The House resumed at 8 p.m.
House in committee of the whole.
MINISTRY OF COLLEGES AND UNIVERSITIES AMENDMENT ACT
Consideration of Bill 42, An Act to amend the Ministry of Colleges and Universities Act.
On section 1:
Mr. Chairman: Mr. Conway moves that subsections 13(5) and 13(6) of the act, as contained in section 1 of this bill, be struck.
Mr. Conway: Mr. Chairman, might I take this opportunity, since it is my first opportunity, to extend my personal best wishes to you in your new capacities as our Deputy Speaker. All of us, I am sure, on both sides of the House wish you well. You have begun your new duties auspiciously, set out in such sartorial splendour as you have appeared in here today.
Mr. Nixon: He has even got the right cufflinks.
Mr. Conway: My friend the member for Brant-Oxford-Norfolk notes your cufflinks, and you seem to wear them with the style they certainly deserve.
Mr. Nixon: It warms the cockles of Roderick Lewis's heart.
Mr. Conway: My friend the member for York North (Mr. Hodgson) has interjected in a hopeful tone. I know the member for York North is always hopeful when it comes to the Speakership at this place. Do not despair, Bill. Hope springs eternal.
I want to talk to the amendment, which deals with subsections 13(5) and 13(6) of the bill. It deals with an extremely important part of Bill 42. In dealing with this subject, I want to review some of the background that has led us to this juncture this evening.
I was reminding myself as I read through the Hansard of what is now five weeks ago that when the Minister of Education and Minister of Colleges and Universities (Miss Stephenson) and I last met to discuss this particular legislation, it was downstairs in committee room 1, I believe. From a read of Hansard, it looks to have been a fairly spirited exchange towards the end.
Mr. Nixon: The irresistible force and the immovable mass.
Hon. Miss Stephenson: It was unworthy of the member.
Mr. Conway: Well, it may have been. It may be that on occasions like that I am lured into unworthiness. If it were unworthy, then an apology is in order.
Mr. Nixon: The minister provoked him. She said his arguments were gossamer.
Mr. Conway: The member for York Mills (Miss Stephenson) does have a provocative capacity the like of which I do not believe is equalled in this place.
In this particular connection, I think we have before us an extremely serious issue that deals with an extremely important and timely part of the provincial jurisdiction, namely, universities.
I must say to the minister, by way of digression, that I happened with her colleague the member for Carleton (Mr. Mitchell) and my colleague the member for Ottawa East (Mr. Roy) to have spent last Wednesday evening in the nation's capital with, among others, Reverend Roger Guindon, rector of Ottawa University, and Dr. William Beckel, president of Carleton University, as part of a discussion about high technology and the university community in that part of the province.
Because I promised Father Guindon I would do so, I will now indicate something to the minister. He spoke at some considerable length that evening to the assembled gathering and he wanted it to be reported to the minister that not once in his remarks did he talk about money. I must say to the minister that he did so with great aplomb and greater effect. He was very anxious that his friend the Minister of Colleges and Universities know that during the course of 20 minutes he did not once refer to the cash register, to provincial grants or to money of any other kind.
I hope, Father Guindon, if you should be reading these words a few days from now that you will note the minister's silent smile, as I can report it you across this aisle this evening.
Last week was National Universities Week in Canada, and I had -- as I know did other members from all three parties -- the opportunity to join with many in the university community to look at their current state of activity, their challenges, their opportunities and their difficulties. I was myself privileged to visit the University of Waterloo. Wilfrid Laurier University, the University of Toronto and Queens in the course of a short survey of southern Ontario institutions.
I am sure my honourable friend from Sudbury spent a good part of his week at Laurentian in his home town. What I must say concerns me this evening is to find that we are beginning this fall session with a discussion of Bill 42. It is one of the first items on our legislative agenda. It would certainly seem to those of us who have followed this debate that the minister has an extreme interest in the quick passage of this particular legislation.
When I was rereading the Instant Hansard of September 9, I was particularly struck by the sweet reasonableness of my esteemed colleague the member for Hamilton West (Mr. Allen), who, the minister will recall, put forward a motion on that occasion to the effect that this committee adjourn for one month and resume its consideration of this Bill 42 shortly after the resumption of the Legislature in order to give the minister time to consider carefully the evidence that has been brought to us by a variety of witnesses who have highlighted the extremely serious long-term implications of putting the supervisor of the university system in place under any circumstances as a normal part of the university legislation of this province.
The member for Hamilton West acted very responsibly in moving this kind of a hoist motion. Many of my colleagues were not on the standing committee on social development on that occasion. I would note for their benefit there was a sense in the committee that some members of the government -- I think particularly of the members for Humber (Mr. Kells) and Durham East (Mr. Cureatz) -- were beginning to realize that Bill 42, as it has been written, is more than required to meet the government's stated objectives.
It may be entirely necessary to meet this minister's private agenda. It is difficult for those of us who are not able to walk in the recesses of this minister's mind to understand what that private agenda might be.
Mr. Nixon: What is it, Bette?
Hon. Miss Stephenson: That is a gross misstatement.
Mr. Conway: The minister says that is a gross misstatement.
Hon. Miss Stephenson: You have no rights --
Mr. Conway: My rights are going to be determined by the chairman of this committee.
But lest the minister did not hear what I just said, in my view many felt the bill was more than needed to meet the government's stated objectives. This was my view by Friday, September 9, 1983, on the basis of three days of excellent testimony from a range of very fine people and delegations. They included Dr. Alvin Lee, chairman of the Council of Ontario Universities, who made an excellent submission; the York University delegation, headed by president Dr. H. Ian Macdonald; the Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations group, headed by Dr. Bill Jones; the University of Toronto Faculty Association, and the Brock group, to name but five. Also, there was Dr. Burton C. Matthews, then chairman of the Ontario Council of University Affairs and now president-elect of the University of Guelph.
Mr. Nixon: Another fine, independent spokesman.
Mr. Conway: The member for Brant-Oxford-Norfolk properly, or otherwise, highlights the independence of Dr. Matthews. I felt he made a very helpful submission to the committee -- more helpful perhaps than even he himself imagined at the time.
But it was my feeling by the end of that week, by Friday morning, September 9, that some members of the government party, to their credit, were beginning to realize, on the basis of the evidence offered, Bill 42 was much more than the Ontario government required to meet its publicly stated agenda. It may not have been adequate to meet this minister's private agenda. But, as I said earlier, that is difficult to determine for those of us who do not have the opportunity to walk in the recesses of this minister's mind.
In suggesting the hoist motion, the member for Hamilton gave this minister a useful opportunity to draw back and to think about what had been suggested by the range of witnesses. I regret very much that the minister has not found it within her ability to reflect upon the evidence tendered in that week-long hearing and scale down this bill accordingly. Quite frankly, my amendment seeks to curtail the powers of the supervisor in this legislation.
For those members who do not perhaps understand what Bill --
Hon. Miss Stephenson: You are eliminating the supervisor.
Mr. Conway: No. With all due respect, as we say in this place, I am not eliminating the supervisor. For the minister's benefit, I want to review what my amendment seeks to do.
This bill, An Act to amend the Ministry of Colleges and Universities Act, does two basic things. It seeks to improve the government's monitoring of the financial affairs of the Ontario universities which it funds to a multibillion dollar level. I think it is fair, upon reflecting over the testimony we had, to say that there was a broad base of support for giving the minister and her government that improved financial monitoring ability. Bill 42 has as its first ambition, its first intention, the improvement of the financial monitoring and the financial reporting of our Ontario universities.
The bill then goes on to deal with the problem of deficits, and the provision is very clear that the bill seeks to give the government control over university deficits about which it has had some concern in recent years. For those who have not had the chance to read the bill, subsection 11(2) of Bill 42 says: "No university shall incur in any fiscal year a cumulative deficit in its operating fund that is in excess of two per cent of its operating revenue for the year."
This bill goes on to deal with a set of circumstances whereby a given institution might, in fact, contravene that two per cent deficit rule. Subsection 12(1) of the bill states: "Where the Lieutenant Governor in Council, having regard to a financial report referred to in subsection 11(3) and any other financial information that may be available, is of the opinion that a university is in contravention of subsection 11(2), he may appoint an investigator for the university to investigate and report on the financial situation of the university."
It is fair to say, on the basis of the testimony and evidence of the witnesses and of the members of the assembly serving on that committee, there was a broad base of support for that stage of financial investigation and reporting.
The bill goes on, again with a broad base of support, to say in section 12:
"(2) An investigator may,
"(a) examine and audit all the books, accounts and records of the university; and
"(b) investigate and require financial information from any person in possession of information in respect of the university at any time, but only for the purpose of this part.
"(3) No person shall obstruct an investigator or withhold or destroy, conceal or refuse to furnish any information or thing required by the investigator for the purposes of the investigation.
"(4) The minister shall cause a copy of the report of an investigation to be delivered to the chairman of the governing body of the university."
Quite frankly, I and my colleagues feel this government or any other government has that right. On the basis of its very significant financial commitments to the universities involved, we feel that government ought to have that kind of right in terms of financial information and monitoring. It goes on beyond the investigator stage to the university supervisor. In section 13 of this bill the powers of the university supervisor are outlined.
"(1) The Lieutenant Governor in Council may appoint a university supervisor for a university where, having regard to the content of the report of an investigation under section 12, the Lieutenant Governor in Council is of the opinion that the university is in contravention" of the two per cent rule that I spoke of earlier.
"(2) The appointment of a university supervisor is valid until terminated by order of the Lieutenant Governor in Council.
"(3) A university supervisor appointed for a university shall give advice and guidance to the governing body and the chief executive officer of the university for the purpose of improving the financial situation of the university.
"(4) It is the duty of the governing body and the chief executive officer of a university to receive and consider the advice and guidance of a university supervisor appointed for the university."
Our amendment will leave standing those first four sections where the university supervisor is concerned. We are prepared to give this government the opportunity, after an investigation has satisfied those involved that there is a contravention of the two per cent rule, once that information is reliably obtained, to have a supervisor appointed for those purposes as set out in the first four subsections of section 13.
It is not true to suggest that it is the intention of this amendment to eliminate the university supervisor. What this amendment seeks to do is eliminate the next two subsections of Bill 42 as they relate to the functions and the powers of a university supervisor.
You might ask what are those powers that we wish to delete as set out in subsections 13(5) and 13(6). This is extremely important, and it is certainly seen as such by many people in the community at large and within the university circle particularly.
Subsection 13(5) states: "Where a university supervisor appointed for a university requests in writing that the governing body or the chief executive officer do any act that they have authority to do and, in the opinion of the university supervisor, they fail to do so, the university supervisor may do the act on behalf of the governing body or the chief executive officer and the act is as effective as if done by the governing body or the chief executive officer, as the case may be."
Subsection 13(6) states: "During the term of office of a university supervisor appointed for a university, no act of the governing body is valid unless approved in writing by the university supervisor."
Mr. Nixon: Do not say the Legislature has no power.
Mr. Conway: A pointed and I think a very relevant intervention by my friend the member for Brant-Oxford-Norfolk.
That is what we seek to eliminate with our particular amendment. We do not seek to eliminate the university supervisor, but we do seek to define much more tightly and closely restrict his ambit of authority. We think, and we have stated so repeatedly, the minister has not made a case for that kind of sweeping intervention.
We do not think, with all due respect, that she or the government has yet established in public, with public data relevant to Ontario in 1982 or 1983, why they ought to have established in legislation powers to give the provincial government effective trusteeship through a university supervisor in so far as the financial management of the university is concerned.
Hon. Miss Stephenson: No, that is not true.
Mr. Nixon: Not trusteeship? They cannot do anything without your approval.
Hon. Miss Stephenson: Oh, yes, they can.
Mr. Conway: In terms of financial affairs, in terms of financial administration, I think --
Hon. Miss Stephenson: The supervisor is bound by all the legislation that the board would be bound by.
Mr. Nixon: We would not expect a supervisor to act illegally.
Mr. Conway: It certainly is my view and the view of a number of people that this particular section of this particular bill gives the executive council of the province, the Minister of Colleges and Universities --
Mr. Nixon: The minister.
Hon. Miss Stephenson: Just you wait.
Mr. Van Horne: The caviar kid.
Mr. Conway: I think I just heard the minister say to my friend from Brant-Oxford-Norfolk, "Just you wait." I think that is exactly the truth of the situation. Our beloved minister, in all her Thatcherite charm and splendour, is not one to carve out a big club and to leave it nicely on a shelf to gather dust.
Mr. Nixon: Just like black and white.
Mr. Conway: I think this Minister of Colleges and Universities meant exactly what she just said to my friend from Brant-Oxford-Norfolk, "Just you wait."
Mr. Nixon: Off with his head.
Mr. Riddell: Sneak up on him like a plate full of prunes.
Hon. Miss Stephenson: The member for Renfrew North needs to mature, Mr. Chairman. He is an infant. It is time he grew up.
Mr. Chairman: Could we get back to the amendment?
Mr. Conway: Might I repeat, I think this particular minister has every intention of using the big club that is given to her in this particular section of the legislation, rather quickly and rather privately -- I should say very privately; I think she would be loath to do too much of this publicly. But I do not believe there is yet a case for the general power of financial trusteeship that this section of the bill visits upon the Minister of Colleges and Universities.
What was most dispiriting about our experience in the social development committee of a month ago was that there was, as the week wore on, a basis for compromise. I think my fair-minded friend the member for Brantford (Mr. Gillies) would agree privately, if not otherwise, with the assertion that there was a common understanding that certain improvements could be effected between the universities and the ministry. I for one, and I certainly believe my friend the member for Hamilton West, on his own behalf and on behalf of his colleagues, many of whom attended the hearings, was anxious to accommodate some of the legitimate aspirations of the government in this respect.
Hon. Miss Stephenson: Not the Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations.
Mr. Conway: The minister says not the Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations. I do not purport to speak for OCUFA, but I can speak for others, and I repeat that a re-examination of the testimony offered at the hearings in early September would leave the reasonable man or woman with the impression --
Mr. Van Horne: Now that you have her undivided attention.
Mr. Conway: I thought the Chairman of Management Board (Mr. McCague) had his work cut out with Hydro, having heard the radio news yesterday.
At any rate, I just want to say that the sad thing for me was that I think the committee hearings were useful and did produce a basis of understanding that could have given the minister a substantial amount of what she had required. But, as you may know, Mr. Chairman, this is a minister who is not anxious to have anything less than the whole loaf. There was going to be no compromise on Bill 42. This was the minister's minimum requirement and she was not going to brook any opposition that would give her anything less.
I think that is unfortunate. She is determined with Bill 42 to take a very vigorous leadership role. She is absolutely determined that in terms of legislation, there is going to be no way anyone out there in university land or in the province beyond can misunderstand what her intentions are with respect to deficits. She is crystal clear on that particular point.
Would that this minister were as clear, as direct and as leadership-oriented on many of the other much more central questions. I repeat that this legislation would he a lot more interesting, perhaps even a little more tolerable, even in those objectionable sections, if the minister had come forward in the last 24 months with a policy framework that would have given Ontario some leadership as to where the universities in this province are going to find themselves in the months and years that lie ahead.
Regretfully, this minister has been loath to take that position when it comes to charting university policy for the 1980s. She is anxious, and more than anxious if this calling of this order on the first day of our return here is an indication, to have this deficit legislation in place.
To repeat from earlier parts of this debate, it has been 25 or 26 months since her current Deputy Minister of Colleges and Universities, Dr. Harry Fisher, and his fellow travellers on the Premier's blue ribbon panel authored a very important report that was delivered up to the first minister of this province, indicating in the summer of 1981 that our universities were at a critical crossroads and that the province, through its cabinet, its Premier and its Minister of Colleges and Universities, had better quickly resolve a growing number of unresolved issues in terms of the universities.
It is true that we have had university deficits in the past four, five or six years. Even in the early 1980s, a couple of years ago, Carleton University in Ottawa made it very clear that it was prepared to run deficits because it had no choice; it could not meet the objectives set for it by the Davis government on the one hand and fund those requirements on the other hand with the levels of operating grants that were being afforded by the same government.
Mr. Nixon: Stuart Smith was right: 10th out of 10.
Hon. Miss Stephenson: That's an unfortunate suggestion.
Mr. Conway: It is interesting, though, that she did not deny the substance --
Mr. Nixon: There was no Vesuvius reaction.
Hon. Miss Stephenson: I am attempting to control my temper in the face of the remarks from this misanthrope from Renfrew North.
Mr. Nixon: I am very glad you are containing yourself.
Mr. Chairman: I think Mr. Conway is about to oblige us by returning to section 1 and to the substance of the amendment.
Mr. Conway: I will be very respectful of your every injunction, Mr. Chairman, but I am likely to be even more so if you endeavour to tame the tigress to your right.
Hon. Miss Stephenson: It will be easier than containing the mouth to his left, I can tell you.
Mr. Conway: All of which is gratefully received, Mr. Chairman.
When the Premier from his perch in Oahu talks about "Let's not be personal," I am likely to remember.
Hon. Miss Stephenson: Oh, really? I hope you remember both sides.
Mr. Conway: Let me say, I have not been able to look a chicken in the eye since that day a month ago when the minister levelled that exceptional charge about me; and I would not want to repeat it, Mr. Chairman, lest any of these innocent ears be offended.
Let me repeat my point about the deficits.
Hon. Miss Stephenson: Exceptional charge? It wasn't a charge of fabrication; it was a charge of two arguments being presented, that is all.
Mr. Chairman: Order. It certainly would be appreciated if the minister were to restrain herself; and perhaps the member for Renfrew North could stick to the amendment and avoid personalities.
Mr. Conway: It is very difficult, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. Chairman: Do your best.
Mr. Conway: I see some of the minister's staff underneath the gallery over there. As always, they have my not inconsiderable sympathy.
Mr. Nixon: They deserve a raise.
Mr. Conway: That is one group that I think does deserve a raise beyond the five per cent ceiling.
At any rate, we have framed an amendment that seeks to curtail the university supervisor's function to essentially an advisory role. We think that is reasonable on a number of grounds. We think it is reasonable because the minister herself was quick to point out with not inconsiderable pride in her opening statement to the committee on September 6 -- and I would like to read the minister's words.
Hon. Miss Stephenson: It wasn't pride; it was a statement of fact.
Mr. Conway: Let me retract then that it was a statement offered with some pride. It was a bald, antiseptic fact that she reported to us on September 6:
"For example, according to information compiled by the Ontario Council on University Affairs, all but one of the seven institutions with cumulative deficits in excess of two per cent of their operating revenue for 1981-82 fiscal year are projecting an improved situation by the end of the current fiscal year."
The minister came before us a month ago to report that the deficit situation had happily -- from I think all sides -- improved. The data produced by her and others certainly supported that contention.
It is certainly also true -- and this was stated by some, though not everyone -- that the single most significant reason for this was the enactment last fall of Bill 179. As everyone knows, the largest single component in any university account is the salaries component, and that has been very sharply curtailed by the provisions of Bill 179.
Imagine our surprise when we had the minister appearing before us in September saying that the situation with respect to deficits had improved; it had certainly improved dramatically, as her own compendium indicated even as early as April 1982. Many of the institutions that had previously been in some real difficulty were on their way to relative recovery.
One group of the most troubled institutions, namely, that family of institutions in northeastern Ontario, Laurentian, Algoma, Nipissing and College de Hearst, were and are the subject of a special inquiry headed by our former and honourable colleague the previous member for Oxford, Dr. Harry Parrott.
We have yet to see the findings of the Parrott commission, but none the less they are a group of institutions with some serious difficulties. Looking, for example, at the surplus/deficit statements of April 30, 1982, Laurentian was in a deficit position of about 9.4 per cent, Algoma 13.6 per cent, Nipissing was all right and the College de Hearst had a 19.1 per cent deficit.
Those institutions are being looked at through the Parrott commission, and other institutions are certainly improving their status.
We said to ourselves in that committee, and I say to your colleagues the member for Mississauga East (Mr. Gregory), the member for Parry Sound (Mr. Eves) and the member for Simcoe Centre (Mr. G. Taylor) tonight, Mr. Chairman, that we as a responsible opposition and I as a responsible member of this assembly are quite prepared to entertain reasonable initiatives by the Minister of Colleges and Universities, but we have a great deal of difficulty enacting what is enabling legislation giving this government the general power to put universities in trusteeship as far as their financial management is concerned at the very time when the minister herself and the Ontario Council for University Affairs tell us that the deficit situation is certainly improving.
Furthermore, we have been told by a number of people -- and I think I represent the minister fairly in this -- that it is her hope the university community now will clearly understand what her intentions are and will not proceed on the kind of basis that Carleton seemed to be preparing for two years ago. There will be no tolerance of deficit as a matter of course. Deficits to two per cent, yes, but beyond that certainly there will be no acceptance.
We are told by people in the ministry and by the minister herself, I think, that she harbours the hope that this legislation will never really have to be used, and we are told that on the basis of current trends it is not likely to be used.
Prevailing upon the Chairman's conservatism and common sense, why are we being asked in this Legislature to give the government, through this minister, sweeping powers of intervention for a problem that apparently is disappearing?
I have said, and I think I fairly represent my colleague the member for Hamilton West, that we do not rule out the possibility that down the road there may be circumstances -- we hope not, but there may very well be -- at a given institution whereby a significant deficit occurs or, in fact, there is a breakdown of either goodwill or good management, or some coming together of both, and a serious financial problem develops.
Let us imagine even further that there is some kind of recalcitrance at that institution in toeing the government desire with respect to acceptable deficits. It is certainly my view that under those conditions the minister ought to have the power to intervene in the public interest.
But she has not made the case for this sweeping general power in these past weeks and months, and she has indicated, quite to the contrary, that the conditions are improving as opposed to deteriorating. As a member of this House, I do not like being prevailed upon to legislate in that fashion.
Some members may recall -- I am sure my friend the member for Bellwoods (Mr. McClellan) well remembers -- that in June 1981 there was an acknowledged problem at the Toronto East General and Orthopaedic Hospital, with a royal commission report indicating a breakdown of administration or whatever; I cannot recall the specifics at this occasion. There was a problem at the Toronto East General; I do not deny that.
Hon. Miss Stephenson: It was quality of care.
Mr. Conway: Quality of care; fine. There was a problem at that institution. I do not think there was a member in this House who did not agree with the then Minister of Health, the member for Don Mills (Mr. Timbrell), that something ought to be done. But one can imagine our unhappiness, certainly my frustration and anger, when we got a general amendment to the Public Hospitals Act allowing for a general intervention there or at any of the other 250-odd public general hospitals in the name of a particular problem at that specific institution. I think that is a very bad way for this assembly to legislate.
I was particularly struck by the comments this afternoon of the member for St. Andrew-St. Patrick (Mr. Grossman), the new Treasurer, when he expressed a concern and a sensitivity in his economic survey about the need to consult and the need to be sensitive in dealing with our institutions. That is an extremely noble goal for governments, which I am sure is highly respected in Scarborough-Ellesmere. But when push comes to shove, this government seems to take a decidedly different, if not altogether contradictory course.
As we saw in 1981 a specific hospital problem addressed with a general amendment to the Public Hospitals Act, and no reason ever given why the general enabling power had to be effective at that time, we now see the same situation in this case.
The evidence tendered at our hearings in early September confirmed in me, I must admit, an already active prejudice that the powers of this legislation ought to be very limited. And I must tell the minister, because she might be sitting there wondering why we are taking this opportunity tonight to express this concern, that we as a caucus of 33 members have large, historic universities in our constituencies. Why, I might even digress to tell the minister and others that I have seated beside me an honorary doctor from McMaster University in the person of the member for Brant-Oxford-Norfolk (Mr. Nixon).
We have members such as my colleagues the member for Yorkview (Mr. Spensieri), the member for Ottawa East (Mr. Roy), the member for Kitchener (Mr. Breithaupt), the member for Kitchener-Wilmot (Mr. Sweeney), the member for Waterloo North (Mr. Epp), the member for London North (Mr. Van Horne) and the member for London Centre (Mr. Peterson), who have a vital interest in the universities of this province and particularly in those great institutions that are resident in their communities, such as the University of Windsor in the great city of Windsor, serving that part of southwestern Ontario.
The minister ought to know that universities are going to be an issue in this assembly for the coming weeks and months. They are going to be an issue because the 33 members of the Liberal opposition feel that this province has too much at stake not to have the important, vital issues of the university community debated in this assembly at this time.
I do not suggest for a moment that is somehow an exclusive concern. I cannot help but think that members such as the Conservative representatives from university communities, some of which I have just mentioned, and the many members from the great metropolis of Toronto who might have followed with some interest the tour offered, last Tuesday I believe it was, to that particular campus --
Mr. Nixon: Did they show up?
Mr. Conway: I do not want to embarrass anyone, Mr. Chairman.
I think it is important for you and this minister and this government to understand that universities are going to be a very central question and a very important issue for this party and, I hope, for this assembly this session. What is happening out there ought to concern every single member and every single Ontarian. What is happening is not very positive in many respects and is not very reassuring about the Ontario we are going to have in the 1980s and the 1990s.
I see a very pensive look about the member for High Park-Swansea (Mr. Shymko). I know he will have a keen interest in this, given his background in education and his concern about this area of the social policy field.
In the course of my eight years and some months service in this assembly, I do not think we have done our universities very much justice in terms of allocating the kind of priority to them that I believe they are entitled to. I accept my share of responsibility in that, although I was pleased that in discussions with the government House leader (Mr. Wells) some months ago, we were at least able to have that short special reference on Bill 42. I think it happened to be a useful exercise.
Many members may think the estimates debate provides all we really require to give a full and complete ventilation to the subject matter. Mr. Chairman, as you know from discharging the chairmanship function which is yours and which you discharge so ably and so well, there is nothing quite like having, for example, the president of McMaster University at one end of the committee table to comment on the offerings of the Minister of Colleges and Universities. I have not seen her that circumspect since Jane Dobell was staring down the other end of the table in the hearings on Bill 127.
At any rate, it is an extremely useful exchange when we can have people from the affected community, whether they be staff representatives, faculty association groups, university presidents, trustees or just interested people from the province at large. I think it is extremely important, at this time in our history in this province, with the Fisher report still sitting out there as a ticking time bomb, as an incredible indictment on the Davis government's stewardship of post-secondary education.
I remind you, Mr. Chairman, that it was in August 1981 that Harry Fisher et al said: "Listen, people of Ontario. Listen, William Davis and Dr. Bette Stephenson. Listen, members of the Ontario Legislature. You have a multibillion dollar university system that is in very serious jeopardy and your choices are essentially the following. You can either change the objectives of the university system" -- and there was no interest on any side in changing the objectives of our university system -- "or failing that, you have a very limited pair of options."
You can, as a government, Mr. Davis, fund to inflation for at least a five-year period, 1981-82 to 1985-86, and at the same time as you are doing that for that five-year minimal period, you can allocate a $25-million annual capital replacement fund to deal with the very serious deterioration in physical plant that much of the system is experiencing."
I know my friend the member for Ottawa East can recount, and probably will later this evening or at another time, the weekend rains and their effect on Carleton University in the national capital region. We saw last week at the University of Toronto, and what is more important heard from people in the engineering school about the deleterious effect that underfunding in terms of capital replacement was having on the quality of education they were being able to offer.
The Fisher report said we either fund to inflation for a five-year minimal period and, at the same time as we are doing that, offer an annual 24-million capital replacement fund or we can face the fiscal reality that people such as the then Treasurer, now the Minister of Industry and Trade (Mr. F. S. Miller), are seemingly wedded to and we can scale the system down. We can admit, as a great and historic province, that this Ontario of ours can no longer afford to fund the system that John Robarts and William Davis and Leslie Frost and a host of others built with pride and with considerable effect and accomplishment.
We can step back in a gesture of self-doubt, if not self-abnegation, and we can admit publicly that we cannot afford the system we have built. "We can," said Harry Fisher et al, "scale the system down by closing out certain institutes, certain faculties and perhaps even certain entire institutions. We can live with one international institution, we can have four full-service universities and we can have a number of other local regional university establishments. We can cut our system, we can cut our cloth to meet a lower fiscal capacity and a generally lower expectation"
They went further, did Harry Fisher, Deputy Minister of Colleges and Universities, et al. They said those were the only two choices and that at all costs Ontario ought not try to muddle through with no policy, with an "Oh, tomorrow" attitude; hoping that the Premier, the Minister of Colleges and Universities and a basketful of time will solve the problem. No less a person than the Deputy Minister of Colleges and Universities, Dr. Harry Fisher, warned the government of Ontario, warned the Premier particularly, because it was the Premier who, presumably animated by his traditional goodwill, set this special blue-ribbon panel on the road to its very important task.
I must say it is my view and the view of many others in the community that Dr. Harry Fisher et al served the Premier of this province very well in that year-long enterprise of theirs. Mr. Chairman, I remind you that the Fisher group said that the worst of all possible options is to do nothing, is to muddle along, to try to let time and political delay deal with the developing crisis.
I have said elsewhere, and I want to repeat it now -- because there are sometimes harsh words exchanged between the member for York Mills (Miss Stephenson) and myself -- something I said in the committee a month ago in the presence of my colleague the member for St. Catharines (Mr. Bradley). I think this minister deserves no small measure of credit on a number of counts. Of her intellect, of her capacity. of her interest in and ability for hard work there is no doubt. With regard to elementary and secondary education, whatever one might think of the course she has charted for this province, she has charted a course none the less, and I give her credit for setting clearly those signposts for the province in its elementary and secondary education.
I know, parenthetically, that the policy with respect to elementary and secondary education is in many respects a wholesale plagiarism of the education platform of the Ontario Liberal Party, nowhere more spectacularly than in the alteration to grade 13. I am struck daily by a reminder of the prime ministerial pontification of one William Davis in the 1981 election campaign when he went around this province saying: "Oh, those terrible Liberals) They are out to eviscerate grade 13, Well, vote for Harry the local Tory -- and of course, through Harry, me -- and grade 13 will remain inviolable."
We have seen what we have seen. We have seen a complete reversal. I know that my colleague the member for Kitchener-Wilmot, recovering as he is, must be wondering how much more larceny, in a policy way, will be effected by this government of our elementary and secondary education policy.
But let me say again that I think this minister deserves credit in that respect. She has led, She has been tough; God knows, she has been tough.
Mr. Bradley: And wrong.
Mr. Conway: My friend the member for St. Catharines might argue in his own way, I hope at another time and in another place -- like tomorrow in the Education estimates --
Hon. Miss Stephenson: But another time and another place.
Mr. Conway: But I want to say in a truly bipartisan way that I think the member for York Mills deserves credit for having come to a decision on the important issues in those areas and we in the opposition, both on this side of the aisle and over there, can quarrel about the particulars of her direction.
But what has struck me in my time, now some 20 months, as a critic for Colleges and Universities is how difficult a time she is having with the policy vacuum that exists in post-secondary education. She says quietly to herself, "There is no policy vacuum." We have an honest difference of opinion about that.
I would argue that the policy vacuum, which gapes everywhere in this connection at the province, may be simply explained by the fact that even the redoubtable Minister of Colleges and Universities cannot do it all. Maybe she has too much to handle, and I think that would probably he a very plausible explanation.
Of her work capacity I hear these legendary accounts from my Conservative friends across the way, and I know that her hours are long and her duties many. But I have come to think lately that maybe the reason we are getting so little direction with respect to Colleges and Universities is that she just does not have the time; and to the extent that she has the time, she is so utterly exhausted from the cabinet battles with the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs (Mr. Wells), the Attorney General (Mr. McMurtry), the Treasurer (Mr. Grossman), the Minister of Citizenship and Culture (Ms. Fish), the member for High Park-Swansea and others on matters of secondary education reform that she just does not have the spirit when the time exists.
It may be that this is a completely wrong assessment.
Mr. Bradley: No, that sounds plausible to me.
Mr. Bradley: No longer the whip, but he still whips.
The Acting Chairman (Mr. Robinson): Let us keep moving along.
Mr. Conway: My friend the Minister of Revenue (Mr. Gregory) has intervened, and I want to just congratulate him because this is my first chance. I am delighted that after eight and a half years he has a line ministry.
The Acting Chairman: That is generous of you. However, I direct you to turn your remarks to the bill at hand.
Mr. Conway: I want to tell the Acting Chairman that the member solved a really serious problem for me and for that I thank him. He is off to a very good start as far as the member for Renfrew North is concerned. I am very anxious to have an ongoing and positive relationship in that respect.
The Acting Chairman: Ignore it and continue with the bill.
Mr. Conway: I am sensitive about the fact that I might begetting personal. I do not want to upset the orange daiquiri on the lap of the Premier in Oahu because I know that Mr. Hoy is monitoring my every word.
The Acting Chairman: He may well be, l have no way to know.
Mr. Conway: It is not my intention to be personal. It is my intention to be direct.
The Acting Chairman: If you would like to be direct towards the provisions of Bill 42, I think we would likely facilitate the process.
Mr. Conway: Exactly, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. Conway: What did he say?
The Acting Chairman: I said order, and that is all you need.
Mr. Conway: Actually that is the glory of provincial politics and I am fascinated daily; nobody cares.
The Acting Chairman: Back to the matter at hand, Bill 42
Mr. Conway: And particularly to my amendment, because --
Mr. Conway: Oh, the temptation, Bud, is almost irresistible.
The Acting Chairman: You do not recognize restraint when you see it.
Mr. Conway: I want to go on with my amendment because it makes the case that the university supervisor as set out in this particular bill ought to be redefined in terms of his powers. My amendment, for the benefit of the Minister of Revenue, says that there can be a university supervisor who after an investigation has been made ought to have the power to go in to comment and to advise, representing as he will the government of Ontario.
I know how many of these universities, like so many of these public and parapublic agencies, think. My God, to have a government man or woman in their midst as an investigator, now supervisor -- they may not be one and the same person and they are not, exactly; I want to make that for the record -- is an extremely powerful provision, it seems to me, given our traditions in this province.
I want the Minister of Revenue to think, as I know he can and will, that this kind of provision and that kind of intervention, given our past, is fairly significant and will produce most of what we can reasonably hope for under the circumstances.
One might ask why I feel the supervisor should be drawn back from the powers that he or she may be given under subsections 13(5) and 13(6). Let me just reread those, because it is important to understand what my amendment deletes.
"(5) Where a university supervisor appointed for a university requests in writing that the governing body or the chief executive officer do any act that they have the authority to do and, in the opinion of the university supervisor, they fail to do so, the university supervisor may do the act on behalf of the governing body or the chief executive officer and the act is as effective as if done by the governing body or the chief executive officer, as the case may be.
"(6) During the term of office of a university supervisor appointed for a university, no act of the governing body is valid unless approved in writing by the university supervisor."
Listen to that, Bud. "During the term of office of a university supervisor appointed for a university, no act of the government body is valid unless approved in writing by the university supervisor." And this minister says that is not some kind of trusteeship. I say to my friends in this House we have a difference of opinion.
I submit that is a form of trusteeship and it is worse. It is a form of generalized and blatant intimidation in the absence of evidence to support that kind of intervention.
Let me prevail upon the goodwill of the member for Mississauga East (Mr. Gregory). I am not saying, nor are my colleagues, that if worse came to worst we are not prepared to give that to you because, Bud, we are prepared to give it to you.
I am sorry, Mr. Chairman.
The Acting Chairman: Member for Renfrew North, I am sure you got carried away in making that reference, recognizing the very strict rules that our Speaker imposes upon references to other members in the House. I would remind you that the member you referred to is the member for Mississauga East. I invite you to continue.
Mr. Conway: Mr. Chairman, your advice is well taken, and it is nothing that a trip to Westminster or Washington would not cure.
The Acting Chairman: Not having had either, I can only invite you to continue.
Mr. Conway: I want to speak to my amendment, now not so much to the Minister of Colleges and Universities as to her colleagues the members for Oxford (Mr. Treleaven), Northumberland (Mr. Sheppard) and Sudbury (Mr. Gordon). I want to tell the member for Oxford that the minister makes a not unreasonable case about her need for improvements in the financial monitoring, certain improvements in investigation, and we are prepared to give them.
I am prepared to go one step further. I am prepared to give the Chairman of Management Board (Mr. McCague) and the other 68 members over there the right in certain demonstrated cases to have the power of intervention along the lines of subsections 13(5) and 13(6) of this bill. All I am saying to my good and reasonable friends is, make the case; and the QCs among the members over there will understand why that may not be so unreasonable an argument as is being suggested by some over there on the front bench who shall remain nameless.
We are not being intractable. We are not being, in my humble estimation, unreasonable. We are saying that we want, and I move now, a more limited power for the university supervisor; keeping in mind, as I know my friend the member for Oxford will, what it will mean to put a supervisor into an institution that has had the kind of historic autonomy that most of our universities have enjoyed; keeping in mind the oft repeated statements by many in the government that we are not going to need this bill, really, because things are getting better.
The data are clear. I must admit, for reasons that are more related to Bill 179 than anything else, and I will say if the minister wants to deal with this at some point that what we do once Bill 179 is off, if ever -- and this, I must tell the minister quite honestly, is part of my worry about a private agenda, and I am going to return to this a little later in my remarks --
Hon. Miss Stephenson: There is no private agenda.
Mr. Conway: All right. The minister says there is no private agenda.
The Acting Chairman: If you do not cast aspersions, we will not have to hear any negative comments.
Mr. Conway: No, I do not know that.
The Acting Chairman: Yes, I have already drawn it to the honourable member's attention. He will not do it, you will not have cause to respond and we will be able to go on with this.
Mr. Conway: If you are ruling that --
The Acting Chairman: I am just suggesting. If you want me to rule I will be happy to do that as well, but I do not see any need for it.
Mr. Conway: I accept your advice. I do, believe it or not, try to be parliamentary in my performance here, however difficult it may be for some to accept.
I say to the minister that this bill will not, if I have anything to do with it, clear this House until we have as one of our Liberal conditions an announcement from her about the new operating grants formula for Ontario universities.
Hon. Miss Stephenson: That has nothing to do with this.
Mr. Conway: Let me repeat this clearly. If I have anything to do with this, and I think there is a considerable resolve on the part of my colleagues, Bill 42 will not pass this House until we see and hear from the minister as to what reforms she is going to make on the vital question of the operating grants formula.
Mr. Bradley: That is a fair condition.
Mr. Conway: I think that is a fair condition.
The Acting Chairman: The difficulty I have with that is that it is not in any way, shape or form contained in the bill except perhaps --
Mr. Roy: You bet it is.
The Acting Chairman: I would not try that on.
The member for Renfrew North, having chaired the committee, knows perfectly well that I know what is in the bill. I would invite him and encourage him to pursue the conditions of the bill with whatever ferocity he wishes. If he would do so now, without provoking extraneous debate, I would be very grateful.
Mr. Conway: I believe that on the basis of my discussion as recently as today there is a relationship between this legislation and the new operating grants formula. There is every reason to believe that under the new formula some Ontario institutions would find themselves immediately in jeopardy of significantly contravening the two per cent rule.
If I were at York University, for example, I would not want to have anything to do with Bill 42 until I heard exactly what the new grants formula is going to be. They have a recovery program under way at York. I think the minister knows there is a concern in some Ontario universities about the serious potential impact of the new operating grants formula on the recovery of many of our universities. I think she knows about the concern over their likely contravention of the two per cent rule.
I believe, as do my colleagues, that this issue is vital and immediate. We believe the new operating grants formula could very well have a major impact on the economic health of some, if not all, of the Ontario universities in the next few years. I repeat, given those first two views, I have strongly recommended to my colleagues that this bill ought not to pass this House until such time as we have seen that new operating grants formula.
I do not think it is a particularly difficult condition for the minister for a couple of reasons. One must always remember that this bill is not urgent because it is not going to be used often, if ever. That is so often told us: "Don't worry. It is going to be there, more ornamental than effective, so you do not have to worry about its immediate implementation." I can recall that being said to me and I accept it, at face value at least.
There is a second point I want to make in that respect. Mindful of the fact that this bill is not necessary because it is not likely to be used, we take the view there could very well be a significant policy statement contained in those new operating grants formulas that have been long promised. I do not think I misrepresent the minister when I say the place has been awash with rumours for weeks that today is the day. Call the minister's office -- today is the day.
Would not the member for Hamilton West (Mr. Allen) agree? We have been on standby for --
Hon. Miss Stephenson: Why did you not phone the minister's office and find out?
Mr. Conway: We have. I have. I do not bother the very busy potentate of all education because I know she has other things to do. I call one of her very capable staff, at least one of whom I see, my old friend Bill over there, a fine fellow. Bill is very helpful. I get answers from Bill when I request them. I do not know whether it is Bill I have spoken with, but the minister's staff has been very good with me. We get a quick answer and it turns out to be true.
At any rate, it has been weeks now since those rumours started about the new grants formula. There are some really rich and marvellous stories about how some of it may have leaked out or how an earlier version might have escaped as a result of an incidental conversation between a senior financial person in the ministry and some financial officer. The minister will have to tell me that story some day.
However, I want to come back to my main point. My main point is simply this. We have no great time urgency here because this bill is not going to be often, if ever, used and the grants formula is just there ready to go.
Mr. Roy: Not in our lifetime maybe. Who knows?
Mr. Conway: I do not think it is in any way unreasonable for this Legislature to say, "If we must give the cabinet this kind of executive enrichment" -- and that is what this particular bill is, particularly in the kind of university supervisor that the minister envisages with subsections 13(5) and 13(6) of the bill -- "we are going to hold back the final passage until we see that much-awaited operating grants formula."
For myself, on that point let me say for the minister's edification and time alone will be the judge of this -- I think the new operating grants formula will have a definite effect on at least two things. It will have an effect on the financial viability. As set out particularly in terms of deficits in Bill 42, I think it will have a significant impact on some of the Ontario universities.
Secondly, I think there is going to be in the new operating grants formula a significant statement, directly or otherwise, on the critical question and issue of accessibility about which the minister has been speaking in these past few months. I am recalling to mind the conversation she had with John Cruickshank of the Globe and Mail some time on or about August 23, 1983.
I would not want the minister or the Ministry of Colleges and Universities to get their hopes very high about the immediate passage of this particular legislation. We have at least two conditions that we want met -- and we have a third. Let me say to the minister, and I hope I have her undivided attention, if tonight or tomorrow upon reflection she was to indicate to me or to my friend the member for Hamilton West that she was prepared to take something less than the whole loaf, I think he and I could be prevailed upon to he expeditious in our passage of what hopefully would be a mutually agreeable bill.
The minister said not many moments ago there were certain parts of this bill she needed in the here and now or fairly soon. Maybe the minister is prepared to talk turkey. Maybe she is prepared to indicate what it is she needs in the here and now. I repeat for you, Mr. Chairman, and for your illustrious colleagues the member for Northumberland (Mr. Sheppard) and the member for High Park-Swansea (Mr. Shymko), I am not an unreasonable man or an unreasonable member of this assembly. If this minister has a requirement for certain aspects of this bill, I could be lightning-like in my response to her request.
Hon. Miss Stephenson: That is the most hilarious thing I have heard this year.
The Deputy Chairman: Let the honourable member continue and you will have your chance.
Mr. Conway: To paraphrase my illustrious federal lever -- leader -- try me.
Hon. Miss Stephenson: That was an appropriate Freudian slip.
The Deputy Chairman: Carry on.
Mr. Conway: Mr. Chairman, I do not want to leave you and your colleagues with any lingering residue that I might be unreasonable; I know you know I am not. If the minister has a desire to accept this amendment, then we are well on the way. If. on the other hand, she is going to stand Boadicea-like on subsections 13(5) and (6) of this bill, then we have a problem. It could be resolved by her bringing forward those parts of the bill that are required for her immediate agenda and we can deal with that. I hope the minister heard that because it is offered in good faith.
I am sure there are members across the way who are asking what, if any, evidence there is to support my claim that the bill contains more than is necessary to meet the demonstrated need in the university community. If the member for Parry Sound (Mr. Eves) is thinking about that kind of good and sensible thing, as is his wont, I think he is asking himself a good question.
I want to review selected parts of the hearings in September. I want to deal with the testimony of the Council of Ontario Universities. On that sunny Tuesday, September 6, 1983, the council was represented by Dr. Alvin Lee, who is the current chairman of COU and president of that distinguished Hamilton-based institution, McMaster University; Dr. Alan Earp, vice-chairman of COU and president of Brock University; and the very able executive director of COU, Dr. Ed Monahan.
I thought the delegation, responding as it did to our invitation, presented the Legislature with an extremely good brief. I would highly recommend it to members who have an interest in university affairs. It is about an eight- or nine-page document entitled, Universities, Public Priorities and the Future of Ontario. It was spoken to effectively by the three gentlemen on that occasion.
I am always impressed by Dr. Alvin Lee. I think the Solicitor General (Mr. G. W. Taylor) is a graduate of McMaster.
Hon. G. W. Taylor: Yes, but I haven't got my doctorate yet like your colleague.
Mr. Conway: I am sure it will not be long in coming.
I remember one of the first times I met Dr. Lee. We had a caucus meeting in that famous by-election of June 1983 when the member for Hamilton West was the successful candidate. After Dr. Lee had made a positively breathtaking presentation to us on that day, one of my friends in caucus leaned over to me and said, "That man gives the impression of having brains he has never had to even think about using." I thought that really said a lot about a very fine mind and an extremely articulate spokesman for the Council of Ontario Universities.
I want to review some of the highlights of the COU presentation to the committee. In the first part of that submission, they said: "The Council of Ontario Universities submits this brief to the standing committee on social development of the Legislature of Ontario in connection with Bill 42, which is intended to limit university deficits."
This is extremely important for you, Mr. Chairman, in your difficult job of arbitrating a sometimes wide-ranging debate. "This Bill 42," said COU, can only be understood in the wider context of university funding." Let me repeat that for the benefit and edification of my friend the member for Oxford (Mr. Treleaven). "This Bill 42 can only be understood in the wider context of university funding."
COU went on to talk about its examination of current university funding levels in relation to enrolment and student demand, research responsibilities, tuition fee levels and capital requirements for teaching and research equipment and for renovations and alterations.
The following facts and basic questions on public policy concerning universities emerged in the brief: "University enrolment in Ontario is at an all-time high and an increased participation rate, already among the highest in the world, may keep it high through the 1980s should a university place continue to be made available for every qualified applicant."
Let me say, Mr. Chairman, there you have it from COU. It sees, and it is so stated in its brief, a direct relationship between Bill 42 and the critical emergent issue of accessibility.
It went on to say: "Ontario ranks last among the provinces in its operating grants per student, 25 per cent or $1,500 below the average for the rest of Canada." Where have you heard that before?
Mr. Nixon: From Stuart Smith.
Mr. Conway: You do not have to believe Stuart Smith. I cited the Fisher report earlier. You can stop believing the opposition politicians on this issue. You can stop believing the Conways and the Allens of this world, and you can start and finish with Harry Fisher or with the COU.
Let me repeat: "Ontario ranks last among the provinces in its operating grants per student, 25 per cent or $1,500 below the average for the rest of Canada." COU asks: 'What is the appropriate financial contribution by the province towards an education of high quality for each student'?" It goes on to cite four data that I think are useful and timely to recite.
This is fact number one from COU. Since 1970-71, or to put it another way, since the beginning of the hegemony of William Grenville Davis, full-time equivalent enrolment has increased by 62 per cent and income per student has fallen in constant dollars by 26 per cent. Since 1980 the comparable figures are a 15 per cent increase in enrolment and an 18 per cent drop in income per student. Such is the Davis record in post-secondary educational finance.
Fact 2: Ontario currently spends much less on university education per student than any other province, about 25 per cent or $1,500 less than the average for the rest of Canada. That was the fact I cited earlier.
Fact 3: The decline in university income per student since 1970-71, the beginning of the Davis years, of more than 25 per cent contrasts with a growth of more than one third in the amount of expenditure per elementary and secondary school pupil over the same period.
Fact 4: In slightly over a decade the share of the Ontario budget devoted to universities has declined by 23 per cent, from 6.6 per cent in 1972-73 to 5.1 per cent in 1983-84, a loss of $326 million in current dollars.
Those are the facts as established, not by me, not by the Ministry of Colleges and Universities, not by the Toronto Star, not by the newspaper at the University of Toronto, but by the very prestigious Council of Ontario Universities.
COU went on in its brief to this Legislature presented a month ago to say: "Ontario university tuition fees set by the government of Ontario are among the highest in Canada but represent about 15 per cent of university revenues. What proportion of the cost of university education should the individual student bear through fees?"
It went on to talk about the issues of research, development, capital, replacement -- I will skip that part which, I might tell you, is not altogether congratulatory of provincial government efforts -- and said, "The future role of Ontario and Canada abroad will be dictated by our degree of commitment to basic and applied research."
Mr. Chairman, the Council of Ontario Universities is inviting you and your other 68 colleagues to look to the future, to build, to better, and to keep the promise for your children and your peers as they look to the economic challenges and the educational opportunities in Kapuskasing, in Cornwall, in Windsor and in St. George. Let me repeat. "The future role," said COU, "of Ontario and Canada abroad will be dictated by our degree of commitment to basic and applied research. The level of financial support to universities will enable them to achieve excellence in both teaching and research."
They did not try to answer a question that Harry Fisher et al certainly struggled with and answered to a significant degree two years before. They note the public opinion surveys indicate -- and, God knows, when anyone talks about public opinion surveys, over here we assume that the Treasury bench at Queen's Park perks up and listens with great care -- that the people of Ontario desire the high quality of university education that we have had to be preserved.
"The universities of Ontario alone cannot answer the questions put," said COU. "The government of Ontario must answer the questions that have been posed as a result of the introduction of Bill 42. Healthy and vigorous universities are of vital importance to the future of this province and of this country. At stake in this investment is the future of Ontario as an advanced technological and humane society."
So seldom has it been my privilege to sit in on a debate that touched upon the central issues of our mandate here, both educational and economic. At a later point in their presentation, they very wisely talked of the budget papers that are part of the Ontario provincial budget for 1983. They talked, for example, of Ontario's budget paper called, R and D and Economic Development in Ontario: A Discussion Paper, and they noted that budget paper, setting out the views of the then Treasurer, recognized "an adequate supply of qualified researchers with graduate level training in the natural or applied sciences is an essential precondition for performing R and D.
"The highly qualified manpower required for the performance of R and D is usually drawn from the graduates of university doctoral and masters degree programs. Universities also play an important role by maintaining a basic level of expertise in fields that could become important in the future. In addition to training highly qualified manpower, universities influence industrial R and D through the conduct of basic research and the performance of contract research.
"For a number of years, various agencies and groups have been expressing grave concern over the low level of expenditure in Canada on R and D. Ontario universities have been sharing in the slow expansion of Canada's research activity. Though with inadequate financial foundation, the Ontario Council on University Affairs has expressed its concerns about inadequate support for research on a number of occasions -- most recently in its Financial Analysis of the Ontario University System, 1982, published in December of that year."
In that report OCUA/COU repeats its judgement, quoting OCUA: "that the level of operating grants provided Ontario universities in recent years has not allowed them to maintain their research base, particularly with respect to equipment and libraries. In the past two years, the government of Ontario has provided grants to universities through the Board of Industrial Leadership and Development, $12 million in 1983-84 for the purchase of research equipment in science and engineering and to support research employment contracts with industry, but this has only partially offset the acute shortage in operating revenues."
Hon. Miss Stephenson: That is not all for 1983-84.
Mr. Conway: I think the minister is right. She has to be right because there is no way they could have known.
The minister says that COU is wrong in its statement that the BILD grants to Ontario universities in 1983-84 are not $12 million. Let me just repeat that so there is no misunderstanding. I have learned the hard way with this minister that one is always wise to go through it a second time. Quoting from page 6 of the COU brief to us in September at the standing committee for social development: "In the past two years, the government of Ontario has provided grants to universities through BILD $12 million in 1983-84 for the purchase of research equipment in science and engineering."
Hon. Miss Stephenson: It is not that much. There is a discrepancy there.
Mr. Conway: That is fair enough. The minister says that is not necessarily accurate, and I accept her judgement. We can check that out.
The main drift of this is clear. There is a serious difficulty with the granting level of the Ontario government with respect to the objectives set out by budget papers as recently as May of this year for the universities, which are supposed to he pathfinders as far as society and the economy in so far as leading us into the knowledge information age is concerned.
I recommend this report to any member. It is a concise seven- or eight-page summary from the prestigious COU, which I think details many of the difficulties in a straightforward way.
I want to review some of the testimony by Dr. Alvin Lee and his colleagues from COU about my ongoing concern in this whole process, which has been how far should we be prepared to go in 1983 with respect to intervention along the lines of a university supervisor. I am quoting myself, if I might. I do not do it often. I try to avoid it at all costs, but I think it is relevant in this case:
"Would you" -- Dr. Lee -- "feel happier if this intervention" -- we are now talking about the substance of my amendment, how far should a supervisor go -- "were based on the occasional as opposed to the general power of intervention? In my comments with the minister on earlier occasions, I have felt that if there are those rare and exceptional situations that do develop, it would be less objectionable, it seems to me, to legislate in a specific way and to intervene in the financial management of university X rather than to legislate this kind of omnibus bill, which sits up on the shelf presumably for such application as opportunity affords."
Dr. Alvin Lee, president of McMaster University and chairman of the Council of Ontario Universities, responds. I think the minister will want to listen, as I know she is, to this. Dr. Lee says: "The short answer to your question is yes, I think that would be preferable. But, of course, from government's perspective it does not have the same deterrent impact that this legislation might have."
That is an interesting statement. We have from Dr. Lee a statement, I think a fairly clear statement, that COU, as he represents it, would prefer something less than the general power the university supervisor has in section 13, particularly subsections 13(5) and 13(6) of Bill 42.
I thought it was really interesting in rereading his comments that he should say: "I think that would be preferable. But, of course, from the government's perspective it does not have the same deterrent impact that this legislation might have."
My colleague the member for Brant-Oxford-Norfolk (Mr. Nixon) might just set his mind to thinking about what Dr. Lee would imagine the effective deterrents of this legislation would pose over any alternatives.
I went on to ask Dr. Lee if he would amplify a little bit. He said and I thought he said it well of Bill 42, but particularly section 13 of it, "This is a pretty brutal mechanism." It is not Conway saying that, Mr. Chairman; it is the president of McMaster University saying that the intervention powers of Bill 42 are "a pretty brutal mechanism."
Hon. Miss Stephenson: What was the question that you asked him when he said that?
Mr. Conway: Thank you, Mr. Minister.
The Acting Chairman (Mr. Robinson): Perhaps it did not come through clearly.
Mr. Conway: Exactly. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I apologize for referring to the minister as Mr. Minister. It certainly is Madam Minister.
The Acting Chairman: There may be a time when you have greater regret than you have now. However, for the clarification of us all --
Mr. Conway: If you had been in those hearings, Mr. Chairman, you would agree with me that the fact that the member for Durham East (Mr. Cureatz) lives is a comment to moderation on all sides.
The Acting Chairman: I do not think it would behoove either of us to expand on that. I simply ask you to remake your point.
Mr. Conway: But you must admit he was pretty heroic.
The Acting Chairman: I will admit nothing while I am here, except to ask you perhaps to remake the point for our clarification and edification and to take your foot off the furniture and continue.
Mr. Conway: I give the member for Durham East one considerable lot of credit, because I thought he steered it on with very considerable effect and charm not once but twice. Perhaps that explains why he is no longer Chairman. But he is a fine fellow none the less.
The Acting Chairman: He is gone, and I am still here; so why do we not continue.
Mr. Conway: For the benefit of the minister and perhaps for the benefit of the vice-chairman of the Council of Ontario Universities, whom I think I see with us here tonight, I will repeat my question to Dr. Lee, because the minister asked for it:
"Mr. Conway: Would you feel happier if this intervention" --
Hon. Miss Stephenson: No, no. The next question after that.
Mr. Conway: All right. Fine. My question to Dr. Lee after he says: "The short answer to your question is yes, I think that would he preferable. But, of course, from government's perspective it does not have the same deterrent impact that this legislation might have.
"Mr. Conway: Would you amplify that just a little bit'?
"Dr. Lee: This is a pretty brutal mechanism."
I think that is pretty clear. I think Alvin Lee intends to suggest to the committee and the Legislature that from his point of view Bill 42, particularly those provisions of it set out in the university supervisor area, are a pretty big stick.
Hon. Miss Stephenson: That's not contained in any of the communications from the COU.
Mr. Conway: All right. But that is the joyful part of parliamentary democracy; it is what makes this whole process worth while. It is why I know the minister has got to be delighted with the prospect of doing that again because, rather than the tiresome, tedious corridors of Mowat Block discussions of these things, she has the opportunity for an airy amplification in the legislative committee room.
Hon. Miss Stephenson: Oh, I do? You obviously have no idea of the role of a minister -- and never will have, at this rate.
Mr. Conway: You may be right. I am not so bold as to imagine sitting in the bathtub --
The Acting Chairman: I think we have lost a measure of the flow we had before.
Mr. Conway: I like the licence plate, if not the car. I think the licence plate is pretty good. I will give you a little gold star for that.
The Acting Chairman: I am sure there is no transportation bill before us.
Mr. Conway: Is it MCU001?
Hon. Miss Stephenson: UCE001.
Mr. Conway: We do, in a funny kind of way, make up after these earlier spats, the minister and I, and that makes it --
The Acting Chairman: I am grateful. Could we truly address ourselves to the bill?
Mr. Conway: All right. You will see that the minister is making an extremely important point. Mr. Chairman, please understand --
The Acting Chairman: I am very indulgent, if nothing else.
Mr. Conway: Understand, Mr. Chairman, what the minister has said. The minister has said, "COU never said anything about Bill 42 being a 'brutal mechanism' in any of their discussions." But they did say that in a committee of this Legislature. They said it publicly, and Alvin Lee repeated it later on.
Hon. Miss Stephenson: Because you asked him to.
Mr. Conway: He is a consenting adult, and he is a bright man; and the minister is an awfully bright lady.
I do not think the minister is under any particular duress, but it is extremely important that she now understand COU had certain concerns, whatever happened in the private correspondence and the chatter in the oak- panelled room leading up to Bill 42. I know there was some. The Council of Ontario Universities worried about certain things the minister has dealt with in the bill and certainly in the amendment.
Hon. Miss Stephenson: Most of the discussions were not with COU.
Mr. Conway: All right. They were not with COU.
I am a parliamentarian who believes that this Legislature, through its assembly and committees, has a role to play. I thought it was played out well. The minister should have been willing to note, as we dealt with this legislation, that the chairman of COU, admittedly under some cross-examination, indicated it was a brutal mechanism. It may have been news to the minister, but it was important news none the less. Accepting that the minister is a reasonable person most of the time, although on certain legislative initiatives she can he difficult, I think it is fair to say --
The Acting Chairman: Please do not do it again -- saying who is what.
Mr. Conway: In a supplementary question I then said to the chairman of the Council of Ontario Universities, "We are legislating this presumably for your benefit, Dr. Lee, and if you think it is a brutal mechanism, I would like to know a little more about your understanding of its specific and general brutality.
"Dr. Lee: I can see this headline tomorrow.
"All the universities of Ontario with the exception of the University of Toronto have a bicameral system of governance, a senate responsible for academic policymaking and a board responsible for the financial solvency and management of the university. For this legislation to come into effect at a particular institution means that the administration and the board of a particular university will have let things get to such a situation that by legislation an outsider comes in and starts to manage the university and make the financial decisions, almost certainly meaning the cutting back of this or that.
"In other words," Dr. Lee continued, "the traditional governmental patterns of a university set down in our act will be set aside to that extent. Perhaps 'brutal' is a melodramatic term, but it is a very decisive external force coming in to manage something that the people there with the legal responsibility for doing it at that point have not done."
That worries me. In talking to people like Dr. Lee and some of the minister's staff, I keep finding there is a general belief in goodwill and good management. We have the minister at a little later point in the week-long hearings stating that -- certainly Burt Matthews said it -- there was a pretty good tradition and record in the management of our universities.
It is worries me when people like Dr. Lee and others think about what it is going to mean. Perhaps I am too particular -- I am a little ornery on occasion -- but if I were a board member at a place such as McMaster University and I had foisted on me a university supervisor who essentially took over the job I had of running the institution, the minister would have her institution. She would have it lock, stock and barrel.
Hon. Miss Stephenson: You're wrong.
Mr. Conway: Well, that is my own view; I am not saying it is anybody else's. I know the minister will be anxious to appoint me to the board of Queen's University or Carleton University.
Hon. Miss Stephenson: It is certainly not the board members' view.
Mr. Conway: We shall see about that. This tends to have a little different bearing on people once they have the reality of its immediacy and its experience.
Given the way in which the minister controls much of the game, if I were there I would be sorely tempted to say, "Minister, here are the keys; run the place and good luck, because under your rules, I have tried to do it for the past five years and it just ain't possible." No central government would ever want that responsibility dumped on it, particularly in view of the internal advice she probably gets in many of these cases.
I was giving the minister credit earlier; perhaps I did not give her credit on another account. I know that it is with a very considerable diligence that the minister has gone to the executive council Wednesday after Wednesday and has been buffeted by the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing (Mr. Bennett) and others who are perhaps not as sensitive to our universities as the Minister of Colleges and Universities obviously is, if private accounts of her internal governmental activities are to be credited. I do credit those accounts, because they tell me we should be so lucky in this province as to have in the government a minister who is as bright and as tough and as powerful as the current minister; so I have to believe the reports which indicate she has fought long and hard in the executive council for a greater share of a diminishing pie.
There is a part of me that would almost like to see, in an age when constraints are off, when the two per cent rule is in effect and when the funding levels suggested by Harry Fisher et al are not complied with, somebody being in default and the minister finding herself with a university to run under the rules she has set for the abdicating party. But I suspect that will never happen because, recognizing the impossibility of the task the minister will have set for herself, she will move to amend one or some of the ground rules -- probably up the ante for grants -- and save the day in that respect.
I simply recall Dr. Lee's testimony because I think he touched upon the central point of my amendment. The central point of my amendment is that while I think there is a commonly agreed understanding that we need a better handle on the financial information of the universities, it was interesting to talk to people in the universities after the hearings and in some cases during the hearings. I was asking certain people from the Council of Ontario Universities and other specific institutions, "Can you recall, institution X, have you ever denied the Minister of Colleges and Universities information that she requested?"
The minister, sharing smiles as we are, knows that no one I encountered, and it was by no means an exhaustive survey, told me they failed to provide the information that had been requested.
Hon. Miss Stephenson: We got it a year and a half later.
Mr. Conway: It was like her grants: what is good for the goose is probably good for the gander. I am thinking about those poor school boards out there who wait and wait and wait for the transfers and borrow and borrow and borrow and up the mill rate in Keswick because they have no choice; they have been kept waiting too long.
I do not know about the universities having to borrow money like the good burghers of Keswick, because she has delayed them; but if they have delayed the minister, I want the minister before this hearing is out, to share with us, to share with me privately, confidentially some case examples.
Hon. Miss Stephenson: Nothing is confidential with you; you spill everything. You have a leak. You have a haemorrhage, I think.
The Acting Chairman: I do not think he requires a medical diagnosis at this time.
Mr. Conway: Mr. Chairman, she has given it to me so many times that at her opted-out price, I would be broke.
The Acting Chairman: Be that as it may, you have been the picture of restraint tonight, which has not gone unrecognized.
Mr. Conway: I remind you, Mr. Chairman, and the minister, the next time the vicar of Brampton ascends his pulpit of self-righteousness to lecture us about, "Let's not be personal; let's recall the record," let he without sin -- let she without sin -- cast the first stone.
The Acting Chairman: We're all without sin; let us continue with Bill 42.
Mr. Conway: But, you see, there is the difficulty, sir.
The Acting Chairman: I gather there is some difficulty in doing that, yes.
Mr. Conway: The minister is quite confident and secure in the knowledge that there are problems out there in terms of failure to report early, on time or completely. I do not know whether the member for Hamilton West (Mr. Allen) has heard, but I do not recall having been given concrete examples of where that has created a problem. Can he remember? I cannot.
The minister is obviously smiling in the knowledge that these --
Hon. Miss Stephenson: I'm not smiling.
Mr. Conway: The minister gets a blue star for that; at least she is trying.
All I am saying in the sweet reasonableness of the first evening sitting of the fall session of the Ontario Legislature is to let us, as people who have to make the decision, have some of the facts; let us have some of the evidence.
Has Father Guindon been unhelpful to the minister?
Hon. Miss Stephenson: No. I don't think so.
Mr. Conway: What about Dr. Earp and the good people at Brock?
Hon. Miss Stephenson: Perhaps from time to time they have been slightly unhelpful, but --
Mr. Conway: Oh, well now, Mr. Chairman --
The Acting Chairman: Let us not involve any more people in this.
Mr. Conway: Let me note that it was a very reluctant and passing smile that reference drew from Dr. Earp, the vice-chairman of the Council of Ontario Universities.
The instant I resume my place at 10:30, I am going to dispatch the member for St. Catharines (Mr. Bradley) to engage Dr. Earp with a view to ascertaining his understanding of deficiencies as between the reporting of that institution and York.
Hon. Miss Stephenson: On a point of order, Mr. Chairman: The honourable member really doth protest too much. It is insignificant that the member is raising the issue related to Dr. Earp, who happens to be present. I do not recall on any occasion that Brock University has not provided us with information, albeit it may have been done slowly from time to time; but it is not the example that I raised.
The Acting Chairman: I can only say, minister, if you involve members of the public in the debate of the House then unfortunately --
Hon. Miss Stephenson: It was not I. It was the honourable member who raised the fact that Dr. Earp was here.
The Acting Chairman: It was you, though, I fear, who may have drawn him in. Perhaps without further admonishment, if we could keep the debate reasonably centred back to ourselves and more particularly back to Bill 42, we might meet with some greater measure of progress.
Mr. Conway: Mr. Chairman, it is extremely helpful for the minister to clear the air about that distinguished institution in the great electoral districts of St. Catharines and Brock.
Hon. Miss Stephenson: I really should have learned a long time ago that you are viperish.
Mr. Conway: That bothers me, to have the minister call me a viper.
Hon. Miss Stephenson: Oh no, I didn't say you were a viper.
Mr. Conway: Well, she said I was viperish.
The Acting Chairman: There is nothing to be gained, I am sure, from either the comment which provoked the response or the response itself; perhaps we could proceed.
Mr. Conway: Mr. Chairman, all I am trying to do in the debate on my amendment is to draw my friend the minister out, as I appreciate her willingness to do from time to time. She is sitting there and, I think it is fair to say, she is quite secure in the knowledge that there are some real problems with reporting in some cases.
Hon. Miss Stephenson: Read Hansard again.
Mr. Conway: I will. I will read it very carefully and I am going to chat with my friend the member for Hamilton West.
Again I come back to the central point. If the concrete facts are placed before me, we will deal with it. I said some time earlier this evening in that connection that if there are provisions the minister wants this Legislature to give her, I am going to join with the member for Brantford (Mr. Gillies), the member for Parry Sound (Mr. Eves) and the member for Northumberland (Mr. Sheppard) in giving them speedy passage, because I do not want it on my conscience that I am standing as a barrier between her and a more efficient administration of our Ontario universities. But I think we have to know what we are trying to correct, and the difficulty I have had with this bill is that I am being asked to legislate generally for a problem that is going away and specifically for information about financial difficulties.
I forgot. May I congratulate the member for Parry Sound, who I have just remembered is the new parliamentary assistant to the Minister of Education. My congratulations are freely offered. The member for Parry Sound, being at the outer edge of the ministry -- by that I mean only that he is a junior; a junior minister in this case -- is a reasonable man. Our ridings come together near the great community of Mattawa, and we have met on the Mattawa-Papineau line a few times. If we can meet there to resolve matters of mutual interest and concern, I am sure the member for Parry Sound and I, in the absence of the potentate of all education, can iron out these difficulties.
But I ask him, in the hours that will intervene between the end of this sitting tonight and another occasion, to take me aside and say: "Listen, here are the specific problems. Did you know that at university X we have these particular difficulties?" I have not heard what I consider to be compelling evidence that there has been a reluctance by the universities. And if there are timetables he really wants to establish more clearly -- and I do not doubt that this is certainly what the regulations are going to do under the earlier parts of Bill 42 -- then I am all for it and I am all with you as long as I have something concrete and specific to respond to. I have always found it difficult to dance in a fog, and I do not find it any easier to manage that tonight with Bill 42.
I have to say for the benefit of the parliamentary assistant, in the absence of the minister, that there are university administrators out there who are more than a little angry at the Minister of Education for the impact and import of what she has had to say about them. They are not very pleased to read in the parliamentary records of this place that they have somehow failed to meet the dictates and requirements of the government of Ontario.
They are good people. Father Guindon is a very fine man, and I am sure he and the other 15 university presidents of this province want to oblige. I cannot imagine that the brother of the alter ego of the province of Ontario, Brian Segal at that Tory senate at Ryerson, would ever want to run afoul of the power and the glory here. He is obviously a man of goodwill and presumably of good management.
Some of these people are getting a little annoyed that these rather cavalier generalizations, unsupported by many or any data from the ministry, are being put on the public record in this very public place without much opportunity, quite frankly, for a lot of those people to come forward and clear the air. It is difficult for many of them because, when you depend on the government to transfer the kinds of funds that are involved, I think it is fair to say that their capacity to engage the minister publicly or vigorously in some ways is not as fulsome as it might otherwise be.
So to the parliamentary assistant, beyond my initial congratulations, which are sincere and genuinely offered as a lawyer, as a member of the Law Society of Upper Canada, with whom I have had an interesting visit lately -- I must admit that the treasurer of the law society reminded me of the Minister of Education in a way -- perhaps the member could enlighten me.
I do not think I am the sieve that the Minister of Education suggested I am. I can hold a secret remarkably well. I have a few in my possession that would create a spectacular reaction over there and in the public press if I were so foolish and so unreliable as to release them. It is true I will on occasion blab a bit, but I think I am pretty careful about with whom and where. I think I am something more than she suggested.
I think the parliamentary assistant can truthfully take it that if he is, as he must be of necessity, in possession of such information as would necessitate the kind of legislation we are getting here, on either count, on the financial data which, as I say, there is almost no resistance about -- we were prepared tonight to give you that. I just note that it seems to be redundant because nobody out there is saying there really is a big problem except the minister. All I have heard from the other side of that is, "We will accommodate her every directive." She has not been as specific in some of those cases as we would have imagined.
I want to go on to what was in a way probably the most interesting testimony of the whole week -- the member for Wellington South (Mr. Worton) is not here; he was here earlier -- from the then chairman of the Ontario Council on University Affairs, Dr. Burton Matthews, formerly president of the University of Waterloo and just recently appointed president of the University of Guelph. My friend the member for Brant-Oxford-Norfolk (Mr. Nixon) seems to have more than a passing acquaintance with him.
Dr. Matthews came before us on that occasion. There is a rumour over here, and it may be very unfair, but some people in the Liberal cloakroom had been heard to say that Burton Matthews is a bit of a Tory, that Burton Matthews even harboured a political career, but the thought of taking on the member for Waterloo North (Mr. Epp) is more of a challenge than even Burton Matthews wanted to tackle at this stage in his illustrious career. That is only corridor gossip in the Liberal cloakroom at Queen's Park, but I thought --
Mr. Chairman: Dealing with the amendment.
Mr. Conway: Just a bit of deep background on the next individual who appeared before the hearing, and that was Dr. Burton Matthews, the then chairman of the Ontario Council on University Affairs. OCUA, as it is called, is the senior policy adviser to the Ontario government for university affairs. It is a kind of council of health in higher education.
Apparently it has had a very mixed career. The member for Hamilton West (Mr. Allen) certainly knows more about it and its makeup than I do, but I gather from my examination of its past that its advice is not always taken. Its batting average is down there with Gary Carter's and not altogether as impressive as one might imagine, though it has offered up some pretty useful material, not the least of which was its 1982 report on the financial health of the Ontario university system.
At my request Dr. Matthews came before us, because Bill 42 is in a way the council's handiwork. The compendium on this legislation contains this statement on page 1:
"On February 18, 1982, the Honourable Bette Stephenson, MD, Minister of Colleges and Universities, announced that the Ontario government will not provide extraordinary funding for institutions that incur unmanageable deficits. She also asked the Ontario Council on University Affairs to advise her on the most appropriate legislative method to prevent universities from incurring unmanageable deficits and to eliminate or reduce any that have been incurred."
I say to the parliamentary assistant that council responded with advisory memorandum 82 with five restrictions on university deficits. The advice contained in the advisory memorandum forms the basis for this legislation.
It is an interesting relationship between OCUA and Bill 42, because there are some out there who have been led to believe this was really OCUA's idea -- it was not the minister's idea, it was OCUA's brainchild -- without their clear understanding that the minister specifically requested on that day in February 1982 that OCUA advise her on the most appropriate legislative method to prevent universities from incurring unmanageable deficits and to eliminate or reduce any that had been incurred.
It, of course, produced memorandum 82-V, which has the essentials of Bill 42, particularly that part of the bill I am most concerned about; namely, the second stage of what OCUA would call primary intervention.
The minister, in a useful education for me, clarified the confusion that had crept into my mind about the difference between the second stage of primary intervention and the first stage of secondary intervention. That was an exercise we all profited from; I know I did.
But it is then important to see what Dr. Matthews had to say on that particular occasion. He was really remarkable. Burt Matthews is a man about whom I have learned a fair bit. He was the president of the University of Waterloo for a period of about nine years -- I will check that -- but he has a reputation as a pretty hard-nosed fellow. He is bright and tough. He was president of the University of Waterloo for 11 years, from 1970 to 1981.
In my earlier reincarnation as an undergraduate at that old school down the street -- Waterloo Lutheran University -- that graduated, among others, the members for Kitchener (Mr. Breithaupt), Waterloo North (Mr. Epp), the Minister of Natural Resources (Mr. Pope) and myself, we used to hear these things about Burt Matthews which were very good in terms of his administrative capacity. So I was really interested to meet him. He came and he was remarkable and extraordinary in what he said and the way he said it.
I honestly got the feeling that Burt Matthews was, in some way, a bigger hawk about this bill than the minister herself, hard as that might be for some people to imagine.
But we were interested about the reasons for the bill. Why did we have this kind of a proposal? Because in her directive the minister left seemingly enough scope that it could have done a number of things.
I think the minister would agree with me that it could have said, "We do not think it is an appropriate question and we are not going to deal with it." It might have said, "Read our 1982 report about the financial health of Ontario universities and up your ante and the problem is basically going to disappear." It might have said, "Madam Minister, as you know, the situation is well on the way to correcting itself and therefore we do not think it is useful for us to spend a lot of our time on the generation of a proposal that is essentially redundant in the here and now."
Or it could have done what it did do, which was take the request seriously and get to work on a review of other provincial governments' legislation in this area and then on a specific bill for the recommendation and the attention of the minister.
I am just going to cite some of Dr. Matthews's testimony. There is no stare, Mr. Chairman, quite like that stare. I feel as though it is the human X-ray. I am intimidated.
Mr. Chairman: We are all perhaps a little curious what you are about to repeat.
Mr. Conway: I am not repeating anything. I am now going to deal with the important testimony of Dr. Burt Matthews, the then chairman of the Ontario Council for University Affairs, the now president-elect of the University of Guelph, the former president of the University of Waterloo who, in his capacity as the former chairman of the Ontario Council for University Affairs, was part of that advisory group that drafted memorandum 82-V, which formed the basis of this bill and, in particular, dealt with the kind of university supervisor that I seek to amend with my amendment here tonight.
Mr. Chairman, I hope you will indulge me just a little longer, and I am not going to be much longer.
Hon. Miss Stephenson: But you are not going to be quite so selective in your readings as you were with --
Mr. Conway: Do you feel I was selective in my --
Hon. Miss Stephenson: Not quite. You left out one very important --
Mr. Conway: Listen, I appreciate that. I am trying to be a bit selective, because I realize that time may be of some concern.
Hon. Miss Stephenson: Oh, really?
Mr. Conway: There is a certain irritation about you, Madam Minister, that I have grown to identify at an early stage.
Hon. Miss Stephenson: I don't know why you should think that.
Mr. Conway: Madam Minister, it is unavoidable. If you feel there is something about Dr. Lee's testimony that bears clarification, I would be very pleased on a point of --
Hon. Miss Stephenson: Might I ask you to read the middle paragraph on page 11?
Mr. Conway: I am quoting Dr. Lee: "There was a good deal of discussion in various senates and boards around the province last year. Our board made a submission to the minister strongly recommending what the Council of Ontario Universities did -- circumscription of the powers of the supervisor -- in much the way that the minister has now put it in this version.
"Yes, there was a good deal of concern and a kind of acceptance, on one hand, that maybe it is inevitable, however unpalatable."
Let me just repeat that, because that is very useful. I read that --
Hon. Miss Stephenson: Particularly the final sentence in the first paragraph.
Mr. Conway: All right. "There was a good deal of discussion in various senates and boards around the province last year. Our board" -- at McMaster, I might add -- "made a submission to the minister strongly recommending what the Council of Ontario Universities did -- circumscription of the powers of the supervisor -- in much the way that the minister has now put it in this version.
"Yes, there was a good deal of concern and a kind of acceptance, on one hand, that maybe it is inevitable, however unpalatable."
I do not see that this is a compelling support for your case, I am sorry. I did not read it; I should have, now that I look at it. But I do not see --
Hon. Miss Stephenson: It is certainly not quite so damning as you were trying to make it out.
Mr. Conway: Well, that is true; I will grant you that. It is not quite so damning; I think that is fair.
Mr. Conway: To that extent I thank you for the clarification. I am not an unreasonable man. What you suggest is true: by referring to that part of Dr. Lee's testimony it is not quite so damning.
But I do not think there is anything particularly heroic, quite frankly, about the chairman of the Council of Ontario Universities and the president of McMaster University saying, "Yes, there was a good deal of concern and a kind of acceptance, on one hand, that maybe it is inevitable, however unpalatable." I do not think that is quite a ringing endorsation of what you and Bill 42 are all about.
Hon. Miss Stephenson: If there were a ringing endorsation anywhere, it would probably be entirely wrong.
Mr. Conway: But you see, that was the interesting thing about chairman Burt Matthews in his capacity, and I thank the minister for her intervention; that was useful.
I want her to follow through the pages that I read in 29, because I am like others. I do not profess to be omniscient or infallible. I will read now from the bottom of page 29, involving exchanges between myself and Dr. Matthews, starting with the last heading, "Mr. Conway." If you can stomach that, we will start together. Quoting Mr. Conway on page 29 of the Hansard of the afternoon of Tuesday, September 6, 1983, involving a discussion between myself and Dr. Burton Matthews:
"Mr. Conway: Would you care to share with the committee any views you had or formulated as a result of the deficit situations as you encountered them? They are set out, of course, in appendix to your memorandum 82-V, but I am just wondering whether there was a pattern to the deficits you encountered.
"Certainly when I look at it, it is obvious that more often than not it is the smaller universities that were experiencing some real difficulties; of course, the Laurentian family was the most notable in that connection. But what did you find when you looked at the deficits? Was there anything in particular, a pattern to their development?
"Dr. Matthews: I am not sure I understand.
"Mr. Conway: Dr. Lee just left us, and he certainly left me, with the impression that had it not been for private endowment, they certainly would have been on this list.
"Dr. Matthews: I think that is wrong, I shouldn't say that. I don't think McMaster would be on that list without its private endowment. The University of Waterloo has none."
Now this part is really interesting and I want to read it carefully. Quoting the architect of much of this bill, Dr. Burton Matthews: "One of the reasons I believe there is a need for legislation at this time -- and I think perhaps this is the most important reason -- is that we have to realize we are dealing with a system that includes 15 or more autonomous institutions, and they need to have guidelines for their operation.
"It is important that every institution know that no institution, by running large deficits, can somehow force the hand of government to bail it out. That has been and was a concern of a number of institutions that were balancing their budgets very nicely -- and we have mentioned a couple already -- with the fear that some other board might see it differently; and without the Legislature setting out that guideline, why should they think differently?"
I think that is a really interesting nugget, and I recall the fervour with which Dr. Matthews offered it up to us that day. Let us just for the sake of argument say, "Burt Matthews, you have it absolutely and completely right." If that is the problem, if that is the vacuum that we have to contend with, the member for York Mills should be given some opportunity to move forward on that.
Modern Progressive Conservatism in Ontario, in its truly remarkable success -- a success I admire daily -- is notable centrally for its gradualism. I cannot think of anything it does as a party or a government in this beloved Upper Canada of ours that is not staged, that is not gradual, that is not measured and that is not accommodated.
Given that and all we have heard in this committee about the goodwill and the good management and the improvement of the problem. I say to myself, "All right, Burt Matthews, if you are right, step number one is the minister." I cannot think of anybody better because she does this so beautifully. She rises in her place and says: "Ladies and gentlemen of this Legislature, gentlemen and ladies of the university community, and people of Ontario, in the best traditions of John Robarts and Les Frost, let me tell you what the rules of the game are going to be for university finance in this province.
"Having discussed the matter with the Chairman of Management Board (Mr. McCague) and the Premier (Mr. Davis) himself, I want members to understand that the government policy is clear and unequivocal. Mindful of the fact there may be many out there who are uncertain, or unsure, or confused about what we might or might not do given the presence of unmanageable deficits, let me clear the air. Let me tell those at Carleton, at Lakehead, at Ryerson, at Nipissing University College, at Laurier, at Windsor, at Western, at Queen's and at Ottawa; let me tell Dr. Earp, let me tell Brian Segal, let me tell Dr. Watts: This is the government policy.
"The government policy is as follows. We will not, beginning with the fiscal year 1983-84, tolerate any deficit beyond X limit and one should know this. It is our intention to make good this commitment. We are in a time of reduced fiscal capacity, faced with a series of unprecedented challenges and we are not anxious to be faced with multimillion-dollar bills you people have generated by an unwise management of your albeit scarce resources." So there will he absolutely no question anywhere, says this minister, about what the rule on deficits is going to be.
It seems to me, and I know my friend the member for Bellwoods (Mr. McClellan) would want to agree, that if the redoubtable Minister of Education stood in her place and said that, as only she can in that inimitable way of hers
Mr. Nixon: Or impregnable.
Hon. Miss Stephenson: That is an inappropriate word for a mother of six.
Mr. Conway: All right, you two. Come on. Please save that for the member for Oriole's (Mr. Williams) Family Unity Month.
But accepting that the chairman of the Ontario Council on University Affairs is right, I say to the minister, in the best of the gradualism and gradualist tradition of Ontario Progressive Conservatism, why would she not have --
Hon. Miss Stephenson: It is, in effect, what we did.
Mr. Conway: That is not, in effect, what she is doing. What she is, in effect, trying to do is something decidedly more draconian.
Hon. Miss Stephenson: February 1982.
Mr. Conway: All right. Let me just accept that part of it. Accepting that the minister did that in February, why will she not accept the garlands of her own success?
Hon. Miss Stephenson: In 1982.
Mr. Conway: Why will she, 18 months later, not allow me to transfer to her the successes of that first stage? Because, by her own speeches, it worked. The problem is much less
Hon. Miss Stephenson: Not immediately.
Mr. Conway: You see, there we go, Mr. Chairman. What do we do? I know my friend, the member for Brantford (Mr. Gillies) shares with me a complete sense of anxiety about trying to do the right thing on the basis of such incomplete information.
If we could draw the minister out more formally on these nuggets of asides that she keeps dropping, the problem, I am sure, would crystallize itself dramatically and we could get on with the job.
Hon. Miss Stephenson: If you ever shut up, somebody might have a chance.
Mr. Conway: I just want to say to the minister that if I accept what she has said about what she did as part of her statement in February 1982 and let us, for the sake of argument, say that I do accept that -- I go one step further and I say she won; she made it work. She says she did not make it work. The problem, somehow, is worse than we imagine.
In all good faith, before the minister should expect this Legislative Assembly to give her the kind of draconian powers of intervention that subsections 5 and 6 of section 13 of Bill 42 give her, she has a duty to tell this assembly, and the province beyond, how she has failed and how the problem continues, because the public record is not burdened with that evidence.
Mr. Chairman: I wonder if the member might not think, as it is approaching 10:30 p.m. of the clock, this might be an appropriate juncture to conclude.
Mr. Conway: Mr. Chairman, it is a pleasure to accept your direction. On that, I will resume my seat and in so doing adjourn the debate to be continued at another time mutually acceptable to all sides.
Mr. Chairman: We do not need to adjourn the debate, but we might entertain a motion from the minister that the committee rise and report.
On motion by Hon. Miss Stephenson, the committee of the whole House reported progress.
The House adjourned at 10:32 p.m.