waterhouse. All we are told is that they said, "If you want to buy 25 per cent of the Suncor Company, then this is, roughly speaking, what it is going to cost you," period. There is nothing to say it is a good buy or a bad buy.

I think the Premier and the Treasurer have been trying to lead the people of Ontario to believe their purchase is somehow backed by the seal of approval of important brokerage advisers, when nothing is further from the truth. That is why we want to see the actual study tabled.

The Treasurer says there is certain highly confidential information. He says there is information we would not want competitors of Suncor to have. Not long ago he was saying the reason for the purchase was that we in Ontario would have a window on the industry. No sooner does he obtain a window than he puts up the shutters. What kind of a window is it that does not allow us to look at anything? This is what we have from the Treasurer of Ontario. sadly -- a lame and feeble excuse.

Suncor was willing to give this information to about a dozen separate private companies that were looking to buy its shares. Suncor has been trying to peddle those shares for a long time. So the same information Ontario has, presumably Suncor would have been delighted to give to any of those private companies, many of which would be under no obligation to keep it secret. In fact, they might even be competitors of the company in various forms.

It is the sheerest nonsense to expect us to believe Suncor has information its shareholders should not know. Surely the shareholders of a company have some right to know the value of the company's assets, what its prospects for the future are, what kind of value the company is putting on the leases it holds, how it values its assets, what it thinks the future holds for the company. Surely the shareholders have a right to know these facts.

What is being hidden from us is nothing really of great importance to Suncor from the point of view of its having to be kept confidential. What is being hidden from us is information that might be embarrassing to the government of Ontario.

Whereas the Premier led us to believe the stamp of approval of this purchase has been put on by certain prestigious financial houses, all they did was to say, "Look, if you happen for some reason or other to want to buy a wool suit of such and such a fabric, such and such a nature, such and such a fashion or style, then our investigation implies that the price you have to expect to pay is $500 or $600."

There was nothing saying that you need a suit, nothing saying that these suits are going to go up in value in the future, nothing saying that if you have to borrow the money at 17 per cent you might be wise to do with last year's suit, nothing saying that you might be better to buy something else in your wardrobe.

All they said was, "If you are determined to buy the damned thing then we will tell you what the price ought to be within a reasonable ball park." That is all; nothing else. Yet the clear implication was that they tried to dress themselves in the finery of having made a decision which somehow or other has the support of financial experts when it has no such thing. That is why they do not want us to see the whole report.

Earlier today the Minister of Energy rose and answered a question by my colleague the member for Kitchener (Mr. Breithaupt). He said that he believes we are going to get 15 per cent on our money. Nowhere is there anything to indicate the basis for that statement.

Why should the people of Ontario, who are going through a very difficult time, have to have their deficit increased by some 40 per cent -- that is just for the first half of the deal -- and then have to pay interest on borrowings of another $325 million, which will come either from Suncor or from rich Ontarians, so that one way or another we will have to pay interest to one or the other?

Why should the people of Ontario have to do that and accept the glib assurance that we are going to get 15 per cent on our money without a single. solitary fact to back it up? If the opposition means anything in a democracy, that is something we cannot swallow just to please the Treasurer.

The irony in all of this is that the Treasurer is against the deal. Maybe he has forgotten that, since he has to look at himself in the mirror every day and ask himself why he receives a cheque as Treasurer when all he is is a glorified messenger boy for the Premier. He is not running the economy, and he knows it. But he is here, and he feels that for cabinet solidarity and for the solidarity of his own bank account he has to pretend to be the Treasurer when he has little to say about the major economic policy of this province at this time.

This is the major investment. It has increased his deficit at a time when he has been prattling on to the federal government about decreasing deficits. This has done all the things he says should not be done. And, worse than anything else, it has not even been deficit financing for the purpose of stimulating Ontario's economy. At least if they spent $1 on fuel alcohol in Ontario or, for that matter, on buying cabbages in Ontario, that $1 then would be translated into economic activity equivalent to maybe $2 or $3, and some people would even say $3 or $4. of economic activity.

But what a fat lot of good it is going to do Ontario to take all this dough and throw it out to a company in Pennsylvania to be able to get hold of some tar sands in Alberta. The money will not circulate through Ontario; it will do absolutely nothing for the people of Ontario; it will not guarantee so much as a barrel of secure oil supply; it will not create a job.

Yet the Treasurer feels that somehow we should just roll over and play dead, and if we do not then he is going to threaten us, he is going to blackmail us, by telling pensioners that the Leader of the Opposition is preventing them from getting their pension cheques. Rubbish! All he has to do, if he wants pensioners to get their cheques, is to table the truth in the Legislature. That is all we are asking him to do.

Look at what comes out this very day, because it was discovered by the press and they could no longer suppress it -- although at least they succeeded in getting through the estimates of the Ministry of Agriculture and Food without that poor minister having to answer questions on a complex topic with words that probably would be difficult for him. This report comes out, Energy and Agriculture, which shows clearly that we will face a crisis in agriculture in the next few years unless we can get ourselves off our dependence on oil.

3:40 p.m.

Mr. Speaker, I am going to be leaving the leadership of this party; everybody is aware of that --


Mr. Smith: I am flattered by the fact that the members opposite are happy about that. I can understand why they would he happy about that, believe me.

Mr. Breaugh: They're not as happy as your guys are.

Mr. Smith: Maybe some of the people here are happy about it too. I have to concede that.

An hon. member: We are happy, too, Stuart.

Mr. Smith: My friend is happy too? I am flattered by my friends in the New Democratic Party as well. Unfortunately, there are even a few people in my party who are happy. I do not understand that, but that is for another day.

Mr. Speaker, it will be remembered that for the past several years I have gone up and down this province, and so has my colleague the member for Halton-Burlington (Mr. J. A. Reed), saying that we should put our money into fuel alcohol and that by so doing we would substitute that for expensive oil, which will be increasingly scarce and increasingly more expensive as the century draws to a close.

Mr. Philip: You said that a long time ago, and they didn't listen to you.

Mr. Smith: Many years ago, and they did not listen to me. The fact of the matter is that some of their own civil servants and other advisers finally are saying the same kind of thing.

Where are we going to get the money for this? The grand total of their efforts to try to get on to fuel alcohol in our farm sector consists of two farmers, each of whom has a still on his land and neither of whom is producing any alcohol in substantial quantity; one is producing nothing and the other is just still fooling around and testing the thing.

That is just shameful. Then they take $650 million, and with interest it will amount to money in the billions, and spend it on something that will do absolutely nothing to replace oil in Ontario.

It is really astounding to have to stand here day after day and say to the government, "How could you make that kind of a deal?" I had lunch today with a person -- I will not say who it was, but it was a very highly placed person in the financial district of Toronto -- who was simply flabbergasted and said, "Why has he done it?"

I get that question everywhere I go. Everybody says: "You are perfectly right in opposing it, Stuart. Carry on. Fight on. Fight on hard." But the question that is mystifying everybody is, why? Why would the Premier do this when Ontario has so many desperate needs here at home: needs in the farm implement industry. needs in the auto industry, needs in the auto parts industry, needs in the mining machinery industry, needs in the agricultural industry itself, needs among our home owners, needs for our health services, needs of every conceivable type and description, including the need to produce our own fuels to get off oil?

Everybody is asking. "Why would he want to take money we do not have, to borrow it at the highest interest rates in Ontario's history, to buy a share of an Alberta company?" It is the mystery of the year. Nobody can understand this.

When people say that they do not understand how the Tory caucus approved it, I want my friends in the Tory caucus to know that I stood up for them. I pointed out that the members of the Tory caucus were the last people to find out about this deal. Barnacles on disused ships have more influence on the rudder of those ships than these people have on the way policy functions in this province.

"Okay," they say to me, "maybe the Tory caucus was kept in the dark. But how could the Tory cabinet, many of whom are fine, upstanding individuals" -- there I had to demur a hit, but let us accept that was their view -- "how could they approve of this?"

I stood up for the Treasurer; I pointed out that the Treasurer was dead set against it. And I pointed out that the rest of the cabinet, with the exception of three other ministers, did not know a thing about it. Until the Premier stood to talk in this House, the rest of the cabinet knew nothing about the deal.

After being in power for close to 40 years -- it will be more than 40 years prior to the next election being called -- I realize that the Tories can be forgiven a little for believing "l'état c'est moi." I can understand that they might have that feeling. But I remind them that these little deals that Malcolm Rowan has set up for himself -- boy, he is set for life now! -- these little deals on which he has advised, all these marvellous little purchases are not being made with the Treasurer's money.

I hate to inform the Treasurer of this, and I realize it will come as a shock to him, but it is not the Treasurer's money. It is the money of the ordinary citizens, the working people of Ontario. They have a right to know what it is he is doing with the money and why, in heaven's name, he decided to do it.

We are in the opposition here, but we are all members of the Legislature. In fact, even the back-benchers over there are members of the Legislature. They are individuals; they do not act that way, but they are individuals.

It is in the time-honoured tradition that, before Her Majesty can he granted supply, Her Majesty's loyal subjects have a right to ask for redress of their grievances. This is in the time-honoured tradition. In fact, there is no reason to suspect, simply because someone wears a particular party label, that they may not themselves have some grievance for which they seek redress at the time that Her Majesty wishes to have supply granted. It is one of the most ancient traditions in parliament, it antedates the party system. It goes to the very heart of what being a representative is all about.

So when they try to say that somehow we are just playing games or that this is some kind of filibuster or something like that, we are not using those terms. There are no games here. If the Treasurer can spend $1 billion of the taxpayers' money and simply turn up his nose when the taxpayers' representatives ask for even the most rudimentary facts upon which that investment has been based, then he is taking for granted, first of all, the support of his own back-bencher. Even though they may give the Treasurer that support, they ought to be given the respect of recognition that they have the right, if they so desire, to vote differently once the supply matter comes to a vote.

Simply to assume that this is some kind of game being played is quite wrong. We are doing the only thing the opposition can do. I know members of the Ontario Public Service Employees' Union, for instance, will be very concerned about whether they are going to get their cheques, but do not tell me to stop doing my job; tell the Treasurer to start doing his job.

We are told that this compendium we were given is somehow or other the real compendium, but in response to our questions two letters are produced that were not included in the original so-called compendium, this pile of garbage that we were given. These are two letters that somehow escaped being in the compendium. I would love to know the reason for that. After all, this was the compendium, and surely those two letters should have been included. The two letters were left out; however, they found their way to us the other day once we stood in the House and said we would not allow supply to pass.

These two letters to which I have made reference are from McLeod Young Weir Limited and from Price Waterhouse Limited, but it is very interesting to look at the dates of those letters. The date is October 13 on each of them. October 13 is the day the Premier stood in this House to make his announcement, and yet the letter from McLeod Young Weir says it is a covering letter and "appended hereto" is a report which simply says the price is as follows and the price is appropriate or whatever.

On that same day, October 13, there is also a letter from Price Waterhouse saying they have studied the McLeod Young Weir report and from the point of view of tax policy and so on and so forth they feel that, based on McLeod Young Weir's facts and figures, they have no reason to dispute the price, which McLeod Young Weir says would be appropriate.

I ask the Treasurer how this happened. If the government just received the report appended to the letter of October 13, how could they have sent it over to Price Waterhouse, and how could Price Waterhouse have studied it and issued its study of the report, all on the same day and all in time for the Premier to rise in the House at two o'clock to read a statement? Patently, it is impossible.

3:50 p.m.

Patently, the so-called covering letter was not really a covering letter or, if it was a covering letter, it was simply window dressing, because the report obviously must have been available and perused much earlier and sent to Price Waterhouse much earlier.

The letter was a contrivance designed basically to have something to throw to the opposition if it kept hounding them for a compendium. It was not in the original compendium. It was not in anything that came to us subsequent to that.

Finally, when we stood and blocked supply the other day, they threw us a bone of these two letters, which obviously have been contrived for the purpose of having something to toss as a bone to the opposition. The simple fact is that the actual reports themselves are still being kept secret and for no good earthly reason.

Furthermore, it is said that Mr. Rowan or the Ontario Energy Corporation signed a deal with Suncor -- remember that -- saying the information received would be kept confidential. What bloody right did the Ontario Energy Corporation have to sign a deal saying the Legislature of Ontario will not see the facts in this case?

Upon whose ministerial authority did some character from the Ontario Energy Corporation make a decision? The Ontario Energy Corporation does not earn a single red cent. Every penny going into this deal comes from the pockets of the hard-working people of Ontario. What right did the Ontario Energy Corporation have to sign a form saying they would keep all this confidential?

I say that form should be tabled in this House. We should see who signed it, with what authority and on whose legal advice. There is no binding nature to that. What lawyer, for instance, will rise to say that, just because the OEC has signed this particular document saying the matter will be kept confidential, that binds the government of Ontario as a matter of public policy from letting the people in on the facts?

There would be absolutely no lawyer who would say the servant can bind the master. In fact, that very caucus got upset when, in human rights legislation, it was thought for a moment that the master might somehow be found in some way responsible for what the servant had done. Yet here they are trying to tell us their hands are tied. They want us to believe they are not allowed to let us have those facts because the OEC, a creature of this government, has signed a form. It has no binding validity in the Legislature of Ontario.

Those facts could be given to us. What right does Suncor have to say to the people of Ontario: "Send us your money, but keep your prying eyes out. Be our shareholder, but we do not want you to know what the company is really worth"? What company will keep the true fact of its real worth and its real prospects from its own shareholders?

Unfortunately, the Treasurer and the Premier have deluded themselves for so long that they are Ontario, that the Progressive Conservative Party and the government are somehow or other synonymous with Ontario itself. They have deluded themselves and have been encouraged in that delusion by the sheeplike behaviour of so many voters around Ontario.

Hon. F. S. Miller: Oh, ho! That sounds very much like Sault Ste. Marie.

Mr. Smith: The Treasurer can say what he likes, but the Tories sure do not believe now that they did the right thing. They sure do not believe now that they did anything they are proud of.

Mr. Breithaupt: That is what Kinsella said: Sleep-walking, just like sheep.

Mr. Smith: They were sleep-walking. That is exactly what they were doing. That is because he was playing tunes on the television to help them tick-tack-toe on their way.

Hon. F. S. Miller: You don't have much confidence in the average intelligence of the people of Ontario.

Mr. Smith: I have great confidence in their intelligence; that is why I want them to know the facts. The Treasurer says we do not have confidence in the people, and he is the one who will not share the facts with them. Who can have more confidence in the people than I when I say, "Share the facts with the people"? He says: "No, we cannot trust them to know the facts. We must keep it secret."

All the honourable members in this House know there is no reason in the world why the people of Ontario, who are now becoming shareholders in Suncor, should not he told the real value of their shares.

Hon. F. S. Miller: It is there.

Mr. Smith: It is not there. We want the analysis that was done with our money. We paid $250,000 to some financial advisers to ask for their advice and the government will not let us see their advice.

Hon. F. S. Miller: You saw their advice.

Mr. Smith: I am sorry. The Treasurer says we have seen it. We have not seen the report. We have seen a letter that purports to be a summary but gives no advice whatever: it does not recommend purchase at all and only says, "If you are hound and determined to buy the damned thing, this is what you are going to have to pay." It says nothing more than what the price ought to be once the government has determined to buy it. It says nothing else. There is no recommendation at all.

Why should the working people of Ontario, who are having trouble meeting their mortgage payments and trying to keep up with inflation, and the farmers who are having difficulties, have to spend billions of dollars for a share of an oil company when it was not recommended as a purchase?

Nobody said it should be bought. It was dreamt up strictly by the Premier and Malcolm Rowan and by no one else. It was pushed through without even telling the majority of cabinet members and no caucus members at all on the government side.

Why should the facts be withheld from the Legislature of Ontario? Why should we in the Legislature not have the fundamental numbers that lead the Treasurer to reassure the people that he is going to make 15 per cent a year on that investment? Even if he makes 15 per cent on that investment -- and he refuses to give us a basis for that belief, which may be nothing but a fiction -- he is going to have to pay 17 per cent for the money. Even in Santa's Village, for heaven's sake, if one has to pay 17 per cent for the money and one gets only 15 per cent in return, it is not much of a business deal.

Conceivably there is a good business basis for this deal, but we are not shown it. At first, we were told McLeod Young Weir and Price Waterhouse thought it was a great business deal. There is no such recommendation at all. That is fictitious.

Let us see the facts. The purchase was not based on the so-called compendium. Nothing at all in the compendium would even give a clue that there would be the slightest interest in Ontario in using scarce or borrowed resources to ship the money to Pennsylvania to buy an interest in a company whose resources were outside Ontario. There was nothing in any of that compendium.

We are given the letters and told they represent somehow or other the view of McLeod Young Weir and Price Waterhouse, and yet there is nothing in those letters recommending the purchase at all. There is nothing in the letters indicating why they think they are going to make 15 per cent on their dough, and there is certainly nothing to indicate why they feel 15 per cent is a good return when it is going to cost 17 per cent.

There is nothing to indicate where they are going to borrow the additional $325 million, or out of what earnings they intend to finance the interest on that. There is nothing to indicate whether they are going to use dividends to finance that interest.

The simple fact is that the people --


Mr. Breithaupt: Does the Minister of Education (Miss Stephenson) know anything about the deal?

Mr. Smith: The Minister of Education is a great expert on all these matters. We are very well aware of the expertise she has in matters of Suncor. She was one of the cabinet ministers kept totally in the dark. When the Premier stood up to speak of this matter, she was as surprised as anyone else in this House. As it happens, keeping her in the dark was not a had experience. Since she is there so much, she has accommodated to the dark by now. However, the simple fact is that she and most other cabinet ministers knew nothing of this deal, nothing whatever.

4 p.m.

I am about to take my seat and allow someone else to express a view, but I say there is absolutely not the slightest justification for this government to withhold the facts from the people of Ontario. It is our money. We worked hard for that money. We will have to pay for that money and the interest in perpetuity. We have a right to know what we have purchased. We have a right to know why it was purchased for us. We have a right to know why the government believes we can afford it and how they intend to pay for it. And we have a right to know what the genuine earnings are going to be and what the basis for that belief happens to be. We have a right to the facts.

We in the opposition have only one thing we can do to try to petition for redress of our grievances, and that is to withhold supply from Her Majesty. However, the only people who are truly withholding money from the pensioners or the civil servants who may need their money by the time Thursday rolls around, the only people withholding that will be found on the government benches.

Hon. Miss Stephenson: It's your fault.

Mr. Smith: This is their phone number if people want their cheques.

An hon. member: Tell the truth.

Hon. Miss Stephenson: Honesty is not within you.

The Deputy Speaker: Order. We are having difficulty in terms of the comments made by the member for Wilson Heights (Mr. Rotenberg) while he is not in your seat. I would like to bring all members to order in terms of that request from the chair.

Mr. Bradley: He should get back to his own seat.

Mr. Smith: There was a reason the member for Wilson Heights was put at the very end of the House, and now we know what the reason is.

Mr. Rotenberg: I was put in the front row. which is where you will never be.

Mr. Smith: His seat is the closest one to the street. They cannot push him out any farther.

Mr. Rotenberg: But you are the one who is leaving.

The Deputy Speaker: Order. The member from Wilson Heights; that's twice, understood?

Mr. Smith: Let me conclude simply by saying that the cheques, the money and Her Majesty's supply can and should flow again in Ontario, and will do so when the government is willing to share with the people of Ontario the basis upon which they have spent billions of dollars of our money, money of the ordinary citizens of Ontario. We deserve to know the facts, and we in the opposition would be derelict in our duty if we did not stand in this House and demand that those facts be tabled for the people of Ontario.

Mr. Wildman: Mr. Speaker, I rise to participate in this debate on the amendment to the motion on behalf of the New Democratic Party. I want to indicate at the outset that we are in support of the amendment proposed by the member for Hamilton West. I want to explain the reasoning for that. I will attempt not to be as repetitive as the previous speaker has been and perhaps not speak as long.

Hon. Miss Stephenson: That'll be a switch.

Mr. Bradley: You started off all right; now you are getting a little sanctimonious.

Mr. Nixon: Try to be half as interesting.

Mr. Wildman: Although I hope not to be as repetitive or to speak at such length --

Mr. Smith: You are already repeating yourself.

Mr. Wildman: -- I do wish to say that does not in any way reflect upon how important we feel this debate is and how unfortunate we feel it is that the government, for whatever reasons, left it to the eleventh hour to come before the House for supply.

We have some objection to the fact that the day before the government is to run out of its finances it presents a motion to the House and then has the effrontery to say to the members of the opposition they must not speak at length on this motion because we are going to run out of funds. Surely the responsibility of all members of the House is to express their views on as important an issue as supply. The fact it is considered a confidence matter is a reflection of the importance of this kind of a debate and members' responsibilities in it.

One of the main reasons we support the amendment is that we cannot accept that this House must, in almost a cavalier fashion, vote supply for the length of time the government was requesting.

Mr. Rotenberg: Where is the Leader of the Opposition? He was so interested in this and now he has left the chamber.

Mr. Wildman: Mr. Speaker, in response to the interjection from the member for Wilson Heights. I do not think the absence of a member necessarily indicates complete disinterest in a debate. If that were the case there would be a lot of very disinterested people as members of the House.

Mr. Samis: There are nine Tories out of 70. That is quite impressive.

Mr. Wildman: However it seems to me when we are going to vote on the budgetary philosophy at the end of December -- the budgetary direction of the government as it was presented last spring, although it has now changed with the purchase of Suncor -- it is a little ridiculous for us at this time to be asked to vote to the end of the fiscal year the moneys this government wants in order to carry out its budgetary responsibilities.

For that reason, we support the amendment which would limit the supply to the end of December. There is nothing to prevent the government, of course, from coming and requesting supply again before the Christmas break, which is what we anticipate. Then the members of the House would again have the opportunity to express their views on the performance of the government and on whether or not they should be voted the moneys they require. That is the main reason we support the amendment.

Obviously, there are other things we must speak to in this debate. That is what I referred to a moment ago as the budgetary philosophy of this government. Last spring the Treasurer told us he wanted to keep his deficit below $1 billion. For that reason he justified, in his view, the increase in personal income tax rates and the increase in Ontario Health Insurance Plan rates which led to a situation where an ordinary family was paying about 80 per cent of the federal tax rate.

At the same time, the government said they were unable to increase or even to maintain social spending at levels that would be adequate to deal with major social problems faced by residents of this province. Almost nothing was said in the budget address at the time it was introduced about interest rates or the housing crisis we face. At that time, and since that time, the government has argued that those issues are issues that must he dealt with by the federal government. They are federal responsibilities, and this government does not want to get involved and is unwilling to spend any money that way.

Much as we rejected the philosophy behind that budget we were able to understand, from an adversarial point of view, the argument that if the government wanted to maintain its deficit below a certain level it would increase certain types of taxes to increase revenue. At the same time it would not want to increase spending in other areas. We did not accept it but we understood it.

We objected very vehemently, as all in the House know, that the weight of the government's taxation and the vast majority of its revenue was coming from the ordinary taxpayer. We also objected that the government added to that by the ad valorem tax on gasoline, which the Treasurer said was needed to finance government operations. Later on, when the energy pricing agreement was reached, the Treasurer made statements to the effect that the additional revenue that was accruing to the government through the ad valorem tax was needed in order to face the problems of inflation and increased fuel prices.

4:10 p.m.

Although we objected to it, it did seem to fit in with the philosophy of that overall budget. After all, this government was saying, "The ordinary taxpayer will have to bear the brunt of increased taxation. We will get in on the bonanza of extra energy prices in order to get more money from those people. We will not increase taxation in the corporate sector. We want to limit spending." That seemed to be the philosophy.

In October we were faced with a statement by the Premier that this government is going to purchase 25 per cent of the common shares of Suncor. What does that do to the statement made by the Treasurer last May? We know it will mean an increased deficit, a deficit now totalling $1.4 billion, up about $469 million over the budget forecast. It would have been more than that except for the ad valorem tax and the energy pricing agreement, which increased the revenues of the government over and above the forecast they made.

What does this mean? What does this purchase have to do with the philosophy expounded by the Treasurer? Since the Premier made his statement we have found it has very little to do with the philosophy expounded by the Treasurer, since apparently he was not in favour of it.

I want to make very clear that we as a party, unlike our Liberal colleagues in this House, are not opposed to public involvement in the resource sector, especially in the energy sector. As a matter of fact, at the time of the energy pricing agreement this party advocated the purchase of an oil company because we said that we faced, because of that Alberta-Ottawa agreement, a tremendous transfer of wealth from eastern Canada, from Ontario, to the west. We felt we should be in on that gain, that we should attempt to get some return for the energy consumers in Ontario, by getting into the oil industry. We wanted to get some return on the tremendous wealth that would flow to the private sector and to western Canada.

So we are not opposed to a purchase of an oil company per se, as the Liberals seem to be, despite the comments made earlier this spring that the party should consider moving to the left.

The Premier said at the time of his announcement that one of the reasons for this purchase was to get a window on the industry, the same kind of argument we have put forward and the federal government -- the federal Liberals, as a matter of fact -- have put forward as a reason for purchasing shares in various companies and for setting up and operating Petrocan.

The Premier also said this would somehow help to ensure the security of the supply of energy to Ontario residents. Mr. Speaker, I submit that all those arguments could have been used at the time Ontario Hydro was studying the purchase of Denison Mines before the uranium contracts. Yet at that time the government rejected those arguments and said they were not interested in becoming involved in energy, they were not interested in buying into the private sector, they were not interested in having a window on the uranium business, they were not interested in saving Ontario Hydro and the taxpayers and the energy consumers of Ontario substantial sums of money. They were interested in guaranteeing Stephen Roman a $7 billion profit.

At that time we said they should accept the proposals in the Wellesley report and that this government should indeed nationalize the uranium industry, that Ontario Hydro should buy up the source of the uranium they wished to purchase. Despite the comments by the Leader of the Opposition on Friday that from his point of view it would make more sense to purchase Denison Mines than Suncor, it is interesting to note that the Liberals on the committee at that time voted against the purchase of Denison Mines.


Mr. Wildman: I hear a comment from a member opposite saying that is a good thing. In a very strange way I suppose the Liberals are being consistent here. They were opposed to purchasing a corporation involved in energy even though it was located in Ontario and was making a tremendous amount of money at the expense of the consumers on a resource that already belongs to the people of Ontario. They are now opposed to the purchase of an oil company or to getting involved in the purchase of an oil company.

But it does not seem the Tories are being consistent. The Tories were opposed to purchasing Denison Mines and now they are in favour of purchasing Suncor. The latter, ironically, is a company involved in energy but in terms of its source of resource and its exploration is operating outside this jurisdiction. It certainly has a marketing operation in this province and is involved in producing employment in this province. But I really do not understand how this government decides to do things. It is for that reason we support the demand for the documentation.

Obviously this is a definite shift in policy by the Tory government. It is a change I am sure the member for Prince Edward-Lennox (Mr. J. A. Taylor) was involved in. I am sure he is the one who advocated the purchase of Suncor, as a former Minister of Energy. I would like that member to share his inside information with us. I think all of us in the House deserve documentation. The people of Ontario deserve to know.

Although we as a party are in favour of getting involved in the oil industry -- of a direct public interest in the oil industry, a public control and direction of the oil industry -- we have to know if this particular deal was a good one.

The documentation we have been given so far does not give us that kind of information. I know the members opposite all have that information. It does not seem adequate, though, for them to sit there, if they believe in democracy, saying only the government should know; the government rules; the government knows best; do not ask questions; do not ask for information.

Personally, I would like to know whether the purchase into Suncor was a good idea. Perhaps we should have been getting involved with another company in that industry. We have been told the price was a good price. We have been told in the documentation provided that it was a good price, within a range of something like $550 to $675, and assurance is given that since certain matters have been brought to the attention of the consultants it made sense for the purchase price to be at the high end of that range rather than the low end.

We would like to know what was brought to their attention. Why were they able to make that decision? Why were they able to say to the government, "Look, that is not a bad price." I do not think it is enough for the government to say: "These are respected people. We should respect their opinions and we should not question them." Surely we are elected to this Legislature to represent our constituents and to be able to analyse decisions and policies made by the government to determine whether they are supportable, whether they are good deals for the taxpayers of Ontario. For some reason, this government is unwilling to share that information with us.

I am reduced to idle speculation on this matter, as are all members on this side of the House, unfortunately. The purchase of 25 per cent of Suncor, in my view, means almost nothing. When $625 million is paid for 25 per cent of a company, what does that mean? It certainly does not give one control of the company. The government has said it does not want control. It has said it wants to be involved and to help to Canadianize the industry. But 25 per cent does not Canadianize a company.

Mr. Rotenberg: It's a start.

4:20 p.m.

Mr. Wildman: It does not get anywhere close to Canadianizing a company, to the point that in order to qualify for the incentives of the federal government under the national energy program, Suncor and the Ontario Energy Corporation are going to have to set up a sidecar company to carry out exploration -- a, quote, "Canadian" company that will carry out exploration and therefore will qualify for the national energy program incentives.

I would like to know why this government is opposed to control. What analysis did they do that convinced them it was a better idea to purchase 25 per cent than some other percentage? Why is it better to purchase 25 per cent than 35 per cent or whatever? If they are interested in control, as we are, we think they should have purchased 51 per cent. We would like to know the studies that showed the government the purchase of 51 per cent would not be a good deal for the Ontario taxpayers and energy consumers.

The purchase of 51 per cent would have given control of the $356.8 million working capital that is held by Suncor. We do not have control of that now. We would not have had to deal with the whole question of Canadianization by saying we hope, feel and trust the other 26 per cent will be purchased by another Canadian buyer.

We would not have had to go the route of setting up a sidecar company for exploration. With 51 per cent, the company would qualify for the national energy policy incentives and, more important than that, this government and the people of Ontario, would be able to direct the decisions of the company.

The control of the company would not be left with Sun Oil in the United States. This would, indeed, be not only a Canadian company but a company which was subject to the direction of the Canadian people and Canadian investors. We would be able to direct the investment dollar. But we are told in this House that McLeod Young Weir were not even directed to look at that question. They were not even asked if 51 per cent would have been a good deal. Apparently they were only asked to look at the price of 25 per cent.

We would like to know why. We would like to know how this decision to purchase 25 per cent was arrived at. It is not too much for the opposition to be asking. We would like to know how the purchase of 25 per cent of this company fits in with the budgetary philosophy of the government. I do not have to go back to last April. We can look at some statements by the Treasurer since that time.

At the time of the energy pricing agreement in September, the Treasurer made a statement -- he was talking about the federal government -- in which he said: "The federal government must use its new revenue generated by the energy agreement to help develop industry. Ontario is ready to participate and take full advantage of national initiatives to increase industrial development by creating intensive job-creating projects."

I would like to know how the purchase of 25 per cent of Suncor in any way relates to those statements by the Treasurer. For that matter, at the time of the conference of the ministers of finance in Ottawa in October, the Treasurer made the statement that the 11 governments in Canada "need to co-operate in a new national economic strategy to combat inflation, encourage productivity gains and investment, and effectively reinvest new petroleum revenues."

Since this government does not benefit from petroleum revenues, is the purchase of 25 per cent of Suncor because this government believes it is not involved at the table and it wants to get involved at the table. We would like to know what studies were made, not just by the consultants but by the government itself -- by the Ministry of Energy, the Ontario Energy Corporation and the Treasury -- that led them to the conclusion they had to become involved directly rather than leaving it to the initiative of the federal government in co-operation with the provincial government.

There is nothing in the compendium that was provided that gives us any indication about those matters. This government has not been able to explain in any way how its purchase is going to lead it to become involved in the redirection of the petroleum revenues. Certainly 25 per cent of a company -- the fifth largest -- is not going to provide that.

In response to the question from my colleague from Port Arthur, the energy critic in this party, asking for further information, we were given the two letters that were referred to by the member for Hamilton West. The member for Port Arthur (Mr. Foulds) asked the government to table all documentation leading to the purchase. He asked specifically if there was a study similar to project Wellesley. In response, after the debate began last Friday, the government tabled the statement that no such study had been carried out -- there had only been an evaluation report by McLeod Young Weir Limited and a critique of it by Price Waterhouse Limited.

In the letters that were tabled, the statement is made that there was confidential information provided by Suncor which could not be tabled in this House because it would hurt Suncor's performance and a full report would not he tabled. Instead we got these copies of summaries which are not really stating anything. The government went on to say, when asked to table the agreement between the Ontario Energy Resources Limited and Sun Oil, that to table that agreement "may unduly impact upon final negotiations" and for that reason the agreement will not he tabled. So we have these two letters from McLeod Young Weir and Price Waterhouse dated October 13.

As the member for Hamilton West said, all those tabled letters say is that the assessment done means a fair price was paid. There was an assessment done of the fair value of 100 per cent of the common shares of Suncor and an assessment of the capitalized value of the company on the Canadian stock exchange, if it had been listed.

They also stated they made an estimate of earnings of Suncor and accounted for the possible premium paid on shares for a takeover bid. Having made those decisions, 25 per cent of the common shares combined with certain assumed collateral agreements would fall in the range from $550 million to $675 million. Subsequently they say the collateral agreements were more favourable than they assumed and consequently the value of the Suncor common shares would lie at the upper level of that range -- between $550 million and $675 million.

It would appear from those letters that someone -- I do not know who it was -- on that side of the House made a decision to purchase 25 per cent. We have no indication why that percentage was chosen or why that company was chosen. All we have is a statement that if they are going to buy 25 per cent of Suncor, they are not getting a bad deal in terms of price.

We do not know if it is the best deal we could have gotten for the people of Ontario, the best company to get involved with or whatever. We do know that Suncor was a willing seller. They were looking for a buyer. They were having some difficulty and apparently the government of Ontario was a willing buyer.

Mr. Elston: They were looking for a sucker.

Mr. Wildman: We do not know that. That is why we need the documentation. I would certainly hope this government would have done the kind of analysis and work that is necessary to ensure they were not taken as a sucker, but we do not know that. I think we should be given an opportunity to analyse that for ourselves to see if, in fact, we got a good deal.

Price Waterhouse in their so-called summary of their analysis said they did a detailed cash flow projection. They got divisional information, operating statements, production data, capital expenditures, mining costs, extractions and upgrading costs and other relevant financial information. Why can we not find out what this relevant financial information is that led Price Waterhouse to come to the conclusion they were "in general agreement with McLeod Young Weir on the value of 25 per cent of the common shares"?

4:30 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Cousens): I just want to ask whether you are speaking to the amendment? If you are speaking to the amendment, could you draw it in so that I see how this --

Mr. Wildman: I understand the government is requesting supply. A good portion of that supply will be spent on the purchase of Suncor -- a very major portion of it. I would think that is relevant. I have also said we do not agree with the proposal as made by the Treasurer in the original motion that the government should be voted supply from November 1, 1981 to March 31, 1982. We agree with the amendment proposed by the member for Hamilton West that the date "March 31, 1982" should be changed to "December 31, 1981." Surely it is in order for members of the Legislature to ask for documentation that has led to a major change in the budgetary philosophy of the government at the time the government is requesting supply.

We are told in this House that we are to depend on the respected opinions rendered by respected financial houses. We are to say we accept their assurances, despite the fact we are told they were asked a specific question, "How much for 25 per cent of Suncor?" We are not given any indication of whether this government, whether it be the Ministry of Treasury and Economics, the Ministry of the Environment, the Ontario Energy Corporation or whatever part of government, did an analysis as to why it should purchase that particular percentage of that particular company. That is what we are asking questions about here today.

When we ask if McLeod Young Weir recommended this purchase the Minister of Energy says he does not give out his advice. He does not tell the public the advice he was given for fear he will not get advice in the future. He will not even tell us whether McLeod Young Weir said it thought this was a good investment. We are asked to support the government in its request for supply so it can expend moneys but it will not share with us the kinds of analyses it goes through in determining how it is going to spend moneys. Surely if it is a requirement of democratic government that we have public debate on whether to vote moneys, it is incumbent upon the government to provide the information necessary in order for us to have democratic and public debate on how those moneys should be spent.

We are left to idle speculation. In strict investment terms it is rather difficult to determine whether we have a good deal. Certainly McLeod Young Weir says it is a good purchase price, so we paid $50 a share for Suncor. But since the shares are not listed or traded on any stock exchange it is not possible for us to compare that price with the historical trend. On face value the price paid is equivalent to about 38 per cent of the company's assets, but we have only been able to acquire 25 per cent of that equity.

It is common that we would be paying a premium on a takeover bid, but again we do not know whether that is an adequate return. The return the government is talking about is 15 per cent on its investment. Assuming the government meant that as an annual return at $50 a share, that would mean a return of $7.50 a share or a total of about $97.5 million a year. Without the kind of information we are requesting it is almost impossible for us to ascertain the likelihood of such a return. Frankly, in terms of a dividend track record, I think that kind of return would impress even Bell Canada shareholders.

In terms of the financial position of the company, we can look at a number of things. At the end of 1980, Suncor reported total assets amounting to $1.7 billion, or an increase of 37.9 per cent from $1.25 billion the previous year. On the basis of its total assets in 1980, the company ranked thirty-sixth among Canada's top corporations. On the basis of net income in 1980, it ranked eleventh with a reported net income of $306.4 million, up 77.2 per cent from 1979.

However, Suncor's increases in assets and income have not continued during 1981. At the end of the second quarter, the company reported earnings down sharply from 1980. Its six-month earnings were $38.9 million, down $135.8 million from $174.7 million in 1980. The company attributes this decrease to the national energy programs substantially reduced pricing for Suncor's synthetic crude oil production. I suppose that will increase and its prospects will improve with the new Alberta-Ottawa agreement.

We are buying a company that is involved, certainly as the government has said, in exploration and resources development. Obviously, as we pointed out, it has an oil sands operation, and it is involved with refining, petrochemicals and marketing. In terms of that company, only the Sunoco group's refining, petrochemical and marketing operations are in Ontario.

But if one looks at profits by segment, the exploration production and resources development segment accounted for only 7.8 per cent of the company's pretax profits in 1980, the oil sands accounted for 66.3 per cent and the refining, petrochemical and marketing operations, centred on Ontario, accounted for the remaining 25.8 per cent. Obviously it is mainly an oil sands operation, and that is what we are buying into.

The oil sands and refining operations of the company have shown a tremendous increase, while exploration operations actually have shown a decrease. This is one argument used by the Premier for buying into this operation: because it is involved with frontier explorations. That has actually been decreasing.

From our information, it appears that Suncor had a buoyant year in 1980. But this was due to higher prices for its products rather than new productive capacities coming on stream or any new major oil or gas discoveries. Since the late 1960s, Suncor has invested about $158 million to acquire and explore properties in the frontier areas, but at present there has been little more than initial exploratory activities in these properties. The company has indicated that it discovered gas in offshore Labrador and the Arctic Islands areas as well as making gas discoveries in the Mackenzie Delta.

While it appears from the Premier's statement at the time of the purchase that it would make sense for Ontario to become involved with a company that is involved with frontier explorations on Canada lands rather than other provincial jurisdictions, the company has shifted exploration operations in the last few years from the frontier areas to western Canada.

Expenditures in western Canada almost doubled between 1979 and 1980; in the frontier areas, there was only a marginal increase in expenditures. At present, approximately 62 per cent of Suncor's gross proven conventional oil reserves are located in Alberta, as are 81 per cent of its proven natural gas reserves. The remainder of its proven reserves are in the other western provinces.

I think we could all agree that the purchase of 25 per cent of the common shares of Suncor is a good deal for the company. After all, the company needed a shot in the arm because it had been having difficulties. Back in 1978, the Foreign Investment Review Agency indicated to Suncor that the company had to reduce its US ownership to 85 per cent. The company approached 15 buyers, none of which was interested.

4:40 p.m.

With the arrival of the national energy program in 1980, this upped the ante because of that program's Canadianization guidelines which changed the rules for grants and tax incentives. If a company now is 50 per cent Canadian-owned, so-called Canadianized, it will qualify for exploration incentives, while companies that are 75 per cent controlled in Canada will get even more incentives. There was no question that if Suncor wanted to stay in the Canadian market it would have to Canadianize: so it was looking for a buyer and it got one.

From our point of view, the purchase of 25 per cent of Suncor by the government of Ontario really gives it nothing. It is interesting that this government, like the government in Ottawa, often fudges the issue between Canadianizing and nationalizing. Obviously there is a clear distinction between public ownership and the kind of deal this government has struck with Suncor. Even if Suncor does achieve 51 per cent Canadianization, effective control still remains in the United States with the parent company. The company remains in the private sector and will continue to operate as it has in the past, qualifying at the same time for greater tax incentives.

Mr. Ruston: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker: There is no cabinet minister in the House, and I wonder who is in charge of operations. I think the normal procedure is for at least one cabinet minister to be in the House when the House is in session.

Mr. Mancini: There is no quorum. We are offended.

Mr. J. A. Reed: Here comes the man on duty.

Mr. Wildman: I note that we suddenly have two cabinet ministers approaching. Thank you. I appreciate the intervention.

In our view, there is a sincere and important difference between Canadianizing and nationalizing. Twenty-five per cent of Suncor does not give us the kind of control we believe is necessary. Even if the 51 per cent Canadianizing goal is reached, we will still have a private company, a company that operates in the private sector as a private company would operate.

We have indicated in the past our commitment to public ownership, especially in the context of resource and industrial strategy, but it appears this government has no idea how to use public investment and ownership effectively. Suncor appears to be a case in point.

One of the arguments used by the Premier is that it is a window on the industry. Obviously a window is useful but only if one uses it. It appears this government will not have the kind of wedge in terms of control of the company actually to influence the pricing practices of the company it is buying into. It will not have any way of ensuring that the residents of Ontario are not overcharged as the combines investigation report proposed the companies, including Suncor, have been involved in.

There is nothing in terms of the research and development the Premier referred to. The 25 per cent minority interest in Suncor is not going to do anything to ensure more research and development for this province.

What about Canadian purchasing? The government has been saying that, with the megaprojects in the energy industry over the next few years, Ontario has to get involved; it has to be in the game to get jobs and to ensure that manufacturing development related to energy takes place in Ontario. There does not appear to be anything in this agreement, certainly not in the information we have been provided, that would ensure maximum Canadian benefit from Suncor's economic development.

I have indicated throughout my comments that we believe the government should indeed be getting involved in the purchase of an energy company to get a return for the residents of Ontario. But in that involvement they should be looking for control, they should be looking for 51 per cent, so they can control and direct the investment decisions made by the company. This 25 per cent purchase does not appear to do anything of the sort.

Concerning the return to Ontario, how do we judge whether we are going to get the return of 15 per cent that has been pointed to by the Premier? Suncor has never paid dividends on its common shares. Has a formal dividend declaration been made? Has the company decided on a policy? Has the company made a commitment to this government? Have that dividend declaration and that commitment been made by the Sun Oil Company Limited, which is the real owner of this company and which will remain so and will continue to control it?

What commitments do we have from Sun Oil that they will not drain Suncor of its resources? We do not know, apparently, and nothing has been provided in this House to let us make those kinds of assessments. There is nothing at all in the documentation that will give us the kind of answers we want and need as representatives of the people of this province to decide whether this is a good deal for the people of Ontario.

As I have said, we believe as a party that the Canadian people through their government should become involved directly in the investments made in and by the oil industry. The problem is that to be able to do that we have to have all the information, and we do not have it.

So although we do not agree with the direction the Liberals have taken in this House, which appears to be in opposition to the purchase of 25 per cent of an oil company -- or, in fact, in opposition to the purchase of any part of an oil company -- and while we believe we should go for control to get a return for the residents of Ontario, we believe that all of the documentation has to be provided to assess any deal that is made. Before we will agree to vote supply to this government, we want to have that kind of documentation, and not the little bit that was provided on Friday, so we can make wise and knowledgeable decisions.

For that reason, we will support the amendment proposed by the member for Hamilton West, and we hope that through this debate we will be able to force the government to table the documentation and analyses that we all deserve as members of this House.

Mr. J. A. Reed: Mr. Speaker, I rise in support of this amendment. I was listening very intently to the words of the member for Algoma. I appreciate the support of the New Democratic Party for this amendment because I believe that, whatever reasons may underlie one's decision in this matter, the debate certainly revolves around the dissemination of the necessary information to the people of Ontario about the purchase of a 25 per cent interest in Suncor, or the lack of willingness of the government to disseminate that information. That is the bottom line, if you will.

At his press conference, the Premier put forward a number of reasons why the government had made this decision. He said the government had made a decision, or he had a made a decision. Our understanding is that only four senior cabinet ministers made the decision, and the rest of the caucus, including the other cabinet ministers, knew nothing about the decision. He suggested that it was a good deal for Ontario. He said that it would provide a window on the oil industry. He hinted that it would provide energy security, or help to provide energy security, in terms of this strategic commodity we call petroleum. I would like to address a few of those notions put forward by the Premier.

4:50 p.m.

I want to deal first of all with the notion that buying an oil company provides one with energy security. The fact of the matter is that no such energy security is either enhanced or diminished by the purchase of Suncor. Not one extra cup of oil will come to Ontario whether the company is owned by the citizens of Ontario or whether it is not. Let us make the record clear that the federal government, and the federal government alone, controls the distribution and the allocation of oil in Canada.

I see a minister shaking his head.

Let rue elaborate on it a little further. A year and a half ago, there was some concern expressed by a major petrochemical company in Sarnia that the debate that was going on between the government of Alberta and the federal government might result in Alberta declaring that the particular petrochemical company would no longer be a customer for oil that was coming from Alberta.

As the opposition energy critic in Ontario, I met with the federal minister and asked him that very question. I was given the assurance that in no way could the allocation of oil be controlled. In the last analysis, the federal government will have the final say as to where oil goes in this country.

The fact that an American company may own a resource located in Alberta does not mean the resources of that company can be automatically exported to the United States. It is just sheer nonsense to contemplate that. Also, let us make it absolutely clear that within the borders of this country allocation is the final prerogative of the federal government.

The Premier also said that they wanted a window on the oil industry. Just a very short time ago, the federal government created Petrocan for that very purpose. It was to give government a window on the oil industry.

I am glad the Treasurer of Ontario has just come in. I wonder how the Treasurer is feeling about all of this. With all of his statements to the press and his statements in this Legislature about his opposition to this kind of thing. I wonder how he feels today, and how he has felt for the last week since the rug was pulled out from under him, when it became evident that he no longer controlled the finances of this province and he no longer had anything to say about it. I wonder how he feels now that he no longer has anything more to say about the deficit that he wants to correct so badly, or at least said he wanted to correct so badly prior to this acquisition.

I dare say the Treasurer must be having some second thoughts about his own philosophical conflicts with his Premier at this particular time. I suggest to the Treasurer that if he wishes to retain his credibility in the political world, he will seriously consider his resignation from the portfolio of Treasurer, because whatever he says from now on will be totally ineffective.

How can it be believed that anything he says to this Legislature or to the public from now on is worth anything? If he stands up with the conviction I know he has, deep down, and says to the Premier, "I am obviously not in control of the destiny of this province financially; I will have to step down," then my respect will be restored.

The purchase is 25 per cent. It is interesting to know the Premier also said at the press conference that the success of Suncor, as far as an investment by Ontario was concerned, really hinged on Canadianization of the other 26 per cent. I believe, if my memory serves me correctly. the letter of intent stated there would be a three-year period in which the government hoped private enterprise would pick up the strings on the remainder and, if there were no takers, the provincial government would be obliged to see to it that the province would pick up whatever ownership below 51 per cent was left over.

What we are looking at is not only a surface investment of $650 million for 25 per cent but also, unless there is an angel somewhere in the wings we do not know about, the possibility of the province being stuck for whatever value that 26 per cent may have in three years' time. That should be made very clear.

I would not think the provincial government would be so naive as to enter into a purchase of this magnitude without having some kind of backup, although the Premier said in his press conference that no private industry had been approached and there was no quiet agreement with private industry. We do know some large corporations actually examined the possibility of purchasing an interest in Suncor and turned it down.

I want to ask the Treasurer -- I want to put the question on the record, at least -- is there a possibility that the federal government has been approached about picking up 26 per cent? I do not think that has been mentioned before this time. I ask the question because I have to wonder if there are any large corporations that are willing to take a flyer after we are told upwards of a dozen have turned down the opportunity, companies with large resources which could easily purchase 26 per cent or, for that matter, 100 per cent of Suncor if they so chose.

That has not taken place; so the question must remain: Is the federal government interested in this? Has the province gone to the federal government?

So many questions remain unanswered it is impossible for us to tell whether this was even a good business deal. We can talk about the figures as we know them, and we can look at the financial statement of Suncor. If we look at it on the surface with the information we have in our hands right now, it does not look like a good deal. The prospects do not make it look like a good deal. What is it that is being hidden? What is behind the refusal of the government to release the Price Waterhouse and the McLeod Young Weir summaries and so on? Why are we not getting this information?

If this purchase did something tangible for the people of Ontario, we could support it. If it did something concrete, if it provided jobs that could not be provided by the private sector or if it would ensure increased oil supply, we could support it. If it would do something that could not be done in any other way, we could support it.

5 p.m.

It was interesting that the announcement of exploration that followed the announcement of Suncor by a couple of days did not even involve Suncor. The agreements were made with other companies entirely removed; so the government could not even use the excuse that it was going to use Suncor's expertise in exploration. What is it the Treasurer is now obliged to hide, however distasteful it may be to him? And I am sure it is deeply distasteful to him.

There is also the question of the impact of $650 million worth of investment outside of Canada. The impact on Ontario is bound to be negative, especially when one considers the options available right here in the province that could have produced something tangible for the people of Ontario. Let me just point out a couple of alternative scenarios that could have used an investment of $650 million.

Let us go back to the announcement last Monday of the peat study that has been done, which shows that Ontario has the largest inventory of peat in all Canada and suggests, apparently -- I have not seen the statistics in the study yet -- that in Canada we are the second in the world and that in Ontario, if we segregate Ontario, we have the third largest inventory of peat in all the world, representing an oil equivalent of 72 billion barrels. That is not millions of barrels, but billions of barrels.

The technology that is known for the recovery of that peat makes it something to rival the tar sands in importance. Yet it has lain there as the sleeping giant in this province, and we have drifted into a critical energy situation in terms of its impact on our economy and the price we pay for fuel.

We have a situation now where we know that the end product using peat as the feedstock is competitive with gasoline. We know that if we spent $650 million on methanol plants in this province -- which, incidentally, is happening in other parts of Canada now -- we could be replacing 15 per cent of our transportation fuel requirements by 1990. We would create 7,000 new permanent jobs -- not high-technology jobs, but middle-technology jobs, skilled labour jobs -- and we would create, in the process of building those plants, 1,000 jobs in construction. The employment would be in areas of the province that need employment so badly.

Surely the Treasurer knows -- if the Premier will not accept this, the Treasurer surely will -- that the spinoff effect of $650 million in this bailiwick of this province is far more important than the payout of $650 million for whatever profit might accrue for a 25 per cent investment in Suncor. The spinoff effect can be enormous.

My party commissioned and completed a study on fuel alcohol back in 1978. It was really interesting because, not having a firm inventory on peat, there never having been one before, we did our study on wood waste. That is the material that is left behind by the forest industry when they go through and cut timber. It does not even include the undesirable species; it is just the waste that is left behind. It is around half of the tonnage of material that is harvested.

That study showed there was enough wood waste alone in this province to supply all of the transportation requirements for liquid fuel in 1990 at a cost competitive with that of gasoline. Our 1978 calculations, the best estimates we could make at that time, were methanol costs in the 70-cent-per-gallon range. That did not include distribution, it did not include profits to distributors and it did not include taxes, although since that time we have passed legislation in this House eliminating taxes on those fuels; so presumably, at least until the volume grows, the government will leave taxes on methanol alone.

So the potential is there. It is so desperately obvious. Investment goes begging in this province while we elect to spend $650 million and ship it to St. Louis or wherever when we should be spending it right here in the province for our own energy development and in a manner that would allow Ontario to make its own contribution to Canadian energy self-sufficiency. The investment does absolutely nothing right now to enhance Canadian energy sell-sufficiency. In spite of the fact that the Price Waterhouse report and the McLeod Young Weir report may show it to be a marvellous investment, it will still not contribute anything tangible to the future of energy either in this province or in this country. I am very sorry to say that. One hopes it will be a good business deal. We do not know that; we are not even allowed to have the facts that precipitated the choice.

There is another area of investment in energy that is going begging in this province. I just came back from a meeting to discuss the new government-released report called Energy and Agriculture. In that meeting we discussed some of the things that were absent from that study, and they include the redevelopment and further development of the hydraulic power potential in Ontario.

This energy critic has been speaking and harping and carping and trying to generate some kind of interest in the government, other than verbal or peripheral interest, for nearly six years now, and still all that has come from that side are a few glossy magazine-type publications touting the desirability of small water power in the province. I defy any person in this House today to try to go through the process to even restart an existing shutdown hydraulic power plant in Ontario.

I have been involved for five years in trying to get independent investment to restart a water power plant that is owned by the Ministry of Natural Resources. It is sitting idle, it is slowly crumbling into decay, and yet it has a return that is significant enough for private enterprise to become involved. But we cannot even break through the morass of red tape and bureaucratic hierarchy, in the Ministry of Natural Resources in this case, to get the job done. As a result, thousands of megawatts go down the stream every hour of every day of every week of every year in this province while the government chooses to spend $650 million in St. Louis for the purchase of 25 per cent of a tar sands plant in Alberta and a refinery and distribution system in Ontario that will not do one solitary thing either to enhance our energy security or to give us any further window on the oil industry.

5:10 p.m.

Where in the world are the Premier's priorities? He also committed the $650 million out of deficit. It is money he does not even have to spend but, because he is allowed to run a deficit, he thought this was a good deal. I suspect the decision to go ahead with this purchase was precipitated mostly by the polls that were taken last year which showed that people were generally supportive of the federal government's Canadianization program. There was some general support for it because it gave the federal government a window on the industry and so on.

So the Premier of Ontario decided to ride in on the coat-tails of that poll. It is not untypical of the Premier of Ontario. He has done it before. Many of the policies that have been supported and set by this government in the last three or four years have been done by public opinion poll. Government by poll -- we have been critical of it before. There is not much leadership in government by poll, hut perhaps the Premier feels that the average citizen in this province really will not feel too affected by the impact of the Suncor purchase. Well, I have news for him: $650 million added to the deficit will have a real impact on the people of this province. The Treasurer knows that; that is one of the reasons he has been opposed to this purchase all the way down the line. He knows the impact it will have, he knows the effect it will have on inflation, he knows that it will not do a thing to help the economic state of Ontario.

I do not blame the Treasurer for being opposed to it, because it is wrong. It is wrong for the reasons that I have outlined. It is wrong because there are alternatives. If we conclude that we have the money, then we have the ability to invest in this province and the alternatives right here in Ontario should have been explored first. If they were being explored first, we would not be worried about the oil future because we would be moving all of our transportation, our goods and our people on alternative fuels produced right here in Ontario and putting money in the pockets of Ontario workers.

All we are doing now is simply perpetuating a problem that has grown to enormous proportions. The hypocrisy of it, of course, is that the government of Ontario profits through the deal and in the process compromises itself. It has introduced the ad valorem gasoline tax and the ad valorem diesel fuel tax, which means that the more it gets the price up, the more the government takes from the people who have to put gasoline in their cars, or diesel fuel in their trucks, to go to work or transport goods.

I submit that probably one of the reasons there has not been a real effort put forward in investment in alternative fuels in Ontario is that the ad valorem taxes are too easy. It is too easy to take the money and run without having to provide any sort of leadership or to venture forth into new and innovative areas, which is what is required in Ontario.

I have told the Minister of Energy many times before that what is required for energy in the 1980s is for a Minister of Energy to be able to stand alone, to stand where no one has been before, to move out into new directions, to take risks, to he prepared for some not working out as well, hut also to be prepared for the successes that can accrue if one does at least as much as the turtle and sticks one's neck out to get ahead a little bit.

It is obvious that Ontario has the ability now to become energy self-sufficient. If the message had not reached home before last Monday, it should have come home after last Monday when the peat study was released. We have an electric power resource with a capacity factor on an annual basis of around 40 per cent; the other 60 per cent does not get used. The capacity to make hydrogen with that unused electric power capacity is substantial. The utilization of peat as a feedstock to make methanol or ethanol -- there is some technology that will probably bear out ethanol in the next 10 or 15 years -- and the capacity to make fuels from this stuff in combination with hydrogen make it the energy choice for this province, because we have all the resources available to us here. We are beholden to no one and we still have the opportunity, if we seize it, to get into the forefront in the world, in Canada, of that kind of transportation fuel development. All the arguments in opposition to the uses of ethanol and methanol in the past have evaporated in the light of the facts.

As far back as a 1978 study, the provincial government said fuel alcohol was not feasible for Ontario. I see the Minister of Health (Mr. Timbrell) looking a little quizzical about that; I do not have the study to bring out of my desk and wave at him today, but it is there, believe me. The same year the federal government did a parallel study on methanol and found it was indeed a feasible fuel alternative for Canada. That same year my party did a study on methanol using wood waste as the raw stock and found that it was a feasible move to make for Ontario.

Begging investments in the nature of $650 million, I submit to the Treasurer that we could start with even less. If we had our druthers, we would start with pilot plants utilizing some of these basic feedstocks to establish the technology and the economics and then attracting the private sector, because it will turn out to be a darned good investment.

Instead, the government chooses to spend this money that is going to leave Ontario and Canada. It is going to add to that a new dividend policy on the part of Suncor. For the first time in its history, it is going to elect to pay dividends so that Ontario may be the beneficiary of 25 per cent of the potential dividends as a 25 per cent stockholder. Up until this year, Suncor has reinvested every cent back here in Canada. Now, for the first time, when a dividend is declared, 75 per cent of those dividends will revert to the parent, Sun Oil of St. Louis, and 25 per cent will come to Ontario.

5:20 p.m.

One really wonders what that is going to do for the future development of that company. Is it going to become a holding concern as the buildings and materials deteriorate with age, or will it require some fresh investment or some repair investment? When we get down to the business of having to put up some money to repair this ageing machinery in a few years because the dividends have all gone, one wonders if Ontario is going to get tapped for 25 per cent of the cost of keeping the engines running at the tar sands plant out there and at the refinery in Sarnia? I am sure the Treasurer brought that to the attention of the Premier at some time or another.

I regret to have to be tackling the Treasurer all by himself here, because I know that deep down he has been opposed all along to this purchase; but he must realize that, as long as he sits in that chair as Treasurer of Ontario, he is going to have to take it, as unpalatable as it is.

We are looking for answers and we are not getting them. The so-called compendium that was sent across the floor was a collection of annual reports and publicity releases. That was what the government called a compendium and tried to shove off on the opposition.

We feel the people of Ontario have a right to know if the government made the decision as a good business deal with future considerations. We have the right to know if it was a rotten decision or if they did it because it might prove popular at the polls. Unless they are still hiding some major thing, we have to conclude that the deal is not good, that it was a most unwise decision.

The government continues to hide the McLeod Young Weir report and the Price Waterhouse report. Goodness knows what else they are hiding. I suppose one can respond from the government side, "Those are the realities of March 19 and you had better get used to it." It is an absolute insult to the people of Ontario --

Mr. McKessock: And to democracy.

Mr. J. A. Reed: -- and to democracy, as my friend said, that the government would choose to thumb its nose at the citizens of this province who have a right to know why they are going to be paying more taxes to cover the cost of this purchase, to know what the risks are in connection with this purchase and to know how it can be justified when the government is carrying a deficit now of hundreds of millions of dollars and is going to add hundreds of millions to that deficit. They are not even in the black; they do not have it there to spend, and yet they say it is all great stuff.

I suppose history alone will show what is obvious. As time goes on, some of these facts will emerge. A few months or a few years from now history will show whether the purchase itself was even good business. In terms of having a window, the people of Ontario have discovered there is no window and, if there is, it is shuttered as long as the government refuses to reveal the compendium of information necessary for a judgement to be made.

The Tories, in a majority government, especially early in the term, may consider that they have the right to do whatever they darn well want. Possibly they feel that some of these things will die down at the end of three years or so and, if they wish, they can start gearing up for another give-away election.

But whether or not it turns out to be politically popular, some people on that side have their own conscience to live with. They sit on that side, and I am sure they were as shocked as I was to hear, first of all, that their Conservative government had decided to get itself into business and, second, that the Premier and a few of his cabinet colleagues chose not to share that prospect with them. When one is on the government side, I suppose it pays to keep one's mouth shut most of the time, especially when one is told to. But I do not think for one minute that the members opposite are serving the province of Ontario well by remaining silent on the issue.

I call on all those on the government side who share misgivings about this purchase to declare themselves to their Premier. Take the risk. I realize it is risky. I realize that future considerations can and do evaporate, but I challenge them to stand up and be counted if they consider that they are there for the same reason I consider I am here: to serve this province and to do our small part to make it a better place.

Perhaps it is more difficult for them than it is for me to stand up and be critical like this. But I do believe, unless there is something spectacular that has not been revealed, that this purchase will prove to have been a serious blunder on the part of this government. I do believe, even if there is something yet to be revealed, that it is a serious mistake for the government to withhold it. So why do they not give it to us? Why do they not give us the reasons and give us those reports?

I suggest one other thing. It the government and the Treasurer are concerned about having the money with which to operate, surely the responsibility of the opposition is to make clear to the government its distaste for the cavalier way in which the people's money is spent. Surely the onus rides solely upon the Treasurer and the Premier to make this information available immediately and not to put the cheques of old age pensioners, people on fixed incomes and so on in jeopardy any longer. The opposition is doing its job and will continue to do its job until these documents are released.

5:30 p.m.

Mr. Stokes: Mr. Speaker, I did not intend to get into this debate until I heard the member for Halton-Burlington being given such a wide range of subject matter.

I hearken back to a time when I occupied the chair that you are now occupying when we were debating a similar motion for interim supply. One would have thought the only thing that could have been discussed was the time frame within which the authority for spending money was before the House. However, the very same Treasurer said on that occasion, "Oh no, I think it is quite in order for any member to discuss almost anything that represents the expenditure of funds."

I think that same Treasurer is reaping the whirlwind now, because an offhand, occasional remark he made has led us to the point where now we are given a wide-ranging opportunity to discuss the spending habits of the Treasurer and the government in Ontario, namely, "that the Treasurer of Ontario be authorized to pay the salaries of the civil servants and other necessary payments pending the voting of supply for the period commencing November 1, 1981, and ending March 31, 1982." So it is fair game for any member of this assembly to talk about literally anything that constitutes the expenditure of funds, the very funds the Treasurer is asking for.

I see under the gallery the former member for St. Andrew-St. Patrick, Mr. Allan Grossman, whom I welcome on your behalf, Mr. Speaker, and on behalf of all members of this assembly, and I appreciate the interest he is showing in this debate. I wonder whether the Premier and the four members of cabinet who allegedly were in on this deal --

Mr. Cassidy: The only one here is the one who opposed it.

Mr. Stokes: I feel quite confident that, had we been engaged in a debate such as the one this afternoon and had the former member for St. Andrew-St. Patrick been in on this cabinet decision -- I can recall numerous occasions in this House when, either by way of formal debate or by way of interjection, and some of his are classics; I would refer new members of the House to those interjections by the former member -- he certainly would not have acquiesced in it to the extent that most of the people over on that side of the House obviously have, particularly with regard to the expenditure of $650 million of the taxpayers' money to acquire a 25 per cent interest in an oil company that is not based in Ontario and none of whose activities are based in Ontario. One would have to assume that any of the funds that are being made available to Suncor through this acquisition by the province of Ontario will be spent elsewhere.

I think it is true to say, given the philosophy and ideology of this party towards the control of resources indigenous to Ontario, and more generally, I suppose, to all of Canada, that under the auspices of both the federal government and the provincial government we would view this as a worthwhile, useful and legitimate expenditure of funds.

However, in this case, it could be the Treasurer, the Minister of Energy and the entire executive council are not in a position to provide the information that would allow this House to make a very intelligent appraisal of whether the expenditure of funds was in the best interests of the taxpayers of Ontario. One would have to think people over there know a lot more than they are prepared to tell the members of this House whom they are asking to support this interim supply motion. Either that or they feel the public has no right to know.

I happen to think the kind of parliamentary democracy we enjoy in this province and this country means that if the government is spending this kind of money to acquire a significant share in a major resource company, not only do the members of this assembly who are being asked to grant this authority for the expenditure of funds have the right, we have the responsibility to know. I think also the people in Ontario have the right and the responsibility to know how funds of this magnitude are being spent by this government and requested by this Treasurer.

I wonder whether it would be worthwhile spending a few moments talking about the way in which this motion was placed before the House and the time frame within which it was placed before the House. I suppose it is accurate to say that in the 14 years I have had the privilege of sitting in this House, almost without exception the government has come in at the eleventh hour and asked for an extension in its authority to spend money. This interim supply motion has been brought in at the eleventh hour and almost with the full knowledge this House would grant those spending authorities.

I do not know what takes place in other jurisdictions with regard to the timing of this interim supply motion. I do know it is traditional they wait until the eleventh hour in this province and assume they will get an extension of that authority almost without question. I do not know how many billions of dollars this motion will represent for the authority to spend money for the next five months, but I do know it will be several billions of dollars. Yet they come in here at the eleventh hour, almost in a cavalier fashion, and say: "This is a routine motion and we expect it to pass."

Obviously they must have done. It was debated after question period last Friday morning when we normally rise on Fridays at one o'clock. They knew full well their right to spend public moneys expired at midnight Saturday night. For the Treasurer to stand up here, aided and abetted by the member for Lincoln (Mr. Andrewes), and ask, "What kind of scenario does the debating of this motion create for those who depend on public funds" --

5:40 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker: While there is a hesitation -- order, please. There is an undue amount of speaking while the honourable member has the floor.

Mr. Stokes: It does not bother me a bit, Mr. Speaker. I am used to it.

I am wondering if the Treasurer wants us to take him seriously when he castigates the Leader of the Opposition for carrying out what is the function of not only the Leader of the Opposition but every member of this House -- on this side or on the other side. To make sure about the kind of dollars this Treasurer is asking for is the individual and the collective responsibility of every member of this House. For the Treasurer to suggest -- prompted by a question today by the member for Lincoln -- that the dilemma of this Treasurer and all of the spending authorities in the province of Ontario associated with this government are the responsibility of the Leader of the Opposition is nothing short of irresponsible.

Given the events of the last couple of weeks, I am sure the Treasurer must have known there would be a need for the opposition, before they granted this interim supply motion, to have all of the information the Treasurer and the executive council had that prompted them to spend $650 million of taxpayers' money. Well in excess of $350 million out of this interim supply motion will be spent so they can live up to whatever responsibilities they entered into as a result of this deal through Ontario Energy Resources Limited on behalf of the people of Ontario.

I would remind the Treasurer this is a democratic forum wherein not only is it the right of every member of this Legislature to ask very pointed and searching questions of the way he and this government are spending their money, it is a responsibility. For anybody over there to suggest people on this side of the House are being intransigent, that they are being unreasonable in asking these questions, calls into question their concept of parliamentary democracy.

I would like to dispel any notion that anybody on that side of the House may have that people on this side of the House are acting in an irresponsible manner. I would also like to call to the attention of the media, who quite often feel they have the responsibility and set themselves up as the opposition around here, that we on this side are quite conscious and willing to accept our responsibility on behalf of the electorate who sent us down here. I think we would be acting in an irresponsible way if we did not call into question this interim supply motion, given the timing with which it was introduced in this House. It was given about an hour and a half for debate at a time when obviously there was going to be a lot of criticism about the way this Treasurer has asked us to rubber stamp very significant expenditures of funds. I refer particularly to the Suncor deal.

I am one who personally agrees that this Treasurer and this government should have a window into an area of our industrial activity that is so pivotal and so important -- not only to everybody in Canada but more particularly to people in Ontario who are so resource-deficient in terms of oil, gas and coal supplies.

I think when a former Treasurer acquired an interest in Syncrude, it was at my urging that a former Treasurer took that action. I was pleased with that; I agreed wholeheartedly with the action taken by this government to acquire a position in Syncrude. I was dismayed and disappointed when it divested itself of that share in the Syncrude operation.

One has to wonder why the philosophy behind the expenditure of funds by this government seems to vary to such a wide degree from one end of the political or philosophical spectrum to the other as it does with that government over there. One has to question why it was they decided to acquire Syncrude and then, when they saw a quick S30 million profit, divested themselves of it.

As I recall -- I cannot back this up by any specific dates -- I would have to think there was a deficiency in the Ontario health insurance plan payments at that time. They saw a fast way of converting their interest in Syncrude into a $30 million profit. That return to the consolidated revenue fund -- I cannot say specifically where that actual money was spent but one has to wonder --

Hon. F. S. Miller: It went to the Ontario Economic Council, Jack. It went to OEC.

Mr. Stokes: It went to OEC, so this is what the Treasurer is spending --

Mr. Wildman: So you are buying back into Syncrude now.

Mr. Stokes: One has to wonder just what the thinking processes are, not only from a fiscal and monetary point of view but actually from an ideological and philosophical point of view. Where do those people stand over there with regard to the political spectrum, such as the far right which the Treasurer feels very comfortable about occupying at certain times when it is to his advantage.

He is sitting before us now and I hope will be standing before us when this debate winds up to explain what kind of position, if any, he played in the decision-making that persuaded the government it should spend this $650 million for -- as it chooses to call it -- a window. In fact, it is not a window at all.

If the Treasurer is coming clean, if he is being absolutely forthright in what he has said by way of answers to questions at every opportunity provided to him since we learned of this acquisition of Suncor. one has to wonder if they do not have any more information than what they have been prepared to share with the House at this time. If they do not have any more, one has to wonder whether there was a certain degree of irresponsibility in the way those funds were spent.

I would have to think they do have a lot of in-depth information that provided them with whatever justification there was for an expenditure of funds of that magnitude. I would have to think the latter is the case because, when one sees the Minister of Industry and Tourism (Mr. Grossman) perambulating back and forth, and up and around, he is not an irresponsible guy.

I do not believe the Treasurer is an irresponsible Treasurer. I do not believe any of those people in the executive council are irresponsible. I believe they do have sufficient information to justify an expenditure of that magnitude.

I do not want to rehash what former speakers have said addressing themselves to this motion. I have not seen the documentation that was tabled. I have listened to the Leader of the Opposition. I have listened to the honourable member for Algoma. I have listened to the honourable member for Halton-Burlington. If that is all the information the Treasurer and cabinet had to make that decision, in my estimation the ability of those people to carry on the affairs of the people of Ontario has gone way down.

5:50 p.m.

I do not believe that is the case at all. I believe they do have sufficient information to satisfy all of the members of this assembly. I include a good many of the members over there who have called into question the wisdom of expending funds of that magnitude that will give this so-called window. If it is a window, share the daylight with us.

Give us the information upon which that decision was made, and let us get on to something like the Ministry of Northern Affairs. I have been waiting for two days to get on that subject. That is something near and dear to my heart. But if there is any intransigence associated with this interim supply motion, I would have to say the greater responsibility lies with this Treasurer and the people backing him up. They should supply information that will not only satisfy everybody on this side of the House but, I am sure, everybody in Ontario that their tax dollars are being spent in a responsible, productive way that can be justified.

You have allowed a wide-ranging debate on what could have been the alternatives for this government and for the people in the province with regard to the $650 million that will have to be spent to acquire a 25 per cent interest in Suncor.

The honourable member for Halton-Burlington has gone on at great length about the peat potential. Having the responsibility for this party, I had the pleasure of attending that peat symposium. I was the only member of this Legislature who attended all of the sessions. I can report to the House -- I know there is not much peat in South Dumfries or down around St. George, and I am sure there is not much peat in Brant-Oxford-Norfolk -- but I want to reiterate what the honourable member for Halton-Burlington said with regard to the tremendous potential for development of peat resources in Ontario.

While we do not have a complete and precise inventory, we know enough about the resource to say it is either the second or the third largest concentration of peat in any jurisdiction in the world. Let us not get hung up about whether we are first, second or third. We know the amount is substantial. If we even got into that portion of the peat resources below the permafrost line in Ontario we would probably have enough alternative energy resources to be self-sufficient in that field for at least the next 50 years. I think I am being conservative in that.

A question was posed to the Minister of Energy by the member for Halton-Burlington last week as to what specifically is being done to develop alternative energy sources to replace the ever-increasing amounts of oil and gas we are using in the province. The Minister of Energy did not have anything of a substantive nature to say in response to that, notwithstanding the fact that a federal-provincial program has been in place for well over a year. We have spent in excess of $14 million of those funds, mostly to industry for energy conservation and new pilot demonstration protects that would use the alternative sources, whether it be peat, whether it is looking into the lignite we have in large quantities in Onakawana, whether it is wind energy --

Mr. Nixon: We have been hearing about that for years.

Mr. Stokes: -- whether it is biomass. We say we are energy poor in this province. Do not take my word for it, here is an excellent document that addresses itself to the peat potential in Ontario. It was developed at considerable expense by the Ministry of Natural Resources, the Ministry of Northern Affairs and the Ministry of Energy. I am wondering why the government produces these documents when it makes no real commitment to take firm, positive and definite action to see that we can be more self-sufficient with regard to our energy requirements.

I would like to relate to members a situation that has existed in my riding for many years and still exists to this day. I am sure the clerk, who is listening very attentively, can attest to the fact that I have asked five successive Ministers of Energy to expend a few dollars to look into the wind energy potential in Ontario. I thought I had the support of the now Minister of Northern Affairs (Mr. Bernier). I had the support of the previous member for Cochrane, Mr. Rene Brunelle, who was the Provincial Secretary for Resources Development. Prior to that, he was the Minister of Natural Resources. Everybody agreed we should allocate whatever funds were required in order to investigate the potential for generating electrical energy by using wind, which is free. The Ministry of Energy scurried all around northern Ontario looking at the highest constant wind velocities of any place in the province and they came up with two areas.

Mr. Nixon: Schreiber.

Mr. Stokes: No, one was Winisk and the other was Fort Severn, one in the Cochrane North riding and the other in the riding of Lake Nipigon. They agreed it was worthwhile looking into that, and they decided they would build what they called a hybrid generating system. That is where a diesel generator would work in tandem with a wind generator and one would take over from the other. When the wind subsided, in would cut the diesel generator, and when the wind increased, out would cut the diesel generator. They called it a hybrid system that worked in tandem.

They put up a demonstration model on Toronto Island that they ran for a year and a half. There was sufficient wind there apparently to prove that the technology was viable and everything was fine and dandy. I said, "Okay. let's build a model where it has some practical application up on the shores of Hudson Bay." What did they do? Right now in Coniston in the Sudbury basin, they are spending $1 million for yet another demonstration model. The justification is that it is a lot easier for the technocrats to run from Toronto or Ottawa to Sudbury, rather than using this technology that has been proven viable for the benefit of people who live in northern Ontario.

I see it is six o'clock. I still have a few more remarks, Mr. Speaker.

The House recessed at 6:01 p.m.