The House resumed at 8 p.m.
CONSTITUTION AMENDMENT PROCLAMATION (CONCLUDED)
Resuming the adjourned debate on government motion 10: Rights and freedoms of the first inhabitants of Canada, the aboriginal peoples.
Mr. Shymko: Mr. Speaker, as we resume the debate on motion 10 related to the rights and freedoms of the first inhabitants of Canada, the aboriginal peoples, I would like to say it is with pleasure that we see our young people in the galleries, those who have studied the history of Canada and, particularly at their age, the history of our native peoples and their contribution to the history of our nation.
To continue in my thoughts, concluding yesterday at six o'clock, I spoke about --
Mr. Williams: A point of privilege, Mr. Speaker: For the benefit of the member for High Park-Swansea, I want to point out that the young people he is addressing in the gallery happen to be the 14th Scarborough West A Cub Pack from the riding of Oriole.
Mr. Shymko: I certainly thank the member for Oriole for pointing out in precise detail who I was referring to.
In my remarks yesterday, I stressed one element that is very often forgotten by our citizens and at times by our politicians. We must remember that constitutional declarations, statutory acts and any guarantees in our laws really depend for their survival on one aspect: the attitudes, the values, the thinking of the people of the particular time in history. That is when declarations and constitutional guarantees and laws will have any relevance.
We have seen moments in our history, as recently as during the Second World War, when Canadian citizens were incarcerated in concentration camps despite guarantees and despite laws. I refer to the American Declaration of Independence, the great document of our neighbours to the south, where Negro slavery existed for three quarters of a century after that declaration because of the people's attitudes.
In spite of the amendments we will be making to the Constitution and the Charter of Rights, it is important that we start changing our attitudes to our aboriginal peoples so as to entrench that in the minds and the hearts of the citizens of Canada and of this great province. I am very concerned that our laws provide that all people should have the opportunity to attain those ends and to make their unique contributions to our national way of life in their own way. We as a society must accept that principle.
I mentioned tolerance. I believe we will only develop that understanding, that sensitivity, if we talk to one another.
Mr. Haggerty: Where has your party been the past 40 years?
Mr. Shymko: We can make partisan remarks and play the little game of partisanship. But progress has been made. This a Progressive Conservative Party and it has made changes in the Human Rights Code.
I recall people demonstrating, when the Minister of Labour (Mr. Ramsay) was seeking re-election, over the fact that we wanted to implement changes. I do not have to listen to those remarks.
Mr. Renwick: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order: I fail to see a quorum.
Mr. Speaker ordered the bells to be rung.
The Deputy Speaker: There now being a quorum, would the member for High Park-Swansea please continue.
Mr. Shymko: I would like to thank --
Mr. J. M. Johnson: Mr. Speaker, I would like to point out a fact for the benefit of the members of the House.
The Deputy Speaker: Are you rising on a point of privilege?
Mr. J. M. Johnson: A point of privilege.
The Deputy Speaker: The chair will hear your point of privilege.
Mr. J. M. Johnson: Mr. Speaker, as whip responsible for the attendance in the House tonight, I was disturbed by the quorum call. I attended the standing committee on resources development and advised that we did not have members in attendance --
The Deputy Speaker: Order. The member's comments are neither a point of privilege nor a point of order.
Mr. Shymko: Mr. Speaker, I would like to express my gratitude to the member for Riverdale (Mr. Renwick),who realizes not only the importance of this debate but also the importance of my words and what I was trying to say, who wanted not only to make sure that we would have a quorum but also to try to have this entire House filled with members of the Legislature. I thank the member for Riverdale for his assistance.
I would like to continue by --
Mr. Mancini: You drove the members out of the House.
Mr. Boudria: You chased them away, Yuri.
Mr. Shymko: I may be over-reacting to the member for Erie (Mr. Haggerty). I know these references are made once in a while, and I will try to stick to my comments and my speech by not reacting.
As I was saying, we will only develop the understanding, sensitivity or tolerance I referred to if we talk to each other and share equally one another's concerns and, above all, if we have the courage, determination and intelligence to put aside all prejudice and stereotypes once and for all.
Our history is a sad history. In my opinion, it tells us that the first people of this land have been for too long excluded from the political, social and economic life of this nation. For them, to quote the Prime Minister, it has not been a "just society." They were placed in a position in which their destiny, future and very existence were paternally determined by the bureaucracies which were ignorant of them and over which they had no control and little influence.
To this day, for one reason or another -- and I will not try to discuss the reasons -- we do not have a member of our native peoples sitting in this Legislature. Much worse, at times and in different places in this country, our aboriginal people have been actively persecuted, if I may use the term.
Some students of history and of the treatment of our aboriginal peoples tell us that Canada is unique in that it has historically recognized the legitimacy of the concept of aboriginal rights and aboriginal title. This may be true; however, all too often what we approved of in concept we did not practise. Nor did the policies adopted at the national level with respect to the native peoples -- and I refer to the federal government of Canada -- necessarily reflect those commitments to those philosophical and legal principles of aboriginal rights and aboriginal title to which some of the participants in the debate referred.
I do not have to recall to the members that in the United States, Indian policy for centuries vacillated between extermination and assimilation. The former is best summed up by General Sheridan's phrase -- and it is unfortunate that one has to say this -- that "The only good Indian is a dead Indian." It was a reality. I refer to the attitudes, the thinking and the minds of people at that stage in history, no matter what constitutional guarantees were entrenched in that great country to the south.
In Canada, the goal of total assimilation at times dictated our aboriginal policies, certainly until the 1940s and, some would argue, in various ways until the mid-1960s. In my opinion, the difference between integration and assimilation is that we must all integrate socially, economically and politically and participate in the process; it is a desired goal.
Some of the fundamental, beautiful values of that diversity are a blessing in this country, and not a curse. I refer to the culture, tradition and customs of our peoples. They should not be destroyed in some uniform way. They are a blessing that should be preserved. That is what I mean by integration as opposed to assimilation. These things should not be destroyed. This is where we are unique in this province, in some of the policies this government has initiated; the heritage language program being one, and acceptance of the policy and the concept of multiculturalism which we all share and which in some degree is being entrenched in article 15 of our Constitution.
Let us be frank. The policies I referred to earlier have been a failure in the past, and the native peoples of this country paid the price for that failure. Our policies failed so miserably that by the 1970s, for example, some people were beginning to speak of our native policies as policies of cultural genocide. All members are familiar with the grim statistics on mortality rates, alcoholism and family violence. I do not have to refer to some of the studies that have been done and to the standing committee that visited a part of our province and saw some of the destitution in this area. I do not have to talk about the crime, suicide and poverty that describe the life of our native peoples. I need not review them here.
Those statistics point not only to the failure of a policy but also to the death of a culture. The death of a culture is a terrible thing. It leaves the individual born and raised in that culture without value orientation in life. Perhaps no member in this chamber can fully appreciate the trauma this must cause. Members should try, if they can, to answer these questions put by the hereditary chief of the Coast Salish tribe and the honorary chief of the Squamish tribe, Chief Dan George, who is well known to all of us.
With your permission, Mr. Speaker, I would like to quote Chief Dan George, for the first time in the history of this Legislature in a language of one of the province's aboriginal peoples, namely, Ojibway. I also hope the day will not be too long in coming when we can all be blessed by the presence of Canada's natives, one of them or maybe more, sitting among us as elected members of this Legislature. Until that day, I beg forgiveness if non-natives such as I do not speak with the facility and the eloquence that this beautiful language deserves.
But these are the questions that Dan George posed. This is the way they sound in Ojibway.
[Remarks in Ojibway]
Before providing the translation, I want to thank Isidore Toulouse, the adult program co-ordinator of the Native Canadian Centre here on Spadina Ave., in Toronto, for his kind assistance in coaching me.
For the benefit of the honourable members I would like to provide you with the translation. This is what these questions posed by Chief Dan George were:
"Do you know what it is like to be without moorings? Do you know what it is like to be and to live in surroundings that are ugly and everywhere you look you see ugly things? Do you know what it is like to feel you are of no value to society and to those around you, to know that people come to help you but not to work with you because you knew they knew you had nothing to offer in the first place?
"Do you know what it is like to have your race belittled, to be without pride in your race, pride in your family, pride and confidence in yourself? You do not know, for you have never tasted its bitterness."
The reason I believe these amendments are so important, so crucial to our future, is because they are, as one commentator put it, a test of our civility. They signal a change in our attitudes towards the native peoples of this nation, a change brought about by a change in our values which I believe, and I stress again, is more important than any statutory act, than any constitutional guarantees. This is what we will have to stress in this Legislature to our constituents, no matter where we live and what area we represent.
To a degree, credit for this change must go to the native peoples themselves. They have taken this issue out of irrelevance.
At a conference on educational reform for minorities held at the University of Windsor in May 1971, Delia Opekokew, a native, said of the native people: "A real conflict is going to erupt one of these days. We are going to do more than simply stay in our teepees."
They did more. They organized. They lobbied. They took legal and political action and they worked to inform the public and the politicians of their needs, of their demands and of their rights. We saw their desperate activities while the constitutional conference and debate were being held in Ottawa. They went to London, to the United Kingdom. They pressured, they convinced and they worked on the attitudes and the opinions of all Canadians.
I would like to say that the results of their actions are here before us today in this debate and this amendment. These amendments must be passed because this dialogue, this process of defining aboriginal rights, must be continued. Our laws reflect our values, our attitudes, and no body of law should do that more completely or more accurately than our own Constitution.
I would like to add that adopting these amendments is only a first step.
Mr. Stokes: When are you going to translate the words into action?
Mr. Shymko: It is only a first step -- I am concluding my remarks and I will not react to comments. I have valued the comments from the member for Lake Nipigon.
I say that adopting these amendments is only a first step, an important one, but we can only go forward because we must only go forward. Progress will depend upon our understanding of the issues and our commitment to devising workable solutions. They are not perfect; we are not perfect. But the commitment and the intent on this side of the House is to work towards that goal and members cannot question that intent. With members' help, together we must ensure that the very least of these matters remains in the forefront of our political stage -- yes, by debates such as these.
In the future conferences that will be mandated by these amendments I hope that national and native leaders will talk and converse as friends, as neighbours, and not just negotiate as antagonists or protagonists, as conquerors or vanquished. We do, after all, share a great land. Let us pray that we will share it in harmony, share it in understanding and in trust, as the treaties used to say long, long ago, "for as long as the sun shines and the river runs."
Mr. Boudria: Mr. Speaker, I come into this debate rather at the last minute only to express a few views of my own concerning this very important and historic event. I must say that before coming into the Legislature tonight I had not considered speaking on this resolution, and I will probably make my remarks fairly brief.
Not long ago a number of members of our Legislature had the privilege of travelling as part of a committee to northwestern Ontario, where we went to visit an Indian reserve. I think it is important to talk about this briefly, and I know that my colleague the member for Kent-Elgin (Mr. McGuigan) did discuss it earlier in the House.
For a person such as I, who represents a constituency that does not have a native reserve and is quite some distance from other constituencies that do, my exposure to and my knowledge of natives and of the reserves was very limited. While I will not profess tonight that I am now an expert on the topic, which of course I am not, I gained some knowledge over the few days I was there that was, in my view, very interesting and taught me things I had never felt existed in this province.
As you know or may have read in the papers, Mr. Speaker, we spent some time in Kenora and visited the Grassy Narrows Indian reserve. I must say it was the first time in my life I ever was on a gravel road that was 75 or 80 miles long. I am sure some of my northern colleagues have been on such roads probably within the last week visiting their own constituencies, but for some of us in other areas that does not happen very much. Although I represent a rural riding, it is very different from that part of the province.
Mr. Sheppard: You must have some gravel roads down in your riding.
Mr. Boudria: I do have gravel roads, but none that long, to answer the member for Northumberland.
As I was saying, the experience we had was that we visited an Indian reserve. Upon arriving on the reserve, it became very obvious that this particular place had quite a bit more poverty than I felt I would see. It became obvious that even though this community was quite remote there were very few automobiles, the housing was not in very good condition -- or did not appear to be in good condition just from the appearance of the outside of the premises. Although what we saw as a first impression when we arrived was shocking and disappointing, it was nothing compared to what we learned afterwards.
We had an interesting conversation with the chief and some of the members of the band council, during which he explained to us the very sad state of affairs that we, as a society, have allowed to happen. The chief explained to us that 15 or 20 years ago the federal government would spend only a few thousand dollars a year on that reserve -- $5,000 or $6,000, something like that.
At that time the people were living a much happier lifestyle than they are today and, from what the chief told us, a much more meaningful one. One generation later, we have achieved a state where in that same reserve we now have a situation whereby government spends some $500,000 a year and almost the totality of the population is without gainful employment.
We asked the chief how we got this way. He proceeded to explain to us some of the things that had happened in his community. I may have the sequence of events changed in the way I will explain it, but I will attempt to recall it for the House as best I know how.
The chief explained that mercury pollution was discovered in their source of water supply, in their lakes and rivers, where the reserve used to be. After some negotiations with paper companies, governments and so forth, it was decided that they had to move the reserve because it just could not stay there given those conditions.
They moved the reserve a few miles downstream, or on another river, where it remains today. However, in doing so, they moved the reserve to an area that had no agricultural land. The old area had very fertile land, where the natives had vegetable gardens and things like that. In this new location, there is very hard clay and one could not grow anything worthwhile. Some employment was lost in this particular move.
The fact that one is moving a community is very traumatic in itself. This is also very disturbing. If this had been all that happened, I would say things would have been going pretty well on that reserve, but this is only the tip of the iceberg.
From that situation, we proceeded to learn of another experience they had had. When they moved to the new area, they lost much of the tour guide employment they were previously providing. The natives would act as guides to the tourists who would come in and fish and hunt. In the new community, it became increasingly difficult to do this. There were fewer fish in the new place and one could not be a fishing guide.
I am sure the next sentence will bring a message home to the member for Lake Nipigon (Mr. Stokes), because I have heard him discuss this in the House. It is the business of clear-cutting the forest. In the new location, they cut down all of the trees. We went there just recently and there is hardly a tree that is bigger than about the size of a cup. This was in a forest which is 75 or 80 miles from the nearest community. One would think that all one would see there would be very huge and prosperous forests, but that was not the case. There were relatively small trees, and that was all that was left.
This is because the forests had been clear-cut. I had heard that expression used in the House before, but I must say I had never seen it. I had heard the member for Lake Nipigon describe what the landscape looked like after such a thing happened, but I must say I had never seen it myself, not being from that part of our province.
Needless to say, they have no more trees and no more wood. Not only that, but they have no more animals to hunt, because if you no longer have a forest, of course, you no longer have the animals that were there as well.
As the chief explained to us, not long after all those incidents happened they decided to dam the river and raise the water level, and that destroyed the wild rice crop. Now they have no more wild rice, which was another source of gainful employment for the natives of that community.
I understand that some people came in with a machine which was supposed to harvest the blueberries and get much better yields from them. However, when this blueberry-picking machine, or whatever it is called, came in to harvest blueberries in that community it destroyed all the plants. They had a very good yield that year, but nothing has ever grown there since, so now they have lost the blueberry crop.
In listening to what the chief told us, it became obvious that in this community we had allowed a situation to happen where we had totally destroyed those people's environment, their lifestyle, their culture and everything else. There was nothing left there that they were used to.
One of the very shocking things that was brought to my attention by the member for Kent-Elgin was that here we were 75 miles in the middle of the forest, or some similar distance, and there was not one log house. Structures were made of all kinds of things except logs, I suppose. They looked like some of the housing you would see in certain areas of the suburbs of the city, with the exception, of course, that they are all very small housing units and certainly not with very many of those fancy things that we take for granted in some of our communities.
The chief was telling us that on this reserve there is almost 100 per cent alcoholism, and it is small wonder that we see this kind of situation if we have destroyed everything those people had. I must say that I came back from this very short trip and I was really upset with what I had seen. I cannot help but wonder just why this has been permitted to go on for so long.
The reason I bring all this up is to state that it is fine for us -- it is good, actually, for us -- to pass resolutions and to amend and to correct, at least on paper, some of the inequities that have happened in the past; but, needless to say, it obviously cannot stop there. I think we have to go much further and we must ensure that we give back to our native people the pride they once had, and in order to do that we obviously have to pay far greater attention to them, to stop destroying their environment, their culture and their surroundings in order for them to be able to prosper as communities.
In conclusion, it is interesting that we are all here in this chamber debating and agreeing on this resolution of constitutional amendment, and it is my hope that the resolution we are discussing tonight will lay the groundwork for us to discuss further constitutional amendments later. I know that I speak only from my own personal views, but it is my hope that there will some day be a resolution in this House in which we will entrench the rights of others, namely the francophone community.
Merci beaucoup, Monsieur le Président.
Mr. Rae: Mr. Speaker. in winding up the debate for our party, I first want to pay tribute to my colleagues in the House who have contributed to the debate, led off by the member for Algoma (Mr. Wildman), followed by the member for Lake Nipigon (Mr. Stokes), the member for Scarborough West (Mr. R. F. Johnston), the member for Riverdale (Mr. Renwick) and the member for Oshawa (Mr. Breaugh). Each put on the record of this House the basic concerns our party has with respect to the relationship between the native people of this province, the Indian people of this province and the Ontario government and the relationship with the government of Canada.
In closing the debate for our side, I want to put our views in some perspective. I hope to shed some light on the historical juncture in which we now find ourselves with respect to the historical and collective rights of our native people, the Indian people of Ontario, the Indian people of Canada, the native people of Canada.
It is perhaps worth recalling that it was 15 years ago that the Prime Minister of Canada and the Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development issued a white paper, at which time the purpose of that white paper was to say that the way to get out of the anomalous relationship between the federal government and the native people, from the perspective of Mr. Trudeau, the Prime Minister at that time, as he still is today, was basically for the government of Canada to pull back and to pull away from its historic relationship and for the Indian people in a sense to develop a direct relationship with their provincial governments, to establish a direct relationship with their governments just like all the other citizens of Canada.
I suppose it was the classic expression of the assimilationist point of view which stated that there were no particular relationships, policies and legal understandings that could or should be reached with the Indian and native people of Canada, that it was time to cut the cord, as the Prime Minister would have put it at that time, and for the Indian and native people to be seen and treated just like everybody else.
It is important to remember that approach was rejected out of hand by the Indian people and by the native people and was proven to be a political nonstarter back in 1968, 1969 and 1970 when it was put forward by the Liberal Party at that time.
It is important to recognize that the hangover from that point of view is still very strong. It has apparently taken even more than the Nishga case itself, which was settled in the Supreme Court of Canada, to convince both provincial and federal governments that there is something unique, particular and special in the historic and collective relationship our Indian people and native people have to this country.
Those of us who, when we were able to steal a moment or two, watched the constitutional debate of the first ministers, which was addressed by Chief Billy Diamond, David Ahenakew and other leading spokesmen for the Indian and the native people of Canada, saw this was the first time the people of Canada were exposed to a tradition of point of view, to a tradition of argument which has quite simply been in the wilderness for too long.
The Canadian people and the first ministers were exposed to the reality that all of the rhetoric that had gone on through the constitutional debate about whether we put in or took out the word "existing" in terms of existing rights or other rights, or whether some things are said or not said, and the general arguments that were heard and the concessions that were made at the last minute, that there was a very big reality behind the rhetoric, and that it was time for governments to come to terms with that reality.
In my view, we are in an extremely exciting time. I have shared the experiences of the member for Prescott-Russell (Mr. Boudria). All of us who have been on reserves in northern Ontario from time to time, all of us who have talked with spokesmen for native peoples, all of us who have been in the friendship centres in many communities across the province and know the human problems, who know the poverty and have seen the poverty, who know the problems with booze and drugs, could come away with a perspective that would be missing something in the story, missing something in what has happened. This is really what I want to say in this debate.
The Indian people and native peoples have accomplished one hell of a lot in the last 10 years. They have done it largely on their own. They have convinced government to move away from the assimilationist point of view. They have thrown that point of view into the trash can of history where it most deservedly belongs. They have forced politicians of all stripes to listen to a very different kind of language and to understand a very different point of view. I believe they have even forced the first ministers finally to come to grips with the meaning, the hard reality of what it is we mean and understand by the historical and collective rights of aboriginal peoples.
All the facts about poverty, all the facts about government negligence and mistreatment should not obscure the fact that the native and Indian people of this country have made a giant leap in terms of their having changed the agenda of constitutional politics in this country and, I daresay, of constitutional politics in this province.
They have put the question of rights firmly on the agenda from which it cannot be removed. For that they deserve the thanks of every single member in this assembly and every single citizen of Canada. By awakening us to the importance of understanding their particular relationship to this country and to the land and the wealth of the country, I believe they have touched something very deep in the psyche of all of us with respect to a country called Canada. That is a point worth remembering.
The second point I want to make is that all the rhetoric that is adopted with respect to this resolution -- and let us remember this resolution does not give any concrete meaning to aboriginal rights; it does not give any hard concrete content, any real substantive content to the notion of aboriginal rights -- does is put into process a series of consultations. In itself that is a victory.
When I questioned the Premier (Mr. Davis) on his intentions with respect to the upcoming constitutional meeting last spring, I said in the House that unless they came away with that as a very minimum, we were in danger of throwing away all the progress that had been made legally, constitutionally, politically and economically with respect to advancing the cause of native rights and the cause of aboriginal rights in this country.
To members opposite I want to suggest the cutting test is now to come. They have agreed on the process. Tory government in Ontario and governments across the country have agreed on the process. Now we come to the crunch, the short, sharp strokes as to what exactly is meant by the phrase, "aboriginal rights," precisely what is being recognized when we say, as governments are now apparently prepared to say, there are such things as treaty rights, precisely what is the content and what is the meaning of those terms.
have a very real concern when I look at the record of this government and at the record of the Canadian government with respect to the meaning of these terms. I know those concerns have been expressed by the member for Algoma and the member for Lake Nipigon, among many others. I believe we as a people have to take the next step in this province to give real meaning to those terms; and giving real meaning to them means, first of all, recognizing claim to the land itself.
I will give one small example of the very real difficulties native people are experiencing with respect to claims for land. In talking with Indian people, band chiefs and grand council chiefs for Treaty 3 and Treaty 9 and other areas in the province, I sensed they feel that if it was left to the provincial and federal governments the discussions about land claims could go on forever and never be resolved. The federal government could always blame the provincial government and the provincial government could blame the federal government. They sense there is never going to be a real resolution to the disputes about land.
I suggest the Premier should read very carefully the remarks made by the member for Lake Nipigon with respect to land. He should read the remarks with respect to the fact that there are Indian people in Treaty 9 who are looking for reserve land and their claim to land has not been recognized; neither has their claim to be a band with a relationship to a piece of land been recognized.
There is no way governments can get away talking any longer in grandiose language about what their intentions are. I refer to the speeches by the member for High Park-Swansea (Mr. Shymko), the member for Cochrane North (Mr. Piché) and the member for Sudbury (Mr. Gordon) about the new spirit of tolerance and understanding which is building in northern Ontario. None of those things means anything unless there is a willingness to take the next step with respect to land.
Certain concerns were expressed to me when I was in northwestern Ontario 10 days ago. I attended a meeting, as did the Minister of Northern Affairs (Mr. Bernier) -- he followed me on the agenda -- of the grand council of Treaty 3 in the Rat Portage reserve just outside Kenora.
I met with the chiefs from the Big Grassy band and the 0-ne-ga-ming band and they told me a story I have confirmed in discussions with the lawyer for those two bands, Mr. Donald Colborne. He is a lawyer in Thunder Bay who is involved with negotiating the claim. It is a land claim known as the Assabasca land claim.
The claim is for a strip of land near Lake of the Woods, about 1,600 acres. The land was originally an Indian reserve and title was transferred from Ontario to Canada for that purpose. In 1930, however, through an error in their records which failed to show the land as a reserve, Ontario started opening it for development. In dealings and correspondence between Ontario and Canada, Canada made the same error and came to the conclusion the land was not a reserve. As a result, the land was sold.
Since the claim was first launched in 1977 the governments have admitted their error. The settlement negotiations started in earnest about three years ago. There was some progress to the point where the bands involved put their entire position on the table, believing the negotiations were close to a conclusion. The meeting to receive the response of the governments to the Indian position was convened in Toronto in early July.
At that meeting the Ontario government was represented by people who were not previously party to the negotiations. One can imagine the Indians' feeling. Negotiations had been going on for nearly six years and they were coming to one part they thought was near a conclusion. They turned up at a meeting they thought had been convened to resolve the negotiations and found the representatives from the Ontario government were people who had never previously been involved. It was utterly incredible.
Those negotiators for the Ontario government said they had no instructions on how to proceed. Since then they have said they cannot sit down to settle the claim until they sort out with Canada who is responsible for the mess or how responsibility should be divided.
The unfairness of this is quite simply that Ontario has known from the very beginning, from 1977 when the claim was first launched, that these questions are between the governments of Ontario and Canada and would have to be settled. I can assure members that the bands are very upset with the negotiators for the Ontario government for having waited until the 11th hour to act.
That is one small example. We are talking here about a land claim for 1,600 acres. We are not talking about some of the major issues that are currently either before the courts or before the commissioners in this province. Unless the government of Ontario can show a degree and measure of good faith with respect to a very simple land claim, such as the Athabasca land claim which I have just described, I would ask members to think about the consequences of what they are doing negotiating in that kind of a way.
From my discussions with the Indian community since becoming the leader of the provincial New Democratic Party, there is a sense that the Ministry of Natural Resources does not really want to follow through on these negotiations and is not really determined to take the next step.
There is a sense of an almost Alice-in-Wonderland unreality to the discussions taking place. There are the endless delays, six-month adjournments and the replacement of whole teams of negotiators by new teams of negotiators who know nothing about what has previously been decided or talked about. I say these words advisedly; there is a sense of not really caring or focusing on the issue by the government of Ontario.
Indeed, I have heard it said as recently as a few days ago by the Ministry of Northern Affairs that the basic jurisdiction for the Indian people of Ontario rests with the federal government. All along that has been the basic stance the government of Ontario has taken. All along the government of Ontario has said, "It is not really our problem or concern. It is really the problem and concern of another level of government. If you have a problem, go and talk to Ottawa."
When one talks with the native people and with the Indian people about their essential concerns, when it comes to land, wild rice, fishing, hunting, resource management and conservation, those are all issues which speak directly to the activities of the government of this province. It is not good enough any longer in 1983 for the Minister of Northern Affairs to sit back and say: "It is essentially a matter for the government in Ottawa. All we do here is basically pass on whatever is going on and we are really not involved."
As members of my party have pointed out, the member for Algoma, the member for Lake Nipigon and the member for Scarborough West, in talking about family services and child welfare services and education the provincial government cannot take that position any longer. The government of Ontario cannot take that position any longer and the Tory party cannot get away with that any longer.
As the member of Lake Nipigon has quite correctly pointed out, as he pointed out with such eloquence in his speech the other day, it is not possible for the government of Canada to give land, in terms of reserve status, unless the government of Ontario is prepared to give up some crown land and cede it to the government of Canada so that it can, in turn, cede it to create lands for reserves. In Treaty 9 the examples are there in the speech given by the member for Lake Nipigon. That is just one example.
I want to return to what I was saying. The first point is that these historical and collective rights mean nothing unless they are attached to a piece of land. As long as we have a government over there that is not prepared to deal in good faith with respect to land, we are not going to make real progress with respect to the negotiations and consultations, whether they go on in Ottawa, Kenora or anywhere in Ontario.
We are not going to make real progress in this province until that government makes a commitment with respect to land claims and the attachment and the claims of the native people and the aboriginal people of this province to the land itself. That fact has to be driven home. If they do not understand that and do not understand that something has to be given up and something has to be negotiated, then we are really not going to make a great deal of progress.
The second point I want to make is with respect to what the government of this province has to recognize. It has to recognize that the demand for self-government is not an abstraction; it has very real substantive meaning. That demand has been expressed to the federal committee that has gone across northern Ontario as it has gone across northern Canada and to many other parts of Canada where the Indian people and the native people are living.
When we look at the sense of anger and of frustration of the Indian people with respect to their wild rice resource in northwestern Ontario, their fishing and hunting rights and a new area that is going to become of increased importance with respect to management of both nonrenewable and renewable resources, I say there is no way we are going to get over the problem of massive joblessness on reserves unless we say: "Fine, let us give real responsibility and real authority to the bands on the reserve, not only with respect to relatively minor matters but also with respect to the foundation of the real economy on those reserves." If the real economy on a reserve is fishing, let us give the responsibility with respect to conservation of that resource to the Indian people themselves on that reserve.
I want to congratulate the Minister of Natural Resources (Mr. Pope) for trying to do that. In fact, if his efforts had not been undermined by the man who is sitting there in the front row, the Minister of Northern Affairs, we might have made some real progress with respect to fishing rights and the rights of the Indian people on reserves to real authority with respect to conservation.
This government goes off in all directions; it has the Minister of Natural Resources saying one thing in the north and the Minister of Northern Affairs completely undermining every attempt by the government to reach agreements in good faith and to have those agreements have real teeth and real meaning. That is the face of the Tory party in northern Ontario, and that is the face of the Tory party which has to be exposed in this province.
We cannot have the Minister of Natural Resources getting up and saying, "This is the kind of agreement we want to reach," when the Minister of Northern Affairs is going around the province writing letters, even to the Minister of Natural Resources himself, expressing his concerns with respect to that agreement. If that agreement is a dead letter -- and I have heard it said that it is a dead letter -- then let the responsibility for it being a dead letter lie straight, fairly, firmly and squarely on the shoulders of the Minister of Northern Affairs.
In doing that, in undermining that agreement, we have taken a step backwards in this province. I know there were concerns expressed by some bands, and indeed I know there were concerns expressed very directly to me by the Grand Council of Treaty 3 with respect to that agreement, but I still say any advancement that is going to be made with respect to self-government has got to come to grips with the responsibility that has to be given to the Indian reserves, to the Indian bands themselves, with respect to conservation.
Lord knows, I sometimes hear it said, and it is sometimes expressed privately, that if we recognize the historic rights to fishing and hunting, the resource will be depleted in two, three, four or five years and it will be all gone. I want to suggest that view is not only profoundly insulting to the Indian and native people of this province; it is also absurd and it is dead wrong.
Given the record of the Ministry of Natural Resources with respect to the renewal of a fundamental resource like forestry, it is hard to imagine anybody doing a worse job than that ministry with respect to the renewal of that resource.
If we are going to make progress in this province, and I believe we are all agreed that progress has to take the direction of self-government, that self-government has to involve a real devolution of authority with respect to conservation of a basic resource like wild rice, as well as fishing, hunting and other renewable and nonrenewable resources.
If we do not give the Indian people, the people on the reserves, a direct stake in the resources upon which their economy is based, we are cutting off the only avenue that I believe is possible for economic development in the reserves of northern Ontario.
All the well-meaning schemes that may come out of the heads of various people will have no meaning at all unless they are attached with roots to the real economy of those reserves. One cannot have an industrial strategy or an economic strategy for the northern reserves that is based on some abstraction or abstract theory. It has to be based on what the people grow, what is there, what is growing and living, what is close to the land, what is indigenous to the land itself and what is indigenous to the tradition of the Indian people themselves.
That is not to say we are not going to move beyond that and have effective manufacturing, sawmills and so on; but those are only going to be effective as and when we give real rights with respect to cutting and management of the basic resource itself.
In conclusion, I want to suggest that we are in the middle of nothing short of a constitutional and political revolution. Many of the ideas upon which common law lawyers were raised, about the nature of parliamentary sovereignty, about the nature of an individual's relationship to the state and about an individual's relationship to the law, are really inadequate to describe what is unique about Canada.
We are one of those unique nations whose original people were essentially conquered by colonists, and yet whose original people have carried on traditions, a way of life, a way of feeling, a way of being, a way of relating to the land, a way of relating to this country that we now have to come to terms with as the children of the original colonists in this country.
It is something that is going to demand a great deal of ingenuity -- not only intellectual ingenuity but also very real political and economic ingenuity. All of us are cheapened by our failure to have come to grips with this issue, with the frustrations, with the poverty, with the sense of lost opportunity and with the solitudes, the silences and the resentments that have grown up for so long between the communities of this province and of this country.
I see this as a real opportunity. I saw it as an opportunity at the time of the constitutional debate when I was a federal member in Ottawa. I saw it as an opportunity when our federal leader made an extraordinary effort to involve the leadership of the Indian and native communities in that process, however flawed it was, and at least to get some recognition. When we came back after the Premiers made their agreement, we managed to get it back on the agenda again. We have made a last-ditch effort now to establish the process of consultation and get it built into the system. So we have made that degree and amount of progress.
I want to suggest that we are now up against what I call the short, short strokes. We are now in a situation where the good faith and the integrity of government itself are at stake. Unless we make some very real progress with respect to the issues that I and my colleagues have described, with respect to the issues of land claims and self-government and with respect to the particular issues of wild rice, fishing, hunting and resource management, and unless we do that quickly, we are sowing the seeds of our own destruction. That is a very real feeling on our side. That is a very real feeling on the part of our members. That is why we have participated in this debate in the way in which we have.
I would also like to say that I am personally sorry the Premier chose not to participate in a debate of this historic importance. It is not often that an assembly such as ours gets to discuss an amendment to the Constitution of this country, and I find it peculiar, to put it mildly, that the Premier would have chosen not to involve himself in discussions. It casts some doubt in my own mind as to the seriousness which this government attaches to the process that is under way. It is a process which we do take seriously, and I hope to God they take it seriously on the other side.
Hon. Mr. Bernier: Mr. Speaker, as a member who has some responsibility for about 21 or 22 reserves in his riding, as one who has lived in northern Ontario for some half a century now, as one who has lived, worked and played with the native people of that area and as one who over the course of the past 17 years of his political life has gained a certain amount of trust and respect -- and that is reflected at the polls -- I might say at the outset that I have some contribution to make to this debate.
I look upon it as a very historic debate, one that has never happened before in my 17 years here. I suppose one could look on it as historic as the debate we had in this Legislature with respect to the referendum in Quebec. To me it has more importance. I did get involved in that debate with a great deal of sensitivity because of my French-Canadian background, but I also have a background that is fairly closely connected with the native people of northwestern Ontario, and I am very proud of that.
Members may not realize, but my father-in-law was married to a full-blooded Indian. She was from the riding of Lake Nipigon; she was from Cat Lake. She was married to my wife's father, Dallas Gastmeier, and they operated a fur trading store at Allan Water, Savant Lake and Alcona. That was in the early 1920s. They had three sons. One of them is still living in my own home town of Hudson, and he is very much part of our family. There is no question about that.
As one who has lived with that particular situation, as one who for 35 years now in his married life has been part of a family that is connected with the native people and has seen firsthand the problems that they and their children are associated with, I feel that I am very well qualified to speak in this debate.
I listened with some interest to the other members of the Legislature. I listened to the leader of the New Democrats speak, and I have to say to the honourable member that after a couple of trips, maybe one or two trips to northwestern Ontario, people sometimes become authorities. We refer to those people as inners and outers. They come in for a day and they are gone again. They do not really get the feel we have in northwestern and northern Ontario. However, I do appreciate the comments. As I will point out, I appreciate and certainly welcome the contribution other members have made.
At the outset, I want to compliment my colleague the member for High Park-Swansea (Mr. Shymko) for his efforts. He made mention of the fact that he felt very strongly we should have in this Legislature a member of the native community. I have made this suggestion on a number of occasions.
The member for Lake Nipigon (Mr. Stokes) will recall when I suggested that there should be a riding from Moosonee to the Manitoba border, taking the top of the Kenora riding, the top of the Lake Nipigon riding and the top of the Cochrane North riding and making that a separate riding. If we were to do that, we would have a member from the native community sitting in this Legislature, speaking for the people of that area and indeed for all the native people of Ontario.
That has not happened yet. Maybe it will with the redistribution of the electoral boundaries in the next go-around. There is a golden opportunity for that to happen. I hope I am still around when it does happen, because in my own heart I know that the three members who look after that vast area of the remote north do not look after it as well as they should.
We get up there one, two or perhaps three times a year. I make it a point to get up there on a regular basis, but I think a local member elected in that area could do a much better job. I compliment the member for High Park-Swansea for making that suggestion, to which I give strong support.
My colleague the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs (Mr. Wells) has outlined the process through which we have travelled to reach this historic moment in the life of our country, this province and our first citizens.
In reviewing the remarks of others who have preceded me in this debate, I find not only that a number of very important matters have already been addressed at length but also that there appears to be a strong sense of commitment by all the members of this Legislature. We are now embarking on a new and, I hope, more exciting chapter in our relations with our aboriginal people.
I was impressed by the remarks of the member for Algoma (Mr. Wildman) and the member for Lake Nipigon and by the excellent remarks of the member for Brant-Oxford-Norfolk (Mr. Nixon). In their statements, those members brought to our attention the broad range of needs and aspirations of the native peoples of this province.
The member for Lake Nipigon described accurately and very well the northern woodland Cree and Ojibway people who live in his riding and in my own riding of Kenora. The problems he discussed are both immediate and graphic, and concern the absolute necessity of ensuring an economic base for a growing population wholly dependent on fishing, hunting and trapping.
All these communities are isolated geographically. The cost to both governments and the individual band members is high and growing each year. As the member for Cochrane North (Mr. Piché) mentioned in his remarks, my ministry has just completed an in-depth study of the high cost of transportation and living in the remote north. At present, we are waiting for comments by the various hands, by the various tribal groups and by the various treaty groups to that study and report. Then we hope to take action on some of the many recommendations. I might say we have already acted on a number of those recommendations, and these will be spelled out at another place and time.
I am pleased that some steps have been taken in recent years. To listen to some members, one would think nothing has happened in the remote parts of northern Ontario with respect to our native people. That is not totally correct.
We have improved our communications and now can guarantee year-round access to supplies through such provincially funded programs as our airstrip development program, which up to this time has cost this province about $25 million; our radio and television communications program, which has cost about $17 million; and our winter roads program, which costs about $500,000 annually to serve that vast area of the remote north.
In addition, I am pleased to say my ministry, in co-operation with TVOntario, is bringing coverage to about 160 pockets of population throughout that entire part of northern Ontario at a cost of some $3 million.
I had the privilege to be in Sandy Lake about a year and a half ago and I was most impressed to meet with the chief, Tom Fiddler. He invited me to his home and he said, "Leo, I want you to see what has happened here." We walked into his living room, he turned to the door and he flipped a switch. On went electric lights. He walked over to the corner where he had a 26-inch colour television set. He turned it on. Then he walked over to the table, he picked up the telephone and dialled his son Jonas. He said, "Jonas, come on over, Leo's here."
He said: "Leo, that was not here 10 or 15 years ago. It's here now. We have electricity in Sandy Lake. I have television perfectly clear via satellite and via other transmissions. I have a modern telephone system and, believe it or not, I get my mail every day because of the airstrip that was developed there. That is something we never had before."
Mr. Stokes: Does he have a job?
Hon. Mr. Bernier: Does he have a job now? The member knows as well I do that there is very little economic base there, but the basic necessities of life are being put in place. That same gentlemen, a few years prior to that, was in front of these buildings when Queen Elizabeth was here. He presented her with a personal letter thanking her for the things the federal and provincial governments of this country had done for his people.
It was a step forward; not a big step but he was grateful for what had been done in the field of health, affecting his culture and improving the quality of life. That was a very inspiring moment. I do not want the House to feel nothing is happening in northern Ontario. I think the member for Lake Nipigon will agree that as long as we have been in this Legislature -- and we have been around here for about 17 years -- many changes have occurred in the remote parts of that particular area, albeit slower than we would have liked, I grant that, but there are changes and they are coming about.
Mr. Stokes: What about Deer Lake, North Spirit?
Hon. Mr. Bernier: Deer Lake? I was there two weeks ago to open a new $1.2-million airport. They are very pleased and excited. Has the member ever heard of an Indian reservation talking about a new subdivision? That was not heard of 10 years ago. Now they are talking about a subdivision of 12 to 15 homes; so things are happening.
Mr. Stokes: When are you going to give them land?
Hon. Mr. Bernier: We give them land. Oh yes, I want to talk about that. I was interested to hear the member's remarks. I also think the member for Lake Nipigon made some comments about the problems they are having with some land in Summer Beaver and Slate Falls. I want to point out to the House that I was Minister of Natural Resources when we settled the Big Trout issue.
It took some time. It took many years of discussion, because the native people had some difficulty deciding how much land they really wanted. Look at Sachigo today. It took us meeting after meeting to get them to decide the areas they wanted because they ended up with three sections. They have Ponask as a separate reservation, they have Sachigo and they have the Sachigo hills. That took time to develop. It does take time when one is working with an Indian band, with the federal government and with the provincial government.
I can tell the House the sincerity was there from this government's point of view to make those reservations and we did it. We are on the verge of doing it for Deer Lake and North Spirit Lake. Those things are moving ahead. They are slow, I have to admit that, but they are happening.
To supplement the efforts of the federal health authorities, we now have a fleet of dedicated aircraft to provide fast and efficient air ambulance services to those communities right across northwestern Ontario. There are 19 airstrips that are able to take those air ambulances and put those people within one hour of a major medical referral centre in this province, something that was not there five or 10 years ago.
The housing problems which my friend the member for Lake Nipigon stressed so well are very real, not on only some reserves in northwestern Ontario but on all of them. Necessary community infrastructure services are badly needled by a great many communities which are getting larger and larger each year as the population increases.
As I said a moment ago, things are improving with respect to communications. As the Wawatay News recently pointed out, the Minister of Transportation and Communications (Mr. Snow) and I were there to officially open that new airstrip at a cost of $1.6 million.
I am very pleased that more members of the opposition are taking the time to go up to northern Ontario to meet those people and see them at first hand. It was good to see the elders -- their pictures are in the paper, in the Wawatay News I have here in my hand -- gathered at that official airport opening, and to have the Rev. Alex Barkman stand there in his place and give the blessing to the airport through an interpreter.
He pointed out that he had been in Sachigo since he was seven years of age, and he is now seeing the changes and is very pleased, not only for himself but for his children who are living in the Sachigo area. They now have communications, provided by the provincial government, that will give them the daily services and medical services they need. They are very grateful that things are happening.
Mr. Stokes: Did he tell the minister how much he paid for a gallon of gas?
Hon. Mr. Bernier: It will be a lot cheaper now that the airstrip is in place. There is no question about that.
On this same point, the federal member for our area, John Reid, and I were invited to Round Lake about a year and a half ago to attend the 50th anniversary of the Round Lake Indian band. The member for Lake Nipigon may know Saul Keeash, the former chief. He stood there on the platform and recited, chapter and verse, 37 different programs that the federal and provincial governments have brought in during the last few years that have directly helped his people in that area. It was gratifying, because it was unexpected and unsolicited, to hear a former chief recite to all these people and to us. It was a very satisfying feeling indeed.
Comforting though it was, again I have to say that some of these things are coming much more slowly than I would have liked. To deal with these problems adequately, we clearly cannot confine our view of the needs of these communities to the quest merely to right the wrongs of history or to a too narrow interpretation of the provisions of the various treaties signed by the federal government and the various Indian bands in this province.
This brings me to my second observation, which was very well addressed by my friend the member for Algoma. That is the necessity to avoid a too narrow interpretation of the word "existing" as it relates to the moral relationship between government and our native people. I fully agree that Canada's view of its moral commitment to these citizens cannot limit their rights in any way. On the contrary, our constitutional framework for aboriginal rights should be sufficiently flexible that it can adapt to the changing needs of Indian people in the years ahead.
In a conversation with the Attorney General (Mr. McMurtry) this afternoon, he pointed out to me that the legal experts of this province pointed out to him that the word "existing" in the Constitution as it is written does not really change anything. However, he correctly pointed out that some of the other provinces do not share that view. I think we agree on that. That is where the problem lies.
Mr. Haggerty: Which provinces? Tell us.
Hon. Mr. Bernier: The member knows which ones. I do not have to tell him.
The member for Brant-Oxford-Norfolk in his remarks spoke eloquently of the way of life of the Six Nations Indians, the sophistication of public services and administration which the elected band council provides.
Indeed, in the examples he chose, a case could well be made in support of suggestions now being studied by a parliamentary committee in Ottawa -- I believe it is chaired by the former member from my area, Keith Penner -- to introduce a much broader system of self-government for reserves across Canada and a greater degree of autonomy in the operation of their band schools.
I was pleased to read, again in the WaWaTay News, a copy of which I have here, that they are moving in that direction. It is encouraging to read that in the Sioux Lookout district alone, 25 per cent of the full-time teaching staff are natives and another 29 per cent of the classroom assistants are natives. That is a major step forward, and I am sure the member for Lake Nipigon will agree that we are heading in the right direction and getting the right people in those classrooms. Now we must take the next step and give them total control and autonomy in the educational system.
What we see in the remarks so far in this debate is the complex range of interests of native peoples and the varying degrees of economic, political and cultural self-sufficiency of the different communities.
When this amendment to our Constitution is in place, it is my hope that the federal and provincial governments will begin the important task of redefining their areas of jurisdiction and that this redefinition of responsibility will include a much larger place for Indian band councils than has been possible up to now. As I move around to the various Indian bands and reservations as a minister or as a local member, if there is one problem I see it is to find out where the area of responsibility really lies.
In many cases we have extended beyond what some people think is our provincial responsibility. In the economic development field, when I was Minister of Natural Resources I remember having staff go to Lake Winnipeg and actually purchase a shallow fishing boat that we trucked to Round Lake where we put it on a helicopter and flew it to Sachigo Lake to assist them in their fishing operations. Many people said it was not our jurisdiction, but we saw a need and we answered that need. I was pleased to be part of it.
When this constitutional amendment is in place, I hope a whole new Indian policy would emerge that will be able to address not only the desperate needs of communities such as those in my riding and in Lake Nipigon riding, but the needs of the Six Nations Indians and many others as well. We must also recognize that at no point since Confederation has Canada been prepared to respond to the varying needs of Indian communities. It has always been the other way around.
At the time of Confederation, and for virtually 100 years, the policy of the federal government has been to assimilate all Indian cultures into the European cultures of Canada without special legal status, without a land base and without distinctive cultural and political institutions. Clearly, this policy is unacceptable to our native people and to all other Canadians. By this constitutional amendment we are, in effect, saying it is unacceptable to the laws of Canada.
Mr. Stokes: You have all the crown land.
Hon. Mr. Bernier: They will get it.
Where do we go from here? In my view we begin by removing the paternalism of government in establishing co-operative mechanisms to establish development priorities, acceptable living standards and an economic base sufficient to meet the needs of each Indian community in the country.
I do not believe our native people will any longer tolerate their isolation from the decision-making process that affects their day-to-day lives and the confrontational relationship which so often characterizes their relationships with the federal government.
Provincial governments also need to know how they can co-operate with the federal government in new and more creative ways to provide services on the reserve and to assist those who choose to live and work off the reserve. To integrate, and if so to what extent, or to remain living on a reserve is a decision which each native person must feel free to make without bureaucratic interference and without the fear of loss of rights or loss of support.
A new co-operative approach to policy formation should also include the participation of municipal governments who are called upon to provide services which are not infrequently beyond their financial capacity. It should include as well, other users of the resources of this great country.
I believe we have more than enough wealth in this country to provide for the needs of all Canadians, native, non-native, Metis and those of us from other parts of the world. We are one of the great cultural mosaics of the world and we must ensure the rights and privileges of each. I do not believe it is an impossible task. If we develop a sufficiently flexible approach to meet the complex needs of all Canadians, there is ample room in Canada for all of us.
I hope and pray that this constitutional amendment will bury once and for all the narrow paternalism of the past, the bureaucratic nightmares which have enmeshed our native communities and strangled their creativity and the jurisdictional straitjacket of federal-provincial relationships on questions affecting our native peoples.
Mr. Stokes: What about the fishing agreement? You didn't mention that.
Hon. Mr. Bernier: The feds have killed it.
Hon. Mr. Wells: Mr. Speaker, may I just conclude for a minute? I think it is in order for the mover to round out the debate. I do not want to be long, but I would just like to say that --
Mr. Stokes: Please do, because you missed most of it.
Hon. Mr. Wells: No, I have read most of it. I have read it all.
I was going to say to my friend and to all those who took part that I thought their contributions were excellent. This is probably the most important debate we have had in this House on native issues and on aboriginal matters, and the contributions of all members were excellent. I think they indicate that all parties are of one mind that we should be moving ahead to solve many of these problems, to address ourselves to some of the wrongs that have existed and to recognize the rights of our aboriginal peoples in this province.
We may all have different ways of solving some of those problems, but we all on all sides of this House are committed to that particular end and I think the discussions that took place in this particular debate indicated that. I think we have moved one small step forward in asserting and assenting to the rights of the aboriginal peoples of this province by what we are doing tonight in passing this constitutional amendment.
This amendment is a first, of course, for this Legislature because it is the first time we have taken part officially in an amending process to the Constitution of Canada. It is also the first time that the new amending procedures for our Canadian Constitution have come into play. For 116 years we had no formal way of amending the Constitution. We now have a method; it is being used for the first time, and I think very rightly so, to take that one small but very important step forward in the area of aboriginal rights and our affirmation of them to the native peoples of this province and of this country.
This resolution, of course, has been passed by the House of Commons; it has not yet been passed by the Senate, so the federal process is not completed. It has been passed by the Nova Scotia Legislature, the New Brunswick Legislature, the Prince Edward Island Legislature, the Manitoba Legislature and the Alberta Legislature. When we pass this tonight we will, of course, become the sixth province to pass it. One more provincial passage will be required, and the official passage by the Senate, to make it part of Canada's Constitution.
I think it has been a very important debate and that the contributions of all members will be heeded by all of us who have to bring forward programs and planning in this particular area. I would urge the members of this House to enthusiastically and unanimously carry this resolution tonight.
The Deputy Speaker: We thank all the members for their participation.
Hon. Mr. Wells: Mr. Speaker, I am sorry. If I have the consent of the House, I might just indicate that my friend the Attorney General (Mr. McMurtry), who took part in all these meetings with me as we worked up to this particular amendment, intended to make a contribution tonight but could not be here because he had to be at the dinner for the Ombudsman. He wanted me to say that he did have some important remarks to make and he will have a chance to make them, he hopes, on another occasion in the House on this very important matter.
The Deputy Speaker: The vote is on resolution 10.
All those in favour of the motion will please say "aye."
All those opposed will please say "nay."
I declare the motion carried unanimously.
Resolution concurred in.
REGIONAL AND METROPOLITAN MUNICIPALITIES AMENDMENT ACT
Hon. G. W. Taylor moved second reading of Bill 86, An Act to amend certain Acts respecting Regional and Metropolitan Municipalities.
Hon. G. W. Taylor: Mr. Speaker, on this matter, it is a consolidation of amendments to a number of bills respecting regional and metropolitan municipalities. This bill amends nine statutes establishing regional municipalities and the Municipality of Metropolitan Toronto Act. Each of these acts currently requires at least one member of the board of commissioners of police to be a judge. This requirement is being removed. It is similar to an amendment that was made in the Police Act in 1979. It is really intended to afford greater flexibility in making appointments to regional boards and the Metropolitan Toronto police board. I think it is in line with today's thinking on judges performing duties for police commissions. It is one that I do not think needs great elaboration and debate and one that I put forward and await the comments of other members of the House. I am mentioning this so that one can see the context.
Bill 87 is a companion bill. I would propose to ease the convenience of the House if it is possible to have first and second reading on both these bills and then put them into committee of the whole House at the same time. If that aids further debate on the matter, I put those recommendations to you, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Spensieri: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to make what will surely be a brief intervention on this second reading. As the Solicitor General has indicated, it is a rather modest amendment to the existing statutes and it would not be in order for any of us to engage in too long a debate.
However, a number of things should be said and perhaps one could begin by saying that the previous requirement contained in the various municipality statutes required that the judge be a judge from a county or district court designated by the Lieutenant Governor in Council. By removing this requirement, the present bill still makes it quite optional on the Lieutenant Governor to appoint, as one of the members, a person who may very well be a judge.
Current thinking and experience in this field seem to suggest that the presence of a person trained and having the duties and responsibilities of a judge does not always lend any greater efficacy to the board of commissioners. On this side of the House we would have preferred perhaps to see the wording as requiring that no person who was a judge be eligible for appointment.
However, we are certain, and the Solicitor General has indicated in other places, that the practice of continuing to appoint judges will in all likelihood be discontinued, particularly given the ever-increasing pressures they have come under as a result of the case load which seems to be increasing in every one of the metropolitan areas affected by this bill.
In essence, we consider the bill to be supportable in its present form and we would hope the Solicitor General will indicate clearly on record that it would be the preference, intent and certainly stated policy of this government at this time that future appointments stay away from members of the bench.
With those remarks and reserving further remarks on the companion bill, I will conclude.
Mr. Renwick: Mr. Speaker, I would like to speak to Bill 86, an Act to amend certain Acts respecting Regional and Metropolitan Municipalities, as it touches upon police matters. First of all, I would like to express in the House -- and I know I do on behalf of all members present -- the shock and concern we experienced when we read of what appears to be the senseless, mindless killing of police officer David Utman in the Ottawa area two or three days ago. The funeral was held yesterday.
Whenever we touch upon police matters, there is usually a sense that we are talking about people we know, people we have come to have confidence in. When these acts of mindless violence occur in our society, it affects all of us, particularly those of us in this assembly who represent all the people of Ontario collectively. I think we, in particular, have an obligation to express our concern, our sympathy and our understanding of the role police officers play in providing the protection society requires. They play their part on our behalf and as our delegates.
I would express our concern to the family of that deceased police officer without presumption, on behalf of all the members of the assembly at this untimely, useless and mindless act. As reported in the press, it deprived the city of a man who was dedicated in his interest in the police profession. His brief history would indicate this dedication deserves our highest approbation.
We had a most interesting discussion in our caucus this morning about the provisions of this bill and about the companion bill, Bill 87, dealing with the amendments to the Police Act. Our discussion was mainly concerned with the provision related to the composition of police commissions, which has been a matter of continuous comment in this assembly for a long time.
We all welcomed the amendment to the Police Act in 1979 that removed the mandatory obligation that police commissions falling under the purview of that act must of necessity have a judge as a member. I have never followed it that closely so I do not know to what extent there has been a grandfathering of the judges on those various police commissions throughout the province to which the Police Act applies.
I have, however, been aware of the mandatory requirement that a judge be a member of the police commission in all the regional governments in the province, including the Metropolitan Toronto region. Indeed, in the Metropolitan Toronto area we have had the anomaly of two judges, a county court judge and provincial court judge. It has been the tradition -- certainly well known to the Conservative Party -- that the chairman of the board of police commissioners in Metropolitan Toronto should be a provincial court judge. Those are matters of history and do not need any recitation on my part.
In our discussion in caucus it was interesting to listen to my colleagues who were speaking about two aspects of the question. One was this: is it sufficient at this time that the Solicitor General can say to the assembly that it will no longer be mandatory that there be a judge of the county court as a member of the regional government's board of police commissioners? Is it sufficient to say that it is no longer mandatory that there be a judge as a member of the Metropolitan Toronto Board of Police Commissioners? One of the incidental changes brought about by the bill is the renaming from the more cumbersome title of the Metropolitan board to the shorter form.
Our caucus felt very strongly, certainly the Metropolitan Toronto members felt strongly and the other members of the caucus expressed their views positively on the question, that it was important that the act would require specifically and make provision that no person holding a position as a judge and exercising the functions of a judge should be a member of any police commission, specifically any regional board of police commissioners or the Metropolitan Toronto Board of Police Commissioners or any of the other boards of police commissioners. on a permissive basis or otherwise.
In other words, we wanted to preclude the government of Ontario from appointing any judges as members of boards of police commissioners in the future. In addition, our caucus felt strongly that it was important to make certain that those judges who now served on boards of police commissioners in Ontario at all levels should not be eligible for reappointment at the expiration of their existing terms.
The feeling was that it was important from our point of view, regardless of whatever views the government may have had in the mixture of views which obviously the members of the Conservative Party would express on such an issue or that my colleagues in the Liberal Party would express, not to leave the permissive factor available to the government of Ontario with respect to future appointments but also specifically to provide in the bill a provision that no present appointee who is a judge would be eligible for reappointment on the expiration of his term.
We would, therefore, propose when the bill goes into committee, and it is our intention, as I advised the Solicitor General and my colleague the critic for the Liberal Party, to put the bill in committee, at the appropriate time to move the amendment to give effect to those prohibitions. I would trust in the course of the exchange on the debate that the reasonableness and the positive nature of the position we put on that issue would be accepted by the government, and accepted by the Liberal Party.
The second concern we had with respect to the bill is about the financing of police. My colleague the member for Welland-Thorold (Mr. Swart) is much more knowledgeable about these matters than I, having been a municipal councillor for a long time, just as other members, both in the Conservative Party and the Liberal Party, have served as municipal councillors. Perhaps some of them may have served as members on boards of police commissioners, as my colleague the member for Welland-Thorold so served.
A major concern we had is in the question of the financing of the police by the municipalities. I think it is somewhat trite to say there should be a better relationship between those who bear the burden of determining the number of dollars which are to be spent and have the responsibility for raising the number of dollars that are required, along with whatever grants are made available from the provincial government, to ensure some balance, and those members of the police commissions who are appointees of the government of Ontario. They should bear a proper proportionate relationship to those members who are representative of the communities to which the police forces are accountable in the ultimate sense.
I think it is trite to say, whatever the actual figures are, that substantially more than two thirds of the cost of the police forces in any municipality in Ontario are borne within the local municipalities by the general rates which are imposed upon the citizenry of that municipality and to whom the elected members of the municipal councils are responsible.
We, therefore, would propose a second amendment, a very important amendment, which I think would appeal to all members of the assembly because of the stated position of the government on so many occasions, that municipal autonomy is a matter close and dear to the hearts of the Conservative government and of the Liberal Party. It is that in some way the suggested amendment -- not of major significance -- should change the balance of those boards so that the amendment which now provides that two members of the five-man boards will be appointees, one way or another, of the municipal authority and three members will be appointees of the provincial government would simply be reversed. That is a very seductive proposition, I hope. It is not a major change. It is not a matter of suggesting that every vote that comes before a police commission at the regional level or at the Metropolitan Toronto level is always subject to a vote which is split between the rival factions on the board; that is not the way the boards operate.
I think it would be a sign of good faith in the proposition that the municipal politicians, who have the responsibility for raising the money and expending the funds to maintain in large proportion the municipal police forces in the regions and in Metropolitan Toronto, should be able to say what makes sense. Members will note that we have not gone to any extreme position; the extreme positions tend to be the positions of the Conservative Party or the Liberal Party. We have tried to come right up the middle simply to say just reverse the numbers. Pretend it was a typographical error in the bill and that they really meant that two members would be appointed by the Lieutenant Governor in Council and three members would be within the purview of the municipal authorities.
It is a sleight-of-hand game and, considering the lack of attention which is paid to this assembly, I do not think anybody would notice if we passed that bill tonight. I do not think that it would explode within the regional municipalities or otherwise if it was suddenly learned that the municipal councils were to have the authority to elect three as distinct from two and the Lieutenant Governor in Council could only appoint two instead of three. I do not think it would be considered a revolution in the municipal life of the country. I think this assembly in its contemplative view -- and it is only those members who are in the assembly tonight who are really interested in this topic -- will see the sweet reasonableness of the proposition I place before the assembly with respect to our second amendment.
I know it will be perhaps said that in the fullness of time we could change three to two and two to three, but maybe tonight we could grasp the nettle and change three to two and two to three in that bill. That is what we would like to try to do because we have the members with the greatest wisdom, the greatest interest and the greatest knowledge of municipal affairs here assembled tonight, small as that number may be. When the point comes up in committee of the whole House, I would urge that the House seriously to consider supporting that second amendment as well, of course, as the first amendment I have put before it.
In order not to antagonize, because we are not engaged in confrontation, as my colleagues the Liberals are with the Conservative Party on these issues, we are not going to vote against the bill on its second reading. We are not going to oppose it. We simply want reason to prevail in committee on the two amendments I have said we in this party propose.
The third one is of greater interest to those members who represent the ridings of Metropolitan Toronto, of whom so many are in attendance in the House tonight. The Minister for Intergovernmental Affairs (Mr. Wells), my colleague the member for Bellwoods (Mr. McClellan) and I, perhaps represent the cream of the crop when it comes to discussion of this kind of question.
Mr. Renwick: Forgive me. My colleague the member for Yorkview (Mr. Spensieri) is here. So there are four of us here tonight who would respond positively to the real concern expressed in Metropolitan Toronto about the lack of representation on the Metropolitan Board of Commissioners of Police of the community for which they are responsible in relation to the administration of the police.
We will, therefore, be proposing an amendment to do two things, one of which will be to increase substantially the number of the Metropolitan Board of Commissioners of Police in a real sense, in a way that will appeal, I trust, to the members of the assembly who are here tonight.
Numbers have a certain magic to them. I am not certain what one calls those numbers that are not divisible by any other number, but if my recollection is correct, there is a specific term. Nineteen is one of those numbers. Nothing can be done with 19. One cannot divide it. It does not divide into anything, except by the use of my computer. I do not know what it does if one finds the square root of 19. In itself is a magic number and that is the number we in our party have selected as the maximum number for the Metropolitan Board of Commissioners of Police.
The number is made up this way, and it is quite simple. The chairman of the metropolitan council, -- perhaps those with a pencil could add them up -- and, in addition, one member of the metropolitan council, appointed by the metropolitan council. That would reduce the total number of appointees, or members of metropolitan council as such, from three to two; that is, the chairman and one member as distinct from the chairman and two members, as is proposed in the bill and as has been the case for some time.
It seemed to us to make very good sense that there should be one member of the council of each of the municipalities in Metropolitan Toronto who is not a member of the metropolitan council. One member of each of those councils should be appointed by that area municipal council. It is the sense of our caucus that the dispersal of the membership throughout, so that each area municipality would have one member who is a member of council on that Metropolitan Board of Commissioners of Police, would be a useful and important addition to achieve the goals we are concerned about in the Metro police commission. If my numbers are correct, I believe there are six area municipalities: Toronto, York, East York, Scarborough, North York and Etobicoke. That would, therefore, bring my numbers up to eight members.
The next portion of our amendment would be to provide for nine further members of the commission who are not members of any area municipal council, who would be appointed by the metropolitan council. In other words, there would be nine members added to the board of police commissioners from among the general citizenry, to be appointed by metropolitan council. The only disability they would be under is that they could not be a member of any council in Metropolitan Toronto.
That would bring the number to 17. Then, to preserve for always the integrity and the virtue of the government of Ontario, two members would be appointed by the Lieutenant Governor in Council. This would make a total of 19 members on the Metropolitan Board of Commissioners of Police.
For those who fear a revolution if such an amendment were passed, there would still be a majority of government members over citizen members. With the two appointees of the provincial government, those who are elected either at the metropolitan council level or in the area municipalities would have a voting edge of 10 to nine over those who were represented simply in their role as citizens.
I am sure the magic of those numbers will appeal to my friend the Solicitor General. I think the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs will also understand the importance of these amendments, as he is a member from Metropolitan Toronto. He will understand the necessity of making certain the Metropolitan Board of Commissioners of Police in Metro reflects appropriately the kind of society the city represents.
To make sure there would be no confusion about that, we would make all those appointments subject to a clause in the amendment we will introduce in committee. We simply state that in making any appointments under the provision for that composition of the Metro police commission, "regard shall be had to the cultural, racial, social and economic complexity of Metropolitan Toronto to ensure the Metropolitan Toronto board reflects that complexity."
I know the Solicitor General would like these bills to pass without any particular comment. Indeed, when he was speaking on October 13 to the municipal police authorities, he noted these proposed amendments and was careful to indicate this did not in any way affect the ongoing review of the Police Act. He suggested the amendments as he would propose them were matters that generally would receive widespread approbation. He said they should simply be passed because the government thought this was the time to make some minor changes.
As soon as I sit down I will circulate copies of the three proposed amendments to the Solicitor General, the Liberal Party critic of the Solicitor General and to any other members who are interested. Briefly, I would summarize them as being first, a specific prohibition against judges being appointed to police commissions and the ancillary prohibition against the renewal of the appointment of any present judge who holds a position on a police commission.
Second, we would make the simple transition of providing that the balance of appointing authority would be for the municipalities to appoint three members and the government of Ontario to appoint two in those areas where there were to be five-person boards.
Third, in view of the concerns that have been expressed over the years with respect to the composition of the Metropolitan Toronto police board, we should give here and now specific consideration to the proposal to make a substantial, balanced, intelligent increase in the numbers of the Metropolitan Board of Commissioners of Police for the purpose, as I have said, of reflecting the cultural, racial, social and economic complexity of the metropolitan area.
I am certain that my remarks, together with whatever remarks my colleague the member for Welland-Thorold (Mr. Swart) would choose to make in amplification of these amendments and, more than anything else, with the reasonableness of the amendments, the essential integrity of the process we are engaged in here tonight amongst this select group of intelligent, wise and deliberative members of the assembly, at this particular time, each of those three amendments will have the unanimous approval of the assembly in committee.
In order not to antagonize anyone from the rational concern and consideration of those amendments, we are not going to oppose the bill on second reading, but I did want to give some intimation of the amendments we would propose in committee of the whole House on Bill 86.
On Bill 87, while we will deal with it, we can deal with it somewhat more briefly. Two of the proposed amendments are, of course, appropriate for that bill; namely, the exclusion of the judges from any role to play in the other boards of police commissioners, and we will propose the amendments to that effect in due course but will not need to speak at any length on them. Second, again the reaffirmation of the exclusion of anyone performing a judicial function from membership on the boards of police commissioners either now or in the future or by renewal of his appointment because in my private discussions with the Solicitor General about them -- and I think he will forgive me for saying so -- we are in total agreement on one proposition, that the roles of judges and the roles of members of the boards of police commissioners are incompatible, and I think that is a good word to express the thrust of the amendments.
With those few words I would solicit in committee the support of the assembly for the amendments we will propose.
Mr. Epp: Mr. Speaker, from the outset I want to associate myself generally with the views expressed by the member for Yorkview (Mr. Spensieri) and the member for Riverdale.
In speaking to Bill 86, An Act to amend certain Acts respecting Regional and Metropolitan Municipalities, it is somewhat surprising to me that whereas the act was changed for smaller municipalities some years ago, there has been a delay of four years or so in making the amendment for regional and metropolitan municipalities. Surely, if the need was there for the smaller municipalities a few years ago, the need was there for the larger municipalities to make the amendment whereby judges not only cannot sit on police commissions but should not sit on police commissions.
I want to associate myself with the amendment that the member for Riverdale has mentioned he wants to introduce whereby judges will be asked not to sit on commissions and will not qualify for that position.
In particular, I want to mention an instance in my own regional municipality of Waterloo where a judge had a potential conflict of interest in serving both on the police commission and on the bench in hearing the officers who came before him. I do not think even a judge in his great wisdom can completely forget, when he is on the bench, that he is a police commissioner and maybe that same evening, for that same officer, will have to determine his salary. When that officer is presenting evidence in court during the day and then that evening the judge has to decide whether that officer as well as 650 others should get a raise in pay or should be reprimanded because he has committed some offence, or whatever the case might be, I do not think it is fair to the system, nor do I think it is fair to the judge.
So I commend the minister for bringing in this amendment but I do not think he has gone far enough. I think he feels personally that the change should be made completely, but I guess he is trying to tiptoe through the tulips and not step too harshly on the toes of some people, in this case, the judiciary, whom he might offend. Maybe he feels he would offend them if he completely eliminated the possibility of their serving on police commissions.
I mentioned my own regional municipality because we have a serious situation there where we have two police chiefs, one in the person of Syd Brown, a name well known in this province, and the other being Harold Basse. We are paying each of them over $40,000; the active police chief much more. The reason I raise this is that the only person still on the police commission now who was on the police commission when Mr. Brown was hired some seven or eight years ago, is the judge.
He is still on the police commission, so I would think that at some time in the future the particular situation is going to be rectified. I have no ill feeling towards the judge, I just think it is unfortunate that he has been put in that position, and it is unfortunate that the Legislature has moved so slowly in trying to rectify it.
While speaking to this bill I would like to ask whether the Solicitor General would try to rectify a serious oversight whereby regional municipalities and the larger, regionalized municipalities -- with the exception of Ottawa-Carleton, as my colleague the member for Ottawa East (Mr. Roy) well knows -- get only $12 per capita as opposed to $17. It is an incredible injustice to the people in the smaller municipalities as well as that one regional municipality that they should be so discriminated against, and yet this government of 40 years continues to discriminate against those people.
It is said a new broom sweeps clean. I look to the Solicitor General and I only hope that for a change, he will impose his views on the new Treasurer (Mr. Grossman), who says he is going to start a whole new system of reviewing the budget and consult with the people of the province. I only wish the Treasurer would have such foresight and consult with the Solicitor General, who obviously is embarrassed by the inequalities that he practises as a member of the government of this province.
One further point is the matter whereby the number of municipal appointees to police commissions will be increased by one and the number of appointees made by the province will be increased by one, for a total of five for areas with populations over 25,000.
I certainly can clearly associate myself with the views of the member for Yorkview (Mr. Spensieri) and the member for Riverdale (Mr. Renwick) when they suggest this should be reversed. I am one who has mentioned this ever since I came to the Legislature six years ago and I hope the Solicitor General in his "sweet reasonableness" will reverse that particular thrust and give the municipalities the say for which they are paying.
As he knows, there is an old saying, "Whoever pays the piper calls the tune." He knows and I know that he is calling the tune and he is not paying the piper. I think he should have a sleepless night tonight thinking of how he is stealing from the municipalities the right to have three representatives on those police commissions. He is stealing them for the province because, in fact, they should have three and he should have only two. How can he sleep at night with that on his conscience? I say, "Shame," to the Solicitor General if he does not go along with the particular amendment that is going to be proposed. I only hope he sees the light before the bill is passed and goes along with the amendment.
If the Solicitor General says he cannot support an amendment presented by the opposition, that he can support only his own amendment, I would ask him to be reasonable as was the transport minister earlier today when he spoke to Bill 61, An Act to regulate Off-Road Vehicles. He was able, in a very positive manner, to go along with some of the suggestions made by the opposition parties, in particular those made by my colleagues the member for Prescott-Russell (Mr. Boudria) and the member for Wentworth North (Mr. Cunningham). He went along with those two suggestions and I hope the Solicitor General is big enough, and I am sure he is, to go along with the suggestions to increase municipal representation so the municipalities, which pay the most money and are accountable to the people, as my colleague the member for Erie (Mr. Haggerty) says, will have the power to appoint the majority of the members on the police commission.
That is where the real power should be. That is where the real authority should be. They should have the opportunity to appoint the majority number of members to their police commissions, because they are the closest to the people, as the minister and I both know. I think it is something he can easily accept and he will be recognized as making a very courageous move, a progressive move, at a time when there is not a lot of courage over there. We see that from time to time and he could show himself as being a leader among the people over there and across the province.
So I implore the Solicitor General to go along with those amendments and to show the kind of leadership for which he has been elected as a member and appointed by the Premier (Mr. Davis) to cabinet.
Mr. Swart: Mr. Speaker, first, I would like to commend the Solicitor General for bringing in the Regional and Metropolitan Municipalities Amendment Act, to make some change in the composition of the police commissions, a change which does not go as far as we wish. To have brought it in this soon in his term of office I think deserves some commendation.
Mr. Wildman: You are commending him. The other guy said he could not sleep at night.
Mr. Swart: I, too, want to say, as the minister might expect, that I fully support the very articulate and complete comments of my colleague the member for Riverdale (Mr. Renwick), and the issue does not require a great deal from me or anybody else in the way of explanation.
I share his feeling that this is a rather important issue. When the member for Yorkview made his comments, he indicated that he did not feel it was a very significant bill. I do. At least, let me put it this way, I think it is a very significant issue. The issue of who shall have authority over the police department is exceedingly important and it is one that has a long history.
To some extent, I have been involved in that history for a number of years. My advent to municipal council some 36 years ago this coming September was due to this very issue. There was a small police force in the municipality in which I lived that was directly under the control of the council. There was no commission. My friend the member for Erie will know about which municipality I speak, the township of Thorold.
The citizens of that municipality considered the police force to be extremely corrupt. Existing in that community was a number of houses of prostitution and bootleggers. Because I had taken an active part in this matter of trying to get some remedy to that situation for some months, perhaps a couple of years, and had expressed some viewpoints, when municipal elections came around, I think they were January 1 at that time, in 1948, prior to the nominations I was approached to see if I would run for council. I accepted the invitation and was elected. The election was fought on that issue: the matter of policing that municipality.
There were five members of council; three reform members were elected. The police there were thrown out. The Ontario Provincial Police was brought in and inside of three months that situation with regard to the bootleggers and the houses of prostitution was cleaned up.
Subsequently, the Ontario Provincial Police performed the policing in that municipality for a period of time, but we saw the other side of the coin which was that they were so far removed from the public and the council in that municipality that the public felt generally they had no control whatsoever over the police. In no way were they accountable. Subsequently, in that --
Mr. Nixon: The Niagara region?
Mr. Swart: It was not the Niagara region then. It was a few years ago, as I am sure the member is aware.
Ultimately, a police commission was appointed within that municipality and that seemed to bring to --
Mr. Bradley: Were there any Tories on that commission?
Mr. Swart: What do you think?
That seemed to provide a balance to a greater degree between accountability and yet some removal from the direct control of the local council. In the United States, where policing has been under direct control of councils, we know the policing of any of those places has been far less than exemplary.
However, I do not think that we have reached the ultimate in the police authorities. This bill, for the first time in quite a long period of time, gives us a chance to make the necessary changes to get what is close to as ideal a type of authority as we can have.
Mr. Speaker, I see you rather nervously looking at the clock. I am not sure which one gives you the correct time and which one you are going by, but I have some more comments, not lengthy, that I want to make.
On motion by Mr. Swart, the debate was adjourned.
The House adjourned at 10:30 p.m.