32nd Parliament, 1st Session









The House resumed at 8:01 p.m.


Hon. Mr. Ashe moved second reading of Bill 166, An Act to revise the Motor Vehicle Fuel Tax Act.

Hon. Mr. Ashe: Mr. Speaker, in his budget speech of May 19, 1981, the Treasurer (Mr. F. S. Miller) announced that Ontario would be embarking on a program of fuel coloration. This bill contains the provisions necessary to implement that program. The coloured fuel program will apply to exempt middle-distillate fuels such as diesel and furnace oil. Generally, such fuel is tax exempt unless used in the engine of a motor vehicle licensed under the Highway Traffic Act or in vehicles or vessels operated principally for personal pleasure or recreation.

As I started to inform the members of this Legislature when I introduced this bill on November 12, the province will benefit in two ways from the coloured fuel program. First, the tax system as it applies to fuel is strengthened in that a measure has been added that will more effectively control the misuse of exempt fuel than is possible under the present partial registration system. Since middle-distillate fuels may be interchanged with relatively little effort, it is extremely easy at the present time for someone to put fuel that has been purchased tax-exempt to a taxable use, or to sell fuel at a tax-included price and pocket the tax, thereby depriving the province of revenue rightfully due to it. As the price of fuel continues to rise, the danger of this type of misuse will also increase. The use of coloured fuel will effectively remove this danger.

Second, for the people of Ontario concerned with the manufacture, sale and use of fuel, the innovation of a coloured fuel program is a significant step towards further deregulation and tax simplification. Under the present partial system of registration, which was designed to account for the use of fuel as it moved from the manufacturer to the consumer, considerable record keeping and reporting was required. With the advent of coloured fuel, there will be a reduction of some 7,500 in the number of persons required to file returns and account for tax.

As well, almost 45,000 consumers, mostly farmers and fishermen, will no longer be required to be registered. In fact, under the new system only interjurisdictional commercial carriers will be required to register for the purpose of accounting for tax on fuel used in Ontario.

While the introduction of this program will require the construction or acquisition of some additional facilities by those involved in the production of middle-distillate fuels, this government has ensured that no hardship will arise as a result. Compensation will be provided to small businesses or enterprises, and to farmers' co-operatives, to cover the cost of such additional facilities. In addition, compensation will be paid to those colouring the fuel.

All things considered, this new program represents a significant step forward in the administration of fuel tax in this province. This bill also contains certain administrative changes that will benefit the taxpayers of this province.

Mr. Haggerty: I want to address myself to Bill 166, An Act to revise the Motor Vehicle Fuel Tax Act, and perhaps add a few comments to it.

We in this party find it rather difficult to find an area that we can agree with in the bill. The minister, in his opening comments, did talk about the abuse of the present system. He did not mention what the cost was to the taxpayers or to the government of Ontario. Just how much abuse are we talking about? What is the dollar value?

The minister talks about a delay in the deregulation program for the government policy of the colouring of certain fuels. That again raises the question about the compensation that is mentioned in the explanatory notes, that the Lieutenant Governor in Council is to establish a program of relief to small independent businessmen and farmers' co-operatives for additional tankage costs arising from the coloration of fuel.

I think the parties who are objecting to the bill, who are concerned about it -- that is, the farmers and the farm co-operatives -- are concerned about how much money the minister is considering in compensations. I am sure he is well aware that if a farmer has diesel fuel on his farm used for farm purposes, he may purchase a car that also will consume or burn diesel fuel.

The question arises whether the minister is asking him to put in two types of storage tanks at an additional cost to the farmer. There is no mention of how far he is going. Is he going to go for metered pumps on farm storage facilities for fuel? The same thing applies to the distributors and the farmers' co-operatives which, apparently, will be spending huge sums of money. They will have to buy additional storage facilities. In fact, some of them may even have difficulty trucking the fuels to customers in rural areas and other areas in Ontario.

Perhaps they may even have to change the type and style of tanks on board their vehicles at the present time. I understand that where they only have one pump moving the fuel from the truck to the farm tank or other consumers' tanks, there may be some difficulties when the diesel fuel is coloured. Some of it may be in the line or in the pumps and it may carry over into other compartments in the fuel tank truck.

There is no indication of what areas of cost the government is talking about compensation. I can think of one particular instance brought to my attention where a truck driver, driving a diesel tractor that travels from Ontario down to the United States and back, is using fuel here that is not coloured -- unadulterated fuel. He says that half the time, perhaps eight hours out of the trip, that truck is sitting idle, and if one looks at the type of vehicle it is, it is one of those that has a cab with it.

In other words, it is his home away from home. For about eight hours of that trip the fuel may be used to heat that particular cab for him while he is waiting for the load to be loaded on the tractor trailer so he can bring it back to Canada, and perhaps drive through Ontario where they have to travel miles across the province from the banana belt or from the Golden Horseshoe, west to Thunder Bay and Kenora or places like that.

8:10 p.m.

There is no consideration given to these persons who are in the business and find it difficult under the circumstances to pay all that tax for that rig which is used as a home away from home by a truck driver. It is an area the minister has not mentioned in the bill.

I have often wondered why the minister would be considering this type of bill when there is so much mistrust about it. It is feared that it will cause additional hardship to those in the fuel business in Ontario, because of the extra precautions that will have to be taken by them. It was handled very well in the past; I do not think there was that much of a problem with it, or that there was that much abuse. Even though the diesel fuel is coloured, that abuse may still continue.

Going back to the war years, I recall when they had gas that was coloured to prohibit the misuse of controlled gas at that time. It was rationed. They tried to prevent persons who did not have important jobs in industry from getting extra coupons. The gas was coloured so there would be no abuse and so that those persons who got the special coupons were the only ones entitled to additional gas, which was coloured. Through technology in the area, they were able to get around the coloration of the fuel at that time.

I am sure they will find some method today to get around this method. If people want to abuse it to a certain extent, they will find ways of getting around it, so I suggest this will not resolve the problem.

The other area I am looking at is section 22 of the bill, which says that officers are not compelled to be witnesses if there is a charge laid. That is an area that really concerns the members of this party. If a person is charged and there is a court case over that, there is no area of what is called freedom of information and all the facts will not be presented to the courts. There will not be any cross-examination, if I interpret that section correctly. It states that an official cannot be compelled to be a witness. There are exemptions for legal proceedings. That is an area that I do not think will sit too well with many persons in Ontario who may not get the fair treatment they should before a court in Ontario.

I wonder why the minister would bring in the bill at this time when I do not think there is that great a need. The area in which the minister should improve this ministry is in Ontario tax grants for seniors, that new program that was implemented in 1981. We know of the difficulties the minister had in bringing about --

Hon. Mr. Ashe: That is not on the subject of the bill, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Haggerty: We will stick to the principle. There is incompetence in the ministry in this area and one can almost see the same procedure being followed in Bill 166. This will be just another area of confusion for those persons involved in the transportation of fuels, from the supplier to the farm yard or to other purchasers of the fuel.

We are not a bit happy about this bill. We find areas we just cannot agree with. It is such an important bill, which in the long run will cost the ministry more to police than was spent under the old method. The minister could have plugged the loopholes in the old method and procedures under the previous legislation, without going to the extreme of colouring the fuel. If we ever get into the area of gas rationing, we would have to have more colouring of gasoline fuel. If we get into hydrogen or into many other areas, we will have to have a colour-coded system in Ontario. That is going to cause further problems to the consumer in the not-too-distant future, as well as to the distributor in this particular area of the dispersing of fuels in Ontario.

I can recall years ago the distributor would come in to the service stations with a tankload of gas and say, "What kind of fuel do you want today?" At that time I think they used to call it ethyl gasoline. It was the top brand. The driver of the tank truck would come in carrying a small coloured bottle with him. After unloading the fuel into the storage tanks, he would go with this small container, drop it into the storage tank and you would have any colour you wanted -- yellow, orange, blue, red or green. Whatever gas the station was selling at the higher price, you got that even with the cheaper fuel.

I suggest to the minister that is an area that can be looked at, having fuel coloured by the person handling it, perhaps at the place of the consumer. Maybe the best way to go about it is by colouring it there without adding the additional expense and worry to the distributor as to whether he should be buying another tank truck. That would cost money, because in the long run it will be the consumer who will pay the additional cost, even in the compensation.

I do not have to tell the minister how high the price of fuel and the gasoline tax are in Ontario. Many of us think about the automobile industry in Ontario. It is not so much the price of the automobile that people dislike; it is the price of the fuel. As we keep on adding to the price of fuel in Ontario, we are going to find fewer people driving automobiles. They are not going to drive as often as they have in the past. When that happens, we are not going to have the automobile sales. There is really going to be a tough time in the automobile industry in Ontario.

Based on those comments, I suggest to the minister the bill is not that important and I see no reason why we should support it.

Mr. Renwick: Mr. Speaker, I would just like to rise and say that our caucus, under the guidance and explanation of my colleague the member for Hamilton Mountain (Mr. Charlton), who cannot be here this evening, will support the bill.

We do not pretend to be that expert in the efficiencies to be introduced or the procedures to be followed, but we accept the assurance of the ministry that it is a much more efficient method, and presumably the government has had the opportunity to benefit from the experience of other provinces. Therefore, we will support the bill.

We had some reservations and a number of my colleagues received calls from persons who were concerned about the problem of double tanking, but we are now satisfied that with a reasonable application of the provisions of section 31 of the bill with regard to the length of time, the maximum limit and the procedures to be established, the hardship will be minimized if not entirely eliminated.

I assume where compensation by way of grant has to be made, it requires a certain amount of sensitivity and judgement to make certain that people are not affected when one is trying to carry through a change in a process which has been so longstanding in the province.

In relation to the transition provisions and particularly the provisions made in section 31, we welcome the ongoing effort to improve the efficiency and to minimize the problems that relate to the collection and payment of this tax.

We therefore support the bill and have no proposals to make in committee.

8:20 p.m.

Mr. Riddell: Mr. Speaker, judging from the number of letters that I and many of my colleagues have received from co-operatives as well as from individual farmers, I think we should maybe oppose this bill. We will wait to see what the minister's response is before we make a final decision in that regard.

I suppose the co-operatives and the farmers got a little upset when the proposal was first made by the Treasurer. The letters started to pour in, and I sat down and wrote a letter to the Treasurer around the middle of August. I indicated to him:

"There has been some concern expressed regarding the government's proposal to implement a coloured fuel program. As you know, this program, as outlined in the May 19, 1981, budget, calls for a colouring agent to be added to stove oil, furnace oil and nontaxable diesel fuel, diesel fuel used by farmers and fishermen. The farmers' co-operatives throughout Ontario distribute gasoline, stove oil, furnace oil and diesel fuel throughout the communities which they serve. A volume economically important to the co-operatives goes to truckers who transport grain and fertilizer, as well as to farmers. The proposed coloured fuel program, if implemented, will place a severe burden on these co-operatives and their members."

Using the Seaforth Farmers' Co-operative as an example -- this happens to be one of the co-operatives in my riding -- I went on to say:

"They will have to either (1) discontinue their business of supplying fuel for farm and nonfarm trucks, or (2) invest an estimated $1 million in capital money with no return and incur extra annual operating costs of approximately $250,000. This investment would be required to establish a separate storage tank system at their bulk plants to separate coloured from noncoloured fuels. Either of these alternatives would pose a serious financial burden to the co-operative, especially in today's difficult economy.

"The co-operatives understand the petroleum industry is confident that a system using computers would achieve better results and save them most of this extra investment and operating cost. Would it not be worth while to fully investigate this lower-cost system of tax collection? If, after a complete study of the proposal, it is your opinion that the coloured fuel system is the most efficient way to collect tax on diesel fuel, do you not think this cost should be borne by the government, which receives the benefit of the additional taxes, rather than by the farmer-owner of United Co-operatives of Ontario?

"This is a very complicated problem, and I am concerned with effects on the co-operatives and the farming communities which they serve."

I received a letter back from the Treasurer on September 9, almost a month later. He says:

"I wish to acknowledge receipt of your letter concerning the government's stated intention to implement a system of coloration of middle- distillate fuels. As you are aware, Ontario operates a system of registration which is aimed at monitoring and controlling fuel taxes on middle distillates. This system, however, has not proved as effective as originally desired."

I would like to know the reason for that. Maybe when the minister responds he can tell me this. The Treasurer indicated:

"The system has not proved as effective as originally desired, and hence a decision has been made to pursue the implementation of a system of coloration. The Ministry of Revenue is presently in the process of sorting out the administrative complexities in order to establish a viable system. In the interim I will be examining the concerns and suggestions, including the capital costs associated with the new system, presented to me by groups such as the Seaforth Farmers' Co-operative."

I turned around and I sent a copy of that letter to all the co-operatives and to all the people who had contacted me about this very matter. They still were not satisfied with that response and they wrote to me again. I in turn sent another letter to the Treasurer dated October 27. I stated:

"Although I have contacted you previously on your proposal to colour distillate fuels, I wish to advise that I continue to receive letters from co-operatives and individual farmers expressing their grave concerns.

"The financial impact of this program is so very serious to the co-operatives and to the farmers of Ontario, they stress time and again that an alternative method be used rather than the coloration program. When they pursued this directly with your ministry officials, they were advised that the ministry has no estimate of the additional revenue that might be gained by this program, but it only has an assumption that tax evasion does occur."

Apparently you have no idea how much revenue you are going to gather from this new program; all you know is that there is some tax evasion going on. I would like to know to what extent this tax evasion is being carried on. I always believed that co-operatives and farmers connected with co-operatives were the most honest people in the world. I just cannot imagine that farmers or co-op members or anybody dealing with co-operatives would cheat on the system; but maybe I will be looking for the minister to convince me otherwise.

"The co-operatives are also advised that Ontario's present system of collecting fuel tax on diesel seems to compare favourably with other provinces where colouring exists. The additional tax to be recovered by the imposition of the fuel coloration program may be very nominal when weighed against the capital and operating costs the program will generate.

"If the coloration program is imposed on Ontario farmers, then they wish to renew their request as follows: (1) the government pay the capital costs for the installation of the pumps, loading and unloading equipment, and, where necessary, the tanks to handle this new program; (2) that the existing system of collecting tax on diesel fuel remain in place, that is, that the co-operatives continue to be able to deliver diesel fuel and collect the tax where applicable and to deliver diesel fuel free of tax to eligible farmers.

"These recommendations will minimize the cost to farmers and to the co-operatives. Farmers do not want to finance the fuel tax while waiting for refunds, nor do they want their co-operatives to finance fuel tax in inventory and in accounts receivable.

"Your last letter to me indicated that you were giving these matters consideration and I would be most appreciative of any additional information that you can give me at this time."

These letters, as I say, were directed to the Treasurer. I have not received a response from that letter, presumably for the reason that we were going to be debating this bill and he probably expected I would be bringing forth some of these thoughts at this time. I assume this is the reason he has not answered.

I draw these concerns to the minister's attention -- the concerns of the co-operatives, and they still have very grave concerns, and the concerns of the farmers who are using this fuel.

As I say, we probably should be opposing the bill, based on the reasons given by the co-ops and the farmers, but if the minister can convince us otherwise, we will take a second look at it.

The Deputy Speaker: Does any other member wish to speak to this bill?

Mr. Nixon: Yes, I would. Representing a farm riding myself, I have certainly heard from my constituents of their opposition to the program. The United Co-operatives of Ontario, as has already been made clear, have certainly reviewed the possibility of such legislation and have made it quite clear that their opposition is based on the fact that, while the government is going to change the law, it is the co-operatives, in this instance, and the other fuel dealers who will have to pay for the costs of the additional installations.

I understand there was going to be assistance from the government up to a limit -- $65,000, something like that? -- but in the instance, for example, of the United Co-operatives facilities in Norwich and Burford in my constituency, they estimate the cost directly to them at approximately $1 million in capital with no return and there will be annual operating costs in addition of approximately $250,000, a quarter of a million dollars.

The spokesman for the co-operatives would not be exaggerating a matter of this importance, in spite of the fact that the minister is shaking his head. I do not know what his views of the co-operative movement are, but certainly if they represent the views of his colleagues in the cabinet, it is going to be a shocking matter indeed to the people representing the farm community right across the province.

8:30 p.m.

They indicate in their review of the whole matter that they would have to consider going out of the fuel supply business entirely if the proposed coloured fuel program continues to be government policy and is imposed on the fuel business. Their indication is that the alternative, that is, keeping careful records of the fuel at each level, may be rather complex if the records are kept with the old quill pens the minister still uses in the Ministry of Revenue and by the same staff who are trying to do their best to get out the handouts to senior citizens, which they have bollixed up to such an extreme degree.

As a matter of fact, Mr. Speaker, I know you will be concerned with this, but I do not recall any government program in my entire career in the Legislature that has been so maladministered and has resulted in so many direct complaints from citizens who have not had their cheques or applications properly processed. If the minister is counting on the same facilities to keep track of diesel fuel and the taxes that would be properly paid, no wonder he throws up his hands and says we will have to put the administration and costs on to the fuel suppliers and the United Co-operatives movement, rather than use a proper, modernized accounting procedure with computers.

According to these experts from the United Co-operatives of Ontario, who do not exaggerate these matters, that would be far easier and cheaper than the expense of going to this rather Draconian solution of dumping red dye into the tax-free fuel.

Perhaps you do not remember, Mr. Speaker, being such a young chap, but many people here would remember when the same procedure was used with gasoline. I know the member for Elgin (Mr. McNeil) will remember it well. All of us running gasoline tractors on the farm had the fuel dyed purple -- or was it red? It was a nasty, purple colour and it was very difficult to strain that colour out, we were told. As a matter of fact, I heard people say that if one cut the ends off a loaf of bread and ran a couple of gallons of gas through the bread, it would come out yellow, I think the colour was.

I certainly agree with my constituents and the members of the UCO movement that the position taken by the government is very difficult to support. Naturally, we will be anxious to hear what the minister has to say on the matter, but I can hardly think of a circumstance that would lead us to support it. Of course, one never knows until the argument is put. I hesitate to indicate our position before the minister has spoken, but we feel this particular bill is not in the best interest of the farm economy, for reasons that are obvious.

Hon. Mr. Ashe: First of all, let me thank all the honourable members for bringing forth their questions and concerns in such a concise manner. I appreciate it, particularly the support from the New Democratic Party. Let me touch upon some of the concerns expressed by the members for Erie (Mr. Haggerty), Huron- Middlesex (Mr. Riddell) and Brant-Oxford-Norfolk (Mr. Nixon). Even though I am able to answer all their concerns, I am quite sure they will not change their positions, but I think a couple of members, at least, have indicated they have open minds. We will see in a very short time.

The first and major issue is the question of the dollar value of abuse. I think it is safe to say -- the member for Huron-Middlesex referred to it -- we do not know for sure. It would be rather ridiculous if we said we knew absolutely what it was and where it was because if we knew there would not be a problem. Let us not kid ourselves.

We have a pretty good handle on it. I can give the members the widest extremes and tell them the figure it is felt has some validity, both at the Ministry of Treasury and Economics and the Ministry of Revenue. Tax avoidance in Ontario is something in the area of $25 million per year at the present time. I acknowledge there can be a variation from that. I think the figures are agreed to be as low as $10 million and as high as $50 million. There is every reason to believe $25 million is a figure that can be substantiated in some manner.

Mr. Riddell: A pittance compared with the evasion of the land transfer tax; just a pittance.

Hon. Mr. Ashe: That is a point of view. I am sure the honourable member is not really aware of the legislation about which he talks or the regulations thereto.

We give those people some deferral of land transfer taxes based on certain commitments. If he calls that avoidance, he obviously is not aware of the legislation or of what goes on behind the scenes in terms of regulations and ministerial authority.

Mr. Riddell: I am aware of the legislation. I am quoting from your ministry officials.

Hon. Mr. Ashe: I am sorry to have taken up on an interjection which is really off the subject but I always like to enlighten the odd honourable member opposite when he is on the wrong track.

What is the compensation? There is no doubt many concerns were expressed and I think it is safe to say virtually all honourable members have received correspondence, in particular those from rural ridings and generally from the co-ops. Of the correspondence I received, probably 95 per cent of it was from the co-op movement in one form or another. It was pretty well in one form because it was pretty well a form letter that was being sent from every member of a farm co-operative, in particular the board of directors or administration or whatever it is referred to.

Mr. Nixon: This wasn't a form letter.

Hon. Mr. Ashe: In most instances it was; not exclusively, but in most instances. The concerns they brought forward were quite legitimate. They were asking why government was imposing upon them something that was going to cost them money, produce no revenue and leave them out of pocket, which means their members are out of pocket. That is quite a legitimate concern.

Mr. Kerrio: I don't know why it surprises you. You have done that all along.

Hon. Mr. Ashe: We try to take the odd leaf out of the federal Liberal policy but we cannot compete in that ball park at all.

Mr. Kerrio: You are getting very close.

Hon. Mr. Ashe: They have their hands in our pockets all the time. The recent budget is just a further indication of that.

To get back to the subject, what is the compensation and the basis of it? We believe the basis of compensation is more than fair and equitable. I suggest if any co-operative has come up with an indication that at one installation it would have a capital cost of $1 million, there is obviously something wrong.

Mr. Nixon: There is a big co-op business down there; $250,000 a year just to service --

Hon. Mr. Ashe: But $250,000 a year does not mean additional costs. They surely have costs now to service their customers.

Mr. Nixon: They say it is additional.

Hon. Mr. Ashe: There is no way it would be.

Mr. Nixon: It is your word against theirs.

Mr. Haggerty: Run it through your computer.

Hon. Mr. Ashe: We have investigated this very seriously within the industry and are prepared to compensate with front-end compensation particularly for those in the distribution business, such as co-operatives, who had to have been registered under the Motor Vehicle Fuel Tax Act as of May 19 of this year for eligibility.

They also have to come in and prove their business in the context of size. In other words, our compensation formula which will be more than fair and generous is not designed to increase the volume of business. If a cooperative or other distributor in his wisdom wants to increase the size of the business, he is going to have to pay the difference.

8:40 p.m.

Let me use a very simplistic example. Let us say they are marketing 100,000 gallons of fuel a month. It is going into diesel trucks on the farm, diesel farm vehicles, furnace oil and stove oil. At the moment it may all be taken out of the same tank, but their volume is 100,000 gallons. To keep the example simple, they are going to have some indication based on their business cycle that it is going to be 50,000 gallons of tax-exempt fuel and 50,000 gallons per month taxable fuel. We will pay for the installation of a 50,000-gallon tank.

They will come forward with their proposal justifying their figures. We will have a petroleum engineer who will evaluate their proposal's rationale and its effectiveness to solve their job. We will pay the front-end costs for that additional installation up to $65,000 per installation. It is our understanding that should cover about 99.9 per cent of the necessary front-end capital at that level within the province.

It is quite conceivable that in any large co-op they will have more than one facility. This is $65,000 per installation, not just one for a huge co-op that may have three, four or five distribution points.

Mr. Nixon: They are talking about $1 million here. You are not even going to come near that.

Hon. Mr. Ashe: We are going to have to be shown where they can come up with the figure of $1 million.

If somebody has one tanker on the road that has three compartments and they are figuring in the cost of a second tanker, then of course that is not a valid extra cost at all. They will have to program their deliveries a little better. That may involve some extra compartments within a tanker delivery truck. Those kinds of things will be looked at but we are not going to buy somebody a new vehicle because that is not justified.

There is one other end of an expenditure for the industry. Frankly that is where the big capital is involved, not in the distribution end at all. This is at the front end of the cycle. There is no doubt this has been the lobby put forth by the major oil companies of which in total there are 15. They are going to have the front-end capital costs, particularly additional storage in some instances, but mostly to do with their injection equipment to inject the dye. We are not going to compensate them at the front end at all. We feel they have the capital capabilities and financial integrity to be able to do it themselves. This is not a significant capital amount in their total volume of operation.

Mr. Kerrio: It is so easy to spend somebody else's money, isn't it?

Hon. Mr. Ashe: If the free enterpriser would stay quiet for a minute he might find out how we are going to compensate the free enterprisers.

Mr. Kerrio: I can't. Your goofy system five years ago was the biggest laugh. You had to rescind it. It put us to a lot of trouble.

Hon. Mr. Ashe: In any event, what we are going to be doing is compensating those who are dyeing the fuel. Maybe from time to time we may have to dunk some of the honourable members in the dyed fuel to bring them back to earth. In any event, we are going to be paying compensation on the basis of 30 cents per kilolitre of dyed fuel. There are about nine billion litres of dyed fuel per year in throughput. As members can see in the way we put --

Mr. Nixon: How many kilolitres is that?

Hon. Mr. Ashe: Divide by 1,000. That is nine million in case the member does not know.

Mr. Van Horne: Don't be so condescending.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Cousens): Order.

Hon. Mr. Ashe: In any event we project that on the basis of amortizing the front-end capital cost, they will be able to write off their capital costs and their operating costs -- we know they do have annual operating costs -- in the area of seven to eight years. The life expectancy of this equipment is somewhat longer than that, so potentially there may even be a small profit at the front end of the cycle.

Mr. Riddell: You have not said anything about the farmer who has to install the second tank.

Hon. Mr. Ashe: At the moment we are willing to look at any situation where front-end capital costs are involved at any level. I think members will find there is lots of competition in the business. I understand in most instances it is the distributor who provides the tankage and not the farmer himself when buying any kinds of volumes of this distillate --

Mr. Riddell: It used to be but not now. The farmer is responsible for putting in his own tank in the ground, I believe.

Hon. Mr. Ashe: That is not our information. Maybe the Middlesex area is not as competitive as most parts of the province. In most jurisdictions it is still a pretty competitive business, particularly for some a somewhat shrinking type business. It is our understanding that it still exists. But in situations as described, if there is a problem we are very happy to have a look at it because we do not want the small businessman, whether he be a farmer or otherwise, to have any detrimental financial impact on his operations. I can assure members that is exactly our motive and exactly the way we will be administering this legislation.

Another question brought up by the member for Erie was, "What about existing fuel in the lines and so on?" We know these things are going to happen. There will be up to three months to bring the inventory into play under the new legislation. There will also be, even in normal circumstances as seen within the act, a two per cent variance allowance from the actual colour for contamination, appreciating that just by changing from one nozzle to another there might be some contamination. A two percent variance, apparently, is extremely generous. Anybody within that variation would not be considered in contravention of the act.

I have touched upon the area of compensation. The actual dyeing is relatively insignificant in terms of volume. It is 20 parts per million, and it is a red dye. It will be very discernible, and yet will not be a problem in a contamination sense.

The honourable member for Erie also brought up the situation of a trucker and his heat for the cab when he is lying over. This fuel tax act in no way changes the situation vis-à-vis that operator. If he is getting it tax free now he is doing so illegally and he will be doing it illegally afterwards. Nothing has changed. If he is talking about a vehicle that operates on the highway, it is a taxable fuel that is contained in that vehicle now, under the present act, and it will be in the future under the new act. Nothing has changed. He may not feel it is fair but he sure cannot blame it on this piece of legislation.

There was a reference made by the same honourable member, vis-à-vis section 22, which has to do with a witness in court. What we are saying in terms of witnesses is that the only obligation upon, for example, an inspector would be to testify that he did take such and such a sample from such and such a tank, whatever it may be, on such and such a day. That would be the end of his obligation. It would be a written report from the testing laboratory that would verify the actual content of that tank. There is a roadside form of testing that is absolute in itself but it would be further verified by laboratory testing just to make sure no error is involved.

The most important aspect of this legislation was misunderstood somewhat, but not within the petroleum industry. There is no doubt they do not want it. They have it in nine out of 10 provinces and no doubt it involves some front-end costs that they would just as soon avoid. I cannot chastise them for that. But the rest of the people have been led down the garden path in thinking this is only detrimental legislation. This government and this party are for deregulation. If there was ever a bill to bring forth deregulation in recent memory, this has to be the one.

Let me give some statistics. At the moment under the present system, there are some 57,000 registrants in Ontario to do with motor vehicle fuel. These are mostly farmers and fishermen, some 45,000 of them. There are 12,000 others who are required to file returns and account for tax. So 57,000 people are registrants.

8:50 p.m.

Under the new system 15 major oil companies will be principally responsible for accounting for and reporting to the government on the amount of fuel they are dyeing and on the tax collected. Over and above that there are the interjurisdictional carriers, those who travel from coast to coast or at least across our provincial borders, whether from east to west or to our neighbours to the south. They will still be with us. We will end up with something on the order of 4,500 registered, and of those, virtually all except the 15 are interjurisdictional highway carriers.

So we will have eliminated something on the order of 52,500 registrants out of 57,000. To me that is deregulation to the nth degree, and I must say I am all for it. I was investigating with my officials the various other alternatives. That was the other question: "Did we look at them?" The answer is yes. The industry says, "You have some regulation now. Why do you not have more of it?" All that would mean would be more obligation on these 57,000 people and others to constantly report, constantly record how much they bought, how they used it and where it went.

It is very simplistic to say it can all be done by computers. Maybe at the initial level the oil companies can satisfy their concerns with computers but in so doing they pass that obligation down to the distributors, down to the cooperatives and down to the farm gate. I cannot see how any member in this Legislature can say he supports that kind of regulation and that kind of reporting right down. to the final consumer. That is what we are avoiding and that is in my view one of the most important components of Bill 166.

Sure, it is also designed to give some additional revenue to the government from areas in which it is now being avoided, and that is a very important consideration. But from the consumer's point of view I think deregulation is the most important aspect of this piece of legislation.

The only other thing I have not covered is the extent of tax evasion. I think I touched on that, but there was also a reference to the idea that nobody at the farm level would try to avoid taxation. I will be very honest. This is not the main area we are trying to get at. There are two principal areas where there is tax slippage. Number one is probably on the highway, where evading taxes has a lot of attraction. For example, if a person has -- class L, is it? -- one of the major classes of highway vehicles on the highway he can, by using tax-exempt fuel under the present system, avoid something in the area of $12,000 a year in taxes. This is a significant piece of tax avoidance, which is attractive now and will become even more attractive in the years ahead.

The other area of concern we have is that there is no doubt in our minds at all that some tax-exempt fuel is being sold to the consumer. In some instances it may very well be sold to the farmer or others as a tax-paid fuel. In other words the middleman is pocketing the tax. The consumer is paying it in all good conscience and has fulfilled his obligation as far as he is concerned, but the government is not receiving that; the middleman is pocketing that difference.

But there is not 100 per cent purity at the farm gate, either. Anyone in this community who is against this system, if he is now using tax-exempt fuel illegally, is naturally going to be opposed to this piece of legislation, because now it will be much easier to identify that fuel. A vehicle on the highway that has coloured fuel in it will -- within the tolerance I spoke of before -- be using tax-exempt fuel, and in turn will be charged. There is no doubt there are opportunities to do that.

For the benefit of the member for Huron- Middlesex who asked the question, in farm audits we have done -- and we do not do a lot of them; I admit that -- there are cases much more demanding where it is a lot more beneficial from the auditors' point of view -- but 52 per cent have resulted in assessments. So we can never all stand up and claim purity. But I think most people out there are honest citizens and this will just help them to be a little more honest, without any imposition.

The alternatives, I can assure all honourable members, were examined to the nth degree. I was one of the people, initially, who was not sold on the concept of coloured fuel. After examining the alternatives, and the imposition upon the communities, the consumers and the distributors, there is no doubt that is the reason I came to the conclusion this was a progressive piece of legislation. It is profitable to the government but most important it is profitable to the consumer, to get away from the massive paper work he now has.

The Acting Speaker: Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry?

All those in favour please say "aye."

All those opposed please say "nay."

In my opinion the ayes have it.

Motion agreed to.

Ordered for third reading.

House in committee of the whole.


Resuming consideration of Bill 7, An Act to revise and extend Protection of Human Rights in Ontario.

Mr. Chairman: To refresh the members' memories, we are on Bill 7 and we had got as far as the end of section 32. I saw the member for Riverdale rising. Do you have an amendment, and if you do, can you indicate to what section? Possibly the committee of the whole House could pass those sections prior to the amended section you are proposing.

Mr. Renwick: Mr. Chairman, I have no further amendments to propose on the bill. I am satisfied personally with section 32 of the bill and my only further amendment, as you will recall, is one relating to the preamble I referred to when we started into the clause-by-clause discussion of the bill.

Mr. Chairman: I wonder if you might allow me then to finish off all sections of the bill.

Sections 33 to 50, inclusive, agreed to.

On the preamble:

Mr. Renwick: Mr. Chairman, I distributed copies of this amendment last week.

Mr. Chairman: Mr. Renwick moves that the preamble be amended by adding after the words "United Nations," the words "and with the international covenants on economic, social and cultural rights, and on civil and political rights which Canada has accepted and by which Ontario is bound."

9 p.m.

Mr. Renwick: Mr. Chairman, I need not speak to the amendment. I spoke about this problem at some length when the predecessor of the bill, Bill 209, was introduced and debated on second reading in the last Parliament in December, 1980.

I again raised the matter when I spoke in May of this year on the second reading of this bill, Bill 7, and again raised the matter in the standing committee.

I know it is not appropriate, but I know you will let me make one comment. Before this bill proceeds further I want the House to know I raised with the Attorney General (Mr. McMurtry) the whole vexed question of the extent to which these international covenants are in force in Ontario, bearing in mind that by their terms they are in force. By their terms, the government of this province is complying with the request from the federal government in order that the federal government may comply with the provisions of the covenants to advise the appropriate international commission of its ability to comply with those covenants.

I leave the matter at that and trust the amendment will find favour with the committee.

Mr. Riddell: Mr. Chairman, I do not know whether this deals with the preamble or whether I could just ask the minister if he has been receiving letters and telegrams since we have been doing a clause-by-clause study of this bill, indicating the extreme dissatisfaction there is with parts of the bill which I do not think we have really addressed.

In other words I am wondering if the minister received the same telegram that came to me dated December 3. It states: "Bill 7 still includes employer responsibility for employee actions, reverse discrimination, no penalty for false complaint, double and triple jeopardy and power of the board of inquiry to impose affirmative action and unreasonable restrictions on job advertisements and applications. Ontario needs a human rights code which is fair and workable for employers too. Please consider the small businessman."

Did the minister receive that telegram by any chance?

Mr. Chairman: Just a moment, please. Wait now, let me have my say and then you just take it in context of my comments.

We are dealing with the proposed amendment. There is no doubt the proposed amendment to the preamble is very broad and wide and under the circumstances we will allow you possibly a few moments of discussion with regard to the broad aspects of the preamble, but I do not think we are going to be asking you in terms of having the minister -- let us get what you have to say over with and then we will have the minister reply. How is that? Is that appropriate?

Mr. Riddell: Okay. I will not be long, Mr. Chairman. Thank you. I think some of these letters and concerns have to be brought to the attention of the minister for consideration, maybe if not now within the very near future.

I have a letter from the Ontario Restaurant and Food Services Association. "Bill 7, as introduced in the Legislature, contains several sections of great concern to our association. The human rights code must be equitable and just to all concerned. It must recognize that employers, like employees, are human and that they deserve due process before the law.

"We are particularly concerned about the unreasonable and onerous obligations placed on employers, obligations which are particularly oppressive for the small businessman" -- and I am getting a lot of this small businessman concern -- "who lacks the legal counsel and support staff that are available to government, unions and larger corporations. Please review and amend the sections outlined on the enclosed information sheet."

I am not going to go over them, but if the minister has not received it I will send him a copy of this across. They have outlined their areas of concern, and you kind of slipped by them after you got to section 32. I guess I was not quick enough to get on my feet, but they are outlining concerns dealing with section 41, section 40(6), section 40(1). I realize it is too late now to discuss these but I will send a copy across to the minister and I hope he will take a look at it.

There was a letter that came in since we have doing clause-by-clause reading of this bill from the Canadian Association for Free Expression. It has some concerns dealing with section 44(1) which I would have liked discussed. Again, I was not quick enough getting on my feet.

I will send some of these across to the minister. He should have a look at them. I would appreciate it if he would correspond with me and let me have the benefit of his comments on the concerns they are expressing so I may either try to agree with him or very much disagree with him. Whatever the case is, I have to get back to these people who have written me. If he is not getting the letters, I do not know why they are writing me unless they know I have been one of the few people on the committee who has been trying to support the small businessman, the guy who is really in trouble today, the fellow who is going under.

When one takes a drive through our small towns, it nearly makes one cry to see the number of these businessmen who have gone out of business, not because of the human rights code but because of high interest rates and everything else. They feel this is going to make things worse.

I will let the minister have copies of these and I hope he will correspond with me and give me the benefit of his thinking on some of the comments they make.

Hon. Mr. Elgie: Mr. Chairman, the member for Riverdale indicated that we have discussed the amendment he proposed with respect to the covenants in great detail during debate on second reading and in committee. He knows the views the government holds on that amendment and, if he is agreeable, I will not add further to that debate but I would be pleased to do so if he wishes me to.

I have received those communications referred to by the member for Huron-Middlesex but I do not have them here and I was not able to make notes of all the things. Let me just say this quite honestly, there is always a fear about change and something new. I think those who sit down and look at the previous human rights code will find to their surprise that, even though it has been there for 30-odd years, it has never interfered with their business lives because they were probably functioning as we think we function in life in any event, as decent, solid human beings.

There is always a fear of something new. I understand that. I understand there are some concerns about new sections of the bill. I hope people in general, and small business people in particular because that is the group we are talking about, understand the human rights commission is going to have to show a degree of sensitivity about new areas. I understand that.

I think you will agree the area of employer responsibility for relationships in the work place was addressed in a way that recognized it was a new area and that primary responsibility was not placed on the employer. In effect, he has to condone activity in the work place he would not accept for himself or his children; he has to condone it. Even then, nothing happens unless he condones it, again, and does not do anything about it.

I do not think that is too much to ask, but it is new. I can understand it is upsetting to some people. I will be glad to reply to the member about those two letters. I hope he will share with me the view that, while there is always a fear of the new, we, as a thoughtful committee, have addressed some of the issues that were legitimate and that we have a bill that can work.

Mr. Chairman: All those in favour of Mr. Renwick's amendment to the preamble will please say "aye."

Those opposed will please say "nay."

In my opinion, the nays have it.

Motion negatived.

Mr. Chairman: Shall the preamble carry as part of the bill?

Motion agreed to.

Mr. Chairman: Shall the bill, as amended, be reported?

Ms. Copps: Mr. Chairman, I find myself in somewhat the same position as the member for Huron-Middlesex on an informational item. I have been asked by one of my colleagues who was not able to be here tonight to get a clarification from the minister regarding the position of alternative schools vis-à-vis their ability to hire people of the same religious persuasion, for example. I believe that is covered under section 23(a) of the act, but I just wanted to confirm that with the minister in the House.

We have received a letter from the Ontario Association of Alternative and Independent Schools specifically wondering whether section 23(a) would allow them to hire teachers of the same religious persuasion.

9:10 p.m.

Hon. Mr. Elgie: My understanding of the jurisprudence developed to date is that a reasonable and bona fide qualification would be appropriate in that situation. No one can predict what would happen in any particular case, but on the basis of precedent my opinion is that section 23(a) would respond to the concerns they have raised with the member and with me, and I would endeavour to reply to them.

Bill 7, as amended, reported.

On motion by Hon. Mr. Elgie, the committee of the whole House reported one bill with amendments.


Hon. Mr. Elgie moved third reading of Bill 7, An Act to revise and extend Protection of Human Rights in Ontario.

Ms. Copps: Mr. Speaker, on behalf of members of the Liberal Party, as the human rights critic, I would like to rise in support of the bill. Certainly, we have registered many reservations over the last few weeks and months, including the fact we feel the legislation does not go far enough particularly in protecting disabled groups. We are also extremely disappointed that it has chosen to ignore other groups, including those over the age of 65.

However, on balance, although we are not happy with the totality of the bill, we feel in the International Year of Disabled Persons we cannot oppose legislation that will in some measure attempt to meet some of the employment, service and accommodation demands of our disabled community. We do not feel the bill has protected the group it purports to protect in any great measure; however, we do feel it is a step in the right direction and we are taking the position that in some respects half a loaf is better than none.

We also have some very serious concerns about other issues raised in the bill. We have proposed amendments in a number of areas, including the one that has become known as the search and seizure area.

However, as I have said, we feel that on balance we cannot speak against the bill because we feel the disabled community is in some way going to be served by the human rights code and the extension of protection to the disabled community.

Might I add that we in the Liberal Party will be ever vigilant over the coming months and years to seek to further increase the accessibility to employment, services and accommodation by the disabled community and by other communities that have been left out of the legislation.

Again, I want to point out specifically, for the record, that members on the government side have in the past supported private members' legislation that would have seen protection for employment going beyond 65, yet they did not stand up in the House. That is a matter which perplexes all of us on this side of the House and it is an area we will be pursuing in the future.

On balance, we have to go ahead with this legislation because to vote against it would be a slap in the faces of those who are seeking at least some protection under the human rights code during the International Year of Disabled Persons. We agree with the concerns of the disabled community that they want to be incorporated into a human rights code. They do not want any separate legislation as was originally proposed two years ago. Bearing that in mind, although we are not satisfied with the thrust and the commitment of the bill, we feel that on balance we will support it.

Mr. Renwick: Mr. Speaker, I think the process this bill has gone through highlights three or four matters I would like to comment on. We will certainly not oppose the bill when you call the motion for third reading, simply because we had an opportunity, both in the committee and again more formally in committee of the whole House last week, over a considerable period of time, to put our specific concerns and our specific objections to the assembly in a way that the record will show speaks to the concerns we have about the bill. It would be not appropriate for our caucus to oppose the bill, and we do not intend to oppose the bill. As I said, the record speaks for itself.

However, I would like to take the opportunity to say we worked a long time together in the standing committee on resources development, and I would like to pay my own personal tribute to the chairman of that committee for the way he handled the committee, the opportunity he gave to all the members of the public, and the extreme courtesy he showed over a long period of time, not only to members of the committee but to the public generally, in the way in which the bill was dealt with during that period of time. I may also say I know the minister himself was present a good part of the time and, when he was not present, I was very pleased to be made aware from time to time of the immense grasp his parliamentary assistant, the member for Sarnia (Mr. Brandt), had of the bill as well.

I suppose the lesson that comes through to all of us, more than any other particular lesson, is the immense misunderstanding, obviously, in the community of the province about the whole conception of human rights and the role it plays in fostering and developing the kind of society we have in Ontario on the basis of tolerance. I do hope that over the years the commission will now understand the very great responsibility it has to explain to the public of Ontario what it is all about, because there were a number of very legitimate problems raised by members of the public.

There were problems that from my vantage point were problems of misunderstanding, more than real problems with respect to the bill, but I think it is a lesson that must be learned. We have to say to the government the only way that commission can carry out its mandate is if the government provides the resources and the capacity, both in people and in dollars, to enable it to fulfil its mandate in the kind of sensitive and intelligent way we in this assembly expect the commission to work. That in no way takes away from the work that has been done by the commission in the past.

My last reservation is the most serious one from the point of view of those we intended to assist, and that is the question of the provision for handicapped people to be protected against discrimination of different kinds in the province. In all good faith, I say to the minister, because I know of his interest in it, I think we are going to find that the inadequacies of the provisions with respect to what has become known in the committee and in the world of human rights as "reasonable accommodation" are going to pose an immense problem to the commission in being able to carry out its work effectively.

The other matters of concern to us, as I said, are on the record of the House. After this long time, we are pleased that we are not in a position in this caucus where we are going to oppose the bill when it is called for third reading and we trust it will achieve some of the objectives that many of us on the committee hoped it would.

9:20 p.m.

Mr. Riddell: Mr. Speaker, I too had the honour of serving on this committee and I missed very few meetings. It is probably one of the committees I have most enjoyed since I have been in this line of work. If I were to oppose this bill it would likely be for very different reasons from those of my colleagues the member for Hamilton Centre and the member for Riverdale.

I have to congratulate the minister for bringing in the bill, because he must have had a real struggle within his own caucus to introduce that kind of bill. So much of what was in that bill is just so far removed from the old Tory philosophy that I had to wonder if the chairman was not kind of leaning a wee bit towards the Liberals when he was sitting at the front of the committee expressing his views.

The member for Hamilton Centre was very modest this evening when she summed up her thoughts on the bill. I really think she was very disappointed that we were not able to get the minister and his colleagues to accept some of the amendments we thought would be a tremendous improvement to the bill. We still think it would be a tremendous improvement to the bill and that it would strengthen the bill immeasurably if he were to accept some of the amendments we put on this side.

Of course, the NDP proposed amendments that were very similar to ours, maybe with a little different wording, but also good amendments which he did not see fit at this time to incorporate in the bill. I think he will do so within another year or two. I think there will be private members' bills. I think that as long as he is still the Minister of Labour he will probably be introducing amendments of his own that are very similar to the kinds of amendments the member for Hamilton Centre introduced.

But here is an example of a real lady. I do not know whether or not we have the group in the gallery that is going to condemn me for referring to her as a lady. I do not know how to refer to her, really.

Hon. Mr. Elgie: She is not a girl, either.

Mr. Riddell: I thought I was bestowing a great honour when I referred to her as just a great -- I think I used the word "gal." I said "just a great gal." That is kind of an old farm expression.

Hon. Mr. Elgie: Kind of folksy.

Mr. Riddell: It is kind of an old farmers' expression when we talk about people. We say "just a great gal." I just think she is a real top lady. She probably had every reason in the world to stand up and say, "I want to oppose this bill," because I really think she is disappointed. As I say --

Hon. Mr. Wiseman: Are you second in her leadership campaign?

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Cousens): Order, order. The honourable member has the floor.

Mr. Riddell: I have not ruled it out completely yet.

But it is just an indication of how the democratic process works. We sometimes have to make compromises; my colleague from Hamilton Centre had to compromise more than she would have liked, but here again it is because of the type of person she is.

I too would like to echo the sentiments of the member for Riverdale. There are very few Tories I can appreciate, but the chairman of this committee is one for whom I have a very warm feeling. I think he is a very considerate person, one of the most considerate chairmen I have ever seen perform on a committee. He is a gentleman in all respects: most mannerly, most considerate, and I hope he continues in that fashion. I hope in the future I have an opportunity to serve on committees he is chairing. I simply agree with the member for Riverdale: I thought he did an outstanding job.

With that I will sit down before I get talking about some of the rest of you birds over there.

Mr. Harris: I just want to say a very few brief words. I have great difficulty. I am not sure, in my new job as chairman, whether the compliments I have heard tonight are exactly what I wanted to hear or not; maybe I was not strong enough as a chairman.

I would like to say a couple of words about the committee, and to congratulate the minister and the parliamentary assistant. I have heard somebody say this evening that the minister had a lot of courage in bringing in this bill because perhaps he did not have the unanimous support of his caucus. I do not know if anybody has the unanimous support of anything at any time; I certainly cannot get unanimous support from my own house when I leave to come down here.

But I have to tell the House that I think the minister handled this bill very well. I think he did have great courage, and I think he has what I feel is unanimous support for a better bill than the one it is going to replace. I believe, in addition to the main extension of rights to the handicapped, that this bill provides for a far better balancing of powers, which I think will lead to a better understanding of the Ontario Human Rights Commission, and I hope to better implementation than the act it will be replacing.

I too would like to thank the members of the committee, who met for quite a long time on this bill, and particularly the thousands of members of the public from across Ontario who sent letters, made phone calls, prepared briefs, appeared before our committee starting last spring, and who were instrumental in getting the committee members to listen to them. That whole process, including the public, was instrumental in providing what I believe will be a very functional, correct and meaningful piece of human rights legislation for Ontario. Certainly speaking on behalf of myself, and I think the members of the Conservative caucus would concur, I am very proud to be associated with this piece of legislation.

Hon. Mr. Elgie: My remarks will be very brief. First of all, not only would I like to join the members opposite and the members of my own caucus in paying tribute to my parliamentary assistant, who I agree did develop a remarkable grasp of the bill and the intricacies and the nuances entailed in it, but also I would like, quite sincerely, to pay a tribute to the chairman. I found him to be a very firm but very sensitive and moderate chairman, who commanded the respect of all members of that committee.

Let us be honest with each other. It was an interesting but sometimes a very difficult process for each of us in our own way. I hope the public, who contributed through briefs, letters and telephone calls, understand that we did endeavour to listen and also to take their advice in the context of an issue that is very close to the hearts of all members, that is, the fragile nature of human rights in the province. There is a great fear that by talking about rights we are depriving others of rights, but I do not think that is the case in this bill. I think it recognizes legitimate rights and also respects legitimate differences. That is one of the hallmarks of the bill, and that is why my colleague the member for Nipissing (Mr. Harris) and the members of this caucus, and indeed of both opposition parties, have supported it.

I understand some of the reservations members have. They know the reasons the government took the positions it did. Let me assure the member for Hamilton Centre that no one will be more vigilant than this minister about the activities of the commission and about the complaints that arise as a result of this bill and about any problems and deficiencies that may be apparent in it.

9:30 p.m.

She once again referred to the issue of the age of 65 with respect to employment. It having been raised, I cannot let it pass without saying that if she is implying that members on this side do not have the same interest in that, then she is mistaken. There has been a clear indication from members of this House of a great concern and interest in the issues relating to those over 65, but there is also an honest recognition of some of the problems that have not yet been addressed adequately. We are behaving responsibly in asking the Ontario Manpower Commission to address those issues and give us reasonable advice about any problems that would be encountered if that age of 65 were changed in the employment context.

Having set that aside, and having assured the member for Huron-Middlesex, it is important for all of us to know he has supported in full the amendments introduced by the member for Hamilton Centre. With that message, we can all now relax and know the lack of unanimity we saw the other night is really just a facade and beneath that lovely --

Mr. Riddell: That is not what I said, but she had some real good amendments.

Hon. Mr. Elgie: Only some of them, I see. I misunderstood the honourable member; I thought he meant they were all good, but only some of them were good.

Mr. Riddell: Oh, there was the odd one I had to take exception to.

Hon. Mr. Elgie: I want the member to know this bill is in keeping with Tory tradition and that is why I am proud to have been associated with it. I do not think anyone should be proud in a personal way about this because this is just a legitimate acceptance of a changing society and an endeavour to respond to it. That is the way we should all look at it. Some may think we have gone too far; some may think we have not gone far enough. I think it is a very moderate response, and an appropriate response and shows some leadership. I sincerely do thank all members for the consideration they have shown during this lengthy consideration of this issue.

Motion agreed to.

Clerk Assistant: The sixth order, second reading of Bill 107, An Act to amend the Police Act.

Mr. Nixon: Is somebody going to move this? We're on five.

Clerk Assistant: Second reading of Bill 104, An Act to amend the Highway Traffic Act.

Mr. Renwick: What happened to Bill 107?

Mr. Breaugh: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order: Would you clarify how you called one order and then moved to the next order of business?

Hon. Mr. Gregory: Mr. Speaker, in the absence of the Attorney General (Mr. McMurtry), I believe the member for Simcoe Centre (Mr. G. W. Taylor) is going to carry this bill.

Mr. Nixon: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order: I do not think too much is amiss. The parliamentary assistant has simply called the bills in the order they are on the Order Paper rather than in the order they were listed on the business for Monday. It does not make much difference which one comes first.

Mr. G. W. Taylor: Mr. Speaker, I am prepared to move on Bill 104.


Mr. G. W. Taylor, on behalf of Hon. Mr. McMurtry, moved second reading of Bill 104, An Act to amend the Highway Traffic Act.

Mr. G. W. Taylor: Mr. Speaker, Bill 104, the Highway Traffic Amendment Act, 1981, would remedy a problem that has arisen recently with respect to the driver improvement program in Metropolitan Toronto. The program is intended to allow a person convicted of certain driving offences to receive a lower fine if the person attends a driver improvement course.

Until recently, the practice of the courts was to impose a suspended fine at the time of conviction, on the condition that the person attend the course. The Ontario Court of Appeal, however, has ruled that the language of the existing legislation requires that the fine not be imposed until after the course has been attended. This means that the defendant must appear in court twice: once to be convicted and once to be sentenced.

Requiring a second court appearance is an unnecessary and time-consuming step that causes great inconvenience to the citizen. The purpose of this bill is to eliminate the need for a second court appearance. It will allow the courts to return to their previous practice of imposing a suspended fine at the time of conviction.

Mr. Speaker, I hope all members of the House will support this particular bill.

Mr. Nixon: We will support it. It is not earth-shaking in its provisions but anything that will reduce the laborious work of the courts, and those representing the defendants, we would certainly want to support.

It just occurred to me, however, that we really ought to give every encouragement we can for the provision of certain types of courses, particularly those relating to convictions involving impaired driving, or blowing over 0.08, or liquor-related offences. There is some indication that instructions that sometimes come from well-prepared and effectively delivered courses having to do with impairment are about as useful as any other sort of treatment or punishment in reducing the numbers of repeats of that sort of conviction.

We certainly support this bill, and I would hope that it is effective in its intent.

Mr. Renwick: Mr. Speaker, we have no problem with the bill.

From time to time the Court of Appeal points out drafting imperfections in statutes which we pass. This is one of those occasions where the court has indicated, much as it was in sympathy with the position taken by the crown on the course of the appeal, that the precise language of the provision of the Highway Traffic Act now before us, along with the provision of the recently passed Provincial Offences Act, was not sufficient to permit vindicating the position of the crown.

It seems to me a very appropriate amendment from the point of view both of the crown and the person who may be charged with the offence, and who is relieved by this bill. Accordingly, we support the bill.

Mr. G. W. Taylor: Mr. Speaker, the honourable members, particularly the member for Riverdale, have seen adequately what the bill is intending to do. I can add no further comments. I thank the members for supporting this particular bill. It is just correcting the draftmanship of a particular piece of legislation that has come to the attention of the Court of Appeal. Lawyers, being what they are, are always willing to find imperfections in pieces of draftmanship. Thus, they end up in the Court of Appeal. We are only too willing in this Legislature to correct those drafting imperfections such as have taken place with this bill. Those are my remarks on the matter.

Mr. Nixon: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order: I do not want to take the time of the House but would it not have been appropriate if the honourable member who was conducting the bill had indicated to the House that in fact its main purpose was to correct imperfections in the drafting, rather than simply reading the intent that was put on the bill?

Motion agreed to.

Ordered for third reading.

9:40 p.m.


Mr. G. W. Taylor, on behalf of Hon. Mr. McMurtry, moved second reading of Bill 125, An Act to amend the Children's Law Reform Act.

Mr. G. W. Taylor: Mr. Speaker, as members well know, this act represents a comprehensive effort to deal with the difficult problem of disputed custody of children. The bill is constructed around the central principle that custody proceedings must be conducted and determined on the basis of the best interests of the child.

It is no longer enough to say the judicial decision about who is to have custody must be made solely on the basis of the best interests of the child. The best interests of the child must also be considered in the way we conduct the legal proceedings leading up to the judicial decision, and of increasing importance is the need to ensure the best interests of the child are protected through effective enforcement procedures following the judicial proceedings.

Therefore, the bill not only sets out guidelines to assist in determining the best interests of the child, but also deals with such matters as who may apply for custody, ordering assessments, reducing delay, apprehension of children wrongfully withheld from their parents and deterring abduction of children following a court order.

The importance of these principles, I am pleased to say, have already been recognized by this assembly. When the Attorney General brought forward the Children's Law Reform Act for second reading last session, the principles of the bill received strong praise and endorsement. But for the time constraints of that session, I am confident the Children's Law Reform Act would have been law today.

Because of the exposure these problems have had on previous occasions, it is probably not necessary for me to take members through the details of the bill. I am aware of the time constraints of this session. I would like to take this opportunity, however, to bring members up to date on some developments since the bill was reintroduced this spring.

On previous occasions the Attorney General had indicated the Uniform Law Conference of Canada was studying the provisions of the bill with respect to jurisdiction and custody matters and enforcement of extra-provincial custody orders. I am pleased to report that those provisions have been incorporated in a new uniform custody, jurisdiction and enforcement act that was provisionally approved by the Uniform Law Conference of Canada at its summer meeting this year.

In the past, there has been some misunderstanding and concern about Ontario's position with respect to the uniform custody enforcement legislation in many of the other provinces. The adoption of the Ontario provisions by the Uniform Law Conference signifies the wisdom of our approach and constitutes a recommendation to other provinces to amend their legislation to make it uniform with ours.

Accordingly, the desirability of early enactment of our proposals is evident. In the same vein, much interest and support has been shown with respect to our proposal to implement the Hague Convention on Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. The addition of the Hague convention to the Children's Law Reform Act is the most important change from the bill that was before the standing committee last session.

As outlined in the Attorney General's statement on first reading, the convention creates reciprocal rights and obligations between subscribing jurisdictions for return of a child who has been wrongfully removed from his home state. By enacting this bill, we will be able to request the federal government to accede to the convention on our behalf and thereby secure major advantages for Ontario residents whose children are abducted to any other country that has agreed to the convention.

These developments with respect to the new uniform custody enforcement legislation and the Hague convention make it clear Ontario is regarded as a leader in the effort to combat the tragic problem of child abduction. We can be certain our colleagues across the country will be watching with interest the progress of our legislation.

In conclusion, I would point out that we have before us a bill that aims to settle custody disputes in the best interests of the child. I hope all members of the Legislature will join with me now in proceeding with the enactment of legislation that is in the best interests of the children of this province.

Mr. Nixon: Mr. Speaker, we are supporting the bill.

Mr. Renwick: Mr. Speaker, we will support the bill, and I understand from both the statement of the parliamentary assistant tonight and the statement made by the Attorney General when the bill was introduced in this House the fact that it refers to a bill that would have been law before this time had parliament not been dissolved.

I assume the bill will go out to the standing committee on administration of justice for consideration, because I am certain that in areas related to the custody and guardianship of children and their property, there are members of the public who will want to make submissions and who will want to be certain that they fully understand the bill.

I do, however, want to pay tribute to the former Deputy Attorney General for the role he played in the international negotiations that led to making the convention on the civil aspects of international child abduction a part of international law and for the procedure that the government will be undertaking if authorized by this bill to bring that convention into force in Ontario. I think this matter has been of extreme concern for a long time, and I know that although it will not solve all the problems it may well assist in some way in providing a more orderly and regularized method of dealing effectively with so-called parental kidnapping and abduction from one jurisdiction to another.

Mr. Speaker, we certainly support the bill on second reading and we look forward to the discussion of it in committee.

Mr. G. W. Taylor: Mr. Speaker, as the member for Riverdale has remarked, it is the concern and request and desire of the Attorney General that, should this bill receive the approval of this House, it go to the justice committee for further review. It has been there once before and it has been before the House for debate previously, but there are some new features to the bill, particularly the international conventions. Again, as in all pieces of legislation, to be reviewed by a committee is worth while, particularly in view of the new provisions that are present in this bill.

Motion agreed to.

Ordered for standing committee on administration of justice.


Mr. MacQuarrie: Mr. Speaker, on behalf of the Solicitor General (Mr. McMurtry), I move second reading of Bill 107, An Act to amend the Police Act.

Mr. Breaugh: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker: Who was the honourable member who just spoke and why is he speaking from that position?

Mr. MacQuarrie: Mr. Speaker, in answer to the member for Oshawa, I am the member for Carleton East. I normally occupy another position in the House.

Mr. Breaugh: That is exactly the point, Mr. Speaker. It is my understanding that a member may speak from his position and that is it, period.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Cousens): I accept the point of order. The honourable member will speak from his own seat.

Mr. MacQuarrie: It will be my pleasure, Mr. Speaker.

Hon. Mr. Gregory: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order: I wonder if I might ask the indulgence of the House to allow the parliamentary assistant to speak from the seat of the minister in the absence of the minister.

Mr. Breaugh: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker: I would have no objection to that, quite frankly, if the member wanted to move it out to procedural affairs so we could discuss it backwards and forwards and sideways and bring in a recommendation on that. I am sure we would be happy --

The Acting Speaker: If I have the unanimous consent of the House for it, I would be pleased that the honourable member may remain where he is.

Mr. Breaugh: No. I am not prepared to break the rules of the House, which are very clear on that particular matter. I am prepared to send it out to committee. If the minister wanted to ask for unanimous consent before he spoke that is another matter, but I think the rules are fairly clear. I am sure the chair would be very quick to point out to an opposition member that he is not allowed to say anything at all if he is not in his place.

9:50 p.m.

Mr. Nixon: On a point of order, in my opinion, the member for Oshawa is entirely correct. It seems to me in the past whenever a parliamentary assistant was handling a bill on second reading, he did so from his own seat, because there is no occasion when it is necessary for a deputy or an assistant from the civil service to advise. It seems to me when we went on to a committee stage where there might be some necessity for advice for amendments and so on, the House leader or the parliamentary assistant would ask permission of the House to move to a more convenient place. They did not do it this time, so I think the honourable member is right that it is out of order. Even on second reading, I do not think there should be such a request.

The Acting Speaker: The chair recognizes the point of order. The member will deal with this bill from his own seat. I have accepted the points of order.

Hon. Mr. Gregory: On behalf of the members on this side, we do apologize for this oversight. It certainly was not our intention to breach the rules of the House, and I thank the members for drawing it to our attention.

The Acting Speaker: Does the House accept the motion on the floor as having been made? Will you move it now please from the beginning?

Mr. MacQuarrie, on behalf of Hon. Mr. McMurtry, moved second reading of Bill 107, An Act to amend the Police Act.

Mr. MacQuarrie: This act is a simple one, an amendment for housekeeping purposes of the Police Act to permit the expansion of the Ontario Police Commission and to permit members of the commission to constitute a quorum thereof.

Mr. Nixon: Mr. Speaker, I thought perhaps the honourable member might have indicated to the house why the Solicitor General feels the police commission should be expanded in size. I certainly hope it is not just an opportunity to appoint more good solid Tories to positions of emolument. I am not reflecting on the present composition of the police commission, but I do recall that a short time ago a former president of the Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario was appointed as chairman of that commission.

Actually, I got to know him a little bit before his appointment during his incarnation as a politician. Although he himself was not a candidate he used to take part in campaigns and made a specialty of by-elections. As a political party leader at that time, I made a specialty of by-elections myself and I used to meet Elmer Bell on the hustings, particularly in western Ontario, which was his specialty. I think probably it was a draw as to who won more by- elections, but we won our share in those days as we will in the future.

I thought, since the bill is not about by-elections or about finding jobs for underemployed past presidents of the Progressive Conservative Association of Ontario, we ought to indicate our belief -- or my belief at least -- in the importance of civilian control of the police. The commission has a very far-reaching control since it can move into any community that has a police commission and through its overriding responsibilities undertake a review at the local level. A number of these reviews are going forward at the present time.

The powers of the commission are extremely extensive and its responsibilities are very heavy. Fortunately, in this province, we have not had a great history of problems in the control of our police forces, although they have recurred on a regular basis over the 20 years I have been taking part in the debates in this House. I am not sure whether they are increasing in frequency and whether that is one of the reasons the parliamentary assistant is moving the bill that will expand the size of the commission.

It has been a commission of three for a considerable period of time. There has been no indication, to us at least or from any other reports, that they are not fully occupied, or even that they require additional assistance in holding certain hearings. As far as we are concerned I suppose we have no objection.

My honourable colleague, the member for Erie (Mr. Haggerty) has indicated that with tough times there has to be a make-work project of some sort, and that may be the justification for the bill. The change in the quorum is of very little significance. Actually I suppose the wording is as good now, or perhaps even better, but I do hope when the parliamentary assistant concludes the debate he gives us some reason the legislation is required.

Mr. Breaugh: Mr. Speaker, we will oppose the bill. There are a couple of principles involved in it that I suggest are not very healthy at all. The first one is a simple notion. The bill is worded in such a way that it says in a rather negative sense "not fewer than three." For a very important agency like the Ontario Police Commission, this House is being asked to accept the notion that some unstated number of members will form the police commission.

I would think for an agency of this power and scope we would want to have a clear idea of precisely what we are setting up here. Are we talking five members, are we talking eight, or are we talking two dozen? Precisely, what is the intention of the government? It strikes me it would certainly be unusual to say, for example, that this House shall consist of not fewer than 125 members. I would imagine the people of the province would like to know exactly what we are talking about there -- 200, 300; how many?

There is an awkwardness to the phrasing which brings with it an awkwardness of principle. On something like a police commission I would imagine that most people would want to have a very specific concept in mind and it should not be stated in such a negative way.

I would repeat the argument that on many occasions we have called for a winter works program. In this case we would feel the scope of the job potential is rather limited and we would like to see it expanded somewhat.

The second principle, which in my view is an important one, is that in rare circumstances the Ontario Police Commission has extensive power. Even in normal circumstances it has a lot of power. For example, the police commission could be asked to investigate the workings of a local police force. This bill establishes the principle that the chairman, whom I assume would call the meeting, and one other person could determine whether a local police force was being effective, had some corruption attached to it, was not operating properly, or could exercise any of the powers the Ontario Police Commission has -- two people. It would be my contention that is an unreasonable way to proceed.

Mr. Nixon: It is two people now, isn't it?

Mr. Breaugh: Yes, it is now.

Is the purpose of the exercise to expand the police commission somewhat? I believe five to eight members has been mentioned as an appropriate number on the police commission. Fewer than half of the people on the police commission would constitute a quorum. I would suggest for any of the other agencies the government has that would be an unacceptable way to proceed; I think it is unacceptable here.

In my view the workings of the police commission ought to be clarified, opened up and be far more specific than they are now. I suppose the argument will be made that by simply noting here that two members constitute a quorum, one will be legitimizing something which I think has been questioned in certain quarters. As to whether it is proper or not, it would be my position and the position of my party that the current practice is not good enough and that we ought to clarify, expand and open up the workings of the police commission, and this bill does not do that.

Mr. MacQuarrie: Mr. Speaker, in response to the comments of the member for Brant-Oxford-Norfolk -- and I suppose they apply equally as well to the member for Oshawa -- it should be pointed out that at this moment the Ontario Police Commission consists of three members, a full-time chairman and two part-time members.

10 p.m.

The restriction on the number of persons contained in the legislation as it now exists has, to an extent, proved unworkable because of the increased number of hearings and the increased length of hearings. It was felt desirable as well by the government to have a measure of fluidity in the membership. It was also felt desirable to have some increased representation on the board from groups and parties interested in the process, but no definite number has been set in the bill.

To my mind that was a wise provision. It allows for a certain measure of flexibility. It permits additional appointments to meet work loads which ebb and flow. The amendments proposed are eminently sensible and I would hope the New Democratic Party will see fit to support the amendments as presented.

The Deputy Speaker: All those in favour of the motion will please say "aye."

Those opposed will please say "nay."

In my opinion the ayes have it.

Motion agreed to.

Ordered for committee of the whole House.


Mr. Mitchell, on behalf of Hon. Mr. Walker, moved second reading of Bill 162, An Act to amend the Ministry of Consumer and Commercial Relations Act.

Mr. Mitchell: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I must concur with the members opposite, and admit to having brought this on at the last minute.

This is merely providing to the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations the same facility I believe some nine ministries have. An example that comes to mind is that every new cemetery requires the minister at the present time to personally sign authorizations and so on. This is an attempt, really, to speed up the processes within the ministry. I believe that is sufficient.

Mr. Nixon: Mr. Speaker, it was impossible for me to attend the regular meeting of the House leaders last Thursday. I was asked to go to Ottawa with the mayor of Brantford on a matter of urgent public importance. For that reason, the House leaders' meeting evidently failed to schedule a list of bills for our consideration tonight that would fully occupy the time. If I had been there I am sure the schedule would have been more complete and viable. But after all, one simply cannot be everywhere at once. You understand that.

Regarding this bill, I want to confirm what the parliamentary assistant has said. We have been presented with a number of these bills. I believe for many years ministers were delegating their authorities to their deputies and other officials down the line. It was not until some alert person at one of the desks under the press gallery got thinking about it, probably in the middle of the night. The thought was: "My God, there is not proper authority to do this. The government is going to collapse unless we give them special authority for the minister to tell the deputy that he can do something. If we do not do this by act of Parliament then probably the workings of the administration of the province will grind to a halt."

We have done this over the last two years for many of the ministries, and I am very glad to support the government as it does the same thing for the Ministry of Consumer and Commercial Relations.

Mr. Renwick: We would support Bill 162, for the simple reason that we are delighted whenever a statute provides conclusively and without any question for the responsibility of the minister in the event that he chooses to delegate any of his authority. The ultimate responsibility of the minister is reserved in both provisions of this bill. We, therefore, have no objection to it, and are prepared to support it.

Mr. Mitchell: Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the members opposite for allowing this to come on at such short notice. Their comments have been appreciated.

Motion agreed to.

Ordered for third reading.

House in committee of the whole.


Consideration of Bill 107, An Act to amend the Police Act.

Mr. MacQuarrie: On a point of order, Mr. Chairman: I was wondering if I could occupy a seat in the front row, close to the ministerial staff.

The Deputy Chairman: That is agreed.

On section 1:

Mr. MacQuarrie: Mr. Chairman, section 1 of the bill provides in essence the facts of the whole bill. It provides that the police commission, which currently consists of not more than three members, with the passage of this bill shall consist of not fewer than three members, who shall be appointed by the Lieutenant Governor in Council. It provides as well for a quorum of the commission as reconstituted being two members.

10:10 p.m.

Mr. Breaugh: Mr. Chairman, I would like to give the government an opportunity to clarify the wording. Surely the concept of putting it that way, "not fewer than three members," is not acceptable even to them. You must have some concept of the number of people you are really trying to get. I would like to elicit from the honourable member just what he is talking about.

Is he talking about five, eight or whatever? I would ask the government to word it in such a way that it says, "not fewer than three and not more than eight members." If they have a particular number they are aiming it, would they share that with the committee? Would the member tell us exactly what he is proposing in this section?

Mr. MacQuarrie: Essentially, what we are proposing is more than three. We have found that three has, by and large, been unsatisfactory. As I outlined in my opening remarks, at the present time the commission consists of a full-time chairman and two part-time members. I assume the commission, as expanded, will initially consist of five members but that is a question for the Lieutenant Governor in Council to decide.

Mr. Breaugh: I do not understand what is going on. Either you know how many people you want to appoint to this commission or you do not. It is ludicrous for you to suggest you are leaving it this way and then you are going to let the Lieutenant Governor in Council appoint to this commission whatever number he or she sees fit. You must have a slightly better story than that. Try it again.

Mr. Nixon: Mr. Chairman, I want to support the member for Oshawa and suggest to the parliamentary assistant that he accept the recommendation. As a matter of fact, the member for Oshawa is much more moderate and agreeable than he usually is.

He is really saying, "You put the limit on it, but put a limit." If you feel the limit ought to be more than three and fewer than eight or fewer than 10, I think it would be quite readily handled. If you make some kind of mistake, maybe we can amend it next year. I think the point the member for Oshawa is making about our reluctance to leave it without a limit of any kind is well taken.

Talking about ill-considered drafting, this is surely an example where the parliamentary assistant would be thanked by his master, when he returns from one of those interminable dinners he attends, if he proposed some sort of reasonable limit, not less than three, nor more than eight, or whatever he thinks is proper. To leave it open-ended and to say this is up to the Lieutenant Governor in Council is really inappropriate.

The commission is established by the Legislature. We are not saying we should have the power to name the commissioners, although we could make some suggestions if you insist. Surely, you should grant the Legislature the power to set an upper limit on the numbers.

Mr. Riddell: Mr. Chairman, I am not all that knowledgeable about the onerous responsibilities of this commission, but I would like to ask why we need three more, five more, seven more, or whatever it may be, commissioners. You have indicated the two now are part-time. Has this always been the case? Is it a case where the commissioners are always working on a part-time basis?

Do we have just one full-time person and that is the chairman? If you are talking about five, are they still going to be acting on a part-time basis or are they going to be looking at full-time responsibilities? What is the reason for extending the commission to more than three? If it is a case of onerous responsibilities, you must surely know how many more it is going to take to carry out these responsibilities. We could be looking at 12 or 15, whatever the members over there desire. I quite agree with the member who --


Mr. Riddell: Did you make an amendment?

Mr. Breaugh: I'm trying to.

Mr. Riddell: Well, he is going to make an amendment. I quite agree with him. You just cannot leave it at something more than three; surely you have some idea what it is going to take to do the work. I want to know just what these added responsibilities are that the present commission cannot handle.

Mr. Breaugh: I have attempted to elicit from the government what numbers it is talking about, and in lieu of a response from it I offer as a suggested amendment, which I am asking the government to accept now, that it simply insert the words "and not more than eight" after the words "not fewer than three members." I am asking the government if it is prepared to accept that as an amendment. It is very officially written out here on a piece of paper. Mr. Renwick will second that motion, I am sure.

Mr. Chairman: Mr. Breaugh moves that section 1(1) be amended by inserting the words "and not more than eight" after the words "not fewer than three members."

Mr. MacQuarrie: Mr. Chairman, I would like to respond initially to the question raised by the member for Huron-Middlesex. The police commission as established under the Police Act deals with the general operation of policing in Ontario as provided, particularly by police forces. It serves in many instances as an appeal tribunal, not only with respect to appeals generated within a force itself -- for instance, disciplinary hearings -- it also deals with complaints against particular police officers that go initially to the chief of police, to the local police commission and, on appeal, to the Ontario Police Commission.

At the present time it is finding that its hearings are increasing both in number and in length. Incidentally, as I already pointed out, the commission is composed of one full-time chairman and two part-time members, and I expect this type of structure will continue in the future, with additional members, as they are appointed, serving in a part-time capacity.

I think the government was wise to draft the legislation in the manner it did to allow the commission the flexibility at any given time, depending on the pressures of particular situations to have such number of members as would enable it to discharge its duties in an efficient fashion. I do not expect, in speaking here, that the membership will exceed five or seven, but I certainly would not be prepared to say that at some time it might not go even higher.

Mr. Breaugh: Are you accepting the amendment or not?

Mr. MacQuarrie: At the present time I am not accepting the amendment, Mr. Chairman, and --

Mr. Breaugh: On a point of order, Mr. Chairman: I am not sure that I see a quorum in here.

Mr. Nixon: Well, wait a minute. If we are going to do something fancy like that, let's adjourn the House.

10:20 p.m.

Mr. Chairman: I agree with that; there is no quorum.

Mr. Chairman called for the quorum bells.

10:24 p.m.

Mr. Chairman: A quorum exists. The member for Oshawa had the floor.

Mr. Rotenberg: He didn't know what to say, so he called a quorum.

Mr. Breaugh: I hear a little rumbling from across the hall. You have a majority; surely you ought to know you have to have a few members around once in a while. If your chief whip cannot do the job, maybe you ought to replace him.

Mr. Rotenberg: You had one member earlier this evening.

Mr. Breaugh: It is your government; have the quorum.

Mr. Renwick: They are your bills we are debating, they are not ours.

Mr. Breaugh: They are your bills; you want them. You have a whip; he is supposed to provide a quorum for the business of the House.

Mr. Kennedy: They heard you were speaking.

Mr. Breaugh: I was not speaking. As a matter of fact, it was your member who was speaking. You ought to stay awake some night in here. You ought to stay awake in here once in a while.

Mr. Chairman: All right; back to the bill.

Mr. Breaugh: I am still waiting for the government to give us some rhyme or reason as to why they would put such awkward wording in a bill like this, and to hear from the government spokesperson in this particular instance, who has just said he thought they would not need any more than five or seven members. Having said that, how in the world can he then proceed to say that an amendment that would simply limit it to eight, which is more than they want, is not acceptable? That is the screwiest logic I have heard in here in some time.

Mr. Chairman: Would the parliamentary assistant like to make another comment?

Mr. MacQuarrie: After hearing the member for Oshawa, the government would be prepared to consent to an amendment whereby the membership shall consist of not more than nine members who shall be appointed by the Lieutenant Governor in Council.

Mr. Breaugh: In the spirit of Christmas, I would be happy to accept that.

Mr. Chairman: Mr. MacQuarrie moves that section 1(1) of Bill 107 be amended by inserting the words "and not more than nine" after the words "not fewer than three members."

The member for Oshawa has withdrawn his amendment.

Any further discussion? No further discussion.

Motion agreed to.

Section 1, as amended, agreed to.

Sections 2 and 3 agreed to.

Bill 107, as amended, agreed to.

On motion by Mr. MacQuarrie, the committee of the whole House reported one bill with a certain amendment.

The House adjourned at 10:28 p.m.