32nd Parliament, 1st Session




















The House met at 10:03 am.


Mr. Speaker: Statements by the ministry.

Mr. Ruston: Who? Where?

Mr. Speaker: Oral questions?

Mr. Bradley: No, no. We have to wait until we get some ministers.

Mr. Breithaupt: Mr. Speaker, we have four ministers in the House, none of whom has particularly onerous responsibilities.

Mr. Ruston: Call for a quorum.

Mr. Eakins: Ring the bells for four minutes.

Mr. Bradley: That's right. We cannot have a question period without ministers.

Mr. T. P. Reid: We can have a question period.

Mr. Speaker: I was just going to say, everybody is aware of the time the House convenes, and it is not really my responsibility to see that the ministers are here on time. However, having said that, we will start with question period.


Mr. Breithaupt: Mr. Speaker, others are coming into their places, but we have no one in the front row at all, none of the senior ministers is here. However, perhaps I might speak on a point of order instead for a moment.

I am concerned with respect to the incident that occurred in the Legislature yesterday, in which certain members of the Legislature and people in the public gallery were involved in a shouting match and, of course, the various events that led to a scuffle and, if nothing else, the immediate departure of the press.

I believe we are facing a difficult time in this province, and it may be that the security of this building and of the chamber, which is the Speaker's particular responsibility, is unfortunately something we may have to review.

It seems to me that access to the public galleries of the Legislature of this province is something we must jealously guard so it is available to as many of our people as is possible. But it also appears to me that because of the strains our economy is undergoing, there are pressures on a variety of individuals who may lash out in one way or the other and blame those of us in the Legislature for problems that have arisen and may arise with respect to their own personal situations. They may cause violence and may cause some of the unfortunate events we have seen in other Legislatures across the world.

I ask you, Mr. Speaker, at your convenience, either through the party leaders or the House leaders, or whoever your advisers may be in that matter, to convene a meeting so that as soon as possible we can come up with a reasonable and practical balanced review of the unfortunate need to reconsider the security measures in this building.

We are as likely as not to have someone with a weapon of some sort in the public galleries, and I think we face a serious possibility of some danger, which of course would be something we would all hope to avoid.

I do not know where the point of balance is, sir, but I am most seriously concerned that we attempt to reach it, and I believe we must do it as soon as possible.

Hon. Mr. Gregory: Mr. Speaker, on a point of privilege: I wish to address myself to the remarks of the previous speaker. As you are aware, Mr. Speaker, or as your Deputy Speaker (Mr. Cureatz) was aware, I rose on a point of privilege last evening to raise this very point.

It certainly is a matter of concern to the members on this side of the House. I am afraid my remarks of last evening were somewhat misunderstood by the opposition; however, I know they received them gratefully.

I want to add my support to the request by the acting Leader of the Opposition.

Mr. Speaker: Thank you very much. I would just like to say to both the member for Kitchener (Mr. Breithaupt) and the member for Mississauga East (Mr. Gregory) that their points are well taken. There is a general reluctance among all members, and certainly myself, to take steps to enforce more rigid security. To that end, however, I have asked for a report from the security people. I hope I will have that at the beginning of the week, and then I would like to share that information with the House leaders. Perhaps with the combined wisdom of all, we can come up with a plan that will meet the requirements of all the members.


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

Hon. Mr. Gregory: Where were you last night?

Mr. Bradley: I was here last night.

Mr. Speaker: Order. The member for Brant-Oxford-Norfolk has the floor.

Mr. Nixon: Mr. Speaker, the member for Ottawa Centre (Mr. Cassidy) has resumed his seat without withdrawing the offensive words that resulted in his being expelled from the House yesterday. I want to object to this. I have objected to it in the past.

You know that your predecessor, Speaker Stokes, on a somewhat similar occasion, required the withdrawal of the offending unparliamentary words. In the instance of the former member for High Park-Swansea, he was not permitted to resume his work in the Legislature without withdrawing the words.

10:10 a.m.

We as a parliament have to trust in the confidence of the words and ideas expressed by the honourable members. We have a strict rule that prevents any member from using the word "liar" or from indicating that any member is deliberately misleading the House.

From time to time, the rule may seem ridiculous to those who observe the activities in this chamber, but still I say to you that it is difficult, if not impossible, for an honourable member to continue his work in the chamber when another honourable member has called him a liar, or words tantamount to that, without the words being withdrawn.

I suggest to you again, sir, that we are not here to decide whether the Premier (Mr. Davis) was right or wrong or whether any other member was right or wrong. If there is some requirement that this be decided, then the House or you, sir, can refer the matter to another committee.

We are simply talking about the requirement, which is something more than just a few words in a rule book, that a member must not call another member a liar and then consider that to be expiated by walking out of the House with the television cameras focused on him, talking to a group of admiring reporters and then coming back in the next day.

If we allow that to happen here or in any other House, we are simply building up another debating procedure. I say to you it is well beyond that, and we should not allow a member from any side or from any position to make such a charge in the House without withdrawing it unless that person decides not to come back into the House.

Mr. MacDonald: On the same point of order, Mr. Speaker: I had to slip out of the House yesterday, and I have not had an opportunity to go back and check with the Instant Hansard but, if I may rely on the Globe and Mail this morning, I want to draw your attention to two paragraphs in the story carried on page five, which read as follows:

"Liberal Leader Stuart Smith told the House that when Mr. Cassidy called Mr. Davis a liar 'he (Mr. Cassidy) was 100 per cent correct ... Of course, they are new user fees. You lied to the people of Ontario.'"

A later paragraph reads:

"Although Mr. Cassidy was ejected by Speaker John Turner for using the word 'liar,' Dr. Smith was not ejected or asked to withdraw the charge by Acting Speaker Don Cousens."

Mr. Speaker, when you are examining and reviewing this, will you take into account what appears to be still another contradictory judgement coming from the chair on this very issue that the leader from Brant-Oxford-Norfolk (Mr. Nixon) has raised.

Mr. Speaker: I want to thank the member for Brant-Oxford-Norfolk for bringing this matter to the attention of the House and the member for York South (Mr. MacDonald) for his views as to what happened in my absence.

I want to point out that in my interpretation of the standing orders at the present time there is no obligation upon members to withdraw the remarks in order to regain entrance to the House.

I do regret the incident and I feel that, since we are recognized as honourable ladies and gentlemen and it is assumed we are ladies and gentlemen, we should, indeed, conduct ourselves as such.

Rather than make any judgement as to what should happen or which committee it should be referred to, I want to take it under consideration and think about it and maybe discuss it again with the House leaders and see whether we cannot come up with a reasonable solution.

Mr. Martel: If I may, Mr. Speaker, I just want to add something to this, because there is a problem and I recognize the difficulty. But I also recognize another difficulty, and I have raised it in this House on a number of occasions, that if someone has a strong conviction that someone is lying, as in the instance when I was thrown out, as to what recourse there is.

It is not the Speaker's decision to sort it out. I do not think the Speaker can be held responsible for trying to sort out who is doing what. If someone is found to be lying and a member feels so aggrieved that begets thrown out, there must be a way of sorting out that dilemma. Otherwise, Mr. Speaker, you shackle the members and force the type of confrontation that occurs and that all of us want to get away from.

I have raised this in the past, and we have no solution to it yet. As I say, it is not up to the Speaker to have to sort it out, but somebody will have to do that. When the charges become very strong, there has to be a way to get to the truth of the matter, but I do not think it is up to you to decide what the truth is.

Mr. T. P. Reid: Mr. Speaker, I am quite concerned that you do not seem intent to make a ruling on this matter at this time. I draw your attention to standing order 1(b), which states:

"In all contingencies not provided for in the standing orders the question shall be decided by the Speaker or Chairman, and in making his ruling the Speaker or Chairman shall base his decision on the usages and precedents of the Legislature and parliamentary tradition."

I respectfully submit that we do have a precedent, as pointed out by my friend the member for Brant-Oxford-Norfolk (Mr. Nixon), in regard to the former member for High Park-Swansea. If we delay any decision on this and allow the honourable member to remain, then de facto that is also going to be a precedent in this House.

The atmosphere is a little unpleasant as it is, and I suggest that if we lower our standards and allow one honourable member to call another a liar, which has never been accepted in parliamentary tradition, if we allow this just to sit here today, we will be setting a dangerous precedent.

I respectfully suggest that you follow the precedent set by Speaker Stokes and ask the member to withdraw the comment or else to withdraw from active participation in the House until he does.

Hon. Mr. Wells: Mr. Speaker, I rise to speak in support of the contentions put forward by my friend the member for Brant-Oxford-Norfolk. I think this is a very serious matter, and he has underlined it.

Standing order 20(b) says a member may be asked to withdraw for the remainder of a sitting for a minor matter. I want it to be known that we do not consider calling another member of this House a liar, with no equivocation, a minor matter. It is certainly not the kind of thing that should be allowed to slip by because we fail to grab the moment when it occurs.

As the matter is now being presented to us, if we let it slip by, this will become another common occurrence in this House, which in my humble opinion has become too rowdy. This House has a responsibility to set standards, both for the young people who come to visit us every day and for all people who watch us in debate.

I submit that we cannot let the matter just sit to be discussed. If the member for Ottawa Centre has the same concern for this House as all of us have, he will withdraw the remark today, now, and then allow anybody who wishes to look at the procedures to discuss it. But to allow it to stand on the record and for him to remain sitting in here adds another black mark to the days in this House.

Mr. Speaker: I thank the member for Rainy River, the government House leader and the member for Brant-Oxford-Norfolk for bringing this matter to my attention. If we look back on the incident, certainly it was a serious incident, and I am not trying to downgrade it at all.

10:20 a.m.

In reference to standing order 1(b), to which the member for Rainy River (Mr. T. P. Reid) referred, I respectfully suggest that the precedent established earlier by the former Speaker was substantially different from the situation we have now.

The point the government House leader (Mr. Wells) raises is a valid one. It becomes a matter of judgement as to what is a minor offence and what is not.

When I named the member yesterday, I made it quite clear that he withdraw for the balance of the day. I did not attach any other stipulation to it that would indicate to him that he would have to withdraw his remarks before he regained entrance to the House.

It is a serious matter. If members feel this strongly about it, I again respectfully suggest that there is provision in the standing orders to move a motion.

It is not really the Speaker's responsibility to make a snap decision on this. I would like to have the opportunity of referring to precedents, to come to a conclusion over the weekend and report back to the House next week.

Mr. Shymko: It was my predecessor, Mr. Speaker, who was asked to withdraw his remarks by the former Speaker, and I believe the circumstances of the remarks made yesterday are no different from the earlier remarks by the former member for High Park-Swansea.

There is such a thing as equality. No one is more equal than anyone else. It is unfortunate that it was a member of the same party who was asked to withdraw and was penalized, and perhaps it affected the result of his election campaign in a major way. I feel equal treatment should be accorded this member and the same demand should be made for withdrawal of that remark.

Mr. Speaker: Order. This is beginning to take on the semblance of a debate.

Mr. Martel: Mr. Speaker, because the new boy has interjected, I want to say that I too have been thrown out. There is a precedent in this House that after one has served the time that was meted out, and it was that day's sitting, he is allowed back in. There is no comparison at all. In the instance when I was thrown out, it was after I was allowed back in that I withdrew. My friend should do his research a little better.

Mr. Renwick: Mr. Speaker, the point of order you have been asked to consider requires a very careful look at the rules of the assembly. I hold no brief for the rules other than to say they are the rules by which we are guided and must be addressed in accordance with their terms.

I respectfully draw to your attention that standing order 20 is not at all applicable to the circumstances that arose yesterday. The member for Rainy River is quite correct. In the event that took place yesterday when you called the leader of this party to order for an offence against the standing orders, it could not have been against standing order 19, because that one deals with matters that are in debate. This was during question period; the debate was not taking place.

I hear a sigh over there, but it is a question of understanding the rules.

My friend the member for Rainy River is quite correct; the matter is to be decided under standing order 1(b). I submit, Mr. Speaker, that you did make your decision yesterday and that you did make it in accordance with your understanding of the usages and precedents of the Legislature and parliament and, as I understand it, you expelled the leader of this party for the remainder of that day. I therefore respectfully submit that the matter is now closed.

Mr. Cassidy: Mr. Speaker, accepting that the matter is now closed in line with your --

Mr. Kerrio: Withdraw.

Mr. Martel: Why don't you shut up for a minute?

Mr. Speaker: Order.

Mr. Cassidy: Accepting that the matter is now closed according to your ruling, I do recognize that the language I used yesterday was normally unparliamentary. While I have not changed my opinion at all, I withdraw the words that were objected to.

Mr. Speaker: I think this points out to all honourable members that when we become involved in emotional matters it has to be the responsibility of each individual member to exercise some self-discipline, some measure of self-control. I think, painful as it may be, an example has been served in this incident, and I respectfully ask the co-operation of all honourable members to be a bit more circumspect in the future in the language they use in this House.

Mr. Nixon: Mr. Speaker, I do not rise on any point of levity but simply to indicate that in my first point of order I indicated that the leader of the New Democratic Party was surrounded by admiring reporters. I have been corrected by at least some of the reporters and asked to withdraw it, and I now withdraw the word "admiring."

Mr. Speaker: Now perhaps we can get on with the business of the House.

Mr. Cassidy: On the point of order, Mr. Speaker: I thought maybe the tide had turned, but my hopes are dashed.

Mr. Speaker: Obviously not.

Mr. Riddell: A point of order, Mr. Speaker: The other night I was severely criticized for referring to the member for Hamilton Centre (Ms. Copps) as "just a great girl." One of those people who criticized me just got up and referred to "the new boy." I wonder whether he would like to withdraw that.

Mr. Martel: I am a sexist.

Mr. T. P. Reid: They are not sure about him.



Mr. Breithaupt: Mr. Speaker, I have a question to the Minister of Health. Since his ministry has cut out 5,391 acute care beds in the last five years from the health care system in this province, has the minister done any further studies with respect to the likely number of additional ward beds that will be further lost as a result of this new policy of allowing hospitals to raise rates for semi-private and private coverage?

Hon. Mr. Timbrell: Mr. Speaker, it is true that the number of acute care beds has been reduced. I am not sure at what point the honourable member is starting --

Mr. Breithaupt: Five years ago.

Hon. Mr. Timbrell: There were 38,637 approved acute care beds as at December 31, 1976. At August 31, 1981, there were 36,382 acute care beds, a reduction to be sure, but not of the order the member is describing. In that same period of time, the number of approved chronic care beds increased from 10,260 to 12,575. The number of nursing home beds approved and in operation has increased from 27,111 to 28,324. The number of approved extended care beds in homes for the aged increased from 12,518 to 12,901.

The total number of approved institutional beds as at December 31, 1976, was 88,526. The total number of approved institutional beds at August 31, 1981, was 90,182. To be added to that should be almost 800 nursing home beds that have been approved and are in various stages of planning or construction, plus such things as the 136 new medical-surgical beds under construction at Mississauga General and any number of other projects.

10:30 a.m.

Mr. Breithaupt: With respect to these changes, which were announced in the minister's speech to the Ontario Hospital Association, has the minister considered the amounts of money that will be raised by the proposed changes with respect to the raising of rates in cafeterias and parking lots and all the other things? And what will this mean to the hospital system as far as additional income is concerned?

Hon. Mr. Timbrell: As in all other things, the hospitals will be very cautious as they move into these areas. In the first year, our estimate, which is a very conservative one, is that these changes will generate something in the order of $20 million, which will be something in the order of two thirds of one per cent of the approved ministry liability for the hospitals. However, $20 million is a considerable amount of money.

A year and a half ago, we took a look at the cafeteria operations at the hospitals. Our estimate was that if all hospitals would raise their prices to the point where they could at least break even and stop subsidizing cafeteria prices, that move alone could generate as much as $10 million, which then could be redirected to patient services rather than to subsidizing meals in the cafeterias.

Mr. McClellan: Mr. Speaker, I am still curious. Will the minister tell us how the hospitals will set the prices for the new private and semi-private beds they have for sale? What does the minister expect the going rate will be for private and semi-private beds, for example, in Metropolitan Toronto?

Hon. Mr. Timbrell: Mr. Speaker, as I said yesterday, the hospitals will move slowly and cautiously. I meant to have the file pulled this morning, but my recollection is that it is less than two years ago that the capped semi-private and private rates were moved from $11 and $22 to $16 and $32 respectively, which at the time was quite a percentage leap. That was under the previous policy of a capped set of rates.

The changes will be small and slow in coming. The big effect will come in the rationalization area, not in these areas. These are additional incentives. But the biggest change in policy, and it is the first time this has been done in Canada, to my knowledge, is that we have turned around what some have come to view as the typical civil service mentality and said, "If you save money, if you end the year in the black, you keep the money and redirect it into patient care services, which is where as much money as possible should go."

Mr. Ruprecht: Mr. Speaker, the minister will fully realize that the new incentive program instituted here will seriously affect health care in Ontario. I want to know from the minister what guarantee he can give this House that there will be a bed available for any person who needs it and who is not able to pay for it. What guarantees will he be able to provide this House?

Hon. Mr. Timbrell: Mr. Speaker, first, I agree with the honourable member. These changes will seriously affect the health services of Ontario, but for the better. Now, for the first time, there are real incentives for hospitals, particularly with respect to the better than 30 per cent of hospital spending that is not now directed to patient care services, to rationalize in those areas and free up money that can be applied to more and better patient services. The member is right; it will affect services very seriously, and very much for the better.

The member was not here yesterday when I spoke about the fact that our doctors and hospital administrators have a very solid and enviable record compared with those of any other jurisdiction when it comes to ensuring that people are admitted to the beds available based on medical need. That happens. It has always happened. It will always happen.

Also, the member obviously was not here when I reminded members several times of the sections of the Public Hospitals Act and the Health Insurance Act that legally require, first of all, that every approved bed in every public hospital in this province is an insured bed -- every single bed. If, based on medical need, a person has to be admitted and the only bed available is semi-private, then that is what he will be put into whether he has coinsurance or not. It is in the law.

Mr. Breithaupt: The minister did not answer one portion of my question. We were asking about the number of ward beds to be cut out and that was not answered. But perhaps we can get that information otherwise.


Mr. Breithaupt: Mr. Speaker, I have a question to the Premier with respect to the ongoing matter of Suncor, since the Treasurer (Mr. F. S. Miller) and the Minister of Energy (Mr. Welch) are not here this morning. We learned yesterday that in order to purchase the 25 per cent block of shares in Suncor the government had to pay a premium calculated at about 15 per cent to 25 per cent of the cost of that block. Since Suncor shares are not traded publicly, and since Suncor was dangled before a dozen buyers with no takers, why did the Premier not demand, and get, a discount on that purchase price, instead of paying a premium?

Hon. Mr. Davis: Mr. Speaker, I was not present yesterday, and I say that with some regret, because I understand it was a very lively discussion at caucus, and one that perhaps improved a little after the member for Hamilton West (Mr. Smith) departed.

Mr. Bradley: They did not like having him there, I will tell you that, because he had good questions.

Hon. Mr. Davis: I would be very disappointed if he did not have good questions. He should not be Leader of the Opposition in this province if he does not have good questions. I would bring into question the fact that he has good questions every day.

I do not think one should be talking about a question of a premium. As I recall the discussions, and I was not part of the discussions yesterday, the offer made by the government of Ontario was somewhat less than that contemplated by another private sector organization. While the Leader of the Opposition has said, and is still saying as recently as this morning, that in terms of a business deal no one has said this was a good business deal, I just happen to have four or five quotes here from analysts, whom I do not know -- I do not even know the firms, but I understand they are really quite reputable -- who say, without question, it was a good business decision.

I would just remind the acting leader of the Liberal Party of Ontario -- a gentleman who aspires to be leader of that traditionally great party that has had its ups and downs; I will not describe where it is at the moment -- that if one looks at this very carefully, one has to accept the fact that while one can debate, and I think it is very fair to debate, the philosophical aspect of whether government should or should not be involved, in the context of its being a good business decision -- as to the amount that was paid and the agreement that has not been finalized, but I think we know the substance of that agreement -- there appear to be a number of competent people who have said it is.

I go back to some observations made by the Leader of the Opposition with respect to the whole question of Canadianization. I would refer him to the very excellent address given by Mr. Hurtig to his annual meeting in Hamilton, and the enthusiastic endorsation of that philosophy by his own leader, which is not inconsistent with what this government is doing with respect to its acquisition of a 25 per cent interest in Suncor.

I understand it is relevant that we talk about world price for synthetic oil. If my memory serves me correctly, the Leader of the Opposition suggested -- I do not know whether it was to caucus or to the press -- that I was opposed to "world price" for synthetics. My recollection is that as we moved into the Syncrude acquisition, where we participated, it was predicated on a price that I think at that time -- 1973, 1974, whenever the date was -- was above world price.

I wish the member for Kitchener would take a message to his leader from me that in the context of my point of view on synthetics he is somewhat in error. I will not use any stronger language than that. But I think if he goes back and checks with his own expert on energy, he will find this really led us to the concept of the blended price, the blended price being a much higher price for the synthetics.

10:40 a.m.

I think we used the phrase "to reflect the actual cost of production." That is irrelevant to the question, I confess that, but in that the Leader of the Opposition raised this yesterday, raised it in caucus, if the member will please check the record he will perhaps find my point of view or impression is as accurate as his, maybe even a little closer to what was said.

Mr. Breithaupt: I recognize the need for the Leader of the Opposition or anyone to ask good questions. I hope the Premier will now attempt to give a good answer.

Since it is clear in each year over this next foreseeable 20-year term, that each share of Suncor will earn $6 and cost $8, and since we are now told that Ontario is buying those shares in order to get Suncor into a position where it could take advantage of the new rules of the Canadianization game and provide a stepping stone for other investors, why did the government willingly and knowingly pay a premium to be the stepping stone?

Hon. Mr. Davis: I have not had nearly as much experience in negotiating in the private sector in recent years as my learned friend, who I know still maintains a modest interest in economic activities: through the practice of law is what I am suggesting. He still keeps a modest interest in the private sector. I understand that.

My understanding of these negotiations is very simple. It is not a question of paying a premium: it is a question of arriving at a price, arriving at a price that is a market price, that is a fair price for the assets that are being purchased. I just want to give the member a quote from --

Mr. Bradley: What does Scott Fennell say?

Hon. Mr. Davis: Listen, with great respect to Scott, he is a very fine person, a great Conservative, who I would not doubt is philosophically less than enthusiastic.

But I have to say to the people across the House, I listened very carefully when the national energy program came down. I did not hear a word of opposition from people opposite. I did not hear a word of opposition with respect to Petro-Canada's acquisition of Fina.


Mr. Speaker: Order. Would the Premier just address the question. Never mind the interjections, please.

Hon. Mr. Davis: Yes. If the member wants to compare the Fina arrangement with this one, I have to tell him --


Mr. Speaker: Supplementary, the member for Ottawa Centre.

Mr. Cassidy: Mr. Speaker, we learned yesterday from the representatives of the Ministry of Energy and of the Ontario Energy Corporation that Ontario actively supports Suncor's proposal to make public shares available to Canadians, a proposal which in effect will mean that the 49 per cent that will be held by Sun Oil in the United States will continue to be the controlling interest in the company, because the Canadian ownership will be spread through several hands and not be concentrated in a way to control the company.

Could the Premier explain why it is, if the government does support Canadianization, it has now embarked on a policy with Suncor which will give the appearance of Canadianization but will, in fact, leave control of that company in perpetuity in American hands?

Hon. Mr. Davis: Mr. Speaker. I think we made it abundantly clear when the initial announcement was made that the government of Ontario was not seeking control in the sense of management control of Suncor. We made that abundantly clear. I think any decision with respect to the other 26 per cent, whether it is to Canadians generally or a group of Canadians or a single corporation or group of corporations, the relevant issue is that there be that 26 per cent to be owned by Canadians so that this company will conform to the federal guidelines and the incentive tax policies that exist. That is the foundation and the principle of the national energy policy.


Hon. Mr. Davis: No one is questioning whether or not 51 per cent -- one can argue whether that gives control or does not give control. My recollection is if one has 51 per cent, one does have some modest measure of control.

Mr. J. A. Reed: Mr. Speaker, yesterday's meeting with the experts actually raised as many questions as it answered. During that time the subject of confidentiality, that subject which was the basis of the refusal to provide the McLeod Young Weir reports to this Legislature, did not even arise. Understanding that, and that this whole area of confidentiality may be something of a red herring, will the Premier now agree to let the Suncor issue go before a legislative committee the way it should have been done in the first place?

Hon. Mr. Davis: With great respect, Mr. Speaker, I am not sure it is a matter that should go before a committee of the House with respect to the decision. With respect to questions about it, with respect to information, I have no quarrel with that whatsoever. I would just say, if members did not raise the question of confidentiality yesterday in their discussions --

Mr. Martel: We did.

Hon. Mr. Davis: I got the impression they did not, and if they did not raise it, I would only ask why they did not.

All I know is that I have a copy of a news release dated as recently as November 13 in which Suncor makes it quite clear it does not agree to the release of this documentation. The Ontario Energy Corporation has signed a letter with Suncor on the basis of that confidentiality. I think, as the minister has explained to members, Suncor themselves have not seen this documentation. I was interested in some of the observations in the paper this morning from others; that is fine.

I would only say to the honourable member, the part that I cannot quite get my mind around is the fact that a number of people who are fairly knowledgeable in the field, analysts who deal in the gas and oil industry, have been able --

Mr. Kerrio: They are all wrong.

Hon. Mr. Davis: The member can say they are wrong, but the fact is they have been able to do an analysis. They have been able to take a position with respect to whether this was a good business judgement or not. I think it is also fair to state that no amount of documentation will change the mind of the leader of the member's party, as contradictory as his position is.

The honourable member does not want information to determine whether or not he agrees with the deal, because his party leapt into the fray on day one, automatically opposing us. I am going to be very intrigued at the honourable member's leadership convention, and how he rationalizes his position with the delegates who will be there representing the federal Liberal Party, which they like to embrace on some days, totally reject on other days, because it is totally consistent with what they have outlined as the national energy policy for Canada.

Mr. Cassidy: Mr. Speaker, I have a new question which also relates to the Suncor question which I want to direct to the Premier. Yesterday we learned from the experts who came before our caucus that three quarters of the information which they had prepared was not, in their opinion, sensitive, and that information could, in fact, be released to the Legislature, and through the Legislature to the public.

In view of the fact that Sun Oil sought some 15 buyers for Suncor to meet the requirements of Canadianization before it finally came around to do a deal with the Ontario government, that is that Suncor and Sun Oil need this deal to meet Canadian legal requirements, will the Premier now step in and will the Premier insist that Suncor agree to having that information which is not sensitive made available to the public as a condition of Ontario's going forward with the Suncor purchase?

Hon. Mr. Davis: Mr. Speaker, once again, I was not part of the discussions in the NDP caucus yesterday. If, in fact -- and I will discuss this with the minister -- there are documents, or there is information that those people who have advised us, and who in turn know of the letter of confidentiality, feel on consideration is in fact not the kind of information that needs to be included in that document or that letter of confidentiality, and if Suncor agrees, heavens above, I would be delighted.

I cannot make any judgement with respect to what will have an impact on that document or not. It is not my position to make that sort of judgement. I do not pretend to be an analyst, but I can assure the honourable member, if, in fact, there is material -- and I emphasize "if" -- that those who prepared these reports and advised the government feel is not sensitive, and if Suncor agrees it is not sensitive, then of course it will be forthcoming. And I am sure that information, if, in fact, it becomes available, will convince the member to be more enthusiastic than he has been in the past about this acquisition.

I know full well that whatever information is made available, if it is, will not change the position of that great Liberal Party, that farseeing Liberal organization that is always looking to the future. It has had that great tradition which it has so completely abandoned in the last couple of years in the political history of this province.

Mr. Cassidy: The Premier seems to think that the office of Premier of this province has no particular authority in this particular case. He seems to think that even if Ontario taxpayers are contributing $650 million to Sun Oil -- and that is a lot of money -- it cuts no ice either. He is saying Ontario will enter into a deal which will leave control with Sun Oil in perpetuity and when it comes to getting information he will leave it completely up to Sun Oil as to whether or not it will make the information available.

10:50 a.m.

Is the Premier not aware that according to the confidentiality agreement, which I have a copy of here, representatives of the Ontario Energy Corporation could have access to all the information? That would include members of this Legislature. who have a need to know such information, and that requirement could clearly be met.

Will the Premier agree to have a legislative committee established where members from the three parties would examine all the information made available by Suncor and prepared by McLeod Young Weir and Price Waterhouse on the same basis as the Re-Mor committee went through the Re-Mor files? These were available through the Ontario Provincial Police and the committee was able to establish what information could be made available to the public and then have that information made available to the public.

Will the Premier undertake to do that? Is he not aware that if he does not, the only people who will continue to believe in this deal will be the Premier and the Minister of Energy?

Hon. Mr. Davis: In glancing at the confidentiality agreement, I do not read it quite the same way as the honourable member reads it, but that is fine.

It is fine to say the Premier's office can do this, that and the other thing. I think there is also some responsibility on the Premier's office or on the government that when they enter into an agreement they honour that agreement. The leader of the third party can disagree with that as a policy but I think there is some responsibility to honour an agreement. The member may not believe that is true. I happen to think that is something of an obligation. I also think the member raised this possibility with the Minister of Energy and I think the Minister of Energy has replied to it.

I just want to make it abundantly clear this government is not anxious to maintain information that might lead to a greater measure of understanding. We have made the determination, quite obviously. Those who advised us are quite content with the information. But we do have this commitment in terms of the understanding that was reached, which poses that problem.

I speak for the Minister of Energy when I say it is not our intent to maintain any confidentiality for material that does not need to be confidential. I will explore that with him on the basis of the discussions that took place in the NDP caucus yesterday.

Mr. Roy: Mr. Speaker, the Premier keeps telling the people of Ontario what a good deal this is. The basic difficulty my electorate has, those of us who are unsophisticated in financial matters, is if he has such a good deal why does he not show his hand?

The Premier apparently has read the article in today's Globe and Mail by Clarence Shepard, wherein the writer suggests the investment is not as good as the government has said and that is the real reason they are refusing to put any pressure on the other party to disclose this information. He says the Tories "are putting a gag in their own mouth." He goes on to say confidentiality is not so much a matter of law but a matter of "practice and custom." Given the fact that $650 million constitutes public funds, does the Premier not feel some duty at least to give some disclosure?

Why does he not admit the real reason he does not give disclosure is because of his practice that he refuses to divulge anything, whether it is public opinion polls or other decisions? Why does he not admit that and say to the people of Ontario, "We do not give disclosure because it is not such a good deal" or "we are afraid to see the deal in the light of day"?

Hon. Mr. Davis: Mr Speaker, I realize the member for Ottawa East is using his traditional rhetoric that he might be using before juries and whatever. I am even surprised he is not running for the leadership.

Mr. Roy: I just earn an honest living.

Hon. Mr. Davis: I will never quarrel with the honourable member earning a living. My guess is he earns a better living in the courts than he does here. That is only a guess.

Mr. Roy: What has that got to do with it?

Hon. Mr. Davis: Nothing. I say that with perhaps some envy.

I suggest the honourable member, in the latter part of his question, was not stating a question at all. He was making an observation which is totally, factually incorrect.

I read the article, the interview with Mr. Clarence Shepard, the former head of Gulf. I am not going to quarrel with Clarence in this Legislature. I might have some modest disagreements with him when I see him next and I might say on a personal basis, "Clarence, would you have given out the market analysis of Gulf Canada when you were president of that great organization?"

I think I know what his answer would be. I could ask him, with respect, whether he would honour an agreement he signed, a letter he signed on behalf of Gulf Canada when he was president if that letter led to confidentiality. I do not quite understand how somebody can make those observations if he is saying the deal might not be as good as we are saying. I do not know what information he bases his opinion on.

Mr. Kerrio: He is an expert.

Hon. Mr. Davis: If the member is saying he is an expert, then he is basing it on the information he has, which the members say is insufficient. I want to make the point abundantly clear that we are not attempting to hide anything, but we do have a commitment made, a letter executed on behalf of the government with respect to some aspects of confidentiality. We cannot ignore that undertaking.

Mr. Cassidy: I suggested yesterday the officials of the government were acting like Babes in Toyland when they went ahead with this deal. I begin to wonder if it was not like the slaughter of the innocents.

My question to the Premier is this: Since the Ontario Energy Corporation and the Ministry of Energy carried out no independent studies with respect to this deal but took advice only from outside advisers, was the Premier aware, in undertaking the deal, that the cost to the Treasury, after the dividends that would be received from Suncor, would be in the order of $60 million to $80 million a year and that would go on for a substantial number of years before, if ever, it crossed over and money actually began to accrue to the Ontario Treasury?

Was the government aware of those substantial costs, particularly in view of the other competing demands on government dollars?

Hon. Mr. Davis: I think I could go back in the records of this House and find figures in excess of that which the leader of the New Democratic Party has suggested we allocate to the whole field of energy or the resource sector. If I took some of his statements and figures, they would be well beyond the possible $60 million. If he looks at them carefully, he may find they would escalate to several times that figure in terms of what he would suggest we become involved in with respect to the resource sector. I think that is abundantly clear.

I think the honourable member is contradicting himself in his own question. He cannot talk about independent advisers at the same time he is talking about outside advisers. There is no question that the people who advised the government were independent of government. I cannot tell him any more than that. He met with them. I think it is obvious they are independent of government. I would like to think that after the member's discussions with them he felt they were relatively competent, because they are regarded as being competent by 99 per cent of the people in the industry.


Mr. Cassidy: Mr. Speaker, I have a new question for the Premier with respect to his speech on Monday and the announcement about the new business-oriented system of hospital administration the government intends to bring in. I want to ask the Premier about a case where two doctors order their patients put into private hospital beds in an Ontario hospital and both say a private bed is required for health reasons.

In a case where one bed is available, where one patient has coverage and can pay for the bed and the other patient does not have coverage and does not have the means to pay for the bed, is it not correct the hospital administrator will wind up making the decision which patient gets the bed, which patient is put on a stretcher and that for profit reasons the hospital administrator will tend to give the bed to the patient who can pay?

Hon. Mr. Davis: I do not know many hospital administrators but I will tell the member what I think the hospital administrator of Peel Memorial Hospital would do. Being a decent, competent individual, he would simply ask the medical staff, since this is the policy in the hospital and I assume it is the policy in all hospitals, "Who has the greatest medical need?" The decision will be based on need determined by the medical staff of Peel Memorial Hospital. I think the member will find that is true in 99.9 per cent of the hospitals in Ontario.

11 a.m.

While I am on my feet, I did not enter into the discussions yesterday and I am not going to provoke the members except to explain to the leader of the New Democratic Party that if he would read the press very carefully, there was a story or a series of news releases or speculations on Monday morning that related to the possibility of the government of Ontario introducing "new user fees." I appeared at the Ontario Hospital Association on Monday and I made it abundantly clear that Ontario was not going to introduce new user fees.

Mr. Cassidy: If the Premier wants to split hairs, the moment a hospital in the province decides to add one bed over 50 per cent in terms of the beds for which it will charge a semi-private or private user fee, by God that is a new user fee and we are opposed to it.

Given that the government has also told the hospitals there will be more local autonomy, more independence and less direction from the Ministry of Health or from the centre, why does the government intend to do what the Premier has just said, enforce a requirement to ensure that people who just have OHIP coverage will get private or semi-private rooms if that is all that is available or if that is what is medically required?

How will the government ensure that takes place and that profits for the hospitals, which already have been tripled by the announcement the minister made this week, will not lead hospitals to give preference to people who have supplementary coverage or the ability to pay for those private rooms?

Hon. Mr. Davis: I do not know what tripled in the last 48 hours. I am not being provocative, but if the honourable member will read yesterday's Hansard from roughly 3:30 p.m. on, when he was unfortunately not part of the debate, as he chose not to be, he will find that question was answered very clearly, very definitively and in a way he will understand, by the Minister of Health.

Mr. Ruprecht: Mr. Speaker, I have a very simple question for the Premier. Does the Premier of this province believe it is more important for our hospitals to meet that balance sheet or to provide good hospital care? I would like to know his answer to that.

Hon. Mr. Davis: Mr. Speaker, I like to think the two are not mutually exclusive. I think it is the obligation of the hospitals, the government and everybody in the health system to provide good quality health care. That is a very simple answer to a simple question emanating from a particular source; I will not say a simple source.

Mr. McClellan: Mr. Speaker, may I ask the Premier again, and it is not a hypothetical question: Next summer, when we have the normal summer bed closures and the hospital has up to 26 patients in the corridors waiting for a hospital bed, as we have had numerous times in the last four years, can the Premier assure us that the hospital is not going to decide the allocation of beds on the basis of who can afford to pay for private and semi-private beds as opposed to those who are covered under medical insurance for standard ward beds?

Hon. Mr. Davis: Mr. Speaker, I can only say to the honourable member what I said to the leader of his party. He is being just a little bit cynical about the hospital community. I really think he is being cynical about the medical staff and the people in charge of administration.

I do not know many hospitals well but I will refer to Peel Memorial, that is the one I know. I would suggest once again, with respect, that if there are 26 patients, which I do not think will be the case, but if there were in mid July, the decision as to who would get access to what room would be made on the basis of a medical judgement.

I happen to believe in the people who are running our local hospital. I happen to believe in the capacity of the medical staff to make those judgements. If the member does not have that measure of confidence, if he does not think hospital administrators and doctors act in that fashion, then I think it is a matter of regret as to his own outlook.


Mr. McGuigan: Mr. Speaker, in the absence of the Treasurer (Mr. F. S. Miller) I would like to ask the Premier if he agrees, now that the Canadian dollar is close to the 85-cent mark, that this must provide a windfall to his government? It would have budgeted its interest payments at a lower rate of Canadian dollars. Could he not use that windfall to help the farmers, the home owners and the small businessmen who are besieged with high interest rates? Could he not at least bring some hope and some faith that instances such as happened in the chamber yesterday will not be repeated day after day throughout the balance of this year?

Hon. Mr. Davis: I will not comment about yesterday. I think we all feel some regret, Mr. Speaker, and I will not be provocative. I did speak to one or two members opposite with respect to what I sense was some modest applause when that event was taking place.

I can only ask the member if he could go the other route? What if the Canadian dollar dropped on Monday and Tuesday? I think it is perhaps a little bit premature, because the dollar dropped marginally yesterday as a matter of fact. I do not know what it is doing today. I think it is very premature to say, because the dollar appears to be strengthening, this will automatically free up funds for the Treasury. The Treasurer will give this information on Monday, but a good part of our borrowings are in Canadian funds in any event. If the member for London Centre (Mr. Peterson) were here, he could tell exactly how many dollars it is.

Ontario Hydro is the prime borrower in the US market and has been for the past number of years. That is not our borrowing and that borrowing does not reflect itself in our budgetary process. I do not know how much of our public debt would be affected by a strengthening of the Canadian dollar. I wish I could assure the honourable member that trend is going to continue, but I am not sure of that and I do not think the Treasurer is. As a result I think it would be premature to say, "Here is some additional money."

That really is not the issue, in my humble opinion. The issue is the problem faced by the agricultural community. I have had discussions with the president of the Ontario Federation of Agriculture as recently as a few days ago, along with the Treasurer and the Minister of Agriculture and Food (Mr. Henderson). We discussed with the president of the federation the approach to the Biggs report. The member heard what the minister said yesterday and on Tuesday. I think we have demonstrated conclusively it is hard to develop programs where there is equity, because some farmers are hurting more than others. The member finds this in his riding; I find it in mine.

The problem is to find programs where one can say to people who are not participants they are being treated equitably in terms of others who are receiving some assistance. We have singled out the red-meat industry. I think most people in the farm community would acknowledge the red-beef industry probably is the one that has been impacted the most. As a government we demonstrated on Tuesday we are dealing with it on that basis and we are prepared to assess other parts of the Biggs report to see if there are further steps we might take. I assure the honourable member and other members representing the rural or agricultural communities of this province that this government is quite aware of the difficulties facing the agricultural community.

Mr. McGuigan: Supplementary, Mr. Speaker: Does the Premier realize other segments of the farming industry are hurting? The common denominator right across every farm is the interest rates. Surely the Premier realizes the Bank of Canada is determined -- and this seems to be borne out by their actions -- to keep the dollar up around the 85-cent mark. I would ask him to have the Treasurer do some calculations and see what money he has saved or is about to save on the basis of the dollar staying at 85 cents, so that some help can be given across the board, not just to individual segments such as the red-meat industry.

11:10 a.m.

Hon. Mr. Davis: Mr. Speaker, I will certainly discuss this with the Treasurer. I would expect we will be getting some assessment of the Biggs task force report, as it is described. I assure the honourable member we are every bit as concerned about the agricultural community as he is. From my own information there are sectors of the agricultural industry that have been impacted in a negative sense more than others. It is true in small business, it is true in many other aspects because of high interest rates. The problem is to develop a program or series of programs that address the problems and that are equitable.

While the farm community generally is having problems, it is also fair to state it is not so bad for those farmers who have discharged whatever mortgage obligations they may have had over a period of years. This is so perhaps in the milk part of the industry where there have been price increases and the commodity price is not a major problem. Some people in the milk industry, and I happen to know some, are not as hard pressed as people in the beef industry. I think the honourable member acknowledges the differential.

Mr. Nixon: The Premier may recall a meeting at the Constellation Hotel in which his colleague the Treasurer indicated there was a sum of money amounting to as much as $100 million that could be applied for assistance in the farm economy. When he was talking to the Ontario Federation of Agriculture just last week he indicated additional programs would be announced before Christmas.

The Minister of Agriculture (Mr. Henderson) has announced a cow-calf assistance program. Can the Premier assure us this is not the only program the Treasurer had in mind when he made his two previous announcements and that there will be more initiatives forthcoming before the House rises in a week or two?

Hon. Mr. Davis: Mr. Speaker, once again it is always a little bit awkward for me to comment on statements that may have been made or were interpreted in such a fashion. I happened to be at the meeting at the Constellation. I was not with the Treasurer when he met with the federation people about a week or so ago, so I am not really privy to exactly what was said.

I do know the Treasurer made it quite clear at the Constellation that we would be seeking ways and means to give assistance and I think we have demonstrated that. I cannot give the exact figures but I think there were two programs that probably come close to what -- $50 million, $60 million, maybe $70 million?

Mr. Riddell: Fifty-seven million.

Mr. Nixon: There should be another $43 million sitting in the kitty somewhere.

Hon. Mr. Davis: With great respect, if there is any kitty I don't know of it or where it is sitting. But I think we have demonstrated as a government that if there are problems and if we can find an equitable solution, we try to minimize them. I cannot give the member any further commitments because I was not present when the Treasurer made whatever observations he made.

Mr. Speaker: A new question, the member for Sudbury East.

Hon. Mr. Davis: I see the member for Riverdale is the latest Liberal leadership candidate.

Mr. T. P. Reid: There is room for all.

Mr. Speaker: Order.


Mr. Martel: I have a question of the Minister of Labour (Mr. Elgie) regarding the firing of Laurie Meaden by a small jewellery manufacturer in Toronto for refusing to work under conditions she considered unsafe. Is the minister aware of a decision by the Ontario Labour Relations Board which states the following:

"Miss Meaden, nevertheless, did have reasonable grounds to believe that the equipment and the physical conditions of the work place were likely to endanger her and further, her abrupt discharge by Mr. Swartz effectively deprived her of the ability to pursue such rights as she might have under section 23."

Is the minister further aware that Miss Meaden contacted the occupational branch, a Mr. O'Reilly, prior to her refusing to work, and at the time she was dismissed for refusing to work, she again contacted the same Mr. O'Reilly and he refused to go out to investigate it and did not investigate until two weeks later? What type of investigative process is going on that would see this woman dismissed and they would not go out there to assist the woman?

Hon. Mr. Elgie: Mr. Speaker, I have not read the decision. I understand what the member is calling a dismissal was considered a constructive dismissal. The difference is really minor.

While I am not commenting on the decision of the board, I would like to comment on the facts of the case a bit. Either some facts were overlooked or they were not brought to the board's attention. Whatever the nature of the dismissal was, I guess it occurred on May 5. The industrial health and safety branch was contacted by Mrs. Meaden on May 6, and a visit was made by an inspector to that --

Mr. Martel: I have it here.

Hon. Mr. Elgie: I am telling the facts. I do not care what the story in the newspaper says --

Mr. Martel: No, I have the decision.

Hon. Mr. Elgie: I do not care what the decision said. I am --

Mr. McClellan: He doesn't care about that either. He doesn't care about the facts.

Hon. Mr. Elgie: Could the member sit still for a minute? Remember what the Speaker talked about today -- decorum and students in the audience and all that stuff. They like to know, as I do. If an answer is requested people will listen to it.

I am advised and have confirmed from the records and personal conversations with the assistant deputy minister in charge of occupational health and safety, Dr. Robinson, that an inspector visited that jewellery plant on May 6, the same day the complaint was received.

Mr. Martel: I am only going by the decision.

Hon. Mr. Elgie: I do not care what the member is saying. I am telling him what the industrial health and safety records show. I am also advised that the inspector put in a request for an occupational health physician to visit that establishment, and he did so. But that did not occur until some time after. I understand that. I am looking into why there was that untimely delay.

Mr. Martel: Oh, you admit there was a delay?

Hon. Mr. Elgie: Hang on. The member did not listen to me. An inspector visited the jewellery shop the same day the complaint was received and, in his determination, it was not a matter that needed an emergency call put out for a physician to come in and do some testing. He did consider testing was required, and he did put in a request for a physician. A physician attended, did the appropriate testing, reached his conclusions and made those conclusions known. The only thing the judgement apparently overlooked is the fact the inspector visited on the day of the complaint. I do not think one can be criticized for that.

Mr. Martel: Supplementary, Mr. Speaker: In view of the decision by the board, which states, "We can draw no other conclusion but that she was discharged because she chose to exercise that right," that is a clear contravention of article 24(1)(a) of the Occupational Health and Safety Act. Will the minister indicate, because of that violation, if charges have been laid against the company? And is the minister not aware if he does not bring charges the act becomes totally useless, because people will not exercise their right to refuse to do something they consider to be unsafe for fear of dismissal?

Hon. Mr. Elgie: Mr. Speaker, I shall not argue about whether one should have the right to refuse work that is perceived to be unsafe. There is no argument about that. But if the member will read the decision, there was not -- and maybe there should not have to be -- a formal refusal to work. On the facts of this case it was a very different sort of situation, and the labour board considered it to be constructive dismissal. There may be a fine line between the two in this case. I do not know that. Certainly I am prepared to look at it --

Mr. Martel: Did you lay a charge?

Hon. Mr. Elgie: One cannot lay a charge unless there is a whole procedure under the Occupational Health and Safety Act of a refusal to work, initial consultations, and a calling in of the inspector over the refusal to work. That did not occur.

Mr. Martel: She did call and the minister knows it.

Hon. Mr. Elgie: She did not call over that issue.


Mr. Kennedy: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Minister of Industry and Tourism (Mr. Grossman). With respect to the Admiral plant closure, will the minister report on the state of discussions or negotiations, if they are still taking place, which might lead to the reopening of this plant and restoration of jobs?

Hon. Mr. Grossman: Mr. Speaker, I appreciate my colleague's ongoing interest and the attention he and the member for Cambridge (Mr. Barlow) are paying to this very serious matter. I should report that the discussions are still continuing, happily. We cannot be sure they will reach a successful conclusion, but several of the parties are still involved, talking and spending a lot of serious time and money in terms of the cost of staying in negotiations for an extended period of time.

11:20 a.m.

I always avoid giving my own guess as to whether it will turn out successfully, but it is important to note that discussions are continuing, that everyone believes it is worth while to stay at the table and that appropriate steps are being taken to ensure there is no cherry-picking in the plant or the dismantling of the operation. Steps are being taken to ensure there are two plants in place ready to be reactivated if the other details can be worked out.

Mr. Kennedy: Could the minister say if representatives of the Ontario Development Corporation are involved in these discussions? How soon in the foreseeable future might we have some conclusion?

Hon. Mr. Grossman: We are staying abreast of those discussions and are well-informed on their progress. We have indicated that if our participation is necessary to bring it to a conclusion financially or any other way we would be prepared to do so. It is difficult to predict when there will be a resolution one way or the other. It could happen literally any time between a week and six weeks. I would expect something would develop somewhere within that time frame.

Mr. Breithaupt: A supplementary question, Mr. Speaker, by way of redirection to the Minister of Labour (Mr. Elgie) with respect to the Admiral situation: Some time ago the minister announced claims had been made to the receivers on behalf of the employees pursuant to the Employment Standards Act. Now that the company has been petitioned into bankruptcy by a group of five creditors, can the minister advise us, with the ongoing interest we all have in this situation, what impact the formal bankruptcy will have on the status of those claims in the Admiral circumstance?

Hon. Mr. Elgie: Mr. Speaker, the previous agent and the previous receiver, on behalf of the Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec, had already been advised of the claims with respect to vacation pay and the employment standards branch is expected to have the other information regarding other wages or other benefits owing within the next week or two.

I am not sure whether the fact it has been changed into a bankruptcy from an insolvency situation affects the status of those claims significantly. The member will recall the Supreme Court of Canada has clearly said no province and no lien can change the ranking of people within the Bankruptcy Act, nor can any lien take precedence over a pre-existing right that occurred prior to the deposition of other liens, for example. I would like to get that confirmed by my counsel, if I may, but my opinion at the moment would be the status really has not changed as a result of that.

Mr. Breithaupt: Will you report to us if the information is otherwise'?

Hon. Mr. Elgie: Yes, if the opinion is otherwise, I will be pleased to report to the member.


Hon. Mr. Walker: Mr. Speaker, I would like to respond to a question asked November 17 by the member for Essex North (Mr. Ruston) about the refusal to approve the use of electrically operated vent dampers called Vent-O-Matic which are being promoted as energy-saving devices.

A standard does exist in Ontario for electrically operated automatic vent dampers. However, they have to be certified for use with new gas-fired furnaces on the condition that a B vent or a factory A chimney be used on the vertical part of the venting system.

I do not want to go into the technical details of these but basically they are insulated devices rather than a simple brick chimney. I am prepared to write to the member and set out in more detail the answers to it, but generally speaking our concern is really with life safety.

If one of these automatic vent dampers should fail, it would cause products of combustion to be spilled into the furnace room and the production of lethal concentrations of carbon monoxide gases would occur. The problem is basically that one has a furnace chimney and the chimney is closed by an automatic device. If it stays closed, perhaps during an electrical failure, the carbon monoxide buildup will be deadly.

It is important to note that, when an existing furnace is retrofitted with an automatic vent damper, several conditions are created which do not meet our own criteria for safety. First of all, there is the technical expertise required to marry this device successfully to an existing furnace. In the factory situation, as the member brought to our attention, the automatic vent damper is interconnected to a new furnace by technicians trained to work on a single furnace. However, in the field the fitter may be required to install automatic dampers on a variety of existing furnaces; there is where the danger occurs, and that is a problem.

There are a variety of other problems with it, and we simply cannot make an approval until we are 100 per cent sure that death will not occur as a result of these dampers. In the case of the new furnaces, they are being installed by factory-trained people on factory-made furnaces made for that purpose. In the retrofit cases, all of us are very frightened about the prospect of death.


Mr. Spensieri: Mr. Speaker, a question of the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations: I wish to draw the minister's attention to the recent reports of handgun proliferation among the youth in the Jane-Finch area of North York. Most of the guns that have been seized have been doctored from starter pistols; some of them are being doctored in our high school shops. These so-called innocent guns may be purchased in hardware stores or even in variety stores; the purchasers do not need permits.

In view of all of these facts, will the minister consider making representations to the federal Minister of Justice, and will he consider appropriate steps the province may take to control the sale of these pistols and to minimize the opportunities for such abuse?

Hon. Mr. Walker: Mr. Speaker, this is certainly a serious matter, and I will have it drawn immediately to the attention of the Attorney General (Mr. McMurtry), who was here earlier this morning. I think he will want to comment on that through his responsibilities either as Attorney General or Solicitor General.

As it turns out there will be a meeting on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday of the ministers responsible for justice in Canada. That will be held in Ottawa and it should afford an opportunity to draw to the attention of the federal minister just such a consideration.

Mr. Spensieri: Can the minister then indicate whether he is likely to make suggestions or representations to the federal minister to include specific provisions requiring purchasers to be of a certain age and to possess permits for the purchase of these guns? Will he limit the sale of these guns to approved gun shops only and restrict the sale of these pistols by appropriate penalties for shopkeepers?

Hon. Mr. Walker: I think the arguments made in the question are warranted, and they will certainly be looked into. If these starter pistols are being converted into weapons that can inflict the kind of damage that is being suggested here, obviously they have to have applied to them the same kinds of rules and regulations that we apply to all other handguns.


Mr. Stokes: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Provincial Secretary for Resources Development.

The Royal Commission on the Northern Environment has cost the taxpayers about $6 million and is losing staff, and now, finally, Grand Council Treaty 9 say they have lost all confidence in the royal commissioner to respond and report on the terms of reference that were assigned to it more than four years ago.

Is the minister aware the royal commission has asked for a substantially large amount of money from the cabinet and that it will not be able to report for at least another two years?

Will the government and the secretariat look into the possibility of appointing somebody else as the royal commissioner so that this work can proceed and live up to the hopes and aspirations of a good many people in northwestern Ontario for the success of that royal commission, which is going nowhere at present?

Hon. Mr. Ramsay: Mr. Speaker, I am aware there have been two meetings held within the past month with the royal commissioner and various deputy ministers of this government to try to ascertain exactly when the report will be forthcoming and what additional studies are still required.

This was the subject of a further discussion at the cabinet committee on resources development just yesterday. We hope to have the matter resolved prior to the end of this year or very early next year as to the termination date of the commission and as to exactly what studies will be made in the remaining months and the date of the final report.

As far as Grand Treaty 9 is concerned, I arranged just yesterday to meet with Chief Wally McKay to discuss this matter on Monday, December 14, at 10 a.m. in my office. I believe that both the cabinet committee on resources development and my secretariat are very much up to date on these matters and are dealing with them as expeditiously as possible.

11:30 a.m.



Hon. Mr. Wells moved that notwithstanding any previous order, the House will meet in the chamber on Wednesday next, December 9, at 2 p.m., and on Thursday, December 10, from 10 a.m. until 1 p.m., with routine proceedings at 2 p.m.

Mr. Speaker: Shall the motion carry?

Mr. T. P. Reid: No. That is cruel and unusual punishment.

Mr. Speaker: Carried? Carried.

Motion agreed to.


Hon. Mr. Wells moved that the standing committee on public accounts be authorized to sit on the morning of Tuesday, December 8.

Motion agreed to.


Mr. Ruston: Mr. Speaker, before the Orders of the Day, I would like to draw the attention of the House to the passing of Dr. and Colonel Paul Poisson who was a member of the Legislature for Essex North from 1926 to 1934. I want to say how well respected he was in his community. He was the former mayor of the town of Tecumseh. I had known him for a number of years when he was connected with a medical co-operative and through his medical profession as well. He was one of the first ones to congratulate me on my election in 1967. I just want to say how much we give sympathy to the family.

Mr. Speaker: I am sure all members of the Legislature will join in expressing their sympathy to the family.


Hon. Mr. Wells: Mr. Speaker, I wish to table the answers to questions 223 to 236, and the interim answers to questions 250 to 254, standing on the Notice Paper. (See appendix, page 4243.)


House in committee of supply.


On vote 601, ministry administration program:

Mr. Chairman: We are continuing with the estimates. Unfortunately. I will have to have my memory refreshed as to a specific speaker on vote 601. Did the minister have a comment?

Hon. Mr. Wells: Mr. Chairman, as I recall, I was in the process of answering some of the points that had been raised during the opening statements. In deference to my friend from Ottawa, and so we can get on with matters, I will reserve my answers to the various points until we get to the places where they come up during our discussion of the individual estimates.

Mr. Chairman: If there is agreement, we will ask whether there are any opening questions on vote 601.

Mr. Roy: Mr. Chairman, I appreciate the opportunity of making a few comments on these estimates. I feel privileged to follow in the footsteps of the great Canadian who made his opening remarks on these estimates, the member for Brant-Oxford-Norfolk (Mr. Nixon). This is an opportunity for me and my colleagues to have a certain amount of discussion on some of the very important events that have taken place over the last few days or last few weeks in the federal House and basically across the country.

I want to say that my own view, and the minister may agree personally with me on this, is that it was unfortunate in some ways that we did not have a full-scale debate in this assembly dealing with major amendments to the constitution. I consider the final package that was put forward on November 18, 1981, in the federal Parliament a very important event indeed. After some 114 years, I think it is significant that there is a consensus. I intend to comment on the fact that Quebec is unfortunately not part of that consensus, but nevertheless there is a consensus and movement, with substantial agreement to proceed with the patriation of the constitution, with an amending formula and, of course, with the charter.

It should be underlined, certainly for those of us who have participated in our own select committee on constitutional reform or who followed the developments at the federal-provincial conferences that have taken place over these many years, that this is a significant and important event in the history of this country.

I will talk later about the fact that Quebec is not supporting this package, but in fairness I should underline the role played by our provincial representative in the agreement of this package. I extend to the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs my wholehearted support for the role played by Ontario, especially in this last conference, which resulted in the resolution that has been presented to the federal House in the last few weeks.

I have always had some reservations about the role played by the Premier (Mr. Davis) and the role played by Ontario generally in these federal-provincial conferences. For instance, a year ago last September, I had serious reservations. I thought the Premier's role at that time was not significant and, in fact, the press at that time showed some displeasure. They thought the contribution of the Premier from such an important province was somewhat superficial.

I said that publicly at that time; so I have no hesitation in saying now that I think there can be very little doubt that the Premier of this province, and I am not one to throw flowers in his direction on a regular basis, did play a significant role in this conference, which resulted in the present resolution.

The contributions of the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs and of the Attorney General (Mr. McMurtry) to the accord should also be underlined. We in this House, and I as the critic, underline the role played by all those representing Ontario, from the Premier to the ministers I have mentioned, to the deputy minister who is seated at the table and, although I do not want to get too involved, even by people -- acolytes, we might call them -- like Hugh Segal and others.

I think there can be no doubt that Ontario's contribution to the final package was significant -- I think that should be underlined -- and that these people should have the gratitude of all members of the House and of the public.

11:40 a.m.

I am extremely pleased with some aspects of the resolution. For instance, the charter is something that I think will do us proud over the years. More cynical people -- and I do not want to point a finger in any direction -- might say that this is going to be a make-work project for lawyers.

Mr. Nixon: Who would say that?

Mr. Roy: As my friend the member for Brant-Oxford-Norfolk says, "Who would say that?" Who would have the absolute gall to say something like that?

I must say in all candour that the charter, and certainly the amending formula, will not hurt the legal profession. Let us just say that the poor, maligned legal profession is suffering, especially in Ontario, as members know. The members of the Law Society of Upper Canada are saying that their numbers are too large in view of the economic slowdown.

My God! We heard just last week that in one of our great cities, Windsor, something like a dozen lawyers were either on unemployment insurance or on welfare. Some of my friends here do not believe it. I have difficulty believing it myself, but I can understand that in some areas of the province the economic slowdown is such that the legal profession is facing very difficult times. Such legislation as this package will in some measure certainly create cases or cause cases to come forward, and it will not hurt the profession.

But, apart from these mundane conclusions that one can make on the charter, I think it is important to note that it is a significant step. In spite of the fact that there are opting-out provisions in the charter, I am extremely pleased to see this country have a charter.

I was pleased to see that finally the other provinces showed some willingness to make concessions and that finally the women of this country and the native peoples are also protected in this charter. I think it would have been despicable if the charter had gone forward in its original form as a result of the agreement back in early November. I think we would have been ashamed in this great country, which has a tradition of protecting civil rights and human freedoms, if we had had a charter that not only did not protect women in this country but also did not give substantial protection to our native peoples or, as I am going to say later on, to the minorities in this country.

I am pleased that a concession was made. As the Prime Minister said yesterday, obviously we would have preferred to have had something more substantial and to have had a tighter package. But the fact is that concessions have to be made, unfortunately, and I suppose we should be pleased with what we have.

Where I must say I am very disappointed is in the area of protection for the French-speaking minority in this province. I appreciate the fact that we did get some protection in the field of education; we are pleased about that. But I am very critical of the Premier on that basis; and I have no reservation about seriously condemning the government, and especially the Premier. This goes back to September or October of 1980 at that conference.

Members will recall that in May 1980 there was a discussion in this Legislature about Ontario taking a significant role in the constitutional amendment. I think it was in September 1980 that a conference was held. It was at that federal-provincial conference in Ottawa that the Premier, in my opinion, distorted the meaning and the legal implications of section 133 of the British North America Act.

As a result, in the by-election in Carleton and the subsequent election, there was a real backing off in the sense that the population of Ontario, in my opinion, was inflamed against making any concessions pertaining to section 133. It became known as a bête noir in the sense that we did not talk about section 133. The party leaders stayed away from it and did a disservice to the French-speaking minority of Ontario and to the country.

The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms is moving forward with provisions that give protection to official languages at the federal level. Unfortunately, that protection is not there for Ontario. I want to spend a few minutes to clear the record, if nothing else, on that issue.

We keep hearing that if we get involved in section 133, we will be involved in official bilingualism in Ontario. Let us see where we could have moved forward without chaos and without causing any panic or disruption in this province.

Let us look at the language provisions of the charter. First, we have section 16, which deals with the official languages. Section 16(1) of the charter talks about both official languages at the federal level and in federal institutions. Since New Brunswick accepts that same principle in section 16(2), the question is, could Ontario have accepted it? In my opinion, it certainly could.

But let us say that I am trying to be as open-minded and flexible as possible this morning, and I say: "Okay. Maybe you have some hangups about the question of official languages in Ontario." Let us say for the sake of argument, "In Ontario it would be impractical and unacceptable to accept section 16(2) making French one of the official languages in Ontario."

Accepting that proposition, we say, "Given the disparity in numbers, and given that you want to emphasize services rather than official bilingualism, perhaps Ontario could have made a case on that particular point."

Section 17 deals with the use of languages in debates in the proceedings of the legislatures or the Parliament of Canada. Could Ontario not have accepted with no disruptions whatsoever the provisions of section 17(2) of the charter which states simply that everyone has the right to use English or French in any debates or proceedings of the Legislature of New Brunswick. It is only for New Brunswick. Could that not have said "New Brunswick and Ontario"?

We have it now. Our standing orders permit that to take place. Perhaps we should read our standing order into the record. It states, "Every member desiring to speak must rise in his place and address himself to the Speaker, in either English or French." How is that different from section 17(2) of the charter which refers to the use of French and English?

I think all members could agree that if we have it in our standing orders now, what difference would it have made to put it in the charter? It would have been simple and an important step forward.

11:50 a.m.

Moving on, section 18(2) says, "The statutes, records and journals of the Legislature of New Brunswick shall be printed and published in English and French." Maybe the government of Ontario has a hangup about publishing things in both English and French. Some people would argue that it is a waste of time and money. I do not agree with that, but I will concede that point. Maybe they have a hangup about this because it would have made things officially bilingual; they would have had to print all bills in both languages, and it just would not have been practical to do so.

I am saying to the government that for all the disruption it would have caused, the symbolism of having accepted this section would have been important. But I will concede to the government that they have a hangup about that; so forget it. The government could have stayed away from section 18.

Section 19(2) then talks about the use of French and English in the courts. It says, "Either English or French may be used by any person in, or in any pleading in or process issuing from, any court of New Brunswick." Again, we have it in Ontario. We have the use of French and English at all levels in the criminal courts. Why could we not have put that in the charter?

For instance, the Attorney General (Mr. McMurtry) announced just a couple of weeks ago that in civil cases in certain areas of the province you can use both languages. What would the difficulty have been? We could have refined section 19(2) to conform to section 130 of the Judicature Act with no problem.

What I am trying to say is that it appears to me that Ontario made no effort to be conciliatory on this particular section. It would have been so easy, it would have rendered justice to the minority in Ontario and it would have been an important element in the propaganda war that is still going on in Quebec.

Section 20(2) of the charter talks about services: "Any member of the public in New Brunswick has the right to communicate with, and to receive available services from, any office of an institution of the Legislature or government of New Brunswick in English or French." That resembles Bill 68 or Bill 69 a little bit, which I put forward in 1978. It is not quite the same because, again, the bill was refined in a sense to give services where the services were necessary.

Mr. Boudria: Bill 89.

Mr. Roy: Yes. Bill 89.

Again, I find it unfortunate that Ontario did not move forward on that particular aspect; it would have been important in the process. Unfortunately, we are left in a situation now where we do not have it. It is an opportunity that has been missed. It is not every day that we amend the constitution, Mr. Chairman, as you know. You know the difficulties we have had in reaching this point in time.

But it is unlikely that the proper amendments will be made, and we are left with the result that a significant minority will not get full justice under this charter. This situation makes the case for them that they have not received justice, and it makes the case very strongly in Quebec that the federal government was prepared to enforce in Quebec certain provisions with regard to education that the Parti Quêbécois find offensive in relation to their Bill 101.

The argument in Quebec is simply this: How can the federal government enforce those provisions in Quebec when it is not prepared to enforce certain other provisions in Ontario? I think it makes the federal case very difficult. I find it sad that we are left with this result. I think this was an opportunity that should not have been missed. As pleased as I am with the charter, I am seriously disappointed in the fact that these omissions were made.

I want to say one further thing. We have a selling job to do for this charter in Quebec. I have been looking again at the events in that province, and I think there can be no doubt that the present government, whose option is always the independence of Quebec, is doing a terrific propaganda job in convincing the people of Quebec that they were right in refusing to be part of this package, to the point where René Lévesque claims that 80 per cent of the people of Quebec are supportive of his position.

Members have seen the recent polls that indicate some 53 per cent of the people apparently would be prepared now to vote for souveraineté-association and close to some 60 per cent of the people in Quebec apparently believe that his option is more reasonable than the option proposed by Prime Minister Trudeau and the federal government.

With the propaganda war going on in Quebec, I think there is a role to be played by Ontario. We have a selling job to do in that province, and I think we must not just sit back on our laurels and say, "Yes, we have a package." Somehow the federal government, the federal MPs, other provinces and people who can communicate with the people in Quebec are not doing a job in selling this package, because Premier Lévesque is getting away with saying that this package will take powers away from Quebec and will not compensate it sufficiently.

As we know, his opposition is basically that he has lost his veto now. There is the argument that he had lost it anyway in making an agreement with the other seven provinces last year. He claims he cannot now opt out because he will not get financial compensation. I think there has to be a refinement on that aspect of the charter. Finally, he is very opposed to the guarantees for the anglophones in his province, which he says run contrary to some of the provisions of Bill 101.

I am saying I think there is room for some compromise. I am not naive enough to think that any compromise is going to be acceptable to Lévesque. With the final option he is looking at, it is impossible that he is going to accept any package, but somehow the message is not to the government of Quebec but to the people of Quebec.

I have said hundreds of times in this Legislature that we have to keep in mind and keep differentiating between the option of the government and what the majority of the people in Quebec believe. We have a selling job to do and when the distortion has taken place as regards what the charter stands for or what compromise Ontario or the other provinces are prepared to make, I think we have ourselves a job.

I would like to speak on a number of other matters, but I realize there are time constraints and a number of my colleagues want to participate in this debate. I just want to say a couple of things to the minister. One has to do with a recent appointment. I appreciate the minister is in charge of French-language services in Ontario, and I do not want to spend too much time talking about my good friend Omer Déslauriers, the Conservative candidate in the last election. He has gone on to greater and better things, Mr. Chairman, and you should wish for a job like that; for having suffered abuse for some 40 days, you end up with a plush job in Brussels, expense accounts and everything else. I will not spend much time on that, because I have a question on the Order Paper.

Hon. Mr. Wells: It has already been answered.

Mr. Roy: The minister says it has already been answered, and I look forward to that.

As you know, Mr. Chairman, you just do not go to Brussels at a straight salary. There are other perks involved with this job. Opening up a new office, you become part of the international community; so all the perks flow with that. Those who felt sorry for Omer during the 1981 campaign should shed no tears, because he was in a "Heads I win, tails I don't lose" position. He did okay. He has gone on to greater and better things, and I will not spend any more time on that.


Mr. Roy: His reward was not based on his performance during the campaign. I suppose his reward was based on the ultimate sacrifice of having decided to come into Ottawa East in the first place.

12 noon

I want to ask the minister a couple of questions that are of concern to me. I noticed that Omer, who is the president of the Council for Franco-Ontarian Affairs, le Conseil des affaires franco-ontariennes, has been replaced by M. Roger Régimbal, whom I do not know.

This minister has some sympathy for the Franco-Ontarian community and has some knowledge of it. Over the years, as Minister of Education, he has acquired a well-deserved reputation as being somewhat sensitive to the needs of that community.

I do not know M. Régimbal. I hope that I am proven wrong and that he turns out to be a tremendous success as president of the Franco-Ontarian council. But as I look at M. Régimbal's background, I have some difficulty understanding why we could not get a Franco-Ontarian who has been involved over the years in the process here and who understands the workings and needs of that community.

M. Régimbal's whole background is from the province of Quebec. He was born in Sudbury and went to school in North Bay, but he graduated from the University of Montreal around 1946 and spent most of his professional life in Quebec. As well, he was elected as a Conservative member for the federal Parliament for the riding of Argenteuil-Two Mountains from 1965 to 1968.

M. Régimbal was in one national leadership convention -- I do not recall which one it was, the Stanfield one or the one involving Joe Clark; I suspect it goes back to Stanfield -- where he was co-chairman of that convention. I remember him from the television coverage. Then M. Régimbal went on from there to the Workmen's Compensation Board. Now he is chairman of the Council for Franco-Ontarian Affairs.

His background does not lend itself to one who fully understands the needs of Franco-Ontarians. I am disappointed. I would have thought there would have been a number of excellent candidates in Ontario who would have fulfilled that task admirably.

I know it is not easy to ask people to move to Toronto, knowing the difficulties and the financial constraints involved with that. But, considering the importance of that job, we could have done better. The minister could have had someone who had some association or some active involvement with or some profile in the Franco-Ontarian community. I do not think M. Régimbal fills that role. Maybe I am unfairly maligning this individual. That may be, and I apologize if I am; but I have to say things I have certain reservations about.

If the financial constraints were such that people were refusing the job, the minister could have made some amendments. After all, the government is paying people all sorts of good money to be serving in a variety of roles in Ontario. The head of the Franco-Ontarian council should be considered one of the more important functions in Ontario, and the financial remuneration should be such that we can get the best people possible to fill that role. I do not think the minister has done so in this latest appointment.

I want to say to the minister and the deputy minister, that is what makes the community somewhat cynical about this government at times, when you appear to be so insensitive and at times even cynical when it comes to such appointments. For instance, that a person like Déslauriers would move from president to running against one of the elected candidates and then get this good job in Brussels, to be replaced by another individual who apparently has not had much association with the Franco-Ontarian community, but seems to have some serious involvement with the Conservative Party.

The government may say I am too political, too cynical. I may be, but a lot of people feel the same way I do. I appreciate that the government rewards people with different jobs and that the federal Liberals do the same thing. I do not deny that. But there are some positions that should be above such political considerations, and I am saying that president of the Franco-Ontarian council is one of them.

Having made these very few brief comments, I will take my seat and hope to have a further opportunity to discuss the ongoing constitutional, interprovincial and intergovernmental estimates.

Mr. Renwick: Mr. Chairman, you may recall on November 23, over two and a half weeks ago, on a Monday afternoon, I rose on a matter of privilege to make a statement with respect to the constitutional accord, and the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Smith), for reasons best known only to him, interrupted me and I was not able to complete my statement.

On that occasion, I had intended to say, and I now say, that I rise on a matter of privilege, as a member of this assembly, to dissociate myself from the accord reached by the first ministers at the constitutional conference that concluded on November 5 last. I may say that dissociation continues to this day, regardless of the changes that have been made as a result of the debate in the House of Commons and the resolution that in these very latter days is now before the Senate of Canada. I do so with regret but for a number of reasons.

First, whatever the federal nature of Canada may be, historically, constitutionally and politically it does not permit the isolation of the government and National Assembly of Quebec.

Second, it is unacceptable to me that the first ministers unanimously agreed to delete from the charter the rights of the aboriginal peoples of Canada.

Third, it is unacceptable to me to permit the federal Parliament, or any provincial parliament, to withdraw from persons living within Canada any of the fundamental freedoms, legal rights, or equality rights set out in the charter.

Fourth, it is unacceptable to me that the government of Ontario would not accept graciously, for Canadian citizens in Ontario who are French-speaking, the provisions of section 133 of the British North America Act.

Fifth, it is unacceptable to me, constitutionally, for this accord to have been agreed to by the first minister of this province without any consultation, reference or other involvement of this assembly.

For all and each of the foregoing reasons, I dissociate myself from the accord. I do want to take the opportunity to comment briefly on each of those reasons for my dissociation, not in a sense of debate but in a sense of wishing to make my own personal position on the questions abundantly clear before the constitution is amended.

I recognize that at this point debate is of almost no use. No change is going to take place and, therefore, it is not in any argumentative sense that I comment further on these matters. Before I do comment, I want to say to the minister and to his colleague the Attorney General (Mr. McMurtry), and to the Premier (Mr. Davis) of the province, how much I appreciate the immense effort of time, ability and attention they and their advisers in the public service of Ontario, and indeed, advisers outside the public service of Ontario gave over a long and difficult period of time to these very serious and very important questions.

My dissociation does not in any way reflect upon the appreciation which I extend to them for the efforts which they made during the arduous process of constitutional amendment.

12:10 p.m.

For reasons which I do not understand, the apologia which is now given for the constitutional accord does not seem to reflect anything that I have ever perceived about Canada as I understand it. I am, in a sense, a part of all that I have met, and many of the things that I say today are not either original to me or products of my own thought, but of the contributions that many other people have made to the way in which I view this country.

Let me just say specifically, to illustrate what I mean, that the kind of statement that appeared in an editorial in the Winnipeg Free Press the day after the accord was signed is entirely contrary to the kind of version of Canada that I believe in.

That editorial said: "In all, the agreement signed yesterday is a typically Canadian document; complicated, untidy and not terribly inspiring. It is the kind of compromise which has permitted the Canadian federation to muddle along for the past 114 years." I cannot conceive of such an attitude towards this country. I have a much more positive sense of the creative capacity of the country than to indicate that is the result of all of the work and effort that was put into the accord which is now before us.

Perhaps that attitude reflects why I believe that in these significant areas the constitutional board has failed in the sense as I understand it. I speak really for myself. There is nothing which I have to say which is in any way contrary to the policies adopted by my party in convention, so in that sense I am not in any way dissociating myself from the goals and objectives and inspirations that lie behind the New Democratic Party.

I may also say I am not in any sense speaking as a lawyer, nor am I speaking as one who has had a long interest in constitutional matters, both legal and historical. Neither am I speaking about the continuing interest I have had in the evolution of the jurisprudential content of the phrase "aboriginal rights." I speak solely on this occasion as a member of this assembly elected from the riding of Riverdale, and I stand in this place today in that capacity and in no other capacity.

My first dissociation was with respect to the isolation of the government in the National Assembly of Quebec. I do not accept the philosophy or the ideology of the Parti Québecois which forms the majority government in Quebec. It is the majority party, and therefore the government of the province.

I find it impossible to accept the specious argument which is now being made, that the people of Quebec who elected that government, because they also elected 74 members to the House of Commons from another party, are in some way being represented solely by those who sit in the federal Parliament in respect of their true beliefs in the country. I find that argument and that discussion quite specious.

I want simply to adopt, for my own language, words of another when I say that when we look to our own past we can see that the working out of relations between English-speaking and French-speaking Canadians is the central issue of our country's history. No discussion of our institutions can proceed except as the history of the evolution of the relations between the French and the English on this continent.

The dominant theme of constitution-making in Canada in 1867 was the accommodation of the two great linguistic communities in Canada, the English and the French. That is the paramount theme of constitutional discussion then and now, and it will continue to be the paramount theme. I need say nothing further about the first ground for my dissociation from the constitutional accord.

My second concern about the constitutional accord related to the unanimous agreement of the first ministers to delete from the charter the rights of the aboriginal peoples of Canada. I am aware, of course, that since that time the statement about aboriginal rights was reinstated in the constitutional resolution. But it was reinstated with the addition of the word "existing." As I understand it, that clause now reads, "The existing aboriginal and treaty rights of the aboriginal peoples of Canada are hereby recognized and affirmed."

I have listened to the reasons that have been given for the acceptance of the word "existing" as a qualifying adjective to the aboriginal rights that we are trying to protect. Anyone who has studied the evolution of the concept of the aboriginal rights in the courts of this country, without going into it in any great detail, understands it is an evolving concept.

The argument is made that the addition of the word "existing" did not alter that clause in any way. It is my opinion and belief that the addition of that word, instead of explaining and being of no consequence, will turn out to be a limitation on aboriginal rights as they will evolve from this time forward.

I believe it would have been better for the aboriginal peoples not to have had that clause in the constitution of the country at all rather than to have accepted the inclusion of that clause with the word "existing." Time alone will tell whether or not this is of any consequence, but that is my view, and I believe it is supported by the evolutionary nature of the jurisprudential content of the term "aboriginal rights."

My third fundamental dissociation is because of the clause that has been known as the override, the clause that puts at the mercy of the Parliament of Canada or of any other assembly in Canada the clauses of the constitution dealing with fundamental freedoms, legal rights and equality rights.

Again, I recognize that in another part of the constitutional package, in another part of the so-called charter of rights, there was an effort to recognize, under immense pressure, the equality of men and women in this country. That does not, however, speak to the question of the override that exists with respect to the equality rights as they are stated in an earlier part of the charter.

Let me just make this brief comment: I accept the qualification of those rights which appears in the early part of the charter, which states that the rights and guarantees in this charter are "subject only to such reasonable limits prescribed by law as can be demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society."

12:20 p.m.

I accept the qualification of those rights and I had no difficulty in accepting that. Here again, I speak of myself as a representative in a parliamentary representative democracy which is one of the foundations of the belief I have in the nature of this country and a tradition to which I give my total and unreserved allegiance.

For whatever other reasons, I can say quite clearly there is no constituent of mine in the riding of Riverdale, whether he exercised his franchise or not or whether in the future he exercises his franchise to elect a member to this assembly, be he a representative of this party or of any other party, who believes that the representatives of this assembly could have the right to override, in any way, freedom of conscience and religion, freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression, including freedom of the press and other media of communication, freedom of peaceful assembly and freedom of association.

I cannot conceive that if I were to go through my riding and ask each and every citizen whether he believed that I or the Parliament of Canada and the person representing that riding in the Parliament of Canada should have any such right to override those fundamental freedoms, anyone would say he believed that.

I may say that when one comes to the next grouping of rights which can be overridden by the Parliament of Canada or by this assembly, which are entitled legal rights, I cannot believe that anyone in my riding elected me as his representative to, in any way at anytime, breach the following right, "Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of the person and the right not to be deprived thereof except in accordance with the principles of fundamental justice."

I cannot believe that anybody in my riding elected me to override this right, "Everyone has the right to be secure against unreasonable search or seizure."

I am not going to preface the remark in each of the following items but I am going to read them into the record, because I was not elected to breach or to ever vote in favour of breaking these rights: "Everyone has the right not to be arbitrarily detained or imprisoned.

"Everyone has the right on arrest or detention: to be informed promptly of the reasons therefore; to retain and instruct counsel without delay and to be informed of that right; and to have the validity of the detention determined by way of habeas corpus and to be released if the detention is not lawful.

"Any person charged with an offence has the right: to be informed without unreasonable delay of the specific offence; to be tried within a reasonable time; not to be compelled to be a witness in proceedings against that person in respect of the offence; to be presumed innocent until proven guilty according to law in a fair and public hearing by an independent and impartial tribunal; not to be denied reasonable bail without just cause; except in the case of an offence under military law tried before a military tribunal, to the benefit of trial by jury where the maximum punishment for the offence is imprisonment for five years or a more severe punishment; not to be found guilty on account of any act or omission unless, at the time of the act or omission, it constituted an offence under Canadian or international law or was criminal according to the general principles of law recognized by the community of nations; if finally acquitted of the offence, not to be tried for it again and, if finally found guilty and punished for the offence, not to be tried or punished for it again; and if found guilty of the offence and if the punishment for the offence has been varied between the time of commission and the time of sentencing, to the benefit of the lesser punishment.

"Everyone has the right not to be subjected to any cruel and unusual treatment or punishment.

"A witness who testifies in any proceedings has the right not to have any incriminating evidence so given used to incriminate that witness in any other proceedings, except in a prosecution for perjury or for the giving of contradictory evidence.

"A party or witness in any proceedings who does not understand or speak the language in which the proceedings are conducted or who is deaf has the right to the assistance of an interpreter."

I should say that I was not elected to accept at any time a breach of any of those rights.

With respect to equality rights, the charter provides that, "Every individual is equal before and under the law and has the right to the equal protection and equal benefit of the law without discrimination and, in particular, without discrimination based on race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, sex, age or mental or physical disability."

That provision is subject to the protective provision permitting what has become known concisely as affirmative action programs.

I reiterate on that aspect of my dissociation from the constitutional accord that no one in my riding elected me ever to breach those rights under any circumstances. The argument that is put that those rights will be breached only if it is absolutely essential is a specious argument. The argument that one must be vigilant if that overriding right is ever used to abridge any of those fundamental freedoms is a specious argument. I need only refer to 1970 to indicate the kind of concern I have about the ultimate compromise of this constitutional package that would ever permit the override of those matters.

There are those who say to me, "You are handing it all to the judges," as if the judges somehow were nonelected persons who have an arbitrary right to distinguish what they will do. Judges have no such arbitrary right. They must exercise their judgement as judges in accordance with a long and historic tradition of protection of those various rights under our system of government.

I believe no assembly can be ultimately trusted in times of passion and strong feeling to protect the fundamental rights of people. Parliamentary tradition is not such that it does not need the corrective protection of the courts in relation to those fundamental rights.

My last concern is with respect to the inability of this province to accept graciously the provisions of section 133 of the British North America Act for Canadian citizens in Ontario who are French speaking. I think it is appropriate to quote the short section that has been the matter or so much comment and debate in this assembly. Section 133 of the British North America Act states:

"Either the English or the French language may be used by any person in the debates of the Houses of the Parliament of Canada and of the Houses of the Legislature of Quebec and both those languages shall be used in the respective records and journals of those Houses, and either of those languages may be used by any person or in any pleading or process in or issuing from any court in Canada established under this act and in or from all or any of the courts of Quebec. The acts of the Parliament of Canada and of the Legislature of Quebec shall be printed and published in both these languages."

That is applicable, under the constitution as it at present stands, to Manitoba and the constitutional accord provides that those provisions will be applicable in New Brunswick.

I cannot conceive any basis on which the province with the largest French-speaking minority outside Quebec does not have the courtesy, the capacity and the generosity of spirit to accept those provisions on behalf of the people of Ontario.

12:30 p.m.

My last dissociation was with respect to the failure to consult with, refer to and have this assembly involved in these matters. Very briefly, I may say the only debate that took place in this assembly was the debate with respect to the constitution immediately prior to the vote on the referendum in Quebec.

It had been delayed until that late date because of a real concern that an amendment I had the honour to give notice of, proposing there be a constitutional select committee of this assembly to deal with these matters, was reluctantly agreed to by the government. The committee met and made its report, which was totally ignored. Not one single minister of the crown saw fit to participate in any debate with respect to that report when it was presented to the assembly.

Now at this late date, I will never understand the lethargy of an assembly that was not able to gather up enough enthusiasm, interest or demand for constitutional debate in the assembly. We are reduced in these latter days to a sham debate under the estimates of the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, so we can, for those who choose, in a most innocuous manner, talk about what to me speaks fundamentally to the nature of the country.

I do not for one moment deprecate the solution of one problem, that is, the problem with respect to the constitutional guarantees, even in the language in which it is couched, for people of French-speaking origin to be educated in Quebec in French. I commend the words of Sir Wilfrid Laurier -- I am not going to quote them today -- in the debate that took place in the Parliament of Canada in 1916 on the motion of the late Honourable Ernest Lapointe, when he pleaded with the people of Ontario to recognize the right of the French-speaking people to be educated in the French language as a matter of tolerance in a society that he believed could only survive in a regime of tolerance. I am pleased that 65 years later Sir Wilfrid Laurier, who was defeated on that issue, has now finally been recognized in the plea he made.

Mr. Chairman, I have gone on somewhat longer than I wanted. As you can see, I have not spent a great deal of time either in argument or in dissertation of other people's views on these matters. I just wanted to have this opportunity of expressing clearly to this assembly the depth of feeling I bring when I raise this question of my personal dissociation in my representative capacity in this assembly as the member for Riverdale to the constitutional accord, which is now long past any influence I may have, or this assembly may have, on its outcome.

Mr. T. P. Reid: Mr. Chairman, as so often happens when one follows the member for Riverdale, one finds one's thunder or comments have been stolen -- not stolen, but already used. I simply want to talk about the whole process that concerns me greatly. Others have spoken about the accord and what is in it. My main concern is the process that led us to the point where we are today. I can start by taking up where the member for Riverdale left off and looking at the number of people in the House this morning who obviously are voting with their feet, as they used to say, and displaying their great interest in this debate. I think it is shocking that the Ontario Legislature, one of the original foundations of Confederation, should be showing its interest in repatriating the constitution and in the new Confederation in such a manner.

I agree with my friend from Riverdale and the member for Brant-Oxford-Norfolk (Mr. Nixon) who spoke last week that the way this has been conducted is probably a very poor reflection on the members of this House. We are debating the most important matter, one that will most affect Ontario and our country, in the 15 years I have been in this House, under the estimates of this minister and perhaps the Premier's and perhaps somebody else's.

It has been pointed out that the only attempt we have had to speak on these issues was the debate on the constitution, in which we had hoped perhaps our small voice in Ontario might affect the outcome of the referendum in Quebec a couple of years ago.

Mr. Nixon: But we did it.

Mr. T. P. Reid: We did it, but I do not know how much credit we can take. Unfortunately, I suppose the very fact we are conducting ourselves in this matter really underlines how irrelevant this Legislature has become. It is passing strange, as my friend from Sarnia used to say, that in these matters of moment in reconstituting our country, that night after night on the evening television news we are presented with a picture of 11 people sitting down around a table or behind closed doors to decide what the future of the country is going to be. And they are doing this without much reference to what the people of the provinces really want or about their concerns, particularly as voiced in the provincial capitals.

You will recall, Mr. Chairman, in the good old days, in the first Confederation conference, when that group of the original Fathers of Confederation -- even fewer in number than today -- steamed their way to Charlottetown, no doubt enveloped in fumes of one kind or another to speed them on their way and to oil the perhaps turbulent waters they might encounter. That was 1867, or thereabouts.

In 1981 we are presented with a spectacle of 11 people who obviously were all embarked on both an ego trip and a power trip, without any reference to what their constituents really wanted. Frankly, I do not know why I should be taking my time to even discuss it here, because the process in this House has gone by the board and nobody seems to be concerned. When the government can go out and buy Suncor without any reference to the Legislature, in fact without any reference to the cabinet, one wonders where the accountability and responsibility of a democratic parliament comes in.

As far as the constitution goes we have a Premier, who has not been viewed generally as being the national statesman that John Robarts was, and he goes to Ottawa while we as members, and members of the public, pick up the Globe and Mail in the morning and find the Premier is prepared to give up Ontario's veto. The Premier's ploy, if that is what it was, or machinations behind the scene, obviously worked and he has been applauded on all sides for the great work he did. Perhaps it was because of the Premier's movement the accord came about as it did.

One can only wonder what relevance we have in here when the Premier of the province can go to Ottawa or anywhere else and put the chips of Ontario on the line and make deals. He does not even have a regular debate beforehand to say this is our bargaining position, this is what we might be prepared to do; he does not even have a debate after it to at least ratify in some respectable way what has gone on.

12:40 p.m.

I do not minimize, either, the difficulty in these kinds of negotiations, and I realize that each and every item cannot be discussed in the Legislature beforehand. Surely some kind of constitutional resolution could have been brought in by the government, at least for the sake of form, so that we could have debated it in a formal way and the views of all of us could have been on the record as supporting or, in some cases, not supporting what will be the new constitution. I find it shocking, quite frankly. I find the role of this place seriously diminished by it.

Some of us have already spoken about section 133. I have done some research on it. We have heard from the member for Ottawa East (Mr. Roy), the member for Brant-Oxford-Norfolk (Mr. Nixon) and the member for Riverdale (Mr. Renwick). Everybody has agreed, and most constitutional authorities are agreed, that accepting section 133 would not require bilingualism on every corner, although this is the impression the government has tried to give the people of Ontario.

These matters have been debated in this chamber, but given the fact we have embarked on the drafting of a new constitution they should have been formally debated and a resolution passed in this assembly. I know the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs (Mr. Wells) no doubt will have 10 good excuses why it was not; possibly there are some shortcomings on this side as well. But the members opposite direct the government and have a responsibility to do these things.

Unfortunately, this process reached the point -- not only in this chamber, in which very little happened -- where the people of Canada were so fed up that they were willing to accept almost anything as long as there was some resolution of the debate. They were concerned because this was not -- and I speak for my constituents and others -- their highest priority; they were sick and tired of the constitutional wrangling of these 11 people. They were on an ego and power trip, popping up on television every night and acting in such a way as to diminish the respectability of the political leaders of this country.

I could not help but watch how -- and I am sure some of my colleagues saw it -- after the accord had been signed, René Lévesque stomped off with his cigarette ashes dropping on his suit. What a classic. It was almost like Laurel and Hardy, or actually maybe the --

Hon. Mr. Wells: May I ask a question? Something just came to my mind when the member was talking about section 133. I do not have the time to refresh my mind now, but it is my recollection, and the member can correct me if I am wrong, that the leader of his party said in February he had phoned the Prime Minister of Canada and asked him not to put section 133 in the original constitutional package. Does the member recall that statement?

Mr. T. P. Reid: No, I am sorry. I do not recall it.

Hon. Mr. Wells: Maybe we can check and find out.

Mr. T. P. Reid: On the other hand, he may well have done so; that is not the point. With respect, that to me is just as odious as the rest of the process in this place. I do not think calls from a Premier or calls from a Leader of the Opposition are the way to go about renewing Confederation. I just find that or any similar situation completely unacceptable.

We are here as a democratically elected chamber to represent the views of the people who put us here, and on those views we stand or fall. If we are not even going to have an opportunity then we all might as well say, "Fine, Mr. Premier, you run the province as you like, and in four years we will have another election. If they do not like you they will choose either the Premier or Mr. X." That is what it is getting down to.

I started to say, before I was interrupted by the minister, that it will be a classic -- like Laurel and Hardy or the Three Stooges, I am not sure which. I can just see it, as plain as the night I saw it when Mr. Romanow, Mr. Chrétien, and our own Attorney General (Mr. McMurtry) were in the very kitchen where they came to that agreement and found the wording that would break the deadlock. They were all there. They looked even more self-satisfied and smug than the Premier and cabinet did on the night of March 19. It was an incredible display. They were all there, as politicians are, all well-buttoned up, and Roy Romanow was saying, "We did great work." Jean Chrétien said, "Yes, by God, we did good work." And our Attorney General was standing there with a big smile on his face, and he did not get a word in.

The interview went on, and it really was incredible. The former fullback, the former heavy, old elbows himself, just sat there with this silly smirk on his face. He was outmanoeuvred and outgunned by Saskatchewan and the federal Minister of Justice. It was a classic. Mr. Chairman, I know you have a great sense of humour. You must have one to be in that party and put up with what it is doing to you. You must sometime see that. It really was a classic. One really wonders about the whole process when that is the way things are done.

Mr. Nixon: They were fighting for all the little notes and things for their files in case they wanted to turn them into tax benefits -- taking all the used coffee cups and that sort of thing.

Mr. T. P. Reid: That is right. They want to write their memoirs and turn all those great boxes of correspondence over to the archives and write it off.

It was an incredible proposition. I am concerned about minority rights. I am very concerned about the override situation. If you read the Toronto Sun, columnist Douglas Fisher, who is usually fairly accurate, has a column in this morning about the override position. The cursory thing about that is the same as relates to some of the other matters. They are still unclear. If you read his column, and perhaps the minister has, the "notwithstanding" clause can be interpreted, and has been, at least in this instance, by two different people in two different ways.

It makes us wonder what we are doing, as a nation, when this clause had to be put in, because it really defeats the whole purpose of a new constitution and a new Confederation. I find it passing strange, as the comment is, that here we were embarked upon a new nation-building exercise, and yet we had this "notwithstanding" clause. It is going to allow any province, at its whim and will, to override matters that are in the constitution. That is like the Americans, who had a civil war over that very thing. The southern states said, "We have the ability to back out of any agreements or requirements we see fit." More than 100 years later we have had this battle again, and the provinces, the states, have lost, and I think to the detriment of the people of Canada.

I had some concerns about particular provisions, but I do not want to go into them, because they are now meaningless. I want to impress as much as I can on the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs there are a few of us in this chamber who are concerned about the process and what goes on here. I realize there are not many any more. Given the way this place has become theatre rather than a debating institution for an exchange of views and ideas, I can understand why that interest has flagged and is now lacking.

12:50 p.m.

If we are going to maintain the essential and bedrock reason for our being here, we must do something about this process. We must do it not just in relation to the constitution which is obviously the most important, but for other matters such as Suncor and so on. If it is the wish of the government to make this place completely irrelevant, to bore people with it and to sleepwalk people to the polls at election time, if that is their purpose and plan, they have been eminently successful. In the long run, it is not doing anything for the democratic process.

Ms. Bryden: Mr. Chairman, the minister has not had an opportunity to reply to all the points raised in my leadoff. He said he would deal with them item by item. I think it is rather unfortunate the government has decided to have the constitutional debate part of the estimates of the Ministry of Intergovernmental Affairs, the Premier's office and the Attorney General's office. This means, in effect, that because most of us want to talk about the constitution, it is making a mockery of the opportunity to examine the estimates of the Ministry of Intergovernmental Affairs.

I spoke on the constitution in my leadoff so I am not going to take more time on it right now but, looking over my comments, I have isolated four questions to which I would like a direct reply from the minister. I will put them all to him and then perhaps he can reply to all four.

The first does relate to the constitution but I think it is an important question. Did the minister follow my suggestion to discuss with the Premier the possibility of further consultation with the other nine signatories to the accord, prior to the final vote on the constitutional resolution last Wednesday, to eliminate the override on section 15 which prohibits discrimination on the grounds of sex, physical or mental handicap, race, religion, age and ethnic origin, et cetera?

Did the minister also consult with the Premier on having him talk to the other signatories about dropping the override on the fundamental freedoms and legal rights which my colleague the member for Riverdale (Mr. Renwick) has described in considerable detail this morning and which are very fundamental matters?

Did the minister and the Premier make a last-ditch attempt to change the accord in these areas? If he did not, he and the Premier are accessories to the gutting of the charter of rights. He and the Premier have made common cause with those provincial premiers who wanted the right to continue to discriminate and to abridge important freedoms and legal rights, and made this a term of the accord. That is my first question to which I would like a reply from the minister.

Second, what initiatives is the government planning to bring more aid to the Third World? As I mentioned, we are engaged in a north-south dialogue at present. Is the province participating in that dialogue? Will it, for example, consider a matching dollar program with the churches and other nongovernmental agencies for Third World projects of merit? Will it increase programs to bring Ontario expertise to Third World countries? Will it use its good offices with Ottawa to increase the percentage of the gross national product going to foreign aid? That is my second question.

My third question relates to federal-provincial transfers. What plans does the ministry have to make common cause with the other provinces to oppose the $5.9 billion cut in federal transfer payments over the next five years which has been forecast by the federal Treasurer, Mr. MacEachen?

These cuts will affect the equalization arrangements, the revenue guarantee, and may affect the established program financing arrangements under which health and post-secondary education transfers come. They may also affect funds available for the Canada assistance plan.

The fact that the government did not make a public appearance before the parliamentary task force on federal-provincial relations when it visited Toronto last June indicates to me a sitting-on-our-hands approach to this very important question. All the government did was to have a cozy private session with the task force, attended by four cabinet ministers and 10 civil servants.

I am sure the minister realizes this is not a private negotiating matter. It is a battle to mobilize public opinion against cutbacks in federal transfers. Federal transfers are the means to establish national standards across this country in social fields. In fact these transfers are the sinews of Confederation which bind Canada together.

I will say that Ontario has played an important role in supporting equalization in the past, even though it costs Ontario taxpayers considerable money. But last June the government abdicated that leadership role by not publicly declaring before the parliamentary task force its opposition to cutbacks in transfers. Perhaps the reason was that its hands were not entirely clean in the use made of its share of the transfers in the fields of health and post-secondary education, since it has diverted some of the funds to other fields.

My fourth question relates to the ministry's role as the host for various functions that this government puts on when people visit or we have conventions in town or when there are special occasions observing anniversaries or awards, things of that sort. I do not object to us extending hospitality to these groups as a recognition of achievement or to welcome visitors. What I do object to is the lack of restraint in the kinds of functions.

I think when we are asking people to cut back in every other field and are really squeezing the people who need social assistance, we should not be going in for Louis XIV sort of events and functions with large dinners, great amounts of wine and very expensive entertaining.

I think the hospitality fund has been getting out of hand. It is time the government started to cut back the nature of the events and make them much more simple affairs. Personally, I think all of these affairs should have cash bars rather than free bars. Those who are not satisfied with tea or coffee or fruit juices, which could be provided, should buy their liquor.

The Acting Chairman (Mr. Robinson): I would draw the honourable member's attention to the clock. Would it be an appropriate time for her to conclude her comments for today?

Ms. Bryden: I think the members may reflect on that rather startling suggestion on the weekend and I will adjourn the debate.

On motion by Hon. Mr. Wells, the committee of supply reported progress.

The House adjourned at 1:01 p.m.