The House resumed at 8 p.m.
REDISTRIBUTION OF ELECTORAL DISTRICTS
Hon. Mr. Wells moved, seconded by Hon. Mr. Gregory, resolution 12:
For the purpose of redistribution of Ontario electoral districts a commission of three shall be appointed by the Lieutenant Governor in Council, one commissioner to be designated as chairman.
That a member of the commission may be paid such per diem allowance as may be fixed by the Lieutenant Governor in Council and is entitled to reasonable travelling and living expenses incurred by him while absent from his ordinary place of residence in the course of his duties as a member of the commission, the costs of the commission to be paid out of the consolidated revenue fund.
That the commission shall employ such staff as it considers necessary and, subject to the approval of the Board of Internal Economy, may fix the salaries and expenses of such persons.
That the director of central statistical services, Ministry of Treasury and Economics, and the surveyor general for Ontario, Ministry of Natural Resources, shall make available their services and the facilities of their respective offices and render such other assistance to the commission as may be necessary in order to enable the commission to discharge its duties.
That the commission shall determine the population of Ontario as nearly as may be ascertained, based on the census of population taken by Statistics Canada in the year 1981, and shall determine the number of electoral districts into which Ontario is to be divided, which number shall not be less than the present 125 and not more than 130, provided that the total number of electoral districts in that part of Ontario lying north and west of the southern boundaries of the present electoral districts of Algoma-Manitoulin, Sudbury East and Nipissing shall not be less than 15; but nothing in this paragraph shall preclude the commission from establishing boundaries of electoral districts that extend across or beyond southern boundaries of the present electoral districts mentioned. That for the purpose of the distribution the commission shall take into account: (a) community or diversity of interests; (b) means of communication; (c) topographical features; (d) population trends; (e) the varying conditions and requirements regarding representation as between urban and rural electoral districts; (f) existing boundaries of municipalities or wards thereof; (g) the existing and traditional boundaries of electoral districts; and (h) special geographic considerations, including in particular the sparsity, density or relative rate of growth of population in the various regions of the province, the accessibility of such regions or the size or shape thereof.
And, subject thereto, the population quota for each electoral district shall be based on the average population, but in determining such quota the commission shall not depart from the average population to a greater extent than 25 per cent more or less, except where, in the opinion of the commission, any of the above circumstances exist to such an extent that they require a greater departure, in which case the commission may depart from the average population to such greater extent as it considers necessary or desirable.
That the commission before reporting shall prepare a map with a description of the boundaries of each proposed electoral district or group of electoral districts and shall invite public attention to the map by publishing a notice in the Ontario Gazette and shall publish the map or parts thereof in newspapers having general circulation in the proposed electoral districts; the notice in the Ontario Gazette and the newspapers shall provide for times and places of public sittings by the commission and shall also provide for the lodging of objections and representations in writing with the commission before such date as the notice shall provide.
That the commission shall hold public sittings for the hearing of representations by those interested parties who have lodged with the commission written representations and objections in regard to the proposed electoral districts, and the commission shall then review its initial proposals in the light of representations received and may make such changes as the commission deems appropriate.
That the commission shall forward to the Speaker its report upon the redistribution of Ontario into electoral districts and the number of persons residing in each proposed district as nearly as can be ascertained, and the Speaker shall cause the report to be laid before the assembly if it is in session or, if not, at the next ensuing session.
That if within a period of 15 days after the report is laid before the assembly an objection in writing signed by not less than 10 members of the assembly in the form of a motion for consideration by the assembly is filed with the Clerk of the House specifying the provisions of the report objected to and the reasons for the objection, the assembly shall, within the next 15 sitting days or such additional number of days as the assembly may order, take up the motion and consider the matter of the objection; and thereafter the report shall be referred back to the commission by the Speaker together with a copy of the objection and of the debates of the assembly with respect thereto for consideration by the commission, having regard to the objection; within 30 days after the day the report of the commission is referred back to it the commission shall consider the matter of the objection and shall dispose of such objection, and forthwith upon the disposition thereof a certified copy of the report of the commission, with or without amendment, shall be returned by the commission to the Speaker.
That where no objection has been filed with the Clerk in the manner provided, or where the report has been returned to the Speaker either with or without amendment, the commission shall prepare a draft Representation Act in the form of a bill repealing the Representation Act and embodying its report, and the draft bill and a map of each electoral district shall be presented to the Speaker forthwith and the Speaker shall transmit it to the appropriate minister.
Hon. Mr. Wells: Mr. Speaker, in a few brief words to start the debate on this motion I should first indicate that, as has certainly been the custom over the last 20 years or so, following the publication of a regular census that is conducted every 10 years, when those figures are available it has been the usual procedure to set up a procedure for the redistribution or the realigning of the boundaries of the ridings that elect the members to this Legislature.
I am not going to go into a long historical background of how this has been done except to say that in 1962 and in 1973 this was done by the appointment of an independent commission appointed by an order in council on the strength of a motion passed by this House, which set out the guidelines and procedures to be followed by that redistribution commission.
The present resolution follows in a very similar vein. It provides for the appointment of a redistribution commission by order in council and provides for the terms of reference and the guidelines that, if approved by this House, will be those under which this commission will work.
We all must realize that under this procedure, unlike the procedure used in the federal House, the ultimate decision as to the new riding boundaries, the names of the ridings and so forth will rest with this House in the final analysis when the report is finished and the Speaker has tabled it and given it to us in the form of a piece of legislation. It then must follow the traditional and regular route that any bill does in this House.
So the redistribution commission is a process to allow for public discussion and impartial analysis of the representation in this House for the people of this province by the people of this province. Ultimately, though, this House must pass a piece of legislation that will establish new riding boundaries if we decide to accept the final report of the commission. Upon the passage of that bill some time in the future the present boundaries we are all elected from would vanish if the commission suggested any change.
This resolution provides, as I say, first of all the procedures and authority for the technical operation of the commission. It then provides the ground rules under which the commission shall operate. It provides that there shall be no fewer than the present number of seats in this Legislature -- that is, 125 -- and therefore no fewer than 125 ridings in this province. It also provides that there will be no more than 130 ridings in the province.
It further provides that the number in what we would traditionally call northern Ontario, covering both northeastern and northwestern Ontario, that part of the province as outlined by definition in the resolution, would be entitled to 15 seats, which it is entitled to at present. In other words, a redistribution of boundaries could occur in the north, but the number could not go below 15 seats.
The rationale for the numbers, very briefly, is this -- it is not any great computerized technical formula that has been used, it is a very simple formula: if we look at the 125 seats in this province and split them up into 15 in the north and 110 in the south, we find that in 1971 the average population by seat in what we call southern Ontario was 62,969, in 1976 the average was 67,982 and in 1981 the average was 70,660.
The population increase in the province, while it was 10.8 per cent between 1971 and 1981, was only 3.5 per cent between 1976 and 1981. It must be remembered that the last redistribution, although they were working on the 1971 figures, came into effect in 1975. So, working on those figures, we see that there have been no significant population changes in the province. There have been population changes only in certain urban areas. Indeed, there has been a very static situation in population in northern Ontario. By adding five seats or by allowing for a maximum increase of five seats we could preserve in the ridings in southern Ontario the 67,500 average population for a riding.
In other words, for a redistribution that would come in roughly in the middle of the 1980s we would still be maintaining the same number of people on average in a riding as we had in the mid-1970s, so we would be providing for representation by population as it is now provided. If one wants to argue that the present representation is not adequate or that there are flaws in it, then I guess one could fault our mathematics in this; but I suggest that at present, by and large and barring a few exceptions -- of course, I should add, on a personal note, my riding happens to have more people in it than any other riding in this province, and there are some members in this House whose ridings have the fewest of any in the province --
Mr. Foulds: There has to be somebody in the House with the fewest number of constituents.
Hon. Mr. Wells: There has to be somebody. I hesitate to name anyone.
Barring those discrepancies, when we talk about averages, which we must talk about, the average population per riding would be maintained, and therefore the degree of representation we have had would also be maintained.
Mr. Mancini: What is the average?
Hon. Mr. Wells: What is the average at the present time? At the present time the average is 70,660. If the number of seats in southern Ontario were increased by five, the average would drop to 67,587, which would be the same per riding as the average in 1976.
We must also take into account factors other than just population. For this reason the resolution has built into it either an increase or a decrease of 25 per cent to allow for a flexible figure that can be used to take into account a number of other circumstances. They are outlined in the resolution, items (a) to (h). They are things like topographical features, the dispersal of the population in a geographic area, municipal boundaries and a host of things that we all know have to be taken into account to establish equitable riding boundaries in this province.
The resolution goes on to outline the procedure that will be followed. It is a good procedure. This time we have adopted some procedures not used in the previous two redistributions. When the commission reports, its report will be published in the newspapers in the areas concerned; times for public hearings will be indicated, and the request that people put in written submissions will be made. The public hearings will allow people who have put in submissions to make presentations to the commission.
The commission will then have an opportunity to go back and, if it finds that representations have been made that should be taken into account in the development of the riding boundaries, it will then have an opportunity to redraft, change or in some way alter its first report. That report will come to this Legislature, and the members will have an opportunity to put their comments, suggestions and requests to the commission through the procedure outlined in this resolution.
That resolution, along with the debates, will go back to the commission, and the commission will draw up its final report, which will be presented to the Speaker. It will be in the form of a report with a map as well as a draft bill. It will then be given to a member of the government to present, and it will be carried through this House in the normal manner.
This is a very fair way to carry out a redistribution of electoral boundaries in this province. I am pleased to move this resolution. I hope the members of this House will pass it speedily so that we can get this commission appointed and let it move on with its work.
Mr. Nixon: Mr. Speaker, I suppose in an ideal democracy all the citizens would be asked to come together and jointly decide the important matters of state: taxation levels, how money would be spent in support of community endeavours and so on. Until about 50 years ago there were some small cantons in Switzerland that operated just that way. Anyone holding citizenship and of a certain age had the right to attend the meeting of the state. They crowded into a square and made the decisions of the canton.
Obviously, that is not possible in a far-flung province with a population of over nine million, so the provision of electoral districts is one of the most important cornerstones of democracy we are called upon to undertake. I do not think anybody deserves any credit for the fact that the commission will be beyond political influence. Anything less would be completely unacceptable, although if we look back into the history of Ontario and, indeed, of this country, we can certainly find occasions when the drawing of the boundaries of electoral districts was done on a political basis. As a matter of fact, I suppose I am one of the few people in the House still representing a gerrymandered constituency.
I was told by my father, the previous member, that the redistribution in 1933 was done to reduce the number of members in this House. The Clerk of the Legislature was good enough to tell me the numbers. I knew they were reduced to 90, but they were reduced from 108, so there were 18 sitting members who were dispossessed of their seats in an economy measure. The Premier of the day, George Henry, was facing terrible economic problems in a terrible depression and, in his judgement, we needed to reduce the cost of government. He undertook to do that by cutting the number of members.
One can imagine the caterwauling and complaining that took place in a House with a heavy Conservative majority when 18 seats were lost. I was told that part of the gerrymander -- and this it was -- was the decision by the electoral committee to do what was called in those days "hiving the Grits." There were some townships in Oxford, some in Norfolk and some in Brant that always voted Liberal no matter what, so they put those all together where young Harry Nixon was going to be the candidate.
While this has been doodled around with a little over the years, it is still essentially the same hive of Grits I have the great pleasure of campaigning with and for and representing. Actually, it has worked quite well now for about 62 years. Goodness knows what the commission envisaged in this particular resolution will decide, but it may be that the decisions will be so far-reaching that I will find myself facing a large section of Brantford or Woodstock or Simcoe or the big city of Townsend that is already there. Who knows?
One of the important things we should remember is that while we have been elected, some of us more than once, as soon as we start thinking of a riding as our riding, then we are certainly transgressing on any rational understanding of democracy or our own place in it. I often hear my colleagues refer to "my riding" -- perhaps I use the phrase myself -- and of course that is not the case.
While the view was expressed when we were discussing this resolution before its presentation that things were good enough the way they were and that we would not be upsetting any arithmetical applecart if we left it the way it is now, making changes only in the rapidly growing areas, still in many respects I think that is for the convenience of the elected members rather than the good of the citizens we represent and the efficacy and usefulness of the system.
There were some difficulties in the last redistribution in drawing the boundaries of Brant-Oxford-Norfolk, but it was considered to be the best judgement, and I was certainly not prepared to argue with it. Finally, after a number of changes had taken place, the riding boundaries actually passed through municipalities. I think that is something to be avoided. It is specifically mentioned that the commission ought to try to avoid it, but in each case the commission, being an independent one, is given the right and the responsibility and they are charged with making the decisions as they see fit.
It is necessary that they bend every effort to have a constituency with a community of interest and a geographic extent that is not seriously inconvenient. Whatever the riding boundaries are, as we will know from the recently redrawn federal boundaries, there are always very vocal people, often the sitting member himself or herself, who object violently that the commission has shown very bad judgement, particularly in their own area. But like so many people who get set in their ways -- sort of conservative, if I may use that particular adjective -- they often see any change as outrageous, unfair, inconvenient and expensive.
Hon. Mr. Wells: Progressive Conservative?
Mr. Nixon: I do not consider that kind of conservatism progressive. As a matter of fact, it is the kind of conservatism I see opposite me -- not right at this moment, perhaps, but when there are some members present with the mental set to which I am referring.
I really do believe that this kind of redistribution is healthy, where the whole thing is given to an impartial commission and the boundaries as they were are redrawn on the basis of nearly equal population segments, bearing in mind as much as possible those sections of advice set out in the resolution and referred to by the member proposing the resolution.
I, along with others, am a bit concerned about one aspect. The very first part of the resolution reads as follows:
"For the purpose of redistribution of Ontario electoral districts a commission of three shall be appointed by the Lieutenant Governor in Council, one commissioner to be designated as chairman."
I do not suppose it is going to be a dangerous thing from a political point of view. It has been the custom recently to appoint a judge as chairman; usually another member is the chief electoral officer, and the present Clerk of the House has served in that capacity on a number of occasions. Mr. Speaker, I see in your gallery the present chief electoral officer, who undoubtedly will also be asked to serve on the commission.
Quite often the third member is someone from the political science department of a university, who is supposed to bring the traditional and political ramifications to the judgement of the judge and the chief electoral officer. There is not very much wrong with this except that occasionally it has been our observation -- let us direct it towards the federal redistribution -- that, with the very best of intentions and with all the impartiality in the world, it is possible that a certain lack of common sense judgement might be detected under certain circumstances.
No commission is going to redraw the boundaries so that everybody is going to say, "My, isn't that marvellous," and, "That suits us to a T." All of our townships associated in various counties, regions or restructured counties, whatever they are now -- I see the member for Oxford (Mr. Treleaven) is here violently nodding his head as he prepares to take part in this debate if time remains.
It would be impossible to satisfy everybody. As soon as the first map comes out there will be outraged cries from some of the pocket boroughs in downtown Toronto that justice is not being served and it is some sort of plot to eradicate democratic socialism and that sort of thing, whereas we out in the real country where we represent hectares, if not acres, have to contend with other changes.
But normally even in the far-reaching rural areas with very few urban centres we do have them large enough so there is a respectable number of voters in each constituency. It must be a terrible problem for the redistribution commissions to face the downtown parts of Metropolitan Toronto and justify the maintenance of these pocket boroughs. Rotten boroughs are another thing that we can discuss on another occasion.
I simply say that the proposal originally put before the House by the member for Riverdale (Mr. Renwick) in a private member's bill introduced with so much fanfare and fireworks a couple of weeks ago is, I believe, actually a good one. It calls for the naming or the establishment of a commission by the Legislature made up of, let us say, a person nominated by each of the three political parties.
A parallel would be the establishment of the Commission on Election Contributions and Expenses, which has a chairman named by the Lieutenant Governor in Council and representatives of the three political parties. The election expenses commission has others, including the Clerk of the House, sitting on it. This does not really mean, and I would be the last to say, that the government in any way is in a position to have its way in any division of views there: it simply means the political nominees do not necessarily run the show, either.
There is an impartial segment in the commission that at least removes the danger of the politicians running away with it entirely. I think it has functioned extremely well and that each of the political parties feels it has a real input into the deliberations of the election expenses commission. There has never really been a murmur of complaint along those lines concerning the work of the commission.
It seems to me that this sort of successful example could be followed very well indeed in the establishment of a commission to redraw the electoral boundaries. The private member's bill before the House no doubt will not be proceeded with, but it is the sort of thing that often stimulates the government House leader and his colleagues to withdraw this particular paragraph of the resolution and replace it with something that would, I think, meet the needs of the province more effectively than this particular one does.
The one thing that I suppose saves the present wording is, as the government House leader has indicated, the proposals that go to the community by way of advertisement. Individual citizens have an opportunity to express their misgivings or other judgements as to the drawing of the boundaries, but finally it comes to the House, where the politicians do have an input. Naturally, the public is observing this input. It cannot be seen to be self-serving because of that particular check and balance, so I can see, even if we are stuck with the present wording, that the thing would probably work reasonably well.
But the political common sense input that would be a part of the nominees of the three political parties is something that I do not think we should cast away without giving further consideration to it.
I have a note here that I wanted to say something about the 1963 redistribution, which was the first one done by an impartial commission. John Robarts was Prime Minister, as he called it at the time, and this was the first occasion when the responsibility for making the proposals was taken completely outside this House.
There is an interesting article in the most recent issue of the publication called The Parliamentarian about redistribution based mainly, I believe, on the most recent example in the United Kingdom. In that instance an order in council is finally the effective way in which the new boundaries are established, not an act of Parliament.
I was quite surprised that was the case, but it was interesting to see what was done in the United Kingdom, where they have such a heavy population and the number of members is over 600. Those members who have visited that Parliament and seen it in session will realize that parts of the gallery --
Mr. Nixon: Yes, elder statesmen. Most of us have had an opportunity to do that. The taxpayers have insisted that we have that mellowing, that improvement in our judgement, which certainly I know the taxpayers do not regret in any way.
On great occasions such as this, when the benches in the House of Commons are absolutely full, there are many elected members who do not have a place to sit at all. There are parts of the gallery reserved constantly for them. The seats are empty -- just as our seats are empty now and our galleries are empty now; the word must not have got out that this debate was going forward. At any rate, the members can attend the British House in that way.
I just want to say that we are moving towards a slightly larger membership. A membership of 125 is handled fairly well here, our committee system seems to accommodate it relatively well and we seem to respond to our responsibilities relatively well. But now we are going up, it appears, to 130 and we look around and ask, "How are we going to I am that many more Liberals in here?" I suppose it will be accomplished.
There was a proposal from the Camp commission some years ago that was always dismissed out of hand as being absolutely silly, and I think I am the only one I can recall -- perhaps a few others -- who is interested in this. It really took quite a dramatic view of representation in the province. It suggested that the number of constituencies go up radically from 130 to what -- 200?
Mr. McClellan: One hundred and eighty.
Mr. Nixon: To 180. The sizes of the constituencies would be reduced considerably, and the duties of the members might be changed somewhat. Where I might part company with the acting House leader of the NDP, in the temporary absence of his master, is that I personally think the members of the House now are called upon by our system to do too many things that are divorced from the actual review of government business, debating government policy and putting forward alternatives.
I would hope that with a larger membership we would move away to some extent from the part of our responsibilities that has grown so much in recent years; that is, being more or less untrained, amateur social workers -- most of us being untrained and amateur. There are people in the community to do that work. Even now, I find that they often go to the next constituency and get that service from people who are anxious and eager to be upwardly mobile in that connection and are prepared to do almost anything at any time in response to those requests.
Mr. Bradley: Like Brantford?
Mr. Nixon: I am talking about Haldimand-Norfolk; relax.
If we were to concentrate more on our duties as lawmakers and, in the case of the opposition, as government policy reviewers and critics, and spend less time fooling around with 50th wedding anniversary plaques and looking after people whose pension cheques are late, it would be better for all of us. If we did that, we would not have to be here so much. Members of the Legislature could come and discuss policy, the budget, the speech from the throne, we could do our committee work, and we would not be here all the time.
I do not believe the costs of government would substantially increase if we were to undertake to keep our ties in the real community and not to spend all our time in the esoteric air of maintaining ourselves in government or beating the government. I simply say this is something we should think about.
In a larger House, we could do away with these desks, historic and beautiful though they are. They could be auctioned off -- a good Liberal basic policy and principle -- and replaced by benches so debate could take place in a way that I think in many respects would be more effective than it is now. I know I am the only person in the House who thinks it is a good idea, but some time it will be tried and I think it will be quite effective.
Mr. Van Horne: There are two of us.
Mr. Nixon: That is good.
I want to say again, Mr. Speaker, just before you nod off, that I am really convinced the redistribution of the population into constituencies in this province is one of our most important democratic responsibilities. Naturally, nobody in this House in any way even commends the government for moving this out of the political realm and into the hands of an impartial commission, because anything else would be completely unacceptable.
If an amendment to the resolution is offered by the NDP, as I believe it will be, which would provide a different constitution of the commission based on nominations from the three political parties, then I will urge my colleagues to support such an amendment. We think the resolution as it is, in the unlikely event it is finally crammed down our throat, will be reasonably effective in accomplishing what we all seek: a fair, impartial and sensible redistribution of the seats in the province.
Mr. McClellan: Mr. Speaker, I am forced by the oddities of circumstance to introduce the debate for our party this evening as deputy House leader. We will not get into the reasons I have to be speaking instead of my House leader; we can pursue that issue at another time in this same place.
My colleague the House leader of the Liberal Party made a thought-provoking and sometimes provocative speech, and I want to reply to some of the important issues he raised.
I want to say right off the bat that we welcome the redistribution resolution that is before us tonight, despite the fact that we have some serious reservations about it and intend to register our opposition through an opposing vote.
Nevertheless, we welcome the fact there is a full redistribution taking place. I am sure it would never occur to anybody to suggest a partial or selective redistribution. That would surely be an unacceptable suggestion. So we welcome the fact that, as usual after the decennial census, there is going to be a decennial redistribution.
There is a certain amount of barracking, and has been since I was elected, about the size of certain ridings: the size of the riding of Bellwoods and other ridings in certain urban centres and in downtown Toronto. Just for the record, let us understand clearly what the facts are.
There are 27 ridings in this Legislature that are smaller than the riding of Bellwoods. I believe the smallest riding in southern Ontario is the riding of Muskoka, which is held by our esteemed Treasurer (Mr. F. S. Miller). His riding, according to the figures from the 1981 census, has 38,000 people.
The great riding of Bellwoods has 54,566 residents; it is small, but not as small as Muskoka, Middlesex, Huron-Middlesex, Kent-Elgin, Lincoln, Brock -- not as small as 27 other ridings across the province.
Some of the ridings, according to data from the 1981 census, are quite huge. I refer to Scarborough North, mentioned by the government House leader (Mr. Wells). The population of Scarborough North is 163,000, which is almost four times the size of the Treasurer's riding. It is bigger than some European countries; Liechtenstein, for example. There are other ridings that are above the 100,000 mark. I cannot get my finger on the figures at the present time, but there are four or five ridings that are in excess of 110,000 in population.
There are a number of ridings that are clearly below the provincial average of 68,413. My riding is one of the ones that are smaller than the provincial average, along with probably almost a majority of the seats in the Legislature.
Clearly, there is an urgent need for a province-wide redistribution when one riding can be as small as the Treasurer's at 38,000 and another riding can be as huge as the government House leader's at 163,000.
The redistribution resolution in front of us has a number of positive features; I do not want to pretend that it does not. In fact, there are some features of this resolution that improve previous redistribution measures; I want to fully acknowledge that.
I have spoken of the principle, as has the government House leader, of representation by population. Somebody who represents a riding like Bellwoods is acutely sensitive to the importance of the principle of representation by population.
The reason that Bellwoods is usually singled out for attention is that it has probably the fewest number of citizens, relative to the entire population, of any riding in the province, or probably in the country, because my riding happens to be the traditional settlement area for immigrants who come to English Canada. It has been that way for the past 50 years.
The majority of the residents of the riding of Bellwoods are non-citizens; they are recent immigrants who have made their first Canadian home in the central west end of the city of Toronto. This is true of all the ridings across the south end of the city of Toronto.
We do not say to new Canadians, "You are going to be disfranchised by virtue of the fact that you have not yet obtained your Canadian citizenship." We do not do that in this country. We say that each and every person who lives in this country is entitled to have fair representation and that the size of the constituency in which he lives will be proportional to that of all of the other constituencies in the province. So again the principle of representation by population is enshrined in this resolution, and we welcome that.
Second, the resolution guarantees that northern Ontario will have a minimum of 15 seats. It guarantees that despite the fact that its population has diminished in relation to that of southern Ontario, certain protections will be built into the redistribution resolution and the work of the commission that will guarantee a fair measure of representation to northern Ontario. My colleague the member for Port Arthur (Mr. Foulds) will have some comments to make about that in a few moments.
Third, the resolution sets out a series of criteria for the guidance of the commission in its work. Those are set out in the bulk of the resolution. We have all had a chance to look at those, and they are complete, comprehensive and quite sensible. They set out a series of relatively objective but commonsense principles for the guidance of the commission.
Finally, and I think most important, there is a measure of due process in this resolution that I understand was not present in previous redistribution resolutions or in the processes of previous commissions.
There is an opportunity for a hearing to take place after the commission has completed its first report. There is an opportunity for the commission's first report to be brought before the Legislature. There is an opportunity for members of the Legislature to register any objections they may have to the first report of the commission. There is an opportunity for an automatic referral of any objections back to the commission for a sober second thought. There is also a measure of finality in the sense that once the commission does deliver its final report to the Speaker, the bill follows automatically.
There is not an undue degree of influence, if I may put it that way, or pressure from this assembly, but at the same time there is a balanced opportunity for the assembly to make its views known collectively and for small groups within the assembly, 10 or more, to register any concerns they may have.
I want to acknowledge finally, when I review the positive features of this resolution, that there is opportunity for due process and that it is built in. This is a change and it is a welcome change.
We do have, however, a serious reservation, and it has to do with the question of whether or not, in the words of the government House leader, whose attention I have long since lost --
Mr. McLean: He can hear you.
Mr. McClellan: Well, he can hear, but he is not listening.
Hon. Mr. Wells: Oh, yes, I am.
Mr. McClellan: One of the prices one has to pay for having a parliamentary democracy is that one has to endure debate from members of the opposition. I know it is a difficult and annoying inconvenience for members of the government to have to go through this, but for short periods of time and from time to time it is unfortunately necessary.
The independent commission that the government House leader referred to is, in our view, not genuinely independent. No commission can be independent when it is appointed exclusively by members of the government party; that is simply a self-evident observation.
It seems to be something that cannot penetrate the minds of government members that there is no independence, no objective neutrality and no perceived neutrality when the government party makes all the decisions and all the appointments. That is the way the commission is to be set up under this resolution and it is for this reason, and for this reason only, that we do not intend to support the resolution.
In a moment, I will be moving an amendment to the motion that would appoint a different kind of commission and in a different kind of way. What we are suggesting is that the commission which would be appointed by the Lieutenant Governor in Council would be appointed on the basis of recommendations of the leaders of each of the political parties and that the commission would consist of a representative of each of the leaders of the political parties, together with the chief election officer. Collectively, this four-person commission would be the Ontario Electoral Commission.
This gets around the serious difficulty -- and I hope the government House leader understands that for members of the opposition it is a serious and fundamental difficulty -- that the basic choice of who will make these exquisitely sensitive judgements rests with the leader of the Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario. This is not fair. There is no way it can be seen to be fair.
I believe there are other models. We are not locked into this particular model; there needs to be an independent commission that is not chosen and does not have its life exclusively at the whim of the leader of the Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario.
There are other suggestions. We happen not to have chosen them, but they have equal merit. One is the notion of a permanent electoral commission, again chosen with the genuine participation of the leaders of the political parties that have representatives in this assembly.
The other amendment I intend to move to the motion has to do with the number of seats. The government House leader had some fun with figures at the beginning of his speech and pointed out that the population of Ontario had increased between 1976 and 1981 by only 3.5 per cent. I happen to have the same piece of paper he had, because he was kind enough at one of the government House leader meetings to share it with us; so I have the figures he was referring to.
I am not sure that he mentioned in his speech the first of the figures. If he did, I will remind him again that between 1971 and 1976 Ontario's population went up by 7.3 per cent and that between the census years 1971 and 1981 Ontario's population went up by 10.8 per cent, or almost 11 per cent.
The fact remains that the 1975 redistribution took place on the basis of the 1971 census data, despite the fact that it took fully five years to come to pass, and there has not been an adjustment of the number of seats in this assembly since the 1971 census, following which the population went up by 11 per cent.
We are simply moving a second amendment to the motion that would adjust the number of seats in this assembly by the increase in the population. It may seem a little bit arbitrary, but I do not think it is unfair to say that if there has been an 11 per cent increase in the population it makes some sense to increase the number of seats by the same 11 per cent.
Some of us think Dalton Camp's report did make a lot of sense. The member for Brant-Oxford-Norfolk (Mr. Nixon) referred to it. We should recall again that Dalton Camp was calling for an increase in the number of seats in this assembly from 115, at the time he made his report, to 180. He was calling for 180 seats.
We are not calling for 180 seats. We are calling for 140 seats divided between northern Ontario and southern Ontario in a way that guarantees northern Ontario will not fall behind in its proportional representation. Northern Ontario would continue to have 18 seats, but southern Ontario would be given 122 seats, for a total of 140.
I think that is basically everything I wanted to say. I regret very much that we are not able to support this redistribution resolution because, as I said and I tried to acknowledge, it incorporates many features we welcome and applaud. It incorporates some changes which we have requested and which the government has granted, principally with respect to the process of registering and reviewing the work of the commission, in providing for a public forum for public hearings and, finally, for review by members of this assembly.
I must again insist that until such time as the government breaks down its historic and totally anachronistic reluctance to engage in any kind of genuine process of negotiations with the leaders of the opposition and the opposition parties with respect to appointments to commissions such as this one, we are not going to be in a position to support the resolution.
I point out, by way of a peripheral aside and as a friendly warning to the government House leader, that he is going to get into increasing trouble by virtue of his refusal to enter into anything but a unilateral and arbitrary diktat relationship with the opposition parties around the appointment of heads of commissions and appointments to key bodies such as the office of the Ombudsman. He is going to get himself into more and more difficulties unless he is somehow able to come into the 20th century with respect to the way these kinds of choices are made, the way the decisions are made and the openness or lack of openness of these decisions.
I know there are other members who want to speak and I have gone on longer than I had wanted; so I will simply close by moving our amendments to the government House leader's motion.
The Acting Speaker (Mr. Gillies): Mr. McClellan moves that paragraph I be deleted and the following substituted therefor:
"For the purpose of redistribution of Ontario electoral districts, a commission shall be appointed by the Lieutenant Governor in Council consisting of one person on the recommendation of the leader of each political party represented in the assembly; the chief election officer; the members of the commission to elect one of their number to be chairman";
And that paragraph 5 be deleted and the following substituted therefor:
"That, the commission shall determine the population of Ontario as nearly as may be ascertained from the census of population taken by Statistics Canada in the year 1981, and in determining the number of electoral districts shall reflect the 11 per cent increase in population since the 1971 census, so that the number of seats in southern Ontario shall not be less than 122 and the number of seats in that part of Ontario lying north and west of the southern boundaries of the present electoral districts of Algoma-Manitoulin, Sudbury East and Nipissing shall not be less than 18."
Mr. Treleaven: Mr. Speaker, I wish first to thank the member for Brant-Oxford-Norfolk for being so concise and giving me an opportunity to be heard tonight, as there was perhaps a veiled threat that he was going to do otherwise.
Having prepared a brief and made its presentation to the federal boundaries commission several months ago, and being disappointed with the results, I am grateful to get this opportunity to express some of my concerns regarding this redistribution resolution.
The member for Bellwoods (Mr. McClellan) mentioned that the choice of commissioners by the Lieutenant Governor in Council would not seem to be impartial or fair. I have to disagree with him here, having gone through the hacking up of the federal riding of Oxford, which is also the county of Oxford.
With regard to the many negative comments I am going to make about the federal commission, I must say it was --
The Acting Speaker: Order.
Mr. Treleaven: It was pretty fair. Naturally, with the opposition-held riding of Oxford being hacked up -- and I use those words advisedly -- the people were looking for some political motivation. They could not find any because the surrounding ridings, which were government-held ridings, were also dealt with poorly. So there was no political motivation discovered by those persons trying to find it.
The resolution at hand gives the commission the mandate to increase the number of seats in southern Ontario by no more than five. I see difficulties ahead for many ridings. An examination of the population increase since 1971 and 1976 shows only four problem areas of excess population in southern Ontario. The first is the city of London, the second is the Halton area, the third is the Ottawa area and the fourth is an area one could describe as Peel, York, Durham, Mississauga and Scarborough, which is an arch over Toronto. I will call it the Toronto arch, if I may. No other areas require amendment.
At a meeting in London of the wardens and municipal officials of the counties and the restructured county adjacent to Middlesex before the last federal redistribution hearings, not one person expressed any concern at any one riding having fewer or more voters than any other riding. The same is true of the 41 persons from Oxford making presentations at the same sittings.
If I may deal with the four problem areas, the problem of the excess population in the city of London can be corrected by adjusting the boundaries within itself and with the riding of Middlesex. There is no need to export the problem to the four or five --
Mr. Mancini: It is too soon for a speech like that.
Mr. Van Horne: Sounds as if you have discussed the specifics of this thing.
The Acting Speaker: Order. The honourable member will continue.
Mr. Treleaven: I did make a presentation at the federal hearing and I had research done by our legislative people before that, so I have gone into this thing over some months.
As I say, there is no need to export the problem of London to the four or five adjacent ridings, as the federal commission did. The Halton area is overpopulated, but this overpopulation can be absorbed by a slight shifting of the Hamilton seats, which are generally undersized. The third one is the Ottawa area, and that has had a 67,000 increase in population since 1971 and should have one additional seat, if we are looking at averages.
The Toronto arch has had a population increase of approximately 650,000 since 1971. If there is to be any adjustment of boundaries in any area other than the Ottawa one, the Toronto arch is where the additional seats should be. With the north staying unchanged in numbers of ridings, no other area could warrant any fewer or more seats following the 25 per cent guideline.
The federal commission worshipped at the altar of numbers. Even the revised or second report disregarded virtually all other considerations. The 41 presentations of Oxford citizens at the federal sittings unanimously asked that Oxford county be kept intact. They stressed community of interests and the existing boundaries of Oxford, Perth, Waterloo and Middlesex counties. They stressed the historical and traditional boundaries of ridings, but for nought. The commission statements and questions at the sittings and in both reports dealt with numbers. There was little or no attention paid to any other consideration.
If I may, I want to point out what they did there. With Oxford, they took off the north half of the geographic county and federal riding of Oxford. They gave one township to Waterloo and two townships with a Middlesex township to Perth. Then they took some off Perth. They took two townships off Huron and added those to Perth. They made a jumble of the whole area of western Ontario down to between Kitchener and Windsor.
Mr. Breaugh: Are you sure this is in order, Mr. Speaker?
The Acting Speaker: Order. The honourable member is going to tie this to the motion.
Mr. Treleaven: I certainly am, Mr. Speaker. I would rather have seen this resolution restrict the commission's mandate to the four problem areas and not the whole of southern Ontario, since I fear the Oxford experience will be repeated over and over. I fear that opening up the whole of southern Ontario will result in nothing but a numbers game.
In closing, as mentioned by the member for Bellwoods, I also wish to commend to all members an examination of the part near the bottom of page 2 of the resolution which states that, if 10 or more members object in writing to the first report, the Legislature must debate it and must refer the objections to the commission for reconsideration.
Since redistribution is necessary, it is with these fears and reservations that I support the resolution.
Mr. Van Horne: Mr. Speaker, could I speak on a point of privilege?
The Acting Speaker: Do you have a point of privilege?
Mr. Van Horne: I think it is, Mr. Speaker, if you would go along with this for a moment or two. The member for Oxford made reference to some realignment in London and I believe he said -- if there is a point of privilege I can make in this, it would be to ask a question to clarify if it was just London and Middlesex counties. I think he went on to say the other counties beyond that in that area were not necessarily in need of any realignment because of the population and the studies he had done. I would simply point out that --
The Acting Speaker: I am not sure I hear a point of privilege.
Mr. Van Horne: The point of privilege is that I would like some clarification on his statistical research or background. Last evening I attended the University of Western Ontario and its council day, and the 11 counties around London were there represented by wardens, mayors or whatever, and practically everyone I spoke to did not understand it in that way.
Mr. McClellan: He is trying your mettle, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Foulds: Call him to order.
The Acting Speaker: Order. This is very interesting I am sure, and it is a debate --
Mr. Van Horne: In other words, they thought he was wrong.
The Acting Speaker: The members can debate that at their leisure. I recognize now the member for Essex South.
Mr. Mancini: Mr. Speaker, I want to take a few moments to join other members of the House in discussing these matters. I want to touch a little first on the electoral district of Essex South, a district I have represented for the past eight years. I would also like to make some comments on the general principles of redistribution. Some of my points of view may or may not be shared by all my colleagues in the Liberal Party who are all grooming themselves for the responsibility of government, possibly within the next 24 months.
When we look at the record and when we go back to 1867, the riding of Essex included the whole county of Essex and the city of Windsor. That was a very large riding. It was not until 1875, some eight or nine years later, that the county of Essex was literally separated from Windsor and formed as a separate electoral district. Then the county was split into Essex North and Essex South.
I must point out to the members of the House that the last major redistribution which took place in Essex South was back in 1933. In 1954 and 1962-63, when there was another redistribution act, Essex South was not changed. In 1975 there was a minor change whereby one small municipality was added and another municipality was taken out in an exchange with the riding of Essex North.
Over those many years, the Liberals have had some good times and some bad times. Since probably 1933 right up to 1962, the riding was more or less represented by the government party, but since then the people have continued to return a member of the Liberal Party. As I said earlier, that riding will probably be able to join a government party within the next 24 months.
I do not want to take much time to inform the members about my particular riding, but it just goes to show that one does not have to have drastic changes in any riding to accommodate what is necessary. When one looks at the population growth in Essex county, Essex South and Windsor, one can see the riding has always been at the high end of the population scale as far as averages for the province are concerned, and it is at that point again today.
As far as redistribution for Essex county and Essex South is concerned, all I can say is I am sure the commission will review the situation and undoubtedly get well thought out briefs from members of the community and community groups. It will again base its decision on what has gone on before and what the situation is today.
However, I would like to point out a couple of areas where I may be in slight disagreement with the bill introduced by the government House leader.
First, the appointment of a chairman is something quite natural. We cannot have a commission without the appointment of a chairman. I am not perturbed so much that it will be the government that will appoint the chairman. I am a little concerned about how the other two members of the commission will be appointed.
I know the member for Cochrane North (Mr. Piché) will agree with me because he will want someone on the commission who knows and understands the north. At the same time, we cannot have a situation where all commission members come from one political party. If that is going to happen, it does not matter how good their work is, it will always be viewed as tainted.
I want to mention that to the government members, and in particular to the government whip who seems to have accumulated an awful lot of power these days. He really calls the shots over there on the government side. This would be good information for him to have.
The other point I would like to mention is that every time we have redistribution, it is always common that the first thing we do is say we are going to increase the number of seats. We have done it again this time. We are assuming we are going to go to 130 seats. Frankly, I am one of those who believe there is no necessity whatsoever to increase the number of members in this House by any amount at all.
In 1975, it was decided 125 members were needed. A full redistribution act was put in place and ridings were created. I agree some of them may now be distorted, but it appears to me there are adequate numbers in the House to look after the affairs of the people of Ontario.
As the members will know, prior to 1975 the members of the provincial parliament had no constituency offices. They were forced to move around their ridings and take care of their constituents' concerns in a very amateurish fashion but, because of minority governments, the Legislature has moved forward somewhat and members are now allowed generous allowances. We are allowed generous allowances to hire staff, rent office space, put in answering services, advertise our offices, etc. Therefore, the work load --
Mr. McClellan: We are not supposed to do that.
Mr. Mancini: I would like to inform the member for Bellwoods that one can advertise the address of one's constituency office as often as one likes as long as one does not exceed one's budget.
I would also like to say the facilities the members have been given have certainly made a big difference in the members' ability adequately to represent their constituents. Whether or not I represent 69,000 or 75,000 people, I must admit it makes little --
Mr. McClellan: The Treasurer has 38,000.
Mr. Mancini: I am not particularly concerned about the Treasurer's 38,000 constituents because his riding will definitely have to he changed. Anyone who thinks he can leave a riding of that size in Ontario for the next 10 years is not adequately prepared to attend to the proper redistribution this province needs.
Mr. Breaugh: What a revolutionary thought.
Mr. Mancini: I appreciate the support I get from the member for Oshawa (Mr. Breaugh). I really appreciate his support and the fact he agrees with many of the things I say, even though it causes me a lot of trouble and I have to do a lot of explaining back in my own constituency as to why --
Mr. Breaugh: You are just getting a free ride; don't worry about a thing.
Mr. Piché: Don't turn your back on him though.
Mr. Mancini: Whether I represent 69,000 or 75,000 people makes absolutely no difference. It makes no difference whether we all have to increase our numbers by a few thousand. What does make a lot of difference is the continuing increase of members in this House. We all complain --
Mr. Breaugh: There is going to be a height requirement next time out too, you know.
Mr. Mancini: I guess we should all become municipal and ward politicians and have a member for every 8,000 people. If one wants to be a member of parliament, one has to understand that one has to represent a significant number of people over a significant area. I understand that in the cities one can have thousands of people within the radius of a few blocks.
I understand the argument made by the member for Bellwoods very well. In some respects he is correct, but continually to believe the only fair way to have redistribution is to increase seats is really silly. I am sure that in the same way we --
Mr. McClellan: Why don't we just have one person represent everyone in the province?
Mr. Foulds: That's the other side of the argument.
Mr. Mancini: That is about the silliest comment the member has made in a long time.
Mr. Foulds: It takes your argument to its extreme.
Mr. Mancini: Then what is the optimum number?
Mr. Foulds: What is it? You tell us.
Mr. Mancini: I would say 125.
Mr. Foulds: Good.
Mr. Mancini: What is his suggestion?
An hon. member: One hundred and forty.
Mr. Mancini: Oh, I see. Thank you.
Mr. Foulds: Wait until I speak. You will hear my speech.
Mr. Brandt: Are you interrupting his conversation over there.
Mr. Mancini: He adds so much to the debate that I just cannot allow his comments to go by unnoticed.
The Acting Speaker (Mr. Boudria): Order, please.
Mr. Mancini: I believe it is possible to redistribute the present 125 seats all over again, increase the seats by zero and still represent the people of Ontario in a proper and adequate fashion. I do not know why we can have 85, 87 or 90 federal members of Parliament go to Ottawa from Ontario and we have to have 130 members of the provincial parliament here in Toronto. I just do not understand that.
Mr. Mancini: Okay. Let us keep the 125 now that number has been established, but by continuing to increase it, as with some of these wild and crazy figures we have heard in the past that we should go up to 180 seats, I say with all respect, the people of Ontario will not be served any better. In my view, their representation may not be as good.
All of us in this Legislature try, but we do not have enough time to take part in question period; we do not have enough time to take part in debates. Mr. Speaker, you may have noticed that the member for St. Catharines (Mr. Bradley) also wanted to take part this evening. If we had 180 members, and of course those five extra seats would be right here in the Liberal Party, we would have further problems in being able to have members speak on these vital and important issues.
These are the few comments I am glad to have been able to put before the members of the Legislature and, in particular, before the very astute member for Port Arthur, who day after day continues to show us why -- well, maybe I should not say it.
Mr. Foulds: Go ahead.
Mr. Mancini: No, I am not going to say it.
Mr. Foulds: Go ahead, I am speaking after you.
Mr. Mancini: No, I do not want to say it.
I have enjoyed this opportunity. I only hope that one of the very important people who is in this chamber this evening and is going to take part in the commission gives at least some thought to the idea it is not always necessary to continue to increase the number of seats just for the sake of having more members.
Mr. Foulds: Mr. Speaker, nothing exercises politicians more than redistribution. It always fascinates me that, when we discuss this topic of redistribution, everyone in this chamber, everyone in the elitist club known as the Ontario Legislature, feels that his or her own ox is being gored and we get the debate going on in terms of "my riding" or "the riding I have the honour to represent."
I suppose that is natural because redistribution really does hit at the very principles of democracy, or what we say democracy is. Democracy has to do not merely with representation by population, which has been spoken to well this evening; it also has to do with fairness and it also has to do with the protection of the minority. I want to echo the comments of the member for Bellwoods when he says that, "To the extent that the resolution before us is a vast improvement on resolutions having to do with redistribution that were presented to this Legislature in the past, we support it."
However, we cannot find ourselves voting for it, simply because the principle of fairness in terms of the establishment of the commission is not there. We have had, unfortunately, in this province one-party government for some 40 years this summer. During the course of that 40-year interregnum of democracy there has grown up the attitude that somehow the cabinet speaks for the whole province, somehow the cabinet represents the whole province and somehow orders in council are representative not only of the majority view but of the minority view.
I suggest that even this government a decade or so ago, when it was establishing the Commission on Election Contributions and Expenses, understood the principle that minorities should be represented, that minorities should be nominated to a commission that wanted to be seen and perceived to be objective and neutral. That is why in the Election Finances Reform Act, the commission was established in the way it was so that there were nominees to that commission from each of the recognized political parties in Ontario.
That is why we are suggesting in our amendment that a similar pattern be established here, and I would put it to the government House leader and to the government chief whip that this is an amendment worth accepting. Not only is it an amendment worth accepting, it is an amendment that would do a good deal to enhance the reputation of the government. It would do a good deal to do away with the myth that the government is ruling Ontario as if the Premier were a Governor, instead of merely a Premier.
I would suggest that the arrogance built up in this government between 1971 and 1975 is building up again. The unstated and inherent arrogance is obvious in the part of the resolution that establishes this commission merely by order in council or government fiat.
The second item I wish to address this evening with regard to this resolution is the whole question of representation by population. That is, I agree, an important democratic principle, but I would also argue that the principle of accessibility is also important, the accessibility of the elected representative to get to the seat of government and to participate in the government or in the parliamentary deliberations.
There is also the important principle of the accessibility of the elected representative to the constituent or the citizen, and the ability to make personal representation to the elected representative.
It is not good enough, as the member for Essex South (Mr. Mancini) tried to argue, that we have adequate staff, that staff can represent the politician or the elected representative, and that our job is really an elitist job here in this Legislature, debating government action, government bills and government spending.
I would suggest the job of the elected representative, if it is to have any meaning at all, is much greater than that. I would agree that I, like the member for Brant-Oxford-Norfolk, get a little tired of the social work we have to do in our constituencies because, if the government bureaucracies were working effectively and well, we would not have to do that social work. We would not have to be the ombudsman in the constituency.
But the fact of the matter is the government is so big and so complex these days that most people as individuals cannot find their way through it. It is important that the elected representative understands that and understands that feeling. It is important that staff gets sent out not merely to talk about the issues, or to talk about the cases or to talk about the problems the constituent has, but that the elected representative, himself or herself, makes a goodly show of that. It is only in that way one gets a true feeling, not only for one's own constituency but for what is happening out there in the province.
I would like to suggest the second part of the amendment put forward by my colleague the member for Bellwoods, which would raise the representation in northern Ontario to 17 or 18 seats, is a sound one.
The reason is simply this: If we continue to have the base of 15 seats we started with in 1971 for northern Ontario, it is true no constituencies will be lost. But it is also true that the voting power of that section of the province will diminish as the population of the province grows. I want to tell the members that the sense of alienation, of being cut off from Queen's Park, has not diminished in the Davis decade. In fact, it has increased.
In spite of the Minister of Northern Affairs (Mr. Bernier), in spite of the Ministry of Northern Affairs and in spite of the parliamentary assistant to the Ministry of Northern Affairs, the people of the north feel as isolated from the seat of government today as they did when this Premier (Mr. Davis) first took over.
Mr. Epp: More.
Mr. Foulds: It is probably more. I have yet to encounter a person in this Legislature who understands there are parts of this province that are more than 1,000 miles away from Queen's Park. My own riding is 1,000 miles away from Queen's Park. Queen's Park, psychologically, is 100,000 miles away from them.
It is even worse, if one likes, for the people who represent ridings such as Lake Nipigon, or the Minister of Northern Affairs himself who represents the riding of Kenora, because they have another 300 to 400 miles to go once they land at the airport at Thunder Bay.
It is important those men and women, if they represent those ridings, have access to this parliament, and their constituents have the same kind of access to them that the people in Metropolitan Toronto have to their elected representatives. Therefore, I suggest to the members not only must we maintain our base of 15 seats, but we should have in northern Ontario a similar increase in seats as there is going to be in southern Ontario.
I suggest the artificial level of 130 seats put forward in this resolution is just that, an artificial level. The Camp commission suggested 180 seats. That does not seem to me to be unreasonable. However, we in this party recognize some practical difficulties in going to that immediately, and therefore we have made the suggestion of 140 seats.
The reason for that is no other provincial legislature in the country, aside from the National Assembly of Quebec, has as large ridings as we have in Ontario. The majority of provincial legislatures have ridings of approximately 8,000 to 15,000 in population.
If one looks at the prairie provinces, at the maritime provinces and even at British Columbia, one will find their ridings are much smaller than ours. I suggest to the members that the smaller the riding, the more representative the elected representative of that riding can be. Therefore, I suggest the proposal put forward by my colleague the member for Bellwoods with regard to the numbers is entirely reasonable and accurate.
I would like to talk specifically about some of the northern ridings. It is quite amazing to me there would be ridings in northern Ontario that are larger in population than the vast majority of ridings in southern Ontario. The riding of Sudbury East, for example, according to the latest census figures, would have a population of some 81,000 people, which is really quite amazing.
My own riding of Port Arthur has a population of some 65,000 people. My colleague the member for Fort William (Mr. Hennessy), the latest census figures show, represents a relatively large riding of some 61,000. Then there is the difficult question of the ridings of Lake Nipigon and Rainy River where there is a declining population. I suggest those ridings, too, need to be maintained, though there may need to be some rearrangement of the boundaries.
My colleague the member for Lake Nipigon (Mr. Stokes) has to travel through three ridings to get from one part of his riding to another, for example. To get from where he lives in Schreiber to the west end of his riding by road he has to travel through the riding of Port Arthur, the riding of Fort William and, at one point, the riding of Rainy River.
It seems to me one of the things that have to be maintained, which has been relatively well done, is the corridors of transportation. They have to be maintained for communication to be adequate between the electorate and the elected representative. If I could talk to my colleague the member for Oxford for a minute, that is the principle that, for all its superficial objectivity, the federal electoral commission has forgotten.
What the federal electoral commission does is carve up the carcass of meat, not taking the sinews and bones into account. It does not take into account the natural homogeneous quality of a county such as Oxford, for example, or the natural homogeneous quality of an area such as the traditional ridings of Port Arthur and Fort William in northern Ontario.
I suggest that just as great disparities have grown up in northern Ontario over the years -- the riding of Sault Ste. Marie is an obvious example of a riding that is much too large as the disparities in southern Ontario.
It seems to me the only way one can tackle that problem is by having a genuine redistribution. The trick is to ensure the redistribution is done in a sensitive way to the traditional communities that exist in whatever part of the province, whether it be southwestern, northern or northeastern Ontario.
Finally, I want to touch on two or three important points.
First of all, redistribution is important because it hits at the heart of what we see as a representative democracy in the western world. Unless it is done properly so it does truly represent, and the ridings that are devised truly represent, the province, it will simply not work. There has been a falling away of belief and faith in the democratic process, in electoral politics in the past few years, and any misrepresentation or misredistribution will accelerate that lack of faith in electoral politics.
Second, I believe the job of the elected politician is not only to participate in the debates of parliament or to be a parliamentarian, but to rub shoulders and arms and to get into the real heart, soul and guts of his or her own community. That is the only way one can represent those people adequately and well. Hired staff, much as it is necessary, cannot do that job instead of the elected representative. The staff can help, can assist and sometimes can substitute but they cannot do it instead.
Therefore, I reject entirely the arguments put forward in the latter part of the speech by the member for Essex South.
I want to conclude by saying two things. Representation by population is an important democratic principle, but so is accessibility. That is extremely important so that the various diverse regions of this province, from Kenora to Kingston, from Windsor to Ottawa, from Kapuskasing to Welland-Thorold, can be adequately and truly represented.
The commission not only must be objective but also must be seen to have been appointed in an objective and democratic way. Therefore, I urge the government to seriously consider the amendment put forward by this party.
Finally, I want to say it would be fairly obvious that the present chief electoral officer would be one of the persons on the commission, either in the government motion or through our amendment. I want to go on record, on behalf of our party, in saying that we have enormous confidence in the present chief electoral officer of the province, who not only has done a good job in the past but also, I am confident, will continue to do a good job, an outstanding job, in the future.
Mr. Jones: Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the opportunity to add a few comments to this evening's debate. Other members have touched on the fact that somehow or other it is an instinct for politicians when we talk about redistribution, as we are this evening, to relate back to their own ridings. I do not suppose any of us would be surprised about that. I would think it would be an important part of our function as members to think in terms of our own ridings as we approach the resolution of this evening.
For my part, the riding of Mississauga North, which was new at the time I first came to this place back in 1975, was the result of redistribution that occurred in the Peel area, west of Toronto. My experience with the comments by the people I represented, as a new person who sought public office in that newly redistributed area, was that they were very happy with the process. They were very much aware of the thought that had gone into the redistribution as it evolved in that area; so my recollection is a positive one rather than an apprehensive one such as I sense some members are sharing with us this evening.
As I think in terms of the results that might come from the commission's work, such as the criteria point out here in some of the population numbers, the voting numbers as they affect my riding and other areas close to my riding, it clearly suggests that my riding of Mississauga North might well be a candidate for being affected by redistribution.
I suppose I approach that with two thoughts. On one hand, I appreciate that redistribution is because of growth and the need for fair representation. I suppose I part company on this point with my good friend the member for Essex South. I think he was being a little facetious when he said he thought the suggestion in the resolution tonight was more for an increase of seats for the simple sake of increasing seats. He must have been kidding us somewhat, because clearly we all know that the basic underlying principle in western democracies is that we should have, as much as we are able, each vote having somewhat the same weight in that political system of which it is a part. I think he was kidding us somewhat there.
I would want that for our new growth area -- to be sure, a combination of many wide-open spaces yet, but with heavy new urbanization as new people seek our area of Mississauga North to make it the area where they work, live and raise their families. We can certainly all understand the basic importance the theory of redistribution aims to affect, namely, reducing the inequities that result from the uneven distribution of voters in some of the existing constituencies.
On the other hand, while we certainly all should subscribe to these changes, I suppose other members like myself who might be affected would be saddened to have to choose in the case of redistribution from among the diverse sections of our ridings which area we might seek to represent in the future. For my part, I have the good fortune to represent a mixed population, a mixed community, across a wide and varied --
Mr. Cooke: You love all your constituents.
Mr. Jones: Indeed I do, I say to the member for Windsor-Riverside. I can hardly express the fond admiration I have for people in all corners of my riding.
I think in terms of the Malton riding, with its unique friendliness and the character of that community as it was before it was a part of the new city of Mississauga. I think in terms of my own hometown of Streetsville, the new burgeoning areas of Meadowvale and Erin Mills, and the people who have made me, as a member, most at home, as they did in Homelands, Woodlands, Cooksville and the other areas of the great riding of Mississauga North.
As we approach this resolution this evening, many of us must have those two thoughts: on the one hand, the importance of representation and evenness in our political system, and on the other, a certain sadness in knowing there is no way in the future that we can represent all the areas we have become so fond of and the people who have made us, as public officials, almost a part of their families.
I know some of the apprehensions that we heard. For example, the member for Brant-Oxford-Norfolk is worried about how we would deal with the logistical problem of packing a lot of Liberals in here. Somehow that was one of his major concerns. For my part, I am fairly confident and can assure him that any new ridings in our area will not create any problem for the Liberals as to their seating plan in this Legislature, because I do not think that is necessarily in the cards at all.
As we look at the importance of fair and impartial redistribution, which I feel this resolution moves us towards this evening, I know there was some poking of fun at my colleague the member for Oxford. He touched upon what almost happened in the recent similar process at the federal level. But it is appropriate for us to recall just what did happen a few short months ago.
In Mississauga, we very nearly had some serious problems with proposals that almost saw us with our city having some of its natural communities disjointed and severed. Some of the proposed geography was completely out of whack. Fortunately, the proposals from our community, from our city and from other groups within, and some of the prevailing political input, also somewhat influenced the commission in that case to go back to the wisdom of respecting the long-established boundaries of cities, of counties and of some of the areas that were about to be distorted, as Oakville intruded into Mississauga and as Mississauga intruded into Brampton. I think it is appropriate that the commission, as it sets about its work from this resolution, has some of those experiences very much in mind.
I was not totally surprised to hear the member for Bellwoods and the member for Port Arthur expressing their concerns -- I would not say it is a paranoia -- and attaching, as they are wont to do, some suspicion that somehow the government is out to gerrymander, or those other terms that have been used in the past. They suspect, somehow or other, that the people who would be implementing the work of this commission would be less than faithful to the basic principles they are out to achieve, namely, of having that representation balanced and removing the inequities wherever possible in the even distribution of voters in the constituencies they would be recommending.
As to the comments about accessibility, I think we could all share in the worthy comments made by the member for Port Arthur about its importance as we go about our work.
In closing, I wish to say I am saddened on the one hand by the prospect that we may have to make a decision in some of the areas where we do have a large growth in population. However, we endorse completely the proposal and the resolution of this evening and cannot for a moment agree with the concern of our colleague about the number of seats being too great. It seems to be appropriate, as we know these numbers.
As to the amendment proposed by the member for Bellwoods, I think others of my colleagues will be joining me in questioning, legitimately, whether he is not trying to strive for too large numbers too soon and making that seating problem, not for his party or necessarily for the Liberals, but perhaps for another party, too much of a logistical problem.
I thank you, Mr. Speaker, for the opportunity to join in the comments this evening. I am confident the work of this commission will have the total support of the people of Ontario as we strive towards the proper distribution of representation in our various constituencies.
Mr. Bradley: Mr. Speaker, I want to make a brief contribution to this debate on redistribution. It is a debate that, of course, must arise eventually after a census is taken, the last census being in the year 1981.
One of the reasons that members of the Legislature tend to become concerned about redistribution, I guess, and other speakers have alluded to it, is that in some cases it tends to make substantial changes to constituencies which they have represented for a while, which the citizens of the community are used to and which political organizations are based upon.
I guess what may have attracted some members to the initial government proposal was the experience that has been mentioned with the federal redistribution. It was felt in the past that it was awful to have political people doing the redistribution, because somehow we would have gerrymandering, which would favour those who would be in a position to further their own ends. The be-all and end-all in terms of fair redistribution was to be an independent commission made up of people who had no particular political interests.
Anyone who followed with any degree of interest the federal experience would recognize that it caused great anguish among a cross-section of the population of various communities. The Niagara Peninsula is a prime example. When the federal commissioners took the machete to the Niagara Peninsula and changed the boundaries extremely drastically, they took little into consideration except numbers. They recognized they had to have the magic number of approximately 82,000 in each riding. We found some changes that were not acceptable to the New Democratic Party in our riding.
Mr. Rae: Did you complain to Bryce about that?
Mr. Bradley: No. I talked to Peter Ittinuar about it, and he did not like it so much that he moved on to the other side.
The problem that was confronted was one that was pointed to by members of the New Democratic and Progressive Conservative parties in my community. I thought in many cases they were justified, using as a prime example the city of St. Catharines, which traditionally had been represented by either one or two members, latterly two members, because of the population changes.
The commission came up with a boundary change that actually put the city of St. Catharines into three different ridings, brought the riding of Lincoln into the western part of St. Catharines and drew a line you would not believe. It did accomplish what they had wanted in terms of numbers, but it had almost the entire community up in arms.
Admittedly, the Progressive Conservatives were the most vociferous in their opposition, and one had to suspect there may have been some political considerations. I understand it and I think their argument was valid in that the commissioners gave them some reason for concern and some justification for wanting changes made.
One Progressive Conservative lawyer in the city appearing before the commission in Hamilton had "tears in his eyes," according to the Hamilton Spectator and the St. Catharines Standard. He had tears in his eyes as he made representations because the extreme west end of the city was to be put into a different riding.
Others on regional council and local municipal councils made representations against it. Coincidentally, many of them were Progressive Conservatives, who felt the riding was not conducive to their best interests. Once again, I will go back to the point that the commission gave them plenty of ammunition.
If we look at the changes that were eventually made, however, the commission did listen. The St. Catharines Standard editorial said they would not listen, of course. It was a liberally appointed commission, and they went on as though somehow it was not an independent commission, which it was.
There is an advantage in that they are supposedly apolitical, but one of the problems is they do not take into consideration a number of factors that are mentioned in this resolution.
For instance, a provincial commission that does the redistribution has to take into consideration the community or diversity of interests. It has to take into consideration the means of communication for the people in the riding. The topographical features do not particularly relate to some ridings, but in some areas they are significant.
One factor that is particularly significant is population trends. Nothing is worse than having the commission come in and draw the boundaries based on the last census without taking into consideration that there is no room in certain ridings for any growth. Naturally, some of the growth is going to take place in ridings that have empty spaces and for which development is designated. That has to be taken into consideration.
They also have to take into consideration the varying conditions and requirements regarding representations as between urban and rural electoral districts. In past redistributions, that has been taken into consideration, and certainly should be in this case. The existing boundaries of municipalities or wards are important to the people who live within those constituencies and municipal councils with whom we must work. I would hope the commission would look very carefully at that aspect.
The existing and traditional boundaries of electoral districts are well known to constituents and the people who work diligently in the political process, the members of various political parties. Taking into consideration the special geographic considerations, including the sparsity, density or relative rate of growth of the population in various regions of the province, the accessibility of such regions or the size or shape thereof is important as well. Some of our northern members, the members for Lake Nipigon and Cochrane North for instance, would be particularly concerned that this should be taken into consideration.
I hope we have on the commission people who are very practical, people who are not going to be simply interested in drawing lines on a map that will suit the numbers of people. If one talked to various members in this Legislature, they would certainly agree with that.
I would want to see a consultation with the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Peterson) and the leader of the New Democratic Party (Mr. Rae) as to who is going to be appointed to this commission. There is an amendment which may facilitate that, the amendment proposed by the member for Bellwoods, the acting House leader for the New Democratic Party this evening.
If the government did not see fit to accept that amendment -- that has been known to happen in this House from time to time -- then the minimum we should be able to extract from the government in terms of fairness is consultation with the two leaders of the opposition parties so we have a commission that has the confidence of all members of this House.
We are also hopeful any commission that is appointed and given a mandate will not simply feel that to justify its existence it must get into major changes within the boundaries of an area where there has not been significant growth in population.
Taking all those things into consideration will certainly make redistribution a less painful process than it might otherwise be. When the government proposed its original motion, which was not accepted by some in this House, there were some who suggested it was a plot on the part of the government to deny this House and the province full redistribution.
I did not see it in the same light. I am not as partisan as some of my colleagues, and I did not see it in the same light as some others, that it was somehow a sinister plot to deprive the opposition. I thought the government House leader was attempting to accommodate the wishes of many members of this House.
The decision has been made that we shall have a full redistribution. As a result, there will be many people who are going to be concerned. I am sure there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth when the commission gets through with its first round. Fortunately, there is provision for some appeal within this process so that members and others in the community can draw to the attention of the commission any errors in judgement they feel they have made and encourage them to make changes as the federal commission has done, in some cases in rather drastic ways.
We are into redistribution. We are confronted with these changes, many of which members will not like. I simply hope the commission that is appointed will take into consideration those matters which I and others have raised in the House this evening so that we have one that is in the best interests of all concerned within our communities and within our parts of the province.
Mr. Epp: Mr. Speaker, I thought for a moment we were going to have one speaker from the third party and another from the government party, but I guess my turn has come more quickly than I anticipated.
I particularly want to address the problem the government first tried to address with respect to a partial redistribution rather than a whole distribution. I remember when the government first proposed this, I was somewhat astounded they would even think of having a selected or geographical solution to the problem rather than a whole distribution. I do not think it is up to the government or the opposition parties, or this whole Legislature for that matter, to dictate to the electoral commission that they should only pick certain areas across the province and that we should select those, whatever those areas are. They should have a broad spectrum of choice to make the best possible selection.
Often the concentration or emphasis on a population division is too great, rather than looking at some of the other characteristics that should be looked at. The member for St. Catharines (Mr. Bradley) and other members have alluded to such things as community interests, means of communication, topographical features, urban and rural divisions, municipal boundaries, existing and traditional boundaries and so forth. These should often play a more important role than the population distribution.
I represent the city of Waterloo, the township of Woolwich and the township of Wellesley. I think people understand that very clearly. I would hate to have to take in part of Kitchener all of a sudden or for somebody else to take in a ward or so of Waterloo. I would much rather have the population of Waterloo increased. Currently it is around 65,000 or 70,000 for the electoral district. I would much rather have that increased by 10,000 or 15,000 and leave the boundaries as they are, than to start cutting it up. In the region of Waterloo, we have four ridings that are concurrent with the region. We do not go outside the region. If we went outside the region all of a sudden or if another riding took in part of the region, I do not think people could relate to that as easily.
There is enough confusion right now for the average citizen to try to relate to all the municipal boundaries there are. In Waterloo region there are seven. Then there are three federal ridings and four provincial ridings in the region for them to relate to. In Kitchener and Cambridge, they have a number of wards. They also have a number of wards in some of the rural municipalities, although the city of Waterloo has a general election or an election at large.
I think it is very difficult even for a knowledgeable person to understand where the boundaries are, let alone the person who is not as concerned about the boundaries or the federal, provincial or municipal jurisdictions.
The electoral commission should place particular emphasis on trying to make the ridings concurrent with municipal boundaries, if at all possible, not completely irrespective of the population trends, but certainly not giving as much emphasis to them as they have had in the past at times, causing, as the member for Oxford pointed out earlier, the problems the federal electoral commission is encountering.
The other point I want to make is that I agree with the member for Essex South in that I would very much like to see the numbers stay at 125. Although I have room here right beside me for an extra six seats -- the member for Port Arthur almost came down here with his yardstick earlier to try to measure it and told me there was room for six more seats here -- personally, I would much rather be on the other side of the House and have somebody else worry about whether six more seats could be squeezed in.
We should leave the 125 seats as they currently are, without an increase. I would accept the increased work load; it is a gradual one, because the population increases gradually. I know there is a particular problem in Toronto, but if Toronto were to be a little affected by it, and I am talking about Metropolitan Toronto and areas such as Mississauga and the areas immediately north and east of here, there could be a redistribution here. Some of the members would have additional people to represent, but --
Mr. Epp: He says "constraint program," and I was wondering what he was referring to.
Mr. Haggerty: The cost to the taxpayers to increase it.
Mr. Epp: Nevertheless, I think the people would bear with 125 members rather than go along with 130. I hate to see the regular increase every 10 years. Except during the Depression -- I think we decreased the number by a few seats at that time -- we seldom go down in number. I would very much like to see us stay with 125.
The other thing that has to be taken into consideration is fairness to the representatives, municipalities and the general population. As far as the commission itself is concerned, I hope it is going to be a very nonpartisan commission.
I hope the government, particularly the government House leader, who is a very eloquent person from time to time, very fair-minded and so forth, has good input in making sure the commission represents the different political views of this province. If that is not the case, there is going to be a perception that they are not being completely impartial or fair as far as their work is concerned. Not only must it be fair, but it must also appear fair.
I hope the government in its wisdom will appoint those people after consultation with the opposition parties, so that from the outset there is a complete feeling of impartiality, fairness and equity on behalf of the commission.
Hon. Mr. Wells: Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the honourable members for their comments in this debate.
I would like to assure my friends that it certainly is the view of the government that this should be an impartial commission. At some point, I recognize someone may try to claim that the commission would be more impartial or neutral if it had three people on it appointed to represent each of the three political parties represented in this Legislature.
I would have to say to my friends that, as with all appointments, the appointments the government will make to this commission will not be made with political party feelings in mind but, rather, as I think my friend just said, they will be appointments of people who are distinguished citizens of this province who will have the interests of all the people and all the parties of this province in mind.
I think it would be mistaken to suggest that a commission that is a political body with appointees from the Progressive Conservative Party, the Liberal Party and the New Democratic Party, each of them trying perhaps to trade off their particular interest there, would be more neutral than a commission of three impartial citizens.
I cannot tell members who the chairman of that commission will be tonight but, if past precedent is followed, it probably will be a distinguished judge of this province, someone who may have at one time been political but who has spent a lifetime not even voting but being impartial --
Mr. Foulds: So what does he know about it?
Hon. Mr. Wells: My friend asks, "What does he know about it?" He knows a lot about it. In the past these gentlemen, I think, have served us well. He will have there to assist him, as past commissions have had, the chief electoral officer of this province, who knows very well the needs and demands that occur in a riding. He knows and can take into consideration the kinds of things we would think should be taken into consideration when redistribution should occur.
Mr. Epp: Are you going to consult the opposition leaders?
Hon. Mr. Wells: I was just going to read something since we do have a few minutes here. In concluding, I want to read some statements, because there have been comments made during the debate about various ridings and about what should take place about population figures here and so forth. I would like to read some comments from a distinguished member of this House, made in a debate similar to this at one time. The member said:
"The most important alterations obviously have to be made in the Metropolitan Toronto area and in some of the urban areas because, although there will be shifting of boundaries in the eastern part of the province, the point made by the member for Ottawa Centre is a valid point in terms of basic representation.
"The inner-city ridings, particularly of Metropolitan Toronto, experience the dichotomy, the irony as they do in the municipal ward system, of being ridings representative of a vast range of economic groupings, at times making life difficult for some of the members of the House."
I do not think the groupings of the ridings or their structure in Metropolitan Toronto have made life difficult for any of those members who have represented them, but that was indicated at this time. This member went on:
"I would urge that to the redistribution commission, that maybe it is time to make a dramatic break. Maybe it is time to look upon some of the ridings, particularly in downtown Toronto, where the kind of dramatic break can be made, as I think members of the city council in Toronto would wish it to be made, on a ward basis.
"Obviously, some ridings will disappear. The Solicitor General's riding is bound to go. There is no question about it. The only riding in the province which will be absorbed by some other is clearly going to be Bellwoods."
Mr. Breaugh: Who said that? Do not answer that question.
Hon. Mr. Wells: I will give my friend three guesses who said that.
Mr. Breaugh: No thanks.
Hon. Mr. Wells: It was said by the leader of the New Democratic Party at that time, one Stephen Lewis. He did not recommend too many other things to the commission in the debate, but he said surely Bellwoods had to go. I want to tell my friend that I would not recommend that to the commission. I think he has made a very good case. I will be much more charitable than Mr. Lewis was then, and I will not recommend to the commission that Bellwoods riding should vanish.
I will tell my friend that with the constitution of the commission as we have it, I believe three impartial people can adequately do the job and therefore I cannot accept his amendment. Likewise, I believe that with the population figures I indicated earlier and the fact that the population increase in Ontario has slowed down, we can maintain an average population per riding of 67,500 by adding five members. This would, of course, make it exactly the same as the 1976 population figures.
I think we can serve the principle of representation by population and we can adequately serve the people of the province; therefore, I regretfully cannot accept the second part of the amendment. I urge the members to proceed with the motion so this commission can get on with its work.
The House divided on Mr. McClellan's amendment, which was negatived on the following vote:
Boudria, Bradley, Breaugh, Bryden, Cassidy, Charlton, Cooke, Copps, Cunningham, Di Santo, Eakins, Edighoffer, Elston, Epp, Foulds, Grande, Haggerty, Mackenzie, Mancini, McClellan, McGuigan, Miller, G. I., Newman, Nixon, O'Neil, Riddell, Ruprecht, Ruston, Samis, Spensieri, Swart, Sweeney, Wrye.
Andrewes, Ashe, Barlow, Bernier, Birch, Brandt, Cousens, Cureatz, Davis, Dean, Drea, Eaton, Elgie, Eves, Fish, Gillies, Gordon, Gregory, Grossman, Harris, Havrot, Henderson, Hennessy, Hodgson, Johnson, J. M., Jones, Kells, Kerr, Kolyn, Lane, Leluk, MacQuarrie, McCaffrey, McCague;
McLean, McNeil, Miller, F. S., Mitchell, Norton, Piché, Pollock, Pope, Ramsay, Robinson, Rotenberg, Runciman, Scrivener, Sheppard, Shymko, Sterling, Stevenson, K. R., Taylor, G. W., Timbrell, Treleaven, Villeneuve, Walker, Watson, Welch, Wells, Williams.
Ayes, 33; nays, 60.
The House divided on resolution 12, which was agreed to on the same vote reversed.
The House adjourned at 10:30 p.m.