The House resumed at 8 p.m.
House in committee of supply.
ESTIMATES, MINISTRY OF INTERGOVERNMENTAL AFFAIRS (CONTINUED)
Mr. Roy: Mr. Chairman, you would be the first person to be deeply disappointed if you thought I had completed my remarks last Friday.
The Deputy Chairman: I am not sure about that.
Mr. Roy: If you had not expressed disappointment, I am sure the minister would have. After all, he has brought himself quite a heavy stack of reading material; so I gather he is settling in for the evening. We will try, if we can continue with the brief comments he made at --
Hon. Mr. Wells: I've got nowhere to go. I want to read from this book.
Mr. Roy: What is it called'?
Hon. Mr. Wells: No Small Measure.
Mr. Roy: No Small Measure. I think that book perhaps would sell better than the one from the minister's colleague, called A Conservative Canada, which we now know has been ghost-written by an individual who was receiving quite adequate remuneration on the minister's staff.
Hon. Mr. Wells: On which minister's staff?
Mr. Roy: Does the minister want to discuss the staff of the Provincial Secretary for Justice (Mr. Walker)?
The Deputy Chairman: No. Proceed with your great discussion on the estimates of the Ministry of Intergovernmental Affairs. The minister wants to redirect your efforts.
Mr. Roy: Mr. Chairman, you know me as a flexible individual. I am prepared to tackle any subject or topic the minister wants to deviate to. I am quite prepared to carry on with these estimates.
If I may, I want to make a few more brief remarks on what I thought was an unfortunate comparison the minister made when we were discussing the question of constitutional entrenchment in this province of French-language services. The minister had given Manitoba as an example of what can happen if an issue is not properly treated or if a subject such as provision of French-language services is not implemented in a rational fashion. I take it that is what the minister intended as the example he wished Ontario to avoid.
I quite agree with him, but the minister will understand that in Manitoba we have a very different situation. In fairness to the present administration of Manitoba, and I think the record should show this, it is facing a situation where there are court decisions and there probably will be further court decisions showing that when the province of Manitoba, through its Legislature, attempted in 1890 to abolish all French-language education or all French-language use in the Legislature and elsewhere, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that was invalid.
Manitoba is facing a situation where, for all intents and purposes and from a practical point of view, all of its laws passed since 1890 can be declared invalid by the Supreme Court of Canada because they were passed subject to legislation that the Supreme Court of Canada has said is invalid.
Given that situation, one can understand that the government of Manitoba is facing absolute chaos. The present administration in Manitoba, given that situation and given the ultimatum for all intents and purposes by the Supreme Court of Canada, is attempting to implement a situation or a practical program whereby it can phase in French-language services at various levels in a sort of practical manner.
What has happened is that after the agreement had been reached by the Manitoba government and the Franco-Manitoba Association, and this agreement was brought before the Legislature, the Conservative opposition in that province, led by Sterling Lyon, has tried to exploit this agreement for political reasons. It has forced the government into a situation where, for all intents and purposes, meetings are being held across Manitoba. At those meetings, a lot of people who are in opposition are taking advantage of the meetings, and the opposition is taking advantage of the situation to make political points. It has become a very divisive situation.
To further complicate matters, unfortunately, in Manitoba one is into a situation where every municipality has got involved in a referendum on the issue. If there is anything more undermining of minority rights, it is to get involved in a referendum type of situation for these rights, especially when the question in Manitoba is as convoluted as the present question is.
The question in Manitoba is so convoluted that even some of the leaders of the Franco-Manitoba Association are going to be voting against the proposition. Unfortunately, in Manitoba, when the results of the referendum come out in a few days, the government is going to have a situation where probably 75 per cent of the people will have voted "no." In that 75 per cent it is going to have some of the leaders of the Franco-Manitoba Association who feel that to achieve their ends they will have to vote "no" to that question.
It is a very sad situation in Manitoba. I agree with the minister that in this province we should avoid the turmoil that Manitoba has. But I want to make a simple proposition to the minister. Is there any opposition party here, or any opposition leader, who is prepared to exploit advancement of the initiatives taken by the government for political purposes? I think the minister will have to admit that is not the case. We are not involved in a referendum situation.
What many of us are proposing, and what I propose in my resolution, is that where the government is currently providing services, where the services can be adequately given, it should give constitutional guarantees in those areas. That is why I propose guarantees in the area of the Legislature, education, courts, justice and government services where there is sufficient demand. It seems to me that is a reasonable proposition and certainly is not one that is liable to divide the province, as the minister has suggested.
M. le Président, j'aimerais dire quelques mots en français, parce que je suis convaincu que vous seriez extrêmement déçu si je faisais mes commentaires uniquement dans une des langues officielles. Alors je vais dire quelques mots en français.
M. le Président, je fais des commentaires sur les estimés de ce ministère ici. Et notons qu'on fait face ici à un ministre et à un ministère qui tout de même ont montré de la sympathie envers les Franco-Ontariens et envers les initiatives visant à donner des services aux Français en Ontario.
J'ai été extrêmement déçu de l'attitude du gouvernement durant les dernières semaines, durant le dernier mois. Je trouve que le gouvernement et que le ministre en question ont pris une attitude qui n'a pas évolué à toute fin pratique depuis 1975. Et je crois que souvent le gouvernement, le Premier Ministre ou même le ministre ici en question jugent que les gens de I'Ontario ne sont pas prêts à montrer énormément de souplesse, montrer sur certains points énormément de compréhension sur le fait français ici en Ontario. Et je trouve, M. le Président…
The Deputy Chairman: Order.
M. Roy: A l'ordre, M. Samis. A l'ordre. Le député de Cornwall, je crois.
Puis je voudrais dire à mon collègue M. Samis que, quand il mentionne le député de London, le chef de notre parti, franchement de votre côté vous avez pris une attitude…
The Deputy Chairman: Order. You are interrupting the speech. I am taking French lessons, and I am enjoying it.
M. Roy: C'est exactement ce dont je parle, M. le Président. Je parle de ces estimés ici. Mais ce que j'essaie de dire au député de Cornwall, c'est que, quand il fait des commentaires cyniques envers mon collègue, le chef de l'opposition, il manque un peu de compréhension. Depuis 75…
Mr. Kerrio: You should have heard what he said about you.
The Deputy Chairman: I understand him for a change. Now you be quiet.
M. Roy: 75, M. le Président, que je siège avec mon collègue, le député de London et celui-ci a toujours montré énormément de compréhension sur le fait français en Ontario. Il n'y a pas de question là-dessus. Celui-ci a montré énormément de sympathie et de compréhension. Et malheureusement, dernièrement encore, la presse canadienne a manqué de compréhension et a jusqu'à un certain point faussé la position du Parti libéral sur le fait français ici en Ontario. Et je voudrais mettre ça aux dossiers. Je suis convaincu que le ministre en question comprend que je suis fatigué de lui expliquer… Et la position du chef de l'opposition, M. le Président… Je ne sais pas si on doit vous appeler M. le Président ou M. l'Orateur. Non, ce n'est pas l'Orateur.
M. le Président, la position que je vais vous expliquer est simplement celle-ci. C'est que le député de London a dit clairement que sa position personnelle est qu'il est en faveur des garanties conditionnelles pour les Franco-Ontariens ici en Ontario. Il l'a dit, il l'a répété à maintes reprises. Mais la situation, M. le Président, est celle-ci: c'est qu'on va essayer de travailler ensemble; et mon collègue, le député de London, est convaincu qu'on ne peut pas avancer la cause si on commence à faire de la "politiquaillerie", où ça devient une question d'élection générale et même une question d'élection partielle. Il y en a eu des exemples en 1980?
M. Roy: Alors M. le Président, mon collègue a invité les chefs des trois partis politiques, ici en Chambre, à prendre l'initiative et à montrer à la Chambre des Communes, par les chefs au national, et à essayer de présenter une position qui ne serait pas partisane, une position qui aurait l'acceptation des trois partis politiques et de tous les députés en Chambre. Malheureusement, le chef du gouvernement, le Premier Ministre, a refusé cette invitation-là et je peux vous dire maintenant ... pas partisane, une position qui aurait l'acceptation des trois partis politiques et de tous les députés en Chambre. Malheureusement, le chef du gouvernement, le Premier Ministre, a refuse cette invitation-là et je peux vous dire maintenant…
M. Roy: Bien, le chef du NPD, je ne peux pas vraiment critiquer la position du NPD parce que franchement le NPD a pris une position sur laquelle je suis d'accord. Il n'y a aucun problème là-dessus. Mais ce que je veux dire clairement, M. le Président…
Mr. G. I. Miller: Will somebody translate this for me?
Mr. Breaugh: Later. As always, later.
Mr. Roy: We will give the member who is interested in understanding every word I have just said a full translation of the speech.
The Deputy Chairman: Carry on. Please do not allow these interruptions.
M. Roy: Si je peux compléter ma pensée sur ce point, c'est que le Parti libéral a l'intention de continuer à appuyer toutes les initiatives prises par le gouvernement et même si on peut arriver à un consensus ici, mon collègue et moi-même le député de Prescott-Russell avec mes autres collègues … parce qu'en grande majorité je peux vous dire, M. le Président, que mes collègues au sein du caucus ont évolué énormément sur cette question et demandent énormément de compréhension. Et mes collègues du NDP et mon collègue Samis de Cornwall… Attendez un peu. On va présenter une résolution qui va vous donner l'opportunité, de votre côté, d'appuyer une position qu'on considère très logique et une position qui peut garantir, on a l'espoir, M. le Président, les droits des Franco-Ontariens dans une nouvelle constitution. On espère arriver à cette évolution-là non d'une façon partisane, mais avec l'appui de la plus grande majorité des députés possible, ici en Chambre. Et je crois que de cette façon-là, on peut accomplir quelque chose de concret … mais pas avec des divisions politiques et des chicanes politiques.
Alors, si je peux reprendre ma critique de la position du ministre sur ce fait-là, je voudrais que le ministre considère ... et je regarde ses conseillers sous la galerie ici, ce soir, des gens qui ont énormément de compréhension, qui comprennent le problème et qui peuvent donner des avis au ministre. Je crois, et je vous dis ça simplement, M. le ministre, que vous êtes un peu trop paranoïaque sur la question du ressac anglophone ici dans la province. Et je suis convaincu qu'avec un peu de compréhension et un peu de flexibilité, on peut faire avancer ce dossier-là d'une façon pas mal plus concrète que dans le passé. Je peux vous dire que si on voulait travailler ensemble... Vous savez que chaque initiative que vous avez prise a toujours été appuyée par le Parti libéral et par les autres partis de l'opposition. Alors prenez l'initiative ou si vous ne voulez pas prendre l'initiative, tout du moins donnez votre appui à certaines initiatives qui sont proposées par certains députés ici.
Mr. Chairman, the opening comments in the minister's speech put forth some very interesting initiatives. He surprised me by going further than I thought a member of that government would go in proposing some constitutional amendments. I do not want to put words in his mouth, but as I recall his speech he said he feels amendments to the Senate really are counterproductive. It was something to the effect that to make progress in our representations, we should not be looking at the Senate.
For all intents and purposes, the minister suggests that we abolish the Senate, as I understand his comments. I have some sympathy with that position. If we are going to talk about reforming the Senate -- God knows we have been talking about it long enough and we have seen very little progress in that area -- are we able to make real progress when there is division within the Senate'?
Mr. Stokes: What on earth would you do with defeated Liberal candidates'?
Mr. Roy: Where would we put defeated Liberals'? I say to my friend, do not worry. The Tories here have no Senate, but they have what is called the Ontario Municipal Board and many other offices. The New Democratic Party government in Manitoba has all sorts of places for worn-out NDPers. The former NDP government in Saskatchewan also had them. I know a place can always be found for a used tire -- for someone who has given to the cause. I would not worry about that.
I am one Liberal who feels that an institution as important as the Senate was intended to be should have another purpose than being a repository for people who have served whichever party in whatever capacity. I would not have much difficulty in supporting a proposal by the minister to abolish the Senate. If we are talking about giving this country adequate proportional representation, the minister may be quite right that the way to do it is through the House of Commons and not through the Senate.
Mr. Breaugh: What are you going to do with Bob Nixon?
Mr. Roy: More power to the member for Brant-Oxford-Norfolk (Mr. Nixon), I say. He would make an excellent senator. He is the type of person --
Mr. Samis: I've heard them say that about you.
Mr. Roy: We have certain institutions; if we are going to send people there, let us send good ones. But some of us have differences of opinion over whether the institution itself is serving a useful purpose. I have no doubt that my colleague the member for Brant-Oxford-Norfolk would serve the public well in any capacity.
I know he would like to be on the bench. Now, there is frustration. He would like to be on the bench and he will never make that. His doctor of laws, his honoris causa, is not sufficient to get him a judicial appointment. Unfortunately, he will not make it there.
I have no doubt my colleague would serve the public in any capacity, as he has done for so many years from this assembly. I say to the minister, if initiatives are to be taken, and I would like to see more initiatives on the part of the government about giving proportional representation through the House of Commons, I think we would have no difficulty supporting this.
We find some of these initiatives or thoughts the minister has put down on paper and has given us in the opening comments are very interesting. I say, rev up the boys out there in federal-provincial relations, get the crew going. It shows that the Minister of Education (Miss Stephenson) and some of the other guys are thinking; that is good. Let us get more of these initiatives and the government will receive the support of some of us.
The minister's comment about a council of Canada is another interesting proposition. It reflects basically what is happening out there, that much of the action involving the governing of this country is not taking place in the House of Commons or in the Senate for that matter, but is actually taking place at federal-provincial conferences where the Prime Minister and the leaders of the other provinces get together.
To have a formal structure where these people are meeting on a regular basis, with the participation of other people, is again an interesting proposition and is something that reflects what is taking place in this country. We have no difficulty supporting this.
M. le Président, j'aimerais revenir sur deux autres points que je voudrais mentionner au ministre avant d'abandonner ce sujet. Je crois que le ministre devrait parler à son collègue, le ministre de l'Education, parce que le ministre de l'Education montre un manque de compréhension sur le système scolaire dans la province. Cela fait dix ans que j'écoute toutes sortes de propositions pour nommer des conseillers scolaires, pour mieux représenter les francophones … on propose toutes sortes de formules; il y en a qui sont plus niaiseuses que d'autres. Mais toutes les formules, d'une façon ou d'une autre, ne fonctionnent pas, ne marchent pas. Et la dernière formule qui a été proposée par le ministre a été rejetée par tous les conseils scolaires. Je regarde mon collègue, le membre de Prescott-Russell, dans son comté. Et je crois que cette formule-là rendrait les anglophones majoritaires au conseil scolaire, et peut-être dans d'autres conseils scolaires, ça rendrait les francophones peut-être d'une façon injuste majoritaires dans leurs conseils scolaires.
De toute façon, je propose au ministre qu'il emploie des formules plus pratiques que toutes les formules qui ont été proposées par le ministre. Et je lui demande enfin de donner considération et de parler à son collègue ... la solution dans un secteur comme Ottawa-Carleton qui est un conseil homogène de langue française… Cette proposition-là est tellement logique, elle a été acceptée par tout le monde. Alors, M. le Président, pourquoi le gouvernement s'est-il acharné, obsédé a refuser ça?
M. Le Président, je voudrais dire aussi … je vois mon collègue, le ministre de l'Industrie qui vient de revenir d'un voyage et je voudrais lui souhaiter la bienvenue, le féliciter de son voyage, apparemment c'était très plaisant. Nous sommes contents de te voir, que tu sois revenu avant les fêtes, avant Noël. On pensait qu'on ne te reverrait plus, on s'ennuyait. Et on est heureux de te voir revenu sain et sauf.
Alors, M. le Président, si je pouvais dire: Pour l'amour de Dieu, M. le ministre, et je dis ça à vos collègues à la tribune, parlez au ministre de l'Education et dites-lui donc que la solution pour Ottawa-Carleton, ce n'est pas cette situation d'avoir un conseiller scolaire de plus ou de moins et puis de jouer un jeu de cartes, en mettre un ici puis en enlever un là. La solution pour Ottawa-Carleton, je vous l'ai dit à maintes reprises, non simplement pour les francophones d'Ottawa-Carleton, mais pour tout le conseil d'Ottawa-Carleton, est la suivante: il devrait y avoir un conseil des écoles publiques, un conseil des écoles séparées anglophone, puis un conseil francophone, un conseil homogène de langue française. C'est ça la solution pour Ottawa-Carleton.
Alors avec un début comme ça, vous pourrez acquérir de l'expérience à Ottawa-Carleton; voir si ça fonctionne. Cela pourra vous aider, peut-être, à voir des solutions plus pratiques dans d'autres conseils scolaires. Mais cette obsession… Bonjour, ça fait toujours plaisir, M. le Président, de souhaiter la bienvenue à mon collègue le ministre "Neige", Jacques Neige … on comprend son nom en français. Ca fait plaisir de vous voir M. le ministre, vous avez l'air en grande forme ce soir, mais je pense, M. le ministre Neige, que vous devriez trouver l'occasion de faire un beau voyage comme celui que le ministre de l'Industrie et du Commerce viennent de faire. Vous méritez ça, un voyage, vous aussi.
The Deputy Chairman: The honourable member should be speaking to the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs (Mr. Wells). Do not be diverted by one of the honourable members of the third party.
The Deputy Chairman: Carry on. Please do not allow these interruptions to divert you.
Hon. Mr. Snow: Tell me what you are saying.
Mr. Roy: I was just saying, looking at the happy disposition of the Minister of Industry and Trade (Mr. F. S. Miller), that I think he deserves a trip like that as well. I think he should go on a little trip.
Mr. Boudria: Take a trip on the Queensway, Jim.
Mr. Roy: If you do take a trip, do not start on the Queensway. You will never get off the ground. Stay away from that place.
If I could just complete my remarks and make another suggestion to the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs (Mr. Wells), there is going to be a lot of action next year in Ontario involving what he calls the bicentennial. I do not know if the minister has talked to his colleagues in cabinet, but he blew that one. If he was not throwing money around to get every municipality to jump aboard -- if he wants to celebrate a particular event in the province, that is fine. If he wants to celebrate the arrival of a particular group in Ontario, that is fine and that is deserving, whether it is one group or another. I think all Ontarians should be pleased about the origins of this province.
But in the process, I think it is unfortunate that the government, and I think the minister understands that, may have lacked a bit in sensitivity to the history of this province and the contribution made by other groups in the province.
The bicentennial has caused a lot of concern and cynicism. I get municipalities in Ottawa-Carleton asking: "Bicentennial of what? Is that the bicentennial of the province or the bicentennial of a particular group that arrived 200 years ago or what?" By calling it "bicentennial of Ontario," there is the inference that we are celebrating 200 years since the start of this province, which is wrong. It is contrary to the facts and to the history of this province.
If we are celebrating the arrival of a particular group 200 years ago, that is fine. Let us celebrate that, and let us call the celebrations the bicentennial of the arrival of a particular group. That is fine, and it is being pursued as that in many municipalities. In Ottawa-Carleton the name caused all sorts of divisions. People were thinking, "Do we take the money or do we not take the money?" Of course, everybody needs the money today, so they all took the money, and they said: "We will call it what the hell we want. Give us the money." Even Vanier and other municipalities said: 'it is very offensive, this particular celebration. It lacks sensitivity. But they are giving us $10,000. We will take it. We need the dough. We do not get enough money from Queen's Park." So they took it.
I think the minister and his ministry in charge of French-language services and the people here at Queen's Park might have been far more sensitive to what might be offensive about this particular initiative. In Gloucester the other day, I was reading a comment about two francophone --
Hon. Mr. Wells: I have my bicentennial button.
Mr. Roy: He has the button. It is obvious that --
Mr. Boudria: Don't ask me to wear it.
Mr. Roy: No, we will not.
Hon. Mr. Wells: Oh, come on, you will be wearing it next year too, I'll bet you.
Mr. Roy: His principles may be facile. Some of us are not. I say to the minister, as one who is perceived --
Mr. Roy: I am reading from a press clipping from the city of Gloucester just last week. Two francophone aldermen were on different sides of the issue. Alderman Eugène Bellemare is offended by this. He says, "I am not going to celebrate the bicentennial."
The clipping says: "Le conseiller Eugène Bellemare n'a pas l'intention de participer aux fêtes du bicentenaire de l'Ontario et même d'endosser un projet de la municipalité dans le cadre des célébrations de 1984.
"Lorsque la question est venue sur la table des élus de Gloucester, hier, lors d'une réunion du conseil, M. Bellemare en a profité pour rappeler quelques faits historiques" -- it is always the same thing, what happened in the history of this province.
"'1984 ne marque pas le bicentenaire de la province. L'arrivée des Loyalistes en Ontario n'est pas synonyme de fondation de la province."
That is the way the francophone community feels about the issue, that to take that particular approach and not have more sensitivity about the history of this province about those who contributed to the original founding of the province and about their participation since that time, lacks some sensitivity.
In Ottawa-Carleton there is a pleasant young lady in charge of the program. I think her name is Mlle Francine Lévesque. Given half a chance the program will likely be a success in spite of the minister's misguided intentions in this process. We have this type of debate in every municipality.
There is another councillor by the name of Royal Galipeau on the same council. He does not want to offend anybody. He says, "We will take the money, we will celebrate and we will have a good time." That is the attitude taken by many municipalities. I say to the minister -- and he may relate it to the former minister in charge of the celebration -- it seems to me the government got itself into a situation where there may have been some problems in acceptance of this. That is why it put money out there. Now everybody will get on the bandwagon to get some money.
Not only has this caused controversy in Ottawa-Carleton, but the other day in one of the municipalities of Toronto --
Mr. Boudria: Scarborough.
Mr. Roy: -- Scarborough -- one of the councillors said again -- what was his name?
Mr. Boudria: Frank Faubert.
Mr. Roy: Frank Faubert mentioned the same thing. I say to the minister it is his job --
Hon. Mr. Wells: It is only Liberals who mention that.
Mr. Roy: It is not only Liberals. Ask the member for Cornwall (Mr. Samis) if he agrees with the minister's proposition on the bicentennial. Is the member going to comment later? I know some people accuse him of being a Liberal, but not going that far.
Mr. Samis: Mr. Chairman, the member can say whatever he wants, but that was a grievously low blow and I would ask him to retract it immediately.
Mr. Deputy Chairman: I think that is a very serious allegation by the member for Cornwall.
Mr. Roy: I really intended to compliment the member.
The Deputy Chairman: In that case, I accept that as a withdrawal.
Mr. Roy: I do want to say to the minister that he knows better. He should have more sensitivity. When some of his more rambunctious colleagues -- and this happens often in Toronto -- get going and do not understand what may be wrong about a particular program, he should be right there and say: "Hey, hold on a minute. Do you realize what you are doing?" He should get to it before they get carried away, before they print the buttons and before they put the minister into a situation where he has to get in step and march along with the rest of the troops. That is his job and I think people within his ministry should be alert about that. It may be he is going to have to talk louder to some of the people at le Conseil des affaires franco-ontariennes.
It may be he is going to have to talk to the chairman and say, "Roger, keep me on top of this thing." I do not want to be too nasty to Roger, but on this particular issue of the bicentennial he was slow off the mark. His gun stayed in his holster a bit too long.
I say to the minister, that is his job. He has to be more alert and I would hope that in the future we do not get ourselves in a situation like this. When we celebrate something, we should celebrate it together and not have a situation where a particular occasion or festivity is a source of divisiveness instead of a source of unity in the province.
Having made these comments, I relinquish the floor to some of my colleagues who I am sure have constructive comments to make. I hope as the debate proceeds to get an additional opportunity to speak with the minister about some of the concerns we have.
I thank him for the opportunity and I hope the minister will understand that some of the comments we make here are made with sincerity in the hope of being productive and positive about the operation of his ministry in the future.
Mr. Breaugh: Mr. Chairman, this is a bit of an unusual ministry to try to follow, because in many respects it does not do what other ministries in the government do. There is not a great flow of legislation from the minister. In fact, there is not really a great number of statements made by the minister to the House. It is sometimes difficult to track exactly what the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs and the whole ministry do in this province.
One of the things of concern to me is that in attempting to determine whether it does a good job or a bad job, or whether it is effective at doing all the things it purports to do and in fact trying to get a handle on what it is this ministry purports to do, is not easy. In part, I suppose the difficulty is that the minister himself, although he is always present at first ministers' conferences and the conferences on the Constitution, has a tendency to play a supportive role rather than a dominant role.
That is to be expected, because very often when Ontario wants a front-line position at a first ministers conference, it is the first minister who takes that initiative. It is the Premier of Ontario (Mr. Davis) who makes the formal statements. Quite often, in order to grasp where the minister himself might be, one kind of has to rely on a copy of a speech that was delivered from Chicago, Edmonton or some other place.
This session is a bit unusual because it kind of got started by this minister proposing a resolution on aboriginal rights, a proposed amendment to the Canadian Constitution. It is not too often that the House has an opportunity to debate a resolution put forward by the minister in that capacity.
On the couple of occasions I can recall offhand, I must say the debates have tended to be of a rather high calibre for some reason. I do not know whether the minister inspires the members to drop some of the partisan shots they take from time to time and take the high road, but I seem to recall that on two occasions now -- when we had a debate on the constitutional resolution that was put forward by the minister and again in the beginning of this session when we had a debate on the resolution on aboriginal people -- one of the things that stuck in my mind was that the minister seems to have put before the House something which made the members take a slightly different tone in their debate. Perhaps members realized that the matters put before the Legislature by the minister were extremely important ones and also ones that were rather sensitive in nature.
It is not easy to follow the work of the ministry. In part, another aspect that has to be addressed is that a lot of the ministry's work is in briefing sessions, exchanges of information, setting up itineraries as the ministers travel around the world, seeing that protocol is observed and that the ministers are well briefed and have proper information on sensitive conditions they might not normally be familiar with.
Another part of the problem is that many of the offices the ministry operates are not in this province. They are in other parts of the world, in the United States. We have no way to measure whether the office in London, Brussels or anywhere in the United States is doing a good job.
Occasionally, we get press reports that one of the agents general made a statement or came back home to make a speech, but in terms of trying to estimate whether an expenditure of money is a sensible one, whether an office has problems or works well, there is no way I know of to monitor the situation.
If the minister wanted us to be well informed on the matter, he would organize -- the opposition critics I am sure would be prepared to take on the duty of touring these offices to see whether they were effective operations.
Mr. Boudria: If he twists your arm.
Mr. Breaugh: It is a little difficult. It is tough to try to examine --
Mr. Roy: It's a dirty job but somebody has to do it.
Mr. Boudria: Frank Miller knows.
Mr. Breaugh: It is a tough job. When I had the opportunity to visit Ontario House in London, for example, on other business, we happened to drop in there. I talked to staff for a while to determine what these people do in London, England. What is the purpose of Ontario House there? What is the function of their jobs? Exactly on a day-by-day basis, do they do something good for the people of Ontario? It is difficult, even when talking face to face with the staff, to determine what they do.
One is told with amazing regularity that they do good things. They brief everybody, they keep everybody informed, they welcome touring politicians, they represent the province, they participate in trade fairs and make business contacts and all of that. But those are all elusive things.
The work of the ministry in many ways is an elusive pursuit. It is not a mechanical ministry, as some others might be, of building roads or transferring funds to municipalities or providing specific policies. This is a ministry that is very much generalist in nature.
One of the things I welcomed was the edition, which arrived at my desk last week, called Ontario's International Relations: A Perspective, 1982-83. This attempts to nail down all the things the ministry does. When we get into the text of the material, it is quite surprising the work being done by the ministry, which in Ontario has a very low profile. In other parts of the world, according to this brief, it has a much higher profile. I thought some of the things the ministry purports to do were interesting, some of which are of rather great concern to members of the Legislature.
One of the comments made by the ministry in its report is: "The Ontario government has also sought improved bilateral relations with major auto-producing countries -- the US, Japan and the European community ... ."
It does not tell us how the government of Ontario is doing that. It states a rather noble goal and goes on to say: "However the province continues to support restrictions on the number of cars imported into Ontario, as well as to require that vehicle manufacturers meet conditions similar to those imposed under the auto pact, in order to allow Ontario's industry time to adjust."
What I found a little remarkable about that assessment is that it is not common knowledge, I will bet, that that is the position of the government of Ontario. These are things not stated as regularly as we would like them. It is sometimes rather difficult to pin down exactly what Ontario's position is on things like trade restrictions with Japan on automobiles. I have noticed the Premier (Mr. Davis) on one or two occasions each year works that into his speech somehow but does not get very definitive on it. It is useful to read this document to find out exactly what Ontario's position is.
For example, though I know the Premier of Ontario supports the task force report that was presented to the federal government on the auto industry in North America, I am not sure very many Ontario citizens understand that the Premier has endorsed that task force. Perhaps there is a little bit of slippage in a system that allows the official government position on a matter which is that important to go almost unrecognized.
There is another interesting section in here where they are commenting basically on issues. For example, on the matter of acid rain, they state: "Ontario is, therefore, working to educate American interest groups, who are potential allies, about the nature of the problem." It does not really say who these people are or in what way the government of Ontario is attempting to influence or join with them or share information with them.
That was the purpose of a recent trip I was on to Washington, but very few people I met on Capitol Hill were aware of that exercise. There may be a bit of a slip between what this government's intention is and what actually happened.
Another interesting little fact quoted in this document occurred in a section commenting on the production of electricity. It referred particularly to the sale by Ontario Hydro to the United States of excess capacity -- perhaps "excess" is not the proper way to describe it. I think a couple of things are worth noting here: "
The northeastern US could run short of electricity within a decade due to its shift away from the use of oil, and public opposition to nuclear plants."
First, I am not too sure who made the assessment about the northeastern US running short of electricity; I certainly have not heard that from an American source. Second, I think it is interesting to note the recognition of public opposition in the United States to nuclear plants by stopping their construction.
Of the information I have read, there are a lot of other arguments than just public opposition to nuclear plants in the United States, such as the economics of it all. The Tennessee Valley Authority, for example, decided there were better and cheaper ways of producing electric energy than by nuclear plants. It is interesting to note the kind of built-in recognition here that what is unacceptable in the United States is happening in Ontario.
Here is another thing I noted in this part which I thought was interesting: "The main impediment to dedicated nuclear plants is uncertainty about how the US will respond: The United States might act to protect its own electrical power industry." If that is the case -- and that is the position put forward by the Ministry of Intergovernmental Affairs -- perhaps somebody in the ministry ought to inform Ontario Hydro. That body. for one, seems to be totally unaware there may be some impediment in the flow of electric energy across the border into the United States.
On a less glamorous and less expensive note, there is an indication in here of another problem which has been related to me by local truckers. They tell me American trucking companies are attempting to gain access to Canadian cities on their routes, but the process has been slow and cumbersome since licences in Canada are issued by the provinces. That is one aspect of the difficulty some trucking companies face in getting operational. However, this document seems to ignore that there is a trend on the part of large American trucking firms to buy out Canadian trucking firms.
It seems to me they have found a way around what is stated in here to be a bit of an impediment. At any rate, I thought it was a useful exercise to put the document together and to make the members familiar with the operations of the ministry. I think, if anything, it ought to give members an opportunity to establish clearly that this ministry might have a rather low profile in Ontario but it has connections around the world. It represents this province around the world and, in fact, is a very active ministry, although it does not do it in what we might consider the normal way of most ministries.
One thing I wanted to do at the beginning of my critique this evening was to talk a little bit about some of the things the minister said in his opening remarks. I think they are worthy of some comment. All of what the minister had to say had an air of "good times are coming." If may quote a little bit, he said, "The mood among governments and among Canadians is promising." That is his opinion of the atmosphere in Canada right now. I would have to caution the minister that I am not so sure most Canadians feel the mood is promising. I remain unconvinced that most provincial governments in Canada or, indeed the federal government, feel the same sentiment he does.
In trying to be a little more realistic about it, I sense that most Canadians feel there are still a lot of problems about in the land that have to be resolved, and that is just not happening. In his speech, one of his secondary issues -- not secondary, but in order of priority he placed it in a kind of a secondary manner -- was trying to deal with the separatist policies of the present government of Quebec. He points out that they have worked hard to maintain and improve lines of communication between cabinet ministers and officials in both provinces, in addition to the consultation arising through regular federal-provincial and interprovincial conferences.
At certain levels there may be some consultation going on, but I would have to point out that there is a great deal more that could be done. One of the things I have always felt in a personal sense should happen more often is that ordinary members of this Legislature ought to try to get some grasp of the political process in Quebec. That is not easy. There is a language problem. There is a history of government that is different from the history of government in Ontario.
If I may say so, sometimes the current Premier of Quebec is painted as a not-too-friendly person who is a separatist by nature and who holds views that are vastly different from a lot of other people in Quebec. From my experience in talking to members of all political parties of the Quebec National Assembly, one could take a member of that assembly from any political party and say virtually the same thing. There are members in all parties in the Quebec National Assembly who believe very strongly that Quebec is a nation unto itself. It is called the National Assembly; it always has been and probably always will be, although there are distinctions to be made among the political parties in Quebec in their definitions of separation or of the development of the nation of Quebec or of the French fact.
Most ordinary Canadians, if they talk to a Liberal in Quebec, whether they do that privately or publicly in terms of the Liberal Party of Quebec, really have to work at it to make the distinction among the political parties in Quebec. There is a strong feeling of nationalism, of some kind of sovereignty there. That realization perhaps does not hit home to members of this assembly because we do not have very much of an ongoing relationship with the National Assembly of Quebec.
Quite frankly, I think this Legislature would be well served by more ongoing connections with that assembly and with other assemblies across Canada, whether talking about common legislative approaches to particular problems or talking about the development of policies dealing with provincial difficulties that may have national implications. I think such a relationship with other provinces, and particularly with Quebec, ought to be extended on a far more regular basis to far more people.
One of the difficulties we get into in here is that there is a form of protocol involved. The Premier of Ontario speaks, in a sense, for the government of Ontario and the Premier of Quebec speaks for the government of Quebec. That is not to say there are not a whole lot of nuances of feelings, sentiments and opinions that ought to be shared and ought to form an ongoing relationship between the two largest provinces in the country, at least in terms of population.
More than just having staff talk to one another, it strikes me that on an ongoing basis there is a need to have members of this assembly do that, and there is a need to establish links that are used on a regular basis rather than links that are just celebrated from time to time. I was reminded of that not very long ago when we had the Ontario Status of Women Council before the standing committee on procedural affairs.
For example, we asked them what they had done about equal pay for work of equal value and whether they had studied what had transpired in Quebec. They admitted they were having great difficulty getting much of an assessment of the Quebec program and that they had not been terribly successful even at getting information, let alone making observations, at first hand.
I think that is an area which needs to be explored in a serious way, in a formal way, more formal than we now have. As have some other members of the Legislature here, I have had the opportunity on several occasions to talk to and meet legislators from other provinces. I have been taken aback on occasion by, for example, legislators from Alberta and their views towards eastern Canada because it is not something I have to deal with on a regular, ongoing basis.
It became apparent to me that we were kind of sharing ignorance. I did not know very much about Alberta and they did not know very much about Ontario. After we found some initial arguments over energy policies and things of that nature, it also became apparent that after a while the differences were not really that great. However, the initial impressions were that there were a lot of differences between Alberta and Ontario -- things that should be resolved, things that, in fact, were resolved over a rather lengthy discussion or two. I think those things need to be done.
One of the things the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs does from time to time is to make statements -- usually not here, but in Edmonton, Chicago or somewhere else -- that are a little different from what most of us perceive government policy to be. I notice that he does not back away from things as well. One of the things I did notice was that, prior to his opening remarks today, he simply said: "In our new Constitution we clearly recognize that Canada is a bilingual and multicultural nation." A little further on in his speech he went on to say it in a slightly different way.
Again, it is sometimes difficult to pick up the nuances of all of this. We have a minister whose opening statement here, and he has said it on other occasions in other places, recognizes that the nation is bilingual. He says "we" -- I take it he means "we" in the sense of the government of Ontario -- recognizing that we move in a country which has two official languages. Yet in the Legislature and down the streets of Ontario, we continue to have an ongoing discussion about entrenchment and whether that should or should not be done.
If one listens to the Premier, I hear him saying fairly regularly in question period, in response to remarks made elsewhere, that the Premier of Ontario believes we are not about to entrench French language rights in the Constitution. This minister seems to feel, on several occasions now, that it would be a good idea, that it may be just a matter of time or approach, but it should be done.
There are a couple of other things I thought were worth noting. He makes a comment about the present government of Quebec being committed to an option of political independence and being committed to campaigning in the next election on the question of Quebec's separation from Canada. From what I have read in recent months from the Premier of Quebec, I am not terribly sure that this is exactly accurate. However, it was interesting that this is his observation of the current government of Quebec, that there has been no change from previous policies despite a referendum on the matter, despite what I read to be some alterations of policy on their part.
As a matter of fact, in his opening remarks -- I was mentioning the minister's personal position hangup on the matter of entrenching rights -- he says on page 9 of his speech: "After all, the multicultural nature of Canada is entrenched in our Constitution. Therefore, I suggest that our English-French duality should likewise be entrenched." That is about as close as I have seen any minister of the crown get to actually saying he believes in the entrenchment of francophone rights by Ontario.
There were a couple of other things I thought were interesting to note. In his opening remarks about the country, regional differences and intergovernmental conflicts, frankly, I was rather pleased to see he had taken a position that we have put forward for some time about the Canadian Senate, vis-à-vis to find some alternative to that. In fact, I cannot recall whether he has said it on other occasions, but this is the first occasion when I have heard this minister say that the Senate ought to be abolished.
He goes on to put forth a rather unclear concept about the council in the sense that there is not a great deal of detail as to what he is proposing in this council of Canada or council of the federation, except he says there will be some appropriate participation by first ministers, by cabinet ministers and by other elected members from two levels of government.
I am not particularly an advocate of this council of Canada concept, but I point out that one of the things which poses a bit of a problem when the governments of Canada get together is that very often there is a position put forward by the government -- that is to say, the Premier or someone representing the government of Ontario will put forward a position -- which is accepted as the formal position of Ontario. I think it would also be a reasonable idea for the minister to suggest that on many of these occasions this would be a particularly appropriate place to involve, in some sense, members of the Legislature other than his own staff and people who might be there from other ministries.
In other words, I think the province would be reasonably well served on certain matters by providing representation from all three parties in this Legislature when we are dealing with other provinces and perhaps even with the federal government. I think there would be a useful exchange of information. I think even opposition members would serve some useful purpose to government in trying to learn all about the problems and to establish perhaps where the province ought to go.
I put that idea forward because of the example of the resolution on aboriginal rights. By the time a resolution of that nature hits this Legislature, there really is no opportunity to alter the resolution as it is presented. Members in general, in that particular debate, were all in agreement and supported the resolution.
I feel it would be a useful exercise to have members, other than those from the government side, speak in those discussions and those debates; so that by the time the resolution gets here, we would have less difficulty in dealing with a resolution of that nature. None of us particularly wants to ignore the ramifications of trying to alter a resolution of that nature at this particular time or in our debate.
There is a great deal in the previous document and in this one about the government's efforts in Europe and in Asia and its willingness to pursue commercial opportunities in other countries. One of the things that I think we have to talk about a little bit in this debate is the premise the ministry works on, which is that the tours around the world by various ministers and by the Premier are great things. I would say from my personal observation, there is nothing wrong with ministers of the crown visiting other jurisdictions in an attempt to promote commerce, but I think it is pretty naïve to suggest that is the be-all and the end-all.
For example, to those of us who have studied the way many countries in the world function, particularly ones like Japan, it soon becomes apparent that if one wants Ontario industries to be active in the Japanese market, particularly in its home market, one is really going to have to do much more than send the Premier of Ontario on a little trip through there. While that trip does not do any harm -- it may by chance almost do some good -- I think realistically one has to say there has to be much more than that.
If one really wants to promote the sale of Ontario-made products around the world, one is going to have to do a good deal more than establish trade missions. There has to be a general understanding of how those countries do business, what the local practices are, what the techniques are, what the regulations are and which areas in their market, for example, one might possibly service.
One of the things that is mentioned in several places in here is the ministry offices and their relationships to these visits. I noticed a report that the agent general in Paris, Adrienne Clarkson, played a rather substantial role in orchestrating the Premier's visit to Paris last year. That is fine; I see that as being a reasonable part of what an agent general ought to do. But I also noticed in this particular critique from the Globe and Mail, dated June 11, the aim of it all was to say that if she wanted a front-rank political role, it could be hers for the asking.
Someone had suggested to her that she would make a dandy mayor of Toronto. Perhaps she would make a dandy mayor of Toronto, but I have some difficulty in establishing the relationship of agents general overseas, and the work they do there, to their political connections here. There is no denying, and probably not a chance to get away from it, that there are political connections at work in establishing who becomes an agent general and what follows to them subsequently in their careers, some of whom have participated in the political process in a variety of ways.
I mentioned earlier that one very often has to pick up what the minister is doing by reading speeches that are delivered in far-away places. I want to pick out a few examples and make some comments on them. I want to quote are excerpts from a speech to the Canadian Club of Chicago, the Canadian committee of the Chicago Association of Commerce and Industry and the Chicago Council on Foreign Relations, delivered on May 19, 1983, in Chicago.
Part of what the minister had to say there was about US-Canadian relationships. He said the "elevation of their relationship to a new level of maturity is evident and the so-called frictions are the sign of two strong and independent nations which co-operate whenever they can, but which are, at the same time, engaged in a friendly and positive competition to advance their own interests in the world."
It certainly is his right to have that point of view. But I must say that in recent discussions I have had with members of the American Congress, for example, a credo that was put to me as a pretty legitimate one, given the American political system, was that if what you are proposing does not have something very concrete in it for the members of the Congress or the districts which they represent, you are not going to get anywhere.
We were reminded that it was Senator Edward Kennedy, who has long been seen as, and I think is, a friend of Canada, who was one of two senators who managed to scuttle an international fishing agreement. He did so because he did not feel there was enough in that fishing agreement for his constituents. In the American political system, working in the way that it does, two people who were seen to be, and are without question, friends of the Canadian government, made a pretty hard-nosed, pragmatic analysis of an agreement and scuttled the agreement.
Among staff people there and among people we talked to who were active on Capitol Hill in Washington, the credo seemed to be that Canadians and Americans are friends. There is no question about that. But if one wants to get down to signing treaties, if one wants to deal with acid rain, the auto pact, fishing agreements or anything else, one has to remember that we are friends who have to analyse what is put in front of our faces. And if the agreement does not have something in it for their relative constituencies, whether we are talking about a senator or congressmen, the agreement is not going to fly. Friendship will not make it fly; nice words will not make it fly; maturity will not make it fly.
It is a hard-nosed, pragmatic process that is at work in the United States; if there is nothing in it for them, they are not buying it. That, in a nutshell, I am told, is one of the reasons we have great difficulty coming to agreements on things such as acid rain. The American Congress itself has not settled down into a position on acid rain. There are a great many simmering disputes there. There are also great regional differences between those areas of the United States that produce acid rain and those areas -- much like most of Canada -- that are suffering from the results of acid rain. That first problem has to be resolved, and it does not matter whether Ruckelshaus is a friend of Canada or interested in resolving that particular problem, the American political process is different from ours.
It might be true to say that if someone could convince the Premier of Ontario that some agreement was good for the people of Ontario, the process here is such that the Premier would make that decision. The Premier would take that decision to the cabinet, which by and large is supportive of the Premier, where it probably would be accepted. The cabinet would take that to members of the government caucus, who by and large are supportive of the cabinet if they ever want to get anywhere.
In reality, the process is that one person could be convinced that the document is a good thing and, with the kind of responsible government system we have, that can flow through. We can see a number of examples, whether it is buying Suncor, signing trade agreements or whatever. That is the Canadian process. That is kind of the Canadian way of doing things.
In the American process, one takes a good idea and puts it on the floor of the House of Representatives or the Senate, and each and every person there has a shot at saying whether that is going to go anywhere. As a result, we get such things as the fishing agreement between Canada and the United States, which was the subject of a great deal of negotiation by politicians and senior civil servants over a lengthy number of years. At the end of that process, both parties thought that was a good agreement.
When the agreement hit the floor of the American Congress, two influential people could say: That is not good enough. That is not good enough for my constituents. That does not meet the needs of the people I represent." In the American political process, as hard-nosed and as pragmatic as it is, it means a very good agreement can go down the drain.
For example, even if one were successful in convincing the President of the United States that there ought to be a new agreement on acid rain or on fishing rights, or a new auto pact or whatever, the President of the United States would not have -- he does not have -- the ability to translate that into action, as would be the case in the Canadian political system.
It is not a totally different political system, but the structure is and the powers are different. What the Americans call their system of checks and balances means that it is not as easy to get something accomplished at Capitol Hill in the United States as it would be in Canada in the federal Parliament or even here in the Legislature of Ontario.
I notice one of the great concessions made, at least in this speech in Chicago, was that the minister made remarks there dealing with the special handling charge on all bottled wine imported from outside the province. I am not sure I would care to point to that as being the foremost achievement of the government of Ontario in establishing ongoing relationships with the United States. A little later on he deals with one that is more difficult; I have mentioned it a couple of times, and we will talk about it again slightly later.
There are real problems with such things as the acid rain agreement and in terms of proposed legislation in the United States that might block things like the export of uranium and Telidon, which is an interesting controversy. The Telidon system, developed here in Ontario, is a rather advanced, state-of-the-art videotech system. As soon as we get involved in marketing on the basis that most of us assume exists, that there is free trade between Canada and the United States, and whether it involves Telidon, the Urban Transportation Development Corp. or whatever, one soon begins to find that the Americans, particularly in their current economic state, are becoming very much a protectionist nation.
The Americans have massive renovations going on in their economic order, and a lot of their industrial sector is not in such hot shape. They are beginning to look very seriously at regulations, tariffs or other means that would scuttle a system like Telidon -- which, from my knowledge through briefings I have had, is something that is world-class and can compete on a world level and which in many instances the Americans would like to buy in large numbers -- unless some other means can be found to resolve difficulties that American plants producing similar kinds of products would have.
There are a couple of other things I wanted to note, because there are other ministers who are travelling around Canada and around the world, for that matter. There are communiqués that are issued by different ministries; for example, I have one here from the Interprovincial Conference of Ministers responsible for Cultural Affairs and Historical Resources, held in Grand Falls, Newfoundland, on September 27, 1983.
The ministers acknowledge that the dynamic cultural growth of the 1970s may continue in the 1980s and in possibly different ways: "Developments in high technology pose a common challenge to all provinces. The ministers stress the importance of securing a place for Canadian art within the marketplace as a means of enhancing Canadian content." I thought about that for a while and wondered exactly what it meant. I have to say that, after considerable thought, I do not have a clue. I really do not know what anyone meant when they signed that,
I do know that there are ongoing problems in terms of technology and communications among the provinces with the development of new technology in television broadcasting and satellite reception and in terms of the little border war that goes on between Canada and the United States periodically over television commercials that are placed by Canadian companies on American television stations. Although the controversy bubbles on, there does not seem to be a great deal of resolution to that problem. For all practical purposes, those kinds of problems are in the populated areas, Ontario and Quebec. I may have missed it, but I cannot recall a position being put forward by Ontario on that particular matter.
I do not recall whether representations have been made to the federal government on Ontario's position on the satellite stations, satellite reception techniques or the use of American television stations by a Canadian company. Again that is an area where there are going to be ongoing problems because the technology is being developed very quickly and the problems become very significant in nature.
Another area where I thought it would be interesting to quote something is a speech by the Deputy Premier (Mr. Welch), the Minister of Energy at the time and the Minister responsible for Women's Issues, who was representing the province at a federal-provincial-territorial conference of ministers responsible for the status of women. I am not sure that Ontario had a great day on this particular one.
Here is the kind of thing that deserves some explanation. The minister said in his statement: "On the issue of equal pay, I believe there are several options to reach our goal." Unfortunately, he does not explain what those options might be. One of the things that I thought a session like this would produce would be an analysis by each of the provincial ministers of their attempt to move towards that objective. In a debate in the Legislature last week, we saw that all parties -- in fact, all members; 82 to zero was the score on that particular resolution -- agree that is a good idea.
What I thought would have been an interesting exercise at this conference of ministers responsible for women's issues would have been to analyse from coast to coast what each province in Canada does in terms of trying to achieve that goal. Which province has a program that works? Which province has a policy that has produced certain results? Which province has introduced legislation that functions? If one rejects a legislative approach to the problem, what else does one have that works? I think that is the bottom line for all of us.
Most of us on this side of the House would argue rather strenuously that saying nice things about equal pay for work of equal value has not really changed things that much. We have a long way to go towards equality of payment between women and men on a number of fronts, but nothing much has happened here. We know that the legislative route has been tried in other jurisdictions; what are their experiences? If they were going to redraft their legislation, how would they do it? If there are other options that Ontario wants to explore, what are they and what are the options of other governments around Canada that have made some forays into the field?
Here we have the minister responsible putting forward a couple of platitudes, but not really much of an examination of what other jurisdictions have done or are attempting to do or are contemplating. It seems to me that one of the purported advantages of having ministers meet with others who are doing a similar job in another jurisdiction is to do just that: to compare what Ontario is trying as opposed to what Quebec is trying, and determining who is succeeding at what. We could learn a great deal if we had the opportunity to compare. Certainly the opportunity is there, but there does not seem to be much in a positive way coming out of that.
In the latter part of his speech the minister pointed out some other areas and, unfortunately, there is not much in the text I have which indicates exactly what transpired. We know that the increasing incidence of part-time work, appropriate pension provisions, adequate support services, violence against women and the effects of microtechnology on women's employment are only a few of the vitally important areas which require our attention. Unfortunately we do not find out in this speech, or in any report I have read subsequent to this conference, just exactly what is happening in any of those areas and who has taken what approach.
I mentioned earlier that the minister had presented the House with a resolution on an aboriginal constitutional amendment. There is just one little part I wanted to pick out of his opening remarks on that debate, "I expect that self-government, a Metis land base, and culture and language issues will be at the top of the list." He was talking in terms of the ongoing meetings that will surround that issue. He did say they would be at the top of the list, but I do not recall him saying what Ontario's position on any or all those matters would be or is now.
In reading the speeches of this minister and other ministers when they attend these conferences, one is left breathlessly anticipating what might be the position of Ontario. When they make these speeches, they are exceptionally good at pointing out the obvious, what the problems are, but there seems to b e a bit of a lack on their part of proposing either what the Ontario position is on such matters or what alternatives they want to explore in a very definite and concrete way with other jurisdictions.
Because of what I read in those speeches and on other occasions when the minister has been quoted in newspaper articles or whatever, I am left with the impression of a kind of bubbly optimism, the feeling that things in this nation are going along swimmingly. The great confrontations that occurred at the first ministers' conferences over the Constitution have somehow been resolved. All that is behind us and we are left to pick up and move forward from here.
I thought it would be interesting to go back over the mountains of literature I have had sent to me in the last few years about these kind of issues and to try to judge whether we have come very far, whether any improvements have been made, whether there is any real change in the status of anybody.
One of the things I looked at was the publication put out by Quebec called Quebec-Canada: A New Deal. It is the Quebec government proposal for a new partnership between equals called sovereignty-association, a phrase not heard a great deal these days. I wanted to pick one little quote out of this book on page 41, "In the view of the Quebec government, the lamentable story of the many vain attempts to revise the Constitution proves how illusory it is to hope that federalism can ever be renewed in such a way as to satisfy both Quebec and the rest of Canada."
It would have to be my observation that on this particular issue the view of the government of Quebec does not seem to have changed one iota from then to now. There has not been what all of us hoped for; that is, a resolution or change in attitude on anybody's part. That matter has been dealt with in a sense, but the government of Quebec was not very happy with the Constitution as it was put together. It seems to me I have heard nothing from the government of Quebec or from members of the National Assembly with whom I have had the opportunity to discuss it in person or whose remarks I have followed in the newspaper accounts. There is not much of a change there from anybody's point of view in Quebec. Perhaps we have not resolved the issue at all, and I do not think it has gone away.
I was looking for different positions and I admit I am picking -- I do not want to call them extreme positions, but certainly different perspectives on this country. One of the groups I thought was interesting too was -- I have not seen a great deal of publicity around this organization in the last little while but there certainly was during the constitutional debate -- the Canada West Foundation. It put out a book entitled Regional Representation: The Canadian Partnership.
It was interesting that the minister in his opening remarks suggested the abolition of the Canadian Senate, because in the Canada West Foundation's summary list of recommendations, when one looks through that, one finds almost all of it hangs on something happening in the Senate. I want to just read to members the first resolution that is in their recommendations. "The resolution of the problem of effective regional representation in Canada should be sought primarily through reforms to the Senate of Canada."
Yet I think there is a growing consensus, between the minister and me anyway, that the Senate ought to be put out of business. The feeling is it has not distinguished itself over the years as being a useful chamber of second thought and that a substantial change ought to take place. That begins by doing away with the Senate. Yet not very long ago the Canada West Foundation was pinning all its hopes on reforming the Senate, and it was not the only group. In a report published in September 1981 it said the focal point for reform of the system in Canada was to begin with the Senate and change the nature of that body.
Mr. Boudria: Is this the Liberal Party West?
Mr. Breaugh: I am not sure if it is the Liberal Party West but if that member says it is I would accept it.
Another interesting area on a similar topic was a study prepared for the Business Council on National Issues, Looking at Parliamentary Government in Canada: A Critical Assessment and Suggestions for Change. Here I thought I would pick out one small quote which is interesting. They say on page 103, "Our findings and recommendations favour the strengthening of Parliament at the expense of the Prime Minister, cabinet and public service."
Later it says, "It is our contention that the changes we propose will enhance considerably the capacity of the Prime Minister and cabinet to provide more effective leadership based first on a stronger command of the public service and second on a better-informed and more constructive Parliament."
Many of us have followed attempts by the federal Parliament to reform itself and many of us have been trying to do the same thing here with a good deal less success. I happen to sit on the procedural affairs committee, and we had the opportunity to meet the federal committee proposing these reforms, and others MPs, to try to get an assessment of whether this proposal for reform of the Parliament of Canada was being implemented.
I think it reasonable to say to that degree, yes, reform of the federal Parliament is reasonably well under way. We are not suggesting for a moment that substantial reforms have taken place in the way the Business Council on National Issues was proposing but at least they got that far. They at least changed some rules, regulations and practices in the federal House.
I think what was being proposed here, oddly enough, is not too different from what many of us have said in this Legislature: that the Premier, the cabinet and the government of Ontario would work better if there was an opening up of the process. We feel it would work better if there was less power concentrated, for example, in the Premier's office and more of it, not dispersed but shared by committees of the Legislature.
It is worth noting that what they had to say about the federal Parliament is dead on with what is happening in the Legislature of Ontario. This government would perform better and the people of Ontario would be better served if we could get around to debating the procedural affairs report on committees.
That same problem has been identified by anybody at any level who ever looked at the parliamentary process in Canada, federally or provincially. Everywhere I see the same observation being made: that the parliamentary process is one which no longer serves the people well. I could even paraphrase Joe Clark, who in his opening bash as a professor at York University yesterday went on at some length about the role of an ordinary member.
I am not a great fan of the American system of government. It is a system which escapes most of our understanding. If you are a parliamentarian from Ontario or the Canadian government you do not understand the American system or what is going on there. There is a lot of wheeling and dealing. On the surface there appears to be a system at work of "You scratch my back and I'll scratch yours."
But if one takes more than a superficial glance at their system, he will see one of its strengths is to look at an individual elected person's ability to do something. My judgement would be that the American system relies too heavily on that, that the emphasis there is on kind of no leadership in a sense.
One of the things I have to say is, if the American system relies on the individual elected person to actually do things, the Canadian system -- whether an individual is on the government side or the opposition side of the Legislature -- almost forbids an individual member, an ordinary member of this Legislature or the federal Parliament, to accomplish anything.
Mr. Boudria: Some of them are even mugged in the corridors of power.
Mr. Breaugh: I do not want to pander to the quaint interjections that are stuck in here, but I want to pursue that point just a bit. It is pretty clear to me that --
Mr. Boudria: Have a pander anyway.
Mr. Breaugh: The member needs a little attention paid to him from time to time. One of the basic problems we have in our parliamentary system is that, in a nutshell, an assumption is made from observers who are, I would have to say, not really digging into it, casual observers of the Legislature of Ontario, that the ministers of the crown actually run their ministries. I would have to say I have been here long enough to know better; they do not. One would have to say that committees of the Legislature are set up to improve legislation. On occasion, that does happen. But it is a rarity.
Mr. Boudria: Accidentally.
Mr. Breaugh: It is certainly folly to think that committees of this Legislature scrutinize the expenditures of the government of Ontario. It is just absolute lunacy to assume that happens. It is reasonable to say that they get a fleeting shot at it, but they do not do anywhere near the kind of scrutiny of spending in Ontario that other jurisdictions do. Those of us who have had a chance to look at state and federal systems of examining how money is spent in the United States know that. One goes down there and just drools over the ability of individuals to poke and pry, in the traditional parliamentary role of an opposition, to find out things. One is absolutely amazed, when one looks at the Canadian system of government, at how easy it is for governments to simply stonewall.
That is a great tragedy. If we open that system up, if we allow that kind of scrutiny, if we get away from the rather old-fashioned notions about a minister who has 17,000 employees being totally responsible to the point where he or she ought to commit hara-kiri if one of them fouls up somewhere, if we sent that one back into the dark ages and said, "We are dealing with a very complicated piece of government machinery here; more than 80,000 civil servants at work in Ontario," I think it is important that people in this Legislature -- who are not all dumb, who have some abilities, who have different backgrounds -- ought to take a good look at how that system works.
I think the members in this Legislature, on all sides, could do some very productive work if they had some tools to do that work. When one looks at the resources that are at any ordinary member's disposal on any side of this Legislature, a member does not have the tools to do the job. He does not have the research capacity to find out bits and pieces of information. He cannot get government documents which really tell him anything.
One of the hoots is that each year a set of briefing books on the estimates arrives on my desk from three different ministries and they tell me nothing. Nada; not a thing. If anything, they could be most aptly described as public relations programs for the minister. They tell large dollar amounts, they tell the areas in which those amounts are spent, but if one is looking for details on who bought what and who spent what, he will never find it in one of these briefing books; it is never there.
At the very best, one will get a number which corresponds roughly to a very large activity in the ministry. Past that point, one cannot tell how the money is spent. The sad fact is that even if one could tell, even if the greatest scandal was found in one of our ministries and we took it to the public accounts committee, we could not reduce that expenditure by a cent.
In the first place, for example at public accounts, they will find out about the money after the Provincial Auditor has had a little hash through it. Maybe in that instance, a year or so later, the public accounts committee will get a chance to look at expenditures of money.
Mr. T. P. Reid: Maybe.
Mr. Breaugh: Maybe, a year or so after the fact, we have a committee that has the ability to question how that money was blown away a year or so ago. We have no committee in the Legislature which has the ability to look at a current expenditure. Our quaint system of government says that if an event of that nature was dug up, the government members would rush in and -- publicly anyway -- would say, "Oh, no, this is all right. You got good value for your dollar" -- which is a term I seem to have flashing in my head from recent memory.
But the fact is that a minister of the crown spent, and admits to having spent, more than $400,000 over a period of time and there is no mechanism by which members of this assembly can question it. We could stand up in question period and ask, "Why did you spend the money?" The Premier (Mr. Davis) will stand up in question period and say: "Never mind why we spent it. We think we got good value for our money."
There are no means at our disposal to take that outside to a committee and to call witnesses to find out exactly how it was spent. As the minister in question said, "It is common practice," and sadly enough it is. If one relates to people on the street that we have ministers of the crown who spend $500 or $1,000 to have someone write them a speech they say, "Who would be crazy enough to spend $1,000 for a speech somewhere in Ontario?" It is not like hiring Don Rickles or somebody to come in and entertain the troops, when one can get market-rate entertainment value from it.
I read the speeches of the ministers. They are not bad. There is no argument about that. They are not that good either. If someone asked me if I would pay somebody $500 or $1,000 to write any speeches for me, I would say no. I think I could find a slightly better way to spend the people's money than to do that.
But it is common practice, and because it is common practice and because they have done it for some period of time now it becomes accepted after a while. Quite frankly, from my perspective, spending upwards of $500,000 for some people to do a little public relations work for one ministry is absolutely ridiculous.
The sad thing is that in this Legislature, if we all thought it was ridiculous -- let us exclude the cabinet -- if everybody outside the cabinet, those who have the opportunity to spend that kind of cash, thought that was absolutely the most ludicrous idea, it would be extremely difficult for the members of this assembly, if we all gathered on the great staircase outside, to do anything about that because the government members would be told:
"Your job, ladies and gentlemen, is to stand up at the appropriate moment and be onside with government. Never mind if you think this is the dumbest thing you ever saw. Never mind if it is impossible to explain that kind of an expenditure to the folks back home. You are here to support the government. One of our people is in trouble. We expect you to shut up and go down the hall to the caucus room and say anything you want, but you cannot step outside and say it. It is your job to take the vow of omertà, to shut up about it and to keep that behind closed doors. You are not to say one word outside but just be onside."
If we went off to committee with it, we would find a split in committee exactly that way. Somebody would move a motion to say, "We ought to take a look at this." The government members might mutter a little in the corridor outside, but when they get inside their role in life is clear. It is to stand up at the right moment and put their hands up at the right moment.
We should not be terribly critical of the members. In a traditional, parliamentary, Canadian sense that is what ordinary members on the government side do. They can make the odd speech here and there if they are particularly brave, but when they are here in the assembly of Ontario or in its committees their job is to defend the policies of the cabinet no matter what.
I would make a pitch to the members that much of what the Business Council on National Issues had to say about the federal Parliament and how it works applies dead on to Ontario. Much of what I think the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs could do of a positive nature would be to try to move those reforms along the road.
For example, the august procedural affairs committee, of which I am a member, sat down in the spring session and said: "Let us stop the flim-flam. Let us get a short list together of consensus issues around which ordinary member on all sides can agree. It did not take us very long to put the list together.
We had studied the matter for some period of time, but when we got right down to actual negotiations of what ought to change around here to make government a little more accountable and to make the process a little more bearable for members on all sides, it was not hard to arrive at those sets of issues, just as it was not hard for the federal committee on parliamentary reform to do exactly same thing. But when it comes time to actually get it implemented, from the spring session until now, it does not take long to recount all that has happened -- nothing.
There have been some negotiations among the House leaders. There will be, we hope, an occasion when the House leaders can come back to the procedural affairs committee and say, "From our perspective, this is what we might do around these changes."
However, in a straightforward and direct way, there is not even a mechanism at work whereby the assembly of Ontario can correct things that ordinary members on all sides think ought to be corrected. There is not a means to do that. Although I probably do not agree with them on very much else, the Business Council on National Issues hit the nail on the head.
It is not that this is such a great and difficult thing to see. As I talked to members from the federal Parliament of Canada about the same set of problems, they agreed quickly that Parliament was not serving the people any more. Joe Clark said it again yesterday. There is not much room in the Canadian system for an individual member to do anything. There is great pressure in our system, on all sides, for members to vote with the party whether one thinks the party is right, wrong, crazy, nuts, out of whack, or not.
Our tradition in Canada is to say, "Well, we will have those arguments in a caucus room downstairs or down the hall and we will not have them in public." I think this is a bit of a shame. I think there are things which happen on all sides in all political entities in Canada which should not happen but happen, not because they are right but because that is the way we have always done things.
There are a couple of other areas where I think it is interesting to go over back files and take a look at things which have to do with affairs between provinces and try to assess where we have gone.
Members may recall that in the 1960s, 1970s and on into the early 1980s, there was a notion touted that had great appeal. That was the notion of block funding. This is from a set of Ontario papers on federal-provincial fiscal arrangements, reprinted and summarized for the meeting of the provincial ministers of finance in Victoria, British Columbia, June 25 and 26, 1981.
They go through the principle of block funding which, at that time, apparently was still in some favour. I want to point out that the little catch phrase "block funding" has become one of the major economic problems facing provincial governments across the country, whether one is looking at something as specific and as startling as what has happened to our medicare programs -- the slippage in federal funding through the provinces and the concurrent slippage between the provinces and the providers of a service like our hospitals.
What I am really trying to trace back to is that point where it went through a block funding system which provided for some flexibility, which everyone wanted. This is the good side of that particular argument. If I were to analyse my personal feelings on block funding, this is the positive aspect of it. There is an ability to have some flexibility there which was not present before.
However, to flip it over and look at the bad side of the coin, we really have to say part of our ongoing financial problem in social services, in health, in dealing with municipalities, in dealing with large institutions, began to become most dramatic when we went to that block funding system. The irony is that while the provinces have a legitimate argument with the federal government about their kind of falling behind in terms of maintaining what they had assumed as a responsibility to provide funding for various kinds of programs, the provinces promptly turned around and did the exact same thing, using almost the same technique, to the institutions.
Therefore, if one looks at what is happening to Canadian universities, here in Ontario or elsewhere, if one looks at what is happening in our hospitals, in our elementary and secondary schools, in our municipalities, one will see the slippage was transferred from the federal government to the provincial government, and the people who wind up with the short funding are the people who are directly providing the service.
There is one other term I wanted to pick out of this book because I thought it was kind of nifty. I think the block funding concept somehow got waylaid, somehow got misinterpreted. If it did, perhaps this is one of the reasons.
There is a whole section in here analysing something called the "emergence of overequalization." One of the problems when governments get together is a tendency to develop new jargon. It often seems that the purpose of the exercise is to develop the jargon, not to resolve the problem. One area where I think we would find quick agreement is that we have not really developed even the techniques for resolving the problems.
I picked up this publication, a report of the provincial Great Lakes-Seaway Task Force entitled, Setting a Course for the Eighties. This is for those of us who are living along the Great Lakes and also for those of us who are not but are interested in whether the Great Lakes work or do not work. This has been an ongoing problem of what happens along the Great Lakes waterway system, what happens in the Great Lakes in terms of what people dump into them, and what happens in terms of municipalities that discharge raw sewage into the Great Lakes. That still happens in many parts.
They kind of toot their own horn here. I think people in Ontario and on the Canadian side have attempted to do something about the pollution in the Great Lakes, for example, but constantly are being thwarted by what we see as the Americans not really living up to their part of the bargain. For all of our protestations about that, we seem unable to come to grips with it. We seem unable to get the government of the United States to live up to what we thought was an agreement. It just does not happen.
One of the things that surprised me in a recent visit to Washington was a congressman from Minnesota -- Stangeland I think his name is -- who had proposed a bill in Congress which would keep the Great Lakes open year round. When I first heard of that, I thought it was a very nice idea. That is a little political number he is doing for the folks back home in Minnesota, and it probably sounds great in Minnesota.
But everybody else will look at that and say: "That is a crazy thing. We have ports running at 30 and 40 per cent capacity now. There is absolutely no indication that anybody would ever get to use something like the Great Lakes on a year-round basis." Even just a casual survey of what it would cost to keep the Great Lakes open year round ought to brighten people up so they would say, "No, you certainly cannot afford that kind of expenditure, particularly when the American climate for the expenditure of public funds is supposedly shrinking and they do not want to spend vast amounts of money for engineering."
One of the things I found surprising is that this proposal to keep the Great Lakes open was wrapped up in an omnibus bill. It was trudging along quite nicely through the American congressional system because, as they deal with this kind of legislation, one of the common practices is to take somebody from Minnesota who wants to do something there and then somebody from New York State will say, "I can support his bill if you just open up a harbour in my constituency or if you build a road over here or a dam over here." They roll it all in, and what one has at the end of that process is what they refer to as an omnibus bill with totally unrelated items which everybody wants. It all gets put into one little package, and that thing is chortling along through the American Congress.
Staff reports which we heard down there mention that the President himself had taken note of this omnibus bill rolling through and was making mutterings to his people on the Hill that he was not about to support this thing. They could pass it if they wanted to, but he was not going to sign the thing. It appears that may die, but here is a problem that has been in existence for a long period of time.
Around the Great Lakes and the St. Lawrence Seaway and its development, on this side of the border we are still trying to deal with simple things like pollution, which turn out to be not so simple. We are still trying to discover who is dumping stuff into dump sites along the Great Lakes which are seeping in through waterways into the Great Lakes themselves, so that the water, which I assume is reasonably pure when one gets it from a tap in Oshawa, may be affected from some chemical dump site in the Niagara Peninsula, either on our side or on the American side. We seem unable to deal with that one. There are a lot of continuing frustrations around the major set of problems like the Great Lakes and the seaway.
There is another area I wanted to take a look at because I think it is interesting to go back over books and reports which were written some time ago and see if we have come any further than we were then. There have been countless publications around the matter of acid rain. This is a report called Still Waters, The Chilling Reality of Acid Rain. It is a report by the subcommittee on acid rain of the standing committee on fisheries and forestry in the House of Commons. It documents a set of recommendations that have to deal with the problems of acid rain, 38 of them in total. It talks about problems like access to information, the Canada-USA agreement, US emissions, public awareness, capital cost allowance, the problems to motor vehicles, forests, drinking water, mercury in fish. They are all here. This is the litany on acid rain and all the problems that are there.
Interestingly, once again, in a recent visit to Washington our committee had an opportunity to talk to several people -- staff at the Canadian Embassy, congressmen, congressional aides -- about acid rain. It would appear that although we are being a little more aggressive in terms of the Canadian federal government trying to get an agreement on what we ought to do about acid rain, at the other end of the process not much is happening.
If one looks at Ontario in terms of what it has done, I think we are vulnerable to the accusation that Ontario has not really done very much. It is inside its jurisdiction clearly. It could do it on its own. Actions could be taken to resolve our contribution to the problem.
When one looks across the border at what the Americans have done, it is even less. In our discussions people got pretty fundamental about it all. It got right down to the conflicts there are between different regions in the states and the fact that some people would say the majority of American industries are older factories and it is difficult to install pollution abatement equipment in them. The crunch really is not about whether new technology could be applied to those factories; the crunch really is about whether those factories will survive or not.
We were told, and I tend to agree, that a lot of the argument is not, "Can we do something about the problem of acid rain?" The question is, "Will the American steel companies decide there is no longer a market for American steel and get out of the production of American steel entirely?" Or will they look at the investment that is required in new technology inside their plants for production; and second, for abatement programs that would curb the production of acid rain.
In Ontario we use coal-fired generators for the production of hydro-electric energy, or for any other purpose for that matter. We have trade agreements with the mid-American states for coal they produce there. I am told and I have read several reports now that indicate Canadian coal from western Canada burns substantially cleaner than the coal we are using. That one step would accomplish several things for us.
Perhaps it would do a little something towards straightening out some of the imbalances in interprovincial trade in Canada, which obviously would shake up some of those agreements we have between Ontario and those states from which we now get that coal. But there would be an example of an area where, it seems to me, there are several benefits rolled into that.
We could use coal from western Canada, which would perhaps do a little bit towards strengthening our relationship with the western provinces. We could, in some measure, at least have an effect, and a substantial effect, on pollution and the production of acid rain. We would have to work our way through trade agreements that we currently have, but the fact is we are doing none of those things. They are just plain not happening.
If one looks to Ontario Hydro and whether they have put in pollution abatement equipment, yes, some but not very much. If one looks at the private sector, at the ones documented here, Inco, Falconbridge and other large polluters of our environment that we have known about for some period, one tries to analyze, "Have we effectively dealt with our own industry?" Never mind pointing the finger at the United States; have we done what we said some time ago we were going to do in environmental laws in this province?
Even the fairest, most academic observer of that process would have to say we have not. One does not have to be a member of Pollution Probe to point the finger there. It is reasonable to say one of the reasons Americans feel quite justified in looking at a province such as Ontario and saying, "Well, we are not prepared to sign any agreements on acid rain," is simply our track record is abysmal in dealing with polluters who are often on a large scale involved in the production of really costly problems that taxpayers will have to pay for at some point. We cannot be very righteous when we go down to Capitol Hill in Washington and start pointing the finger at the Americans. We have not really done our fair share in that either.
In terms of putting together some agreement on dealing with this problem, I noted that Ruckelshaus was meeting with our federal officials and there was an expression of concern on both sides, but particularly on the American side.
There certainly is no real indication they are going to do very much in this regard, and from our observations in Washington recently I would have to report to the House that it did not seem very likely to any of us that we would be moving in terms of preparing an agreement even for discussion purposes on resolving that perplexing problem called acid rain for some period of time. The political will to do that was simply not there, or at least there was no evidence of it during our visit.
When we pressed some of the staff on the Hill for the reasons behind it, it soon became apparent that the American Congress is not of one mind. They have not yet got themselves to the point where the Congress of the United States feels acid rain is a problem. There are certainly some people there who do, but I think one would have a hard time to say the American Congress as one body would stand up and say there is a major problem between Canada and the United States called acid rain.
There were some who gave us an indication that was going to happen and that in the foreseeable future there will be a general acknowledgement that a problem does exist. When one reads back through the literature, particularly that produced in Canada by a federal subcommittee or in Ontario by several other groups, the acknowledgement of the problem at least is here.
I have not been in this Legislature that long, but I can remember four or five years ago in this Legislature when ministers of the crown on the government's side were saying, "There is no problem with acid rain." It seems to me I have been here long enough just to kind of follow the transition from the "there is no problem" state to the point where people are saying, "There is a problem, but it is not all ours." We are now at the point where we are saying, "There is a problem, but it is not all ours and there is nothing much we can do about it."
In the wonderful, sad way that politics sometimes work, one can follow the development of a trend in Canadian politics, where people now admit there is a major problem. When one goes to the other jurisdiction and tries to trace the same trend, they see they have not come nearly as far as we have. We have not done anything about it, but at least we have admitted there is some difficulty there.
I wanted to say a couple of words about another major area where there has been a change in the stance of this government which I welcome and, again, a change in stance which I have followed over a number of years. When I first became a member here we raised some questions about the auto industry in Ontario and in Canada and its relationship with the United States and with other countries in the world. I remember Ontario being remarkably silent on the issue. I remember us saying, "That is not our jurisdiction. Those jobs may be here and all of that auto industry may be here, but it has got nothing to do with Ontario."
I watched the transitional stage as problems began to develop in the auto industry, where different ministries of the crown would take positions in speeches in the Legislature or when they were out visiting and opening up new centres or visiting auto plants. Gradually the evolution came about so that Ontario now sees the auto industry as a matter of prime concern, to the point where the Premier supports a task force report which talks about Canadian content and which has that as its centrepiece.
I welcome that evolution because I think all that has happened is the government has kind of let seep into its consciousness the fact that one cannot really put things in little boxes. One cannot say this is a federal problem if the jobs are here. The unused capacity in our auto plants is here. The effect on economies in Oshawa and Oakville and Windsor is here. Those are all Ontario problems because all of that stuff is right here in this province.
So there is a growing awareness on the part of the government that the auto sector needs some attention. I am not sure this will happen, but I am pleased to say there is a discussion scheduled for Thursday afternoon private members' business which talks about that task force. In some small measure, I think we have begun to reverse the process of benign neglect, so to speak. There is an awareness that there are problems in the auto industry, that those problems will get resolved when governments, industry and labour sit down and discuss what solutions might be put together, and then when some action is taken.
Having seen the Premier endorse that task force report and having heard some discussion in committees and in the Legislature about it, and having seen a resolution being put on the order paper, which I hope means that at some point a debate will ensue, I am at a bit of a loss to determine exactly what the province is doing in terms of its relationship with the federal government to see that the task force report gets more than discussion and that it gets implemented.
Going back to what I said originally, in trying to trace what this ministry does, one soon gets lost in the fog. I recall on other occasions having heard the minister say there are lots of meetings going on at staff level. There are also meetings going on at the ministers' level. Our ministers go to conferences and they talk about things like this. I am aware that letters have also been sent, and maybe even telegrams dispatched, putting forward Ontario's position regarding the auto task force.
But I am somewhat perplexed to try to identify where the government of Ontario did anything in a direct, concrete way about the contents of that report or where the government of Ontario actually sat down with the federal government and negotiated anything. We get back to the continuing problem of a large sector of our economy, the auto sector, where problems occurred and where it became difficult to discern what Ontario was doing about them.
If one reads the documents about the activities of this ministry, one would have to assume that since we are interested in trade in Japan and in Europe, in trade missions and in exchanging information, we have to be pretty good now if we can go that far afield. If we can get down to Chicago and out to Edmonton and down to Dallas, we ought to be able to make it to Ottawa to put our case to the federal government, to say: "Here is the task force report. It does not resolve all the problems in the auto industry by a long shot, but surely it develops some guidelines and puts together a consensus document around which there ought to be some federal action and some provincial action. There ought to be some further activities taking place."
We have seen the task force document tabled, and we have seen a partial response by the federal government to some aspects of the task force, but not a total response. If I were the minister, trying to co-ordinate the work of several ministries in that particular field, I would want some answers. I would want to know what the federal government's position was on that task force and what the schedule was for implementing all or some of the recommendations of the task force. I would want a timetable, and I would want to keep score of what is happening there.
If we are to believe the documents put forward about the activities of the ministry, we are getting a little sophisticated now. We are able to brief people on things like protocol and on trade practices in different parts of the world. So we surely ought to be able to deal with the federal government of Canada and keep some tabs on what is happening about a task force report in a very special part of our economy. We have all trotted out the old cliché that one in six jobs depends on the auto industry. I think it is important that we follow up on that.
Other members have mentioned a couple of areas that I want to take note of. I guess it is fair to say on one level that there is a kind of diplomatic corps being established in this ministry. In the minister's opening remarks, and in documents that have been presented to the members here, one can see that this has been a blossoming group over there. It went from a rather small group to a rather substantial number of civil servants working in the ministry. It went from a situation where we were represented traditionally in London, England, to where we now have centres around the world.
We have now begun to move into the United States. In discussions in Washington recently we found a lot of provinces had begun this process. I want to pursue just where we are going here, because from the minister's opening remarks and the documents I have quoted from tonight, there appears not to be a definitive program for what is happening.
We went into what other provinces are doing, to some degree. On an international scale, I think most of the provinces now have established an agent general or some kind of facility to provide information. There is usually some person or body to facilitate all cultural and commercial exchanges, trade discussions and interparliamentary and political events between provinces and countries. Most of them are into that.
In the beginning, most of them seemed to be in much the same boat as we were. Everyone was saying it was a good thing to be involved, but no one was very specific about exactly what people did or what the involvement was. In particular, no one seemed to have a good handle on how far we were going with this.
Were we intending to establish a full-fledged diplomatic corps out there as other jurisdictions were said to be doing? Were we talking about industrial promotion? Is that what we had at work here? What was going on in all those centres that were being opened in the major cities of the United States? What was the purpose of that exercise? Should we have sales people set up in those centres to sell Ontario products, for example? How do the people of Ontario make a judgement?
One thing about which I think the government has a little explaining to do is the matter of who gets appointed to these positions, what qualifications they have and what their roles are. I do not think we have ever had much explanation, for example, as to why Adrienne Clarkson, who has had a rather distinguished career in broadcasting in Canada, all of a sudden goes to Paris and works there on behalf of Ontario in some way.
If one wanted to be a little nasty, one could say the sum total of reporting to the people of Ontario on that has been one speech in Toronto made last week. There also were a few newspaper articles pointing out that she is a charming, intelligent representative of the province in France. But why? What is going on there? What is the purpose of the exercise? What is the relationship between that office and the Legislature of Ontario or even the government of Ontario? Those lines are not drawn very clearly.
In looking at the analysis provided to the members by the ministry, called A Perspective On Ontario's International Relations, one is left say that it is fine and that it is a chronology of the buildup of programs and activities that have gone on over the years. But what is the purpose of the exercise? Why is this ministry in business? Why are these centres being established? Why are these people being hired? That seems to be lacking.
I think, as we go through the estimates, one of the things members will want to know is why we are having a celebration next year over an event that did not happen. How does that get put together?
Is it the purpose of this ministry to co-ordinate the tours of different ministers as they go around the world; or are there more meaty items to be carried out by the minister and by others who work in the ministry that will be a sensible agenda that will carry us on for a lengthy period of time? Will people know clearly why the ministry is in place, if there is a rationale for the establishment of other trade centres or other agents general or other programs around the world and in the United States?
I have just a couple of other comments and then I will close, because we want to get into other areas that are in the estimates.
I will put the negative first. It is pretty clear that on major issues we have not been very successful in our relationship with the federal government or with the nation to the south of us in going through things like acid rain or the Great Lakes or in dealings among ourselves on fiscal arrangements.
We still hear a recurring version of exactly how successful the provinces have been with the federal government in establishing long-term financial arrangements. If we were to flip the other end of that process around, we certainly would have to say that with municipalities, hospitals, schools and a wide range of institutions that function at another level, municipal or regional, there is a good deal of uncertainty about long-term financial arrangements.
Whether one is talking about the Business Council on National Issues, the Canada West Foundation or the province of Quebec in terms of ongoing relationships, we have not resolved those problems. They remain as entrenched now as they were during the constitutional debate. They did not get voted away when the Premiers struck an agreement. They did not get signed away when the Constitution of Canada became law. All those things are real.
Whether we are talking about aboriginal rights, women's issues, trade problems, the rights of Franco-Ontarians in Ontario or Franco-Ontarians who moved to other parts of this country, we see that there is a range of problems between governments which have remained unresolved. One has to take an almost foolishly optimistic outlook on life to say those things have been resolved. Those problems remain entrenched in the Canadian scene today in the relationship between Ontario and other provinces and the federal government or in the relationship between states in the United States and the federal government in the United States. None of them seems to have been resolved in a way that anyone thinks is satisfactory.
The minister has quite a broad range of issues, programs and relationships he has tried to establish over a lengthy period of time. My assessment would be that in general terms there are mechanisms in place that were not there a few years ago. There is a ministry, which is kind of a growth ministry, that is moving to deal with many of these problems. But to say we have dealt with them effectively would be quite wrong.
I would be interested, as we go through the estimates and take a look at more specific areas, in the response of the minister to the questions that all members will raise and that I have tried to put into some context this evening.
Mr. Boudria: Mr. Chairman, is the minister replying to those first?
Hon. Mr. Wells: All right, I will reply for a few minutes. I would like to thank my friends for their comments. It is very enlightening to hear the various perceptions they have about this ministry. There is a very good reason for this ministry. Although they indicated they were perhaps not sure what it was, they then proceeded to talk for well over an hour on the work this ministry has done, the papers we have put out and the statements we have made, which are an enunciation of the broad government policy on intergovernmental relations, be they federal, provincial or international. That is the purpose of this ministry.
I could go on and on to talk about the various things that have happened and comment on some of the comments of my friend, particularly the last speaker, but with the time we have available we could best use it to discuss the issues as we come to them in the various votes. I think there have been some real successes in both federal-provincial relations, interprovincial and international relations. I wish my friend had had a chance to listen to Adrienne Clarkson at the Canadian Club yesterday, where she spoke to a standing-room-only audience --
Mr. McClellan: Well, why don't you invite us?
Hon. Mr. Wells: She will be here this week. It may be that she will be in the House for the conclusion of the estimates on Friday morning. Members can have a chance to chat with her here.
There are only two provinces represented in Paris, Quebec and Ontario, and the Ontario office is filling a very significant need and serving its purpose very well. We set out to establish an office with an agent general so that the profile of the province could be raised in France, and that has been done. We set out to establish in that country an appreciation of the fact that Canada is larger than just the French-speaking province that makes up a large part of this country. From all kinds of discussions and talks we had there, we were led to the conclusion that the general impression in France was, "There is Canada over there, basically the province of Quebec, a French-speaking province."
The fact that Ontario is the industrial heartland, a basically English-speaking province, unknown in character to the people in France, was not appreciated there. Through the elevation of our office and what we have done through Adrienne's very fine work, we have been able to establish Ontario's presence on the scene, and that at a time when the French people. and particularly the French industrialists and manufacturers, are looking for expanded markets.
Where they at one time looked only to Quebec, they are now looking to the whole of Canada and particularly to Ontario, as was enunciated by Prime Minister Mauroy's visit here a year or so ago. They are interested in looking at Ontario to do business. The increased emphasis and the raising of Ontario's presence there has been very beneficial both to ourselves and to the French. That is part of the general thrust of our ministry. We have an office in They are interested in looking at Ontario to do business. The increased emphasis and the raising of Ontario's presence there has been very beneficial both to ourselves and to the French. That is part of the general thrust of our ministry. We have an office in Brussels that is doing the same thing.
We have given a lot of thought to how relations can be improved in the United States vis-à-vis our being able to be aware and to have some impact on the centre of government in the United States when the kind of decisions are made that my friend talked about. This is not an easy matter to address, and I will not go into it at length now. Perhaps we can deal with it a little more when we get into that vote.
I would like to tell members my ideas, what we have done, some of the things that have been successful. The member passed very quickly over the wine-handling charge. That was a long, complicated issue that involved a number of ministries and a lot of discussion and could have been detrimental to several sectors of the Ontario economy if it had not been brought to a proper conclusion, as it was.
The softwood lumber issue is another one that went on for quite a time and involved a number of governments, including our government, in negotiations in the United States and finally led to a successful conclusion as far as we are concerned.
There are still a number of issues that have to be dealt with, acid rain being one of the major ones. There are many initiatives being taken there.
Rather than take up all the rest of the time in answering a number of the matters that have been raised -- I know my friend the member for Prescott-Russell (Mr. Boudria) is waiting to speak; I would be happy to let him have the few minutes that are left this evening -- I will deal with the other matters as we go through the votes on Friday morning.
On vote 601, Ministry administration program; item 1, main office:
The Acting Chairman (Mr. Treleaven): Is the member for Prescott-Russell addressing himself to vote 601, item 1?
Mr. Boudria: Mr. Chairman, if that is the main office vote, I guess that would legitimize the points I want to raise this evening. Because we have only a few minutes left, I will address only two of the issues. I am sure you will agree that they both qualify under the main office vote or the first vote you have. I hope I will be able to continue on Friday morning, because I am available then as well.
One of the two issues I would like to raise was brought to my attention not long ago. It has to do with the provision of French-language services, which should not surprise you very much, Mr. Chairman. It concerns L'accueil Médical Francophone. L'accueil Médical Francophone is a service here in the city of Toronto. It operates for the benefit of people living in northern and sometimes eastern Ontario and elsewhere.
A larger portion of its clientele comes from northern Ontario. This service operates in this way: if a francophone from northern Ontario arrives in the city, he immediately contacts L' accueil on arrival, or sometimes someone will meet him at the train station and so forth. They then bring him to the particular doctor he has to see, or the hospital.
L'accueil Médical Francophone, as I understand it, has only registered nurses doing its work and, therefore, they are able to translate the proper medical terms between the patient and the physician and provide a very worthwhile and sometimes lifesaving type of contact between these two people.
This agency has been funded in a pilot project manner since its inception three or four years ago. It has been receiving grants from the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Intergovernmental Affairs and the Ministry of Northern Affairs.
The difficulty they have is that because they are an eternal pilot project and because of the government's reluctance to put anything down on paper regarding the guaranteeing of services to francophones, we can assume this is just one of those services that is not guaranteed and is, therefore, one of those eternal pilot projects or perpetual pilot projects. This means they have to spend a good time of their year, every year, reapplying for their existence, rejustifying what they do, lobbying and so forth.
Last year, as I understand it, they were awarded a sum of some $98,000 from these various ministries. One of the grants they received last year was a one-shot deal from the Ministry of Intergovernmental Affairs. That grant was of such magnitude that its loss would make their operation very difficult. Without it, they may have to discontinue some services this year.
What I wanted to know from the minister is, was there any consideration to make this service statutory or otherwise guarantee its availability to the francophones of this province, or actually francophones from everywhere who are in this province and require those services? I think it is a very important service. When we are talking about such a facility as medical care, I am sure the minister will agree it is just not a service that is nice to have, it is a service that could be considered, on many occasions, as very important and even in some cases lifesaving.
The second issue I wanted to raise with the minister very briefly tonight is the one concerning translation services provided for members of the Legislature. I recognize that under the present formula those are offered by the translation office and are invoiced to the individual MPP proportionate to the number of words an MPP gets translated in any given year.
I say to the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, who is responsible for francophone services, that for the services to members of this Legislature to be dispensed in this particular fashion is not proper. Surely if we are going to arrive at any stage to recognize the services to francophones in any way, the mere principle of charging by the word a member who serves his francophone constituents, and invoicing him for everyone to see that it costs that much more to serve francophones at the end of the year, is a principle which should be abolished. Either those kind of fees should be absorbed by his ministry or by the assembly as a whole.
I do not think he should be charging the individual member; and then at the end of the year it says the member for Prescott-Russell used $8,000 worth of translation, another member used $200, another member used $60, so the press people of this world can look at this and say: "Gee, is this not the proof that serving francophones is really expensive? There you go. It cost $8,000 just to serve one particular fellow who translates everything his constituents want in the French language." Needless to say, whether anybody in the press or anywhere else likes it, I will continue providing those services to my constituents.
Mr. Harris: Why not?
Mr. Boudria: Why not? Absolutely. I am glad to hear the member for Nipissing say it that way. That is very nice, coming from him, and others as well.
Mr. Boudria: It is not a waste of money and I am not trying to say --
Mr. Roy: The member for Mississauga East (Mr. Gregory) is the last guy to talk about wasting money, with that big car parked over there.
Mr. Boudria: I will not get into a debate about who wastes money best. I do not think translating anything is wasting money.
Mr. Piché: Mr. Chairman, on a point of order: I don't think what was meant here is wasting money. This is a very important project, and whether it is charged to the Legislature or to the ministry I do not see any difference. I use it a lot. I need it because of the constituents I represent. I represent about 58 per cent francophone constituents. I need the service more than anybody else, including the member who is speaking. There is nothing wrong with it; it is a good service and we must have it. What difference does who pays for it make?
The Acting Chairman: That wasn't much of a point of order.
Mr. Roy: Do you agree with your colleague who said it's a waste of money?
Mr. Piché: No. I do not think he meant it was a waste of money. That is what I am saying. It is money well spent.
The Acting Chairman : Order.
Mr. Breaugh: You should not have to apologize for ministers.
Mr. Boudria: I will let them apologize for each other.
Mr. Piché: No, there's no apology here. I am just trying to straighten the record.
The Acting Chairman: Order.
Mr. Boudria: As I say, I will let them continue that dispute whenever they like.
My point has nothing to do with that. It has to do with the mere principle of how we serve the francophone community. If we start charging for those services by the word, to the member who uses them, I feel it is the wrong way to go about it. It is not going to change the fact that I will use the service as much as is necessary to serve my constituents, as much as I am doing now.
However, I think it is putting that extra label on the francophone population of this province which is totally unnecessary. I hope we have arrived at a stage in this Legislature when we can recognize at least some things are due to the francophones as a right and not a privilege. I hope the translation services for members of this House can be considered as one of those rights.
We are afforded the opportunity of speaking both langues officielles in this Legislature. That is not translated. It is another story which we can get on with at some other point in time. However, when we do speak in the French language in this House, the transcribing of that is done by people they bring in from the outside. Yet the cost of that is not charged to the individual member who spoke his words of wisdom in the other language. However, in the case of the translation service to individual members, it is.
As I say, this has nothing to do with the actual cost of the service. The cost will always be there. It is only the way in which it is invoiced that I am questioning.
I think the honourable member wants to participate in the debate, so maybe I will let him or the Minister for Intergovernmental Affairs answer. I would like to continue next day with other points I would like to raise with the minister.
The Acting Chairman: Thank you. Noting the clock, does the minister wish to respond now?
Hon. Mr. Wells: I will respond to my friend the member for Prescott-Russell on Friday morning.
Mr. Roy: Mr. Chairman, on a point of order: On the issue raised by my colleague the member for Prescott-Russell, I think he makes a very good point, that to service his electorate he has to spend additional amounts of money for translation. Year after year, he is being labelled by the press as being the big spender when in fact he is using services which are necessary to serve those constituents. This is most unfair and I think it should be looked at.
On motion by Hon. Mr. Wells, the committee of supply reported progress.
The House adjourned at 10:33 p.m.