The House met at 2 pm.
RESPONSE TO WRITTEN QUESTIONS
Mr. Roy: Mr. Speaker, I rise on what I consider to be an important point of privilege. It deals with what I consider to be a breach of the standing order dealing with written questions, standing order 81.
Back in September 1982 questions 264 to 268 were put on the order paper requiring an answer from the Office of the Premier. Standing order 81(d) gives the government or the minister in question 14 days to make some sort of response to these questions.
As it turned out, we did not get a response until October 29, 1982. At that time it was said with regard to questions 264 to 268, which were the questions I put on -- and I read from the interim answers -- "Every effort will be made to answer the following questions on or before December 17, 1982." December 17, 1982, went by, of course, and at the end of the session in February 1983 the questions were still not answered.
The questions were put on the order paper again on April 22, 1983, and this week a response was obtained from the Premier's office. Let me read that response, Mr. Speaker. They were very innocuous questions, simply asking which Conservative candidates since 1971 are basically on the government payroll.
The answer read, "Since the names of all appointees are already a matter of public record, the expenditure of time and effort required to provide the information in question would not he commensurate with the benefits to be derived thereby." That was the response we were given, Mr. Speaker, and you can understand our frustration.
I went back to research, knowing I would get your admonition if I was not right on the question of law and precedent in this House. I researched the point completely.
As you have told us on many occasions, you have no power to force the Premier (Mr. Davis) or any other minister to respond to a question. In addition, the standing order does provide, and there is precedent for it, that the Premier can refuse to answer a question. But I think what you can do, and I believe this is important to all members in this assembly, is ensure at least that the ministers on that side follow the standing orders, so that we are not put off and put off again, as we have been since September 1982.
Finally, I get the answer that the time and effort are not worth the answer. I think that is pretty cynical, and an abuse of standing order 81.
Just because an answer may be politically embarrassing to the government is not a reason to refuse to give the answer. Try as we may -- and you can understand, Mr. Speaker, we are trying to follow all these appointments -- it is very diflicult br us on this side to follow which appointment was made when and at what remuneration. There should be some directive to the ministers on that side, and to the Premier's office, that they do not abuse standing order 81.
Mr. Speaker: I have listened intently and I am sure the member would agree that, interesting as his statement is, it is hardly a point of privilege. However, I think the point was well made. The standing orders are for the guidance and direction of all members, and I am sure the member to whom the question was addressed will take note of your remarks.
Hon. Mr. McCague: Mr. Speaker, I have a message from the Honourable the Lieutenant Governor signed by his own hand.
Mr. Speaker: The Lieutenant Governor transmits estimates of certain sums required for the services of the province for the year ending March 31, 1984, and recommends them to the Legislative Assembly. Signed in his own hand, Toronto, May 19, 1983.
STATEMENT BY THE MINISTRY
DEVELOPMENTALLY HANDICAPPED PEOPLE
Hon. Mr. Drea: Mr. Speaker, as I notified the House last October, the Bluewater Centre in Goderich is the second of six institutions for the developmentally handicapped that my ministry intends to close by the spring of 1986. This consolidation of institutional services is part of a five-year plan for expanding community living opportunities for the developmentally handicapped residents of this province. Of the $33.7 million in 1982 dollars we will spend on this program, $23.7 million will come from the closure of these six facilities.
Closing the St. Lawrence Regional Centre in Brockville was the first phase. As I reported to the House on April 28, the plans for that closure are complete and we are extremely pleased with what has been accomplished. When the centre closes in June, 74 of its 100 former residents will be living in group homes and family homes in the community. Another six residents will be ready to move hack to the community within two to three years, after they receive the additional training they require.
Fifty of the 77 civil servants at the St. Lawrence Regional Centre have accepted new positions with my ministry and another seven are negotiating for positions with the Ministry of Health at the Brockville Psychiatric Hospital. I have already provided this House with the details of these staff transfers.
I assured the parents of residents at the Bluewater Centre that we would not proceed to the second phase of our plan until I was satisfied with the progress in Brockville. I told the House last month that I was more than satisfied with what we had achieved there and that we would be developing closure plans for Bluewater in the near future. The program to close Bluewater began Monday.
My staff met with the parents of residents at Bluewater Centre during March in Owen Sound, Clinton, Stratford and Walkerton to discuss the five-year plan and explain the alternatives that will be available. Following these meetings, relatives had an opportunity to discuss individually their placement preferences for their sons and daughters with the Bluewater administrator and program director.
These individual meetings will continue until all relatives have had an opportunity to discuss their preferences with the staff at the centre. The members can be assured no final decisions will be made until full consultation has taken place on this individual basis.
I am pleased to report that almost all the residents who will require continuing institutional care will be moved to Palmerston, which is in the same catchment area as Bluewater, and most of those residents going to community settings will also be relocated in the same general area, near their relatives and friends. In the case of residents whose families live outside the Goderich area, every effort will be made to relocate them near their home communities.
My staff has also been sensitive to the fact that the residents have made friends at the centre over the years. Special care will be taken to move residents who require continuing institutional care to the same facility as their friends.
Letters were sent last Monday from my ministry to the parents and guardians of these residents, reporting on the successes we have achieved to date in the implementation of our five-year plan and informing them of our program to close Bluewater.
We also notified the staff and union at Bluewater Centre last Monday of our closure plans and gave them surplus notices effective November 18, 1983. We conducted the announcement as follows: We notified, first, the union head office; then we notified the management supervisors and union executive at the centre; finally, we ensured this information was communicated to the staff by having the director of human resources for my ministry and several regional officers at the centre on Monday to speak to the employees at every shift change.
Instead of the 90-day notice of a closure required by our collective agreement with the union, we are giving all employees a full six months' notice. We will also conduct personal interviews with each staff member and consult with them concerning their rights under the collective agreement. Finally, we are offering a range of supports for employees who are prepared to relocate, should that be necessary. These will, of course, include arrangements for job interviews and relocation expenses.
Once again I stress that no resident of any institution for the developmentally handicapped will move to the community without a properly supervised residential setting and, where applicable, a work, training or activity program. Every civil servant in the six institutions to be closed will be given preference for jobs in our remaining 11 facilities or in other areas within the public service where they may qualify.
As I have said many times in the past, we believe our program of providing community alternatives to institutional living for developmentally handicapped people, which began in 1975, will enrich the lives of thousands of residents of this province in the years to come.
AUTOMOTIVE PARTS INDUSTRY
Mr. Peterson: Mr. Speaker, I have a question of the Minister of Industry and Trade if, for a moment, he can take his mind off the great questions of war and peace, or whether he will build a war machine in this province.
I would like to ask him an important question with respect to his response to the automotive task force report which has been made public today. I know the minister has seen it and I am sure he has a response. What is his response, and is he prepared to use his good offices to try to persuade the federal government and other parties that this report is taking the right approach?
Hon. Mr. Walker: Yes, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Newman: Mr. Speaker, in the task force report it is noted that the Ontario Centre for Automotive Parts Technology is simply not good enough. What is needed is significant help in identifying and exploiting opportunities for greater manufacturing of Canadian auto parts. This is an area where the Ontario government can make a direct contribution.
Can the minister point to any specific successes of his ministry, either domestically or through foreign offices, in identifying potential markets for Ontario auto parts producers, and can he tell us the concrete steps he is taking to enable Ontario parts producers to cash in on the opportunities in the future?
Hon. Mr. Walker: Mr. Speaker, one of the great benefits of the automotive parts technology centre is the fact that it will allow the 900 auto parts firms in Ontario an opportunity to get on the leading edge of technological innovation. Certainly, 50 of those 900 have in-house research and development capabilities, but the remaining 850 firms do not have that capacity. The technology centre in St. Catharines will provide those 800-odd firms with an opportunity to plug into the system and get the latest possible research and the latest possible access to technology.
By so doing, they will become competitive. Although there is a fairly competitive market now in auto parts, when the manufacturers are more competitive they will have the opportunity to ply the world with their auto parts and to continue selling their products already positioned in the international marketplace.
For instance, Trident makes the plastic windshield wiper; I do not think there is a car in Japan that is produced without the Trident windshield wiper on it. That is a company located here in Ontario servicing the Japanese market. We have other firms servicing the West German market and others, again, servicing Britain and other parts of our Commonwealth; so there are some areas we can point to where successes have occurred.
The auto parts technology centre we have established is only a beginning in the process. Ultimately, private enterprise will be able to fulfil its needs in this area and will follow the recommendations and suggestions put forward in the very good task force report, which I think will receive some support from Ottawa. I met with Mr. Lumley, the minister, on Tuesday afternoon, and I was satisfied that he had some knowledge of it and was quite happy with the direction it had taken.
Mr. Cooke: Mr. Speaker, the minister will know that if content legislation is introduced at the federal level, there will be a need to expand the Canadian auto parts firms in Ontario. Those firms will also need capital to increase their capacity, their productivity and so forth. Is this government prepared to introduce legislation or develop a vehicle whereby it can co-invest with the private sector to infuse capital into the auto parts industry, so that it can meet the demand that will result from content legislation -- content legislation that this party has been pushing for many years?
Hon. Mr. Walker: Mr. Speaker, that vehicle already exists in the Ontario Development Corp., in the technology centres capability, in the Innovation Development for Employment Advancement Corp. and in a variety of other programs that exist. It will be there to meet the needs; the member for Windsor-Riverside can rest assured of that.
Mr. Wrye: Mr. Speaker, undoubtedly one of the important aspects of moving forward with this report and having offshore auto companies manufacturing in Canada would be the research and development aspect. Can the minister tell us what steps he has taken in discussions he may have had with offshore auto companies, or is prepared to take in the time to come, to ensure that the manufacturing aspect, as they move into Canada and into Ontario, includes the research and development factor which is so important to us? What steps is the minister prepared to urge and encourage them to take?
Hon. Mr. Walker: Mr. Speaker, it has to be recognized that the automotive industry is a blended industry, blended between the two countries of North America. That industry basically makes use of the automobile production technology that exists in the United States. Basically, we have assembly plants here in Ontario and in Canada. The assembly plants obviously assemble parts, and if I can use the saying, the whole is the sum of its parts.
We have the capacity for research and development as it relates to parts. We have the auto parts technology centre, which will be a very viable vehicle to bring that about. As well, we have the advantage of the R and D capabilities ot the Big Three or the Big Four, but particularly the Big Three in the United States, because the moment something is developed there, it is transferred almost instantaneously into the Canadian market. So technology transfer does in fact occur there.
We will want to see more encouragement of it. Indeed, with the last arrangement with Chrysler two or three years ago my predecessor took steps that would have seen the establishment of an R and D facility. They chose not to pursue that particular course. It was up to them to draw down the monies; they chose not to do it.
However, there have been some attempts made in the past and there will be attempts made in the future to coalesce here in Ontario more research and development capabilities for the auto makers we have here, regardless of where that auto-making firm might come from.
INDIAN BAND AGREEMENT
Mr. Van Horne: Mr. Speaker, I have a question to the Provincial Secretary for Resources Development concerning his statement on Tuesday regarding the government's revised mercury pollution agreement with the Islington band, a matter that still remains unresolved after five years of negotiations.
The provincial secretary's letter to Chief Isaac Mandamin of the Islington band states that changes in the revised agreement have only "improved the clarity and accuracy of the agreement but have not altered the major thrust of the agreement." How can the minister reconcile these comments with the two major changes he has in fact made to the February draft agreement which the band had signed?
The first is that instead of outright ownership by the band of a $1-million greenhouse complex, it is now to lease the land and the complex, and they can be retrieved by the government after 10 years. The second is that whereas the band was to receive an open licence to harvest wild rice in the new reserve lands to be created under the Hydro agreement, the revised version allows the government to change the licence unilaterally.
Is the minister aware that the band does consider these to be major differences, that there is a major difference between a $1-million grant and a demand loan, and would he not agree that this revised document is merely for publicity purposes and that he has no serious intention of ever arriving at an agreement settlement?
Hon. Mr. Henderson: Mr. Speaker, the honourable member should have been around when the Minister of Natural Resources (Mr. Pope) and I were doing the negotiating with the band chief and his advisers.
Mr. Van Horne: I missed your invitation.
Mr. Speaker: Order.
Hon. Mr. Henderson: If he had been, he would fully understand what is said here. One, there never was a time, not even for half a minute, when it was agreed that the greenhouse would go on band land. It was the understanding in the agreement from day one that the greenhouse would be built off the reserve on crown land. So there is no change there whatsoever, just a clarification.
It was agreed that the native people would have the opportunity to grow wild rice in the lakes in a defined area, not in the overall defined area -- in the lakes in the defined area, the area covered by water. The change made in the agreement was to say it would be the area covered by water in that defined area. There is not one bit of change.
The Minister of Natural Resources and I were both there for all of these negotiations. I believe I have answered the member's question. If he has further questions, I will be happy to answer.
Mr. J. A. Reed: Mr. Speaker, surely the minister would agree that a change from ownership to a lease renewable every 10 years is a major change in the document. Does he not agree the Islington band considered the agreement it signed to be a final agreement, subject to perhaps a few minor changes in wording?
Does the minister not agree these changes now leave the band with no alternative but to take legal action? It has advised us, and our information this morning is that it has now abandoned all out-of-court discussion with the government. How can the minister reconcile his government's inaction on this matter with reflection on Mr. Justice Hartt's words when he said, "What justification for immediate government action is required here other than common decency and restoration of human dignity?"
For heaven's sake, when is the minister going to act? This has been going on for years.
Hon. Mr. Henderson: Mr. Speaker, again I must repeat that the honourable member apparently does not understand the agreement or any of the negotiations leading up to the agreement. There never was any agreement --
Mr. J. A. Reed: Chief Mandamin understood what he signed. You changed it.
Mr. Speaker: Order.
Hon. Mr. Henderson: -- verbally or in writing, that they would own the land where the greenhouse was to be. There was the agreement that we would build the greenhouse off reserve, and all the wording does is to define the area where the greenhouse will be built.
I believe I have answered his question; I am not sure.
Mr. Wildman: Mr. Speaker, I have both documents, the February draft signed by the band and the draft that the minister referred to on Tuesday.
Is it not the case that in the February draft it stated, "Ontario agrees to transfer ownership of the land and buildings to the government of Canada to be held in trust for the band," and that the draft he mentioned on Tuesday states. "Ontario agrees to lease the land for 10 years and to transfer ownership of the buildings" and then further goes on to say that those buildings could revert in ownership to the provincial government if the agreement with the Ministry of Natural Resources is not completed?
How can the minister claim this is simply a clarification? The minister has clarified $1 million out of this agreement. He has done more negotiations with Ben Ratuski than he has with Chief Mandamin. When is he going to try to stop hoodwinking the public of this province and come clean and have a settlement that will finally bring this thing to an end?
Hon. Mr. Henderson: I would like to read that particular paragraph, if I may. A few words were taken from it.
Hon. Mr. Henderson: Mr. Speaker, I am in your jurisdiction. The agreement is 20 pages long. If members really want a full understanding, I should present the agreement; but again, on second thought I will present this four-page explanation of it.
I will start off by presenting just one paragraph to answer this honourable member, but if you feel it needs more clarification, Mr. Speaker, I will present the four pages and then the agreement, if that is your wish.
"Article 2: Economic development; the greenhouse," page 4.
"The May agreement has an additional subsection regarding the leasing of the land, and the renewal of the lease upon which the greenhouse will be built and the conditions of ownership of the greenhouse by the federal government in trust for the band. These matters were not addressed in our agreement in principle, and in less detail in the February draft agreement."
So all we have done, again, is to clarify the wording of the agreement.
Mr. Van Horne: On a point of clarification: It is our understanding that the February agreement in so far as wild rice is concerned indicates that this change would be made only through consent with the bands. But the new agreement says "with advice," which means they may advise not to do it and still the government could go ahead unilaterally and change it. That is a significant change. How does the minister explain it?
Hon. Mr. Henderson: Again I would love to take the time, but in order that the honourable member can understand it I will read this. Maybe the opposition cannot understand it, but I think you can, Mr. Speaker.
"Wild rice," pages 9 and 10. It covers two pages in the agreement.
"In order to implement the commitment contemplated in the agreement in principle in the February draft agreement with respect to the 21-year licence to harvest wild rice and a special licence to harvest rice in the bay of Swan Lake, the May agreement stipulates the minister will recommend required changes to the Wild Rice Harvesting Act. In the May agreement, 'reasonable use' in the wild rice section has been clarified to read 'reasonable harvesting' of wild rice."
If those members over there understood the harvesting of wild rice, they would understand that.
Mr. Rae: Mr. Speaker, in the absence of the Minister of the Environment (Mr. Norton). I would like to address my question to the Premier. In July 1982, at the time Ontario Hydro announced it was shelving its proposals for the installation of two scrubbers, probably at the Lambton generating station, the Minister of the Environment was quoted as saying on that day, "We will be looking at their existing order with the view of tightening it up further."
In the light of the tremendous importance Ontario's own efforts in controlling acid rain have in getting the United States Congress and the American authorities to move to reduce emissions in the United States, can he tell us what steps his government is taking to ensure Ontario Hydro will install these scrubbers and speed up its reduction of SO2 emissions in Ontario?
Hon. Mr. Davis: Mr. Speaker, I am sure the honourable member in his visitation to Washington yesterday and his, I am sure, rather detailed discussions with some members of the Congress and other people in the American government in relation to this problem, really made a genuine attempt to explain to our American neighbours that, while we have certain problems in this province with respect to emissions, on a total assessment there still are far more significant problems south of the border. I am sure he conveyed that to them in the very polite and subtle way he would do so. I hope he had some measure of success in explaining this.
The minister will be delighted to give him an update with respect to the control orders. I think he can assure the member that, in terms of the progress being made with respect to Ontario Hydro and Inco, we do not take second place to what is happening in the Ohio Valley or in some other areas of our great neighbour to the south.
I really appreciate the fact the leader of the New Democratic Party went to Washington on his way back from Dallas and returned here knowing full well that, in spite of the many problems he confronts this government with, he really did not want to stay in Texas or in the District of Columbia; he wanted to return here to the province of opportunity, although the opportunity does not extend, shall we say, to his political future.
Mr. Rae: I appreciate the Premier's warm wishes of welcome home. The fact the government of Ontario's publicly owned utility decided last year not to install two scrubbers has caused a problem, not for those in the United States who are opposed to moving on acid rain, but for those in the United States who are in favour of moving on acid rain, because they perceive there to be a major credibility problem with respect to what the government of Ontario is doing as opposed to what it is saying.
If he is really interested in seeing progress is achieved in the United States with respect to reducing emissions, the overwhelming consensus of the people I spoke to in Washington over the last two days -- US government people, Canadian government people and other officials -- was if Ontario could take greater unilateral action, that would do more to strengthen the hand of those who want to move on acid rain than almost anything else Canada could do.
Does the Premier not see the value, in reaching an agreement, of our publicly owned utility taking a leadership role rather than having to be dragged kicking and screaming into the 20th century with respect to pollution control?
Hon. Mr. Davis: I do not purport to be as knowledgeable on this subject as the honourable member, but I have been involved with this subject for a period of time. I too have had the odd discussion with some of our neighbours, including the governors of the surrounding states and some of the Environmental Protection Agency people on that delightful island of Mackinac, I guess it was last June.
I fully appreciate the view of some of our American neighbours that if Ontario would do more -- without recognizing how far we have come, which is always the problem -- it would be easier for those in support of the reduction of emissions in the United States to make some progress. I do not quarrel with that. What concerns me is that we have made substantial reductions and we have not seen quite the same enthusiam in terms of commitments in the United States. I think the member must acknowledge that. I say in a very constructive fashion to our American neighbours that we have made far more progress on a percentage basis.
This applies to water quality as well. If the member goes into the area of water quality, which I know he did not explore in Washington but which would have been a useful subject, he would have found that this province --
Mr. Rae: You are wrong; we did.
Hon. Mr. Davis: I am sure they told him this, and he must have come home feeling some sense of pride: if he did speak to them about water quality, the American authorities who are knowledgeable would have told him that Ontario has met its commitments and has done far more than any bordering state on the Great Lakes with respect to water quality. If he got objective advice from EPA or others, they would have told him that is factually correct.
Getting back to Ontario Hydro: the member makes a distinction because it is a public utility. I do not know how relevant that is. I do not say government is not involved if it is a public utility, but does it really matter whether it is a public utility or whether it is Consolidated Edison? Surely one is not going to have separate ground rules for utilities just because one is in the private sector and one is in the public sector. I do not think one can in logic draw that distinction.
If we go back to what has been said, surely the criterion is the reduction of emissions. The question of the technology or the process that is used is up to Ontario Hydro. As I recall it, and the Minister of the Environment can correct me if I am wrong, there has been no alteration in either the orders or the commitment of Ontario Hydro. There may be some thoughts as to how they meet the requirements of reduction in emissions. Surely the member is not going to say to Ontario Hydro that scrubbers are necessarily the only way it can be done.
Mr. Peterson: Mr. Speaker, surely the Premier will agree that is not the point. The point is that he made a promise in his throne speech to install two scrubbers, and he broke the promise. That promise, which he and the chairman made on more than one occasion, has been trumpeted throughout the Congressional Record. It was referred to by Ambassador Gotlieb in his speech here in Canada a couple of weeks ago at the acid rain dinner as a major sticking point and an indication of bad faith by Canadians.
It is the Premier's broken promise that is the issue. Will he not agree with that and will he not now undertake to rectify that broken promise?
Hon. Mr. Davis: Mr. Speaker, this is one of the problems with the Leader of the Opposition. He does not understand what is happening.
I think the record will show that Ontario Hydro's commitment -- and it was volunteered, as a matter of fact -- was to reduce emissions by 50 per cent by 1990. The honourable member will find that is on the record. There is no question in our view that Ontario Hydro will meet that objective by 1990.
I cannot guarantee the Leader of the Opposition that because he becomes wedded to a particular technology -- that is why his policies are so intransigent, those that do not alter from day to day -- we will say to Ontario Hydro that is the only way it is to attack this problem. I am not going to dictate to Ontario Hydro, with respect to using scrubbers that may or may not be outdated in technical terms in two or three years, that it should not be approaching some other method of reaching that objective. Surely the objective is to reduce emissions; I really do not think how they do it is a subject of debate.
If the member has had some indication from responsible authorities in the United States, and I say authorities, that Ontario Hydro or Inco is in any way delaying the implementation of the existing EPA standards in the United States, I would like to see him produce that in some form of documentation because I do not think it happens to be factually correct. I would say the same thing to our Canadian ambassador if he were present in this House at this moment.
Mr. Rae: The point the Premier seems to be missing is that the existing EPA standards have to be changed if we are going to see significant reductions. That is why to talk about the existing EPA standards as something we in Ontario should be proud to live up to is totally inadequate when it comes to attacking the problem of acid rain rather than simply living with it, which seems to be the approach the Premier is taking.
With respect to Inco, the last control order, regulation 301, mandated a reduction from 2,500 tons per day to 1,950 tons per day beginning in 1983. Given the fact that this still represents a major contribution in terms of SO2 emissions, can the Premier tell us first whether it is the government's intention to bring in a new control order this year which will produce substantial reductions from that 1950 level?
Second, can the Premier guarantee that with respect to this control order, there will be a chance at last for the people of Ontario to participate in establishing the level rather than having it settled behind closed doors between the Ministry of the Environment and the company?
Hon. Mr. Davis: Perhaps the member misunderstood me. I was not saying EPA standards are acceptable from our standpoint or anybody else's. The point I was making to the Leader of the Opposition, who I do not think has quite grasped this issue yet, is that the existing EPA standards are not being met by many industries in the United States. If they did not tell the member that in Washington yesterday then he wasted his time.
Mr. Rae: I know that.
Hon. Mr. Davis: If the member knows that, why does he not say so? Why does he not give us some sense of balance? Surely he has come home from there understanding just how much progress we have made in Ontario compared to almost any other jurisdiction. Why does he not stand up and say that? One cannot come back from Washington without that awareness.
Regarding Inco, I cannot tell the member whether the existing control order will be altered. I am not in a position to give any indication of that nature. I know the member does not like government working with the private sector to solve these problems but, in terms of total percentage of emissions, the government in conjunction with Inco probably has made as significant an accomplishment in the time frame as any other single industry in North America.
Mr. Peterson: Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of privilege to correct the record. It relates to a discussion I was having with the Premier with respect to scrubbers. At a press conference on January 26, 1981, the then Minister of the Environment, Harry Parrott, and Ontario Hydro chairman Hugh Macaulay announced the Hydro acid gas control program. Mr. Macaulay stated: "The most significant component in our program will be the design and construction of two sulphur dioxide scrubbers by 1987. It will be a first for Canada, I might add."
Then, in a response to a petition signed by 139 federal MPs objecting to the General Public Utilities deal, Mr. Macaulay wrote a letter dated February 19 --
Mr. Speaker: Order. Will the honourable member please resume his seat? It is not a point of privilege, with all respect.
Mr. Peterson: It is a point of privilege to correct the record. There was some discussion about the problem.
Mr. Speaker: No. It is a completely different matter. That was disposed of earlier. It was explained in some detail. It has nothing to do with being a point of privilege.
Mr. Peterson: There was discussion over the nature of the promise, and you know how a promise is very important --
Mr. Speaker: Order.
SECURICOR INVESTIGATION AND SECURITY LTD.
Mr. Rae: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Solicitor General with respect to Securicor and the decision of the Ontario Labour Relations Board taken last Friday.
In answering questions in the House on Monday, the Solicitor General suggested that he and his staff were studying the decision with respect to the impact it might have on the licence being granted to Securicor and any other actions the government of Ontario might take. He has now had three days to study the award.
Does the Solicitor General now feel he should register a complaint with the registrar under section 17 of the Private Investigators and Security Guards Act and ask him to take away the licence of Securicor, given the very serious nature of the breaches of the Labour Relations Act and possibly other statutes, including the Criminal Code of Canada, which were found by the Ontario Labour Relations Board to have taken place? Is the Solicitor General now prepared to take those steps?
Hon. G. W. Taylor: Mr. Speaker, as I said in answer to the honourable member's question earlier this week, the investigation by the Ontario Provincial Police, which does the licensing, is ongoing. They are reviewing the decision of the Ontario Labour Relations Board regarding Securicor.
It may be slightly premature to say that is going to be the final result in this matter, because I understand it is going to he appealed. None the less, the OPP and the registrar are investigating the facts and reviewing the judgement. When I receive a complete report, a decision will be made as to whether charges will be laid under the provisions of the Private Investigators and Security Guards Act or if licences should be suspended or removed.
Mr. Rae: This government has delayed for more than a year. The OPP and the registrar have had the information with respect to the activities of Securicor for more than a year. They did not have to wait for the decision of the Ontario Labour Relations Board. That decision is not being appealed on a matter of fact. If it goes to judicial review, it will be reviewed on a matter of law that has nothing to do with the findings of fact by the board and the evidence that appeared. As soon as that evidence was adduced at the hearing, the OPP and the registrar should have been moving with respect to Securicor.
Here is a company and its employees that have been found over a period of time to have broken, and broken without shame or apology, the Ontario Labour Relations Act and to have attempted to subvert the purposes of that act. How long is it going to be before the minister is prepared to protect the employees in this province from this kind of spying and goon-like activity?
Hon. G. W. Taylor: In answering this question previously on many occasions, I have said there were many witnesses who had to be heard by the Ontario Labour Relations Board. I am sure the member would desire that. Indeed, much evidence was heard at that hearing, and there were many adjournments. I am sure the member would not have wanted the actions of another forum or of the registrar in any way to have inhibited or caused interference in that proceeding before the Ontario Labour Relations Board.
When the member states that we were delaying, I have to tell him that we were delaying to provide all sides an opportunity to have that hearing and to have that forum answer the questions. When he comments on our legislation, I am very proud on the part of government of the legislation we have put forward on behalf of workers. I would say the legislation put forward on behalf of workers in this province, through the Minister of Labour (Mr. Ramsay) and through this government, exceeds and excels any other piece of legislation of any other jurisdiction.
This situation will be resolved in accordance with the legal procedures of this province so that everybody will receive a fair hearing and an opportunity to resolve the matter in a way that will be fair to all parties.
Mr. Wrye: Mr. Speaker, apparently the minister is concerned about a fair hearing for everybody but the employees of places such as Automotive Hardware, who did not get treated very fairly for a matter of months.
The minister referred to further investigations by the OPP and a decision. When is this decision going to be taken? As part of the ongoing investigation and review, is the minister taking a look at issuing new instructions to the OPP and other police forces in Ontario in terms of their activities in these cases of industrial espionage and specifically in the kinds of cases where they were aware of an agent provocateur, as was the case with Securicor in this instance?
Hon. G. W. Taylor: Mr. Speaker, when I hear the honourable member commenting on the particular judgement -- the judgement is in excess of 66 pages and is very detailed both in law and in fact -- and the investigation leading up to that by the Ontario Provincial Police, I have to tell him that it is now being reviewed, and I am sure he would not want any precipitate action as a result of the investigation or the material contained therein without some thorough review, without some determination both as to the law that may be the result of changes and as to the charges that may flow out of any of the actions.
When I hear the member state that the police are less than neutral in these cases, I take exception to that, since this is Canadian Police Week. When he can make statements that he believes the police are less than neutral in labour relations and matters of this kind, I must state on behalf of the police that this is totally not correct. Indeed, they are the most neutral participants in situations where it is very difficult at times for them to perform their tasks, in volatile situations that sometimes rise out of strikes and picketing.
Mr. Rae: In the light of the Solicitor General's answers, I wonder whether he will allow me to redirect a question to the Attorney General (Mr. McMurtry). If he says yes -- I gather he has -- I wonder whether I could redirect my final supplementary to the Attorney General with respect to this decision of the Ontario Labour Relations Board.
Mr. Speaker: Did the Solicitor General redirect?
Hon. G. W. Taylor: I did not reply "yes" to that, Mr. Speaker. If the member wants to ask another question of the Attorney General, that is within his limit and within the rules of the procedure.
Mr. Rae: I take it then that the minister is saying he does not want the Attorney General to answer a question with respect to this.
Hon. G. W. Taylor: No. I think the Attorney General has great liberty to answer any question --
Mr. Speaker: Order. The member for York South; final supplementary to the Solicitor General.
Mr. Rae: I will put the question to the Solicitor General. Is he prepared to enter into discussions with the Attorney General with respect to possible criminal prosecutions in this matter, given the statement in paragraph 63 by the Ontario Labour Relations Board about the kind of conduct that occurred and given the clear statement made by the Minister of Labour in April 1982 that where there has been some kind of conspiracy, or attempt to enter into a conspiracy, to breach the Labour Relations Act that in itself amounts to a breach of the Criminal Code? Is the Solicitor General prepared to enter into this discussion?
Hon. G. W. Taylor: I am prepared to discuss anything, any time, anywhere with my colleague the Attorney General. He is very knowledgeable of the routine in police matters. Investigations done by police are often done in consultation with the crown law officers; and at a particular time, when the investigations are complete, they are usually reviewed by the Attorney General in collaboration with the Solicitor General. Sometimes a determination is made to continue with the procedures, be it under a municipal statute, a provincial statute or the Criminal Code, and those procedures are carried out in consultation with the Attorney General.
I reiterate to the member that at no time would I not want to talk to my colleague the Attorney General.
CONVERSION OF RENTAL UNITS
Mr. Ruprecht: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations. The minister has received various requests to help stop the conversion of apartment units into hotel-like accommodations. He is aware that these conversions take place right across Metropolitan Toronto. Has he informed himself how many units and how many tenants are involved in these conversion processes and how that change has affected community life?
Hon. Mr. Elgie: Mr. Speaker, I think we have to put the whole issue into perspective. The issue really relates back to a time of minority government, when the Residential Tenancies Act was passed. The Legislature in its wisdom decided at that time that, under certain conditions, certain types of residences such as hotels would be exempt from section 4 of the legislation. That in no sense meant that section was to be used to subvert the purposes of the Residential Tenancies Act.
The honourable member knows full well the position taken by the Residential Tenancy Commission in many cases, particularly in many that are under appeal now, has been that the conversion attempt was not appropriate. Since those decisions are under appeal, I am not prepared to discuss them further at this time.
The member also knows there was a motion by one of the landlords to declare that such evictions for the purpose of conversion were outside the Landlord and Tenant Act. That position was not upheld and it is under appeal. He knows very well these issues, which were attempts to subvert the purposes of the Residential Tenancies Act, are before the court.
Mr. Ruprecht: I am sure many people are looking to the minister for some guidance and leadership to try to solve the problems being raised by these specific conversions. I do not want to give the minister another chance to hide behind the Thom commission, or another commission, and have him say, "I can't talk about this, because it is before a commission," or "I can't talk about this, because it is before something else."
Is the minister aware that some tenants in these buildings are being asked to sign a form, upon moving into their apartments, that is in effect an undated agreement determining the tenancy? The landlord then uses this form to evict tenants without proper notice, when it suits his purpose, by filling in the appropriate date.
In a decision dated November 5, 1982, concerning a case of this nature, county court judge Haley found the landlord's behaviour was "a deplorable attempt to subvert the mechanism of the Landlord and Tenant Act." The tenants who went before Judge Haley were lucky, but dozens of other tenants in similar circumstances returned home to find themselves locked out. Many of these cases have been documented, but even when landlords are caught, there is no automatic penalty that can be imposed on them, because the act does not contain appropriate provisions.
I am sure the minister does not condone this kind of action. If he does not, is he prepared to stand up here and tell the House how he will stop this practice?
Hon. Mr. Elgie: If I may address the ad hoc prologue first of all, I think any attempt, by the member particularly, to try to pretend that this minister hides behind anything is so ridiculous that everybody on his side of the House should be laughing at him; and I think most of the time they are, to tell the truth.
Mr. Speaker: Order.
Hon. Mr. Elgie: I am just enchanted, as I am sure all the other members are, that the only specific example the member gave outside of his generalities was the specific case where the judge said that the practice was deplorable. Let us have some more specifics instead of his generalities.
INCREASED ARMAMENT PRODUCTION
Mr. R. F. Johnston: Mr. Speaker, my question is for General Walker, the Minister of Industry and Trade. Forgetting for a second the moral question of whether or not we should be promoting the increase of armament production in this province, let us look for a second at the economic reasons for getting involved.
Is the minister aware that Sam Gindin, the United Automobile Workers research director, is quoted as saying: "Resources spent on the military are a diversion from resources spent on goods and services. In fact, a number of studies done in the US show that each billion dollars invested in the military could have provided more jobs if invested elsewhere"?
Does the minister know that for that $1 billion the military would create, directly and indirectly, 76,000 jobs? In construction it would create 100,000 jobs, in health services 139,000 jobs and in education 187,000 jobs. Would he not agree there are better ways of creating jobs in Ontario than by encouraging increased arms production?
Hon. Mr. Walker: Mr. Speaker, I suppose there are tens of thousands of veterans in this land who probably think the honourable member's comment, which is really about giving in on any kind of deterrent around the world, is the way he would like the world to be. That is the kind of Neville Chamberlain approach that has been around a little bit too much.
Mr. Speaker: Order.
Hon. Mr. Walker: I think the member might realize that in this country --
Mr. Speaker: Order.
Hon. Mr. Walker: The member has to realize that something approaching 50,000 jobs in this province are related to it; and if he thinks it is a diversion, if he thinks we should shut down all of the industry in Ontario that might be related to defence, then I suspect maybe the member should start looking at his own riding.
The first place they would shut down is the Canada Metal Co., and the Energy and Chemical Workers Union might have some concern about it; the member might speak to them in his riding. He might speak to Bayview Metals in his riding, because they too would have to close down under his formula. He might also speak to Amphenol Canada Inc.; they also would have to close down. He might speak to the hundreds of workers there who think that what they are doing is a very legitimate industry.
Before the member wipes away an industry, he should think about some of the jobs in the process. When he starts to think about some of the jobs, maybe he will reconsider a little bit some of his rather foolish thoughts.
Mr. R. F. Johnston: The minister might have noticed that I did not suggest we should be shutting down what we are doing. What I said was that we should not be advocating an increase in our armaments.
What more would the minister want us to do to increase our armament production? In the past two years our federal budget has increased by 35 per cent in armament production and defence spending in Canada. We have a defence production sharing agreement with the United States that right now guarantees us access to the US market with exemptions from their tariffs. We also have a defence incentives program by which the Canadian government encourages companies to bid on American defence contracts as if they were already tooled to meet the requirements. If the company gets the contract, our government picks up the cost.
What does the minister think Ontario should do to add to the present incentives that are already there for the armaments reduction?
Hon. Mr. Walker: I never made any comment that would suggest Canada should increase its expenditures in defence, although I must say we should maintain our obligations under the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and we should maintain our obligations under the North American Air Defence Command. The member for Scarborough West talks about a nuclear-free zone. Is "No-Nuke Johnston" what they call him?
When I look at the kind of production we already have in this province, the kind of capability we have, the obligations we have around the world in terms of the defence of Canada and the defence of the western world, I think we have to take our fair stand. For the member to stand here and suggest, with the kind of gall he is putting forward, that we should ignore all the freedoms that have been fought for, is absolute hypocrisy on the member's part.
Mr. Speaker: Order. I ask the minister to reconsider the use of that word.
Hon. Mr. Walker: Which word was that, Mr. Speaker?
Mr. Speaker: It was "hypocrisy."
Hon. Mr. Walker: I do not think "hypocrisy" necessarily applies to his words.
Mr. Mackenzie: Mr. Speaker, on a point of privilege: As a veteran, I feel I have been insulted by the minister's sleazy remarks about appeasement and the inference that we are Neville Chamberlain types.
FLOOD PLAIN MAPPING
Mr. Haggerty: Mr. Speaker, a question to the Premier: Is the Premier aware of the recent article in the Welland-Port Colborne Tribune dated May 12, 1983, concerning flood plain policy changes? The article stated that the executive of the provincial Progressive Conservative association had been informed by the Minister of Natural Resources (Mr. Pope) that "flood plain criteria will undergo some major changes in the immediate future." Alderman Len Hallborg was quoted as saying the minister specified three major changes, including "the one-in-500-year storm will be replaced by a one-in-100-year determination" and "a two-zone concept will be implemented wherein building will be permitted within flood lines."
Can the Premier confirm now that changes in the flood plain policy will take place and that concerned citizens in the regional municipality of Niagara can expect some measure of relief from the present land restrictions now in force under present flood plain criteria?
Hon. Mr. Davis: Mr. Speaker, the honourable member will recall a very pleasant day a few days ago that I shared with him and his colleague the member for Niagara Falls (Mr. Kerrio), the former at the opening of a major new facility in his riding where incidentally -- he was not at all embarrassed -- the virtues of the government were extolled by everyone present. After leaving there I went to the opening of the new Ontario Paper plant where, once again, the member for Niagara Falls enthusiastically applauded what was being said.
Mr. Ruston: This has nothing to do with the question, Mr. Speaker.
Hon. Mr. Davis: It does, and they both enjoyed it. I do not know whether they were the member's constituents, but I met with some of those interested in this subject. Actually I think it was at the Ontario Provincial Police detachment in Welland. They conveyed their concerns to me. I told them the member for Brock (Mr. Welch) had already made representations on this particular issue.
I understand certain documentation has been sent to many members, including myself. Members of my staff are taking a look at it. There will be conversations with the Minister of Natural Resources, and I think there were two or three individuals in Welland, not too far distant from the member's riding, that we will be back in touch with fairly shortly.
Mr. Haggerty: In his last comment the minister says, "It shows that we have a provincial government that is caring and willing to respond to the people's wishes."
When can the Niagara region expect some new policy guidelines in flood plain mapping? I am sure the Premier is aware of the heavy expenditure by the Ministry of the Environment to put in hard-core services in the town of Fort Erie. Now, because of flood plain mapping criteria, the town cannot develop either the industrial park or subdivisions. When can we expect an answer?
Hon. Mr. Davis: I think I heard the early part of the question when the member said we had a caring and sensitive government. I totally agree with that and I thank him for the statement. Is that not what he said?
Mr. Haggerty: I was only quoting.
Hon. Mr. Davis: He did not tell me when he was quoting. If he does not want to distinguish, I just accept what he said.
Mr. Roy: They will keep voting for him no matter what the Premier says; so the Premier should not worry about it.
Hon. Mr. Davis: I do not worry about it.
Mr. Speaker: Never mind the interjections, please.
Hon. Mr. Davis: The member will tell his colleague that on that lovely morning in his community I made no attempt to discredit him. I just pointed out to him the error of his ways and how philosophically all he had to do was walk 22 feet. I think that is roughly what I said. We will be in touch shortly.
AUTOMOTIVE PARTS INDUSTRY
Mr. Cooke: Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask the Premier whether he would be willing to place before the Legislature an all-party resolution that would endorse the content provisions recommended by the auto task force and put additional pressure on the federal government to implement that legislation as quickly as possible so we can get the jobs here in Ontario?
Hon. Mr. Davis: Mr. Speaker, I was intrigued by the opening question by the Leader of the Opposition, because all he really asked the Minister of Industry and Trade (Mr. Walker) was whether he agreed with what was in the throne speech.
I had no advance knowledge of the task force report, but my recollection is that one of the main ingredients in the report found its way into the excellent speech by the Lieutenant Governor. Is that the honourable member's recollection?
As to whether there would be a resolution of this House, I do not minimize the potential of that, but with the greatest of respect I say that I think a lot of homework needs to he done; the report itself has to be assessed. I cannot give a commitment that a resolution passed by all parties of this House would necessarily have that impact or is necessarily the right route to go.
I understand the point of view of the New Democratic Party. Let us assess what is happening in Ottawa at the same time as we are assessing the report here.
Mr. Cooke: I specifically mentioned the one aspect of the report. The government went on record after we pushed it into going on record in favour of content legislation; at the provincial level the Liberal Party has finally gone on record in favour of content legislation; and this party is on record in favour of content legislation.
Will the Premier start negotiations with all three parties to draft a resolution that could be presented in this Legislature and passed quickly, putting pressure on the federal government for content legislation? If the National Assembly in Quebec can do it, surely Ontario, with 90 per cent of the jobs in the auto sector, can do it.
Hon. Mr. Davis: Before the members over there become so enthusiastic -- and I will not go through the chronological order -- I think one may find the government of this province introduced this concept as early as, if not earlier than, the New Democratic Party.
Mr. McClellan: Bravo! Did you invent the radio?
Hon. Mr. Davis: I am one of those who look for practical solutions to problems and, with no disrespect to the concept of an all-party resolution calling on the government of Canada to pass content legislation, I really think in fairness that it is perhaps overly simplistic. It might not produce the desired results, although I am prepared to assess it.
If the honourable member is asking me today whether we should introduce such a resolution, I cannot give any such commitment. But I have made note of the support of the member for -- where is he from?
Mr. Cooke: Windsor-Riverside.
Hon. Mr. Davis: Windsor-Riverside.
GOVERNMENT HIRING POLICIES
Mr. T. P. Reid: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the secretary for resources management, if he would like to --
Mr. Roy: It's a big day for you, Lorne: two questions.
Mr. Speaker: Proceed, please.
Mr. T. P. Reid: In the absence of the Minister of Natural Resources (Mr. Pope), I would like to ask the Provincial Secretary for Resources Development if he is aware of the hiring policy of the various ministries in his resource field with respect to seasonal and contract work. Can he assure the House, for instance, that particularly in northern Ontario but also in the local regions those people will be the first ones to have the seasonal and contract jobs, especially those through the Ministry of Natural Resources, and that they will not lose out in getting that employment to people who are referred from head office in Toronto, either through the ministry's office or through certain ministers?
Hon. Mr. Henderson: Mr. Speaker, the minister happened to mention to me recently that he had a recommendation from this honourahle member for someone who needed work. The government is doing everything in its power to make work for the young people and the native people across northern Ontario, and it is looking after our people. Beyond that, I will ask the Minister of Natural Resources to respond to the question.
Mr. T. P. Reid: When the minister talks to the Minister of Natural Resources, will he ask him -- and perhaps this minister would like to involve himself in it as well -- to ensure that people who have worked on seasonal and contract work in the past for four and five years, especially for the Ministry of Natural Resources, should be hired first and not be bumped by people from southern Ontario particularly?
Hon. Mr. Henderson: I will certainly bring this to the attention of the minister, but I can tell the honourable member that our Ministry of Natural Resources takes care of the people in the local areas.
Mr. Wildman: Mr. Speaker, will the minister ensure when he is discussing this with the Minister of Natural Resources that those individuals who have been working for the ministry on seasonal jobs and contract jobs for a number of years will not now lose their positions to people who are being hired on Canada-Ontario employment development projects, since the ministry seems to see this as a way of saving money?
Hon. Mr. Henderson: Mr. Speaker, the honourable member is bringing in another aspect. As he knows, the government of Canada requires us to hire those people through that program; they are really not the regular contract employees whom the member for Rainy River (Mr. T. P. Reid) was referring to, I do not believe. I think he is confusing two different levels of contract, but I will bring it to the attention of the minister.
RESPONSE TO ORAL QUESTIONS
Mr. Speaker: I would just like to comment on something perhaps all honourable members are not aware of.
I hear interjections from time to time that various ministers are not addressing the question at hand, and I would point out that the standing orders do not provide me with any authority to rule or to persuade any minister to answer any questions. In fact, the standing order says quite clearly that ministers may, if they so wish, decline to answer.
Mr. Nixon: On that point of order, Mr. Speaker --
Mr. Speaker: It is not a point of order. I just thought it was a point of information.
Mr. Nixon: May I raise a point of order with your permission?
Mr. Speaker: All right.
Mr. Nixon: Mr. Speaker, is there not some other reference to relevancy there?
Mr. Speaker: Not that I know of.
Mr. Nixon: Is it not your job to see the answers are at least somewhat relevant to the questions and not just excursions out around the garden path? I think you will find your responsibility is in some degree to keep the answers relevant; and I would certainly hope that if you do not read it as such, you would accept the responsibility so to do, although it is a very tough job, I can see.
Mr. Speaker: If I may comment further, I do have that authority and discretion in debate, but not during the oral question period.
NOTICE OF DISSATISFACTION
Mr. Speaker: Pursuant to standing order 28, the member for Algoma (Mr. Wildman) has given notice of his dissatisfaction with the answer to his question given by the Provincial Secretary for Resources Development (Mr. Henderson) concerning the changes in the draft agreement between the provincial government and the Islington band. This matter will be debated at 10:30 this evening.
POSSIBLE CONFLICT OF INTEREST
Mr. Di Santo: Mr. Speaker, on a point of personal privilege: I wonder if you could make a ruling. Recently, I have been appearing before the Residential Tenancy Commission. Commissioner Sheldon Kert made some remarks on May 13 that MPPs should not appear before the commission, that they were there to intimidate the commissioners and that, in view of the fact that MPPs represent the riding, by choosing to represent tenants before the commission they are in a position of conflict of interest.
In view of the fact the tenants --
Mr. Speaker: Order. Could we have the indulgence of the House? I ask all honourable members not to carry on their private conversations in the House, please, including the member for Huron-Bruce (Mr. Elston).
Mr. Di Santo: I wonder whether the Tories are interested in listening. Of course, they do not have those problems; they do not represent the tenants.
If we accepted the proposal made by the commissioner that the MPPs may not represent their constituents, the tenants, because of a supposed conflict of interest, we would end up with a situation where the tenants would be deprived of representation. Is that not a deprivation of our privileges as members of the Legislature?
Mr. Speaker, could you make a ruling on that or make representation to the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations (Mr. Elgie)?
Mr. McClellan: Mr. Speaker, very briefly on the same point: This is a very important point of privilege my colleague has raised. It has to do with our capacity to represent our constituents. Before you make a ruling on this matter, sir, I want to request that you consult with the minister responsible for the administration of these tribunals -- I understand it is the Attorney General (Mr. McMurtry) -- and determine from him whether there is some policy in force against citizens appearing at the rent review tribunal being represented by members of this Legislature, or whether that commissioner was acting in violation of policy.
Mr. Speaker: Interesting as it may be, it is not a point of privilege, personal or otherwise. I would venture a guess that the commissioner was offering an opinion. I would be very surprised if members of the Legislature were precluded by legislation; I just do not know. I am sure both the minister involved and the Attorney General will take this matter under consideration and will correspond directly with the members involved. It does not constitute a proper point of privilege.
TRAILER PARK AT ELLIOT LAKE
Ms. Copps: Mr. Speaker, I have a petition to the Honourable the Lieutenant Governor and the Legislative Assembly of Ontario, which reads:
'We, the undersigned, beg leave to petition the parliament of Ontario as follows: That you will persuade Denison Mines Ltd. to lease or sell to the municipality of Elliot Lake the land now occupied by the Stollery Lake Trailer Park in order to preserve the homes of its 80 resident families."
This petition is signed by more than 100 residents and calls upon all the members of the Legislature from all political parties, and the ministers of the present government, to make a most sincere and concerted effort to encourage Denison Mines Ltd. to be most generous in its response to the request from the municipality of Elliot Lake for control of the trailer park.
Mr. Robinson: Mr. Speaker, for the first time as chairman, it is my privilege to beg leave to present a report from the standing committee on social development.
Mr. Speaker: Thank you.
STANDING COMMITTEE ON SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT
Mr. Robinson from the standing committee on social development reported the following resolution:
That supply in the following amount and to defray the expenses of the Provincial Secretariat for Social Development be granted to Her Majesty for the fiscal year ending March 31, 1984:
Social development policy program, $11,624,800.
INTRODUCTION OF BILLS
INSTITUTE OF MANAGEMENT CONSULTANTS OF ONTARIO ACT
Ms. Fish moved, seconded by Mr. Robinson, first reading of Bill Pr26, An Act respecting the Institute of Management Consultants of Ontario.
Motion agreed to.
COMPENSATION FOR VICTIMS OF CRIME AMENDMENT ACT
Mr. Kennedy moved, seconded by Mr. Jones, first reading of Bill 44, An Act to amend the Compensation for Victims of Crime Act.
Motion agreed to.
Mr. Kennedy: Mr. Speaker, this bill is to extend the eligibility for compensation under the Compensation for Victims of Crime Act, 1971, to persons who have been imprisoned for an offence and whose convictions are subsequently quashed. The victim would receive compensation for expenses actually incurred and pecuniary losses resolving from the imprisonment.
HUMAN TISSUE GIFT AMENDMENT ACT
Mr. Van Horne moved, seconded by Mr. Nixon, first reading of Bill 45, An Act to amend the Human Tissue Gift Act.
Motion agreed to.
Mr. Van Horne: Mr. Speaker, this bill is intended to facilitate the obtaining of human organs for transplant purposes. An automated central register of consents and objections to the use of organs for transplant purposes after death is contemplated to allow physicians to ascertain deceased persons' wishes more readily.
Where no objection by a deceased person has been registered and there is no reason to believe the deceased had or the deceased's next of kin have any objections, removal of organs for transplant is authorized without the specific consent that otherwise would be required.
Section 29 of the Coroners Act deals in a similar fashion with the removal of human pituitary glands used in the treatment of persons suffering from growth hormone deficiency.
LANDLORD AND TENANT AMENDMENT ACT
Mr. Boudria moved, seconded by Ms. Copps, first reading of Bill 46, An Act to amend the Landlord and Tenant Act.
Motion agreed to.
Mr. Boudria: Mr. Speaker, the purpose of the bill is to provide increased protection for tenants residing in mobile home parks who are forced to move from a park by a landlord who requires possession of the park for certain purposes. The act currently requires the landlord to give the tenant at least 120 days' notice before terminating the tenancy agreement. The bill increases this notice period from 120 days to one year.
This is a reintroduction of a previous bill that was vetoed by the government. I hope this time the member for Algoma-Manitoulin (Mr. Lane) will not veto the bill.
MOTION TO SET ASIDE ORDINARY BUSINESS
Mr. Mackenzie moved, seconded by Mr. R. F. Johnston, that pursuant to standing order 34(a), the ordinary business of the House be set aside to discuss a matter of urgent public importance, that being the conspiracy between Automotive Hardware Ltd. and Securicor Investigation and Security Ltd. to subvert the laws of the province, particularly the Labour Relations Act; and whether the actions of Securicor were known to and condoned by police as alleged by Securicor and reported in the Ontario Labour Relations Board's decision of Friday, May 13, 1983, and the continuing threat posed to Ontario's collective bargaining system by the use of undercover agents, provocateurs and strikebreaking firms such as Securicor by employers in this province.
Mr. Speaker: I would like to advise all honourahle members that the motion was indeed received in time, at 11:40 this morning. I will be prepared to listen to the honourable member for up to five minutes as to why he thinks the ordinary business of the House should be set aside.
Mr. Mackenzie: Mr. Speaker, the motion before us is a serious one because its implications strike at the very heart of equal justice in Ontario.
On page 32, section 1, of the Ontario Labour Relations Board decision concerning Securicor and Automotive Hardware, Securicor argues, "If the board finds its involvement to have been inherently unlawful, it will be breaking new ground on the basis of actions which were known and condoned by two sets of police."
Clearly, the police knew from the beginning of the strike that a private security investigator had infiltrated the union. In testimony before the OLRB on May 27, 1982, Ontario Provincial Police Constable Larry McClure testified that both the OPP and the Metropolitan Toronto Police knew that a Securicor agent was amongst the pickets from the beginning of the seven-month strike. They knew that David Ivers was licensed as a private investigator, had infiltrated the picket line and was receiving strike pay. McClure testified there had been problems in past strikes where an agent had infiltrated.
When pressed in February by the steelworkers as to the status of Ivers, McClure did not acknowledge that he was a security agent until he had first warned the president of Securicor.
Sergeant Gaylor of the Metro Toronto police force was asked Ivers's status back in October and suggested they should ask Ivers themselves. The president asked him if he was a spy or a security agent and he denied he was. From the beginning the police were aware that Ivers had infiltrated the union and the board's decision clearly states this infiltration was illegal.
Does anyone believe that if the union infiltrated the company's personnel department to pass on information, and the police knew of the situation, they would not have immediately notified the company?
I now quote from one of the OLRB reports, one of September 17. Immediately prior to the strike, Mr. Ivers asked Automotive Hardware if there is any "specific information the company requires or any misinformation they would like delivered and any suggestions I could make to the union on behalf of the company that could help them in the situation?"
Clearly, there was a conspiracy and the board is harsh in its condemnation. There is clear evidence of the counselling of theft and a variety of illegal activities. Apart from these actions and whether or not the police knew that he would be involved in these actions, they did know that he had infiltrated the picket line. The purposes are obvious and that in itself has clearly been ruled as being illegal.
A reading of the Private Investigators and Security Guards Act clearly establishes that a company carrying on the business of providing private investigators must be licensed. This act also provides for suspension or cancellation of a licence in section 14. At the discretion of the registrar of private investigators and security guards, he may suspend or cancel a licence where,
"(a) the licensee is convicted of an offence under the Criminal Code (Canada) or under this act or the regulations;
"(b) the licensee is in breach of a term or condition of the licence; or
"(c) in the opinion of the registrar, to do so is in the public interest."
It is also interesting to note that the registrar is a member of the OPP.
We have asked repeatedly in this House for action against professional strikebreakers. One can refer to Hansard of July 2, 1981, and April 2, 1982. Here, I would like to give a quote from the Minister of Labour (Mr. Ramsay) at the time, in dealing with our questions about Securicor: "it is a criminal conspiracy for two or more persons to act in concert with the intention of contravening federal or provincial legislation." That is exactly what went on in this particular case.
We also raised the question in 1982 on April 15, 16 and 19, May 7, June 18 and October 12, and on February 15, 1983, and since, outlining some of the serious allegations that have been made.
It is not just the activities and the undercover work and the counselling of theft we are concerned with; it is the fact that it was clearly outlined as an illegal activity to infiltrate in itself. From the beginning of the strike the police were aware -- both the Metro police and the OPP -- that an agent had infiltrated this picket line. The question has to be asked as to how we or workers can expect justice when the minister seems unwilling to act in the presence of overwhelming evidence before him. We feel it is a matter of urgent public importance that this issue be debated if we are going to have equality of justice in Ontario.
Mr. Wrye: Mr. Speaker, our party will support the motion of my friend the member for Hamilton East (Mr. Mackenzie). I am somewhat bothered by it in one sense and I want to explain that at the outset. These motions for emergency debates -- and this one specifically -- may not be in the narrowest sense of the words "of urgent public importance," but we are urged and persuaded on our part that this is a very important and very serious matter.
The report the honourable member has just referred to is a damning document on this government and on the failures of this government to protect workers in this province, not in the specific narrow instance of Automotive Hardware but in a general policy framework.
It is the view of this party that such important matters are of extreme importance to so many thousands of workers that they deserve the attention of this Legislature. It would have been our wish, it would be our hope, that in the future, for example, these would be the kinds of issues that could be subject to referrals and to a full in-depth discussion with members of all parties and with the ministers involved, but that is not the way we can do things today.
Of course, we could send out the annual report of the Solicitor General or that of the Ministry of Labour, but with a Tory majority we know what would happen to those. It happened in the case of Astra/Re-Mor, and it happened with Hydro, Morley Rosenberg and Cadillac Fairview. The fact is, we would not have a forum to discuss the contents of the report.
It is very important that the content of this issue be discussed on the floor of this House in full assembly at the first possible opportunity. That is what we hope will happen this afternoon.
I am rather bothered by the Solicitor General's response to me in this House this afternoon. He tried to set up, I thought, the phoney war as if we on this side were being anti-police and attacking police. I think all members in this assembly have the greatest respect, in Canadian Police Week and every other week, for the forces of law and order which have done so much in so many positive ways in this province. We are concerned, however, not so much because in a sense we are going after the police but because this government has not indicated to the police forces of this province the actions, legislatively, it wishes them to follow -- to restore full and obvious and complete neutrality.
It is clear to me, it was clear to the board, that in the case of this single instance, and in previous cases, the essence of neutrality was indeed missing. Very clearly, both the Ontario Provincial Police and the Metro police were aware at a very early stage of the infiltration of the union by Mr. Ivers, and of the fact there could be some activity which could have a very detrimental effect on the strike.
The evidence brought before the board indicates that is exactly what happened, yet it was not until the moment at which the Steelworkers union was in effect about to unmask this gentleman that the police came forward and said there was an agent provocateur and confirmed the matter to the union.
It is very important for good labour relations between employers and employees in this province that we change the activities of these professional strikebreakers, whose very livelihood often, and certainly in this case, is tied to provoking and prolonging a dispute, not to good labour relations and a harmonious and early end to the dispute. This is very important because neither the workers nor the employers can afford to have mischievous third parties involving themselves in labour relations and the activities of the employer and the employees, both before and during disputes.
This party will support the member's motion for an urgent debate and will be pleased to join in and suggest some alternatives to put an end to a practice which has gone on for too long in this province.
Hon. G. W. Taylor: Mr. Speaker, we must oppose the New Democratic Party motion for an emergency debate on the matter of the Ontario Labour Relations Board's decision and its implications on labour relations in this province.
Quite simply, an emergency debate at this time would be, I believe, inappropriate and premature. It is my understanding that Securicor, through its legal counsel, will be seeking a judicial review of the Ontario Labour Relations Board's decision which gave rise to these very important -- and I emphasize "very important" -- legal issues. We would not wish to prejudice any review of that decision by debating the matter here today. Moreover, I feel it is important that we have the opinion of the court on these issues before we fully debate the matter.
As well as the investigating officer, the registration branch of the Ontario Provincial Police is currently reviewing the transcripts from the hearing and the judgement of the board with a view to possible action as a result of reviewing that material.
It was a lengthy hearing. I heard the members opposite mention the number of questions they asked in the Legislature on the subject. I may be incorrect in the matter, but I do recall stating, each time, that there was evidence forthcoming at the Ontario Labour Relations Board from the main participants in this matter and that we were waiting to hear that evidence from all parties. Then there was a decision as a result of that. The decision is a lengthy one.
Mr. Rae: It had nothing to do with the board; it had to do with your own investigation.
Hon. G. W. Taylor: The decision is in excess of 66 pages, as I mentioned during question period this afternoon.
The decision holds ramifications for both labour relations policies and regulation of security companies in this province. My ministry and the Ministry of Labour are currently reviewing the situation. For that reason, I feel a debate at this time would be premature and inappropriate. The decision indicates there is no evidence to suggest the police acted in any way but properly and neutrally.
Mr. Renwick: Don't let the police investigate themselves.
Hon. G. W. Taylor: I emphasized previously in answer to the allegations, statements and prefatory remarks the members made in the questions they asked earlier that I believe the Ontario Provincial Police and the other police involved in this matter acted in a very neutral and impartial manner, as they have in all these matters.
Mr. Renwick: That is an unbelievable statement. You are supposed to be investigating them.
Mr. Rae: How can you say that when you have not even asked the question?
Mr. Speaker: Order.
Hon. G. W. Taylor: In any event, the discussion of the police procedure in this matter would be better dealt with in the ministry's up-and-coming estimates debates. I believe it would be premature to debate the matter now. Those are my comments on the matter.
Mr. Rae: That is a disgrace for somebody responsible for justice in this province. It is unbelievable.
Hon. Mr. Bernier: You had your chance to speak.
Mr. Martel: Well, it is over. Read what the report says.
Mr. Speaker: Order. I have listened with great care and very intently to the submissions that have been made. It is my opinion, on reading the standing orders, that I must rule against the motion because it does not comply with the standing orders.
Mr. McClellan: How does it not comply?
Mr. Speaker: I do not think I have to justify my decision. I have done so in the past, but I have found the motion is out of order. It is not debatable.
Mr. McClellan: It is challengeable. That is a very inadequate response, sir.
Mr. Cooke: What a silly way to rule.
Mr. R. F. Johnston: You have been challenged, unless you missed it.
Mr. Speaker: No, I did not quite miss it, but I was really appalled by those who were trying to give direction to the Speaker.
Mr. Cooke: We asked for your reasons and you refused to give them to us.
Mr. Speaker: I do not have to give them. The member for Sudbury East.
Mr. Martel: Mr. Speaker --
Mr. Speaker: Shall we find out what is going to happen here first?
Mr. R. F. Johnston: We have a fairly clear idea.
The House divided on the Speaker's ruling, which was sustained on the following vote:
Andrewes, Ashe, Baetz, Barlow, Bernier, Brandt, Cousens, Cureatz, Davis, Dean, Drea, Eaton, Elgie, Eves, Fish, Gillies, Gordon, Gregory, Harris, Havrot, Henderson, Hodgson, Johnson, J. M., Jones, Kells, Kennedy, Kerr, Kolyn, Leluk;
McCaffrey, McCague, McLean, Miller, F. S., Mitchell, Pollock, Robinson, Runciman, Scrivener, Sheppard, Shymko, Sterling, Stevenson, K. R., Taylor, G. W., Taylor, J. A., Timbrell, Treleaven, Villeneuve, Walker, Watson, Welch, Wiseman, Yakabuski.
Allen, Boudria, Bradley, Breaugh, Breithaupt, Bryden, Charlton, Conway, Cooke, Copps, Cunningham, Di Santo, Edighoffer, Elston, Epp, Grande, Haggerty, Johnston, R. F., Kerrio, Laughren, Mackenzie, McClellan, McGuigan, McKessock, Martel, Miller, G. I.;
Newman, Nixon, O'Neil, Philip, Rae, Reid, T. P., Riddell, Roy, Ruprecht, Ruston, Samis, Spensieri, Stokes, Swart, Van Horne, Wildman, Worton, Wrye.
Ayes 52; nays 44.
Mr. Martel: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order: I seek the assistance of the Speaker in this matter. We have just challenged the Speaker's ruling. Part of the dilemma for us is that so far this year on three emergency debates the Speaker has chosen, when he ruled them out of order, to give reasons why he was ruling a motion out of order. Today he chose not to do so. If we are going to have consistency and get away from challenges, having established the practice, it would help the members in the House if the Speaker continued that practice and indicated why he considered something not to be of urgent importance.
Certainly, in today's issue there is a great difference of opinion because of the ruling by the Ontario Labour Relations Board and the serious problems inherent therein. Those of us on this side of the House felt it must be debated to get away from the problems that have confronted the strikers and the people on the picket lines in this situation. For the Speaker simply to say, "I choose not to give a reason," in such a very important situation makes it difficult. He himself set the pattern of ruling on three previous occasions. The only time the Speaker did not indicate why was when he ruled it in order.
It was with great difficulty, Mr. Speaker, and with reluctance that we challenged your ruling today, but we felt we were entitled to a reason based on some precedent for that not being of urgent public importance.
Mr. Roy: Mr. Speaker, on that point of order, it seems to me the member for Sudbury East does make a point. If there is going to be some consistency, when you do make a ruling on motions that may be defective in one or another area, it would be helpful to us to have some idea why so that in the future maybe we could have motions that were in order.
I know your ruling is not debatable; I appreciate that. But it would be helpful to us when these motions are being drafted to know if there is a precedent in which a motion was ruled out of order because it was defective in one area so we will not repeat that mistake in the future.
Mr. Speaker: To respond briefly and quickly, if you peruse the standing orders, as I am sure you have done, it is the Speaker's responsibility to rule whether a motion is in order or is out of order, as I did.
You make a good point. I have given reasons in the past, and I did so for the very reasons the member for Ottawa East (Mr. Roy) has brought up -- in the spirit of co-operation, pointing out, perhaps, to the honourable members where I felt the weaknesses were in the drafting of the motion. Having done that on at least three occasions, and I suspect it may be even more, I was of the opinion that the direction I had given had been heeded.
I do not want you to misread what I have said. In giving my opinion I did not state it was not of urgent importance, as you have alleged. I said clearly that my reason for it was that it did not comply with the standing order.
Mr. Martel: In what respect?
Mr. Speaker: I have been over this before on exactly the same thing. I would be happy to discuss it with the honourable member at his convenience later, if he so wishes, or with any other honourable members but I do not think I should take the time of the House.
ORDERS OF THE DAY
PRIVATE MEMBERS' PUBLIC BUSINESS
Hon. Mr. Gregory: Mr. Speaker, we have agreed among the three parties that, because of the time that has been lost in this previous debate, we could limit the debate this afternoon to the one bill, that being ballot item 1.
LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY AMENDMENT ACT
Mr. Ruston moved second reading of Bill 17, An Act to amend the Legislative Assembly Act.
Mr. Speaker: I advise the honourable member he has up to 20 minutes.
Mr. Ruston: Mr. Speaker, sometimes when one brings in a bill such as Bill 17, one has the strange feeling that perhaps it is not wanted or that it is something one's colleagues on all sides of the House are not very happy with. However, we will wait and see what happens later in the day.
I would like to read into the record the part of the bill that is enforceable:
"(3a) A deduction of $100 shall be made from the indemnity payable to a member under this section for every day beyond 10 in a session on which the assembly sits and on which the member is absent from the assembly for reasons other than illness, pregnancy and childbirth, or official business."
Let me first say no particular party or member, or my own position as party whip has caused me to present this bill. I started researching the matter some time before I became whip. Rather, it is my concern for the general principie of attendance and the perceptions of the public which have prompted this bill.
As a former municipal councillor, reeve and county councillor, it was my experience that a member would not get paid on our local council unless he attended or was sick. At the council level, once one was absent, it required a motion of council in order to be paid at a later date.
In attempting to assess the reasons for absenteeism in this chamber, I would like to speak a little about a common misconception of the public, that unless a member is visible in his seat he must be absent from his duty. Many people visiting the Legislature are very disturbed by the small attendance they witness in the House after question period. Naturally, they wonder where their members are.
In most cases, this is due to several concurrent committee meetings as well as the time members spend in their offices making important calls to government officials about problems in their constituencies.
This might be an appropriate moment to mention another serious attendance problem, that of government officials. It is very frustrating when one calls a department head and time after time he is not available. Either they are in a meeting, out for lunch or simply not at their desks; at least, these are the three main excuses I hear.
Another factor for consideration is the invitations received by members to attend functions back in their ridings during the weeks of legislative sittings. When one receives such an invitation to an important function, one must decide what takes precedence, the business of this House or one's riding. Of course, the contact in the constituency can be very important indeed when the next election rolls around; but although the House agenda might appear quite ordinary and quiet, that does not mean an urgent issue may not crop up necessitating an immediate vote.
In discussing attendance matters with other members of all parties, I find those who live within one or two hours' drive of their ridings are invited to many more functions during the week than their colleagues who are much farther from their homes. Another aspect of this question is a member's access to air travel, which is undeniably a great help in getting back to the riding during the week, but is also an enormous expense to the taxpayers of Ontario.
I can recall a story told me by the former member for Kent-Elgin, Mr. Jack Spence, and an excellent member he was, who attended some function in a small village in his riding on a day the Legislature was in session. An individual who was present walked up to him and asked why he was not at Queen's Park looking after their interests. Jack said, "You know, Dick, that really taught me something." However, I must add, Mr. Spence always had an excellent attendance record in this Legislature.
Recently I was asked to attend a function back in my riding on a Wednesday. When I explained it would cost the taxpayers over $200 for air fare both ways and cab fares, they suggested I appoint a representative to attend on my behalf.
Another reason for lack of attendance in my opinion is the ridiculous idea of having Wednesday be a "cabinet day," a legislative holiday reserved for committees.
Certainly there are changes we could make to the hours of sitting to better accommodate the members who have a long way to travel to attend sessions. I would undoubtedly extend the sittings to Wednesday afternoon and possibly Wednesday evenings as well, and do away with the Friday morning sessions. This would allow members time in their ridings for functions or any other business they might have to attend to.
I have briefly tried to identify some patterns in the reasons for lack of attendance in this Legislature, although I do realize the members are elected by the residents of their ridings and it is to them that a member must be accountable.
In researching this matter through the democratic system, one does not find many hard and fast rules on attendance, nor is enforcement of the rules a particularly high priority in most jurisdictions. However, I would like to share the information I have accumulated with the members.
In what we call the Mother of Parliaments in Great Britain, the attendance of British members of Parliament is not enforced as a rule, either by the House of Commons or by the House of Lords. However, in the event of special business, steps are taken to secure the members' presence. Historically, procedures existed in both Houses which were designed to secure full attendance on days of urgent business and, in the House of Lords, on the occasion of the trial of a peer.
For example, members of the House of Commons who were absent were punished. The penalty in these cases was the forfeiture of the members' wages. Although that penalty no longer applies, the legislative declaration of the duty of a member remains on the statute book and attendance upon the service of Parliament includes the obligation to fulfil the duties imposed upon members by the orders and regulations of the House.
Officially, "It is the duty of every member of the House of Commons to attend the service of the House." This is declared by two acts which to date have not been repealed.
In the United States House of Representatives, the committee of the whole is usually characterized by low attendance. The work accomplished by the committee is important. However, it is often difficult to obtain adequate attendance by party members even on major issues.
Some of the most important votes in the House are unrecorded. Divisions by voice votes in the committee of the whole House which affect the direction of important legislation are often decided by slim majorities. Since these votes are not recorded formally on an individual basis, there is less incentive for congressmen to be present.
One factor contributing to attendance problems in the House is the noted dissatisfaction with the rules and provisions for debate and the scheduling of business.
Whatever the problems of leadership and parliamentary policy, it is the individual member who exercises the right of true advocacy and bears the responsibility for his attendance in the House. Members' failure to debate can no longer be excused with the words, "Nothing happens on the floor," for attendance would make something happen on the floor and would hold members accountable for their decisions at the same time.
During debates in the Senate, a roll call vote may be used as an approximate index to members' attendance on the floor, but it does not indicate how much of the debate, if any, members heard before voting. Senate votes are marked by chronic absenteeism. In many instances, the Senate must operate without a quorum because attendance is so low. In fact, the rules seem to condone absenteeism in so far as quorum rules can be dispensed with through unanimous consent.
Mr. Wildman: Dispense with the Senate.
Mr. Ruston: This is the Senate in the United States. There are no actual penalties for nonattendance, but in 1972 the Senate members were berated for their poor attendance record by Senate Majority Leader Mike Mansfield. He said: "We [the Senate leadership] cannot force you if you do not want to face up [to] your responsibilities, but you are doing a distinct disservice to the Senate and to the people whom you have the honour to represent." Penalties for nonattendance are practically nil.
In the Florida state legislature, the matter of attendance is addressed in the following manner: "Every member shall be within the House chamber during its sittings unless excused or necessarily prevented, and shall vote on each question...The Speaker may excuse any member from attendance on the House and its committees for any stated period, and such excused absence shall be noted on the Journal. A form is provided for notifying the Clerk. Any member, having answered roll call. . . at the opening of any daily session, or who enters after roll call and informs the Clerk of his presence, shall thereafter be deemed as present unless leave of absence is obtained from the Speaker."
Under the constitution of the state of California, article 4, section 8: "A majority of each House shall constitute a quorum to do business, but a smaller number may adjourn from day to day, and may compel the attendance of absent members in such a manner, and under such penalties as each House may provide."
ln New York state, it is stated in more detail that: "In all cases of the absence of members during the session of the House, the members present may take such measures as they shall deem necessary to secure their presence and, in addition to suspending them from the service of the House for a given period, may inflict such censure or pecuniary penalty as they may deem just on those who, on being called on for that purpose, shall not render a sufficient excuse for their absence. For the purpose of securing the attendance of members, a call of the House may be made. While a call of the House is in progress, no other business shall be transacted except by order of the House."
In the Canadian Senate, failure to attend on at least one day during two consecutive sessions without an adequate explanation in writing results in the loss of the Senate seat. That is interesting. This rule was apparently applied two years ago.
Each senator is required to provide a written note explaining each day's absence. If, during the course of a session, a senator accumulates 20 days in absence without a written explanation, each additional day's absence during the session without a written explanation results in a fine of $120 a day.
The Clerk of the Senate is responsible for monitoring attendance and fines are levied in practice. The present session, which is now over two years old, is creating considerable problems due to its length of time. It has extended for two years and they are still allowed the same amount of days off as if it were only a one-year session.
For the Canadian Parliament in Ottawa, if a member is absent in excess of 21 days in a single session, a reduction of $150 per day is made from the sessional allowance for unjustified absenteeism. A statement of attendance must be submitted to the clerk assistant on a monthly basis. It was not possible to determine whether fines are imposed often.
Quebec, which has an identical bill to the one I have presented here today, permits a deduction of $100 for each day beyond 10 on which a member does not attend a sitting of the assembly. However, absence due to illness, maternity or official activity is not counted against the member. Each month, members must sign and submit a declaration justifying their absence from the assembly.
Unjustified absences are recorded and once they reach 10, a fine of $100 per day is levied. Last year, no fines of this nature were imposed. Normally, however, several fines are levied each year. The largest fine imposed was, apparently, $900. The responsibility of administering penalties rests with the director general of administrative services.
The Nova Scotia members are expected to attend every sitting of the House unless granted a leave of absence by the Speaker. If a member is absent without permission for more than one day, the Internal Board of Economy may levy a monetary fine. The Speaker expects, and apparently receives, notes from members requesting leave. Nova Scotia does not have a formal roll call and no guidelines for assessing penalties have been established. It appears no member has been censured or penalized for absenteeism.
In Saskatchewan, each member signs a statutory declaration which details his or her personal attendance during the past session and submits it to the Clerk. If a member is absent for more than five days without justification, a deduction of $50 per day is made from the sessional allowance of $6,000.
Acceptable justification includes illness with a doctor's certificate, a cabinet minister on government business, or the granting of leave of absence by resolution. If a member is absent for more than half the session, the sessional allowance of $6,000 is forfeited and the member is paid a per diem of $75 for each day of actual attendance. This latter rule was, in effect, applied to a member last year.
Staff in the Clerk's office are responsible for administering these rules. Saskatchewan is apparently considering the abolition of the statutory declaration of attendance at the end of each session and may instead ask members to submit a record every two weeks. This alteration is intended to hasten the process of distributing sessional allowances to members.
The Parliamentary Newletter of February 10, 1983, details an attendance check for Jamaican MPs' allowances:
"A proposal to base subsistence payments to Jamaican MPs on House attendance was moved in the House of Representatives on 2nd November. The government House leader, Hon. J. A. G. Smith, moved that the standing orders should be amended to stipulate that members would only receive subsistence payments if they were present in the House.
"If a division was called, a member not voting would not qualify for that day's allowance even if he had been in the House earlier in the sitting. Members would not be recorded as absent if they were sick or away on official travel and had notified the Speaker in advance.
"Mr. Smith reminded members the attendance factor was part of the salaries and allowances increase package they approved in December 1981. The necessary changes have been referred to the standing orders committee.
"In a similar move, the European Parliament has decided that members who attend less than half of its meetings in a six-month period will lose half their secretarial allowance."
That gives us a rough idea of things as I perceive them with regard to this type of bill. It is a bill that should be in place. I have no problems with it at all. I think it is something that gives members an opportunity to get away from this place when they have official business back in their ridings and so forth.
I would like to save the balance of my time for a windup.
Mr. Breaugh: Mr. Speaker, I read with some interest the proposals that have been put forward by the member for Essex North (Mr. Ruston). In truth, I would like to support his private bill, mostly on a personal basis, because the member is one with whom I have managed to work for some period of time on the standing committee on procedural affairs. I respect his opinion as a decent, honest and hardworking member of the Legislature.
I do have a problem with the legislation which he has put forward and I want to try to give a bit of a balanced perspective on it. I think the temptation is there, and will be felt on all sides, that this is one of those occasions when the members are going to have a chance to suck and blow at the same time, because there isn't a snowball's chance in Hades that this bill is going to pass. Therefore, the punitive nature of it will never come across. There is a chance to play angel up front this afternoon and say how much they are in favour of this, and then go out and pray, probably for the first time in their lives, that it does not really happen.
I am going to avoid that particular temptation and try to address myself to some of the difficulties. I think the member for Essex North, for example, gave a fairly good litany of different houses, different state senates, parliaments and legislatures, and how they work. One of the difficulties, when one gets around to those places, as some of us have had a chance to do, is one sees that each takes on a set of characteristics by itself.
One of things that disturbed me, for example, when I first went to the Mother of Parliaments at Westminster was that it was a lot different when one got there than I thought. I thought all of those august gentlemen and ladies came to Parliament and sat, as I would certainly have been thrilled to sit, in the House at Westminster.
When one gets there, one finds if they all did that they could not sit because there is not enough room. The nature of that Parliament is quite different from ours in the sense that a rather small group of parliamentarians keeps the place going. A great many others, for a variety of reasons not the least of which is the members are not paid very much there, have to go out and work from nine to five every day. They come in and vote pretty regularly, and sometimes they will come in and speak on an issue that is of great interest to them or their constituencies, but they have quite a different concept of what a parliament is than mine.
One of the reasons I would have liked to have supported this bill is that it does get at something I admit nags at me. In the seven or eight years I have been here, I have probably missed about four or five sitting days, because I personally believe it is my responsibility to be here as much as I can, as often as I can, as painful as it might be. Part of my job is to sit here and listen to views that are contrary to mine, and to try to muster some support for my own point of view. I see that as being an important part of my job as a member of the Ontario Legislature.
I would also conflict with other members in that I believe it is one's job to stand up and say what one thinks about something. There are other members here who are as honourable as I, and as effective as I, who rarely speak in the Legislature. That runs counter to my idea of what a member of the Legislature in Ontario ought to do. That does not necessarily mean they are not good members. It may mean they have a different set of priorities; it may mean they have talents other than speaking to legislation; it may mean they have decided there are things more important for their constituents than sitting in here.
I think one has to recognize there is a legitimate argument which roughly says that each and every member of the Legislature is an honourable member, and part of his or her wisdom, I suppose, is to decide which is the role he or she will play. I think every one of us does that almost every day. We sit down, probably with one or two people, because we do not have many staff, and decide: "What should the member for Oshawa do today? Should he be at the Rotary Club in Oshawa or down at the gates at a picket line? Should he be in the Legislature, in committee or doing some caucus committee work? What is the most important priority today?"
I think that is fair. Sometimes that means one will not be here. Sometimes it means one will rush in for a vote later at night, even though that is not a particularly sane way to proceed either. But it is part of our tradition. A member makes those judgements and the people in his constituency will then decide if those were the right judgement calls.
When I look at the mechanics of the bill that is before us this afternoon, I have to say one would have to be a particularly dumb and stupid member not to be able to go through this kind of legislation and do whatever one wants. It gives one 10 days' grace, and that is not bad, if one cannot honestly come up with a reasoned excuse which says, according to the explanatory note here, one is on official business or one is sick. Some of us would have a little trouble with the pregnancy clause here, but I am sure one could argue that if one's wife were pregnant there should be a paternity clause as well, as we are doing in many of our union contracts.
Just exactly what is official business? For many of us, official business means giving a speech in the Legislature. For many of us it means being here to vote or listen to an argument. However, for a large number of the members here, official business means cutting ribbons. It means shaking hands. It means being able to drink tea and eat small sandwiches at the same time. There are many versions of what is meant by official business and what constitutes the business of the House. I think, therefore, there are great difficulties in trying to attack this.
I admit it irks me that on most occasions in this chamber there is barely a quorum. I have enough feeling for the Legislature in Ontario that I recognize there ought to be more participants here. But I also have to admit, flat out, that there are a lot of occasions when I sit in my place to try to find some rational thought as to why I am sitting here listening to this drivel as opposed to being on the phone helping a constituent, in my office replying to some constituent's needs, or in my riding doing some work there.
Each of us has to make that judgement call and then we can, quite frankly, hang on the vine. If people do not like one's particular approach in representing his or her constituency, they are not going to vote for him or her. If they do, then the right judgement call will be made.
It does pose some difficulty, I suppose, as the member for Essex North pointed out in his initial remarks. A lot of legislatures and senates have tried to address themselves to this problem. Two things become clear. The same problem exists everywhere one goes, no matter what one does. It does not matter whether one has to hand in a little attendance slip every day or whether one's value as a member is regarded by his or her attendance in the Legislature. No one has resolved the problem that was probably the instigation of this private member's bill, because it is not a problem one can solve on a group basis.
There have been occasions here when most of the members who are regularly in attendance could have pointed a finger at someone else and said: "He has not been here in three weeks. Where is he, or where is she?" That is probably fair, but I am not sure it justifies sending one off into a whirl of activity to devise some system that will make everybody be here. I do not think that is possible.
If we want members to make a declaration that they were ill, that they were away on official business, that the member's wife was pregnant or that another situation occurred, that is not going to resolve the problem. A member who wants to be away from here badly enough is going to find what is a completely legitimate and plausible reason for not being here.
If the members wanted this kind of legislation they would have to set up some kind of secret service which would determine whether somebody was really sick or absent on official business, for how long and whether or not they could get back here.
The member addressed himself to some of the other problems of modern-day living. It is tough for me to say to the people in my riding who invite me there on a Wednesday that I cannot make the official opening of a park in Oshawa because I am at the Legislature. They say, "You turkey, you can drive home in 45 minutes; so get here." On Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday I can sometimes make that argument. Things are a little more complicated than this bill would lead us to believe, although I appreciate the thought that is behind it.
I would like to find some magical means that would get the attendance in the Legislature up. I would like to find some different ways of having the business of the Legislature organized so that more people would want to be here. But I am still left with the fundamental problem that part of being a parliamentarian is to decide what one's role will be, what one's personal priorities are. For some of us that means being in attendance at the Legislature all the time that the whip says one has to be here. For some of us it means doing a different kind of work. For some of us it means a great many speeches, and for some of us it means not very many at all.
I am not sure any one of us in here is in a reasonable position to judge another. By our own criteria, we have no problem doing that; but by the criteria of the people whom that person represents, there is only the one judge, and that happens during the course of an election by the people of that particular constituency.
I appreciate the sentiment that is behind the bill. Unfortunately I do not think it is going to do very much for anybody.
Hon. Mr. Gregory: Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to be one of those members my friend the member for Oshawa (Mr. Breaugh) referred to as being ready to suck and blow at the same time. I certainly do intend to support Bill 17 as put forward by my good friend the member for Essex North.
I believe this is the type of bill that results from certain frustrations that have built up in whips over the years. I am not suggesting the member for Essex North is a frustrated person any more than I am as the chief government whip. Frustrations do build when one tries every which way to encourage members to be in the Legislature; and, of course, they are elected to be there.
Mr. Nixon: Offer them committeeships.
Hon. Mr. Gregory: All those good things, we do.
Mr. Treleaven: He tries.
Hon. Mr. Gregory: I try very hard to encourage them.
I believe there is a need for a bill of this type. I am not suggesting for one minute that this bill is perfect, but I intend to vote for it. There are probably some things that could be done with it, which I can get into in just a moment.
What worries me is not so much just absenteeism but increasing absenteeism, which occurs the further one gets away from an election. It sometimes improves as one gets closer to an election. There is a bit of curve there.
For example, on Tuesday night -- I do not mind saying this, because it created a certain amount of frustration in me -- when we had a vote on a piece of legislation in this House, out of the 69 members I have available, I was able to come up with only 39, which is probably the worst record. I know the members opposite are used to perfection on my part, but this time I had only 39 members. The fact the opposition parties had only about 27 between them helped us to win.
However, when I analysed the figures -- and as the members opposite know, we keep good records over here as far as attendance is concerned and where people are and why --
Mr. Stokes: You even schedule your absences over there.
Hon. Mr. Gregory: We certainly do. As a matter of fact, it was made even more painful, because out of the 30 people who were absent, only seven of those had given any indication that they would be absent. The members can imagine my frustration in searching for those other 23. It made it even worse when 13 of them were ministers; 10 of them were private members.
Mr. Philip: Where did you find the member for Oriole (Mr. Williams)?
Hon. Mr. Gregory: I hid them all over the place. I hid them so well I could not find them this time. It was the old Statue of Liberty play I was playing, actually.
Mr. Philip: Tell us where John Williams was.
Hon. Mr. Gregory: I will get to the New Democratic Party in a minute; my friend can bet on it.
Mr. Treleaven: The enemy is over there.
Hon. Mr. Gregory: I was talking to them over there. I am just declaring war. I hope the member for Oxford (Mr. Treleaven) knows it.
The other thing that appears to me to be somewhat of an embarrassment to this House, perhaps even more than just the fact that members are away, is the number of times we are called on for a quorum call. That is a frustrating thing. I do sympathize with members opposite, and sometimes members on our own side, when they call a quorum call. Certainly it is not very nice to sit and talk to oneself, although some speeches I have heard in this House are better given by oneself and to oneself. But when we had the last quorum call, there were 19 members in the House: two New Democrats, one Liberal and 16 members of the government party. Let us be fair, shall we?
The other dangerous part is committee work. A large part of our important work is done in committee. When members just do not show up, and do not give any word, this creates some delay and some problems in holding votes.
I feel all these things contribute to this House not being quite what it should be. Therefore, I support the bill of my friend the member for Essex North. I would like to discuss for a minute some of the particular items in it and how it does affect us.
My friend went over the practices in some of the provinces and the British House of Commons. They even have this kind of bill in the Yukon and the Northwest Territories. Oddly enough, their allowances are a little different, but the price is the same. In the Northwest Territories it is $100, as it is in the Yukon. However, they only sit in the Yukon for 40 days --
Mr. Kerrio: They don't have anyplace to go.
Hon. Mr. Gregory: This is a great speech. The member for Niagara Falls (Mr. Kerrio) would love it if he would listen.
Mr. Kerrio: No, no. I said in the Yukon they don't have anyplace else to go.
Hon. Mr. Gregory: That is possible; I do not know.
In the Northwest Territories it is also $100 and they sit only 60 days a year. The free days in the Yukon are none. In other words, if one is away one day without a good reason, one is charged $100.
Relating to this bill, we on this side would be glad to put together a fund to pay the fines to encourage some of the members opposite to stay away. We would gain a lot of money in there.
I question the 10-day figure. I do not know whether or not that is a good figure. That actually represents approximately 10 per cent, perhaps nine per cent, of the total average days we sit in this House. Roughly 10 per cent is as good a criterion as any, I suppose, but I do not know that it actually makes sense. I would think that 10 is too many and that we should be working on about five days -- anything over five days without good reason, the reasons given in the bill.
The only difficulty I have with that is who becomes the judge and jury. If my friend the member for Essex North is saying that we whips will have the authority to determine the validity of the stories that are told to us. then I am all in favour of that. However, if it is being suggested that an absence from this House to take part in a political activity is a legitimate activity as pertains to this bill, I do not agree with that at all.
I do think some difference has to be made as regards leaders of opposition parties, House leaders and ministers of the crown. I feel their responsibilities are somewhat different from those of private members. There probably should be some difference, some sort of pro rata system that should be worked on.
It is interesting that of the 13 jurisdictions -- the 10 provinces, the two territories and the federal government -- we are only one of five that do not have something like this. The others are Manitoba, Newfoundland, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island. I do not know that there is any kind of message there, other than that we are not on the boat we should be on. I think we are behind the times.
I suspect the argument many people will give is, "I was elected by certain constituents and consequently I owe it to them to be with them." I am not of the opinion that you are elected to be with your constituents as much as you are to represent your constituents here.
Mr. Elston: Maybe they elected you to send you away.
Hon. Mr. Gregory: I do not know; maybe they did. They did not send me very far; not as far as they sent my friend. As a matter of fact, they sent me to Queen's Park rather than to Ottawa so I could get home and see them every night.
I do think it should be taken into consideration that we are the largest, and probably the richest, province in Canada. Of the 13 jurisdictions, we are one of five. The other four are not nearly as large or as prosperous as we are. Probably they are not paid nearly as much as we are.
It seems to me there is a need for something of this sort. As I discussed with the member earlier, I certainly will support his bill, and I hope that at some time in the future something can be done to make this a workable bill to bring it in line with the other jurisdictions in Canada and Britain.
Mr. Nixon: Mr. Speaker, I want to congratulate the whip of the Liberal Party for bringing in this bill. I think it is typical that not only has he spoken eloquently in its favour but also the chief government whip, in his own inimitable way, has spoken in favour of it. Their frustrations at maintaining attendance must be considerable. From time to time I have shared those frustrations in my responsibilities, first as leader and now for some years as House leader.
We all know of valid reasons why members are not here. Sometimes we have to go home and plant the corn. There might even be more important reasons than that, but presumably if I were doing that, that would be a reason to fork over $100 a day, since I would be putting my personal responsibilities ahead of the responsibilities I was elected to carry out here.
There was something the whip of the Tory party said a minute ago that I should have written down. I agree with him that we are elected to be here and not balancing cups of tea and being present at every dogfight or whatever in our own constituencies.
I have absolutely no embarrassment whatsoever when I reply to invitations in my constituency, pointing out to them that unfortunately the House will be in session and I will not be able to be there. My mug will not be in the lineup in the Brant News or the Plattsville Bugle, but that is okay; I have to make up for that in certain other ways.
I just want to speak briefly. My late father, who was the member for Brant for many years, used to talk about the early days down here when the session very rarely went for more than four weeks or maybe five weeks. Since a majority of the members happened to be farmers -- regrettably that is no longer the case -- when the tulips poked up in the front yard of Queen's Park, everybody left whether the House was adjourned or not, because it was planting time and they had to get back and do the first things that had to come first.
There was an occasion, I believe, that our indemnity was established on sitting for 26 days. In one famous session, the work of the House was completed before that time and just as they came to prorogue, the Clerk pointed out to somebody that they would not get their indemnity since the session had not lasted long enough. Some ingenious leader got up and moved that Saturdays and Sundays be counted as sitting days. They all voted in favour of that and trooped off with their cheques in their pockets.
Perhaps a person does not like to be judgemental in these things, but the thing that sometimes is infuriating is when one finally goes through all the possible reasons for being absent and finds there are certain of our colleagues, I believe in all parties, who have to have a very good reason to be here rather than a very good reason to be absent. Perhaps it is these people, along with the rest of us requiring to be reminded of our duties from time to time, who would benefit from the enactment of this bill. One just really cannot thumb one's nose at this place all the time without having at least some sort of monetary penalty or at least a note from your mother or something like that.
It has been pointed out that the bill might not be as effective as we would hope, but at least it means that at the bottom line we, as a legislature, have a ruling that reinforces what should be our duty, and that is to be here in the House.
Looking back even in my own career, which is about 21 years now, I came into the House just a few weeks after John Robarts became Premier. He was his own House leader and was in the House almost all the time it was in session. He was a bit unsure of himself, which was understandable, since he had just taken on this responsibility, but because the head of the government was there, the cabinet ministers were there all the time.
The government whip said the leaders of the opposition parties and the members of the goverment ought to be excused more frequently. Perhaps that is so. In those days not so long ago, the Premier could order his business so the prime responsibility of a politician elected to this House was to be here, to listen to the debate and take part when the spirit moved him and the occasion was brought forward. It certainly worked that way and, in those days, the attendance was quite strong on all sides of the House, because there seemed to be something effective happening here.
The relevancy of the House has decreased substantially since then, partly because we have moved some of the estimates out into committees. Because the time required for the review of estimates has grown to be so great, we cannot possibly handle them here. In my view, we spend perhaps too much time on estimates. At times, it is a self-defeating project in which we simply bore ourselves silly and read things prepared for us, in some instances, by our very competent researchers and speech writers. I do not want to make that as a blanket allegation, but as some members know, it applies to a number of the members who really do not put forward their own views on occasion, when I believe it would be more interesting if they did.
Grinding out this stuff that is used in the Legislature and in committees so extensively, sometimes in some ministerial statements to the extent of a couple of hundred pages of typewritten script, simply defeats the purpose that we are sent here for, and that is to review the business of the House, to express our own views and then to substantiate those views in debate and argument and eventually by our vote. But we have got so far from that by the practices and procedures that we have that I have almost lost hope we can recoup the relevancy that the House must have if it is going to be a viable place where people will want to be in attendance.
I am no admirer, particularly, of former Premier W. A. C. Bennett, but there was a review in one of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association publications in which somebody described the Legislature in British Columbia during his days. He was one of the last unreconstructed Premiers -- no Hansard, no question period, but the House was an exciting place. As the Premier used to say, "People do not even like to leave to wash their hands because sure as they do, they are going to miss something important in the House." His argument was that members there had an opportunity to express their views on the expenditures of the government and the bills brought forward and to offer their alternatives to the government.
Frankly, 20 years ago our House was a lot more like that. I certainly do not regret the introduction of a proper question period, but it has become almost the whole of the Legislature. As soon as the question period is over, everybody leaves because everything that goes on here is routine. My experience is that it is often the people who get a little extra pay -- such as myself, the whip of the Tory party and maybe the whips of the other two parties -- who are here trying to make some semblance of attendance and some semblance of an exchange of views from time to time.
What we are all hoping for and discussing in our caucus is the possibility of certain changes in the rules. Some of the proposals will improve the atmosphere in this House and will make the debate more interesting. The attempt by the Parliament of Canada to introduce some more interesting rules is one we are looking at very carefully, particularly the idea that each speech be followed by five or 10 minutes of rebuttal or comment from other members present. In other words, if one is going to say something in the House, one may very well be checked on it and brought up short at the end of the speech. There is the feeling that some sort of exchange of views can occur.
There are things such as this that I think are going to be interesting. Even in a debate like the one this afternoon where there is a time limit on our speeches, it means that even if a person is not making much sense -- which is an opening for some of my colleagues to interject -- at least his time is running out. I hasten to tell you, Mr. Speaker, that I have only one minute and 20 seconds left -- 19, pardon me.
These sorts of time limits are ones I would welcome. I know there are arguments among my colleagues who feel one of the legitimate instruments the opposition possesses in any democratic parliament is the use of a speech that reviews fully the alternatives in a government program and in this way applies some sort of pressure on the government to adjust itself in that connection.
I am very hopeful new rules and perhaps the implementation of the implication in the bill that the Liberal whip has put before us today will do a good deal to improve the situation in this House. I have no hesitation in saying that when we are called on to vote, I shall stand up in favour.
Mr. Di Santo: Mr. Speaker, I must confess that I am a little intimidated speaking after the honourable member who just finished speaking because I am not as articulate as he is and since I am speaking against the bill, I will not be able --
Mr. Nixon: Surely not.
Mr. Di Santo: I will not speak against the bill.
Mr. T. P. Reid: Next.
Mr. Boudria: We have talked him into it already.
Mr. Di Santo: Yes. Easily intimidated.
If we needed a bill that would collectively force us to be here, I would rather have opted for the legislation in existence in Texas, where in order to sit the Senate requires a quorum of 12 senators out of 19. If there is not a quorum, the Speaker can ask the sheriff to go into the city and direct the members and bring them in. That is the type of law I would have liked.
if we pass Bill 17, in this spring session any member could have been in the House only six days and still not violate the bill. I do not think the honourable members who spoke in favour of this bill can really argue that being present in the House only six days -- one day every two weeks -- is effective attendance in this Legislature.
Mr. Boudria: Yes, but in a whole year, the session starts -- it is not the same part of the session.
Mr. Di Santo: Mr. Speaker, I will try again. We began sitting in April and we will adjourn at the end of June. During this 12-week period, if any member only sits six days, which means one day every two weeks, he would not violate this bill. I do not think that makes a good argument in favour of having a bill which is --
Mr. Boudria: That is incorrect, Mr. Speaker. You should not let him say it.
Mr. Di Santo: Mr. Speaker, may I defer to the member?
The Acting Speaker (Mr. Cousens): No, no. You have the floor and he is just interjecting.
Mr. Di Santo: I am trying to make a rational argument but it does not seem to be getting through. What I want to say is that despite the good intentions of the member for Essex North, this bill is the result of a reactionary ideology. It implies the members of this Legislature do not have enough moral responsibility to make a judgement about their duties and when they should be in the Legislature.
It implies that when they cannot be in the Legislature, there must be some big brother, such as the government whip, who will judge if the member is pregnant. As the member for Oshawa said, many members would have a problem with that. If a member is absent on official business, who will judge what is official business? The government party whip can say that particular business is not official business. It is only justifiable when the cabinet ministers do not come for question period; their absences will be justified.
I believe our role is a dual role. We have legislative duties and some of us with an impeccable attendance record in the House could argue that other members who are not here too often should perhaps be compelled by their moral conviction to attend, but there are other yardsticks by which we should be judged.
There are members who never speak in this Legislature: do the members who support this bill think those members who are warming their seats are doing their duty by just sitting here and not contributing to the debate? Do they not think that our other important role is the advocacy role?
Many people do not feel this is important, I know for a fact, because I have constituents coming to me from ridings represented by Tory members. These members will not take workers' compensation cases because there are workers' advisors. Of course, we have to take those cases and do the job that is not done by members on the government side -- provide a service to injured workers. That is not done by some members who think their only responsibility is to stay here in this parliament.
I must say that very often I also missed some ministers at the Workers' Compensation Board, particularly the member for Cochrane South, the Minister of Natural Resources (Mr. Pope). We go there and we defend our constituents. Is that official business? Is that private business? We go before the rent review commission -- and some people may argue that is a conflict of interest -- but some of us actually go there and represent our constituents. Now is that official business?
Mr. Philip: We canvass door to door when the House is in session.
Mr. Di Santo: The member for Etobicoke is saying something absolutely inappropriate, so I won't --
Mr. T. P. Reid: He is consistent anyway.
Mr. Di Santo: -- respond to his interjection, because there is also time for canvassing but that is not part of our responsibility as elected members. What I am saying is there are other duties that are important. I do not think the judgement should be made by somebody else who is elected like any other member. By virtue of what privilege or prerogative can he say, "What you are doing now is official business," or, "What you are doing now is private business"?
It is up to our consciences to decide if we are to stay here, if we are to speak, in what way we are to contribute to the debate and in what way we have to try to discharge our responsibilities of pointing out to the people of Ontario how wrong the politics of the government are in respect to the issues we think are important. Also, we have to play an advocacy role, which is very important, especially for members like myself and many other members who represent working class constituencies where there is a lack of government services.
My colleague the member for Yorkview (Mr. Spensieri) can explain the needs of his area. There is only one legal aid service for 120,000 people. Our constituents come to us because, if they go to the legal clinic, there is a waiting list of three or four months. If our constituents need to be represented before a public board or a government agency, they come to us. We have to discharge that duty because it is our responsibility to represent them.
I think the member for Essex North introduced the bill with good intentions, but I do not think we need to be disciplined.
Let me make a final observation. I think the attendance in this Legislature is very good. The member for Essex North mentioned a number of legislatures, parliaments and senates, but he failed to tell us that in many of those parliaments they have very serious problems. He mentioned the European Parliament. I do not want to tell members what happens at the European Parliament.
Mr. Boudria: What does happen?
Mr. T. P. Reid: Tell us what does happen.
Mr. Di Santo: I will do that on another occasion because time is running out. I appreciate the member's intentions, but I cannot vote for his bill.
Mr. J. M. Johnson: Mr. Speaker, I rise to support the member for Essex North and Bill 17. I have some difficulty in doing so, because I have a great fear that if I ever support an opposition member's bill, there has to be something about it I have not understood. However, it is fairly straightforward and, if some of the members over there can support it, it cannot be all that bad.
Mr. Mackenzie: Aren't you worried about the storm troopers coming in?
Mr. J. M. Johnson: I think so. That was another day.
I would like to comment on a couple of areas of concern I have. I think there is some inequity in the work load members have in this chamber; perhaps not in work load but in time taken away from a member. The member for Timiskaming (Mr. Havrot), the former Speaker and members from the east and north have more of a burden to carry than many of the other members.
I happen to be fortunate in that I am only about 100 miles away, so I have a two-hour time loss coming and going. I know many members from the north and east lose practically a whole day. The member for Rainy River (Mr. T. P. Reid) is one. He flies through the United States and I understand he takes a detour once in a while to California.
When we think of attendance in the House, if we want to be fair, we should think of the extra hours required by members who come in from a distance. I know there are members who live in the city who actually go home for lunch and dinner. That is a luxury many members do not have. I, for one, do not have it. I come down on Monday and I get home on Friday. I spend four nights in the city and I am not that impressed with the city.
The member for Essex North should have taken that into consideration because I think it is a legitimate concern. When we talk about attendance in the House we think in terms of the sitting hours of the House, but Wednesday is a committee day, both Wednesday morning and Wednesday afternoon. Many members may not be in the House on Friday, but they spend all day Wednesday in committee. I think that too is important, perhaps more so than sitting listening to a bunch of malarkey.
Mr. Boudria: Watch it now.
Mr. Ruston: There is the member right beside you.
Mr. Boudria: Be nice; the worst one is sitting right beside you.
The Acting Speaker: Order.
Mr. J. M. Johnson: If we do proceed with the bill, and I hope we do, there are a couple of other concerns I would have. One would be, and it has been mentioned by some of the members, in relation to what constitutes official business in the riding. The one concern I have is some members feel it is a priority to be in the House; others feel it is a priority to be in the riding. Some think they are there on constituency business, but many of us if we were honest would think that perhaps we are there to pick up some votes for the next election.
Quite frankly, I agree with the member for Brant-Oxford-Norfolk (Mr. Nixon) and his comments relating to his father's experience in the House. They make sense. Who was the member who passed that wonderful idea that one had Fridays and Saturdays, or Saturdays and Sundays off?
Mr. Ruston: Mr. Speaker, it has been very interesting listening to the comments of those participating in the limited time. I know there are some others who would like to speak on it as well, pro or con.
The member for Oshawa remarked it is one of those things one wants, but one does not want to vote for it. He reminded me of the case where a fellow belonged on a council or in this place when one of the bills was coming through for an increase in pay. When the bill came into the Legislature to be voted on, it just went through with no voice call or anything. Naturally, most of our increases in pay go through without objection. He went back and told some of the people in his riding: "I would not vote for that. I went right out in the hallway and I did not go in to vote for that." However, he got his cheque at the end of the month. In a way, I think the member for Oshawa was saying something like that. He wants it both ways, I suppose.
The member for Oshawa also mentioned speaking and the amount of times people speak. That is correct. In fact, I read an article at one time about a member, I think in Ottawa, who was there for 16 years, had never given a speech in Parliament and got re-elected. I am not saying in any way that a person has to come down here and, just because he has a seat in this place, he should make a speech. In other words, everything is taken in Hansard and maybe it would be easier for some of us to get re-elected if we did not talk so much sometimes. They cannot hang a member for what he did not say, but they can for what he did say.
I was glad to have the support of the government whip and understood in a way some of his frustrations he was telling us about. He was being so frank. We appreciate that.
I was glad to hear from the member for Brant-Oxford-Norfolk, the House leader of the Liberals, with his wide experience. It is interesting in any debate that goes on this Legislature that the House leader for that party is capable of getting up and with his wide experience over 60 years -- he is only about 50 years old or maybe we should say 39 -- he remembers everything his dad told him and everything that went on even prior to his birth. He gives us a wide experience. His father started representing their area and was elected the year I was born so they have been representing their area for 63 years.
Mr. T. P. Reid: 1872?
Mr. Ruston: Yes, 1872.
The member for Downsview (Mr. Di Santo) is a little mixed up. I do not know what he was talking about when he said one could be here one day a week for the six weeks. I think he forgets a session runs from March or February, whenever it opens. Last year, in 1982, it started in March and ran through until February 1983.
This is not a session; this is only part of a session. The member will learn that after he is here a few more years. It takes time. The member is a fine gentleman, but he has to learn a few things about the operation of the Legislature.
The member for Wellington-Dufferin-Peel (Mr. J. M. Johnson) has some different ideas as far as priorities in the House or in one's riding are concerned. I accept that. That is something one has to decide. People come to me and say they have something important to do in their ridings, and perhaps they cannot be here on a certain day. I tell them that if it is that important, they had better go. I understand that.
After all, the things that go on there are part of what one has to know about. We have a 10-day allowance for a full year or a year and a half. A session can go as long as two years. That is what is happening in the Senate in Ottawa right now where it has gone on so long many of them are having problems attending.
I appreciate the comments the members have made and we certainly hope we will have their support.
The Acting Speaker: Mr. Ruston has moved second reading of Bill 17.
All those in favour will please say "aye."
All those opposed will please say "nay."
In my opinion the ayes have it.
Motion agreed to.
Bill ordered for committee of the whole House.
BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
Hon. Mr. Gregory: Mr. Speaker, before the House recesses for dinner, can I indicate the business of the House?
Tonight we will continue the budget debate. On Friday we will do the estimates of the Ministry of Government Services. On Monday, May 23, the House will not sit.
On Tuesday, May 24, afternoon and evening, we will do second reading of Bills 14, 35, 36, 37, 38 and 43, standing in the name of the Minister of Revenue (Mr. Ashe), then committee of the whole, if required, on these bills as well as on Bill 3. Then, if there is time, we will have second reading of Bills 4, 5 and 13.
On Thursday, May 26, ballot items standing in the names of Mr. Dean and Mr. Peterson will be called. In the evening, we continue with the budget debate. On Friday, May 27, we continue the estimates of the Ministry of Government Services.
The House recessed at 5:53 p.m.