32nd Parliament, 1st Session


























The House met at 2:02 p.m.



Mr. Smith: On a point of privilege, Mr. Speaker: There is an article on the front page of the Globe and Mail today that says backbenchers from the government party were to be provided with an explanation of the Suncor decision. It goes on to say that members from the two consulting firms were going to be involved in explaining to the government backbenchers certain aspects of the deal so they would have something to tell their constituents.

The member for Simcoe Centre (Mr. G. W. Taylor) is quoted as saying that he had a policy meeting in his riding and kept being asked by supporters, and I quote, "Why would the government buy into an oil company when we don't have money for schools and hospitals?"

After the very unfortunate events of last week, in which closure was introduced in this House when some explanation and information was sought by all members; after the additionally unfortunate situation that the standing committee on general government found itself in when it was blocked in its efforts to investigate the Suncor matter by the vote of its Tory majority; noting further that the House leaders met today and decided they did not really have any authority over the committee and the committee would have to order its own business, and in view of the fact that its last order has been to say basically that it will not deal with the matter, do you not feel, Mr. Speaker, that the privileges of the members of this House, the elected representatives of the people of Ontario, have been abused, possibly in the most obvious way since many of us have been here?

Members of the very firms about which we were asking questions, McLeod Young Weir and Price Waterhouse, allegedly were going to explain certain aspects of their letters to members of the Conservative caucus, when members of other parties are not to be given that sort of information. If it is true that those representatives of the brokerage house and the accounting house only explained what was written in the letters that were tabled here, then it is hard to know what they possibly could have said, because those letters were self-evident. The letters simply said if one wanted to buy 25 per cent of the shares of Suncor, one would have to expect to spend somewhere in the vicinity of $550 million to $600 million plus to purchase them, given market conditions and so on.

Even Tory back-benchers could have read those letters and figured out what they said without explanation. If explanation in addition to that contained in the letters was given to the Tory back-benchers, then it is the grossest violation of the privileges of other members of this House to have a government member stand up and say repeatedly that any additional information other than that in the letters is totally confidential.

It is unacceptable that material of this kind should be kept from members who happen to represent ridings other than government ridings, and yet the back-benchers in the party of the government should be allowed to get additional information. The government cannot have it both ways. If the experts were there solely to explain the contents of the letters, any darned fool can understand the contents of the letters, because they are self-evident. There is nothing in the letters other than saying, "If you want to buy the shares, this is the price you need to pay."


Mr. Smith: Even the members who are busy heckling at the moment could have understood the letter without aid of illustrations.

On the other hand, it there was more to be explained than simply the face of the letter itself, then we have every right, as members representing ridings that happen to elect members of other parties, to that same information. This House is being seriously abused. The privileges of members of the Legislature are being seriously curtailed by a government that feels it is all right to have closure in the House rather than to discuss the details of the Suncor purchase and the basis of that purchase, and feels it can go ahead and discuss the matter with its 70 or so members in its own caucus.

Under these circumstances, Mr. Speaker, you ought to act to protect this House if it is not to sink even further than it has recently, regrettably, into a place to be taken lightly by the government and a place where antagonism runs very deeply. If we are to be treated as totally redundant to the process of government and democracy by this arrogant majority, then it is up to you, Mr. Speaker, to protect our rights in this regard. If the government back-benchers can be told things about which the government supposedly was sworn to secrecy in the deal with Suncor, why cannot the rest of us? If they were not being told anything new, then what were they told?

Mr. Cassidy: Mr. Speaker, I consulted section 18 of the rules and procedures with respect to privilege, and I suggest the privileges of the House, which are meant to be enjoyed collectively, are being abused.

The government has decided it will blindfold the opposition parties and the public in Ontario, either those who want to see if it is worth getting more of Suncor or those few people who think it may be worth getting less of Suncor, by the decision it made that Mr. Kierans from McLeod Young Weir will make his wisdom available to members of the government party but not to members of any other party.

I draw to your attention, Mr. Speaker, the fact that the standing committee on general government has decided it will not proceed at this time to look into the acquisition of Suncor, and it will not exercise its powers to bring anybody before it. The government members are saying, in effect, "There is one law for Tory back-benchers, and there is one law for everybody else in this Legislature."

After those Conservative back-benchers on the general government committee voted to stifle the committee's inquiry into the deal, they turned around and went through the backstairs and the corridors to the government to get Mr. Kierans to come and tell them what the deal is all about, because they were getting some flak back at home from all those good Tories who cannot understand this venture into socialism.

2:10 p.m.

It reminds me of the old story about the mushrooms: they are kept in the dark and fed a diet of horse manure. It seems to me that this is exactly what is happening in this House. Some of the Conservative back-benchers are rebelling, and I would urge you, Mr. Speaker, to rule as a matter of privilege that anything that is given to the Conservative back-benchers should be made available to all members of this Legislature.

Mr. Breithaupt: Mr. Speaker, I just want to review briefly with you a quotation from the member for Simcoe Centre that appeared in the article referred to by my leader, the member for Hamilton West (Mr. Smith). He is quoted as having said: "Conservative members haven't any more information on it than the government has put on the table. They want an explanation they can take to the general public."

I can assure you that all the members of the House feel the same on that point, and I suggest that it is within your powers as Speaker to require of the Minister of Energy (Mr. Welch), who is also the Deputy Premier, just what information was made available that has not otherwise been available to the House, so we will all be able to have the information on which the government has acted and which it is prepared to share with its back-benchers.

It is most important for the privileges of all of us as members that we too have sufficient information to make an explanation to the general public in the same way as the member for Simcoe Centre has suggested to the press.

Mr. MacDonald: If I may add a few words, Mr. Speaker, it is not just the government back-benchers who want more information; it has even gotten to the cabinet. The member for Brant-Oxford-Norfolk (Mr. Nixon) and I shared a meeting with a cabinet minister a week or so ago in which he stated that he was sure there were bushel baskets of information in the office of the Minister of Energy or in the office of the Treasurer (Mr. F. S. Miller) and that back- bench members of his party wanted access to that.

Presumably they are going to get access, and I think the case that all members of the Legislature should have the same access is so self- evident that I hope you will lend your support to its fulfilment.

Hon. Mr. Welch: Mr. Speaker, the honourable members who have just spoken have quite properly laid before you this matter of the privileges of the members of the House, and certainly it is a matter you will want to take under some consideration. If I might be permitted some comments on that in an attempt to be helpful, I would like to respond.

Certainly, if the allegation of the Leader of the Opposition were correct --

Mr. Kerrio: Give us the evidence, that is how to be helpful.

Hon. Mr. Ashe: You wouldn't understand it anyway.

Mr. Speaker: Order.

Hon. Mr. Welch: If the allegation of the Leader of the Opposition were correct, that I had organized a meeting to provide members of the government caucus with information that up to that time I had deemed confidential and that I was using -- indeed, quite properly -- the confidential agreement, then I think he would have every right to stand in his place and do exactly what he has done, supported by the other comments that have been made.

I want to point out that I hope you, Mr.

Speaker, and other members of this House will understand that, having been a member for the number of years I have, I realize that the rules governing the availability of certain information apply to all of us in this House, and I have maintained that position.

Indeed, at the request of the chief government whip, the member for Mississauga East (Mr. Gregory), who had spoken to me in connection with some of the material that had already been tabled, I thought it might be helpful on the basis of the information that has been tabled and is currently available, and public information generally, if some assistance could be provided in its interpretation.

Mr. MacDonald: Invite us all, then.

Hon. Mr. Welch: I was not sure how a technical approach like this would work, and it was important that we have this. And just in case this point escapes me in this explanation, perhaps I can respond to the interjection from the member for York South: What happened today in our caucus is available for his caucus; if he would just let me know when he would like to have it. there is no particular problem.

Mr. T. P. Reid: Now you tell us.

Hon. Mr. Welch: No. It was always the intention.

Let me tell the members opposite about the earth-shaking documents that were discussed today and made available. They were publications with respect to the Ontario Energy Corporation, the statement made to the Legislature last Tuesday evening with respect to what information was made available and a repeat of some basic facts on the Suncor deal. There it is. and I will be glad to table it. That is the information that was made available.

Mr. Cassidy: What about Tom Kierans?

Hon. Mr. Welch: Tom Kierans was not at the meeting. We will have an opportunity to discuss this prior to the orders of the day -- in fact, for the balance of the afternoon.

Any suggestion that additional information, which up to this time we have indicated was not available because of the undertaking signed under the confidentiality agreement, was discussed with any member of this Legislature is false. I stand in my place to assure members that did not happen.

I would be very surprised in the conduct of any party caucus that there are not opportunities to provide all sorts of information to people. Caucuses are structured in different ways. This happens to be a caucus that is very keen and very anxious to have --


Hon. Mr. Welch: It might explain why there are so many of them and so few members of the other caucuses.

Mr. Nixon: They are ready to vote against you.

Mr. Speaker: Order.

Hon. Mr. Welch: We then provided some panellists, who on the basis of the information that is tabled -- and it is not just the letters. The honourable member made reference to a couple of letters; as the member knows, they were tabled in response to questions placed on the Order Paper. Those answers were given. We discussed the compendium. We discussed the material that was filed following the statement, all of the material that was there, and simply asked people to direct questions with respect to the understanding of this information.

As you reflect upon the very serious matters that were suggested here, Mr. Speaker, if it would be helpful, I am sure the Ontario Energy Corporation, in consultation with the other whips, would be quite prepared to provide that type of service so that everyone might better understand these materials that had been made public as a follow-up to the statement made by the Premier (Mr. Davis) in this place on October 13. Not all of us are skilled in understanding financial reports and all of that kind of detail, and I felt that exchange was helpful. I am prepared to make that information available to other members of the House as well.

Mr. Cassidy: Mr. Speaker, I am disturbed to learn the Minister of Energy provided panellists to the Conservative caucus. I do not know who they were; I guess they were people from the Ontario Energy Corporation or from his ministry or some other place. Mr. Kierans did not happen to come this time, but they put up some substitutes, some designated hitters to come in, to provide that kind of information.

Hon. Mr. Welch: Would you like to meet them?

Mr. Cassidy: I would like to know who they are. Perhaps the minister can say who they are.

Hon. Mr. Welch: I asked whether you would like to meet them.

Mr. Cassidy: Of course I would.

What I want to say, though, is that I think the procedure which the minister outlined is not a good one. He is saying that in the privacy of the Conservative caucus something went on, one knows not what.

Mr. Foulds: The imagination boggles.

Mr. Cassidy: That is right. He says that no confidential information was divulged, that it simply was a matter of explaining what was in the compendium. The compendium was so sketchy that I can imagine the discussion. The minister probably got up and said: "Look, you dummies, here is what it says. Can't you read? That is all you are going to get."

Mr. Speaker, in exercising your rights over the privileges of this House, I urge you to suggest to the government that rather than getting this information behind closed doors, their representatives on the general government committee should have agreed, as we suggested and as I moved, that once the estimates of the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing were over, this matter of the Suncor purchase should come before a public committee where representatives of all three parties could put their questions and where the press and the public could attend to hear and record the answers to those questions.

2:20 p.m.

If the government is not prepared to do that, Mr. Speaker, this caucus will accept the ministers offer to have representatives of the Ontario Energy Corporation, Mr. Kierans and so on come before our caucus -- only we will hold those sessions and have that question and answer period in public, and we will make sure the public and the press are able at least to participate in that question and answer period.

Mr. T. P. Reid: Mr. Speaker, I wish to make two points very briefly in terms of the privileges of members.

The government has embarked on spending $650 million without any reference to the Legislature. It has signed a memorandum of agreement, and it is prepared to go ahead with this. This strikes at the fundamental aspect of public control over the purse and the ability that goes back for centuries for control of the executive by the Legislature in terms of spending. That is the first privilege, and I just want to remind you of it. I know you are aware of it.

I also draw your attention to the fact that in Ontario the Ontario Securities Commission has a great list of rules and regulations, some of which I understand the minister has tried to do away with, that relate to disclosure. If there is any large sale of shares of one company to anybody else in Ontario, there are disclosure rules that must be followed, and minority shareholders must be apprised of the information relating to any sale of shares by a company. I suggest to you that the opposition in this case is representing the interests of the minority shareholders in Ontario and we, on their behalf, have a right to that information.

Mr. Rotenberg: Mr. Speaker, the thrust of part of what the opposition has raised in this point of privilege --

Mr. Smith: Oh, this will help, this will help.

Mr. Speaker: Order.

Mr. MacDonald: Have you done your research well this time?

Mr. J. M. Johnson: Why don't you listen once in a while instead of always talking?

Mr. Rotenberg: Mr. Speaker, I consider this to be a serious matter. May I proceed?


Mr. Speaker: Order. Will the member for Wilson Heights resume his seat, please? I ask the co-operation of all members. We have listened to various members speak on the point of privilege. The member for Wilson Heights also wants to speak. I recognize the member for Wilson Heights.

Mr. Rotenberg: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Part of the thrust of the opposition's point of privilege today is asking, in effect, to reveal to them or to the House what went on at a caucus meeting of one party in this House. In considering your ruling, may I ask you to consider whether you have any jurisdiction over what goes on in a government caucus --

Mr. Cassidy: Don't be so stupid.


Mr. Speaker: Order.

Mr. Rotenberg: -- and whether you have within your jurisdiction the right to ask any caucus in this House to reveal in public what went on in their meetings.

Mr. Speaker: I shall take under consideration the point of privilege raised by the Leader of the Opposition. I have no idea what information was made available, of course, but I have heard the Deputy Premier assure the House that nothing more than was made public was discussed. I will confirm that.

Mr. Smith: We did not have access to panellists.

Mr. Cassidy: On a point of privilege, Mr. Speaker: Is that your ruling, that you are going to simply ignore everything that has been said here by the Leader of the Opposition and myself?

Mr. Rotenberg: He said he would take it under advisement. Why don't you listen?

Mr. Speaker: Order.

Mr. Cassidy: You don't see any matter of privilege there at all? Will you not at least come back --

Mr. Speaker: You obviously were not listening.


Mr. Speaker: I ask all the members of this assembly to join me in welcoming and recognizing, in the Speaker's gallery, Mr. Elie Fallu, member of the Quebec National Assembly and parliamentary chargé de mission for North and South America for the International Association of French-speaking Parliamentarians.

Mr. Boudria: M. le président, je voudrais seulement prendre quelques instants pour vous joindre en souhaitant la bienvenue a l'honorable député de Groulx, M. Elie Fallu, député de l'Assemblée nationale du Québec. Comme on le sait, M. Fallu est chargé de mission pour les Amériques au sein de l'AIPLF et nous avons ce matin rencontré M. Fallu en vertu de joindre l'Association internationale des parlementaires de langue française.

Egalement avec M. Fallu est son adjoint, Mme Maité Jay-Rayon, et il me fait plaisir de l'accueillir. Je voudrais souligner qu'on va avoir l'occasion de les revoir à l'assemblée de Dakar qui aura lieu en janvier 1982.

Hon. Mr. Baetz: M. le président, j'aimerais simplement ajouter quelques mots à votre allocution, au nom de tous les députés de l'Assemblée législative. Nous sommes très honorés d'avoir parmi nous aujourd'hui l'honorable député de Terrebonne, M. Elie Fallu. M. Fallu est hautement respecté pour sa contribution dans l'association comme chargé de mission pour l'Amérique du Nord et du Sud.

Je suis persuadé que sa présence spéciale dans la section ontarienne aujourd'hui aura inspiré ses membres dans leur effort pour remplir leur mandat très spécial.

Mr. Cassidy: M. le président, j'aimerais à mon tour accueillir M. Fallu a l'occasion de sa visite ici en Ontario, une visite qui a été très fructueuse.

Ce matin, l'Association internationale des parlementaires de langue française, section de l'Ontario, a été acceptée, je crois, par M. Fallu qui a pris la responsabilité de nous promettre de promouvoir l'adhésion de l'Ontario à l'association sur le plan international.

J'aimerais dire à M. Fallu, et à tous ses collègues de l'Assemblée nationale du Québec, que nous souhaitons de plus en plus de visites et d'échanges avec les députés de l'Assemblée nationale du Québec. Je crois que ce moyen de communication et de coopération sera très fructueux, non simplement pour les parlementaires de langue française mais pour toute la province.


Mr. Speaker: This is the last day for the current group of pages. In recognition of the fine service they have rendered to all members in this House, I wish to take this opportunity to read their names into the record as we have done in the past.

Linda Blahey, Nipissing; Sean Blenkinsop, Sudbury; Edward Bonner, Brampton; Ian Borden, Parry Sound; Emilia De Bellis, Oakwood; Tara Fidler, London North; Lesleyann Howard, Don Mills; Mohammed Khan, Scarborough Centre; Anthony Leardi, Essex South; Kristin McGill, Dufferin-Simcoe; Janet Ozembloski, Lakeshore; Cathryn Paul, York West; Nicholas Perkins, Algoma-Manitoulin; David Pluscauskas, York East; Rebecca Read, Mississauga South; Katherine Rickard, Prince Edward-Lennox; Steven Tschanz, Haldimand-Norfolk; Jacqueline Van de Ven, Durham East; Sarah Verage, Scarborough West; Richard Warman, Simcoe Centre; Robert Webb, Brantford; Tobin Young, Oakville.

I ask all members to join with me in expressing thanks to these young people.



Hon. Mr. McMurtry: Mr. Speaker, I wish to make a statement with reference to an article in the Globe and Mail this morning concerning one Cecil Kirby. Cecil Kirby is a man with a criminal background who was a former enforcer for organized crime in Ontario.

2:30 p.m.

In late 1980, Mr. Kirby approached a member of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and offered to provide information concerning organized crime in this province as well as information with respect to several unsolved crimes. As a result of this approach, senior officers of the Metropolitan Toronto Police and the RCMP met with senior crown law officers from the Ministry of the Attorney General. At those meetings, my crown law officers were advised of Kirby's offer to provide this information if he received an undertaking that he would not be prosecuted in the province for offences he had committed, which he fully and truthfully disclosed to the police.

During this period of time, Kirby was approached by an organized crime family to murder an American woman. Kirby was willing to act as a police operative to gather evidence of this contract-killing conspiracy. My crown law officers, after discussing the matter with me, decided with my full concurrence that an undertaking not to prosecute was in the best interests of the administration of justice for the following reasons:

First, apart from evidence supplied by Kirby himself, which is not admissible against him, there was absolutely no other evidence whatsoever to connect Kirby to the crimes he committed. In fact, there was no evidence whatsoever leading to any suspect for these offences. They had been fully investigated at the time they were committed and put on hold because there was no evidence against anyone. The fatal explosion case referred to in the Globe and Mail took place more than four years ago. Not only was there no independent evidence connecting Mr. Kirby to the crime but also there was no likelihood at all that any would be forthcoming.

Second, with respect to all the offences, Kirby was acting as an enforcer for organized crime. Kirby was prepared to discuss fully everything he knew about who hired him and why and to testify at any criminal proceedings arising out of his disclosures. All Mr. Kirby's revelations either have been investigated or are being thoroughly investigated at this very moment. Accordingly, it would be inappropriate for me to comment on this aspect any further.

Third, organized crime presents a most serious challenge, of course, to law enforcement agencies. Until the revelations of Kirby, we had been frustrated to a very large extent in obtaining evidence to prosecute its leaders for a large number of serious offences covering a very broad range of criminal activities. Kirby represented the first real breakthrough in penetrating the conspiracy of silence that shrouds organized criminal activities.

For the next four months Kirby, at great risk to himself, continued to meet with the heads of Toronto and New England organized crime families. He wore a body-pack tape recorder at all meetings held in Canada. In addition to the conspiracy to kill the American woman, Kirby also pretended to agree to the contracts offered to him by organized crime to kill two Toronto men and to beat up another. All the instructions given to him by the members of organized crime were taped and as a result six men, including two in the United States, were charged with counselling murder and conspiracy to commit murder.

On August 21, Cosimo Commisso pled guilty to three counts of conspiracy to commit murder and one count of conspiracy to commit assault causing bodily harm. He was sentenced to three concurrent eight-year terms of imprisonment on the latter charges. These terms of imprisonment were made consecutive to a four-year term for which he was then under sentence. His brother, Remo Commisso, pled guilty to two counts of conspiracy to commit murder and was sentenced to eight years concurrent on each charge. His younger brother, Michele Commisso, pled guilty to three counts of conspiracy to commit murder and was sentenced to two and a half years on each charge concurrent. Rocco Romeo, a minor conspirator with the Commissos, pled guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit murder and was sentenced to two and a half years' imprisonment.

On October 6, 1981, Jerry Russo, who was involved in the plot to kill the woman and who had been ordered extradited from Connecticut, pled guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit murder and was sentenced to 34 months' imprisonment.

The remaining accused in this matter has been ordered extradited from Connecticut but has appealed to the Eastern Circuit Court of Appeal, which has reserved its decision. If he should lose his appeal he will be prosecuted in Ontario and Cecil Kirby will be the main witness in his trial. As this matter is before the court it would be inappropriate for me to comment any further on it.

There are several matters in this morning's article that I would like to comment upon but, because of ongoing investigations and prosecutions, I am unable to do so at this time. However, I would like to set one matter straight. While it is true Mr. Kirby has received an undertaking that he will not be prosecuted for any past conduct, which I have mentioned, he will be treated like any other person in so far as his activities since last fall are concerned.

All the matters raised in this morning's article have been thoroughly investigated by the local police agencies involved. Mr. Kirby has already been charged with a firearms offence that is alleged to have taken place last month.

In conclusion, given the circumstances of this matter the granting of an undertaking not to prosecute for past offences was -- I repeat -- made in the best interests of the administration of justice. Kirby has not been given immunity in the sense that he is free to commit offences without fear of prosecution. The undertaking not to prosecute was limited to past crimes in respect of which there was no evidence against Kirby save that which he himself provided in a manner which made that evidence inadmissible against him. That is not immunity in the sense the Globe and Mail would have us believe.

Mr. Kirby is being maintained at public expense; he and his family are being protected at public expense. This is necessary by virtue of the serious risk he took in assisting the public against organized crime and the menace it presents to all of us. The Globe and Mail reporter who wrote this morning's article was fully aware of the circumstances of this matter, which involve not only ongoing investigations and prosecutions but also the safety of Kirby and his family as well as others close to him. I very much regret that in the face of this knowledge the Globe and Mail chose to print the article at this time. I hope the article has not jeopardized either the ongoing investigations and prosecutions or the safety of any individual involved.

In conclusion, I want to make it very clear that the giving of an undertaking not to prosecute is a discretion exercised extremely rarely. It is one that must be used with great caution and only after a careful review of all the circumstances. In this case I am satisfied that the undertaking would not have been given if it had not been clearly in the public interest.



Mr. Smith: I have a question for the Minister of Energy, Mr. Speaker. Would the minister tell us the names, occupations and employers of the panellists he had in to brief his fellow Conservatives at caucus today?

The information he has already presented us is really self-evident and requires no explanation, provided people know how to read. We found nothing in this information to indicate the basis for the government's contention that it expects 15 per cent return on the investment, nothing to explain how the government intends to finance the second S325 million to buy it and nothing as to why the government preferred this investment to other possible investments within the province. In light of this, can the minister tell us whether his back-benchers now have answers to those three questions? And if they do, could the minister share those answers with us?

Hon. Mr. Welch: Mr. Speaker, the panellists who were kind enough to come along and assist in the interpretation of some of this material were Mr. Don Carmichael, vice-president of McLeod Young Weir; Mr. Eric Schwitzer, vice-president of McLeod Young Weir; Mr. Robert Brown, a partner in Price Waterhouse Limited; Mr. Lone Waisberg of Goodman and Goodman; Mr. Peter Lamb, special consultant to the Ontario Energy Corporation; and Mr. Malcolm Rowan, president of the Ontario Energy Corporation.

My colleagues received answers to all the questions they asked, and if any questions infringed on confidentiality they were told they could not answer those.

Mr. Smith: Supplementary, Mr. Speaker: These people did nothing other than explain what should have been self-evident anyway and added nothing. In the information we have seen so far there is no basis for the 15 per cent yield prediction; no firm basis, apparently, for a decision on the financing of this purchase, and nothing to indicate why this is thought to be a more prudent investment than others that might have been made in Ontario. Can the minister tell us whether his back-benchers now have answers to those questions or not? Do they now know the basis for the 15 per cent prediction? Do they know how the minister is going to finance the additional $325 million? And do they know why he has chosen this deal rather than invest in Ontario enterprises?

Hon. Mr. Welch: Mr. Speaker, without commenting on what I would consider to be the provocative assumptions in that question, I repeat that these people to whom I have made reference answered the questions that were directed to them. I think it is a bit much to question whether or not I am entitled to have an opinion as to whether or not the answer to any question satisfied any particular questioner.

2:40 p.m.

Mr. Cassidy: Supplementary, Mr. Speaker: The minister has given Conservative backbenchers the opportunity to question senior officials of McLeod Young Weir, Price Waterhouse and the energy corporation surrounding the facts and figures related to the Suncor deal, but these Conservative caucus members were unwilling to give the general government committee the opportunity to question these officials. Will the minister now agree to expeditiously allow the general government committee to hold hearings and call these and possibly other officials of those two consulting groups and government officials in order that the Legislature can have a chance to be informed as a group about the Suncor deal? If not, will the minister guarantee that these officials and others that we require will be made available when the NDP holds its public hearings, beginning next week, on this arrangement?

Hon. Mr. Welch: Mr. Speaker, there is a feeling here that committees are in charge of their own business and --

Mr. Martel: Oh, they are?


Mr. Speaker: Order.

Hon. Mr. Welch: When the Leader of the Opposition introduced this matter at a meeting of the general government committee it was my understanding -- I was not there so this is all secondhand -- that having been charged with some responsibility to get on with estimates, they felt the question was not that the matter should not be dealt with by the committee but that it be referred to the House leaders from the standpoint of timetable. They have received a certain schedule and timetable and, for whatever reasons, they thought it should be sent back to the House leaders.

On the basis of some comments made by the Leader of the Opposition, I understand the House leaders dealt with it today and that they are sending it back to the committee. Perhaps that is where we should leave it and have the committee decide how and whether they are going to handle this matter. But to suggest, even in a quiet way, that we are attempting to suppress any information is just unreasonable under the circumstances.


Mr. Smith: Supplementary: This is the very minister who recommended introducing closure into this House. Why would he be willing to offer these half a dozen or so experts to meet for disclosure in the Tory caucus and recommend only closure for the opposition?

Why were we not offered, either in committee or by way of some kind of arrangements by the House leaders, further explanation of the material upon which the government allegedly based its decision? Surely either the Tory members now have some idea of why this decision was made, something they themselves did not have before, and none of us can understand. If they were given information, why were we not offered access to the same experts instead of closure being imposed on the Legislature?

Hon. Mr. Welch: As I indicated when I had the opportunity to respond to the point of privilege raised by the Leader of the Opposition, mine was in response to requests that I had received from our government whip and the chairman of the caucus with respect to this matter.

I remind the House, as I did the member for St. Catharines (Mr. Bradley), that other than a question to file a couple of letters and whose fees were paid, I do not recall a specific question put on the Order Paper about this transaction in an attempt to understand the material.

Mr. Smith: I asked the minister the basis of the 15 per cent. I have asked him repeatedly the basis of the 15 per cent. How is he going to pay them? I have asked the minister repeatedly the basis of that deal.


Mr. Speaker: Order.

Hon. Mr. Welch: As far as I am concerned, I stand in this place repeating that if the Leader of the Opposition and his colleagues would find a session with these technical people helpful to understand the material which is already filed, I would be glad to make the arrangements.


Mr. Smith: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Minister of the Environment. With regard to the matter of the deal between Ontario Hydro and General Public Utilities, owner of the ill-fated Three Mile Island nuclear station, to export I,000 megawatts of firm power via cable under Lake Erie, does the minister not recognize the serious impact this is going to have on the acid rain debate now going on between the United States and Canada?

Is the minister not aware how this will look to the Americans? Ontario would be saying to them they must clean up their coal stations and curtail their emissions while we contract with them to provide electricity for their market utilizing our own coal-fired stations for the bulk of the electricity, with scrubbers on virtually none of the units that will be providing that electricity?

Given the obvious hypocrisy involved in that kind of arrangement, is the Minister of the Environment not concerned that his number one problem, acid rain, is going to be a bigger problem after this deal goes through? This is particularly so since 80,000 short tons of sulphur dioxide emissions per year will occur as a consequence of this electricity being generated here.

Hon. Mr. Norton: Mr. Speaker, I have no doubt that perception may be raised by some individuals. I am confident, however, those individuals who are prepared to look at the facts and understand what may be implied if such an agreement is reached by Ontario Hydro would be satisfied that ought not be a matter of serious concern.

The assumption that Ontario Hydro's export of electricity, if and when such an agreement is reached, would be primarily from fossil-fuel- fired stations is not necessarily correct at all. It is my understanding it would come from the Ontario grid and may well come from any of the stations in that grid. During the period for which such an agreement is being contemplated it is anticipated Ontario Hydro will have an excess.

There is another thing it is important to bear in mind in terms of any discussions with the Americans on the matter of acid precipitation and the effectiveness with which we are approaching reductions in this province. It has been clear from the very inception of the regulations introduced during the tenure of my predecessor that regardless of any demand for increased production, if that is the area of concern upon which the member is focusing, Ontario Hydro must meet the reduced emission targets that have been set out. Over the period of this decade Ontario Hydro will have to reduce by a little less than 50 per cent the volume of emissions from its coal-fired plants regardless of what the demand for energy may be.

Some Americans, particularly the power interests in the United States, have said perhaps there is a conspiracy just so we can export energy to the United States. All I can say to Americans who may raise this as a concern is that is clearly not the case. I would say in response, if they are prepared to be as indifferent to the problem as we are and commit themselves to a 50 per cent reduction over the next decade, I would welcome that indifference.

Mr. Smith: Would the minister not agree with my colleague, the member for Niagara Falls (Mr. Kerrio), that if one does not scrub, this will not wash? The minister is now saying the limits being placed on Ontario Hydro, belatedly and towards the end of the decade, will still have to be met. Is the minister aware what a control order is? Does he recognize a control order is simply a maximum and that the desirable thing to do is to reduce pollution as far below that maximum as possible? Why does he regard it as a floor, as a sort of target to be reached?

2:50 p.m.

There is no requirement that so much pollution be put into the air. The idea is that should be the maximum -- and it is not a very good maximum at that. If we can do without generating that electricity by coal there will be less pollution in the air, whatever the control order says. If the government was not going to sell that electricity would the minister agree there would not be the acid gas emission?

How are we going to explain to the Americans why they are supposed to scrub their coal stations when we will sell them electricity using unscrubbed stations burning the same kind of coal?

Hon. Mr. Norton: Mr. Speaker, that last question is based on the same erroneous assumptions implicit in the first question -- that all -- or a substantial part or most or whatever the member's assumptions may be -- of that energy is going to come from fossilfuel-fired plants. My understanding now is that it will be coming from the grid. Presumably some might come from that. It may also significantly come from, for example, nuclear or hydro power. The member must first get a sound foundation for his assumptions before he asks me to answer questions.

Mr. Cassidy: Supplementary, Mr. Speaker:

The National Energy Board's hearings are not focused on the environmental question but on the availability of energy and whether it is required in this country or can be safely exported without detracting from our needs. Does the minister recall the promise he made on June 26, 1981 -- before the summer recess -- when he replied to the request we made for environmental assessment into the proposed underwater power line, "My position certainly has not changed from that of my predecessor"?

Is he not aware his predecessor had promised if the project was undertaken to run a cable under Lake Erie there would occur a full environmental assessment under the Environmental Assessment Act? Is that still the promise of the government or is the minister taking this project to the cabinet in order to seek an exemption, as he has done on so many other Ontario Hydro projects?

Hon. Mr. Norton: Mr. Speaker, my position remains the same as it has been. I indicated yesterday to some members of the press, and perhaps other media, when I was asked following the questions directed to the Minister of Energy (Mr. Welch) -- in my usual practice of being open and candid and sharing information with the people who ask me questions -- that there was one relatively new wrinkle that had led to some examination of opinions on my part. That relates to the --

Mr. Cassidy: You are breaking your promise.

Hon. Mr. Norton: Those members over there are like a bunch of chihuahuas. I say something and they start nipping, nipping, nipping. Let me finish.


Hon. Mr. Norton: That is all right. My sister has a chihuahua. I am accustomed to their mentality.

Mr. Speaker: Will the minister address himself to the question please.

Hon. Mr. Norton: I will not insult my sister's dog, Mr. Speaker.

The point I am attempting to make to the honourable members, if they are interested in listening, is there has been raised through three separate legal opinions -- an independent one from outside government, and two independent ones from law officers of the crown -- relating to the constitutional issue of primacy, and whether or not in this instance the Ontario legislation does apply. It is not a question about exemptions --

Mr. Cassidy: Have you got any control over Hydro or haven't you?

Hon. Mr. Norton: I wish the member would calm down.


Mr. Smith: You're rolling over and playing dead.

Hon. Mr. Norton: I am not. I am not going to rollover and play dead to that member either. If he would listen -- does he want to hear the rest of the answer?

Mr. Cassidy: Come on, yes or no; are you keeping the promise?

Mr. Speaker: Order.

Hon. Mr. Norton: I really do believe it would be to the member's advantage to take a sedative before he enters the House, so he could hear complete answers to his questions from time to time. Does he want to hear the answer to that question? Perhaps he and his colleague at the other end of the bench could calm down for a moment, and I would be prepared to answer it. Thanks very much.

The fact is that until I have an opportunity to fully review the legal opinions I am aware of with advisers and discuss their implications with my colleagues, I really cannot say with absolute certainty. I can reiterate that my position is unchanged. What the member does when he takes this approach when I share information like this generously with him, is that he immediately assumes I ought to be in a position to jump to a snap decision. We over here take a very serious view of the decision-making process, for which we bear responsibility.

I can assure the member I will fully discharge my responsibility as Minister of the Environment in terms of taking every possible and reasonable step to protect the environment. As to his specific question, my position remains unchanged. Whether the mechanics may vary by virtue of working towards a joint hearing process or some other process with the National Energy Board, I am not prepared to answer right now because of the new wrinkle that has entered the consideration.

Mr. Smith: Final supplementary, Mr. Speaker: Is the minister aware the emissions allowed to Hydro under its control order would mean that fully 27.9 per cent of Hydro's SO2 emissions will be due to this purchase of power by General Public Utilities by 1990? Is the minister, under those circumstances, aware of the importance for his acid rain program? Is he particularly aware of the fact that he keeps saying it might not all be generated from coal? Is he not aware that Mr. McClymont and Mr. Niitenberg of Hydro have both told us it will be entirely from coal stations.

Surely, as Minister of the Environment, he ought to know that by now. But if he is right and some of it is going to be fixed power generated

Mr. Speaker: Order. by nuclear fission, will the minister tell us whether the recipient of that clean power is going to take responsibility for the nuclear waste that is created by the generation of that power?

Hon. Mr. Norton: Mr. Speaker, I am sure the honourable member knows where the responsibility for nuclear waste lies in the jurisdictions within this country.


Mr. Cassidy: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Attorney General, arising out of his statement to the House on the immunity from prosecution of Cecil Murray Kirby, the man responsible for the explosion that caused the death of a Chinese restaurant worker three or four years ago. The statement by the minister is that Mr. Kirby received an undertaking not to be prosecuted for any past conduct, but that he would be treated like any other person in so far as activities since last fall are concerned.

Can the minister explain how it is that in June of this year Mr. Kirby was put on two years' probation because of unrelated offences? A month later, police officers were apparently accomplices to incidents in a hotel where Mr. Kirby is alleged to have seriously beaten a young woman, and then they spirited him away. Despite evidence there was certainly a prima facie case for an offence having occurred. which would have been a violation of probation, nothing has been done, no action has been taken.

Can the minister explain how it is that if Mr. Kirby is to be treated like any other person in so far as activities since last fall are concerned, nothing was done by the police officers who were aware of the young woman screaming, and of her condition when she emerged from the hotel room, and that the police officers acted to protect Mr. Kirby from any action by police, when it would appear he was in quite flagrant violation of his probation?

3 p.m.

Hon. Mr. McMurtry: Mr. Speaker, the suggestion contained in the Globe and Mail that police officers were nearby when an assault took place is, of course, a very serious allegation. and one that did not come to my attention before I read the Globe and Mail this morning. I am advised by my law officers the conduct of the police is being investigated very thoroughly by the Peel Regional Police and that the Royal Canadian Mounted Police are also conducting

I cannot assist the leader of the New Democratic Party further in that regard except by saying I am advised in respect to the allegation of assault that the young woman herself made a very strong plea to the police that charges not be laid. I think this fact was mentioned in the Globe and Mail account. As a matter of fact, her lawyer did reflect on the "very helpful" and sympathetic attitude of the Peel Regional Police.

I do not know all the details, but I am advised she made a very strong request that the charge not be laid and that the Peel Regional Police, who would have to rely on her information, acceded to her request.

Mr. Cassidy: Supplementary, Mr. Speaker:

My friend the member for Riverdale (Mr. Renwick), who is learned in the law, points out that that matter is irrelevant when an offence has occurred. I remind the minister of the statement by the hotel employee that when the young woman came into the lobby of the hotel after the incident she was bleeding and her face was badly bruised and swollen, and of the statement by the woman's lawyer that one of his client's teeth was knocked out and another cracked in the assault. In effect, the situation is that until this article appeared in the press today Mr. Kirby had immunity to commit mayhem and any kind of offence, and the police were simply going to turn a blind eye to it because of his co-operation with respect to the matter of organized crime. Surely that reflects a disrespect for the law.

Could the minister explain how that could occur and how it is that, apparently, police officers may even have participated in violating section 23 of the Criminal Code by spiriting Mr. Kirby away from the scene of a criminal offence?

Hon. Mr. McMurtry: Mr. Speaker, I will repeat what I said earlier. That aspect of the matter is under investigation at the present time. I first learned of it this morning, and when I have the results of the investigation I will advise the House accordingly.

Mr. Worton: Supplementary, Mr. Speaker:

When the minister and his officials made the decision to grant Mr. Kirby immunity from the charges of bombing that restaurant did they take into consideration the people in business? In fact, one firm in Guelph lost $100,000 in equipment, and the insurance companies would not pay it because it was a questionable incident; they were not sure whether it had been bombed or not. an internal investigation.

Were those things taken into consideration when the minister made his decision to grant immunity to this fellow who was running roughshod over people?

Hon. Mr. McMurtry: Mr. Speaker, I will repeat again what I said in the statement. The bombing incident, which occurred in the spring of 1977, I believe, had been thoroughly investigated. Regrettably, the police had absolutely no leads whatsoever. As a matter of fact, the suspicions they had, I am advised, actually led in quite different directions with respect to that. The only evidence that was available and that the police thought or would advise us they could ever expect to come to their attention was Mr. Kirby's admission of this very serious offence, and that admission would not be admissible against him in court.

In respect to granting him immunity, it was an undertaking not to prosecute. As of this date, the police have no evidence on which they could prosecute Mr. Kirby because, after a careful review of a number of circumstances, the statement given by Mr. Kirby to the police was given in circumstances that would make it inadmissible in court. The simple fact is that notwithstanding Mr. Kirby's admission, which stands by itself, there is no evidence upon which a prosecution could be launched.

As I tried to emphasize in my statement, the decision to give any undertaking not to prosecute is, of course, something that is done extremely rarely. In this particular case, it was not done lightly. It was not done until three police forces -- senior officers of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, the Metropolitan Toronto Police and the Ontario Provincial Police, I believe -- together with senior law officers of the Ministry of the Attorney General, reviewed the matter with extreme care before coming to that conclusion.

As I attempted to emphasize earlier this afternoon, the decision was based on what was in the best interests of the public. In this case, notwithstanding his admission, the police do not have any evidence, even at this date, which could be the basis for a successful prosecution, because of our rules of evidence. Because of the circumstances under which that statement was made, the court would rule it inadmissible. That was the state of the situation. What has to be recognized is that the decision --

Mr. Cassidy: The Attorney General criticized the Globe and Mail, but he did not know what was happening and he was not acting until the Globe and Mail had that story.

Hon. Mr. McMurtry: I think the wisdom of the recommendation made to me has been borne out by the successful investigations that have been made since that time, and by the fact a number of people have already been successfully prosecuted. I think the police have demonstrated that in this situation they acted prudently, wisely and in the public interest.

Mr. Renwick: A supplementary question, Mr. Speaker: Will the Attorney General clarify for the assembly the nature of the undertaking given to Mr. Kirby? Is he telling the assembly the undertaking was a general, unlimited, open- ended undertaking not to prosecute Mr. Kirby for any offences preceding that date, or was it limited to specific matters disclosed to the police by Mr. Kirby about his conduct in the past?

Hon. Mr. McMurtry: Mr. Speaker, my understanding of the undertaking is the latter, that it was only in respect to information provided by Mr. Kirby to the police about which the police did not have any independent information with which to prosecute Mr. Kirby. That is my understanding of the undertaking.


Mr. Cassidy: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Minister of Community and Social Services with respect to the very serious situation at the Greenacres Home for the Aged institution in Newmarket, which has now been documented both in a report by the union of the workers involved there and in a report that has now been submitted to the council and to the community services department of Metropolitan Toronto.

The basic needs of the 557 residents are not being met because of inadequate supplies, equipment and staff. Is the government aware, for example, that there are no, or virtually no, facecloths, that some beds have no blankets at all, that there is inadequate clothing to cover the residents, and that the staff is being told to break wooden tongue depressors in half because there are not enough to go around? Is the minister aware that, according to the Metro report, there are only two bathtubs and four toilets to serve 80 residents on the first floor of the facilities, many of whom are either confused or incontinent? That is the situation there.

My question to the minister is, what action does the government intend to take and will he guarantee immediate funding to Metro for

Greenacres to relieve the crisis, which now jeopardizes the health and welfare of residents and staff.

3:10 p.m.

Hon. Mr. Drea: Mr. Speaker, in terms of the funding, obviously the leader of the third party does not understand the financial budgeting arrangements. We are always liable. There is no ceiling on any deficit that has been incurred in the course of operation of a municipal home for the aged.

I would point out to the leader that there has been no request from Metropolitan Toronto in 1981 for additional funding in regard to Greenacres Home for the Aged. It is my understanding that there are two investigation documents. One was compiled by the union and has been challenged by Metropolitan Toronto. It is my understanding that this morning there was a document prepared by Metropolitan Toronto concerning Greenacres. The basis of the document compiled by Metropolitan Toronto was the approaches they would take to this ministry.

The ministry has been aware of various investigations or various inquiries into the Greenacres situation. Indeed, the consultant to the ministry has been involved with Metropolitan Toronto in taking a look at that particular home for the aged. It is also well known -- maybe not yet but it will be some time this afternoon -- that I spoke to my good friend, Alderman Chong this morning and I have spoken to my good friend the Metro chairman. They know that I am very sympathetic, in terms of funding, to whatever the particular difficulty is at Greenacres.

Mr. Cassidy: Supplementary: It may come as news to the Metro people that they can spend anything they want and then get a blank cheque from the province to make it up. Could the minister explain why it is that Greenacres, in fact, according to this report, has not yet had its 1981 budget approved by the province? It is pretty hard to ask for extra funding if one does not even have the regular funding for 1981 approved.

Today is November 12; that is some seven or eight months into the fiscal year -- or even 11 months, depending on when their fiscal year begins. Why is it that they have, in fact, been kept without approval until now? How can they get the extra facilities they need if, in fact, they have not even had approval of their regular budget? Why is the province trying to treat

Greenacres like any other home for the aged in the province, when in fact it has 10 times the number of people requiring special care of any other home for the aged in Ontario?

Hon. Mr. Drea: Mr. Speaker, first of all the province is not treating Greenacres like any other home for the aged and the honourable member knows that. If we are, then why did we give increases particularly designated to meet its needs in 1980?

I suppose one of the particular peculiarities or differences with Greenacres is that Greenacres, in the Metropolitan Toronto system of homes for the aged, is not like others. Instead of a mix of patients, as is the norm in municipal homes and in charitable homes for the aged, Greenacres has become a centre for the more difficult cases from the entire Metro system. We have been looking with Metro, as I pointed out before, to try to see whether we can be of assistance in the light of Greenacres taking the more difficult cases from the system --

Mr. Cassidy: No.

Hon. Mr. Drea: Don't shake your head at me because you know it is true.

Mr. Cassidy: It has been there for 25 years and you woke up to the problem yesterday.

Hon. Mr. Drea: Mr. Speaker, we have been addressing it for many years. The simple fact of the matter, in terms of their budget not yet being approved, is that it is obviously not the normal budget for a home for the aged.


Hon. Mr. Drea: I can't hear you.

Mr. Speaker: Order.

Hon. Mr. Drea: Mr. Speaker, I assure the House that I, the Minister of Health (Mr. Timbrell), and indeed the Metropolitan Toronto social services committee are doing two things:

One, we will obviously meet whatever inadequacies there are in funding based upon the accepted formula. The member knows what the formula is. If he does not, he can turn to his successor, the honourable member for Scarborough West (Mr. R. F. Johnston); it was explained to him the other day in great detail. No reasonable request by Metropolitan Toronto will not promptly be met, provided it is within the formula.

Mr. Smith: Supplementary, Mr. Speaker: Would the minister not agree that, due to the lack of nursing home beds and the lack of chronic beds in the Metro area, Greenacres has become de facto a nursing home, with 90 per cent of its residents requiring extended care and special facilities of this kind?

In these circumstances, since the government's ill-thought-out freeze on nursing home beds over the last few years has led us into a situation where a place that is supposed to be a home for the aged, giving residential care, has in fact become essentially a nursing home, would the minister not agree that a place of this kind should come under standards that are similar, at least, to those minimal standards that apply to nursing homes?

Would the minister, therefore, undertake to make sure that an institution with such a high proportion of its residents receiving extended care coverage meets standards similar to those that apply to nursing homes?

Hon. Mr. Drea: I think I understand what the Leader of the Opposition means. I do not want to get into a debate on semantics about nursing home standards and so forth.

The particular home for the aged is far more than a nursing situation; it involves rather substantial amounts of care, and one reason is, it is the only institution within the Metro system of homes for the aged that specializes in those cases. No matter what else is done, that particular situation is going to be there.

In terms of the short-term needs, there is no question that is entirely within the purview of my own ministry and Metropolitan Toronto. However, the leader makes an extremely good point about the long-range future. In consultation with my colleague the Minister of Health and with some people at Metropolitan Toronto, I suggested certain initiatives today. If those initiatives are responded to on the long-range basis, we will be very glad to share them with the House.

Mr. R. F. Johnston: Supplementary, Mr. Speaker: Does the minister not understand that, with the homes for the aged not having physical standards in comparison with nursing homes, Greenacres has each nursing station looking after 20 to 40 more beds than are the standards in Ontario nursing homes at the moment? It has half the number of tubs that nursing homes require under present legislation under the Ministry of Health. Ventilation, staff facilities and dining facilities are inadequate in comparison with the standards that are there for the Ministry of Health.

We have been hearing horror stories for the last number of years about nursing homes. We are now hearing them about this particular home. Is it not time that the minister got together with the other minister to undertake a major investigation of the standards and quality of care in nursing homes and in homes for the aged around this province, so that we will all know what is going on?

Hon. Mr. Drea: That same question was asked by the same person about a week or so ago in the estimates. My answer is the same today as it was then. But I want to make it quite clear that, while there may be a controversy about the Greenacres home, I am in a position -- and I am sure my friend the chairman of Metropolitan Toronto would echo it -- to say that the people in there are getting an exceedingly high degree of care.

Mr. Cassidy: Read the report.

Hon. Mr. Drea: There are a number of reports; the leader of the third party keeps raising one up.

Mr. Cassidy: This is the Krueger report and it is devastating.

Mr. Speaker: Order. The minister is responding to the member for Scarborough West.

Mr. Foulds: Not very well.

3:20 p.m.

Hon. Mr. Drea: Oh, exceedingly well. Mr. Speaker, just to come back to the Greenacres home and to put it into perspective when words such as "horror stories" are used: There may be controversy about certain standards in the home, there may be controversy about the equipment in Greenacres, there may be controversy about the level of staffing, but I say straightforwardly to the member for Scarborough West that the use of the words "horror stories" is not justified by any single fact.


Mr. Peterson: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations. The minister will be aware of the $25-million rape of Canadian Admiral, the subsequent run-up in debt and the subsequent call by the banks that drove that company into bankruptcy. In answering a question the other day, the Minister of Industry and Tourism (Mr. Grossman) said he was looking for heroes, not for villains. The job of the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations, of course, is to look for villains in this piece.

What steps has the minister taken to investigate this matter, either through the Ontario Securities Commission or any other agencies he has at his disposal to look at this situation, to see whether there are any fraudulent preferences of any type and to make sure it will never happen again?

Hon. Mr. Walker: Mr. Speaker, I would say that obviously -- and it is not transmitted in the honourable member's question -- there is no doubt on this side of the House that there is a great deal of concern and a great deal of sympathy for the state that some individuals at the moment find themselves in. The Minister of Industry and Tourism is doing as much as he possibly can to help find, as the member says, "the heroes" -- which is an earlier quote of his -- and see whether it is possible to find a successor in this whole process.

In terms of our own involvement, one of our involvements is in the pension fund area. Our people moved in very quickly to ensure the pension funds were intact and that the funding was there, and satisfied themselves there were sufficient funds and that everything was okay. That is one aspect that has been done. In so far as the member refers in his news conference to the Ontario Securities Commission and what it might do, the fact that Canadian Admiral is a private company means the commission has absolutely no involvement.

Mr. Peterson: It wasn't at the time of the takeover.

Hon. Mr. Walker: I think it might be worth reinvestigation on the part of the member to verify that. It might be a bit of shoddy research. I would suggest he might take a look at that, but it has been my understanding that what I said is the case. Although it did make a public filing, the fact of the matter was that the securities commission advised it was unnecessary to do so, because the commission has no direct involvement whatsoever in it. It is not what is called a reporting issuer and, that being the case, it is not necessary to submit a prospectus on any matter nor is it necessary to provide any financial statements as required under the act. The securities commission is, to use the legal word, functus, or has absolutely no power of intervention, no power of involvement.

If the member were to raise another question relating to the Corporations Act, we in Ontario have the Business Corporations Act, but that does not apply because both companies, Canadian Admiral and the parent company, York Lambton, are federally incorporated companies and, as such, come within the federal jurisdiction, that is, under the Canada Business Corporation Act. To the extent we were involved, which was only in the one area of pensions, we were into the business within a matter of hours on hearing the announcement, and satisfied ourselves the pension funds were intact.

Of course, I know the member has spoken to the Minister of Industry and Tourism or raised questions with him, and he will know how much that minister is directly involved in attempting to find a proper successor for it. I gather he is somewhat optimistic about the whole matter.

Mr. Peterson: Supplementary, Mr. Speaker: I am somewhat hopeful; it is the first time I have seen the minister bleed for the disadvantaged.

But let me just point this out to him: Admiral was only 99.71 per cent owned by York Lambton until there was a series of manoeuvres to try to take out some minority shareholders, so it was subject to securities commission legislation. In fact, it filed a takeover circular with the commission. That should have put the minister on notice. There was notice there was going to be a $25-million strip of that company. There may not have been laws to protect it, but there should be laws to protect against that kind of rape of a company.

I want to know what the minister is going to do, if he is not choking the Ontario Securities Commission to death as it currently exists, to beef up the law so that this can never happen again and so that these people will not be out of work because of this kind of transaction. Second, I want to know what the minister is doing about a potential fraudulent preference to the banks against several small suppliers to Canadian Admiral that are now in the position of laying off people, losing bad debts to that company and putting a number of other small companies in a very serious position.

Hon. Mr. Walker: Mr. Speaker, if we assume that the facts set out in the member's statement are correct -- and we have not had time to check out the details, although we find from what has been said today that some of them appear to be wanting -- the fact of the matter is that Canadian Admiral has never been a publicly traded company. As a wholly-owned subsidiary of Admiral International Corporation, it was sold to Admiral Corporation and subsequently acquired, as he mentioned, by York Lambton.

The member has stated that 99.71 per cent of the shares were acquired by York Lambton. Although York Lambton filed a copy of the takeover bid, a takeover circular, with the Ontario Securities Commission at the time of the new share issue and the special dividend -- and this is a point I reiterate -- they were not required to do so because a publicly traded company was not involved.

At present there is nothing in our law to prevent the shareholders of a company from determining how they will use the assets of the company they control. If the shareholders determine to wind up a company and liquidate its assets, the law permits it, subject to certain protections such as the bankruptcy and insolvency legislation, which protects creditors, and other legislation dealing with employees' rights and pension benefits.

In this case both York Lambton and Canadian Admiral are companies incorporated under the Canada Business Corporations Act. To the extent that any of their activities may be subject to control through that legislation, the responsibility has to lie with the federal government. If the activity that has been mentioned and that the member raised -- the shareholders dealing with the assets -- was criminally fraudulent, then the Criminal Code is there to deal with the matter.


Hon. Mr. Walker: I think I have answered the question.

Mr. Speaker: Order.

Hon. Mr. Walker: Perhaps the member would like to rephrase another question which might be useful to answer.

Mr. Peterson: Mr. Speaker, I have a point of clarification, because there has been a dispute about the facts here. I want the minister to know this, and I think that after I bring this point to your attention, sir, you will agree it is in order.

Canadian Admiral was traded over the counter. It was not a private company; it was a public company. It subsequently moved to take out some minority shareholders --

Mr. Speaker: Order. The minister did address that, and he clearly said it did not.

Mr. Peterson: His facts are wrong, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker: Perhaps they are, but that is not for me to judge.

Mr. Cassidy: Supplementary, Mr. Speaker: What is the minister prepared to do about what amounts to a blatant case of corporate murder, which took place when York Lambton took over Admiral Corporation? Specifically, is the minister consulting the Attorney General (Mr. McMurtry) and the Minister of Revenue (Mr. Ashe) with a view to preparing conspiracy charges against York Lambton and the American company, which got together and appear to have conspired to evade corporate income taxes by means of the purchase and subsequent dividend strip? Second, will the minister undertake to bring in securities legislation in this province that will prevent that kind of blatant corporate strip in the future?

Hon. Mr. Walker: Mr. Speaker, under what authority would we be involved in that? I have told the member for London Centre --

Mr. Cassidy: Protecting the workers.

Hon. Mr. Walker: Oh, come on now I

Mr. Speaker: Order.

Hon. Mr. Walker: Don't be quite so fussed up on something. When you stand up don't make such a fool of yourself.

Mr. Speaker: Will the minister please answer the question?

Hon. Mr. Walker: Yes. I will try to avoid making reference to the "fool of himself" again.

The Ontario Securities Commission can only be involved in a publicly traded company. That is what it is all about; it has nothing to do with private companies.


Mr. Mackenzie: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Minister of Health. Will the minister assure the people of Hamilton we can have an early and firm date for the start of construction on the recommended health care facilities for Hamilton East and that there will be capital funding available?

3:30 p.m.

Hon. Mr. Timbrell: Mr. Speaker, if the honourable member is speaking about the east-end facilities for Stoney Creek, we just received the final report within the last month. I hope to be in a position by early in the new year to announce to the people of that area our decisions with respect to that report. The member for Wentworth (Mr. Dean) has discussed the matter with me extensively on a number of occasions, inasmuch as the proposed facility is to be constructed in his constituency. I hope to be in a position to announce that early in the new year.

In the meantime, we have approved 100 nursing home beds for the east end, and we have a further report from the health council with respect to a psychiatric program, about which we have asked for further details. We are prepared to deal with that expeditiously as well.

Mr. Mackenzie: I am sure the minister is aware of the long fight by many people, including my predecessors in this House, for that facility. The rumours flying around Hamilton are that we will have to wait until at least 1983 before we see any start. I trust that is not the case. Will the minister assure us there will be the full range of facilities needed -- in particular 24-hours-a-day emergency care, not the 16 hours that is recommended -- and also that there will be adequate holding beds in the facility?

Hon. Mr. Timbrell: As the honourable member knows, but others would not, the report is extensive in dealing with a variety of matters, from family medicine through to emergency medicine and allied services, including social services. I will deal with all those matters when we finish the review, which I hope can be done fairly quickly.

Mr. Smith: A supplementary question, Mr. Speaker: When the minister reports to the House, will he also assure us it will be the government's intention to make certain there is a purchase of sufficient land, and that the planning of this facility is compatible with the further expansion of the facility as growth occurs so it can turn into a full-service hospital? Will he assure us they will not build a facility incapable of rational expansion for the purpose of being a full-service hospital eventually?

Hon. Mr. Timbrell: This is the very point the member for Wentworth, who is the local member, has drawn to my attention. I pointed out to him, as we have to the council and to local, interested individuals, that, as a matter of course, the only time the ministry gets involved in the cost of purchasing land for health facilities is when it is a teaching hospital. With respect to community hospitals and related facilities, we do not share in the cost of acquisition.

I understand there are discussions under way in the local community to see if the local municipality has some land it might put forward. That is a factor I am considering. As the member knows, the report recommends a five-acre site. It has been suggested by the local member and others that a minimum of 15 acres would be more desirable. Looking to the longer- term future, I think there is some merit to that argument. As I pointed out, the usual cost sharing arrangements do not, as a matter of course, include the cost of land.


Mr. Kennedy: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Minister of Labour. Would the minister provide an update with respect to the situation the employees find themselves in at the moment regarding Canadian Admiral? Second, I understand the receiver is now going about his business of disposing of assets on behalf of the secured clients, the bankers. Is there any recourse, any remedy in law or even outside the law, whereby some of those assets might be used towards providing the employees with the benefits for which they are eligible under our legislation?

Hon. Mr. Elgie: Mr. Speaker, with respect to the first part of that question, which dealt with what is owed to workers at Canadian Admiral, both in Mississauga and in Cambridge, inspectors of the Ministry of Labour did move into both plants last Friday, and I expect a report later this week on exactly what is owed to each worker in terms of wages, holiday pay, pension benefits, severance and termination.

The issue the member is really putting is with regard to whether the agent and the receiver have the right to sell off goods. That is a matter that comes under the Bank Act and the Bankruptcy Act; it is beyond my jurisdiction and really gets into federal legislation.

The issue that has concerned many of us, and we have heard many questions about it in this House from time to time, is protection of the worker's wages. I think every Minister of Labour since 1975 has written to the federal Minister of Consumer and Corporate Affairs indicating that we felt there should be some change in the bankruptcy legislation to give greater protection to the wages of workers in respect of bankruptcies and insolvencies.

Mr. Kerrio: Why don't you start here?

Hon. Mr. Elgie: I like to speak when I have an opportunity without that wonderful man, the member for Niagara Falls, interjecting and adding useful information.

I like to think it was those comments that led to the setting up by that minister of the tripartite Landry committee, which is scheduled to report to the federal House later this week or early next week, on the very issue of what can be done to give greater protection to the wages of workers in incidents of bankruptcies and insolvencies.

Mr. Renwick: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order: The minister is unintentionally misleading the House. The company is not in bankruptcy. The Bankruptcy Act does not apply to the company. The matter is solely within the jurisdiction and authority of the Minister of Labour; the minister ought to know that. I trust that he will stop making the statement that the responsibility for this matter lies under the Bankruptcy Act, when it is a receiver who has been appointed by the bondholders.

Mr. MacDonald: As a lawyer, you should know.

Hon. Mr. Elgie: If the honourable member had been listening, I said that one was acting under the Bank Act, which is the case of the banks, and in the case of the other creditor, which is the Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec, it has entered in through other legislation; so I am not in error in that regard.


Mr. Samis: On a point of information, Mr. Speaker: Could I bring to your attention the fact that the leaders' questions today, by my calculations, took up 42 minutes of the question period? I think that is outrageous.

Mr. Speaker: You are absolutely right; and my time keeping is exactly the same as yours.

Mr. Sargent: Mr. Speaker, on a point of information to the Minister of Revenue about the 565,000 people who are waiting for their cheques: How many --

Mr. Speaker: Order.



Hon. Mr. Wells moved that the standing committee on public accounts be authorized to travel to Ottawa, on Monday and Tuesday, November 16 and 17, 1981.

Motion agreed to.

3:40 p.m.



Hon. Mr. Ashe moved, seconded by Hon. Mr. Bernier, first reading of Bill 166, An Act to revise the Motor Vehicle Fuel Tax Act.

Motion agreed to.

Hon. Mr. Ashe: Mr. Speaker, this bill will implement the coloured fuel program for tax- exempt middle distillate fuels which was announced by the Treasurer (Mr. F. S. Miller) in his budget of May 19, 1981.

Middle distillate fuels only become taxable if they are used in the engine of a motor vehicle required to be licensed under the Highway Traffic Act or in vehicles and vessels operated principally for personal pleasure or recreation. Some of the well-known products included in this range of fuel are diesel, kerosene, stove oil and furnace fuel.

There are two main reasons for introducing a coloured fuel program into Ontario at this time. One is to safeguard the tax revenues of this great province, and the other is a desire to reduce the paper burden associated with the highly regulated system currently in place to administer this tax.

Because of the nature of middle distillate fuels, which makes them highly interchangeable with little effort, products that are normally put to a tax-exempt use can very easily be switched to a taxable use, or tax-exempt fuel can be sold at a tax-included price, with the seller pocketing the tax portion as profit.

With the price of fuel increasing at a rapid rate, the potential for misuse of tax-exempt fuel also increases, resulting in a potential loss of provincial tax revenue. The new coloured fuel system will prevent such tax evasion.

Mr. Smith: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order: I notice it is the intention of the Minister of Revenue, according to the statement he has been kind enough to hand to us, to read a very lengthy four-page statement on the introduction of this bill.

Perhaps you could draw to the minister's attention that it is customary to read such a statement during the period set aside for ministerial statements. At the time of presentation of a government bill, a brief explanation of the bill is usually considered to be sufficient.

Mr. Speaker: Thank you. I ask the minister to make any comments he is going to make to explain the bill as briefly as possible.

Hon. Mr. Ashe: Mr. Speaker, I was aware of the issue as raised by the Leader of the Opposition and took that into consideration, but I felt it was appropriate, as I was at this end as well, not to use up the time of the House vis-à-vis the question period. I did expand considerably upon the normal first reading statement, because I thought the issue was of some importance to the House. But if you so rule, Mr. Speaker, I can leave the details to second reading.


Mr. MacQuarrie moved, on behalf of Mr. Pollock, seconded by Mr. Mitchell, first reading of Bill Pr36, An Act respecting the Township of Chandos.

Motion agreed to.


Mr. Eaton moved, seconded by Mr. Jones, first reading of Bill Pr25, An Act respecting the Township of North Dorchester.

Motion agreed to.


Mr. Rotenberg moved, seconded by Mr. Mitchell, first reading of Bill Pr19, An Act to revive Jacinta Investments Limited.

Motion agreed to.


Mr. Smith moved, seconded by Mr. Nixon, pursuant to standing order 34(a), that the ordinary business of the House be set aside in order to give all members of the House an opportunity to receive and debate the information from Price Waterhouse and McLeod Young Weir concerning the purchase of Suncor that has been provided only to Progressive Conservative members.

Mr. Speaker: The notice of motion complies with standing order 34, and I will be pleased to listen to the honourable member for up to five minutes as to why he thinks the ordinary business of the House should be set aside.

Mr. Smith: Mr. Speaker, I know that you are only too well aware of the recent events in this House, since they did cast all of us, and particularly yourself, in one of the most unfortunate positions that anybody can recall in the conduct of democracy in Ontario. This House had closure invoked on it for the first time in perhaps a century --

Hon. Mr. Welch: That is not true.

Mr. Smith: The Minister of Energy says it is not true, but it had closure invoked on it in a very serious situation and what surely must be accepted as a very rare event in Ontario's history. Closure was invoked by the Minister of Energy after consulting, no doubt, with the Premier (Mr. Davis) on the telephone. The Premier was in Ottawa.

This is a very serious matter indeed. I have been here for six years; that is perhaps a relatively short history compared to some members. I find it a very grievous matter when the government can spend $650 million which with added interest ends up being well over $I billion and, depending upon how you calculate it, may be in the billions, and can do so with no reference to the Legislature.

We in the opposition ask not for secret information, not for the site of intended drilling or any information that would be considered sensitive and that would normally be kept from public eyes or from the eyes of people other than the principals of the deal, but simply for the basis of the deal.

In other words, we ask to have shared with us information that would lead a reasonable person to enter into a deal of this kind on behalf of the people of Ontario. We ask only for information which said on what the Premier could base his estimate that they expect a 15 per cent return.

We ask only for information related to how the government was going to pay for this purchase and whether there might not be serious implications for money leaving this country if it decides to use dividends and profits as a way of paying for the second half.

We ask only for information which the government must have had, and which one cabinet minister, the member for Armourdale (Mr. McCaffrey), said must exist in "bushel baskets", to come to a decision as serious as the one the government reached.

We ask only for information of that kind and, instead of information, we have had closure. But imagine the chagrin that anyone who believes in democracy would have to feel when it is brought to our attention that a range of panellists and experts who allegedly were consulted by the government in coming to the decision to make this purchase are not available to us.

3:50 p.m.

We are treated only with contempt and with closure. They are not made available to the standing committee on general government, where a Tory majority is used to snuff out debate, but they are made available to the Tory caucus because those worthy members, having been kept in the dark as much as we were and as much as the vast majority of members of cabinet were, are coming under some flak from their riding associations and constituents.

Those people, like everyone else in Ontario, are now beginning to ask, why would a province that does not have the money, that has to borrow it all at high interest rates, that is putting the squeeze on health, education and social services, buy a company, not in one of the declining industries here, not in an industry that has a great future for Ontario such as electronics, not in an industry in serious need of help lest it has to lay off thousands of people, but in an industry whose primary job is to extract oil from the tar sands of Alberta and to do so in a way that guarantees not one extra barrel of oil or one extra job for Ontario?

Instead of our being given that information, apparently it has been given to the Tory caucus. Either they were given additional information or they were not. If they were given no additional information, why in heaven's name would it be required to have a half a dozen panellists talk to those worthy people to tell them what already has been written plainly in letters which contain none of the answers to the questions I asked at the beginning of this speech? If they were given information, we want to share that information in this Legislature.

Mr. Cassidy: Mr. Speaker, I see the member for Leeds (Mr. Runciman) is here, and I see that the member for Prince Edward-Lennox (Mr. J. A. Taylor) is here. I hope, when the government has its five-minute time to comment on this motion of urgent public importance to set aside the ordinary business of the House, that a member of the Conservative Party on the back benches will comment on and support the effort which the Leader of the Opposition and myself are making to have this matter debated this afternoon.

I suggest to them that if what they learned in the caucus today is defensible, they have an interest in getting the matter out to the public and, if it is not defensible, they have an interest in getting it out to the public so that before November 20 by their rights they can get cabinet to withdraw from the deal. But to have it in a hole-and-corner, confidential kind of way, it seems to me, does them bad and probably jeopardizes their seats. We all know that, apart from anything else, they like having their seats and would prefer to be in this place than not.

We are going to support this motion. We have been attempting in a number of different ways, among other things by breaking parliamentary history, to try to get the information into this House, not because we accept the view of the Leader of the Opposition that the deal is automatically suspect and should be tossed out, but because we believe the public has a right to know when $650 million is being spent.

We also believe the public has the right to judge whether 25 per cent is the correct proportion of Suncor to be taken, whether we should have taken a bit less or whether we should have had the advantages of full control by taking 51 per cent, since obviously that would have been available had the government decided to bargain for that much.

I find it interesting the Liberal Party has become such a convert to the question of public disclosure of information when it comes to government intervention in the private sector. In May 1980, we had the debate on the Massey-Ferguson deal. At that time the New Democratic Party moved that the Massey deal be postponed, that it not be taken up immediately, because the government behaved with respect to information about the Massey deal in precisely the way it has behaved with respect to the Suncor deal.

We said the information about the deal, including Massey's five-year planning, should be made public if we were going to commit ourselves to a guarantee of $78 million. We said we should know what job guarantees were being provided and whether there was any agreement about parts sourcing.

We said we should know who was in control of the company, a matter that was very much in doubt at that time, and we said we should know what studies the government had undertaken about the possibility of taking control of Massey in the situation it was then in and investing directly in the company rather than guaranteeing its issues of shares.

The Liberals who now want the information opposed us on that; they supported the government at that time, even though now they say they want the information. I am glad to see them converted. I do not know where the devil they were a year and a half ago. It would have been nice if the dedication to full disclosure when it comes to government intervention in the private sector had existed a year and a half ago and had not just been discovered over the course of the last few weeks.

I suggest as well that it is ridiculous for the government to argue, as they have, that they had to agree to confidentiality because Suncor would not otherwise have made a deal. We need to find out what was really happening there, and the only way we can do it is to get the experts who have already testified before the government back-benchers to testify in public in a way that the press would be able to tune in on.

We will do our best. The New Democratic Party will hold hearings. We hope to get them going by Monday or Tuesday of next week. And we will call those experts, because the minister has once again indicated he will not have a legislative committee hear this matter.

Suncor has been through five, 10, or was it 13 different prospective buyers, and they all turned the company down. They were desperate to find somebody who could turn it into a Canadian company that would qualify for the incentives under the national energy policy. Under those circumstances all that was required was a bit of backbone on the part of the government to say:

"Well, we are sorry, boys. If this were the private sector, you would not be required to make this information public. But you are dealing with the government; you are moving into a new ball park, and in that ball park there is a requirement about the public's right to know."

The government should have insisted already that Suncor make the information available, that they go around the agreement, that they provide the kind of information we have been looking for by every means possible. In addition to that, if, as we have been told, there are bushel baskets of information and studies prepared by the government about this particular deal --

Mr. Speaker: Time.

Mr. Cassidy: -- then lots of that information does not deal with what Suncor told the government, and that could have been made public already.

Mr. Speaker: Your time has expired.

Mr. Cassidy: I do not know why the government is doing this to themselves. Day after day they reveal themselves as arrogant, insensitive and --

Mr. Speaker: Time has expired.

Hon. Mr. Welch: Mr. Speaker, the notice of motion that is before the House under standing order 34(a) does provide each party with an opportunity to speak to it, appreciating that you have to rule on whether the motion is in order and of urgent public importance. I understand that will follow these various presentations.

In a spirit of being helpful in this matter, I draw attention to the notice of motion and in particular I underline certain words in that motion which I think we should understand; that is, we are going to set aside the orders of the day to give members an opportunity to receive information that has been provided only to Progressive Conservative members and, indeed, to debate information that has been provided only to Progressive Conservative members.

I assure you, Mr. Speaker, there is no information that has been provided only to Progressive Conservative members and, as I indicated to the House in the exchange earlier today, the information that is available has been tabled and is in the public domain.

However, I think it would be unfortunate if we were to give the public any opportunity to feel there is something sinister about this matter of information. Indeed, I think the air could be cleared if the Speaker in his wisdom felt it in order to have such a debate. I think it would be a healthy exchange, since any of the information that has been made public has been filed and we can now debate it. We will see the extent to which that information has been reviewed by all members of the House.

Under the circumstances -- and it is not for me to decide; it is your decision, Mr. Speaker -- we welcome such a debate on the information that has been made available to all members, there being no privileged group among members here that has any additional information. Indeed, it might serve the public well, who I am sure must be somewhat confused by the accusation of attempting to suppress information, which is unreasonable and absolutely without foundation in fact.

The sooner we get on with the debate, if that is your decision, the sooner we can clear up all this mystery that surrounds the information. We will see who has read the information that is currently in.

4 p.m.

Mr. Cassidy: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker: So that the minister is not accused of hypocrisy, will he in the interests of clearing the air also agree to have the matter referred --

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

I have listened to the submissions of honourable members of all parties with a great deal of interest, and I do find the motion in order. The question before the House is, shall the debate proceed?

All those in favour say "aye."

All those opposed say "nay."

In my opinion the ayes have it.

The debate shall proceed.


Mr. Smith: Mr. Speaker, right from the beginning we have had, unfortunately, an attitude on the part of the government designed to undermine the utility of this debate, inasmuch as it obviously has no intention of sharing with this House information given to the members of the Conservative caucus by the so-called experts who appeared. If the government had good faith, it would tell us what -- and perhaps we will hear it in subsequent speeches -- the experts said to the Conservative caucus.

Even knowing the members of the Conservative caucus and their difficulties in reading and their difficulties in understanding fundamental concepts, I still cannot imagine they would have sat there for a few hours this morning and listened to nothing. I have to assume they were told something. Even more than that, I have to assume at least a few of them understood what they were told. I have to ask, therefore, that in one of their speeches one of the Conservatives will have the decency to stand up and say what it is they have been told.

We have been in touch with Suncor, and the highest officials in Suncor tell us they would be quite willing to share the information that was given to the Ontario Energy Corporation. They would wish in one or two sensitive areas to white out certain specifics of the information -- and we have always agreed that would be understandable and acceptable; we do not wish to tell the public where Suncor is finding a bargain in its materials or where it intends to build a new refinery, if it intends such a thing, or where specifically it intends to drill its next hole. We are not interested in stuff that would be considered truly confidential. But Suncor is willing to let the Ontario Energy Corporation divulge the vast majority of the information it was given.

Hon. Mr. Welch: Subject to the confidentiality agreement.

Mr. Smith: Not so; not so. I say on the record now that we have spoken to the senior officials in Suncor, and they have told us that subject to being able to white out certain specifics, certain small --

Hon. Mr. Welch: That is subject to the confidentiality agreement.

Mr. Smith: No, not at all. They are not insisting upon being bound by that confidentiality agreement. They are prepared to reveal the information they gave to the Ontario Energy Corporation as long as certain very specific matters of a kind that are never revealed are whited out.

I have always said publicly that there would be such information, and I have given examples of it, if the minister would only listen instead of being so taken with listening to his own stream of unfettered hypocrisy. He might do better to listen to what we have said.

The simple fact is that this government is hiding because it knows it has hastily reached a conclusion. It was something done by one or two people, the Premier (Mr. Davis) and Malcolm Rowan. It was sold to the Minister of Energy (Mr. Welch). The Minister of Industry and Tourism (Mr. Grossman) probably thought it was okay because of public opinion regarding the Canadianization program. The Treasurer (Mr. F. S. Miller) hated the idea. And probably nobody else even heard of it.

We know this matter has been dealt with in the utmost secrecy. It was interesting to hear the Attorney General (Mr. McMurtry) speak of a conspiracy of silence in the Mafia and of shrouding matters in secrecy. The Mafia has a lot to learn from this government.

We have read the information very carefully. In the information that has been tabled, no one can find an opinion that it would be prudent to buy those shares and that it would be a good investment for Ontario. All that has been tabled is a record of the profitability of the company in the past. Based on that profitability, this company will never earn the kind of money the government says it is going to earn. Obviously they are basing their earnings prediction on something other than past earning statements. That is evident and anyone who reads the statements can understand that.

They would have to increase their earnings by about 600 per cent over the last reported earnings for the government to be able to earn the kind of profits they are speaking of, if they are going to be able to take $100 million a year out of the company for the next 10 years, as Mr. Rowan said. So they must have information other than what they have told us about.

Furthermore, they say there is going to be a 15 per cent return. I defy the minister to show us anything in the material he has given us in his compendium which can imply to anyone there will be a 15 per cent return on this purchase, let alone explain how he is going to get 15 per cent over and above the 17 per cent cost of money. The ministers have already said it will have to be 15 per cent above the cost of money, otherwise it will be a losing proposition. I defy him to show us where a 15 per cent return can be inferred from the information that has been tabled in that compendium. It is not there. It is impossible to do so.

Therefore, whatever information the government may have had to lead it to believe there would be a 15 per cent return is obviously being put in the realm of the confidential. It is some kind of secret information they have that says the company is miraculously going to earn 15 per cent, because it is certainly not in the information we have been given.

Then we have the question of how they are going to pay for the thing. Sadly, Ontario does not have any dough and they have to borrow it all. This is one of the very sad things that has occurred under years of consecutive Tory rule. We have to borrow all that money. Now they say they will borrow $325 million and the rest will be taken out of profit. We pointed out if they did that, for every $I they took out of profits $3 would go to the majority shareholder, the Sun Oil Company of Pennsylvania, a company that never before has taken money out of the company or out of the country. "Oh," they say, "perhaps we will borrow it differently; perhaps we will not pay for the $325 million out of profits; we will just increase the deficit of the province over the next several years by letting the Ontario Energy Corporation take out bonds." There is no revenue in that corporation so it would simply increase the deficit.

Was the caucus told anything about that? Does the member for Prince Edward-Lennox (J. A. Taylor) know how they are going to pay for it? Did they tell him? Is it going to come out of profit or is it going to come out of additional deficit?

Mr. J. A. Taylor: We'll sit down and have a heart-to-heart talk.

Mr. Smith: We will have a heart-to-heart talk, that's fine; but does he know how they are going to pay for it? It does not look to me as though he knows how they are going to pay for it. Does he know how they are going to get 15 per cent yield on this company? The member for Prince Edward-Lennox and the member for High Park-Swansea (Mr. Shymko) cannot possibly know whether any other investment was considered as an alternative. If the government has $650 million available -- which they do not, they had to borrow it -- why would they not use it to support the basic Ontario industries that are in desperate need of improvement? Why would they not use it on a high technology industry that has a future? Why would they not use it on alternative energy so we do not have to depend on oil that comes from outside the province? Why would they not use it in fuel alcohol or in the development of peat which could create none of that information -- none at all. Was the member for Prince Edward-Lennox told any of that today?

Mr. J. A. Taylor: No.

Mr. Smith: No, he was not. What was he told today?

Mr. J. A. Taylor: I do not have any information that you do not have.

Mr. Smith: There we have it. The member for Prince Edward-Lennox apparently sat through an entire caucus meeting and was told absolutely nothing. One wonders why he stays in that party. If that is the case, his intelligence has been insulted. He sat there for two hours being harangued and told nothing. That is what the man would have us believe, though it is very difficult.

Was the minister in charge of making sweet speeches to the handicapped and the elderly, the Provincial Secretary for Social Development (Mrs. Birch), who I am sure has done a great deal, told anything she did not know before this morning? Did she learn anything today that she did not know before? Did she learn anything or not? She is not telling us this at all.

4:10 p.m.

The fact is people in Ontario are absolutely mystified at how a government would take $650 million and decide to spend it on a company in Alberta whose main enterprises are located outside Ontario, with the exception of the refinery. It is not necessarily in the public's interest to own a refinery. They have taken money and spent it in a way that does not create a single job in Ontario, and which does not guarantee an additional barrel of oil for Ontario.

They have thrown around figures and said, "The brokers tell us it is a good deal." The brokers have said no such thing, apparently. They say we will make 15 per cent. There is no basis for that in the information we have. They say we will pay for it out of profits. There is no basis for that in the information we have. There is no basis for anything in the information we have.

Based on the information we have received, we cannot possibly understand the government purchase nor any of the statements made subsequently. Today six experts talked to those worthies in the Tory back benches, and they would have us believe they told them nothing. Whatever they did tell them, we want to hear, and we want a debate in this House. thousands of jobs in Ontario? We were given

Mr. Foulds: Mr. Speaker, I rise in support of this motion. A strange evolution has occurred over the last few weeks in terms of the debate on this matter. The issue before us is the issue of secrecy. Surprisingly, the issue is not one of public ownership versus private ownership. The issue today is not even whether the $650 million is well spent or not -- although that will become the issue if the opposition gets what it is seeking through this debate and other legislative procedures.

The issue is simply this: Why has the government failed for three weeks now to supply the documentation it has to justify its acquisition of 25 per cent of Suncor? The second question is: Why did the government feel it necessary to use closure a week ago last Tuesday in the debate, and not, as the Leader of the Opposition said, to use disclosure of the facts?

Because talk in the back rooms of the Legislature and an article in today's issue of the Globe and Mail refer to my use of the rule under which the government acted, I point out two differences in the situation. On June 4, 1979, when I moved that a previous question be put, there had been an all-party agreement about the apportionment of debate that night. It was a Thursday night -- when we debate reports -- and for the first half hour we were to complete the report of the public accounts committee. For the last hour and a half we had agreed to debate the important matter which had been before the social development committee, the closing of the Lakehead Psychiatric Hospital.

My colleague, the then member for Lakeshore, Patrick Lawlor, had a particular interest in getting that on. We thought we had an agreement on that. That agreement was not lived up to. Therefore, I moved on a number of occasions to put the previous question. Ironically, the Speaker did not put the previous question until the normal adjournment time of the House. So the matter was different in substance; it was different in procedure.

In retrospect I made a mistake then. It is a mistake I will live with for the rest of my parliamentary life. The use of closure by the government minister Tuesday last will be a mistake which will haunt that government for the rest of its parliamentary life, because it epitomizes in a nutshell the reluctance of this government to be straight and honest and fair with its constituents, and with the members of the opposition. Closure, as moved by the government, was an admission that it had no answer to the demands put by the opposition that the documentation be made.

What disturbs me, as a member of this Legislature and a member of the public, is that the decision to go with the purchase of 25 per cent of Suncor was not even taken within the parameters of what we normally think of as responsible government in the parliamentary system. It is apparent the cabinet was not consulted. It was not a cabinet decision. It is apparent it was a decision hatched in secret by four or five of the top level "in" ministers and by their advisers. Not one jot of information has been made available to this Legislature or to the public of what led to that government decision. The government decision was a reversal of its previous stand in terms of public ownership in the oil industry. It had sold out its interest in Syncrude. This time it bought in. That is a major reversal of government policy.

I think the public and the opposition have a right to know why the government made that reversal. We have not one tittle of evidence from the cabinet, from the Premier or from the Minister of Energy, of what led to that sudden and major reversal of government policy. I believe one of the reasons we took it over is revealed in the Premier's flip comment that he wanted to call it Brampton Oil. I suggested we should call it OPEC, the Ontario Petroleum and Energy Corporation.

The Premier is obsessed with technology. He was obsessed with technology when he was Minister of Education; he has been obsessed with technology through his history as a parliamentarian; and now he wants a piece of the technology in the oil industry. Then when he goes to the table with Prime Minister Trudeau and Premier Lougheed he can say, "I have a quarter of an oil company in my pocket." He wants a new technological toy to play with.

The position of my party is clear. We support Canadianization. We support the principle of public ownership. But we do not support the expenditure of $650 million when there is no guarantee the company will be Canadian- owned. We do not support becoming a junior partner in a United States-owned oil company. What we have managed to do with only a 25 per cent interest is little more than to bail Suncor out. At 51 per cent at least we would have accomplished the whole goal of Canadian ownership and public involvement.

It is well known the petroleum industry throughout the world has the most sophisticated corporate intelligence operations in the world. To suggest in this House the release of information provided by an investment house would somehow weaken Suncor's competitive position is utter hogwash.

I think it is interesting that the government has failed to answer the substance of questions put by myself and others on the Order Paper the day after the deal was signed. I read to members the second part of question 145: "Would the ministry table the agreement in principle reached and presumably signed on Tuesday, October 13, between Ontario Energy Resources Limited and Sun Company Incorporated of Radnor, Pennsylvania." Answer: "As it may unduly impact on the final negotiations now under way, it is not appropriate to table a copy of the commitment letter dated October 13, 1981, at this time."

4:20 p.m.

Why not? How would it impact on the agreement? How would it weaken their negotiating position? How would it betray information to opponents of the deal or to Suncor's competitors? There is no explanation. How can he expect us to accept such a weasel-like answer?

I would also like to point out to the minister that during questioning in this House I myself indicated to him that, as the previous speaker has just suggested, if he made documentation available with certain parts of absolute confidentiality whited out it would, at first glance at least, be a sign of good faith.

The minister has not yet given that sign of good faith. In fact, because he was getting pressure from his back-benchers he arranged what he hoped would be a private and secret meeting with his caucus to give them information that would not be available to the Legislature generally and to the members of the public.

If the minister wants to be helpful, if he wants to be open, if he wants to be straight with the people of Ontario, then he will reveal the additional documentation before the general government committee, make the panellists available and allow tough and active questioning so we can get to the root and the truth of this matter.

Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.

Hon. Mr. Gregory: Mr. Speaker --

Mr. Kerrio: You are going to be going Socialist whether you like it or not, is that what you are going to say?

Hon. Mr. Gregory: That is precisely what I am not going to say.

Mr. Speaker, I do not wish to debate the merits of the purchase that is contemplated but rather to comment on some of the misconceptions, particularly on the part of the Leader of the Opposition, when he talks about caucus meetings.

There is nothing clandestine about a caucus meeting. Of course I have been around for only about six years; there are many who have been around for much more. I suppose the very nature of caucus is that it is an opportunity for a party to discuss things among themselves.

Mr. Stokes: After the fact?

Hon. Mr. Gregory: I do not know what the member opposite talks about in his caucus, and I am certainly not going to comment on that comment.

Hon. Mr. Welch: They were going after some facts.

Hon. Mr. Gregory: Yes. As our Deputy Premier points out, our caucus members were after some facts.

The information that was given to us --

Mr. Stokes: The facts after the fact.

Hon. Mr. Gregory: What did the member for Lake Nipigon say about people who interjected when he was Speaker? I think he used to call order and say, "The gentleman does not have the floor."

Mr. Nixon: No. He said, "Ignore the interjections."

The Deputy Speaker: That is just what I had in the back of my mind: "Ignore the interjections."

Hon. Mr. Gregory: I am trying to ignore the interjections.

Mr. Stokes: I used to call members to order who were provocative, too.

Hon. Mr. Gregory: Right. Well, you are being provocative.

As the Deputy Premier has stated, the backgrounding of the caucus was a simple request, relayed by me as party whip at the request of certain members of caucus, to have a discussion --

Mr. Nixon: So it was your fault that you are in this mess.

Hon. Mr. Gregory: I will take the blame for it if the member wishes.

They said they would like to have a discussion about the matter in point, Suncor. The Deputy Premier, the Minister of Energy, was kind enough to arrange for some people to come to caucus and have a discussion.

The sore point on the part of the Leader of the Opposition particularly and that other chap who leads the third party seems to be that they did not get the same treatment. There is no way the ladies and gentlemen opposite can ever expect we in the Conservative Party are ever going to invite them to our caucus meetings. I know that really comes as a shock.

Mr. Kerrio: Why don't you try it? We won't come.

Hon. Mr. Gregory: Frankly, the reason is that we do not want those members: they would add nothing to the proceedings. Maybe when that member gets to be leader --

Mr. Foulds: That is a statement the minister is going to live to regret.

Hon. Mr. Gregory: I doubt that.

The point is that we had a caucus meeting and we discussed this, as we discuss many things. I have heard from the House leaders of both parties about certain delegations they have met. I do not think we have cried all over the place saying we do not have that same information. I wonder how many times unions have been at the caucus of the New Democratic Party. I imagine it is quite often and I imagine they get much information we are not privy to.

Mr. Foulds: Actually not as often as we would like.

Hon. Mr. Gregory: I do not know who their friends are, if the members of the opposition party have any, but I expect they do have caucus meetings in which they entertain delegations. They do not send us the details, and we do not cry about that fact, because I doubt very much if anything exciting happens at their caucus meetings anyway.

Mr. Stokes: You are missing the whole point and you know it.

Hon. Mr. Gregory: Mention has been made of the motion last week which --

Mr. Stokes: Really, this is unworthy, even of you.

Hon. Mr. Gregory: The member should not listen then. If he wants to leave he will probably not be missed.

Mr. Nixon: Most of your colleagues left. Hon. Mr. Gregory: There has been some discussion about the motion last week which the member called a closure motion. As has been mentioned, the member for Port Arthur has used the rule in the book of calling the previous question, which he --

Mr. Foulds: The trouble was it wasn't invoked until adjournment time.

Hon. Mr. Gregory: Yes, he squirmed out of it a minute ago or attempted to.

The fact is, it was not closure, it was calling the previous motion after about two and a half to three days of debate. I hardly think that is closure.

The point was there were other things that had to be considered such as cheques that had to be paid to people whom the members in the third party normally cry about. They did not care whether they got their cheques in this case.

Mr. Kerrio: There is quite a change in philosophy over there.

Hon. Mr. Gregory: The other point I would like to comment on is the continual blabbering I get from the Leader of the Opposition about my appearances at committee meetings. The morning in question, in the general government committee, when I suddenly appeared and everybody started hooting and hawing about, "Here cometh the axeman" or something, was at a time when the Leader of the Opposition was there and the House leader of the third party was there, but the whip of the government party was not supposed to appear.

I find this a little strange, but it has come to the point where it is pretty predictable because we know when the Leader of the Opposition goes to a committee, like a cowboy -- who was the chap from Sarnia who used to do this all the time; he jumped around and got things going and then he jumped to another committee? I cannot remember his name --

The Deputy Speaker: You are making your way to the resolution I am sure.

Hon. Mr. Gregory: Yes, I am doing that, Mr. Speaker. This cowboy routine is, of course, a new phenomenon -- at least in the House under a majority. The Liberal Party leader and the New Democratic Party leader go into the committees because I guess they are the only fellows who have the authority to say anything over there and the other bodies follow them blindly on every opinion they have.

However, I just want to assure members I will continue to come into these meetings. When I see the cowboys from the other side going in, we might as well have a cowboy from this party as well.

Mr. Philip: Just because we do a cowboy routine does not mean we need to have Gabby Hayes coming in to tell all the others what to do.

Mr. Nixon: You have to be a certain age to get that.

Hon. Mr. Gregory: Yes, I guess so. It escapes me anyway. Did you every notice how there are only about half the number of horses' heads on that side as there are the other ends.

Anyway, I just find this motion is one that would be expected from a loser and that is exactly who it came from.

Mr. Nixon: We are, as usual, glad to hear the remarks from the honourable Conservative whip. He always --

An hon. member: So gracious.

Mr. Nixon: He never disappoints us with the quality of his contribution. In this instance, I feel he has misled the House substantially, inadvertently of course, because he feels the tenor of the motion put forward by my leader is simply that we want the same treatment the government caucus received today. That is only part of our requirement, because obviously we require the answers to the questions my leader has put before the House on many occasions, having to do with the expected profitability of the purchase and whether or not the security of energy supply is going to be any different than it is at the present time before the purchase is complete.

As members know, many of us are waiting with a great deal of interest for the budget that will be read in the House of Commons tonight by the federal Minister of Finance, Mr. MacEachen. As a matter of fact, Mr. Speaker, you in your generosity have provided a special television set, on the opposition side at least, so that we can get the good news as soon as it is read in the House of Commons. I would say the high level of interest in this budget is because of the desperate situation so many businessmen, farmers and home owners are experiencing in this province. Certainly never in my experience in politics or as a farmer has there been so much economic and fiscal pressure brought to bear on the farming community.

I do not want to waste more than half a minute bringing to the attention of the House the fact that the price of soybeans is down from $10 a bushel last year to less than $7 this year. The price of corn is down from $4 last year to considerably less than $3 this year. At the same time interest rates many farmers are required to pay are approaching 25 per cent and other costs are going up in proportion.

4:30 p.m.

The pressures they are experiencing are severe and have led them to call on this government on many occasions with their strongest voice and most efficient lobby for programs of assistance. We have been told time and again this is a federal matter, even though it was the policy of the government party in

Ontario in 1975 to have interest assistance for payments over 12 per cent. Mr. Speaker, you would certainly recall that since you were active in that election in at least some capacity.

The main argument is we do not have the resources to undertake these programs, that there are cutbacks in education, in particular at the post-secondary level, and cutbacks in hospital and medical services, all on the basis we do not have the money. We have a problem, and I know the Conservative members do as well when they go to their constituents and are asked how the government finds the resources of $650 million to purchase 25 per cent in Suncor when it does not have the resources to meet, even in some small measure, the problems that are more extreme now than in my almost 20 years of experience in public life.

If they think about it they must recognize this must be the biggest problem we as politicians face, even beyond whether the purchase of Suncor is intrinsically correct and in the best interests economically and otherwise of the taxpayers. The real question is how they can find that sort of money when they cannot do anything for the programs that are obviously so urgent in our own communities.

More than any other reason, that is why the back-bench Tories have for once been applying very small, polite pressure on their masters. They must feel as much as we do that the Premier, emerging from many months and years of humility -- from his point of view the humiliation of a minority government -- is now flexing his political muscles in a way which probably gives him gratification but which is difficult for the members of this House and this community to accept.

It is apparent that over the objections of the Treasurer of Ontario he has decided, with what support in cabinet has not been made clear, to go ahead on his own hook with the decision to commit $650 million of our taxpayers' resources. It is almost as if he was sitting at home watching television at night saying: "I am the most powerful person in this province. It is about time I let the people know that." To take this sort of unilateral decision is very much out of character for the Premier who, for many years with perhaps a few lapses, has been rather careful at least to try to bring the people of the province along with him.

There are rumours which ring true to me that there could be the advice of a pollster, maybe even a pollster hired by another jurisdiction, who could tell him and the members of the government the only popular thing the federal Liberals have done in the last few years has been to create Petro-Canada. I believe in many respects the initiative taken by the Trudeau Liberals is extremely popular. One of the worst and most politically destructive decisions taken by the Joe Clark Conservatives was to oppose it. They soon backed away from that with their usual grace and vigour.

But the message has somehow been picked up by the sensitive political antennae of the Premier and one or two people who advise him. I do not believe the initiative could possibly have come from either the Minister of Energy or the Treasurer, who is absent from this debate, no doubt for good reason.

The Premier announced this even though he had been in his own caucus a few minutes before and had not let his own people, the backbone of his support, in on this matter. He referred it to his cabinet only a few minutes before making the announcement. It is incredible and completely out of character.

The first reaction of many people who talked to me was: "Maybe that is all right. After all, why should we let Alberta have all the advantage of the oil? Let us buy in there and get some of the advantages for ourselves as a province. We are the consumers."

We looked at this. If it were going to ensure supply, if there were going to be some way the Premier of Alberta could not turn the tap off on us the way he did a few months ago, maybe that would be an advantage. But that is not the case. Alberta controls the removal and the development of the resources and their distribution within the boundaries of the province.

Are we going to make money? The Premier mentioned it was going to be 15 per cent. There was a time when a 15 per cent profit looked pretty good, but if we are borrowing $650 million at 20 per cent to buy a quarter of Suncor with the possibility of making 15 per cent, it does not look as good. The Treasurer has clearly indicated that he has never heard there was to be any 15 per cent profit; whether it is basic or overall remains to be seen. He indicated this was something that appeared in the newspapers and he did not know anything about it.

He had forgotten that both the Premier and, I believe, the Minister of Energy had referred to that level of possible profitability. I see the Minister of Energy giving me a beady eye; so perhaps I should remove him from that and indicate that certainly the Premier -- Mr. MacDonald; Just one McMaster alumnus to another.

Mr. Nixon: Well, I recognize it when his eyes get beady. I figured he must have found a point. After all, I knew him when his principal title in McMaster University was Master of Debate, and I do not want that fooled around with in any way. I tell you, he earned all of those laurels.

When the Premier came in and announced in a casual way this new initiative and did not put a compendium on the table, I say modestly that I believe I was the first to raise it as a point of order. His first response was, "I do not think that applies." He left out, in parentheses, the words, "to me." Then when it was pursued he said, "Well, if you want more information, come on down to the press conference."

It was almost as if he was trying to goad the opposition into the kind of response which -- not so much he, because he is not around here very much -- the Minister of Energy and others who have got to carry the ash cans from time to time have had to put up with. There was a condescending approach, that the rules of the House do not make any difference to him.

It was not until his own back-benchers got home and realized that some of their own thoughtful supporters wanted to have some information: "Are we going to control the oil? How much money is going to be shipped over to the United States? What is the chance of us getting the advantages of Canadianization when we only have 25 per cent turned over to Canadian -- that is, Ontario's -- control?"

In other words, the justification was left out completely. As far as we can see, the only justification was the one the pollsters would predict; and it is a good thing for the Premier, who for reasons of his own would like to be considered a mover and shaker on the national scheme of things, a person who is now casting his eyes to a broader field of political activity. Perhaps there will be some useful reason for him to do such a thing that was not apparent to us.

I suggest very strongly that when the Minister of Energy finally takes part in this debate -- and he can do so very effectively, as we know -- he should indicate that the government is going to bring forward a motion referring the matter to the general government committee, with the indication that, with the agreement of the House, it will supersede all other matters. We can call in the witnesses that were at the government caucus and others and pursue this matter as it must be pursued for the good of democracy and for the good of the province.

Mr. MacDonald: Mr. Speaker, this whole issue is developing into a spectacle such as I have not seen in my 26 years around this House. What I find saddest about it all is that the Minister of Energy, who throughout most of his career, and particularly when he emerged as government House leader, brought a little order out of the general chaos around here because he levels and is straightforward, has done nothing but dissemble, get up and be specious in his argument through all of this episode. He knows he is being specious. I insist that he knows he is being specious, because I have too much respect for his intelligence not to realize that he knows he is being specious. He is trying to defend the indefensible.

The minister got up this afternoon. It was a beautiful ploy; it was worthy of -- I do not know exactly what, but it was worthy of something or other. "There is an atmosphere that has been created that there is a sinister plot to withhold the information," says he, "and we really have to put an end to that sinister plot. We have to clear up this mystery."

4:40 p.m.

If there is a mood of sinister plot developing out in the minds of the people, let us review what has happened in this whole thing. In the first instance, the minister brought in a compendium of information -- or whoever brought it in or did not bring it in to begin with -- and that was a sham.

I do not know exactly what is the responsibility of the Speaker in this House when the rules of the House are in effect broken by a sham compendium. A compendium of information, in the rules of the House, is the background information with regard to a policy; it is new information we do not have now. That is the understanding of a compendium. That was the purpose of why it should come forward.

What did they give us? They gave us two- or three-year-old or 18-month-old statements of policy that were made by the Minister of Energy and others. They gave us the annual report of Suncor, which was a public document that everybody had before. And then they insulted our intelligence by saying, "This is a compendium of new information which explains why the government came to its conclusion." I repeat, it was a sham. It started as a sham.

Second, it was so unsatisfactory that when the minister got up last Tuesday he read every line three times to try to give greater substance and novelty to it, because he could not persuade even his own back-benchers with his specious arguments. His whip had been under relentless pressure and had to do something; so he called a special meeting of the Tory caucus. The minister had to bow, but he cracked the whip and a panel of six people came from the companies we have been trying to get information from about what they said to the government.

Does the minister want us to believe that when that panel of six came they gave no more than he gave? How stupid does he think we are? Not stupid enough to believe that. If they were asked questions, they gave information. If they gave information that was in addition to what the minister gave, he has not done his job, and the government back-benchers are stupid or something. They could not understand the minister; they could not appreciate it. He had to do something to supplement his inadequate job. He had not persuaded them; so he called in this panel.

Now the speciousness pours on. The minister says, "You can have the same privilege." Suddenly the generosity: all of us in the opposition can have the same privilege. "We are going to invite the same panel." I invite the same panel, and I ask him to make certain that they come to the New Democratic Party caucus meeting at 10 o'clock next Tuesday morning, in our caucus room. Will the minister see that they are all there? If he does not, he has not fulfilled his promise. We will ask questions of them.

Furthermore, this is not a hole-in-the-wall effort to enlighten those not bright enough to understand the minister's words of wisdom to begin with. This is going to be an opportunity for them to say what they want and to respond to our questions. It will not be left in that shroud of mystery that he regrets so the people will say: "I wonder if they got any more than the minister gave us. I wonder if perchance they asked an embarrassing question."

No. Everybody in the media can come to our caucus meeting. I announce it: everybody in the media can come to our caucus meeting. We will hear that panel, and we will finally get what we should have had in an orderly fashion in the general government committee if the Tory back-benchers who now are unhappy about it had not responded to the cracks of the whip and blocked that taking place.

Let me go to the final point where the sham continues. It is really ludicrous. We have a debate this afternoon; we are spending a whole afternoon. Regretfully, we are really wasting a whole afternoon, because the purpose of it is what? To receive and debate the information given by Price Waterhouse. Has anybody given us the information that was given by Price

Waterhouse? Or are we to believe that Price Waterhouse did not give anything more than the minister gave last Tuesday night? We are not debating that; we cannot debate that. So the sham proceeds -- on and on it goes.

We could have solved this thing in a sensible, rational way that would have been worthy of the Minister of Energy before he sunk to the depths he is now operating at in this issue. We had an amendment before this House last week through which he could have got out of the impasse over supply. We could have voted on that amendment and given supply for another month and set up a committee that would have looked at all of this information, which the Leader of the Opposition says he is now assured from a high officer in Suncor is not secret and much of it can be given.

We could have winnowed through all of that information. We could have all agreed, as we did when we went through the Re-Mor documents, that whatever was legitimately secret, competitive information should be held secret; the rest of it would have been public. In other words, the government would have cut out their dissembling and their speciousness, and they would have made the information available.

If the minister has nothing to hide, why does he not stop trying to hide it? Bring them all out here, all those bushel baskets of information which one of the minister's colleagues in cabinet said are sitting in his office or in the office of the Treasurer. I know there are bushel baskets of information. Just bring them out, just be open; don't try to close them.

Perhaps this debate is necessary to let the public see how this spectacle goes on and on. Regretfully, it is not achieving the purpose of getting a closer idea of what Price Waterhouse has to say on the issue, because Price Waterhouse is not here and we do not know what went on in the cabinet, but we will have a chance next Tuesday.

I repeat -- I sit down on the repetition -- will the minister make certain the panel is at our caucus meeting in our caucus room -- or elsewhere if we deem it necessary, and we will let him know -- at 10 o'clock next Tuesday morning with all the media invited to come and hear?

Mr. G. W. Taylor: I am pleased to participate in this debate, Mr. Speaker, and welcome the opportunity to do so. There have been many statements made about this matter, and I am quite surprised. What would be the normal route to take in a government transaction or any transaction we involve ourselves in, and what route has the government or any individual taken on this matter? We have seen this develop.

I have heard the Leader of the Opposition state his point, and I am quite surprised how he can twist words and his reasons for it. Yet in the filibuster the other evening he and his colleagues in his party were willing to extend that filibuster in an area unrelated to the matter he was concerned with, being a compendium, which even lacks a definition as to what the contents of a compendium might be.

He was willing to extend that filibuster for who knows how long, holding ransom the paycheques of the workers, the sick and the children of this province. He and his colleagues joined in that, unrelentlessly carrying on the filibuster. I am rather shocked at that procedure.

When one looks at this transaction as a member of the government party, either as a cabinet minister or as a back-bencher, one looks at what would be the normal route. If one were a shareholder buying on the market, what would be the normal route one would take in purchasing a share of this company? Let us look at it. One would ask some financial advisers what would be the reasons for buying this share or this entire package of shares to gain control or to obtain equity in the corporation. When one proceeds to do this, naturally one makes certain analyses and then makes a decision.

The opposition always wants to reason, to find out and discover what the background reasons are for this. What alternatives did we have? That gets to the heart of cabinet secrecy and, sometimes, discussions that take place in caucus. There must be a reason for making these decisions. When government buys, it is not always the same as when an individual buys. There may be more reasons, the same reason, fewer reasons or indeed a greater reason.

There are reasons given in the compendium that is before the House now. There is the point-form rationale, which is a very good rationale to proceed with when purchasing a company such as this. Canadianization, a seat at the table, crude oil self-sufficiency of the future -- all of these are put forward as reasons.

Another one is a description of Suncor, one of the leading oil companies in all fields of oil for this country and for the future: the tar sands, the Beaufort Sea, the Arctic islands, Labrador. We look forward to securing our oil self-sufficiency in all those areas.

We also look forward to a fully integrated program of oil from discovery through refinement and into the service stations. A window on the industry is not an unusual request. The federal government has taken that step, and it seems to have the approval of the public for its purchase of the companies that indulge in oil and give it a greater voice in the oil industry in this country and in the world.

4:50 p.m.

Some say: "Why Suncor? Why put the money in it as compared to other programs?" We would all like to see our favourite programs supplied with greater funds so they may proceed. However, a decision must be made. When one looks at the part the oil industry plays in our economy, the public will applaud this transaction in the future and why we put the money in there, saying that it was a good deal and that it will be a good deal for all of us in the future.

When one of the members mentioned Syncrude, saying the Suncor deal was a change in government policy, he forgot to say the change was that we got into purchasing Syncrude when Syncrude was in a situation where it might not proceed. There again, Syncrude was purchased and subsequently sold at a profit for the government. This one may follow the same route, and I definitely hope it will.

In the marketplace, there is a textbook analogy of how to purchase these shares. The government did not go astray from that textbook method of purchasing shares. They hired analysts. The Minister of Energy made the offer to the opposition parties to have in these people we had in our caucus; they will learn we got no greater information than is currently there. I do not find what we asked them an insult. We asked them to give an explanation of the purchase and the methodology, how they went about arriving at their conclusions, which were then presented to the government.

When one sees and hears the methodology, it is no different from what one gets from any analyst on the market. It was a very thorough one, with cross-checks and cross-references, as to how one would go about purchasing shares in an oil company or purchasing an entire oil company or purchasing an interest in an oil company.

This was not done lightly. It was done very thoroughly. Thousands of man-hours were put in before the information was offered to the government and to the Ontario Energy Corporation so they could make their decision. When one hears of that background, it is only reasonable that the government would make this purchase.

Mr. Sargent: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker: Will the honourable member please tell us who spent these thousands of hours?

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Cousens): That is your point of order? The member for Simcoe Centre may continue.

Mr. G. W. Taylor: One would have to assume those thousands of hours were spent by the firms listed in the compendium, McLeod Young Weir and Price Waterhouse, who did the critique of the information and provided it to the officials of the government, who finally made the decision. It does not take a great deal of debate or thought to arrive at that conclusion.

The material is there for those who want to read and interpret it. Many people in this House, particularly those who generally ask questions from the opposition benches, have not been reading that material. They have not been making the assessment. They want to be spoon-fed material, answering the question 'Why did you buy it?" in the simplest of terms. Naturally, we do not need that on this side of the House. We have done our homework. We have asked our minister.

It astounds me that the opposition people would not have asked these individuals to appear before them to supply them with more information, or the minister to supply more information.

Then we get to the point of secrecy. In any transaction, one enters into a document with confidentiality. That is no surprise. In my legal career, I entered into and advised on many of those for clients both purchasing and selling. It is no astonishing procedure, particularly in this situation. Had the individuals discussed that with cabinet, had they discussed that with caucus, how much greater would have been our chances of making this transaction? I would have said they would have been lessened greatly by the public knowledge of what was taking place. There would soon be greater competition.

I look at what was possible in the United States and the position they were taking in regard to another Canadianization of an oil company. What would have been the influence the United States government might have had on this transaction, thus taking it out of the realm of opportunity for the people of Ontario to obtain such an oil company, to secure their oil future?

Then one looks to see if it fits in with the philosophy of the Tory party. When one looks at the history, one must look at the conservative and the progressive parts of the Progressive Conservative Party. When one looks at the energy fields that we have gone into on an experimental basis, before other nations have gone into them and before other jurisdictions, it fits in there.

The questions being asked by those who are Tories out there are only saying, "Why are we in it?" When the explanation is given to the people in the country, in the province, in my riding, as to why we purchased it, where the money is coming from and what the purpose is in the future, the reasons are accepted.

At our London policy conference, the reasons were given there; they were acceptable. That is, again, a method that is taking place in our caucus, among our members, so the information can go out further as a way of explaining why we got into it, the reasons in the future as to why we will stay in it and why the government entered into the situation.

I think the Premier, along with his Minister of Energy, has made a decision that will stand firm for the future and so we can look back at this as we have on Petro-Canada, as the federal government fully knows. The Liberal Party, I am sure, supported the federal government in its acquisition; I did not hear too much comment about that during the previous election, or during our election. That seemed to be touted as an exceptional deal, and I think this one will have the same characteristics when it is finished and totally assessed.

When one looks at the newspaper analysis and the financial analysis of this program, there appears to be great support for this purchase by those editorial writers, by the financial analysts and by many other individuals. So when one completes the total analysis of this, the support for it will be more than just a minority.

Mr. Van Horne: Mr. Speaker, it is my view that we really have one issue to address ourselves to here, and that is the issue of the rules of this House. I submit to you that when we have the statement in section 26(c) of the rules of the House that there shall be provided a compendium, we have to look at that, and we have to look at it for what it is intended to be.

I submit that when the government can come into this chamber, present itself to the duly elected members of the opposition and say the annual report and the two covering letters provide what is intended to be provided in that word "compendium," the government treats us with total and absolute disdain.

As a member of the opposition, as a member who has been duly elected to look at what is being done by government and to comment on what is being done by government, I cannot sit silent.

I attempted last Tuesday to make my case. We all know the events of last Tuesday evening. We all know that when the Deputy Premier took the floor, closure was going to be invoked. Earlier today, the Deputy Premier said that he was simply putting the question. I ask him not to play word games with us, because no matter how you choose to word it, the definition comes out the same; it is closure.

I commend the Speaker of this chamber for allowing the debate to continue this afternoon because, in my view, we must address ourselves to the provision of information in fairness to all members.

5 p.m.

I do not think the things we are asking for are all that secret. Earlier this afternoon my leader indicated that we had contacted Suncor and that they felt information could be provided if a certain number of details were blacked out. In spite of that, we have not received the information which should be forthcoming.

Beyond that, we have a situation wherein the government or a handful of the caucus of government apparently have made a decision without the total involvement of cabinet in the beginning, and this decision has had to be explained to the government caucus itself. That is the story in today's Globe and Mail which has been the source of comments earlier this afternoon in this House.

We have, in spite of the arguments put forth, a statement made by the party whip that they do not want us in their caucus room. The implication is that perhaps may be the only place any elected member is going to get information.

Once more, that kind of statement reflects an arrogance that is absolutely suffocating. We members on the opposition side have been duly elected. We have the rules that the House has agreed to, and the government has not lived up to those rules. How can the Deputy Premier, in all honesty to himself, look in the mirror and say, "I have done the democratic thing"? I do not think he can say that.

I feel badly. I felt badly last Tuesday night being removed from this chamber. But I will tell members, I have to submit that the leader of the

New Democratic Party and my House leader, the member for Brant-Oxford-Norfolk (Mr. Nixon) --

Mr. Cassidy: I was forced back in. That's even worse.

The Acting Speaker: Order.

Mr. Van Horne: The point is that no one does this lightly. No one stands up to interject or interrupt and does that lightly, in my view. It is a serious matter. But the point has to be made somehow. The point has to be made that we are supposed to be living in a democracy here in Ontario, and the process that we have, agreed to by all, is one that enables us as legislators to look after the needs and, of course, the finances of the people here in Ontario.

I do not think in my elected years as a provincial member or in my time as a municipal politician that I have had an issue that has caused more reaction in my community than the set of circumstances we have been dealing with in the last few weeks in this chamber.

I have had phone calls and people dropping by my house to observe that they simply cannot understand the need for all this secrecy. Let me say that the people who are making these comments to me are not necessarily Liberal supporters. I would say a good third of them are people I have not seen before. They found out somehow or other that I was at home or living in a certain part of the city and they dropped by to tell me this or they came into my office.

The more interesting thing is that about two thirds of the folks who are speaking to me are very supportive of Conservative philosophy, or have been supportive over the years. Now their support is slipping. I do not say that necessarily as a threat to the government, but it should be of concern to the government that the reaction of people out there in the community is: "Why? Why are they not telling you? Why are they not telling us?"

We tried to make a case for questions to be answered in the early part of this debate. What would one expect to find in a compendium? One would expect to find ample reason for this being considered a good deal. But how can we tell? How much is this really going to cost us? How do we know? Whose decision was this, really? Why does the government of Ontario feel it has a need to be in the oil business?

When the government provides nothing more than two covering letters and an annual report that is available in chambers of commerce across the country, there is nothing secret there. There is no information there that will answer some of those questions for us.

At the same time, if we are concerned about finances here in Ontario and the deficit which we are told faithfully each year the government is gravely concerned about, how can the government express concern in one breath and turn around and indicate it is somehow or other going to manage such a vast expenditure of funds, adding to the deficit and giving no reasons why?

In the last 30 seconds I have, let me go back to the point I made at the beginning. The real issue is the democratic process and the rules of this House. One either lives with them or one does not. One either has a democracy in living with them or one does not have it. In my view -- and I am sorry to say this -- we do not have democracy in its truest sense in this House. We cannot have it when we have a government that so arrogantly stifles elected members of the opposition.

Mr. Cassidy: Mr. Speaker, I want to enter this debate because I have been trying to see what means are possible to get information about the Suncor purchase made available to the public and to the leaders and members of the opposition parties. It is a matter of public interest when one spends $650 million.

The Minister of Energy is in the House right now and I take it --

Hon. Mr. Welch: And has been all afternoon. Mr. Cassidy: I have been listening all afternoon.

I take it from what the minister said during question period that half a dozen people who briefed the Conservative caucus on the deal, the two vice-presidents of McLeod Young Weir, Mr. Brown and I believe another official from Price Waterhouse, Mr. Rowan and I believe another official from the Ontario Energy Corporation, will be available to the New Democratic Party caucus.

We have our regular meeting next Tuesday and we intend to question those people. I look to the Treasurer to arrange their availability and to confirm that tomorrow so on Tuesday we can go through the process the government caucus went through today. Should a vice-president of McLeod Young Weir not be available we would be happy to have Mr. Kierans instead.

As I said in the House earlier, we intend to make sure that hearing is open because we do not think there is anything to hide. It is unusual to have our caucus meetings open, but we are going to open this one so the public, as well, has the benefit of knowing whatever wisdom there may happen to be from those gentlemen.

I also intend to ask -- and perhaps the Minister of Energy could arrange this for us -- that one or two officials of Suncor be available. I would like them to share with us what types of information they might be able to provide without getting themselves into hot water. I would like to see how much of the information that was made available to the government could now be shared with the Legislature.

If, when all this began, the government had any commitment to the freedom of information, which has been the subject of study by commissions, task forces and endless numbers of ministers without portfolio over the last five or six years, they would have gone to Suncor and said: "Look, we happen to be in a parliamentary democracy. In that democracy we have an obligation to make information available."

5:10 p.m.

The government should have said, "Tell us what the information is which has to be confidential if any exists and prove to us why it has to be confidential and then let us see what we can make available." They should not have said what we can hide -- that is the approach the government has taken -- but "let us see what we can make available."

We have been told there are bushel baskets of information available in the minister's office or in the Ontario Energy Corporation offices. Surely out of all of that there was a great deal which could have been made available. Maybe a certain limited amount of it would have had to be edited. Maybe the opposition parties would have been dissatisfied with what they got. But had the government taken the frank approach and done its best in good faith to share the information about this deal, I suspect it would have found a much more positive response coming from this side of the Legislature, and perhaps even from the Liberal Party.

There would not be the feeling the government is trying to hide something. There would not be the suspicions that maybe we are being hoodwinked. There would not be uneasiness about just what kind of deal it is, who is going to pay and what the benefits are going to be.

I will talk to the minister after I have had a chance to participate in this debate, in order to make it clear to him privately as well as publicly what we expect and to see how we can confirm the arrangements, as only a short period is at

But I presume, since this became an issue only in the last three or four days as far as the Conservative caucus is concerned, that just as it was possible to have those high officials from McLeod Young Weir Limited, Price Waterhouse and the Ontario Energy Corporation show up before the Conservative caucus at short notice, with four and a half days of notice it will likewise be possible for the New Democratic caucus to have a chance to speak to them.

I am constantly puzzled. I do not know what the government is really trying to do to itself as well as to the people of the province, but it is a lame excuse to argue that government, in this affair, is no different than a private corporation. If the government were to be run as a private corporation, then let us simply elect a board of directors and leave them in power for four or five years. We may as well not have a Legislature and not have the democratic process at work every day and every week for most weeks of the year.

There is a requirement of accountability, whether there is a minority or whether there is a majority. The government is required to account here in the Legislature.

I would remind the Minister of Energy of the time he spends every year in defending his estimates. He prepares a very careful document. In addition to the estimates there is a compendium, his background papers which go with that. They sometimes do not tell us very much but at least an effort is made to explain what the ministry is all about. There are some fairly detailed figures about how much is spent in major areas like transportation and communications and those kind of things.

There is a good deal of information, even if I confess from time to time I find a tendency in the government to try to conceal more than it reveals. But here we have a purchase in which the government intends to spend $650 million, in which some further sum, maybe $650 million or more, may be spent in acquiring majority control of the company.

The government is right now spending an amount three times larger than the annual budget of the Ministry of Agriculture and Food, six times the size of the Ministry of Industry and Tourism budget. The government is spending an amount almost equal to the entire budget of the Board of Industrial Leadership and Development program over the next five years.

We have endless debates in the estimates and elsewhere about those kinds of things. We have a regular review; hours of estimates debate. stake.

Whether or not it is productive, at least it gives us a chance to put the officials and the ministry on the spot to try to find out what is happening.

That, it seems to me, is the least we could be doing in this Legislature. That is why I have suggested the government get up now and say, "Okay, starting on November 18, next week, the general government committee or some other appropriate committee can sit down and spend what time it needs." Call the people it needs to talk to. Get the information and have a really good, deep and searching look into the Suncor affair.

For God's sake, if the members do not intend to act as an arrogant bunch, if they do intend to be open and frank, if they want to clear the record as the minister said during the course of a five-minute introduction to this debate, then surely that is the way to proceed, rather than compelling the somewhat bizarre procedure we are undertaking.

Frankly, we are frustrated and we cannot find any other way to proceed. I remind the government Suncor had been trying to work the private route. My information is the company talked to 15 potential buyers and everybody turned it down. Under the circumstances surely it had to acknowledge the rules of the game had to change a bit. It was not dealing with the private sector any more and, in fact, it was a supplicant. Suncor, I would contend, needed the Ontario government a hell of a lot more than the Ontario government needed Suncor. Suncor was looking for somebody who could give it not just legitimacy but also the right to become a Canadian-controlled company, in order to benefit from the provisions of the national energy program.

The benefits are substantial. I would like to know exactly what the benefits are. What is the difference for Suncor, whether it is 25 per cent Canadian-owned or 51 per cent Canadian- owned? I understand that at a certain level of ownership the exploration activities on Canada lands will be 92.5 per cent subsidized by means of various provisions of Canadian tax law. If that is the case, we are entitled to know.

We are entitled to know as well how the government calculated in order to arrive at its statement there will be a 15 per cent yield. Although 15 per cent is not bad the minister has said a lot of that is capital gains and not very much may be in the form of dividends. If it is capital gains, we will have capital gains piling up, granted, but we cannot live off capital gains and certainly we cannot pay interest costs off capital gains. Therefore there is a real question that has to be answered which the government does not appear to have looked at.

I have looked at some of the documentation. I have look at how frank Sunoco was in the 10-K documentation before the Securities and Exchange Commission. I cannot believe that at least that level of frankness is not possible from Suncor with respect to this purchase. I cannot believe that level of frankness is not possible for the government as well, except that this is a government that is determined not to share the least iota of information. Power and information are very intimately intertwined. I believe in a democratic society people have the right to have a share of power, and that means to have a share of information -- the right to have adequate information to reach judgements as to the basis on which this deal was made.

Mr. Kolyn: Mr. Speaker, as a back-bencher it is certainly a pleasure for me to be able to say a few words about Suncor. The question is, basically, whether we as Ontarians want to participate in our national policy of Canadianization. The leader of the Opposition stated earlier, and he used a line that was quite familiar to a lot of us, "not one barrel of oil for Ontario." I happened to be a federal candidate in the 1979 election and I heard Joe Clark say it in opposition to Petrocan. Here we are again. The fact is Canadianization is a very popular and proper thing to be doing at this time and we as Ontarians should be participating.

I would like to read a bit into the record: "The real investment is measured best in political terms. Like six other provinces, Ontario now has a vested interest in a positive sense in the oil industry. It has joined the oil club along with the founding members from western Canada. As a province that now stands to gain from oil price increases, its options on prices should carry more weight within the club than when it was merely a poor, protesting consumer." Since we buy 58 per cent of the oil from western Canada, I certainly think it is not a bad idea to have some say.

Another thing I would like to put on the record is this: "No Canadian government, whether federal or provincial, should have to apologize to its critics for investing in our richest resource industry, providing it has made a sound deal. The Ontario government has no qualms about public ownership of Ontario Hydro, the largest source of energy within the province. The oil industry, because it is an essential industry, is being viewed by people as the next thing to a public utility to be controlled and directed by governments. Part of this control involves ownership by governments on behalf of the people they represent."

5:20 p.m.

When this matter was brought up in the Legislature on November 2 I was unfortunately not here. But I did go back to the record and I did check what some of the speakers said. The remarks by the leader of the third party on 10-K really interested me. I went to the trouble of getting a copy of 10-K, all 278 pages of it, and I read it. Most of it, as the members are well aware, is irrelevant but a lot of things in there are very pertinent.

Mr. Cassidy: So why did the government not share its information with us?

Mr. Kolyn: I will repeat what the leader of the third party said. Suncor has 141 million barrels of oil equivalent in terms of oil and natural reserves; at $30 a barrel this would be worth $4 billion on the market today. It also has 7,346,000 cubic metres of net proven oil reserves at a value of about $525 million.

The Alsands plant has $6 billion worth of synthetic oil; its working capital today is $356 million; the assets of this company are $I.7 billion; the profits this year were $418 million, and the earnings of the operation were $306 million in 1980. That is a bad investment as far as the Liberals are concerned, is it?


The Acting Speaker: Order.

Mr. Kolyn: There are other things in this document that are of interest. Apart from the petroleum and natural gas holdings set forth above, at the end of 1980 Suncor held coal leases covering 6,799 hectares. That is a lot of coal in Alberta.


The Acting Speaker: Order.

Mr. Kolyn: At the end of 1980 Suncor also had interests in uranium and other mineral permits, as well as claims in British Columbia, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Nova Scotia. They have got a lot of interests. And why should we not be part of it? Certainly it is a good thing.


The Acting Speaker: The honourable members, order.

Mr. Kolyn: Mr. Speaker, the Financial Post corporations service lists what Suncor does and all the companies it owns. This is all public information; all one has to do is dig it up. No problem.


The Acting Speaker: Order.

Mr. Kolyn: I can understand having as few people as possible know about this purchase, because we all know what happened to the Fina deal. The stocks went up to $30 in the month before Fina was actually sold to Petro-Canada. There was nothing like that here; no irregularities were even hinted at. I think this is a good financial deal, and I cannot see how we can lose with those kinds of assets and that kind of potential in the future.

Thank you very much.

Mr. Sargent: Mr. Speaker, if one were to read about the Suncor caper in a book he would not believe it. Thousands of people are losing their homes; small businesses are dying like flies; farmers are in great distress; plants are closing all over the province, all over the country; and we are carrying a debentured debt of about $I billion we have not got this year. Yet here we have the Premier getting into bed with a hotshot promoter, Mr. Kierans, to spend $650 million more that we do not have to bail out a fifth-rate oil company. They were known as the dog of the oil business. As the leader of the third party said, they have not been able to find a buyer in eight years.

So here we have a deal in which the cabinet did not know anything about this and the Treasurer did not know until minutes before it was announced in the House. The Minister of Energy knew about this deal, I assume; he should have.

Mr. Martel: There would have been a revolt in the Tory benches if they had known sooner.

Mr. Sargent: So Mr. Kierans and the think tank -- I guess Eddie Goodman knew all about it; the think tank would know about it.

Most average guys on the street -- I would not say the fellows opposite, because they are drunk with power -- but most guys I talked to think it was a cooked deal. The government is going to have a hell of a hard time proving to the opposition it was not a cooked deal.

To quote Hugh Winsor, "The explanation for the deal may be as simple as the fact that Suncor was looking for a buyer and the Ontario Energy Corporation was looking for an energy property. Since the two companies share the same building at the corner of Bay and Wellesley, the deal could have been stumbled into on the way to the executive washroom."

In the same article of October 15, Winsor quotes from the second-quarter report to shareholders of the president and chief executive officer of Suncor, Mr. Ross Hennigar, "Profitability is now at seriously low levels which will soon have a negative impact on the long-term potential of the company." This is the great company we are getting into bed with.

We have a parallel here. If Ontario was taking a piece of the action on uranium production -- for instance when Ontario Hydro was the world's largest producer of nuclear power -- there would be a readily understandable rationale. But Ontario passed up the opportunity on contracts with Denison Mines Limited which cost us $7.5 billion.

The Premier is trying to argue that the 25 per cent of Suncor deal is a good investment for the people of Ontario in conventional terms. He cited a couple of stockbrokers' opinions to the effect that it may return 15 per cent on the dollar, but for the life of him he could not explain where the 15 per cent was going to come from, although Ontario will still be borrowing the money at 17 per cent.

Before I get ahead of myself, according to this article, this company had a reduction in their profits of 49 per cent in the first quarter and 78 per cent in the last quarter. So this company was in trouble and they found a buyer.

Mr. Kierans was on the government payroll as a director of the Ontario Energy Corporation. He is also chairman of the Ontario Economic Council. He engineered this deal. He set it up, having access to the Treasury and all the information he needed, and by some sort of magic he has this vehicle through McLeod Young Weir, who are entitled, by any normal transaction, to one per cent of the action or $6.5 million in commission. However, they did not take this and we want to know why.

Until this time, we have Mr. Kierans floating around. Now he ends up as the new president of McLeod Young Weir. He is also still the president of the Ontario Economic Council.


Mr. Sargent: Is he? He is not? The government discharged him from that, did they? But he is still in the book as being a director of the Ontario Energy Corporation and the head of the Ontario Economic Council.

Hon. Mr. Welch: He resigned.

Mr. Sargent: He resigned. That is good. It looks better. There is less conflict of interest.

When he has the deal all cooked, he can then resign and say, "Nothing is wrong, everything is fine here, everybody is happy."

Sun Oil has finally dumped this operation after eight years of trying to find a buyer. Their earnings were down 46 per cent in the first quarter and 78 per cent in the last quarter. When one buys a commodity I understand one pays at the market price. How does one establish market price when the common shares had no value, when they were not listed on the market? There was no market value.

We want to know how in the hell they put the deal together when they cannot even establish any value. It is not listed, it pays no dividends. The package deal they bring here will be beautifully doctored. It will be like motherhood when they bring it back here. But it pays no dividends now. How can dividends enter into the picture with the 17 per cent interest factor when they pay no dividends?

5:30 p.m.

The way it is set up now, the directors of Sun Oil Company will make a decision about whether they will pay any dividends on the preferred shares. Basically Mr. Kierans has a blank cheque. I suggest when the minister is bringing it into the House it will be well doctored. He will take all the arguments of the combined opposition and sure as hell he will need all the help from his own party to water this down to say it is a good deal.

All the minister has made is a commitment to Suncor to make a deal. Is that right? He signed a letter of commitment. That is right. I heard my good friend the member for London North (Mr. Van Horne) talk about the situation of democracy in Ontario today. Last March 19 they made a commitment to the people of Ontario, a much larger commitment.

Mr. Boudria: A commitment to keep the promise.

Mr. Sargent: Definitely. They are going to keep the promise. What the hell is going on then? They have hit a new low in democracy in this great country of ours. John Robarts was a statesman compared with those members. When he knew he was in trouble on the crime bill he admitted it. The members of the government are in deep trouble now. I suggest they will have riots in the streets in the country this winter.

The jails are now plugged full and they will be doubly plugged. They are putting three to a cell in our jails now. If they have the right to take the Treasury of Ontario and play kick the cat around with that I am totally opposed to it as a taxpayer in this province. I am fed up with it. It shows the arrogance of the government members when they say it is a good deal. They know damn well the deal stinks.

Mr. McClellan: Spit it out. What do you really feel about it?

Mr. Boudria: That means we are not too much in favour of it.

Mr. Sargent: Right on target. The minister has hurt the democratic process if he was a party to this act. Maybe he is being used as a tool. He is charged with controlling an $18 billion budget. He has raided every pension fund we have. There is not a nickel left in any of the funds. He is going to borrow $650 million because somebody on the inside made a deal their caucus knew nothing about and only two ministers knew about.

In closing, there are a lot of small men walking around in high places because good men cannot afford to.

Mr. Renwick: Mr. Speaker, I want to speak briefly on this matter. Everything that could possibly have been said has been said to try to induce the government to provide the information we require in order to make a legitimate judgement about whether the determination of the government to spend these funds is a proper one. We are being denied that. We can say it again and again. That is what the minister is about. That is what his colleagues are about. It is very interesting.

I would guess the 22 members on the government benches in the third row now understand the reality of March 19. They do not get any information either, let alone have any opportunity to do other than exactly as they are told. "Stand up and support the government when you are told to. Keep your mouth shut when you are not told to speak. Do not raise any questions that could ruffle anybody." That is the reality of March 19.

The member for Sudbury East (Mr. Martel) and I know. We have been here before. We understood the reality of the Tory government prior to 1975, and we are getting our full share of it again. I say to the minister, and I can say it clearly, there is more information available about this deal on the street than there is in this assembly. I think he has to understand that we are not patsies in this place.

The proper, open and clear way would have been for the government to have put on the Order Paper a motion to approve the transaction and to have provided the maximum amount of information so this assembly could have had an open debate and made a decision. That is the way it is done. One does not badger. One does not turn it into a game where we have to badger them.

Fortunately, I was not here the other night when the government invoked closure on the legitimate request of the opposition for information. I am glad I was not here on that shameful occasion. It was a shameful occasion. The minister knows it very well.

I remember clearly that when the changes took place among the deputy ministers at the end of August, I noticed Malcolm Rowan, the former Deputy Minister of Energy, was moved from the deputy ministership to be the executive officer of the Ontario Energy Corporation.

I tried to understand. Was he demoted? Was he shunted to the side? Was he promoted? I ran into him at lunch a couple of days later at one of the favourite watering places of some members of this assembly and of the government. I said to him casually, "Which oil company are you going to buy, Malcolm?" If he had false teeth, he would have swallowed them.

I only wish that with my intuitive perspicacity on that occasion, a form of extrasensory perception, I had had sufficient commitment to have started to question the government right at that time, because that is the way this government now operates. It does not even operate by cabinet; it now operates, if one can dignify it by the term, by executive committee of the cabinet, which means the Premier and whatever one or two others of his cronies in the inner group he wants to discuss these matters with.

He actually discussed this matter with more people outside his cabinet and outside this assembly than he did with people inside the government. There are more people out there who know about t. I would give my eye teeth to know how much the former Treasurer of Ontario, the original Minister of Energy, the original person who was brought in to pursue the energy matter, knows about this transaction that we do not know in this assembly.

I am always a little concerned when the whiz kids from a place like McLeod Young Weir are controlling the destinies of this province with respect to the investment of its public funds, because I tell the House this government cannot rely on any of them to take the place of the sensible, considered judgement of this assembly about what is good for the public interest. The minister has to understand that is what it is about in this assembly.

I do not know of anything else I can add in particular. There is no mystery to these transactions except the mystique of the street. The mystique of the street is that one never tells anybody anything except at lunch time and on the rumour market. That is the sieve. That is where the members of the club get to know more about the transaction of public business than the elected members of this assembly.

When will this assembly ever know the number of dollars the minister will pay by way of commissions, fees and other out-of-pocket costs while this transaction takes place? When it is over, somewhere away down the line this assembly will know. It will be too late to do anything about it, and it will be a matter of past history. The minister knows that as well as I do.

5:40 p.m.

Mr. McClellan: We will see it in public accounts.

Mr. Renwick: I do not know whether we will see it in public accounts, because I do not know the authorization under which the government is spending $325 million or the authorization under which it is issuing the note that is being issued.

Someday I would like somebody to explain to me on what vote of this assembly, unknown to us, we have provided the government with the funds to go and spend that kind of money. I would like to understand it, because the next time that resolution comes before the House we will take another look at it to make certain we have not left an open-ended blank cheque in the hands of the government of Ontario to spend $325 million when it cannot find it for the social programs that are necessary for the wellbeing of the people of this province.

There is something strangely wrong with the financial system of this province that permits this to happen. I wish at some point the Deputy Premier would put all of these questions right on the table for us. Will the minister even at this late hour disclose to me, to this House, to my colleagues in the House on all sides, whether there are any clauses left to the government of Ontario to get out of this deal? Are there any conditions in that agreement which, if not fulfilled, will permit the government to say, "No, we do not want this transaction"?

How do we know that the people the government has retained have the skill, the knowledge and ability to put into that agreement of commitment of October 13 the kind of protection needed? How do we know there is anybody in that cabinet who has the kind of judgement that can make that kind of decision?

I have read the statement of the Premier to the meeting of Premiers out in Victoria, the lengthy statement about the economy. I have read the statements and the communiqués issued by the Treasurer in Ottawa. I cannot for the life of me coincide the spending of this money with the statements that have been made publicly. Who is fooling whom?

The Acting Speaker: One minute.

Mr. Renwick: Maybe the minister will want to reply in the minute. I will gladly give him the last 30 seconds of my time to give him the opportunity to speak.

But the inconsistencies between the public statements of this government from the Treasurer to the Deputy Premier to the Premier are totally at odds with the private dealings of this government, and the minister ought to know that.

I simply say to the minister, he had better change his ways or there will be a change of government here come 1984.

The Deputy Speaker: I am sorry; I just got in the chair. The member for -- where are you from?

Mr. Shymko: High Park-Swansea.

The Deputy Speaker: I am just showing my total unbiasedness in the chair.

Mr. Shymko: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Now that my identity has been established in this House --

Mr. Martel: Did you win the by-election?

Mr. Shymko: The members opposite know very well there is an empty seat on their side; they will miss it for the next five years or so.

Before I make any comments, Mr. Speaker, I felt insulted, as did other members on this side of the House, by the comments made by a very eloquent speaker, a member I personally have admired on many occasions in committee and in this House for his eloquence, the member for Riverdale (Mr. Renwick), when he hinted or gave the impression that the members on this side are gagged, silenced or dictated to by caucus.

Yet members of his party have admitted that this is not so on many occasions by pointing to individual members on this side of the House who had the independence not only to vote differently on very important questions in this House but also to vote independently in committee.

I do not need the insult, the eloquent insult, which diminishes the eloquence of the honourable member who said that. No one is gagged in this House. There is no gagging in this House, either on this side in our caucus or in the other two caucuses. If there is anything I would like to point out today --

Mr. Martel: What's the motion? Are you going to debate a gag motion?

Mr. Shymko: The only gagging I see is the gagging we are witnessing at this very moment: my inability to address this House because of constant interruptions by the members opposite.

Mr. Martel: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker: Might I remind the member that he is speaking to a motion. He is not talking about the gag motion but about the motion introduced by the Liberal leader.

The Deputy Speaker: As a matter of fact, the point of order is well taken.

Mr. Shymko: First of all, let me comment about equity. The members on this side of the House should not have any less or any more information than the honourable members opposite, absolutely not. I support any comments, any criticism, any concerns from the opposite side of this venerable chamber when there is inequity in terms of the information we supposedly have obtained or might obtain. I do not know any less or any more than the honourable members opposite.

The information we received this morning is here. We had an opportunity to question officials. I support the member for York South (Mr. MacDonald), who said: "Let us listen. Let us question the representatives from Suncor and have the same opportunity to pose questions." As the minister has indicated, not only do the members opposite have the right to do this but also they may invite the media. We support this. Go ahead, invite them, ask them the same questions or even more than we did. No one questions that. No one deprives them of that equity.

What I find is confusion. I would like to know whether they are going to seek the supposedly confidential, secret, cabalistic information that is being withheld from them by inviting representatives of Suncor to their caucus or whether they are going to proceed with the initial intention of referring this to the standing committee on general government.

I am confused. What do they want? It has been referred to the standing committee. Do they want the standing committee on general government to listen to this, do they want the analysts to appear as witnesses, or do they want them to go to their caucus?

I am totally confused. I do not know what we are discussing. I am very happy with the information we received. We needed more; we got officials who came down, we asked them questions and they answered anything we wanted to know. The members opposite have the same opportunity. No one is preventing them from doing this.

I am surprised by some of the veteran members of this Legislature who have time and time again criticized this side of the House because we have had no opportunity to proceed speedily with the recommendations of the Commission on Freedom of Information and Individual Privacy. We are concerned. Have they read the recommendations of the Williams commission? I want to remind them of the information and the recommendations.

The Williams commission made the following comments on the public release of the kind of information we are discussing today. It said: "In the course of discharging their responsibilities to the public, governmental institutions collect substantial amounts of information about the activities of business firms," such as Suncor. "Some of this information, such as trade secrets, constitutes a valuable asset and disclosure would impair a firm's ability to compete effectively in the marketplace."

I continue: "Existing and proposed freedom of information laws in other jurisdictions provide for an exemption relating to material of this kind. We share the view that such an exemption is a necessary feature of a freedom of information law."

The member has read that. He has been here longer than I have. As a matter of fact, the member has requested the very implementation of this recommendation. What a waste of time I 5:50 p.m.

We were talking about closure. It is a shameful moment today when we witness closure of one of the most sacred moments in this Legislature, and that is the private members' hour. If there is any moment when I can sit here unshackled by the straitjacket of partisan politics, it is the private members' hour, and yet this motion is applying closure to private members' hour.

Mr. Renwick: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order: It is very clear that what is taking place here is totally in accordance with the rules of the House, and the member ought to know it.

Mr. Shymko: Mr. Speaker, I am commenting on the moving experience for all of us who have the opportunity on Thursday to sit back, not bound by partisan limitations, and listen. I want to point out that we would have had the opportunity today to discuss an act to provide for the removal of urea formaldehyde foam insulation.

Mr. Cassidy: Mr. Speaker, I want to raise a point of order: Under section 96 of the standing orders, it says quite specifically that a member who does one thing and says another will be expelled from the House for hypocrisy.

The Deputy Speaker: It does not say that under section 96.

Mr. Shymko: Again, talking about veteran members, I am surprised by this very interpretation of the standing orders. I will not comment on the member for Ottawa Centre's remarks. I am not going to waste my time and comment on them.

I want to point out that I am surprised we would totally waste this time. This has been pointed out by the member for York South, who said, "A waste of time." I watched the pages who watched this charade, this shameful circus of forcing the members of this side to apply closure in order that moneys would be provided and wages paid to our working people, the 80,000 public servants of this province who otherwise would have been deprived of their wages, salaries and moneys to provide the food on their table and the shelter over their heads. What a shameful moment I

Today, they are again using closure to stifle a discussion of such important issues as the removal of urea formaldehyde foam insulation as proposed in the motion by the honourable member opposite who has done so much research. As a matter of fact, the member for Welland-Thorold (Mr. Swart) had 25 people coming all the way from Welland --

The Deputy Speaker: Your time has expired. If I might beg the indulgence of all honourable members, it is my understanding that the Liberal-Labour member for Rainy River (Mr. T. P. Reid) wanted to speak next. In the ordinary rotation, however, the Minister of Energy has yet to make his comments, and I --

Mr. T. P. Reid: Mr. Speaker, I am willing to give up my valuable time and pearls of wisdom to hear from the Minister of Energy.

The Deputy Speaker: Do we have House agreement? Maybe he does not want to talk. He does.

Hon. Mr. Welch: Mr. Speaker, I am grateful to the honourable members opposite for the provision of about five minutes in this debate.

I might start off by saying that I appreciated the interjection of the member for Riverdale reminding my colleague who has just spoken of the fact that what is going on today is in accordance with the rules. No one objects to that, and people understand that.

I remind him that in his absence last Tuesday night the House proceeded according to the rules as well. Last Tuesday night, standing order 36 provided for the putting of the previous question. The rule was very clear as to what had to be done before that question was even put, in the exercise of some judgement on the part of the Speaker after three days of debate on interim supply.

I suggest to the honourable member that is in the rules, which were passed by this Legislature when this party and government was in a minority situation; so I do not think we should talk in terms of this rule business too loosely. Indeed, what happened on Tuesday night was in accordance with the rules.

I also point out that there is ample opportunity with respect to continuing the quite proper role of the opposition with respect to other business in this House.

Before us is a motion, accepted by the Speaker for an emergency debate this afternoon, that the members should receive and debate information provided only to Progressive Conservative members. There has been no information provided only to Progressive Conservative members. Let the record be clear with respect to that.

I remind the honourable members to take a look again at the debate of last Tuesday evening when we went to great lengths to recite all the information that has been tabled and what that included. It included policy statements of this government over a year ago with respect to the expanded role of the Ontario Energy Corporation, policy statements supported by other documents that indicate what the government's background was.

With the greatest respect to the member for York South, and I do this because I know of his many years of service, I invite him once again to take a look. What he has said is not a compendium is stated by the Camp commission on the Legislature to be a compendium. It is, in fact, a collection of statements and policies. Perhaps the only thing we should have done was dress it up inside some new cover and make it look as if it was different when what we were really doing was collecting government statements, policy statements and particulars that spell out the availability of all this information.

No doubt the Leader of the Opposition will have an opportunity tomorrow to indicate the name of the so-called senior official from Suncor who said he had no objection to the tabling of information. The senior officer who has authority in that regard is not even in the country at the moment. I do know that a week or so ago someone from that party did talk to that senior official. The senior official made it quite clear what the terms of the confidentiality agreement were.

I understand there was a telephone call today to somebody in the public relations department who was unable to comply with the Liberal Party's staff inquiry, because the man who had the responsibility for making that decision was out of the country. We do not treat lightly --

Mr. Cassidy: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker: Since the minister's time is almost up, will he respond to my request today that those officials of the Ontario Energy Corporation and of McLeod Young Weir be available to us at 10 o'clock on Tuesday morning at our caucus?

Hon. Mr. Welch: Acting in terms of the information that is available here, I think it is important the record show that what has prompted this was the suggestion that there were some members of this House who had been provided with information not available to other members of this House.

The point has to be made that this is not the case. That is absolutely not supported by facts. What did occur was a response to an invitation from the whip of this party to provide technical people who could assist in the interpretation of the information that was tabled. That, indeed, did transpire. We have heard from members on this side of the House in that regard, and it is important that we state we are here unable to debate --

Mr. Cassidy: Yes or no?

Hon. Mr. Welch: I am not able to respond to that question with respect to the availability of people at a certain time on a certain date. I stand by what I said in this House, that it would be made available to the caucuses if that is what they require. As a matter of courtesy, I think I should check to see when people are available.

Let us not try to cloud the issue. What I said in this House with respect to the availability of those people is on the record. Why is the member starting to grandstand now? These are people who should at least have the courtesy of being consulted with respect to the time they are available. I think that is only fair.

As far as this motion is concerned, it speaks for itself. There was no such information made available that is not already available to all members of this House.

The Deputy Speaker: Time has expired on this particular motion.


Hon. Mr. Wells: Mr. Speaker, I want to inform the House that I will make the usual business statement for next week tonight just before the 10:30 p.m. adjournment.


Hon. Mr. Wells: Mr. Speaker, I wish to table the answers to questions 179 and 185 and the response to a petition, sessional paper 245. (See Hansard for Friday, November 13).

The House recessed at 6 p.m.