The House met at 2 p.m.
Mr. Speaker: Just before we start on our daily proceedings, I would like to draw all honourable members attention to a distinguished group of parliamentarians from Mexico, who are seated in the Speaker's gallery.
Presence of the delegation, chaired by Senator Celso Humberto Delgado Ramirez, represents the fourth parliamentary meeting between Canada and Mexico. They have held meetings in both Ottawa and Quebec as well as in Ontario as part of their responsibilities.
I am certain all members will join me in extending a warm welcome to our parliamentary colleagues.
TOXIC WASTE DISPOSAL
Mr. Peterson: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Minister of the Environment.
I am aware he has been very involved in the question of the Pauzé landfill site in the last few days, as he was before, and obviously there has been an acceleration of testing and activity by his ministry in that area, particularly in the last few days.
Is the minister of the opinion, now having given the matter a great deal of scrutiny, that there is any danger at the present time to the health of those people who are neighbours of that landfill site? If so, what is he doing about it?
Hon. Mr. Norton: Mr. Speaker, first of all, I think the Leader of the Opposition ought to be aware of the fact that we have been testing and monitoring in that vicinity on an ongoing basis. There is certainly no foundation for his suggestion that, as a result of his laying an egg, we have accelerated the testing. The testing is an ongoing program to monitor the situation around and on that site.
With regard to the substance of the member's question, I think he is aware there are two wells where, by virtue of the contaminants indicated as being present, it has been our recommendation that the residents not consume the water.
Alternative water is being supplied to them. At the moment, on the basis of the best information and advice we have, there is nothing to indicate any hazard to public health.
If that were the case, obviously, in conjunction with the medical officer of health in that area, we would take immediate action to respond to that situation. The plume of contamination that has emanated from that site is being monitored extensively. There is nothing to indicate it has reached the wells, other than the possible couple of wells to which I have referred. The other wells are not affected at this time.
Mr. Peterson: I would suggest to the minister there is a considerable amount of information available that could lead one to the conclusion there is indeed a threat to public health in that area.
For example, I refer him to the case of Mrs. Jean Therrien whose well is most contaminated by the chemical wastes. She is suffering from aching joints, extreme tiredness and a malfunctioning immunity system. Mr. Jack Therrien, her husband, is suffering from rashes. There is some suggestion that is a function of bathing in that water. Their grandchild, Shirley, who is 10 months old, is suffering from rashes from bathing in the water. Now they take the child to a neighbour's home to have baths.
Mr. Gary Posey, aged 40, has experienced tiredness and lack of energy. He was hit with severe abdominal cramps in February 1982. He was tested three times. The doctors could not find the problem, but did find his white blood count was up and his immunity system was affected.
Gary Posey's mother, Irene, aged 74, who lived with him, suffered dizziness, nausea and tiredness. They have stopped drinking the contaminated well water and are now drinking bottled water, as the minister knows. They relate the changes in their health and feelings to not drinking the contaminated well water at this time.
I would suggest to the minister that on the basis of the information presented there is a prima facie case, at the very least, that there is potential harm, not just from drinking it but from bathing in it also. We have presented the evidence about the chickens drinking it.
Would the Minister of Environment use his good offices immediately to institute public health testing, epidemiological studies, if you will, to make sure there is no greater harm than there is perceived to be at the moment?
Hon. Mr. Norton: The matter the honourable member has raised is one that clearly falls within the purview of the medical officer of health. To the best of my knowledge, the medical officer of health has not indicated he is concerned about a direct link between the condition of their well water and the rashes and the other symptoms to which the member has alluded. If there is concern on that count, the thing that ought to be done is for that information to be provided to the medical officer of health and for him to make some assessment of the situation.
That area of expertise is not within the purview of my ministry. It is clearly within the area of responsibility of the medical officer of health. That is what medical officers of health are for. If he feels there is some indication that this ought to be treated differently, presumably he would so advise me. I do not think it is for me to direct or purport to direct the medical officer of health to carry out responsibilities, which I am sure he is well aware of.
In reference to the honourable member's claim of evidence from the chickens, I think the book is very much open on that at the moment. As I said to the member the other day, he presented me with one egg that had a rather rough and irregular shell, and I think his colleague to his right, who presumably during the course of his career as a farmer has dealt with hens --
Mr. Nixon: It looked like pollution to me.
Hon. Mr. Norton: I would ask him to show me a flock of hens anywhere that does not lay some deformed eggs, and much more seriously deformed than that. We are following up on it to see if there is any possible relationship, but I would suggest that the evidence the member has presented is really very sketchy.
Mr. Charlton: Mr. Speaker, to go back to the question that the Leader of the Opposition asked the minister, why is it that in a case like this -- and this information has been available to his ministry staff for a number of months now -- when people come to the ministry with concerns about the effects that the water is having on them, where their wells have definitely been identified as contaminated and the ministry is now supplying them with alternative drinking water but they are still using that water for a number of other purposes, his ministry will not assist those residents with a follow-up to find out what other things are connected to the use of that water?
Hon. Mr. Norton: Mr. Speaker, I think I answered that in response to the question from the Leader of the Opposition in suggesting that this particular aspect of citizens' concerns is not something on which I or any of my staff have expertise. In that community there is an individual holding a public office known as the medical officer of health, who is there and available to assist them in an interpretation of their concerns, it seems to me, and that would be the correct course of action to take.
Mr. Peterson: I am going to try to persuade the minister to change his emphasis, to change the onus in this situation. The onus, I believe, should be on him, given some information that suggests we may have a problem.
I agree with him that it is not conclusive at this point; but he does not know whether it is conclusive, and I do not either. I would suggest to him that he, as a Minister of the Environment concerned about public health and given the fact that there is a cross-jurisdiction in this matter, has a responsibility because the source of this is an environmental one -- a landfill site over which he has responsibility. So I am asking the minister to take a different view of the situation from the one he has evidenced in this House today; I am asking him to take the responsibility to prove there is no harm.
Given the fact that the medical officer has already suggested that the water be boiled by a number of these people; given the fact that there are potentially, I understand, some 50 households threatened by the plume; and given, as I said, a prima facie case of some public health problems, I would ask the minister to use his good offices to be in touch with the local officer of health in that area, in conjunction with any other ministries he wants to involve, and to take the initiative to bring in public health testing now to make sure we do not have any further problems. Surely that is not an unreasonable request to a minister as sensitive to these matters as he is.
Hon. Mr. Norton: Well, my goodness. That was a major concession, if it is that, that the member just made.
Mr. Nixon: It means you don't want to get into trouble.
Hon. Mr. Norton: He doesn't want me to get into trouble? I'm sure.
First of all, I am sure the honourable member is aware of the fact that some months ago I established a multidisciplinary team to address the very kind of issue that has arisen at the Pauzé landfill site -- to co-ordinate the efforts to address the problems, including liaison with local medical officers of health -- so in effect what the member has asked is already being done.
The suggestion that the onus ought to be on me or on any other particular individual to prove there is absolutely nothing wrong is, I think, a misunderstanding on the member's part of what health studies or epidemiological studies are really all about. I have discussed this at length with medical advisers, not primarily in relationship to Pauzé but to other similar situations that have arisen in the past. I have been repeatedly advised that the kind of request the member is making arises from a misunderstanding of what epidemiological studies are designed to do.
It seems to me the member is suggesting he feels he has a cause, and wants to look to see if there is an illness flowing from that, whereas epidemiology is designed to move in the reverse direction, from the symptomatic stage back to find the causal effect. That is not what we are dealing with in this situation, but I assure the member what he is asking for is already being done.
DEFINITION OF OBSCENITY
Mr. Peterson: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Solicitor General. Today the Solicitor General has filed, with me at least and perhaps with the other members of the House, a copy of his extensive correspondence with the federal Minister of Justice on the question of pornography and changes in the Criminal Code. You will have got the impression, Mr. Speaker, as you were in the House then, that the Solicitor General was taking a major lead in this area. His letter is very --
Mr. Speaker: Excuse me just a minute. There seems to be an awful lot of -- that is better.
Mr. Nixon: It is mostly the chief government whip.
Mr. Speaker: So we can hear the question,
Mr. Peterson: His very short, terse letter to the federal minister says, "I wish to commend you and advise you have my support." It also says, "I am pleased to support the proposal in principle with respect to kiddie porn." There is no mention of any other aspects of changes to the Criminal Code in his letter. He gave us the impression in this House that he was taking the lead in this matter and had extensive correspondence with the minister.
Am I right to assume that this letter and the response, and a similar letter from his colleague the Provincial Secretary for Justice (Mr. Sterling) in this matter, are the extent of the minister's formal position as put forward to the federal government with respect to changing the definition of obscenity in the Criminal Code? Does he have anything else to table in this House? Has he done anything else or is that the full extent of it?
Hon. G. W. Taylor: Mr. Speaker, I know this area is very touchy for the Leader of the Opposition in that he wants to be the singular person who has the supposed lead in this matter. I know it stings him badly that we have been into this and discussing it with the federal government for a number of years now. I know he wants the exact wording as he has put it forward, but we on this side of the House would like to allow the legal people in Ottawa to decide on the exact definition.
We will mention the areas of concern we have. The Attorney General (Mr. McMurtry) has made his concerns known to the federal people. They have had a committee dealing with the sections involved. Both the Attorney General and people from his ministry, and people from the Ministry of the Solicitor General and the Ontario Provincial Police have put forward their concerns about this general topic -- the problem of pornography and the changes in the Criminal Code that are necessary.
Unlike the Leader of the Opposition, we would not want to specify the exact wording that might overcome this problem. We are offering forth, as has the Provincial Secretary for Justice, our concerns, our possible solutions and recommendations for change, but that is the extent to which we have gone.
The member said I have not sent any correspondence at all, indeed that the minister he had consulted with said there was no recollection of correspondence to him from the Ministry of the Solicitor General. I filed the correspondence over a year ago now as to the amount of concern we had at that time, and that concern has not diminished at all.
Mr. Peterson: Just so the record will be clear, the letter from this minister was sent on August 20. 1982, which is not a year ago, and was addressed to the Honourable Jean Chrétien, the former Minister of Justice, not to the present Minister of Justice. There was a response on September 27 from the current Minister of Justice, the Honourable Mark MacGuigan. I have copies of that correspondence and, interestingly enough, that is all we see in the House today.
I want the minister to take his mind a little further if he could. As I understand it, in his correspondence he addressed the question of kiddie porn, which is only one part of the issue of pornography as it pertains particularly to the most degrading part, which is the undue exploitation of violence in our society.
Would the minister be prepared to lend his weight to a specific redefinition of the word obscene" in section 159 of the Criminal Code? I now give the minister a suggested wording: "For the purpose of this act, any publication, a characteristic of which is the undue exploitation of any one or more of the following subjects, namely, crime, violence, horror, cruelty, sex and human degradation, shall all be deemed to be obscene; and for purposes of subsection 8, if one or more persons depicted is a child, it should be deemed to be an undue exploitation of sex."
Will the minister use his good offices specifically to support this kind of wording in the Criminal Code, apart from just a general condemnation of kiddie porn? Would he advance this cause on behalf of all Canadians?
Hon. G. W. Taylor: Mr. Speaker, I indicated our concern the last time the Leader of the Opposition asked questions in areas relative to this matter. The then Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations had his Tin Drum he was beating on, and the Leader of the Opposition now has his Tin Drum trying to beat the same tune or one that shows the same concern as we had with the content of films and cassettes and the availability of pornography.
When the honourable member asks about amendments to the particular piece of federal legislation, I think it shows our concern when we stay on the broad topic of those areas we know are available and those areas we know are pervading society. I refer to those areas of degradation of humans on film, those showing mutilation of female bodies, those showing violence and sex. All those are areas of concern to this government and we have put forward positions on them.
The exact wording of a definition for the Criminal Code to prevent the spread of that is up to the drafters of legislation at the federal level. But we in no way condone the amount, the availability, the ages to whom it is made available, or the spread of this type of literature, film or cassette featuring pornography.
Mr. Peterson: Would the minister be prepared then to put his position very clearly in front of either this House or the appropriate authorities? So far we have one letter from him, unless there is some correspondence he has not shared, saying: "I follow with interest your efforts to outlaw child pornography in Canada and wish to commend you and advise you of my support." That is all the minister has said on the issue in spite of his protestations that he is a great leader in this matter.
I ask him, as the minister responsible in Ontario, to come forward with a thoughtful position. Presumably he has officials who are there to assist him in the drafting of that. I ask him to put forward such a position to the federal government, then we can work in this House on implementing the penalty clauses and the enforcement. We also hope the minister will use his good offices to form a select committee this summer to deal with the question of community standards. Would he do those things, as the minister responsible?
Hon. G. W. Taylor: The member comments on the two letters. I think the other day he asked what correspondence I had. Those are the two letters I started with. He asked what else we have presented to the federal government. We have had people giving evidence before the federal committee from the Ontario Provincial Police and Project P.
As I said, I will inquire of the Attorney General and the other ministries involved in this as to what correspondence they have had with the federal members. If that is permissible we shall table it when it is available. But I can assure the member that is not the sole representation we have made to the federal government on changes in the legislation in regard to this topic.
Mr. Speaker: I would ask the member for Nickel Belt please to remove the sign from in front of his desk.
Mr. Laughren: Mr. Speaker, on a point of privilege
Mr. Speaker: There is no point of privilege.
Mr. Laughren: It seems to me that --
Mr. Speaker: There is no point of privilege.
Mr. Laughren: On a point of order --
Mr. Speaker: There is nothing out of order.
Just please remove the sign.
Mr. Laughren: I thought at least I could declare my seat a nuclear-free zone.
NURSING HOME FINANCIAL STATEMENTS
Mr. Rae: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Health. I would like to ask the minister whether he does not think it would be a good idea and in the best interests of fiscal and financial responsibility in Ontario, if nothing else, if the financial statements of all private and non-profit-based nursing homes in the province were made public and taken into account in the course of negotiations between the government of Ontario and the Ontario Nursing Home Association, when it comes time to set the subsidy from the public purse, given the fact that the subsidy from the government of Ontario in 1983-84 is going to be well over $200 million.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: Mr. Speaker, the answer is no; and to call that amount of money a subsidy is to distort the picture totally, as the honourable member well knows.
Mr. Rae: When Consumers' Gas or Union Gas goes to the Ontario Energy Board and asks for a rate increase, which affects the consumers of this province, it is required to present its financial statements. Why does the minister take the view that the financial statements of private-profit nursing homes should remain private information? Why should they not he made public?
Hon. Mr. Grossman: We. of course, go through a long series of negotiations with various groups -- including pharmacies, to name one, and a number of others -- with regard to what the price ought to be that we pay for drugs or whatever. Nursing homes are just another one of them.
All I can say to the honourable member is that the question he might raise -- at estimates time, for example -- is whether we pay too much or too little for nursing home care. If the member thinks the per diem is too high at $42.35 -- whatever the exact amount is: $42 and some -- for the care we are getting for our seniors, then I want him to feel free to put that position. It would be totally inconsistent with every other position he has put; but, of course, that has not stopped him before, so let him go ahead, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Rae: If it were any field other than the field of private-profit medicine, the minister knows perfectly well the interests of financial responsibility would demand the government at least know where the money is going and whether or not they are getting real value for the money.
How can he justify taking a position such as he has taken when the government of Ontario is spending over $200 million and is basically passing it over to private-profit medicine in this province? Given the fact that he is responsible for a budget that is very large, given the concern he has expressed over such a long time for financial responsibility and the need to be responsible in the system, how can he justify keeping these kinds of figures a secret at a time when they are taking up an ever-increasing share of the province's budget?
Hon. Mr. Grossman: The member keeps coming at the question of whether the $200 million we are paying is a subsidy of the private sector, and I would just put this to him: does he know of another system where for $200 million we could get ourselves beds for 30,000 seniors -- basically seniors -- in the kind of fairly first-class accommodation they are in? Now, that is not uniform throughout the province --
Mr. Rae: Oh, come off it. They are rarely first class, and you know it.
Mr. McClellan: You mean sort of first class. You mean second class. Maybe you mean third class.
Mr. Speaker: Order.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: Well, I'll tell the leader of the NDP, if he had taken the opportunity during his visit to Texas last week to canvass them about what they are doing with their seniors who need nursing home beds, if he had asked whether they are able to acquire care for $42 a day, he would have found out that it would be $142 a day, not $42.
I will say something else. I am darned proud to be at the head of this system in this province. and if I had any complaints to make about the quality of health care in this province, I will tell the member something I would not do: I would not go to the United States of America, as the leader of the third party did, and complain to the Americans that the system we are very proud of here, which they are so jealous of there, is inadequate and poor.
I would not be saying the kinds of things he embarrassed all Canadians by saying to all of his "brothers and sisters," as he put it, in Texas. He ought to be ashamed of himself as an Ontarian. I say to him, Mr. Speaker, raise it here, fight us here, but don't go talking to the Americans about how inadequate our health care system is here. I am sure they laughed at him.
Mr. Rae: If there is one thing we do not need to import from the United States of America it is their health care system, and that is exactly what the Minister of Health is doing. That is exactly what --
Mr. Speaker: Question please.
Mr. Rae: -- the Tory government is doing, and if anybody is sticking up for the health care system in this province it is the New Democratic Party of Ontario. The minister is the one who should be ashamed of himself. He has not answered any of the questions with respect to nursing homes ever since they have been raised. All he has done is raise it to a level of a personal insult --
Hon. Mr. Grossman: Ask your supplementary.
Mr. Speaker: Order.
Mr. Rae: All you are capable of is that kind of personal insult. That is the only kind of politics you understand.
Mr. Speaker: Order.
Mr. Martel: Get your sleazy answer out.
Mr. Rae: That is the only thing you understand.
Mr. Speaker: New question, the member for York South.
Mr. Rae: On a new question, Mr. Speaker, I have --
Mr. Speaker: Order. Order.
Mr. Rae: Go on, throw a little more, Larry, throw a little more, a little more misrepresentation. Throw a little in, that is it. Come on, do it. You are a specialist at it.
Mr. Speaker: I am going to adjourn this House for 10 minutes.
Mr. Speaker suspended proceedings at 2:31 p.m.
LINCOLN PLACE NURSING HOME
Mr. McClellan: Mr. Speaker, I have a question of the Minister of Health. Recently our staff visited Lincoln Place Nursing Home on Walmer Road in Toronto and found evidence of both insufficient staff and poor quality care. I would like to ask the minister whether his inspectors found the same inadequacies and violations of the Nursing Homes Act regulations we observed, specifically:
Wheelchair residents sitting in puddles of urine; rushed feedings; residents in wheelchair restraints, unattended for hours, in violation of the the Nursing Homes Act regulations; overcrowded hallways in violation of the fire safety provisions of the regulations; unclean, indeed filthy, portable urinals and the absence of proper steaming or disinfectant equipment to clean those facilities; beds too close together.
May I ask the minister if his ministry inspectors have visited that home and whether they have observed these or other violations of the Nursing Homes Act regulations in this province, which the minister boasts provides such incredibly high quality of care and service in our nursing homes?
Hon. Mr. Grossman: Yes, Mr. Speaker, our inspectors visited Lincoln Place as recently as last April 6 and, indeed, they found some violations. I cannot and will not confirm whether the member has described them accurately or in full, but there are some violations.
As a result, a letter has been sent out to Lincoln Place requiring them to take the appropriate procedures. It is our information that they are taking appropriate procedures.
Mr. McClellan: That is the sixth case I have raised in the Legislature which has subsequently been found to be in violation of the Nursing Homes Act regulations. I should correct myself -- that case was raised by the leader of this party in his reply to the speech from the throne.
May I ask whether the minister thinks it is first-class care or fairly first-class care at the Lincoln Place Nursing Home in that the residents walk to the bathrooms wearing helmets because there is not enough staff at this home to accompany a resident and make sure he does not fall? They issue them helmets in case they fall so they will not suffer a severe head injuries.
Does the minister think that is first-class care, or fairly first-class care?
Hon. Mr. Grossman: To my knowledge, Lincoln Place Nursing Home, and I cannot say invariably, does not have a lot of circumstances such as the member describes, but I must say I will withhold comment on his description of what goes on at Lincoln Place with regard to helmets or whatever.
The member will forgive my hesitancy to respond to accusations he makes because, without being too provocative, I had the opportunity to read the remarks of the leader of the third party as he castigated and took to task many nursing homes in what I think was his reply to the speech from the throne. I noticed that in almost every case his description of what was happening in nursing homes was inaccurate and wrong.
Mr. Martel: Present the facts. Don't shoot your mouth off without the facts.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: I will tell the member for Sudbury East --
Mr. Speaker: Order.
Mr. Martel: Tell him to answer the question in substance. Don't make allegations.
Mr. Speaker: Never mind the interjections: just answer the question, please.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: If the Health critic for the third party wishes to ask a question which would invite me, without violating the admonition of the Speaker --
Mr. Martel: Now you are weaseling.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: No, I am not. If the member for Bellwoods would like to ask me a question which would allow me to present the facts, he would really find it fun.
Mr. Martel: I don't find it funny at all. I wasn't laughing. Don't come here with your nonsense, you little twit. You won't present any facts.
Mr. Speaker: Order.
Ms. Copps: Mr. Speaker, the minister has already promised in this House that legislation would be forthcoming within the next couple of months to make sure that inspection reports from all nursing homes are made public. In the interest of clarifying the situation and the incidents that have been raised by the member for Bellwoods on a number of occasions, would the minister be prepared to table today in the House copies of inspection reports from all nursing homes across Ontario, so all members of all parties can have a look at what is happening in anticipation of the new legislation which the minister has already promised?
Hon. Mr. Grossman: Mr. Speaker, the inspection reports, as we indicated some time ago, will begin to be released. I think the target date is now July I and they will be available at that time.
Mr. McClellan: One of the residents at Lincoln Place Nursing Home was recovering from a stroke and, according to a member of the staff of the nursing home, was quickly losing any chance of regaining the use of his right side because he had received no therapy since he had left the hospital and had been admitted to the nursing home.
I would like to ask the minister, why is it his first-class regulations to the Nursing Homes Act have no requirement whatsoever for an occupational rehabilitation program? Why is that essential service completely missing from the prescribed services under the act and regulations? What plans does he have to remedy that defect?
Hon. Mr. Grossman: As the member will recall, I think it was just last week a question was asked by the Health critic for the Liberal Party. We will be looking at programming changes to the regulations. I indicated that as soon as we have moved to empower ourselves to move quickly and efficiently for the current violations, those violations which do not relate to programming, this will help us in making sure the concerns the member raises from time to time are dealt with and that we will have the power to deal with them immediately and firmly through the ministry, which we currently do not have. Therefore, we will be moving to programming shortly thereafter.
Mr. McClellan: Does cabinet not meet every Wednesday?
Hon. Mr. Grossman: In case the member is wondering, I should tell him the legal draftsmanship has proved to be very difficult in this area. I expect to have it in about a week or 10 days.
I should also tell the member, as I told him some time ago, cabinet has already approved the thrust of the legislative proposals. It is simply in the legal draftsmanship stage. In any event, the answer to the member's question is exactly the one I gave last week to the Liberal Health critic, who asked a fair question which more than covered the area the member is raising today.
SUBSIDIZED RENTAL HOUSING
Mr. Epp: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing. According to the senior planner of the Social Planning Council of Metropolitan Toronto, the 1,500 low-cost units constructed annually in Metro are not sufficient. He states that, in order to meet the need out there, we would have to have at least five times that number built for the next few years. Is the minister aware of the great need for additional units in Metro? If so, what plans has he formulated to meet the increasing need of these citizens?
Hon. Mr. Bennett: Mr. Speaker, not only are we aware of the extra need in this area of Metropolitan Toronto, we are aware that in other metro areas in Ontario there is a pressing need for additional units. I have expressed to this House on more than one occasion the sequence of events we go through to achieve nonprofit housing for Ontario and to get the rent supplement units we require for people who need some assistance.
I am not shirking my responsibility as the minister reporting for housing, but most of the responsibility starts with the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. and the number of units it allocates not only to the province but to the other nine provinces as well for the provision of nonprofit public housing. We take a share of it for the use of people requiring some support in their rent. I said in this House not more than a month ago it was my intention to try to press Mr. LeBlanc, the minister reporting for CMHC, to increase the allocation he has given Ontario and try to reallocate that to the metro areas such as Ottawa, Ottawa-Carleton and Toronto, including Peel and Mississauga.
Mr. Epp: Given that the province has the power to go it alone on the construction of such units, does the minister not think the province is mature and able enough and has the leadership to build additional units without always asking the federal government to take the lead in these matters?
Hon. Mr. Bennett: We are mature enough, there is no doubt about that, and we have the financial capacity. Let me take the member back just a few short years ago to when we entered into an agreement with the federal government, which is also applicable to the other nine provincial governments and the two territorial governments, on how we would arrange the supply of public housing in Canada. The member will recall at one time under the Ontario Housing Corp. we secured funding from the federal government, built the units and kept them entirely as assets of the province. The only thing the federal government did in that case was supply the mortgage money. It also supported the province 50-50 in the cost of operating those units under public housing auspices.
In 1978, we entered into an agreement with the federal government whereby we would get into the nonprofit allocation process. That is the one we are going to stick with. Not for one minute would I suggest to the Treasurer (Mr. F. S. Miller) that all of a sudden we should kick over the traces and decide to go it alone. I can tell members what the next step would be. The federal government would see very clearly, from that point on, if we have the capacity this year to supply all the units at 100 per cent government expense, that there would be no reason to continue to participate in the provision of that type of housing.
We are involved in an agreement. The thing we must do, with the aid of the mayors of this province, is impress upon Mr. LeBlanc that the allocation process by the federal government to the provinces must be increased in order to meet the social obligation in the nonprofit housing portfolio.
Mr. Rae: Mr. Speaker, given the severity of the cutbacks from CMHC that have so devastated the minister's housing budget and reduced it, he claims, from $394 million to $293 million, can he explain why the major growth item in the budget of his ministry, a 106 per cent increase, is in the field of information services, $2.2 million. up from just over $1 million last year? Why would the only thing for which he is able to increase his budget be advertising?
Hon. Mr. Bennett: Mr. Speaker, if the member wants to look at the estimates, I am sure he will find there are other increases in budget allocations besides communications. We often hear from opposition members about the lack of communications between government and the municipalities. It is interesting how we get that --
Hon. Mr. Bennett: Until we brought Municipal Affairs and Housing together under one ministry, members told us we entirely lacked communications with the municipalities. The wisdom of the Premier (Mr. Davis) in bringing this ministry together and doing an excellent program in advancing the cause of the municipalities has been rewarding. We have complemented their effort in our advertising program, and assisted them with the renter-buy program and various others that encouraged the opportunity for new housing in Ontario and new employment opportunities that those members yell and bellyache about so often.
If the leader of the third party -- the third party now and forever -- would look at the situation, he would clearly see a very noticeable increase in expenditures relating to the provision of public housing. It is up about 18 per cent or more.
HOUSING PROGRAM CUTBACKS
Mr. Rae: Mr. Speaker, I have a question again for the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing. He says he needs money in order to pay for advertising for the renter-buy program. The renter-buy program for 1982-84 is gone.
Can the minister explain the $20-million cut in the Ontario home renewal program, the $4.6-million cut in the community renewal program, the $3.1-million cut in the Ontario housing action program and the $100,000 cut in the community housing programs? How does he justify those expenditure cuts, those very real investment cuts at a time when we still have major unemployment in the construction industry -- the minister knows that -- and when there is a major problem with respect to assisted housing right across the province, but in the Metro Toronto and Ottawa-Carleton areas in particular?
Hon. Mr. Bennett: Mr. Speaker, I have explained the situation about the Ontario home assistance and renewal program.
Just to enlighten the leader of the third party, when he refers specifically to Toronto and Ottawa at the end of his question, those communities, because of their size, had the least amount to gain from the renewal program of all communities in Ontario.
I will shortly be announcing programs relating to the $40 million the Treasurer spoke of in his budget a few short weeks ago in relation to the provision of housing.
Let me add one other thing regarding the renewal program. That was a revolving account, if the member will recall. Indeed, principally, all the money came from Ontario. The municipalities administered it and had the money on a revolving account. I trust they will have some of that money to reinvest in the renewal programs in their communities, entirely at their discretion.
Mr. Rae: The minister talks of $40 million. He knows that is $40 million over five years and that $16 million is expected for 1983-84. The hard fact is that of the four programs I described, $108.2 million has been cut.
I come hack to the minister with this basic question. Given the seriousness of the housing situation which has been documented by groups right across the province, particularly with respect to those who are in need of assisted housing, how can the minister possibly justify such cutbacks in expenditure by his ministry at a time when we have a housing crisis in this province?
Hon. Mr. Bennett: The leader of the third party is off on a tangent again. He is dealing with apples and oranges. One program has to do with the refurbishing, renovation and rehabilitation of units currently existing in Ontario and the other has to do with capital costs for putting new units in place.
Let me make this very clear to the member again. I do not intend to recommend to the Treasurer of this province that we go it alone in the provision of housing. We have an agreement with the federal government and my efforts, along with those of my colleagues in the other provinces, will be spent to try to impress upon the federal minister --
Hon. Mr. Bennett: Does the member want to listen or would he like to continue to gab?
I can do with the aid of the Liberal Party members here as well. I understand they still have a few friends in Ottawa. They might like to assist us in trying to impress upon them the need for increasing that allocation for the provision of housing, particularly for those requiring rent supplements.
Mr. Wrye: Mr. Speaker, since the minister raised the matter himself, he must understand that part of the cancellation, including the cancellation of the Ontario home renewal program, puts at risk a lot of existing housing, especially housing for low-income families, that could be refurbished and now cannot be because those low-income families simply cannot afford it.
Can the minister suggest how those low- income families in my community and the hundreds of others who have written to us can come up with the money to refurbish their housing? Is it the minister's plan that instead he will build new low-income housing in all those communities, such as Windsor, North Bay, Hawkesbury and all over the province where the substandard housing cannot be brought up to standard now? Does the minister have some secret fund to tell us about?
Hon. Mr. Bennett: I wish I had a secret fund we could talk about, but we run the affairs of this province in an open and knowledgeable fashion for those who wish to listen.
I did indicate to the same member a few weeks ago --
Mr. Wrye: I hope you will talk to Lalonde tonight.
Hon. Mr. Bennett: I might just take that opportunity.
Mr. Speaker: Never mind the interjections, please.
Hon. Mr. Bennett: I might just have a few other announcements as well.
If the member for Windsor-Sandwich goes back and looks at the remarks I made in this House some time ago, I suggest he will see very clearly that at the time of the federal budget there was an increased emphasis placed by Mr. Lalonde on the field of renovation and rehabilitation. In other words, there was a special program put in place by the federal government.
I said very clearly in this House, to mayors and various other interested groups, that an opportunity to make application for those funds today under federal auspices is entirely open to them.
INTERMINISTERIAL COMMITTEE REPORT
Mr. Van Horne: Mr. Speaker, I have a question of the Provincial Secretary for Resources Development. In view of the severe difficulties experienced by single-industry towns that have lost their major source of employment, can the minister tell us what policy has been developed by his in-house, interministerial committee, a committee on single resource industry communities which was struck to deal with this problem and a committee which was established in November 1980 and whose report was completed in September 1982? Will he now table this report and tell us what is in it?
Hon. Mr. Henderson: Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Northern Affairs (Mr. Bernier) will be addressing this issue in a few weeks. He will be making statements and there will be dialogue.
Mr. Van Horne: I am sure members will appreciate there is cause for us to be sceptical, because we do recall the acreage improvement fund that was announced a few years ago where we heard that the government was going to spend X number of dollars on ploughing and draining a million acres in the north for agricultural purposes. All we heard out of that was some seed potato upgrading and distribution program last week.
Given that the impetus for this report originally was related to the single-industry communities in the north and also that the north can expect some further plan -- that was the only reference made in the throne speech -- will the Minister of Northern Affairs be presenting to us a plan complete or a plan piecemeal, part of which we heard last week?
Hon. Mr. Henderson: The honourable member brings up items that are very important. He mentioned the reclaiming of land in the north. That program has worked very well. If the member went into the northern area represented by his colleague the member for Rainy River (Mr. T. P. Reid), he would find there are many farms --
Mr. Van Horne: I was there last week and you are full of baloney.
Mr. Speaker: Order.
Hon. Mr. Henderson: -- with great increases in production in that area. I do not have to go up there to find it out; I hear from the farmers of the area how well it has worked. We do not have to go up there; they come here and tell us.
The report will be made public in a few weeks. The Minister of Northern Affairs will be going to different areas of the north with the report and he will be meeting with the people. There are many benefits for the small, single-industry communities in the report.
Mr. Foulds: Mr. Speaker, can the minister tell us exactly what plans the government has to ensure there is a genuinely mature economy developed in northern Ontario? What steps is this government going to take to ensure diversification of industry in single-industry towns? What steps is it going to take to make sure mining and forestry machinery is manufactured in northern Ontario? What plans is it going to take to diversify and expand the agricultural industry?
Hon. Mr. Henderson: Mr. Speaker, apparently the honourable member came in late and did not hear all the dialogue.
Mr. Foulds: I heard your answers; they contained nothing.
Hon. Mr. Henderson: As I mentioned, what we have done in the agricultural field is quite visible. If the member visits the area where there is real production of agriculture, if he will go and talk with a few of the farmers in that area, he will find out.
With respect to the report, I have said the Minister of Northern Affairs will be making a statement on this in a few weeks and there will be opportunity for dialogue.
CONSUMERS' GAS RATES
Mr. Swart: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations. I wonder if the minister is aware of a new wrinkle being implemented by Consumers' Gas to squeeze more revenue out of many of its customers.
Specifically, I would inform him that all of the customers who now have their gas shut off for the summer holidays -- because they go to the cottage or for whatever reason -- will not only have to pay the $17.50 reconnection charge but will also have to pay a $6.58 monthly charge for the time the gas was shut off.
Although this charge may not be illegal, does the minister not think it is unfair for customers to pay for gas they do not use? Does he not think the principle of this new charge is in conflict with the Inflation Restraint Board?
Hon. Mr. Elgie: Mr. Speaker, rates charged by gas companies are only introduced, as the member knows, following a hearing before the Ontario Energy Board. If those rates to be charged exceed certain guidelines, the minister in charge refers them to the cabinet committee on administered prices. I am not aware that there are any charges being placed at the moment which contravene any energy board decision or any review that has been carried out in the past by that cabinet committee.
Mr. Swart: Whether they are contravening any energy board decision or not, when there are --
Mr. Speaker: Question please.
Mr. Swart: -- new charges in this period of restraint, would the minister not think they are in conflict with the principles of the Inflation Restraint Board, especially when no other gas company in this province makes these kinds of charges and when they are applied to equal billing? Customers will be confused and they will not even know they are paying these extra charges, especially when the gas company has been going on making excessive and increasing profits.
Mr. Speaker: Is that your question?
Mr. Swart: Yes, I have a question.
Mr. Speaker: Please let us have it.
Mr. Swart: I will put it right now, Mr. Speaker. Will the minister refer this matter to the Inflation Restraint Board and tell it to stand tough against these new charges?
Hon. Mr. Elgie: This is a matter that has not been referred to the cabinet committee on administered prices. When it is, and if it is, we shall certainly review it.
BATTERED WOMEN REPORT
Mr. Boudria: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Provincial Secretary for Justice. On Wednesday, March 2, the minister's colleague the Minister of Community and Social Services (Mr. Drea) indicated that he would be co-ordinating a reply to the report on wife battering, which is now some six months old. Could the minister tell us when his reply to this report will be ready and what will it contain?
Hon. Mr. Sterling: Mr. Speaker, it is true that I am co-ordinating a response to that report. I would hope that I will be able to have a response in the not too far distant future. I cannot give a definite date on it because I am relying on a number of ministers to respond to the various parts of it. I do have the initial responses, but I am not satisfied with them and I am going to be talking to those ministers about them.
Mr. Boudria: The minister is indicating that some ministries have given their input to him for the reply. Could he tell us which ministry has not yet done so, so that we can assist him in obtaining the information? The report is six months old and we have not heard a thing yet from his government.
Hon. Mr. Sterling: I do not think that is quite true. I think various ministers in this government have responded to some of the parts of the report. In fact I believe the Solicitor General (Mr. G. W. Taylor) has responded to some parts dealing with the police, within my policy field.
I indicated in my initial answer that I had responses from all of the ministers just recently and I am looking at those responses and seeing if I can collate them into an overall response for the government.
Ms. Bryden: Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask the minister if he is submitting to the provincial Treasurer (Mr. F. S. Miller) any estimates of the amount of funds he will need for implementing the various recommendations? Is he asking for this information of the people from whom he is soliciting replies?
I understand money will be needed for public education, information services, beefing up police response forces and, in particular, for increasing the allotments for Interval Houses and increasing the number of Interval Houses across the province. Is the provincial secretary asking for estimates of those amounts so that the provincial Treasurer can provide for them in his budget?
Mr. Speaker: Is the provincial secretary going to ask the Treasurer for extra money?
Hon. Mr. Sterling: Mr. Speaker, I am sorry; the member's lead-in was so long that I did not think she was directing the supplementary to me. Could she repeat the nub of her question?
Mr. Speaker: No, I think not. If I may have the indulgence of the House, I think the question, put briefly, was: will the provincial secretary ask the Treasurer for additional funding to supply the services required?
Ms. Bryden: Is he asking the people he is soliciting responses from to make estimates of the amount of money that will be required to implement their proposals?
Hon. Mr. Sterling: I am quite willing to ask the ministers to respond to that kind of question.
REPORT ON VIDEO DISPLAY TERMINALS
Mr. R. F. Johnston: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Labour. The minister may recall that back in February I asked him what his response was to a number of recommendations brought forward by the Advisory Council on Occupational Health and Occupational Safety concerning video display terminals, which were similar to those in my bill.
It has been approximately three months now and we have not heard from the minister what his position is. Can he tell us when we will hear from him and which of those recommendations he is willing to support?
Hon. Mr. Ramsay: Mr. Speaker, since that time in February when I last reported there has been additional correspondence between my office and the advisory council. That correspondence is as yet not complete. Until it is, I will not be able to make any final resolution.
Mr. R. F. Johnston: Would the minister not be willing to tell us today what his position is on the right of pregnant women to refuse to work on the machines and to receive compensation?
Hon. Mr. Ramsay: I do not think it would be appropriate to report piecemeal on the matter. When we have the various points of clarification we have asked for from the advisory council, we will look at it in the total context and get back accordingly.
Mr. Wrye: Mr. Speaker, my question is also to the Minister of Labour, regarding the problems at Borg-Warner. The minister will recall a question I asked earlier this month regarding the permanent discontinuance of manufacturing at the Borg-Warner plant in Oakville, and I thank him for the written update he sent me on this deplorable situation.
On the basis of the information provided, which indicated on May 10 that a decision would he made within 10 days on whether to order a hearing into this matter under section 51 of the Employment Standards Act, can the minister now advise the House whether he has ordered such a hearing; and if not, why not?
Hon. Mr. Ramsay: Mr. Speaker, I have not ordered such a hearing at this time, but I expect to make a decision on that matter before the end of this week.
Mr. Wrye: To help the minister in his decision, perhaps he ought to consider whether his ministry is protecting the rights of workers under this act. Surely the minister is aware that the facility in Oakville is not manufacturing radiators and that, indeed, the plant is simply empty floor space. I just wonder if he needs the building to fall down before his branch considers this to be a matter of permanent discontinuance.
Mr. Speaker: Question, please.
Mr. Wrye: Is the minister going to propose changes to the act? Does he now believe that the definitions of "permanent discontinuance" are so wide that changes are needed in the act to ensure that when workers such as workers in this plant have been off the job for almost two years with no hope of recall they will get some severance pay, get the floor that his predecessor in the Ministry of Labour said we were going to get some two years ago?
Hon. Mr. Ramsay: This is a matter that is under active consideration by my ministry.
LOGGING TRUCK FATALITIES
Mr. Foulds: Mr. Speaker, in view of the time I wonder if I can ask a three-part question -- otherwise I will not get my supplementary in -- to the Minister of Northern Affairs. As the minister knows, there have been six deaths in northwestern Ontario since 1980 due to logs falling from pulpwood trucks. Can the minister tell the people of northwestern Ontario how long it will take not only to study but also to implement the recommendations of the coroncr's jury into the deaths of Robert Madder and Blair McDonald on January 17, 1983?
Can he tell us whether the ad hoc committee on log hauling has finalized its report and reported to the co-ordinator of highway safety by May 15, as the terms of reference indicated? Finally, does he not understand that if the recommendations of the coroner's jury into the death of Mr. James Gabrielson some three years ago had been implemented, five people's lives may very well have been saved in northwestern Ontario?
Hon. Mr. Bernier: Mr. Speaker, I am most pleased that the honorable member has raised this issue. It is something we have been very concerned about and have moved on very quickly. As the member has correctly pointed out, there is a problem with the moving of eight-foot pulpwood across northwestern Ontario. An ad hoc interministerial committee has been established. Its members are meeting with labour and with industry and have come forward with a number of recommendations that are very similar to what the coroner's report has indicated to us.
We are going to move as quickly as we can on that report when it is delivered to us, I think by the end of this month or early in June. I can say to the member that even in my own ministry we are already planning for the development of some lay-bys along certain highways. Lay-bys are places where the pulp trucks can turn off to adjust their loads. There is a tremendous amount of interest and there is going to be a tremendous amount of activity in correcting this particular safety problem.
ANNUAL REPORT, REGISTRAR OF LOAN AND TRUST CORPORATIONS
Mr. Peterson: Mr. Speaker, under standing order 33(b), we the undersigned petition that the annual report of the registrar of loan and trust corporations of the Ministry of Consumer and Commercial Relations for the year ended December 31, 1981, be referred to the standing committee on administration of justice.
INTRODUCTION OF BILLS
UNITED NATIVE FRIENDSHIP CENTRE ACT
Mr. T. P. Reid moved, seconded by Mr. Riddell, first reading of Bill Pr18, An Act to revive the United Native Friendship Centre.
Motion agreed to.
SILVERSTONE OIL COMPANY LIMITED ACT
Mr. Hodgson moved, seconded by Mr. Gillies, first reading of Bill Pr22, An Act to revive Silverstone Oil Company Limited.
Motion agreed to.
STANDING COMMITTEE ON RESOURCES DEVELOPMENT
Hon. Mr. Wells moved, seconded by Hon. Mr. Gregory, that in the standing committee on resources development the estimates of the Ministry of the Environment be considered before the estimates of the Provincial Secretary for Resources Development.
Motion agreed to.
ORDERS OF THE DAY
House in committee of supply.
ESTIMATES, MINISTRY OF GOVERNMENT SERVICES (CONTINUED)
On vote 501, Ministry administration program:
Mr. Nixon: We should talk about an invitation to the courthouse opening.
Mr. Chairman: I think we have covered that one already. If memory serves me correctly, we were dealing with vote 501. I am wondering if this vote could carry at this time so we could move with great rapidity to vote 502.
Mr. Williams: Mr. Chairman, the minister was in the process of responding to some questions I raised during the last day's debate. He had not completed his response to my questions with regard to ensuring preservation of the dignity of the Legislative Building and grounds on which it is situated. I think he was going to give me a detailed answer to the questions I raised on that point Friday last.
Hon. Mr. Wiseman: Mr. Chairman, I thought I had answered that for the member for Oriole. I said I would take his suggestion under advisement and get back to him. I have nothing further to report at this time.
Mr. Chairman: I have the feeling the member for Oriole wants to refresh all our memories about the question.
Mr. Williams: I did not realize the minister had been so explicit in his response, Mr. Chairman. I will take that as understood for the time being. I hope that in due course we will have a more detailed response to that question.
Mr. Mancini: I think we are getting short of time, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. Chairman: That is my concern.
Mr. Mancini: I am going to ask for your indulgence. I want to remind the minister that approximately 20 or 22 months ago I questioned him in the Legislature about this. I believe we may have had correspondence concerning his staff people doing survey work in different parts of the province. I believe he told me at the time he would not send his staff people into communities outside of Toronto to do work which could be done by the local people.
We all know that to send a staff of survey people into my riding -- in the towns of Leamington, Amherstburg or Harrow -- they would all have to be put up in hotel rooms. They would have to be given accommodation and meals, mileage, etc. I wonder if the minister could give us an update on whether or not that is continuing. If that is so I would note that I continually receive complaints, particularly from the Leamington area and the Wheatley area, that teams of surveyors employed by the province are being sent to my riding.
In the area I mentioned, they are taking work away from the local surveyors and at the same time asking them all sorts of questions and trying to obtain information from them. I want to know from the minister why this is continuing when we thought it was not going to. Can we have a policy statement from him to say we are going to have local surveyors doing local work?
Hon. Mr. Wiseman: Mr. Chairman, it is nice to see the member for Essex South back and looking so well. I just wish I could lose a few of the pounds he seems to have lost. I hope he continues to keep them off.
I remember the day the member asked me the question in the Legislature. I said that where we could we would try to have local people acting as the surveyors, the appraisers, whatever. I do not think I gave a blanket statement that would be so in 100 per cent of the cases. We are trying where we can to use local people for many of the reasons he has mentioned -- because of hotel bills, travel and so on. I believe he mentioned a firm on that occasion. If he gives me the name I will be pleased to check into it further and get some background on it.
But my intentions, where travel and so forth is involved, are to try to do exactly what I said that day. There will he occasions where our own people will have to do the job and I hope the member will try to keep that in mind. However, if he has a particular case in mind I will be pleased to investigate it and get back to him with the information.
Vote 501 agreed to.
On vote 502, provision of accommodation program:
Mr. Haggerty: Mr. Chairman, I want to direct a question to the minister concerning the accommodation program and the capital construction and leasing and alterations to buildings and so forth.
I received a letter which I thought should be brought to the attention of the minister. It concerns tendering practices of the ministry. The letter is addressed to me and was received April 15, 1983, from Fergus J. Allard, president, Allard Marine Industries Ltd. It states:
"Attached is a certified true copy of a letter to Mike Harris, MPP for Nipissing, which was hand delivered to his constituency office in North Bay. Since time is of the essence in this matter and Mr. Harris was not encouraging in his response, I ask you in your capacity as critic for the Ministry of Government Services to investigate the unfair and odious tendering practices of the ministry.
"If this contract be awarded under the conditions as outlined in the body of my letter to Mr. Harris, it will rank as the most unjust and disgraceful tender award in my 30 years in the industry.
"All we ask is opportunity and fair treatment, and the open tender system provides such opportunity.
"You are authorized to use my comments in this letter as you see fit."
The letter addressed to the member states: "This letter is to formally register our strongest objections to the selection of tendering contractors for project No. AG 5617, repairs to provincial courthouse, North Bay, Ontario. As per our telephone conversation this noon, I will chronicle the events leading to this letter.
"April 5, was asked for a quotation on pressure grouting portion of work by two local building contractors and visited the job site. This was the first time I became aware the job was out for tender.
"April 6, met with Mr. Fred Saunders, Ministry of Government Services, Gorman Street, North Bay, with view to obtaining tendering documents. Was told by Mr. Saunders that since the tender call was by invitation only, that I contact Mr. Peter Van Hof, Ministry of Government Services, at (416) 965-6718. Phoned Mr. Van Hof and was informed that selection of invited tenderers was left to the discretion of the consulting engineers (Carruthers and Wallace).
"Phoned Mr. Andy Kaminken, P. Eng., of Carruthers and Wallace, who told me it was the decision of Ministry of Government Services to restrict the bidding to five general contractors. Mr. Kaminken further asked for recent references on projects we have completed, which I furnished, and was assured that he would get back to me with their decision on whether or not we would be added to the bidders' list. (Bear in mind the closing date of tenders April 11, 1983.)
"April 11, 10 a.m., called Mr. Kaminken and asked why he failed to notify me prior to the close of tender on this project. He merely answered it was the Ministry of Government Services' decision to stay with the five bidders as planned. I informed Mr. Kaminken we would seek redress through your office. Hence my phone call to your office immediately thereafter.
"Our objections to selection of tenderers on this project are as listed below and on page 2 of this letter:
"1. Although this project is primarily underpinning and structural upgrading, which falls in our area of expertise, we are denied the opportunity to tender.
"2. Denied access to bidders' list and tendering documents.
"3. Apparently no foundation and structural repair specialists were invited, even though specifications stipulate that pressure grouting of masonry cracks be performed by such specialists.
"4. Industrial and commercial building contractors are allowed to tender this project, while we as structural repair contractors are denied the opportunity.
"5. In the 11 years that our company has been established in this city, this is only the second local job falling into our scope of operations that has gone to tender. Given this time frame, to be denied the opportunity to tender this work is a truly deplorable act, whether it was the ministry's or the consulting engineer's decision to restrict the bidders' list.
"6. It is apparent that (to use a sports term) the consulting engineers ran the clock out.
"A list of past projects, including Canada Public Works, Parks Canada, MacMillan Bloedel, Spruce Falls Power, Canadian Pacific, city of North Bay, etc., can be furnished on request, plus references from highly respected engineers and contractors for whom we have done work.
"In the interest of fair and equitable treatment we ask that tenders on this project he recalled, because assurance that this situation will be rectified on future tender calls rings rather hollowly when one considers the time frame referred to in '5' above."
This is a certified true copy from Fergus J. Allard, president of Allard Marine industries Ltd.
I bring to the attention of the minister that I have had some rumours and facts about the tendering practices, whether by open tender or by bidders in the contract business, that perhaps there are some misgivings about the proper tendering procedures that should be followed in any government project, whether it is federal, municipal or provincial. I think we must have tendering practices that are fair to everybody who wants to bid and who is capable.
Mr. Haggerty: My colleague says there should be freedom of information in tendering and that all interested contractors should be treated alike.
The letter indicates to me that a disgraceful event has perhaps occurred and a well-respected contractor was denied the right to bid on a government contract. If that is the practice it should be corrected immediately so we will not hear of this or have letters written to other members expressing similar views. I hope it was not the intent of the ministry to deny contractors, regardless of who they are, the right to submit tenders on certain projects, whether it is renovations to or upgrading of a particular building, or even on a new building.
Hon. Mr. Wiseman: Mr. Chairman, the majority of our contracts that go out in a year, some 2,000 of them, are put up for tender. We put up the occasional one for invitational bids. From what the honourable member read, it sounds as if this was one we put up for invitational bids, the underpinning of that courthouse in North Bay. I have been up and have seen the work that has been done there. Occasionally we do it that way, but for the most part we try to go, and we do go, for regular tenders.
If the member will send me a little more information, I can get an answer for him point by point and give it to him at a different time. It is our practice to go to the regular tendering system most of the time, but occasionally we have to go to an invitational tender such as he spoke of in North Bay.
Mr. Epp: Mr. Chairman, on the same subject: I wonder if the minister has considered whether it is constitutional that firms can he deliberately discriminated against by not inviting them to tender on a particular contract. I wonder also whether he has checked with the legal beagles of the ministry and the government to see whether any firm that is being discriminated against, as in this case, can then quote the Constitution of Canada as to its not getting an opportunity to quote and to bid on a contract because it was not invited. Has the minister checked the constitutionality of the government's position of discriminating against firms of this nature?
Hon. Mr. Wiseman: Mr. Chairman, I guess it was partly my fault; I should have mentioned that this is done on a rotation basis. There is nothing in it to eliminate anyone who has the expertise we are looking for from being on that list, that can be rotated and used when we have to go to invitational bids.
We are not out to discriminate against anybody; I am not, and the ministry is not. But occasionally, as I say, we have to go this route and ask for invitation bids. As the staff have just corrected me, we rotate those; so there is no way of giving more to one than another or anything like that.
Mr. Haggerty: I want to follow up on the matter I raised. I am surprised that the minister says he is not aware of this rather important letter. Surely the member should not be bringing it to his attention. Perhaps injustices are done.
I question the matter of rotation. One could have rotation and say, "We will let five bid this time and five bid the next time," but I am sure in that rotation similar numbers would come up all the time in bidding. The ministry leaves the door open for criticism by bidding like that unless everybody is permitted to bid. If the contractor is capable of this type of work -- I am sure he is; he says he is experienced in this type of work -- one would think he would be one of the five in that rotation who would have at least the opportunity to submit bids, but that is not the case.
The case that has been brought to the attention of the sitting member indicates that perhaps there is a little foul play going on; that the ministry has already accepted the contractor. I do not think even members who sat on local councils would have left themselves open for the criticism that perhaps they were showing some form of favouritism in permitting bids on rotation. The rotation could be to a job in the Niagara Peninsula from that place in North Bay where they have the local contractors, That is not fair either.
There are so many places here where one could find loopholes that would leave the minister open for criticism. Perhaps his staff is not keeping him informed on important matters of this nature. All contractors in Ontario have great respect for government tendering practices. It should be open so that all capable firms are entitled to tender on jobs that are called. I do not think there should be any exceptions on rotation, because that leaves the door open for criticism and some doubt as to the question of priorities in this area. There should be no doubt that we have fair practices in tenders and quotations requested by the ministry.
I regret that something like this has happened. I suggest to the minister that he had better check his tendering practices to see it does not happen again.
Hon. Mr. Wiseman: Mr. Chairman, the honourable member knows me well enough that I am sure he had his tongue in his cheek when he made the little implication that maybe we were feathering somebody's nest more than another's.
The general contractors of Ontario are quite satisfied with the methods we use, I understand, and on occasion they have told the staff how well they work. If this gentleman has not got his name on one of those invitational lists, I suggest to the member that he notify him so that he can be put on the list. We will be glad to put his name on if something comes up in the future.
As far as the member from North Bay, the member for Nipissing (Mr. Harris), is concerned and his knowledge of that courthouse, he persuaded me to take my key staff up to have a look at that courthouse and see what could be done to improve it. I am sure the member is quite aware of all that goes on in that riding.
I just say to the member for Erie that there are very few cases like this. As I said earlier, we put out 2,000 jobs a year for bids. We follow the procedure, as he mentioned, on the majority of those. It is only occasionally that we go to an invitational bid, just so the member can put it in the right perspective.
Mr. Haggerty: While we are discussing this invitational bid, could the minister indicate to the House the number of firms that tendered bids under the invitational system of bidding'? Also, what were the variations in the cost factor in terms of the contractor's price?
Hon. Mr. Wiseman: My staff tell me they are mostly very small jobs. The staff who are listening to this questioning will get us those figures. We will have them for the member a little later on. If time runs out, I will get them for him tomorrow or as soon as possible.
The Deputy Chairman: With deference to the next member who caught my eye, the member for Lake Nipigon (Mr. Stokes), I want to give the chairman of the committee a chance to ask a question and then come back to the member for Lake Nipigon. The member for Durham East.
Mr. Stokes: Be brief.
Mr. Cureatz: I will be brief, and I would like to thank all members of the assembly for their co-operation. As they all know, I have been very cautious, taking leadership from the former Speaker, in terms of not sitting on this side trying to look visible and then suddenly being in the chair and biased.
Under the circumstances, Mr. Chairman, I have a concern in my riding of Durham East. I know the minister and his staff are well aware of it, but I want to bring it to their attention again. It concerns Pine Ridge School. If the minister will recall, that school was closed in 1978 by the then Minister of Community and Social Services. It was a 300-acre training school for boys.
The minister very kindly came out to my riding that year and made the great announcement of a closing. I am always impressed with the number of openings ministers attend in various ridings, but this time I had the benefit of a closing, which came with a great round of applause in my riding because of the number of lost jobs.
Mr. Breaugh: These guys are much better at that. They close more things than they open.
Mr. Cureatz: I had better not respond to the member for Oshawa.
I give credit to the ministry to some degree, because the east 100 acres went to the Ministry of Agriculture and Food and is currently under lease on a year-to-year basis. The west 100 acres went to the then Ministry of Housing for future consideration. "Future consideration" sounds like a sports activity. However, the middle 100 acres are probably the most important, because all the buildings and services that were available to the training school boys are located there. They were fine services. Many of the buildings were built in the late 1920s or early 1930s, but a great deal of renovation, repair work and money was spent on upgrading them, adding a gymnasium, a pool and separate rooms.
The school has now been closed for five years. My original request to the minister was for the possibility of negotiations with the town of Newcastle. I want to bring that question up in a few minutes. My understanding is that it has gone out to tender and that the tendering closed on May 27. I would like the minister to confirm whether that is correct. Has he had an opportunity to review the tenders and make any decision?
Hon. Mr. Wiseman: Mr. Chairman, in answer to the member for Durham East, I understand it has not gone yet; it was to go either today or tomorrow. I was told earlier.
As far as Pine Ridge School goes, what the honourable member has mentioned is true. The Ministry of Agriculture and Food has taken over the 100 acres of really fine agricultural land to use. As the member knows, we have had different discussions with the town of Newcastle, and we just could not give it to them for the dollar they were after at that time. We feel we should get fair market value out of it, or something with a restricted covenant on it if they use it for something other than recreational purposes or something like that.
We have had different people put in bids on the land over the past year or so, as the member knows, and each of those, we felt, was not a good market value for it. So we thought it was in the best interests of the province and the people of the province not to sell it for that price.
We will continue to work along that way to find a buyer or to make good use of it. As the member knows, we have talked to some of our colleagues about possible uses for it, and we have not ruled out one of our brother or sister ministries perhaps using it in the future for another purpose.
Mr. Cureatz: I am sorry; I misunderstood the tendering. It has not gone out? I was under the impression that it was to close May 27.
Hon. Mr. Wiseman: I understand from staff that it has not gone out; but they are checking it to make sure, and I will report back to the member in a few minutes.
Mr. Cureatz: The minister does not have to report back right away, but in the fullness of time it would be appreciated.
I was curious. The minister mentioned the number of offers that were made. It is my understanding that the last fair market value price he put on the property was $1.6 million. I do not know what staff the minister has had out there, but in my estimation that is very overpriced and, in today's economic circumstances and especially with the way that property is zoned, he is never going to get anyone to spend that kind of money for 100 acres of property. I sincerely urge the minister to suggest to his staff that they had better first of all re-evaluate what the fair market value is for that property.
In conjunction with fair market value, I want to point out that the government has owned the land for about five years. The Second World War lasted about the same time and at least it is over; we are still plugging away at it.
I do not mean to be embarrassing, but I wrote a letter to the minister making an inquiry about what the maintenance costs were for those properties, because if they are up in the hundreds of thousands of dollars, as I suspect, over the five years we are talking about $500,000 of maintenance costs for buildings that are not being used.
I give the ministry credit, at least it is cutting some of the grass there, but there are a lot of people in the town of Newcastle who are concerned seeing a huge development like that go to waste for five years. I do not know whether the buildings are beyond repair.
Anyway, can the minister report back to me on what the yearly maintenance costs are for those buildings? Can he do it now, or is he going to report back?
Hon. Mr. Wiseman: The member mentioned, I believe, the figure of $1.6 million for the whole parcel. I remember going down shortly after I became Minister of Government Services, and I believe at that time it was about $1.1 million -- I do not want to dispute this -- and that was with the 100 acres that have now gone to the Ministry of Agriculture and Food.
I agree with the member that land costs, interest rates and so on have gone down a bit since then, but I stick to my guns that the two or three proposals we had the last time we put it up for tender were too low; if I had accepted those, I would not have been doing my job in the best interests of the majority of the people of the province. I think their land and so on is worth much more than we were offered at that time. Perhaps this time when we go out we will find some takers who will put a more realistic figure on it.
People thought at the time, and I am only guessing, that it was a buyer's market and we would take almost anything for it; but that is not the case, and if we hold on to it we will get a more realistic price. I agree with the member that the original price we had on it, considering all the things that have happened since, was probably high.
Mr. Cureatz: I can understand the minister's feeling that he is responsible to all the taxpayers of Ontario for selling the land at a fair market value. On the other hand, it has gone on to the point of severe neglect.
The minister mentioned a possible sale to Newcastle. They came, granted, thinking in terms of a dollar contribution for transfer. I can understand his problem with that. On the other hand, his ministry has made no overtures to the idea he has just indicated, the possibility of allowing the town use of the property on the basis that it would get fair market value if it ever intended some other development for it -- rezoning for homes or industry, for example. I cannot see industry but possibly homes. Is it possible the province would make an overture to the municipality on that basis, or is the minister waiting for the municipality?
Hon. Mr. Wiseman: Maybe I was not quite clear on that. When the mayor was in that time -- maybe the member recalls this, as I do -- it was first for the dollar and second that we apply a covenant that if it were used for anything but recreation or whatever, we would then expect fair market value for that land. We discussed that with the mayor and council at that time, and we put what we thought was a restricted covenant on it and the price we thought it should be. The member may recall the mayor still thought it was too high.
We will find out for the member whether it has been called for proposals again. I believe the deputy has something here for me. Tenders have closed and our realty people have not yet looked over the tenders that have come in; it just happened recently. When we have had time to look them over, I will let the member know whether there are any we feel we can accept.
Mr. Cureatz: I was a little hasty on the maintenance costs. What is the minister going to do with that? Is he going to get back to me on maintenance costs?
Mr. Breaugh: You did say a short interjection.
Mr. Cureatz: A couple more minutes.
Hon. Mr. Wiseman: I will have my staff get some maintenance costs. I know the member has been after that for some time.
Mr. Cureatz: Where are we now then? In the fullness of time it has gone out for tender and eventually we are going to get something back. If it does not meet with what the minister estimates is the fair market value price, he is not going to sell it to the town. The buildings have deteriorated. Are we thinking in terms of land banking? Is that where we are going?
I would like a response to the fine citizens of Durham East, more specifically to the town of Newcastle. Is the province now going to be thinking in terms of holding it? Is that where the minister is going to be at if these tenders that have come in do not seem to meet the approval of the ministry staff and himself?
Hon. Mr. Wiseman: I do not want to guess what will happen when these tenders come in. I hope, with interest rates reduced to where they are and building seeming to be going on a little stronger these days, we will get a proposal that will be acceptable. I am sure I am just as anxious as the member for Durham East that we turn this over and make some good use of it. I will let him know on both questions: one, whether we can accept one of these offers that have come in; and the other, what it costs us for maintenance.
Mr. Cureatz: I would like to thank the minister and all members for allowing me the opportunity to ask a few questions. I also thank the minister and his staff for the co-operation we have been allowed as a recreational team in using the property. Every year they have been most obliging, allowing the soccer and baseball teams that come to use the playing fields.
Mr. Stokes: Mr. Chairman, it is very fortuitous that I should have the opportunity at this time to say how pleased I am with some of the activities of this minister and the Ministry of Government Services.
In the disposition of surplus property, namely, a junior ranger camp at Wawong Lake at Aroland, there were a number of groups, including the Indian band there, who wanted an equitable disposition of surplus properties. The ministry, in its usual efficient way, did that.
It is fortuitous that I have this opportunity, because there is a group of students from Nakina and Aroland in the gallery today. They are down here trying to stop the Nakina terminal, if members know what that is; Canadian National Railways is trying to do away with Nakina as a run-through terminal.
This is the kind of thing this ministry can do, when there are surplus buildings and properties. so there can be a sharing among people who can make good use of them rather than just having them razed or burned without any thought whatsoever of the needs of local communities and local groups that could make excellent use of facilities. The ministry co-operated in a very sensible and admirable fashion on that occasion. For that, I thank you.
I also want to say how responsive the ministry was to a request I had from a Baptist minister in my community who heard through the grapevine there was surplus furniture and office furnishings languishing out in some warehouse in Mimico or Long Branch or somewhere. He heard of that and was able to take advantage of that to the extent of a filing cabinet and desk. Unfortunately, he had no way of transporting them from their repository. I got in touch with the biggest Conservative in northwestern Ontario, Harvey Smith, the proprietor of Lakehead Freightways Ltd., who dispatched a truck over to the warehouse, picked them up and delivered them to the home of the Baptist minister. This proves that Tories are not all that bad; they do co-operate and respond at times.
I would like to pay one other tribute. Three weeks ago there was a conference on telecommunications in Thunder Bay. There were discussions about telecommunications generally, teleconferencing and the application of electronics and telecommunications in bringing people down here closer to people in the region, particularly in the field of telemedicine.
I had the privilege of being involved in a true-time telecommunications hookup; we were speaking with a group of people down here in Toronto, while we were at a mini-Queen's Park in Thunder Bay. I also had the opportunity of being involved in a slow-scan telecommunications hookup, with a nurse at Big Trout Lake, a doctor in Sioux Lookout and us in the middle, in Thunder Bay, talking to a Dr. Samuel from Sunnybrook Medical Centre in Toronto.
I think telecommunications has a very real and very useful, practical application in bringing people from faraway places in Ontario closer to people so they can communicate, both visually and in an audible fashion. I happen to know that this ministry is taking a leading role in that and that the Minister of Transportation and Communications (Mr. Snow) is doing so as well.
It is an excellent program, and I think we should do more of it. I think we can cut down the barriers and the feeling of isolation, the kind of feeling people get in faraway places when they are not able to communicate readily and effectively. I think it is an excellent program.
The final thing I want to comment on is something I have raised for the last four or five years, and that is the foot-dragging.
I have paid the minister three compliments --
Mr. Ruston: But.
Mr. Stokes: -- but the foot-dragging is in establishing a district headquarters for the Ministry of Natural Resources at Nipigon. In the reorganization of that ministry some seven or eight years ago, temporary trailers were set up about one half mile east of Nipigon. On many occasions they have to have pots on the floor to catch the water dripping through the roof. On some occasions they have to put a plastic coating around to protect the buildings and the people working in them from the elements.
I know the Ministry of Government Services. along with the Ministry of Natural Resources, has played around at negotiating for a permanent home for the district staff of that ministry. On each occasion I raise it, the minister keeps saying: "Yes, it is in the works. There are ongoing negotiations" I want to tell the minister my patience has grown very thin. The people who work there have tolerated literally a deplorable condition for far too long.
The Ministry of Government Services and the Ministry of Natural Resources have had ample time to get their act together. I want to ask specifically and directly, when will the minister get his act together with regard to decent accommodation for those dedicated civil servants under the auspices of the Ministry of Natural Resources in Nipigon?
Hon. Mr. Wiseman: Mr. Chairman, I would like to thank the member for Lake Nipigon for his three nice comments. The last one was not all that had either. I would like to say to all the honourable members that I thought I wrote a letter some time ago stating we do have asset disposals for nonprofit organizations such as the Baptist church the member mentioned, or any other church or any nonprofit organization. We will send what we have in the line of surplus equipment or furniture.
Mr. Stokes: No, you would not send it.
Hon. Mr. Wiseman: No, we do not pay for sending it. We used to charge a dollar; now we do not charge anything for the items, but we do write and say that they accept them as is. On many occasions I have got things sent down to my churches in Lanark through Taggart Service Ltd. I believe he happens to he a Liberal, but he helps the Tories sometimes too.
If any members who want to take advantage of this would let their clergy or reverend know these items are available, we would be glad to send them out. I think this is one way we can serve those people. with furniture or appliances that still have some life left in them.
I would like to thank the member for his remarks on telecommunication and conferencing. We have four such centres set up at the present time, and it is nice to hear from the member they work so well. When I visited Thunder Bay I saw the conference centre on a couple of occasions and knew it was used by the health people on quite a regular basis to assist the doctors and the patients in the area with doctors down here.
I would like to see it expanded even more. We are opening more conference centres within the next year. I hope that with comments such as the member has made more and more people will use this as a means to get to know what happens at Queen's Park, or for medical reasons.
I am also glad the member mentioned that we worked with him in this case in putting those homes to good use.
As far as the Ministry of Natural Resources and the district office is concerned, the policy field sets its priorities and we go by those priorities. I would suggest to the member that perhaps he should talk to the people in the Resources Development policy field. If they put a high priority on it and give us the money, we will be pleased to build it any time; but we do not have it in our budget at this time.
Mr. G. I. Miller: Mr. Chairman, I note that the time is running short, but I would also like to compliment the minister --
Ms. Bryden: On a point of order, Mr. Chairman: I was up before, and the Liberals have had more members up this afternoon than we have had.
Mr. Chairman: How about four minutes each?
Ms. Bryden: Mr. Chairman, if you counted up the time the two parties have had, I think you would find the Liberals have had more than their share.
Mr. Ruston: Now, now.
Mr. Chairman: If we are going to fight for eight minutes, it is going to be gone anyway. We are trying to get along copacetically. The member for Beaches-Woodbine will have four minutes.
Ms. Bryden: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. The minister mentioned in his leadoff statement that he had "a commitment to offer equal opportunity for advancement and career development for all our employees." He said, "We place special emphasis on career development of women," and pointed with some pride to the fact that the percentage of women in the ministry had gone up from 31 per cent to 32.5 per cent, according to the latest report of the women crown employees' office, dated 1981-82.
Is the minister aware that his ministry is among the 10 ministries that are below the provincial average? Women are 41.5 per cent of the overall Ontario public service. That is still not a very commendable figure, but his ministry is one of the 10 below the average. It seems to me there is great room for progress to be made in his ministry.
When one looks at the figures for his own ministry, 74 per cent of the women are in the clerical modules and categories, and less than 10 per cent are in the technical modules and categories, where undoubtedly the pay would he greater. Only about 25 per cent are in the administrative modules and categories.
It seems to me there must be many administrative jobs in his ministry that could be done by women if management were looking around and bringing women forward, giving them training, or whatever was needed, to upgrade them into better jobs.
I would like to ask the minister a question specifically in relation to table 5-B in the women crown employees' office report. It mentions, under the maintenance services category, that in the bargaining unit in the heating and power field, which is a field that comes under his ministry to a considerable extent, there are 325 men in the government service and no women. In the nonbargaining area, in heating and power, there are 39 men and no women.
In trades and crafts, which also come under maintenance services, there are three categories in the report. One category has 1,073 men and no women. I would like to know what those trades and crafts are, how many of them are in his own ministry and why are there no women in any of those. In the two other trades and crafts categories, one has 798 men and one woman; the other has 977 men and 37 women.
It seems to me there are a great many areas where women are under-represented in those categories. The goal of the government, according to its affirmative action program, is to achieve at least 30 per cent representation in all modules and categories. Mind you, they have set a rather impossible date for achieving that, namely, the year 2000. I do not see why we should have to wait 17 years to achieve even 30 per cent representation of women.
What is the minister doing, particularly to help women move into the trades and crafts occupations that are under his jurisdiction? It is mentioned specifically in the report that the ministry's apprenticeship system is now "fully implemented and is assisting three women to qualify in under-represented trade positions." What are those three trades that women are being assisted in? How can the apprenticeship system be fully implemented when only three women are being assisted?
Mr. G. I. Miller: Mr. Chairman, on a point of privilege: I think the time is running down to the four-minute mark and it was agreed we would share the last eight minutes. Maybe we could have our opportunity now.
Mr. Chairman: I would like to oblige the member for Haldimand-Norfolk. I wonder if the minister would just make a note to respond to that?
Mr. G. I. Miller: There are three points I would like to make. In the tendering process does the minister take into consideration contractors who have had contracts but who do not pay their bills'? Are they still on the list or are they taken off'? It has happened two or three times in our area that a contractor has not paid some of his subcontractors, yet they were allowed to take on other contracts.
The second point concerns White Oaks, a former boys' school in Hagersville where some 35 homes are not being utilized. It comprises 45 acres of land that is all serviced with good paved roads and a swimming pool. Does the Ministry of Government Services have any plans to make use of the homes or to make them accessible for public housing? I do not think more than one or two are being utilized at the present time.
The third thing concerns South Cayuga land, which I think the chairman discussed briefly as far as it affects his area. Is the minister considering turning it over to the Ministry of Agriculture and Food and will there be long-term leases provided? Now that the Minister of Agriculture and Food (Mr. Timbrell) has come out with a program to assist young farmers to gain access to the land, is he making any plans to utilize this land bank for long-term farming purposes so that some stability will be brought back into those communities?
Hon. Mr. Wiseman: The member for Erie asked why we did not use Allard Marine Industries. Apparently their expertise is in pressure grouting which was only one third of what the contract asked for. The other four contractors were able to bid on the full contract. The four bids ranged from almost $42,000 to a high of $86,128. We took the lowest tender, that of JSA Construction Company Ltd.
The member for Beaches-Woodbine discussed ladies in Government Services. We do have three on our senior management team who have been there for one year. We have one chief appraiser, one review appraiser and three property agents, and two are in training to become property agents. We have quite a list here. We have one executive director, one director for managers and one executive assistant to the deputy minister. We have three women in the electrical appliances trade going through for electricians. We have had, from time to time, some in the carpentry trade and some of the other trades of that sort, but some of them do not stay.
If the honourable member noticed, we have had an increase in women in our ministry. We are up from 30 per cent a year ago to 31.5 per cent. The member can see by some of what I have read off that we have more ladies in key positions. I have even more statistics.
I would like to answer the member for Haldimand-Norfolk. If contractors do not pay their bills to their subcontractors, we put them on a list for a year to see if they have corrected their ways; we do not allow them to bid on any more tenders during that year. We try to watch as closely as we can to make sure they do pay their subcontractors.
As far as the housing is concerned, we are looking at that. We are always investigating whether we can turn that housing to better use if it is not being properly utilized at the present time.
I thank the members for all the questions they have asked during our estimates and I am glad they have so much confidence in the Ministry of Government Services.
Ms. Bryden: Mr. Chairman, on a point of privilege.
Mr. Chairman: The member is stretching it; point of privilege, the member for Beaches-Woodbine.
Ms. Bryden: Mr. Chairman, the minister did not answer my question about the lack of women in the heating and power categories. Would he undertake to answer that by mail?
Mr. Chairman: I will leave that to the minister's discretion.
The time having expired on the estimates of the Ministry of Government Services, might I thank the minister, his staff and all members who participated in the estimates --
Mr. Grande: Mr. Chairman, on a point of privilege: On Friday last, the Minister of Government Services was quoted in the Instant Hansard to have said:
"Mr. Chairman, to answer the questions of the member for Prescott-Russell and then the member for Oriole about the people recognizing this building, I have had occasion, as the honourable member has, to take a taxi, and sometimes those taxi drivers do not even know where the Eaton Centre is. A good many taxi drivers are new Canadians, and I guess they have not familiarized themselves with the seat of provincial government or some of the other landmarks in Toronto."
I realize the Minister of Government Services did not mean what someone reading this Hansard may understand it to mean, and I know that I was here and he certainly did not have that intention in mind. However, I would like to say to the minister that perhaps he could be a little more careful when he uses generalization and a little more careful with the English language he uses in this House.
Votes 502 to 506, inclusive, agreed to.
Mr. Chairman: This concludes consideration of the estimates of the Ministry of Government Services.
On motion by Mr. Wells, the committee of supply reported certain resolutions.
NOTICE OF DISSATISFACTION
The Acting Speaker (Mr. Cousens): Pursuant to standing order 28, the member for Prescott- Russell (Mr. Boudria) has given notice of his dissatisfaction with the answer to his question given by the Provincial Secretary for Justice (Mr. Sterling) concerning the social development committee's report on wife battering and the ministry's response thereto. The matter will be debated at 10:30 p.m. on Tuesday, May 31, 1983.
Hon. Mr. Wells moved, seconded by Hon. Mr. Sterling, that an humble address be presented to the Lieutenant Governor in Council as follows:
To the Honourable the Lieutenant Governor in Council:
We, Her Majesty's most dutiful and loyal subjects, the Legislative Assembly of the province of Ontario, now assembled, concur in the appointment of Gordon Harvey Aiken, QC, as chairman of the Commission on Election Contributions and Expenses for a term of three years to April 4, 1986, as provided in section 2 of the Election Finances Reform Act, RSO 1980, chapter 134. And, that this address be engrossed and presented to the Honourable the Lieutenant Governor in Council by Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Conway: Mr. Speaker, it gives me pleasure to be able to participate not only on behalf of my colleagues in the Liberal Party, but as one member who has for some time had some interest in the activities of the Commission on Election Contributions and Expenses. I will be as good as my word to the member for Bellwoods (Mr. McClellan) and the member for York South (Mr. Rae) when I told them I would not delay the member for York South from what I am sure is a very important engagement at some health care institution in the city of Toronto.
As a caucus we are very pleased to endorse the appointment of Mr. Gordon Harvey Aiken, QC, who is with us in the gallery this afternoon. Over the past number of weeks I have had the pleasure of making the acquaintance of our new chairman of the election expenses commission. Personally, I have found him to be a very charming and engaging fellow. I have known him indirectly for some time through his books, one of which was issued some years ago that I enjoyed a great deal and that I know many members will have heard about, if not have read.
It gives me a measure of sadness to say that we recall our former colleague the long-time and very distinguished member for Leeds, the late James Auld, served for so short a time, and his sudden death almost a year ago created a vacancy that we are going to fill with this appointment. I see this role as an extremely sensitive part of our apparatus. I am delighted that we are going to be installing a man who brings a wealth of personal experience from the wars of politics. The new appointee, Mr. Aiken, served for a period of 15 years in the House of Commons as the Progressive Conservative member of Parliament for the Parry Sound-Muskoka area.
When I was reviewing his book, The Backbencher, I was reminded of some of the experiences he had. There are some charming little passages about a young Frank Miller coming to him some years ago inquiring about how one --
Mr. T. P. Reid: It must have been many years ago.
Mr. Conway: Yes. I will read briefly from page 181 of The Backbencher: "In Parry Sound. Ali Johnston was almost a fixture in the provincial assembly. But in October 1971 Bob Boyer decided to return to private life and the same Frank Miller was elected in his place."
The preceding paragraphs talk about this young Frank Miller's enthusiasm about getting into politics and the sage advice counselled by the then federal member for that area. In the book he reminds us of the ups and downs, the good and bad of politics. All of which is to say that we are nominating and approving a gentleman who will bring to the role of chairman of the election expenses commission the kind of sensitivity I think is important.
After all, we would not want to see the chairman, with the very considerable powers he and his colleagues at the board have, overturn a decision of the electors of Durham East without fully understanding the magnitude of that decision. Reading his most recent volume, which I would highly recommend to the assembly, about the battles of a former returning officer up in his part of the world, in Mr. Aiken we have a gentleman who knows very keenly the tensions of politics.
My colleague the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Peterson) informed me that the way in which the appointment was made at the first stage -- and I would recommend this to the House leader; it was certainly not with any particular malice that the Leader of the Opposition mentioned this to me -- he indicated that the way he first heard of the appointment of Mr. Aiken, an appointment we strongly support, was simply that the Premier (Mr. Davis) called him one day and said, "David, here is what we have done."
It is our understanding that the intention of the procedures for the appointment of this kind of officer of the assembly was not quite that way. Perhaps we were wrong, but I had thought and the Leader of the Opposition had imagined that there would be some initial consultation among the three party leaders with respect to what we were looking for and some of the possible candidates. I understand from the Leader of the Opposition that he was privately confronted with a fait accompli and I believe from talking to him that he was informed only after Mr. Aiken was invited to accept the post.
I would simply suggest to the government House leader that if this is true, on subsequent occasions it might he more courteous as well as proper for the leaders of the opposition parties to he involved in a rather different way.
In my dealings over the past eight years with a variety of government departments and legislative agencies none has been more forthcoming and more helpful than the staff at the office of the Commission on Election Contributions and Expenses. I am speaking now only as a private member, but I want to take this opportunity to commend to the assembly not only our new chairman but also the very able and outgoing staff he has, some of whom I see gathered around him. There is at least one beaming and familiar face.
I think we are well served as an assembly by those people. I know they have probably created a ripple now and then with some members. They have even suggested how I, in the discharge of my electoral responsibilities in the great Ottawa Valley constituency that it is my pleasure to represent, might more carefully abide by the strictures of the Election Act; and so they should. I certainly commend the staff to the Legislature as a group of men and women who I think serve us very well indeed.
I want to conclude by saying that I think a new chairman with his experience, sensitivity and literary skills, one who can write the sort of things our new chairman writes about, ought to have a very prominent place in the political firmament, and I am delighted to recommend his new volume.
Mr. Ruston: He learned that from Paul Martin.
Mr. Conway: My friend the member for Essex North tells me he learned that from Paul Martin. A lot of people have learned a lot of things from Paul Martin, and not the least of those students is the current provincial member for Essex North. Of course, Mr. Martin being a Pembroke native, one would expect him to visit his wisdom upon the province or the country.
The member for Essex South (Mr. Mancini) introduced about a year ago now -- I guess it was at the end of December 1981, actually -- into the public debate of Ontario a very well thought out and ably presented series of amendments to our election expenses legislation. I want to conclude my brief remarks today by saying that with the 1974 legislation, the Election Finances Reform Act, we have taken a very important step in the right direction in bringing the electoral process out of the 19th century and into the 20th century, but I do believe we can improve saying that with the 1974 legislation, the Election Finances Reform Act, we have taken a very important step in the right direction in bringing the electoral process out of the 19th century and into the 20th century, but I do believe we can improve the system and improve the act in a number of very real and immediate ways. I know my colleague the member for Essex South is going to make some comments in this connection, but I think our act is seriously flawed in ways that can be rectified very quickly.
One of the areas I am deeply concerned about is the outrageous. uncapped expenditure at the local level during the campaign period. Some people say, "If I can raise it, why should I not be able to spend it as a candidate?" I would submit that one good reason we should not be encouraged to spend simply because we can raise so much is that so much of the moneys now are what we call tax expenditures: they are a direct drawdown on the consolidated revenue fund.
Mr. McClellan: Like the Minister of Health's (Mr. Grossman) broadloom.
Mr. Conway: The member for Bellwoods talks about a certain member's broadloom.
Mr. McClellan: Wall to wall. ceiling to ceiling.
Mr. Conway: I want to say in fairness and in candour that I suspect there is a measure of overindulgence on all sides. I know that last time I spent in my riding more money than I should have and, quite frankly, more than anyone should have had to spend in that electoral district. Keeping in mind that the Treasurer (Mr. F. S. Miller) of this province is as strapped for funds as he is, we should not be leaving such an open-ended invitation to draw down hundreds of thousands of dollars from the consolidated revenue fund as is allowed for under our act.
I do not think it would be in any way regressive or untoward for this assembly to move expeditiously to amend the Election Finances Reform Act in order to establish a reasonable cap on the expenditures allowed by the local candidates at the local riding level. I think it can be done fairly; it can be done taking into account the fact that the pressures of Scarborough are not the pressures of Newcastle. We can build a sort of flexibility into the system, and I know that my colleague the member for Essex South will discuss this issue at greater length when he rises to participate in the debate on this resolution.
I am delighted that Mr. Aiken has consented to take on the important and difficult responsibilities that are his at the commission. He will follow two very distinguished gentlemen, Arthur Wishart and the late James Auld, in those responsibilities. He will be associated with some very capable people who have extremely important responsibilities. It is our job in this assembly to review carefully, and I would suggest quickly, the legislative framework in which they function so that some of the more obvious inadequacies of the legislation can be amended and we can all ensure that the new chairman will go about his business of implementing an act of which we can truly be proud in 1983.
Mr. Rae: Mr. Speaker, in a very few words I want simply to indicate our support for the resolution and for the appointment of Mr. Aiken, whose qualifications are well known, and to put on the record once again some of the concerns our party has with respect to the way in which elections and parties are financed, as well as reforms that I think I said on another occasion are long overdue.
When we moved in this Legislature some years ago to implement the recommendations of the Camp commission, we went only part of the way. There is still a good part of the way to go, not only with respect to those recommendations but also to ensure that there is reasonable fairness in the ability to raise funds and that the power of the dollar does not dominate the election process and, frankly, does not corrupt the integrity of the election process.
Mr. Aiken comes to this position with some very real qualifications with respect to both his political experience and his personal capacities and interests. As has already been mentioned, Mr. Aiken was a longtime member of the federal House who was very well respected by all sides.
I can say to the member for Renfrew North (Mr. Conway) that when the Premier phoned me, he called me out of a radio program in Peterhorough. I was quite surprised to get a call from the Premier in Peterborough. I thought he might have been upset at something I had said; perhaps he had been monitoring the program, I had no idea. In any event, he indicated to me that the government was intending to appoint Mr. Aiken. To quote exactly, the Premier said: "We have searched high and low for a member of your party," meaning my party, "who would be qualified to fill this position and we were unable to find one. We have, therefore, had to go to our own ranks in order to appoint Gordon Aiken."
Mr. Conway: He did not survey the municipal body.
Mr. Rae: I indicated to the Premier that I was very well aware of Mr. Aiken's history and qualifications and that, given the nature of the appointment, I certainly had no objection to Mr. Aiken taking on the job.
I do not want to quibble with the method of appointment. I think the process of consultation could perhaps be a little different in general, in terms of the other appointments which are after all appointments of the House, but I do not want any of that to take away in any way from the importance of this job and the importance of all parties having confidence in the holder of this position, the chairman of the Commission on Election Contributions and Expenses.
I want to make it very clear that we in our party certainly have full confidence in Mr. Aiken, full confidence in his abilities to perform his job fairly and well and with a degree of personal understanding.
One of the features of Mr. Aiken's career has always been an unusual ability to draw respect from all members of the House. I am sure all members of this House will know there are frequently members whose personal qualities are recognized by everyone, regardless of whatever one's personal difference of opinion may be on a given issue. I was aware of those and have had many conversations with members of my own party in the federal House, all of whom have said Gordon Aiken is one of those rare individuals who commands respect from all sides and who, whenever he spoke in the House, was well listened to as well as being well liked.
I want to say a brief word about the importance of some basic reforms. I suggested that we came a part of the way in the implementation of the Camp suggestions. I know there are some reforms which the commission itself wants to see introduced which are important in terms of updating the act and which I think all parties could probably agree on as being things they would like to see done and like to facilitate.
I want to emphasize two points. The first is, as has already been mentioned, one for which we have been fighting for a long time and one we have achieved in another jurisdiction. That, of course, is the question of putting a limit on the amount that could be spent in any one constituency and a limit on the overall amounts that are spent in campaigns.
We have only to look south of the border to see the corrupting process which a lack of limits can have on the nature of the election process itself. The masses of money that are spent in the United States on all federal elections, and ndeed on many state elections, are just enormous. Those of us who watched, for example, the state election in New York -- and I know many of my colleagues will remember the absolute inundation of the airwaves in the last few days of that particular campaign for the governorship of New York -- will know the colossal amounts of money that were spent, not only in the primary process but in the final result as well. Really, I believe it does a major disservice to the degree of democracy and to the nature of political choice in our society.
Mr. Conway: Where is Lou Lehrman?
Mr. Rae: However, one does not have to look to Lou Lehrman or anyone else to see the corrupting impact which the amount of party spending can have on the election process itself. One can simply see the very real imbalance in the amount of money raised by the three parties in this political system here in Ontario and the amount of money spent by each of the three parties in the last election to realize there is a genuine imbalance.
That imbalance, in my view, helps to distort the political process and while we have come part of the way in encouraging people to give to the system, we should be doing far more, I believe, to keep real limits on the amount of spending that is allowed, both at the constituency level and at the provincial level.
How many leaflets does it take to convince someone that a person's name is so-and-so and he is representing a certain party? I would suggest there are certain tests that can be applied and there are certain limits that I think all members would recognize as being reasonable. What we want to do is allow a direct communication between the individual member and the individual riding association and the electors of that district, and to encourage overspending simply encourages everybody to raise more.
We are all human and we all know that if we think our opponent is going to be spending that much more and sending around that many more leaflets, we will be encouraged to up the ante and do exactly the same, even if it is not entirely necessary. In order to reduce what I believe to be pure waste of money -- and some of it is, as members have suggested, taxpayers' dollars, because of the nature of tax expenditures -- I think it would make good sense to put a limit on it.
Mr. Conway: Some of it?
Mr. Rae: The member for Renfrew North is interrupting, I think in a friendly way, saying that all of it is tax expenditure.
Mr. Conway: Not all of it, but most of it is likely to be a tax expenditure.
Mr. Rae: Most of it is likely to be a tax expenditure, but not all of it is. The minister has raised the question of the Charter of Rights. If he really seriously believes that the question of putting a cap on election expenditures raises a constitutional issue, then I would suggest that the Attorney General (Mr. McMurtry) should refer that matter to the Supreme Court of Ontario and we will have a constitutional reference and a decision as to whether it does. The federal legislation provides for a cap. I know of no challenges to that federal legislation. It may well come; I do not know.
There have been court decisions, as the minister knows, in the US, which have ruled one way. We may find, according to our own traditions, and particularly with respect to section I of the Constitution, that in fact it is in keeping with Canadian constitutional life to have a limitation on the amount of election spending necessary.
I do not see, and I say this personally, money spent and freedom of speech as being the same thing. I do not see that and I think there are a great many people who do not see those two things as being necessarily connected. We are not talking about arbitrarily cutting off people's ability to get their message across. We are talking about reasonable limits which will take the influence of money out of the election process and allow the voters in any given situation to express themselves freely without being abused by mountains of unnecessary spending, mountains of unnecessary propaganda on the airwaves, mountains of unnecessary inundation of the television process.
I will briefly mention one other thing, which I know the member for Beaches-Woodbine (Ms. Bryden) is going to address as well. It is another reform we wish to see, and that is the question of municipal elections and municipal spending. I think we have to bring the politics of Ontario into the 20th century as far as municipal spending is concerned and I think we will need to see some reforms which will allow provincial riding associations to allocate some of their funds to municipal elections if they so choose.
It is a process we all know is going on. We all know there is a form of electoral partisan politics taking place at the municipal level. It seems to us to be arbitrary to place those kinds of limits on the system and it would be much better if we were to make those kinds of reforms.
Those are the few very brief words I wanted to say about the reform process. It is time for us to move ahead on those reforms. I know Mr. Aiken and the other members of his staff will be taking an interest in those.
In closing, I wish to say we welcome the appointment of Mr. Aiken. We congratulate the staff of the election expenses commission, who are a very competent, professional staff and who have the respect, I believe, of not only those of us who have been elected but of the people who work for us in the field, the financial officers who have to submit those annual reports and who I believe do great service to the notion of voluntary political effort in our life in Ontario.
We have come only part of the way in the process of reform, we have a way to go, and any time the government wants to introduce that kind of legislation we will be more than glad to facilitate its process.
Mr. Mancini: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to have the opportunity to speak on this government motion. I have had an interest in election expenses for quite some time now and I am going to address that as I move through my comments.
I had an opportunity to discuss many issues with former chairman Mr. Wishart during the annual reports of the election expenses commission. I knew James Auld quite well as a member of this House and a former colleague, and we were all quite saddened by his untimely death. I have to confess that I do not believe I have met Mr. Gordon Aiken. I listened intently to the remarks of my colleague the member for Renfrew North, who seems to have quite a high regard for Mr. Aiken, as do other members of this House. It appears he comes quite highly recommended to this post.
I guess it is something of a side issue that he is a Tory partisan appointment, so we will not be dealing wth that at great length; but we always must understand that even though we have great respect for people who are given these appointments we truly regret the lack of full consultation with opposition parties. Election expenses are something too important to be left solely to the government party. They should see that themselves without the opposition members having to bring it up.
None the less I am sure all members of the House are prepared to work with Mr. Aiken and assist him in his onerous endeavours as chairman of the commission. I am sure the cordial relationship the members of the assembly had with Mr. Wishart is going to continue with Mr. Aiken.
I want to touch immediately on a matter raised by the leader of the third party. At the end of his comments he said we should move into the 20th century and allow riding associations to funnel moneys to municipal candidates; that is not bringing the election process into the 20th century, that is distorting the election process and further abusing taxpayers' funds.
Anyone making a contribution to the provincial riding associations of this province knows full well he or she is going to receive a substantial tax break at the expense of the consumer. To have riding associations then take it upon themselves to funnel the consumer's and the taxpayer's money to a particular municipal candidate they may or may not support, someone who may or may not be a member of their party, in my view is somewhat dishonest.
Municipal politics in this province for the most part are not partisan, although we do see it in some cases. For the members' information, a recent editorial in the Windsor Star condemned the fact that municipal politics were creeping into city council and condemned the fact that council members were acting as if they were members of provincial parties.
I join with the Windsor Star in condemning that. We do not need party politics at the municipal level. What we need are hardworking, honest individuals who wish to put the citizens they represent first -- not some ideology they feel they must follow whether or not it hampers the process. We have enough of that here at the provincial level and at the federal level.
I dare say if the government commissioned a poll on this very subject -- it is always commissioning polls -- the vast majority of people would agree with me. I want to dissociate myself completely and quickly from the comments made by the leader of the third party on that subject.
As we know, the election expenses commission deals not only with election expenses but also with members' salaries and other things. I do not think it is a secret that in the past some members have not been happy with the way the commission has reviewed the members' salaries. It appears that when it does review the salaries and other perks, if one can call them that, that are available to members, sometimes its advice is taken and sometimes its advice is ignored.
I have to tell the new chairman that, in my view. the election expenses commission has no business reviewing our salaries anyway. I am sorry the government has put that responsibility on its shoulders.
Mr. Stokes: It was the Board of Internal Economy.
Mr. Mancini: I thank the member for Lake Nipigon for correcting me. I am sorry the Board of Internal Economy has put that responsibility on its shoulders.
I was definitely tuned out with the commission reviewing our salaries after it was given the responsibility. It then commissioned some kind of group, some kind of consulting agency, to do the work it was supposed to do. Anyway, members of the Legislature were ultimately compared to long-distance truck drivers and, therefore, somehow our salaries, perks and wages had to fall into that category.
If the people of Ontario wish us to have a certain salary, I think that is fine. I think we can judge for ourselves what the people of Ontario will tolerate. But to have a report commissioned by some consultants who say we should be paid at the same level as long-distance truck drivers, with all respect to long-distance truck drivers, I think is very unfair.
I think it is unfair to the members who have to be away from their families a great deal. It is unfair to the members who work 60, 70 and 80 hours a week. It is unfair to the members who make politics their only business and their only occupation.
I have never quite been happy with the commission looking at our salaries ever since that consulting report was done. Mr. Aiken should tell the Board of Internal Economy, and the quicker the better: "Look, you members of the Legislature, you are all grown up. You can ask for advice from consulting firms, from any number of different groups across the province and across the nation, and make the decision yourselves. That is what is done in all other parliaments across Canada, and it is what municipal officials have to do. They have to bite their own bullet. They cannot lean on any posts here and there to say, 'This commission recommended this or this body recommended that.'"
With all respect to the new chairman, and the members of the election expenses commission, I believe he is undertaking a task which in all fairness he should not have to undertake.
The other comment I would like to make before I get into the area of election expenses is about probably the only sour experience I have had with the commission, although "sour" may he too strong a word.
I can recall what was brought to my attention immediately after the 1981 election. I have no way of disproving these facts. One of my political opponents in the riding had spent a significant amount of money. almost half the money for election purposes, from the riding association. That is the way the facts were brought to me. This distorted completely what he had reported to the commission and what ultimately was reported to the general population.
I give the following example to the members of the House. Say, for example, this individual spent $20,000 for election purposes. However, $10,000 of that $20,000 came from the riding association. Therefore, he reported to the commission that campaign committee expenses were $10,000 and, when the media requested this information, that was the information provided. Somehow, the information concerning the riding association's expenditures was not worked into that figure. It appeared as if the amount of money was extremely low when, in fact, the amount of money spent was double what was reported to the public.
That is a long, convoluted way of saying that not all expenditures were fairly reported to the public. This is the way the information was presented to me. I had no way of verifying how it was done, whether it was done or whether it was true. However, the point itself disturbed me a great deal, the fact that it could happen; whether or not it happened in my case was only secondary.
Yes, I wanted to know, but it was only a secondary point of view. The fact that it could happen disturbed me a great deal, because if that is the case, I could spend 90 per cent of my election expenses for the next election from my riding association and have only 10 per cent come from the campaign committee, and I could be viewed not quite as a pauper but as having participated in a very frugal campaign when in fact it would not be true.
I sent the letter to the commission, and I was quite disturbed by the response, because the response did not go to the heart of my question.
It went to the point that in 1975, I believe, two elections ago, I had done the same thing: I had spent $900 or less from the riding association, and therefore it had not been reported.
The point was, "Well, Mancini, you are complaining about something that you have done in the past." To he honest, I could not recall that we had done that in the past. As a matter of fact, back in 1975, when I was involved in my first election to the Legislature, I had hardly even read the Election Finances Reform Act; I had left all that information to the people who were running the campaign.
I did take some offence at the way the letter was sent to me, and the media did not report that I was concerned about candidates -- and maybe even me in the future -- using this technique to fool people, deliberately or not, into feeling we had not spent great sums of money; the media reported it just the way the letter stated it, that I had done the same thing.
I do not know why I got that kind of response; maybe the tone of my original letter put the people at the commission on the defensive. But I was never happy with that response, and I am sure members can understand why. In the almost eight years that I have been a member -- and the commission has been operating for these past years also -- this was the only time I could ever say that my relations with the commission were somewhat clouded.
Now I would like to get to the important area of election finances and financing. The Conservative government of Ontario has already demonstrated that it believes money can distort the election process. The Conservative government demonstrated that belief by accepting many of the recommendations put forward by the Camp commission, which was put in place in 1972 by the provincial Conservatives when they had a majority.
These are some of the limitations that the Conservative government of this province accepted from the Camp commission. It accepted the idea that political advertising should be limited to a maximum of 21 days. It accepted a proposal for partial public funding for candidates, which provides an incentive to keep budgets within certain limits. It accepted the proposal of limitations on the size of permissible political contributions, which would tend to keep campaign budgets sensible. It accepted the fact and the view that public disclosure of campaign contributions was necessary. So, philosophically, the Conservative Party cannot tell us that it does not support restraint in campaign finances.
Where we disagree, and have disagreed for the past few years. is on the extent of these restraints. But I think the philosophy of all three parties in the House is basically the same: Let us not allow campaign expenditures to get out of hand. We do not want to have Ontario politics follow the way of California politics, where a state assemblyman must spend $300,000 to get elected, a phenomenal amount of money, and a state senator in California must spend $500,000 to be re-elected. I think everyone in this House agrees we want to avoid that.
In the 1981 election, the Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario spent -- my figures may be a touch off, but they are fairly close -- approximately $3,346,000, the Ontario Liberal Party spent $1,178,000 and the New Democratic Party spent $624,000. On top of the moneys that were spent by the central campaigns, provincial riding associations were allowed to spend as much money as they deemed necessary. So the figures I have put before the House just now do not include the moneys spent by the riding associations, as far as my information goes. That is a very important fact.
On top of that, the government of Ontario is allowed to continue its government advertising throughout the campaign period. In my view, this is a complete and utter waste of taxpayers' money, because we know very well that ministry funds spent during the writ period are going to do nothing but promote the government itself.
We can recall during the 1981 election, in February some time, the Ministry of Agriculture and Food had billboards in some parts of Toronto proclaiming, "Good food grows in Ontario" -- I think that was the slogan. There is not much grown in Ontario in February. But the name of the then Minister of Agriculture and Food was in big print; the word "Ontario" was in big print; "Good food grows in Ontario" was in big print. There was no need whatsoever for that advertising; it was nothing more than a way to promote the incumbent government and, in my view, tremendously abused the Treasury.
We were able to find out that from February 1 until March 19, the Ministry of Health spent $386,000 on advertising and the Ministry of Agriculture and Food spent some $311,000 in the field of advertising. That was on top of what the political party in power spent and what their constituency associations spent.
I have made a list of recommendations that I think would greatly improve the Election Finances Reform Act. I would like to take this opportunity to outline them in the House and have Mr. Aiken hear them at first hand. I want to do so not because I think he, as the new chairman, can automatically bring these changes into force. Let us not fool ourselves; the only way this act can be changed is by the legislators changing it, and since we have a majority government at present, the government party must feel it is in the public interest that these changes be put in place. I hope they take the time to review what the public interest is, as far as election expenses are concerned, and maybe some of these changes can be put in force and Mr. Aiken and his commission can see they are carried out.
First of all, I recommend that individual candidates' expenses should be limited to the aggregate of 90 cents per voter. In my constituency, we have 37,000 to 38,000 voters. That would allow me to spend approximately $34,000 to $35,000, which is $12,000 to $14,000 more than I spent in the last election. So I feel there is a lot of leeway being given to members.
A member such as the Minister of Health (Mr. Grossman) would find that quite constraining, since he spent the grand total of $129,364.52 in the last election. One would have to stay up at night for weeks at a time to figure out ways to spend $129,000 in the riding of St. Andrew-St. Patrick. There is no use of my criticizing the member further. He has to live with this embarrassment. The facts are there and speak for themselves.
Ninety cents per voter would be more than enough to allow all candidates to participate in the election campaign. If somebody says, "In northern Ontario we have farther to travel and more problems that might cause more expense," I am willing to concede more money or some allowable further expense for members from northern Ontario. But I point to the member for Algoma-Manitoulin (Mr. Lane), a member from northern Ontario who has a large and diverse riding. I am sure he did not use 90 cents per voter in the last election. His figure is probably closer to 50 or 60 cents per voter, if my memory serves me correctly.
The second area we must look at is spending by the central party. I firmly believe that should be limited to 35 cents per eligible voter. Thirty-five cents times 5.5 million eligible voters gives the grand total of $1,925,000, a sizeable amount of money even in 1983.
In both instances, I would have the amount of money per voter tied to the consumer price index and adjusted on an annual basis so we would not run into the same problem they are running into in Ottawa, where an election expense system that was put into place several years ago has not been changed and the candidates are finding it difficult to live within those constraints.
I would allow contributions to political parties to be made only by individuals as is the case in Quebec, where it is stipulated: "Only an elector may make a contribution and only in favour of a party association or independent candidate. Corporations and trade unions may not make contributions."
Candidates, parties and constituency associations would not be able to use campaign funds to make contributions to municipal candidates. I touched on that point earlier.
I am for allowing as many people as possible to take part in the election process. I know that for some people even $10 is too much. Therefore, I would recommend a tax checkoff system to be added to all Ontario income tax forms. Each taxpayer would be permitted to allocate from $1 to a maximum of $5 to the political party of his or her choice. Those contributions would go to the central party.
Each political party would be named as follows: the Ontario Liberal Party, the Ontario New Democratic Party and the Ontario Progressive Conservative Party. Space would be provided for taxpayers to designate any other political party.
Taxpayers would be allowed to indicate that this money be deducted from their income tax refunds or that the stipulated amount be added to the taxes payable. For example, if I were expecting a $50 refund from the Ontario government and wished to give $1 to the Ontario Liberal Party as part of my contribution, I would just check the right box and instead of receiving $50 back from the Treasurer (Mr. F. S. Miller), I would get $49. That is clean and efficient, and it would help hundreds of thousands of people become involved in the political process.
Of course, if I owed the Treasurer money -- depending on my credit rating, I guess -- I would stipulate that a similar amount of money be sent to a particular party. The allocations would be totalled up within the Treasury and the moneys would be turned over on a predetermined date.
The political parties could then enjoy the fact that every taxpaying person in Ontario had an opportunity to be approached and to decide whether he or she wanted to contribute to the election process.
I think that would go a long way to dispel the fears and beliefs many people in this province have that big money runs elections. I agree with them to some extent. Big money does run elections. Who has big money? Corporations, trade unions and wealthy individuals.
Only individual riding associations, candidates and constituency associations would be able to engage in campaign advertising prior to the 21-day period preceding polling day. The 21-day limit would remain in force for central party funding. That would allow local candidates to be able to put their names forward before massive media advertising took place for the different political parties. As an incumbent, I am not keen on giving new candidates any kind of edge, but this would give new candidates a bit more of an opportunity to put their names before the public. Twenty-one days is certainly a short period of time.
In individual ridings only, the limit on media spending would be eliminated. However, the limit would remain in force for central party spending. Local riding associations and local ridings are all different. Some may feel all their expenditures must be in the media end of it and others may not. But as long as we have the 90-cent limit on general overall expenditures, why should anyone be particularly concerned if the money is spent for media advertising or other things? I feel there is overregulation in that area and the key to it is the limit on the total amount of expenditures.
Mr. Mancini: No. This is not so much the Ontario Liberal Party policy; this is a private members bill I introduced some time ago. Private members' bills are always the reflection of the individual member. I feel no constraints or restraints in introducing any private members' bills.
Mr. Stokes: I thought we were discussing the resolution.
Mr. Mancini: We have a new chairman who has taken on a very important position, and I want to give him the views of one private member. I cannot do it by calling him at his office. I want to do it here in the Legislature, in the correct forum. I feel I am speaking to the resolution.
Advertising of all government programs would be prohibited during the election time frame. This means that no ministry, board, commission, crown corporation or agency of the government shall, during an election, publish in any manner; during a by-election in a constituency, publish in any manner in that constituency; during a by-election in a constituency which includes in whole or in part an urban municipality which has a population exceeding 20,000 inhabitants, publish in any manner in the constituency or in the urban municipality, any information or particulars of the activities of the department, board, commission, crown corporation or agency.
The long and the short of it is there should be no government advertising during the campaign period unless it is of an emergency nature and unless the general public has to be informed of something immediately. "Good food grows in Ontario" does not have to be published in February in the middle of an election campaign.
These are some of the thoughts I have on amendments to the Election Finances Reform Act. I thank the new chairman for listening intently. I can see up in your gallery, Mr. Speaker, he was making notes. I appreciate that he has taken an interest in some of the comments individual members have made. I wish him the best of luck. We will be seeing him at the time of his first annual report.
Ms. Bryden: Mr. Speaker, I certainly support this resolution appointing Mr. Aiken as the new chairman of the election expenses commission. As my leader has said, he is very well qualified. While there were probably some well-qualified people in other parties, the searches of the government do not seem to have extended to them. At least we do have a qualified chairman in the person of Mr. Aiken.
When he takes on his new position, I hope one of his first functions will be to sit down with the government and discuss the great backlog of amendments to the Election Finances Reform Act. These amendments have been piling up since the act was passed eight years ago. Every single year the commission has produced recommendations for a number of essential amendments to the act.
We can understand, in dealing with legislation that was innovative and ground-breaking, there would be omissions, ambiguities and a need for housekeeping amendments. There is also a need for indexing or upgrading of figures in the act, such as the figures providing for the subsidy to members who get 15 per cent of the vote. There are a great many reasons amendments are needed in legislation of this sort.
It is nothing short of irresponsible of the government to have let the act go for eight years without bringing in any amendments. It appears they are afraid to open up this act in case they might lose some of the benefits they get under it. Some of the previous speakers have pointed out some of those benefits. The main one is that there is no ceiling on expenditures in this act. The federal government has put a ceiling on expenditures, and I think the general public is quite prepared to accept a ceiling on expenditures, particularly when it sees the somewhat obscene expenditures that have been made by some of the candidates in the recent elections.
The expenditure of the member for St. Andrew- St. Patrick (Mr. Grossman) of $129,000 in the 1981 election is perhaps the outstanding one in a general election. The member for London South (Mr. Walker) spent $77,000 in that election, and there were at least 30 ridings that spent over $45,000, all of them Conservative ridings. To get the complete picture on spending, one has to look at the total amount spent by each party. This gives a picture of the great inequities between parties in the electoral process.
In the 1981 election, the Conservatives spent $8.1 million, the Liberals $3.8 million and the New Democratic Party $2.2 million in total. That is for both central and riding expenditures so there is no double counting in those figures and they are based on returns submitted to the election expenses commission.
The average cost of a riding campaign, excluding contributions to the central campaign, was for the Conservatives $38,000, for the Liberals $21,500 and for the NDP $12,500. For advertising, the Conservatives spent $1.2 million, the Liberals $440,000 and the NDP $275,000.
We can see the lack of limits on expenditures has produced great disparities among the resources of the different candidates and, therefore, we are not running an equal race. We are not running a democratic election because there certainly is a situation where money does give an advantage. In fact, there is a new book just published by Butterworths, by J. Patrick Boyer, entitled Money and Message. It is a book which analyses election financing, advertising, broadcasting and campaigning in Canada. That indicates the situation we are in.
Looking back, election expenses legislation was brought in only very reluctantly after there had been exposures of corruption in election financing. By corruption. I mean government contracts appeared to have been given on the basis of election contributions, or government favours were awarded. Most of these were hidden because there was no reporting, but occasionally they surfaced. Information came out which revealed this was going on.
The Melchers Distilleries case in 1966 was one of the first. At that time it appeared that to get shelf space for one's products on the Liquor Control Board of Ontario shelves, one had to make political contributions of a sizeable amount. One of the former members of this Legislature, the member for the riding of Woodbine in 1966, who happens to he my husband, was one of the persons who exposed this particular scandal about the Melchers Distilleries contributions.
Then there was the Fidinam case later where the contract for the 1-lydro building -- or was it the Workmen's Compensation Board building? -- anyway, the contract for one of the large government buildings appeared to depend on a large contribution from Fidinam.
The Deputy Speaker: Will you refresh my memory as to how this pertains to the motion?
Ms. Bryden: The reason we need an Election Finances Reform Act, and a chairman of the commission, is because there was corruption. There may still be if we do not make sure this act is kept up to date.
Mr. Rotenberg: Mr. Speaker, on a point of privilege: I think the member is seriously charging the government with corruption. Let her document it or else I ask her to withdraw the remark.
Ms. Bryden: This is documented history but the thing is --
Hon. Mr. Wells: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order: That is not documented. Nothing was ever proved in the cases she indicated that there was proof of government corruption.
Ms. Bryden: We did have to get an election expenses act because certainly there were --
Mr. Rotenberg: Withdraw.
The Deputy Speaker: The member for Wilson Heights, I am having trouble with the point of privilege or point of order --
Mr. Rotenberg: The point of privilege is that the member has used the word "corruption" in connection with this government and this side of the House, and I asked her to withdraw it. If she is not prepared to withdraw it, she should refer it to a committee to investigate. If she is proved wrong, she should resign her seat.
The Deputy Speaker: Reviewing our standing orders, I must admit I think the word "corruption" is probably unparliamentary. I would ask the member to withdraw her comment in terms of the government being corrupted.
Ms. Bryden: I will withdraw it, but I think we have to look at why this legislation came into effect. It was because some of the history that had occurred led to a public demand for this legislation.
I think we need this kind of legislation at the municipal level as well. I disagree with the member for Essex South (Mr. Mancini) who says we do not need it at the municipal level. There is just as much possibility of scandal at the municipal level, and just as much need for reporting to the public what is spent on elections and what is raised in elections. For anybody to say it is not necessary at the municipal level because everybody is honest or because we do not have political parties is a completely fallacious approach.
As everybody knows, most of the people who run are supporters or members of a political party, whether they declare it or not, and they also raise their money from various sources, from contributions by friends and supporters of different kinds. It is important that the public knows where the money comes from that supports the campaigns of the different people.
It would also be very valuable to have a limit on expenses at the municipal level, particularly in a place like the city of Toronto, where a mayoralty campaign can be very expensive because it is such a large area. We need a limit on expenditures to make the race fair. That is the whole point of limits on expenditures, as well as limits on contributions. The reason for the latter is to prevent large sums of money being used in an attempt to influence the recipient.
I would like to point out a few of the areas where the present law should be amended. I hope the new chairman will sit down and discuss all the proposals being made today with the government and with his commission, and see if we cannot get this out-of-date act updated. I would like to draw attention to some of the major flaws in the act.
One is the question of party foundations in section 40. There is no requirement for parties to report assets in the fund at the beginning or the end of a year to demonstrate that no new donations have been placed in the fund. These party foundations, in case members are not entirely familiar with the details of them, were set up at the time the act came into force to allow party funds that were in the hands of the party to be set into a separate account. They could spend this as they liked while the act was running. But there has never been any requirement to report what goes in and what comes out of those funds.
There is not supposed to be any new money going in, but we have never been able to find out how much money is in them, whether that money is earning interest or whether the overhang of that funding, which gives the parties with the foundation a very significant advantage over the other parties that did not have large funds at the time -- we have not been able to find out the significance or the size of those foundations or monitor what is happening through them.
Regarding prosecutions, there is a six-month limitation on launching prosecutions under the Criminal Code, but violations of the Election Finances Reform Act are not easily detected within that time. So in many cases it is impossible to prosecute under them.
Contributions by the candidate are a third area. While the law limits candidates to contributing not more than $500 to their own campaign, a Conservative candidate found a loophole which allowed him to contribute about $10,000. He ordered goods and services to this amount in his own name, defaulted on payment, was sued and compelled to pay. This same procedure could be used with loans on which the candidate defaults.
In this case it was suggested there should be a prosecution, but what we ended up with was a dispute between the Attorney General and the chairman of the election expenses commission as to who should lay the charge. They both said the act did not give them the power, so no charge was ever laid in this violation of the act. That has never been clarified, so to this day we do not know if there is any way of stopping the use of this loophole.
There are many other areas where major reforms are needed. I will not go into them all now but I think we should concentrate on the few that are of great significance in the workings of the act. Those include the ceiling on expenditures and the indexing of the subsidy to the candidates. This was put in to try to make it possible for ordinary people without a great deal of resources to put on a campaign and have some sort of assistance in their funding. However, it becomes less useful as inflation increases. The costs go up but the amount allowed has not been increased.
This is an area that must be dealt with if we are going to maintain that element of fairness. It does not really make the race even but it does give candidates some assistance in meeting the cost of elections. The question of extending the act to municipal elections and putting a ceiling on both contributions and expenditures there -- as well as reporting them -- is also of vital importance.
I would like to see the checkoff on the income tax adopted. Although I do not think it is part of this act, it is something the commission could look into and make a recommendation on it to the government.
The point is we are possibly not more than two years away from the next provincial election and it certainly is time to get moving on amendments to this act. It has become rather creaky and is no longer something Ontario can point to with pride as a step in the direction of introducing some sort of equality in the race and some sort of control over excessive election spending. I would strongly urge the new chairman to consult with all the parties for further suggestions for amendments to the act.
Perhaps it could be referred to a committee of the Legislature to look at some of the amendments. I think the ones that have been recommended in the last eight reports could be the subject of almost instant legislation. I think all parties would support most of those amendments that have already been recommended. The commission has actually drafted the wording of the amendments in many cases. I do not really think there is any reason for not bringing those amendments forward almost immediately so we would be sure to have them on the statute books before the next election.
Some of these other more controversial ones may require a little study, although I do not really think we should wait any longer to put a ceiling on expenditures, in view of the virtually obscene expenditures that have been made by some candidates. They do not make it an equal race at all, and it is really a great waste of our resources to spend that kind of money on an election campaign. I hope the new commissioner will look into those matters.
Mr. T. P. Reid: Mr. Speaker, I intend to be very brief. I simply want to welcome Mr. Aiken to his new responsibilities. My brother John, whom you know as a federal member, Mr. Speaker, has spoken highly of Mr. Aiken's characteristics and feels he will do a good job. I must say that my brother has not been right on very many issues; I hope on this one he is.
If we look at the curriculum vitae of Mr. Aiken it is quite impressive, including everything from service during the war to being a member of the federal House at some length. I am sure he will find his peregrinations, if I may use that term, here at the provincial level somewhat different and, we trust, a little more professional than at the federal level.
Mr. Conway: He is known everywhere as Stan Darling's predecessor.
Mr. T. P. Reid: Yes. However, I think some of my colleagues may have wandered from government motion 6, which really deals only with the appointment of Mr. Aiken. I would just like to put on the record that before the election finances commission came into effect I had a private member's bill to restrict the amount of funds that persons and corporations could donate to any political party.
It seems to me that when we passed this legislation -- and it was forward-looking legislation at the time -- we did not as a Legislature consider the fact that we would see what really amounts to not only an embarrassment, as my colleague says, in some cases, but an obscenity in the fact that some members are collecting huge amounts of funds and are also receiving assistance from the public purse at the same time, and in fact are spending huge amounts of money to be elected. I do not want to prolong this, but I am sure that Mr. Aiken and his colleagues on the board will be looking at new amendments or at some old amendments that have been kicking around for some time.
I simply want to wish Mr. Aiken good luck in his new responsibility in an interesting job, and I trust we will now have a very forward-looking chairman of the election expenses commission.
Mr. Stokes: Mr. Speaker, I want to join with my colleagues in the House who have already spoken in congratulating Mr. Aiken. I met him briefly in the hall a few days ago. His reputation is very impressive and I have no doubt he will carry out the responsibilities as chairman of the commission with diligence and distinction.
There is one item that I feel compelled to bring to the attention of the House, and you, Mr. Speaker, and the government House leader, the member for Scarborough North (Mr. Wells). in a previous incarnation I was charged with the responsibility of being the messenger boy from the Ombudsman, the auditor and the commission on election expenses. Most members will know that the machinery for getting a request from the chairman and the commission to the attention of this House is through the Office of the Speaker, who in turn brings it to the attention of the Board of Internal Economy.
It is the responsibility of the government House leader to make sure that recommendations for amendments to the existing act are given the kind of attention they deserve and are introduced in the House by the appropriate minister of the crown so that they can he acted upon.
I want to advise this House that I have been -- I will not say singularly -- unsuccessful in being that messenger boy, and I know that the present Speaker has not had any more success than I had, and I had no more success than my predecessor. I know it was a continuing frustration for Mr. Wishart when he was the chairman of that commission. I hope it will not be an ongoing frustration for the new chairman.
I know the calibre of people we have on Bloor Street performing excellent work on our behalf and on behalf of the democratic process. I think we do them a disservice and we do ourselves a disservice if we do not have someone on that side of the House, particularly the government House leader, take seriously the recommendations for amendments to the existing legislation that will make it easier for them to do their job.
Very rarely do they bring forward those amendments that are of such importance to the commission and the function that it performs on our behalf. I do not know what it is with people over there. Perhaps when the government House leader is winding up he can tell us why there is all this apprehension and all the stalling. A lot of the recommendations, a lot of the amendments are not earth-shattering. A lot of them are of a housekeeping nature; a lot of them are to correct loopholes in the act.
Violations of the act are brought to the attention of the Attorney General, the Speaker and the Board of Internal Economy. In fairness to those very excellent people on the commission and in fairness to the new chairman of that commission, I think the House leader could be a lot more diligent in responding with changes to the existing legislation.
When I had the responsibility for being the messenger boy, I had quite an extensive file on recommendations for amendments to the existing legislation. I suspect the same is true today. I see no reason for all the dilly-dallying and all the delay. Most of the recommendations for amendments that I was aware of were very worth while. They were put forward as proposals that would tidy up the act and make the commission's job much easier. I see no reason the minister responsible should not make a commitment publicly right here and now to the chairman and to members of the House. There is no reason in the world that he cannot respond much more vigorously and much more positively to the fine work they are doing on our behalf.
Hon. Mr. Wells: Mr. Speaker, before I get into the substance of the amendment, which is really concurrence in the appointment of the new chairman of the Commission on Election Contributions and Expenses, I would like to make a commitment to bring forward the amending bill which my friend suggests, putting forward the amendments suggested by the commission, if he and the official opposition will give us a guarantee they will handle the bill in one day without sending it out to committee. If the members are willing to do that, we will be most happy to bring that in.
Mr. T. P. Reid: Why should that be necessary?
Hon. Mr. Wells: I am just saying that these amendments are all technical amendments which could well and easily be done. Perhaps the member has left the impression in this House that some of those amendments are the substantive policy amendments some of the members of this House have talked about. They do not involve any of those policy --
Mr. Stokes: I never suggested it for a moment.
Hon. Mr. Wells: I know my friend the member for Lake Nipigon (Mr. Stokes) did not suggest that, but other members have spent a lot of time talking about policy changes they want to see in the bill, which are not in the amendments that have been suggested to us. I have to tell the members we are not about to bring in an amending bill at this time. But if we bring that bill in now and it is going to get us into a long discussion on all --
Mr. Stokes: They do not make those kinds of recommendations.
Hon. Mr. Wells: I know they do not. I am just telling the member --
Mr. Stokes: We make the policy here; they carry it out. Stop fudging
Hon. Mr. Wells: All right. All I am saying to my friend is to come to me tomorrow, through his House leader, and say he will pass those amendments with a day's debate and I will bring that bill in next week.
Mr. Nixon: Mr. Speaker, a question of clarification: Does that mean if the government House leader does not get that commitment from the other two House leaders, he will not bring in the amendments and therefore we will not have an opportunity to express our views on additional amendments that might very well be put before the House?
Mr. T. P. Reid: That is what he said.
Hon. Mr. Wells: That is what I said. That is what I mean right at this point. The member well knows that --
Mr. T. P. Reid: That is called blackmail: "Either do it my way or do not do it."
Hon. Mr. Wells: It is not. My friend knows --
The Acting Speaker (Mr. Cousens): Order.
Hon. Mr. Wells: Mr. Speaker, I have been accused by some of the members of this House of dilly-dallying around on the amendments. I do not want to dilly-dally around on the amendments. I will be happy to bring them in if the members opposite will give me a commitment that they will do them in a very short time.
Mr. Martel: Mr. Speaker, I find rather strange what my friend is saying, simply because --
The Acting Speaker: Is this a point of order or a point of privilege?
Mr. Martel: It is a point of interest.
The Acting Speaker: The honourable member will resume his seat then.
Mr. Martel: Mr. Speaker, did you hear out the --
The Acting Speaker: He made a point of order.
Mr. Martel: All right; I will make a point of order.
The Acting Speaker: I would like to hear your point of order.
Mr. Martel: It was not that anyway; it was a point of interest, but it is a point of order.
Mr. Nixon: Mr. Speaker, it was not on a point of order. I got up and asked the minister if he would permit a question for clarification.
The Acting Speaker: It was a point of order. Now I ask the member to identify himself correctly.
Mr. Martel: I just say to the Speaker that I think I just heard the House leader for the Liberal Party say he asked for permission to raise a question; so it is hardly a point of order.
The Acting Speaker: It is all right to raise a question. You were making a statement.
Mr. Martel: Well, a point of interest then; he was allowed to raise a point of --
The Acting Speaker: Are you asking a question or making a statement?
Mr. Martel: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order: Might I ask the government House leader why it is, with an order paper that is almost vacant, he is saying to us that any type of debate must be limited to one day, even if we were only going to deal with the bill before us? What is this great concern when he does not have anything?
Hon. Mr. Wells: Mr. Speaker, I would say to my friend that we have other pieces of legislation that will be introduced. All I am saying is that I do not want to be accused of dilly-dallying and not bringing in these amendments. I will bring in these amendments if the members opposite will give me some commitment that we will get them passed in a reasonable amount of time, say one day.
Mr. Martel: Reasonable time?
Mr. T. P. Reid: You have it; reasonable time.
The Acting Speaker: Order.
Mr. Stokes: For what it is worth, you have my assurance.
Hon. Mr. Wells: I have just got the assurance of the member for Lake Nipigon. We have the assurance of the NDP.
Mr. Stokes: You have mine.
Hon. Mr. Wells: I was just going to move on to say I am sorry the appointment procedure in this particular matter has got reversed. As my friends know, with the appointment of Jimmy Auld, we were able to have some consultation beforehand, and this motion was put in before the appointment was actually made because the House was not sitting at the particular time and the appointment had been vacant for a while.
That exact procedure was not followed, and I am sure my friend Gordon Aiken, having been in opposition himself in Ottawa for many years and probably having made the same arguments from time to time against the government in Ottawa about appointments, will understand the vagaries of how these things sometimes happen.
But I think we are making progress in this House on having consultation on these offices that affect the whole House and are, in fact, servants of the Legislature. I hope we will be able to proceed in the same manner. I believe we should have consultation beforehand, and I can assure the members that we will in the areas where that procedure should take place.
I suppose if we really believed that the whole process of consultation and the involvement of the Legislature in this particular appointment was not necessary, we would not even be bringing in this motion, because there is no requirement anywhere that this motion be brought in at this time. But I have always felt, as I know my other two colleagues as House leaders have, that in these situations this kind of motion should be brought into the House and should be debated here; and even though the appointment has already been made by order in council, I think it is important that the motion be here. Therefore, it is here today, and it is made so that we as a House can confirm and concur in the appointment of Gordon Aiken as the chairman of the Commission on Election Contributions and Expenses.
I really intend to speak only on that part of the motion, because that is really what this motion is all about: confirming a person as chairman of the Commission on Election Contributions and Expenses. In speaking on it I want first of all to pay tribute to Jimmy Auld, a good and close friend and colleague, whom we all looked forward to having a very long, profitable and rewarding term as the chairman of this commission. Unfortunately, as has already been stated, about a year ago Jimmy died in office without having had time to leave his mark on this commission.
He had followed Arthur Wish art, who was the founding chairman and the person who guided the commission, along with a very excellent staff, in establishing the kind of procedures and in making the mark they have made on the whole election process in this province. And believe me, they have made a mark, and it is regrettable to hear people still talk about the --
Mr. Stokes: In spite of your intransigence.
Hon. Mr. Wells: In spite of my intransigence? No. In spite of the fact that they have perhaps had to deal without a few housekeeping amendments that they might have wanted. But in spite of that, with a good piece of legislation -- the cornerstone of the policies of this government in the 1970s, honoured by all the members of this House, administered by a good staff and a good commission -- they have been able to make a real contribution to the election process in this province.
Sometimes we get a little carried away in talking about all the doom and gloom. The fact is that we have come a long way in this province, and I think this kind of election reform is excellent. It has governed our election procedures very well, particularly our fund-raising procedures.
The new chairman is a person who can contribute greatly to the work of this commission. He has a long record in the House of Commons; he was a family court judge; he has served in the Canadian army; he has a vast repertoire of experience upon which to draw. His work as an author has already been brought to our attention by a number of members. I have read his books. He sent a copy of his new book, Returning Officer. I have not had a chance to read it yet, hut I am sure he will be happy to know that my wife has read it and she found it very interesting and informative.
Mr. Martel: He didn't send me a copy.
Hon. Mr. Wells: Well, I will lend mine to my friend.
The experience and the touch he shows both in his writing and in his public service indicate he will carry out this job in a very excellent manner.
I was trying to think back the other day to the first time I met Gordon Aiken. I think it was perhaps when he was on the delegation to the United Nations General Assembly. I was visiting New York at the time, and I wanted to visit the United Nations. He was the person on duty in the delegation, and he took me around. Whether he remembers it or not, I even recall that he took me on to the floor of the United Nations General Assembly -- something you cannot do in this House -- and we sat right in the seats where the delegation actually sits in the large assembly hall and had a good discussion about the workings of the United Nations.
On behalf of Gordon Aiken, I thank all the members of this House for their kind words today. The government is very pleased that he saw fit to accept this three-year appointment. I am sure he will live up to the expectations that all of us have and that he will present to the present Speaker in a very forceful way, as the member for Lake Nipigon knows, the amendments he wants. He will urge us, as I know he is already urging the other members of this House, to proceed with those housekeeping amendments. I hope we will be able to have a meeting of the minds with my friends. If they will just work out a little timetable on those, we can have those amendments done very quickly.
I am pleased to move this motion and I urge the House to adopt it.
Motion agreed to.
The House adjourned at 5:56 p.m.