L004 - Mon 4 May 1987 / Lun 4 mai 1987
The House met at 1:30 p.m.
ISRAEL'S INDEPENDENCE DAY
Hon. Mr. Ruprecht: I ask for the unanimous consent of the House to recognize Israel's Independence Day.
Hon. Mr. Ruprecht: May 4 is of great significance to our Jewish community around the globe and, indeed, to all freedom-loving peoples. It is the fulfilment of prophecies, prayers and dreams.
I would like to get the permission of the Speaker to recognize the presence in the gallery of Benjamin Abileah, the consul general of Israel, and representatives of Canadian Jewish religious, fraternal, cultural and philanthropic organizations.
Israel may be a small spot on the map of the world, but it is a great symbol of democracy. In spite of economic hardship, wars and threats of war, Israel has not lost its sense of purpose to shine as a beacon of freedom and democracy and to fulfil the promise of the ancient Hebrew prophets.
On this festive occasion, may all of us join in the hopes and prayers of Jewish peoples here and in Israel that the day may not be far off when the people of Israel and the nations of the world lay down their arms, turn their swords into ploughshares and realize the beautiful word of peace, shalom.
On behalf of the government of Ontario, I would now like to read the proclamation of Israel's Independence Day:
"Whereas the province of Ontario and the Canadian nation have prospered through the courage, dedication and industry of people of many nationalities and religions who have come to this land in search of freedom and opportunity; and
"Whereas we especially value the important contributions that our citizens of Jewish heritage have made to our province and country since first arriving in Canada in 1759; and
"Whereas a free, united, independent and democratic state of Israel was established 39 years ago on May 14, 1948; and
"Whereas it is imperative for Canadians to remember that the price of our precious freedom is eternal vigilance; and
"Whereas the observance of this anniversary fosters within us a deeper appreciation of freedom, liberty and democratic ideals in our multicultural society;
"Therefore, on behalf of the government of Ontario, we are pleased to recognize May 4, 1987, as Israel's Independence Day and we commend its observance to the people of our province."
Mr. Shymko: I join the member for Parkdale (Mr. Ruprecht) in the remarks he has just expressed on this very important anniversary. Those of us who watch television, recently -- last night, I know -- have seen the celebrations as they were celebrated by the citizens of Israel. This was a moment of sadness and a moment of joy.
First and foremost, the celebrations were those of remembrance as we watched mothers and relatives in the various cemeteries praying for those who laid down their lives so that some day the Jewish people would be blessed with the right to live in their homeland. Following those moments of sadness and sorrow began the celebration of joy that, indeed, this struggle of so many centuries, of millennia, had finally been accomplished and achieved.
On this very special day, honourable members will remember it was almost three and a half years ago when this Legislature unanimously passed a resolution that I had the honour of introducing, making this proclamation a reality. As I have always stressed, all of us want to say that the Premier (Mr. Peterson) of this government of this province follows a tradition established in the past, which hopefully will be continued in history by all governments of this province, to remember these very special days of independence, so that the independence anniversary of Israel and what it symbolizes and signifies will be repeated every year in this House.
We are reminded of the tragic Holocaust of the Jewish people at this moment, at this time of this celebration. Never again should this horror be repeated. We are reminded again of the right of the people of Israel to live in a free homeland: a right that cannot be questioned, a right that is inalienable. We are reminded also of the efforts for peace in that region, a region that symbolizes and is the cradle of the three major religions today. We certainly wish the present government success in obtaining that peace so that Jerusalem continues to be a centre of prayer for Jews, Muslims and Christians alike.
As a member of the Ontario Legislature Committee on Soviet Jewry -- many of us belong to this organization -- I am also mindful of the plight of hundreds of thousands of Jews who are still fighting today for the very fundamental right to be able to live in the homeland of their ancestors. This is why we must remind ourselves as legislators and as lawmakers that these efforts must continue, notwithstanding some negotiations that presently are under way to make change, and I hope to see some change, in the policies of the present government of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.
I would like to quote some statements and concerns that I know all of us have received from Jeanette Goldman, the chairman of the Committee for Soviet Jewry, statements that were echoed when we gave the lda Nudel Award as we do every year, reminding ourselves that: "Soviet Jewry comprises 20 per cent of world Jewry. It is two thirds of European Jewry. That a people, which lost one third of itself a generation ago" -- through the Holocaust -- "simply cannot allow the disappearance of another 20 per cent in our time, is self-evident." It is self-evident to all of us but, unfortunately, it is not self-evident to Canadians generally and to many peoples in the world.
Since 1969, more than 260,000 Jews have been rescued or allowed to leave; but others, namely, the 400,000 who have indicated their desire to leave, to emigrate and to settle in their homeland, are denied this right. They are persecuted, fired from their jobs and many are incarcerated in prisons and concentration camps. Their struggle continues and their rights are being denied. We are indeed racing against time.
I would like to quote from the words that have been printed and passed in thousands of copies to all of us: "Vulnerable to dismissal from their jobs once they have submitted their documents to the visa office, Jews trying to emigrate" are constantly threatened by other laws, called redundancy laws, which encourage the firing of individuals from various managerial positions. Another statute was tightened recently so that a person out of work for only two months can be tried as a parasite of the state. Those applying to leave are thus being forced into a no-win, catch-22 situation in which the likelihood of imprisonment has intensified.
We are reminded of Josif Begun against whom a most unsettling verdict was levied. This one-time mathematician, who became a qualified but unlicensed Hebrew teacher, was sentenced to seven years in a labour camp and five years of internal exile for anti-Soviet agitation. We are reminded of Ida Nudel. We rejoice with Anatoly Shcharansky's release. We could go on and on, but we must remember that anti-Semitism, which unfortunately permeates the policies of that particular state, must be reflected upon today.
An appeal was issued, for example, by an organization called the Anti-Zionist Committee for a massive propaganda effort aimed at the political unmasking of Zionism. Just listen to what these people are saying today in the Soviet Union:
"Lifted from a notorious Czarist forgery" -- this committee officially sanctioned by the government of the USSR -- "the propaganda drive thinly masked anti-Semitism by calling Judaism the source of `Zionist evil;' the Torah and the Talmud are described as works preaching racism...." Imagine that; they are described as works preaching hatred and violence by this committee sanctioned and officially supported by the government of the Soviet Union.
"In a particularly vicious attack, Anti-Zionist Committee chairman David Dragunsky dubbed Zionism a `man-hating ideology' based on the `ideas and methods of Hitler.'" Can you imagine this as being said publicly, printed today by a state which sanctions that?
We must talk about it. We cannot be silent, because this is happening today. We must support not only any attempt at peace in the region of the Middle East but also attempts by all members of Legislatures in this free society and in the Parliament of our nation in Ottawa for the release of those who want to live in freedom in their homeland.
I want to conclude by saying that in welcoming the consul general of Israel and the representatives of all the organizations of the Jewish community in this province, we hope that the example set by the Premier and by this House in having this official proclamation will be followed by other provinces and some day, I hope, by our federal government and the House of Commons of the Parliament in Ottawa.
Mr. Rae: I want to add a few words on behalf of the New Democratic Party to the eloquent ones that have already been expressed. It is entirely appropriate that Canadians and this assembly should be commemorating this day, principally for two reasons.
First, the Jewish community in this country and indeed in this province has played a critical role in the fight for the establishment of the state of Israel and in support for the state of Israel through many years. Perhaps it is also appropriate that we recall that today in Israel is not only a day of celebration but also a day of mourning and commemoration for the many soldiers who have died in the establishment and in continuing the fight for the existence and survival of the state of Israel.
It is appropriate and right that this assembly should take a few moments, as we are doing today, to commemorate, wonder at and express our support for the state of Israel, for Israel's survival in the truest sense and for its flowering in the Middle East as "a homeland for the Jewish people," in the words of the Balfour Declaration, and as an important symbol of democracy, learning and leadership in the Middle East as well as in the world.
It is also appropriate for another reason that I think it is important for us to recall. It is not only Canadian and Ontario Jews who played a crucial role in the establishment of the state of Israel and who have played such an important role in continuing support for Israel. It is also a fact that Canada, in its fledgling days on the international stage, played a crucial role in the establishment of the state of Israel.
Canadian diplomats who came from Ontario as well as from other provinces across the country -- such as judges, and I think of Judge Ivan Rand, who played a crucial role during the 1940s in the disputes about the existence of the state of Israel and the partition of Palestine as it then was -- in their official capacity as Canadians have played a crucial role in the establishment of the state of Israel and in attempting to find a formula for peace in the Middle East.
It is with a sense of pride that I speak in this House and say that we support not simply the state of Israel but also, as has been stated already by other members, this very act today of making this a special day in Ontario, commemorating in Ontario those Jews in Canada who have played such a crucial role in the support of Zionism and a democratic state in the Middle East. We also support all those Canadian soldiers who have been in the Middle East since 1956 and Canadians who have been working on the world stage, who have played such an important role in attempting to find a permanent or lasting peace in a part of the world that has known no lasting peace for nearly half a century, and indeed long before that.
It is with a sense of pride and history that I enter briefly in this discussion to say how delighted I am to see so many of my friends here today, so many friends of all of us in the political process, and to say how proud we are to be participating in this commemorative occasion.
Mr. Ashe: On Thursday last my colleague from York Centre (Mr. Cousens) indicated to the government his concerns about the lack of an indication in the recent throne speech of a viable timetable for the construction of Highway 407. I support his remarks in that regard, but I have an even more urgent concern. It relates to the nonannouncement a month or so ago by the Minister of Transportation and Communications (Mr. Fulton) regarding the extension of Highway 401 from the centre of Scarborough at least into the centre of Pickering.
I have had the honour to be around these halls for about 10 years now.
Mr. Ashe: Thank you.
Frankly, I have never heard such a nonannouncement as that made by the minister a month ago.
Each day of the week -- I am not talking about holiday weekends -- we have a traffic shemozzle out through Pickering and the east end of Scarborough that is second to none. It starts at about six in the morning and goes through till nine o'clock, starts at three in the afternoon and goes through till seven, let alone the weekends.
The minister makes an announcement that they are going to start two years from now and finish seven to 10 years following that. I can well imagine, just at the turn of the century, the cutting of the ribbon at Brock Road in Pickering. That is not good enough for my constituents. The government has to get on with it and get on with it now.
Mr. Morin-Strom: I would like to bring an issue of grave concern in Sault Ste. Marie to the direct attention of the Minister of Labour (Mr. Wrye). Seven weeks ago today, on March 16, the Windsor Park Hotel suddenly closed its doors as its owners announced that the hotel could not meet operating expenses; 63 employees were thrown out of work with only two days' notice given before the closure. These employees are owed more than $50,000 in unpaid wages and vacation pay. As well, many of them are owed even greater sums for up to 16 weeks' termination pay in lieu of notice and up to 26 weeks' severance pay. Seven weeks after the closure, these employees have still received nothing.
Surely the Minister of Labour is not going to tolerate further this kind of corporate terrorism directed at employees with up to 40 years of service who have been completely left in the lurch.
Consultations within his ministry have gone on for long enough. The hotel employees and I demand that the minister act immediately to ensure that his officials end the consultations and order the principal owners to immediately pay the employees all unpaid wages, vacation pay, termination pay and severance pay. In such a clear case of worker injustice, there is no excuse for the lack of action to date by the Ministry of Labour. When is this government going to prove to these workers that they have the right to be paid? Now or never?
CORPORAL JOHN CARSON
Mr. McGuigan: Today, on behalf of the member for Chatham-Kent (Mr. Bossy) and myself, I am pleased to announce in this House the name of one of the finest men of the Ministry of the Solicitor General. Corporal John Carson of the Chatham Ontario Provincial Police detachment became a hero yesterday, using quick thinking and quick feet to board a runaway freight train on the Canadian Pacific rail line out of Chatham.
Corporal Carson, a nine-year veteran, is to be recognized for his bravery in putting the call of duty above the risk of personal injury. Tackling a freight train, I suspect, is not in the training manual at Aylmer, but the corporal determined to board the train, which was moving at 25 kilometres per hour. He was able to grasp on to a ladder and climb to the cab of the locomotive. Then, for three minutes, Corporal Carson pushed buttons and pulled levers until he was able to bring the train to a halt.
Without Corporal Carson, the headlines in today's Globe and Mail could have been about a tragic train accident rather than a heroic effort to avoid one. I ask the members to join me in applauding this brave officer, and I ask the Solicitor General (Mr. Keyes) to pass on our unanimous appreciation to Corporal Carson of the Chatham detachment of the OPP.
Just one final note: the brakes were on fire, and had they burned through the locomotive would have reached top speed and there would have been a very tragic accident.
Mr. Shymko: Four years ago, the then government of this province intervened directly to protect the 11,000 former Cadillac Fairview apartments from the unscrupulous gang of con artists, Rosenberg, Markle and Player, by placing these buildings under receivership. Last week, this government said the following in the speech from the throne: "A caring and compassionate society such as ours must mobilize its resources in an effort to ensure that affordable quality housing is available to all."
This is a first-class example of hypocrisy, and it will be the joke of the century if this government allows 10 per cent rent hikes on all these units, destroying my definition of affordable housing, which is a cap of 5.2 per cent. In the light of the tragic history of these tenants, this is highway robbery.
I would like the Premier (Mr. Peterson) to tell 89-year-old Mrs. Lafferty, the senior citizens, the single heads of families and people on fixed incomes that this is not a flip. This, indeed, is a flip that outdoes what Rosenberg did, because these new landlords, Halwood Properties and Westdale Construction, are there to make big bucks and move on, leaving these people stranded with increases of 10 per cent.
RAPE CRISIS CENTRES
Ms. Bryden: Last March 13, the Solicitor General (Mr. Keyes) announced a new system of grants for rape crisis centres to start April 1, 1987. We are now into May, and many centres and their umbrella coalition have not yet received the first six-month draw on the funds. They are having to operate on bank overdrafts, local fund-raising and emergency grants. What is more, the ministry made the change in funding arrangements without consulting the coalition or the local centres which have been serving women in this province for over 10 years with very little help from the province.
It would appear that the Solicitor General is trying to destroy the centres' umbrella organization by giving it inadequate operating funds and no money for travel for quarterly committee meetings, which are essential to carry on the work of the coalition. The small increase in local centres' grants cannot cover these travel costs as well as meet the growing need for services to women in crisis.
I urge the Solicitor General to sit down with the coalition and revise his grant proposals to ensure that it and all the centres can continue to meet adequately the needs of victims of sexual assault in this province. I also urge him to reconsider his decisions not to cover any payroll costs and to make no grant commitments beyond one year.
I drew this situation to the minister's attention last March. He has not yet responded to it.
DR. COLIN LAINE
Ms. E. J. Smith: I rise today to recognize a significant achievement acknowledging excellence in the field of education. Dr. Colin Laine, a professor at the Centre for Communicative and Cognitive Disabilities at the University of Western Ontario, has been named the winner of an International Teacher of the Year Award by the World Council for Gifted and Talented Children. Dr. Laine is the only teacher in Canada and one of only 12 people so honoured worldwide.
Dr. Laine joined the UWO faculty of education last fall after 15 years as a teacher, researcher and provincial director of special education in British Columbia. He is currently conducting research into gifted handicapped students at Western.
We in London are proud to have a specialist of such distinction working in and contributing to our community, and we are proud of the contribution he can make to Ontario.
Mr. Barlow: It is with a great sense of pride and pleasure that I rise today to give special recognition to a resident of Cambridge, a young man who played his first professional ball game as a Toronto Blue Jay this past weekend. I am speaking of Rob Ducey. Rob is the only Canadian player on the Blue Jays team. He got a run-scoring single in Friday's game and the winning run in Saturday's game.
The people of the Cambridge constituency are extremely proud of their home-town boy and wish him every success as a professional ball player.
STATEMENT BY THE MINISTRY
Hon. Mr. Peterson: I am pleased to report to the House on the constitutional discussions held by first ministers last Thursday and to table the agreement in principle that was reached. A copy of the agreement will be made available to each member.
The Meech Lake accord ensures that Canada's Constitution will belong to all Canadians. At the same time, it indicates to other regions of Canada an understanding of their underlying concerns and a willingness to deal with them expeditiously. It further commits the federal and provincial governments to a regular consultative process on economic and constitutional matters.
The agreement reached at Meech Lake is another step in Canada's continuing search for a workable balance among several competing demands: strengthening our national integrity, sharing economic opportunity across all regions and reconciling the needs of our two founding linguistic communities.
Cette entente repose sur plusieurs réalisations antérieures. Elle reflète les fondements de la Confédération de 1867. Elle donne suite au ferme engagement national exprimé dans tous les partis du Canada il y a sept ans, à l'occasion du référendum qui a eu lieu au Québec. Elle ajoute aux innovations de la loi Constitutionnelle de 1982. Elle permettra de reconnaître dans la constitution d'importants principes qui sont justes et équitables pour tous les Canadiens.
This agreement was possible because of the leadership displayed by the Prime Minister and my fellow Premiers. Moreover, it is a testament to the framework established earlier in this decade by Prime Minister Trudeau and the Premiers of the day. Let me summarize its elements briefly.
D'abord, l'entente reconnaît que le Canada est composé de deux principaux groupes linguistiques et dans ce contexte le Québec forme une société distincte.
Second, two aspects of our constitutional amending formula will be changed. The current provision, under which provinces can be compensated for opting out, has been extended to all matters where provincial jurisdiction is transferred to Parliament.
The other aspect relates to section 42 of the Constitution Act of 1982, which focuses on the major institutions of Canadian federalism, such as Parliament and the Supreme Court. Future amendments to this section will require the approval of Parliament and all provincial legislatures.
The third area of agreement concerns the Supreme Court of Canada.
L'existence de la Cour Suprême sera enchâssée dans la constitution, de même que l'exigence selon laquelle trois des neuf juges doivent être choisis à même le Barreau Civil.
The federal government will continue to appoint the justices; however, appointments will be made on the basis of lists submitted by individual provinces.
Quatrièmement, le gouvernement fédéral sera autorisé à signer des ententes avec les provinces en matière d'immigration, et ces ententes seront reconnues dans la Constitution.
Ottawa will retain the power to establish the broad immigration policy framework for Canada.
Fifth, the Constitution will, for the first time, explicitly recognize the spending power of Parliament. Provinces will be able to opt out of national programs in areas of exclusive provincial jurisdiction and receive reasonable compensation if they undertake their own programs compatible with national objectives.
The sixth and final area of agreement requires that at least two annual meetings of first ministers be held, one on the economy and one on the Constitution. In this regard, first ministers committed themselves to intensive consideration of further constitutional reform in the areas of Senate and fisheries. Consideration of Senate reform will include such matters as role and functions, powers, the method of selecting Senators and the distribution of seats. In the interim, until Senate reform is accomplished, the federal government has agreed to appoint Senators only from lists proposed by individual provinces.
The people of Ontario have always been committed to nation building. As one of the founding provinces, our people are concerned about the health and vitality of Canada as a whole.
Les Ontariens se souviennent avec fièreté de John Robarts et de sa vision exprimée par la conférence sur la confédération de demain en 1967.
The agreement, in November 1981, to patriate the Constitution was an exercise in nation building in which Bill Davis, my predecessor, played an important role. Their contributions have set a high standard of achievement. They provided much of the inspiration for the role we were able to play at Meech Lake.
Over the next few weeks, our agreement in principle must be drafted into constitutional language. On the weekend I spoke with the Prime Minister, and he indicated that the federal government will be circulating a draft as soon as possible. When a text is agreed to, this Legislature will have a full opportunity to debate a resolution approving the proposed constitutional amendments.
Tous les députés de l'Assemblée législative ont un rôle important à jouer en vue de construire un Canada meilleur pour tous les Canadiens. J'anticipe ce débat avec joie, parce qu'il permettra à l'Ontario de continuer à jouer un rôle essentiel dans l'édification de notre nation.
All members of this House have an important role in building a better Canada for all Canadians. I look forward to this debate as Ontario continues to play its vital role in nation building.
Mr. Grossman: I am pleased to congratulate the Prime Minister, the Premier of Ontario (Mr. Peterson) and his nine colleagues on the historic agreement in principle reached at Meech Lake last Thursday night. The spirit that helped achieve this agreement in principle must now govern the way in which it is given more detailed and substantive form.
As the officials of all 10 provinces in Canada pursue that painstaking task I am duty bound, as Leader of the Opposition, to put questions of substance on the record today so that the government of Ontario can be fully informed as to which answers my colleagues and I will require prior to any ratification vote on the accord in this House.
If I may beg the indulgence of the House, I should like to remind my friends in the other two parties of some differences in emphasis on constitutional matters that are very much part of the contemporary historic profile of the national and Ontario Conservative parties.
Since the beginning of the distinguished leadership of Mr. Stanfield, our national party has had a distinctly decentralist bias, reflected by notions like "deux nations," a proposition associated with Marcel Faribeault, a close adviser of Premier Johnson and a federal candidate for Mr. Stanfield in 1968.
As some in this House may recall, Premier Johnson, who supported both Quebec nationalism and federalism, did so under the banner of "égalité ou indépendance." That tradition of commitment to a federalist nationalism as a critical bulwark against separatism is an important part of my party's federal and national tradition. It continued under Mr. Clark's leadership and is, I believe, an important and noble part of our party's national mission. As Conservatives such as Mulroney, Clark and Davis campaigned alongside Liberals such as Chrétien, Ryan and Trudeau in the Quebec referendum, the anti-separatist commitment was sustained to nonpartisan victory.
I make the point because it puts the accord reached by the Prime Minister, our Premier and their nine colleagues in a historical perspective, which is important in the context of the challenge ahead.
As an Ontario Conservative in the great tradition of Robarts, Davis and Miller, I must reflect on what our historical context is. That context seeks to contribute to national balance by opposing the weakening of the national government's powers and prerogatives. To fail now to defend that principle simply because we share the same politics as the government of Canada and five of the provinces, would be tantamount to Bill Davis not having supported Mr. Trudeau in 1981-82 simply because they had different partisan allegiances.
I am not in public life to take the easy way out. Embracing our responsibility as official opposition in this House requires that we put to the Premier these questions, which I am confident he will be eager to respond to as soon as available details make that convenient for him.
1. Does section 1(b) of the accord, namely, "the recognition that Quebec constitutes within Canada a distinct society," mean that quasi-national status is afforded Quebec because the majority of its residents are French-speaking; and if so, what will that mean for national broadcasting, minority language rights in Quebec and the rights of non-English- and non-French-speaking Canadians in Quebec? What constraints does this and section 3, affirming the role of Quebec's parliament and Canada's relevant to preserving this "distinct society", impose upon the ability of the Parliament of Canada to serve and legislate for all Canadians?
2. Will the provisions on immigration provide for different immigration rules for each province? Will freedom of movement within Canada for new arrivals be diminished? Can the Premier assure this House that people will not be arbitrarily forced to one province or that the unification of families will not be frustrated by that provision? Would Ontario propose such an agreement for itself; and if so, what would Ontario propose for such an agreement?
3. Can the Premier provide this House with specific definitions regarding "reasonable compensation to any province that does not participate in a future national shared-cost program in an area of exclusive jurisdiction if that province undertakes its own initiative or programs compatible with national objectives"? For example, would child care, post-secondary education, health care, pensions and language rights be part of this provision?
Mr. Speaker: The member's time has expired.
Mr. Grossman: I have perhaps 30 seconds more. May I have unanimous consent?
Mr. Speaker: Is it agreed?
Mr. Grossman: Finally, what measure will Ontario take to ensure that the value of citizenship is not diminished from province to province in this country?
I feel certain that the Premier and his staff would have had full assurances on these matters prior to Ontario's signature on the accord, and we urge that those assurances now be shared, or very shortly shared, with this parliament.
I offer these questions in good faith as someone who sincerely hopes we can have unanimity in this House on this issue. I trust the government will respond in due course with that shared, same hope in mind, as we seek to be able to offer the unanimity that would be so important in this circumstance.
Mr. Rae: First of all, I want to congratulate the Premier on the role that I know he played, not only during the discussions on the day in question but also on the days prior to that time. I think it is important that on these relatively nonpartisan occasions we recognize that Ontario's voice was, I know, present and heard. I want to say to him and to the Attorney General (Mr. Scott) that in my discussions with others involved in the process, the efforts of the government of Ontario were appreciated, and I think it is important for us, in a spirit of some generosity, to reflect that.
Let me also say as one of the few members in this place who was a part of the House of Commons during the first round -- the member for Chatham-Kent (Mr. Bossy) and I were there together -- I felt a personal sense of partial success and partial failure in the sense that we did not include Quebec in the original round. I think it is a moment of tremendous historical importance that a formula has apparently been found, a way has been found that includes Quebec as part of the Constitution.
Si nous voulons avoir une constitution fédérale, il est absolument essentiel que le Québec soit une partie intégrale de cet accord, et le fait que le Québec n'était pas une partie de l'accord de 1981 et 1982 était pour moi, personnellement, comme participant dans ce processus, une sorte de tristesse et nous avons, je crois, accomplis quelque chose d'important.
We have done something important, but in the very brief time allowed in this initial discussion I want to raise some points as well as the ones that have been raised by the leader of the Conservative Party.
I must say first of all that my primary regret about this whole process is that we now have the general apparent consensus or the conventional wisdom that in a sense the last piece of the constitutional puzzle has been put together. As long as we have no national consensus with respect to the rights and historic position of our aboriginal people, none of us in this House should feel that we have somehow a document nationally which expresses the true nature of the country. I regret very much the sense that the momentum towards including our aboriginal people in that process appears now to have faded in the face of other agenda items which are the particular concern of one province or another.
I speak out of some real personal sense of frustration, and indeed I know many native people seeing the headlines in the paper saying the last piece of the puzzle has fallen into place will feel that they have once again been simply left out of a picture which in my view should very much be as much theirs as anyone else's in this country.
I have some concerns about the fact that section 42, with respect to national institutions, has been placed in what I regard as something of a straitjacket. I am intrigued with the fact that those provinces that are most concerned with Senate reform have agreed so readily to that particular formulation that requires unanimity before there can be any changes. Before we can move to any changes in the nature of representation -- the House of Commons perhaps a turn to proportional representations -- we need now, according to this formula, the consent of all provinces. If we are going to have reform of the Senate, we need to have the consent of all the provinces. If we want to create any new provinces, we have to have the consent of all the provinces.
If I may say so, that is a very tough test and I would be interested in future discussions in this House in determining just how much consensus, either informal or formal, has been arrived at between our Premier and other Premiers with respect to the next item on the agenda, which appears to be Senate reform. I would have thought that if he were really interested in Senate reform, perhaps a slightly more lenient formula might have made the most sense; but then, I was not there.
I am delighted to see the Premier referring to this document as an accord. I can only say that I am quite confident the Premier will be interested in living up to the terms of this accord to the same degree and to the same letter as he no doubt is with respect to other accords which he has been involved in and has signed.
Mr. Pope: My question is addressed to the Solicitor General. Four days ago, we engaged in a series of questions with respect to ongoing Ontario Provincial Police investigations. The Solicitor General will have had four days to consider his nonanswers of April 30, so I will repeat the question and I hope the Solicitor General will be more forthcoming on these matters than he was last Thursday.
Can the Solicitor General tell us, in the light of what he said, which of the OPP investigations on Wyda Systems, LSI Applications and the Vaughan land sales have been completed and which ones are now in the hands of the Attorney General (Mr. Scott)?
Hon. Mr. Keyes: That information is not here to be presented today. As we said before, there are ongoing investigations in all of the areas mentioned by the honourable member. In due course, they will be presented to the Attorney General so that he may decide as to what action, if any, must be taken as a result of those investigations.
Mr. Pope: We now have the Solicitor General of this province saying that he does not intend to answer the question. That is his answer on three Ontario Provincial Police investigations that involve members of his party. He just stood up and said he does not intend to answer.
Last Thursday, he said that not all of the investigations were complete. We are entitled to know which ones of those investigations have been completed, where they are now and why no action has been taken. The Attorney General acted within one day of receipt of the report on the Solicitor General's conduct in the Kingston area. Why is there no action on these investigations?
Hon. Mr. Keyes: If the member were to check Hansard correctly, I believe I said there are ongoing investigations. They have not all been completed. I will be happy to file with the honourable member a written answer to his question as to which are completed and whether they are with the Attorney General.
Mr. Pope: This answer and attitude towards open government is entirely consistent with the conduct of the Premier (Mr. Peterson) and the cabinet on these matters from the very outset: no information whatsoever. We are entitled to know, by the minister's own words, which of those investigations have been completed and where they are now.
Hon. Mr. Keyes: I believe the honourable member may not have listened to my former answer; therefore I will repeat it. If he wishes a written statement about exactly where they are, as I said, they are still ongoing and it will be months yet before some of them are even completed. Following his question last week I checked, and the official said it will be several months before some of them are completed because of the extensive investigation that is ongoing.
Mr. Pope: Then we will turn to the Attorney General.
Last Thursday, the Solicitor General indicated that, as a matter of course, these Ontario Provincial Police investigations would be sent to the office of the Attorney General. Can the Attorney General explain why that is the case?
Hon. Mr. Scott: I can tell the honourable member that I understand his observation to be correct and that the reports, when completed, will be delivered to my office.
Mr. Pope: The members of this government seem to have a problem answering elementary questions on this matter. I asked him why OPP reports were being sent to the office of the Attorney General. Why are they being sent to his office? Is he going to make the decision on whether charges are going to be laid? Is that not the function of the crown attorney and the police? Is he now making the decisions on matters involving the Liberal Party?
Hon. Mr. Scott: The honourable member will know from his short and, I gather, somewhat disruptive period as Attorney General that the normal routine when an investigation of this type is conducted -- in which case there may be some desirability to obtain legal advice with respect to whether charges can be laid -- is to have those reports delivered to the Attorney General, and I understand that will happen in this case. The honourable member can be certain that I will report to the House and to him as early as I can.
Mr. Pope: That is a rather interesting difference from the Premier's own statements on June 24, 1986, with respect to the Morgentaler charges, in which he said that the Attorney General had no role in directing a police investigation of the laying of charges. When it comes to the members of the Liberal Party, the Attorney General is going to make the decision on a matter that he was involved in a meeting with the Caplans on. He is going to make that decision, and that is entirely inappropriate. He should get out of it and allow the police to lay the charges.
Hon. Mr. Scott: A little practise of law in Cochrane South will probably improve the honourable member's capacity to make elementary legal judgements. As he knows perfectly well, there is a major distinction between the two examples. In the case of a criminal charge, whether it be laid following an OPP investigation or following a normal municipal investigation, it is the obligation of the informant, usually a police officer, to make an oath that he believes the accused to be guilty in all probability. He makes that oath; he makes that determination; he swears that information. If he requires legal advice as to the validity of the evidence, whether it can used in proof or anything of that type, he invites the opinion of either the crown attorney in the county in which he works or the crown law office under the Ministry of the Attorney General.
Mr. Harris: That is bafflegab.
Hon. Mr. Scott: The member may regard it as bafflegab but the reality is that is the way the system has always worked and will continue to work in this case. When those reports are available, the honourable member can be certain that I will report to the House as promptly as I can.
Mr. Rae: In the absence of the Minister of Financial Institutions (Mr. Kwinter), who I know had to leave a little early today, I would like to ask a question of the Premier about pensions.
Can the Premier tell us whether it is his understanding that it is quite possible that the Friedland task force, which has been established by the government to study the question of pension indexation, could in fact conclude that pension indexation is simply not possible, too expensive or in some way not in the cards? Is it his view that that is a possible outcome of the Friedland committee?
Hon. Mr. Peterson: No, that is not my understanding.
Mr. Rae: If that is the Premier's understanding, I wonder if he can explain -- I was going to ask this directly to the minister but he is not here -- why the minister would say in committee the exact opposite of what the Premier has just said in this House. Can the Premier explain why the Minister of Financial Institutions said in the committee the other day, and I am quoting directly from the transcript: "And they come back and say, `We have looked at it; it makes no sense,' and that you should abandon your policy even though you are in favour of it, or this is what you should do at this level"? Can the Premier tell us why the minister would have said that?
Hon. Mr. Peterson: I cannot tell the member why the minister would say it. I cannot tell him why a lot of people say a lot of things, including some of my friends opposite on occasion. If in fact he said it, I hope the member will ask him about it and what he meant by it.
Mr. Rae: He is the minister and the Premier is supposed to be in charge over there. I thought that was still the operation.
If the Premier does not know why the Minister of Financial Institutions said it and he is representing the government at the committee, and the Premier says he is in favour of pension indexing and it is not possible for the Friedland committee to come up with any other answer, can the Premier tell us why the legislation is silent on the question of pension indexing? Why does he not have something in the legislation that indicates where the government wants to go, since legislation is supposed to be the way we do things around here?
Hon. Mr. Peterson: I cannot answer my honourable friend's question about who is in charge over here, because if I listened to my honourable friend every time we did something good over here he would maintain that he is in charge over here. Why is it that when we do something wrong I do not hear the same response from my honourable friend?
That being said, as the member knows, the legislation as introduced did not deal with that particular issue. The government has stated its view on indexation. It has appointed the Friedland committee, along with I believe Mr. Jackson and the very esteemed Mr. Pilkey, to look into these questions. I know that my honourable friend has direct contact with Mr. Pilkey. He would make sure that Mr. Pilkey knows his views on these subjects, but they are looking at the implementation of this complicated area.
We do have a bill in place that we hope can be passed quickly to bring a real effect to pension reform that is so necessary. We have been dealing with this for a very long period of time, on matters of portability, vesting and a whole range of other issues that we think will bring our pension laws into the modern age. I hope my honourable friend will support that piece of legislation so that we can move quickly on this matter; and we will consider, obviously, the report of the Friedland committee when it is available.
Mr. Rae: I am rather astonished that the Premier would be giving a position in the House that is completely contrary to the one given by his minister in committee and would say there should be no confusion as to what the position of the government is. We are only human and it is difficult for us to draw any other conclusion than that the government does not know where it is going on this question.
Mr. Rae: While we are discussing the question of confusion and not knowing where to go, I would like to address my next question to the Minister of Labour. The minister will know that over 130 workers in Wallaceburg received their notice last week from Continental Can advising them that they would no longer be employed on September 1 and that the company would in fact be closing its doors.
Can the minister explain what recourse the workers have when they were assured by their former employer -- that is to say, Nestlé, who owned the company prior to its recent sale to Continental Can -- during negotiations in October, just a few short months ago, that their jobs were safe for three years and that if they made concessions those jobs would remain safe, which concessions they made? What legal recourse do those workers now have in the province for which the minister has some responsibility in terms of labour laws and employment standards laws to protect those workers against this kind of action?
Hon. Mr. Wrye: I think the honourable gentleman knows there is no legal recourse for those workers who may have opted to give concessions during the collective bargaining which just concluded at Continental Can in Wallaceburg.
Mr. Rae: It seems to be a one-way street in the province when it comes to what happens to working people. Can the minister explain why his government has done nothing in terms of plant closure legislation, severance legislation, seniority legislation -- nothing at all dealing with those issues -- when his leader promised the people of Ontario there would be that kind of legislation under a Liberal government and when he signed an accord saying specifically that this kind of legislation would be forthcoming? Can he explain to those workers why he has so clearly and categorically broken his word to those people as well to thousands of other workers in Ontario?
Hon. Mr. Wrye: I ask my friend to look at the timetable on these matters. I can certainly assure him that as it pertains to severance pay and other protections in terms of labour adjustment -- and labour adjustment is necessary in some situations -- these matters are under consideration. I can also indicate to the honourable gentleman that he may want to look at the throne speech and at the proposal for an industrial restructuring commissioner.
Finally, when my friend suggests that no protection has been given to the workers of Ontario in terms of severance pay, I refer him not only to Bill 128 but also to the government's ongoing efforts to protect the present severance pay legislation, and indeed any future enrichments we might propose, from the attack on that severance pay legislation by the federal government.
Mr. Rae: The fact of the matter is that there is no mention of severance pay in the throne speech. There is no mention in the throne speech with respect to legislation dealing with plant closures. There is nothing in the throne speech or indeed in legislation that gives any kind of assistance, guarantee or help to these workers. There is no way in which he can force a justification, no way in which he can figure out why Nestlé sold to Continental Can and whether there is anything else going on in the marketplace and no way in which he can ask or deal with any of these questions.
In his House leader's list of legislation, which he has presented to other House leaders with respect to areas and items that are going to be a priority for the government, can he tell us why the Bees Act is mentioned by the Liberal Party when it comes to its priorities but there is no mention of severance pay and no mention of anything dealing with problems facing working people in Ontario?
Hon. Mr. Nixon: You mean that incomplete list; that effective list of initiatives.
Hon. Mr. Wrye: I think I heard the House leader give the answer. Perhaps my friend will want to note that he referred to the fact of an incomplete list, a list that indicates the priorities of the government at this time. When these matters are ready to proceed, they will proceed.
Mr. Pope: Following on questions to the Solicitor General (Mr. Keyes) and the Attorney General (Mr. Scott), I have a question for the Premier. Last Thursday, the Attorney General admitted there was at least one report completed and the Solicitor General indicated at least one report was completed; not all of them had been completed.
Published reports in the newspapers several weeks ago indicated that the Attorney General would be receiving the Vaughan land sale report within two to three days. We now have the Attorney General saying that nothing has been referred to him, whereas the Solicitor General said these would automatically be referred to him when completed. Can the Premier sort out today this mess between his own Solicitor General and Attorney General, and intervene and provide for the immediate tabling in this House of all interim draft and final reports on these three investigations?
Hon. Mr. Peterson: I do not intervene in police matters, as the honourable member will know. From my point of view, it was answered very clearly. Obviously, any confusion is in the member's mind. He can ask the Attorney General again, if he wants him to repeat the process that goes on in these matters. I am sure it will be scrupulously adhered to. He has said he has not got those reports.
Mr. Pope: We know for a fact that at least one of these reports exists. Is the Premier going to intervene? The Solicitor General has said one thing, that these would automatically be referred to the Attorney General. The Attorney General is saying another thing, that it is up to the police. That is completely at variance with what the Solicitor General is saying. Why does the Premier not intervene, get this mess cleaned up and get those reports out and charges laid?
Hon. Mr. Peterson: The member may know something I do not know or the Attorney General does not know. if he does, he should please come forward. Perhaps he even has a copy of it. If he has a copy of it, he should please table it in the House. I have no problem with that. I can tell him that is not the information I have.
Mr. Allen: I have a question for the Minister of Education. At a time when school boards across this province are enrolling increasing numbers of adults in programs, both day and night, of studies they need to get on with for the jobs they are trying to access -- programs in secondary credit courses, English as a second language, French as a second language, programs in literacy and basic education -- why, in those circumstances, did the minister send this letter on February 18 to the Association of Large School Boards in Ontario, putting access to space in the school system for adult day programs virtually at the bottom of the heap and thus undermining many innovative programs of boards around this province?
Hon. Mr. Conway: I thank the honourable member for his question. Obviously, I do not accept his assessment of the content of the letter to which he makes reference. I sent the letter to have school boards observe that they must also, as we look to the future, plan for the requirements of those young people whom the Education Act compels to attend school. While I recognize that school boards across the province have done a great deal of very creative work in the area of adult and continuing education, I do not want school boards, as we look to the future in planning for the requirements of our student population, to lose sight of the fact that we also have important obligations to those young people of compulsory school age.
As the honourable member knows, in some areas of the province we have very significant pressure, in so far as accommodation is concerned, and I am expecting that school boards are going to continue to work with the ministry to provide for the needs of not just those in the adult and continuing area, as they have so very well, but also, where necessary, to meet the very pressing needs of those young people who are compelled by the Education Act to attend elementary and secondary education.
Mr. Allen: I think we all recognize those pressing needs, but there are a lot of people out there with a lot of different futures they are trying to secure.
Does the real and fundamental reason not lie in the very short statement by ALSBO about the state of adult education in this province; namely, that there is now in Ontario "a lack of public policy in the field, no vision of adult education in government, an almost complete lack of province-wide information base to allow for planning and analysis, a confusing legal situation concerning the educational rights of adults, a lack of definition of teacher status in continuing education and an uncertain funding and a regulatory milieu"?
Will the minister not tackle at least one small corner of that list of pressing problems by, for example, amending section 32 of the Education Act to lift the 21-year age limit, and guarantee adults and recognized adult programs equal access to school space on the same basis as regular resident pupils in the system?
Hon. Mr. Conway: Again I say to the honourable member that I do not share the assessment to which he made reference in the first part of his supplementary question. As I have indicated to the school community as recently as this morning when I met with the Metropolitan Toronto trustee group, I will be sending a letter of clarification to trustees so there is no confusion as to what I intended in the initial letter.
I repeat, what I intended to address there is the whole question of new vacant space in the schools of Ontario. That is the issue to which I have directed the attention of the school community. I expect that everyone in the educational community is going to work to meet not just the needs of the adult community but also to pay attention, as new vacant space is coming on stream in the schools of Ontario, so that those young people of compulsory school age are going to be provided for as well.
WYDA SYSTEMS (CANADA) INC.
Mr. Gillies: My question is to the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology regarding the latest chapter in the resolution of the Wyda scandal.
Last Thursday, Mr. Justice Catzman approved the sale of the major asset of Wyda, the solid modeler program, for $116,000 plus the promise of future royalties. The minister will recall that the province invested over $3 million in this company.
Both of the offers for this technology spoke to the requirement of a further six months to two years of testing to determine the worth of this technology. This was certainly not the information put before us by the ministry officials. How could his officials be so completely wrong in estimating the worth of this company and how could he be so completely off in determining the amount of time they would need to be able to function before putting their project before a market?
Hon. Mr. O'Neil: I believe when my officials from the Ontario Development Corp. appeared before the committee they made things very clear as to where this company stood and as to the estimate of the value they placed on those different assets of Wyda. There is some difference of opinion as to what those assets are valued at. As I say, it was a court-appointed receiver and that was the decision made by the judge in this particular case.
Mr. Gillies: The minister really did not answer the question. His officials at ODC seem to have a rather hands-off attitude towards this company. Now we hear people who are involved in this kind of technology telling us they were minimum six months and maybe two years away from having anything.
Mr. Justice Catzman has approved the sale of this asset to a company called Value, which is headed by a Mr. Low, assisted by a Mr. Stern, both natives of Israel or having business interests there, neither of whom made any assurances to the judge or the minister's officials that any part of this technology would remain in Ontario.
What efforts did the minister and his officials put forward to try to ensure that this technology, developed at incredible cost by the Ontario taxpayers, has any hope whatsoever of remaining in this jurisdiction and not going the way of Mr. Dobzinski, back across the Atlantic?
Hon. Mr. O'Neil: The name of the company is Value Geometrix Ltd., just to give the complete name. As part of that decision made by the judge, I believe they were to complete and develop Wyda's technology within Ontario.
Ms. Bryden: I have a question to the Attorney General. Since the Supreme Court of Ontario has now ruled that the mandate of the Ontario Racing Commission does not require it to listen to the public affected by its decisions or to take its concerns into consideration in regulating racetracks in Ontario, the ball is now back in the province's court. Only his government can stop Sunday racing at Greenwood, which is causing community chaos and cutting off access to other recreational facilities enjoyed by the whole city.
Is the Attorney General now prepared to urge his colleagues to give back to local residents their one weekend day of respite from racetrack problems by adopting my private member's bill to ban Sunday racing at Greenwood or by bringing in his own legislation this spring session to protect the democratic rights of people affected by Ontario Racing Commission decisions?
Hon. Mr. Scott: As the honourable member knows, the subject matter of this question is a matter for the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations (Mr. Kwinter) who is not in the House. I will bring the member's concern to his attention. It will be no surprise to him to know of the member's interest.
In so far as the matter relates to a question of Sunday opening, that is a matter being considered by a committee of which the member for Oakville (Mr. O'Connor) is the chairman, and we will no doubt have a report in the House on that subject very shortly.
Ms. Bryden: I understand the Attorney General recently met with representatives of Queen Street East residents' associations on the Sunday racing question and urged them to make a submission to the select committee on retail store hours. What does he now advise them to do since all the Liberal and Conservative members of that committee have rejected a motion from a New Democratic Party member to have the question of Sunday racing put on the agenda of that committee? The ball is back in his court. They wish to put on the agenda the mayor of Toronto's recommendation that the city be given the power to regulate the days and hours of racing. Is the minister prepared to bring in legislation to implement the mayor's suggestion if the committee cannot consider it?
Hon. Mr. Scott: The member is correct. Together with the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations, I met with the two aldermen for the area and a number of other ratepayers who are concerned about the problem. I made a suggestion to them to make a submission to the committee of this House that is dealing with this question under the chairmanship of the member for Oakville.
They were concerned about how to do that. I simply explained that I was sure he would receive one if they mailed it to him, that it did not have to be in any formal form and that if they were having any difficulty getting in touch with him or if there was any problem about the committee receiving their submission, I would be glad to hear from them again and intervene on their behalf.
If the ratepayers the honourable member speaks for in this context are having any difficulty, I would be delighted to hear from them or from the member in order to facilitate their views being put in the proper way.
Mr. Sterling: My question is of the Minister of Education. In his recent capital funding announcement, the minister made special mention of the Carleton area as one of the four growing areas in this province. He made that statement last Wednesday. On Thursday, in spite of a held-out promise -- as many of the people in the area feel it was -- the minister gave $2.9 million less to the public school board and $10.4 million less to the separate school board. Even the Liberals in the area are blasting the minister and saying he made false promises, promises on which he did not deliver.
Mr. Speaker: And the question is?
Mr. Sterling: Will the minister please straighten out the situation for the Liberals in the area and tell us whether or not he has misled the people of Ottawa-Carleton?
Hon. Mr. Conway: As my friend the member for Niagara Falls (Mr. Kerrio) parenthetically observes, you cannot win them all. He is quite right.
It is also important for me to observe for my friend from Manotick that, perhaps at variance with past practices, we do not make capital allocations with a view to party preference.
Mr. Speaker: Order, the member for Brantford (Mr. Gillies).
Hon. Mr. Conway: When I look at the allocations this government has provided to the Carleton school boards, I know they compare very favourably with the allocations my honourable friend's government was able to make in the period from 1980 to 1985. In fact, in 1987, we have announced capital allocations that are triple what the previous government was prepared to offer in 1985.
Mr. Sterling: We have heard about triple, we have heard about double and we have heard about all those things, but I want to show the minister this picture of a class at St. Bernard School and Blossom Park in the riding of the member for Carleton East (Mr. Morin), where the students have to have their classroom in a locker room with 350 kids. That school is going to have 600 kids by September, and in order to go to the washroom the kids have to put on their coats in the winter.
The minister said in his statement, "These needs and the needs of all students must be met." Does he believe he is meeting the needs of the students at St. Bernard School and Blossom Park?
Hon. Mr. Conway: It is truly a brave new world when the member for Carleton-Grenville is the most vocal advocate for the separate school community in Carleton county.
Mr. Sterling: Mr. Speaker, on a point of privilege --
Mr. Speaker: I will listen, but I think you will be stretching it.
Mr. Sterling: I believe the minister has impugned my reputation. My reasons for standing on Bill 30 were clear to this Legislature. If the minister wants to make an allegation, make it straight --
Mr. Speaker: Order, order. It is not a point of privilege.
Mr. Harris: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order: I do not know what a point of privilege is. Clearly, the minister stood in his place and imputed motives against the member --
Mr. Speaker: Order, order. The minister, with a response.
Hon. Mr. Conway: I think it is important for me to say to the honourable member and to the school community in Carleton county that over the last number of years -- in fact, within the last year -- we made a number of supplementary allocations to the Carleton school boards. It is true that, when one looks at the April 1986 and April 1987 allocations, it is in part as the member suggests; but he must recall that, in response to a number of submissions made by the Carleton school community, I was able to provide supplementary allocations on at least two occasions in-year.
I am quite proud to say that, while we have not addressed all the school concerns in Carleton county, we have moved forward very significantly and I intend to do as much as I can to meet the needs there, as I will elsewhere.
Mr. Wildman: I have a question for the Minister of Natural Resources. In view of the response of the Premier (Mr. Peterson) during the election campaign to the Project for Environmental Priorities questionnaire, in which he indicated yes, he supported prompt government action to put all 155 parks into regulation by the end of 1985, and in view of the fact that the minister has had over a year to decide on the final 51 proposed parks, can he explain why it has taken so long and we still do not have a decision on parks such as Centennial Lake park near Pembroke, Fawn River park in the Sault Lookout area, Indian Point in the Lindsay area, Little Current River park in the Geraldton area and Misery Bay in the Espanola area?
When is this minister going to make a decision with regard to the last 51 parks; and can he explain what is taking him so long?
Hon. Mr. Kerrio: I certainly can explain what is taking so long, but I am not sure I can tell the member precisely when we are going to regulate the new parks. The fact of the matter is, when I inherited this ministry and there was an arrangement well under way for the parks to be used in a multiple purpose way, it seemed there had been achieved a consensus among the various users which seemed appropriate at the time, that the parks throughout Ontario could have multiple use and there had been achieved a consensus among the various users.
When the government changed, I suppose what really happened was that there were those who thought maybe they could have another kick at the cat, if you would like to describe it that way, and open the negotiations again. That is precisely what happened. There were those who had made agreements who wanted to have another look at it. That is where it is.
I think the public meetings we are having, the things we are doing to make certain the public now has input before we go forward with the regulating, is a reasonable way to assess the whole circumstance and that is where it is at. It is being done and I am sure it will be done to the satisfaction of the member who raises the question, because we are making concessions now to make sure we get the regulations in place.
Mr. Wildman: Will the minister not agree that there was no such attempt to have what he calls a "second kick at the cat," but that in fact this minister himself cannot get a consensus within his own government, much less within his own ministry? Can he explain to us what his position is and what the position of the government is with respect to multiple use within the parks; and can he make a commitment that he can give us a date as to when that decision will be made and the other 51 parks will be designated?
Hon. Mr. Kerrio: I certainly can give the member a commitment. The commitment of this government and this minister is to set aside parks throughout Ontario for all people to enjoy in their leisure time. It is not as easy as he now chooses to make it. The fact of the matter is that there are many people with more leisure time and there is a great difference of how people want to spend that leisure time. We are attempting to address all the problems, and I am sure he is going to be very pleased when we do.
Mr. Speaker: Order.
Mr. Baetz: I have a question for the Minister of Community and Social Services. In view of the minister's continued waffling on the issue of the private day care operators' future role in the child care field, can the minister today, especially now in the light of the Meech Lake accord, tell us without further equivocation whether he believes the private operators do have an appropriate, legitimate, long-term role in the child care field worthy of some government support?
Hon. Mr. Sweeney: Yes.
Mr. Baetz: It is a breakthrough, yes. That is the Meech Lake accord, is it?
In view of the fact we have now heard the minister's promise, without equivocation, that the private operators are going to be getting long-term government support, is the minister now going to be equally expeditious in trying to settle a lot of the demoralization that has occurred in the private day care field because of his long-term waffling and equivocation?
As the minister probably knows, there is a lot of low morale. Is he now going to go out there, and what is he going to do to correct that morale? Let him tell us.
Hon. Mr. Sweeney: Given the fact that we have done more in 22 months than the member's government did in 22 years, I think the term "without equivocation" is maybe not the right one to use.
I have said very clearly that we intend to continue to support the private sector in day care in this province, but the member obviously knows that we are currently negotiating with the federal government -- negotiations that I expect to be concluded in June -- which clearly is going to indicate the degree to which we are going to get its support for what we do. We said we are going to move anyway. The degree of support is the only point that is at stake.
Mr. Swart: My question is to the Premier. I know he has got involved recently in the auto insurance issue, to try to get his minister to cut the losses, so today I would like to ask him a question relating to the case of Paula Culling who is in the gallery here today. Coming from British Columbia recently, she had a perfect driving record there for eight years, except for a minor $223 claim in 1984. The public insurance plan there paid the claim without penalty and her safe driving record was not violated.
Does the Premier think it is reasonable that because of that three-year-old claim in British Columbia, she must now, in Ontario, pay $420 yearly over and above the normal rate she pays here, which is higher in any event? As head of the government here for almost two years, how can the Premier condone that kind of ongoing ripoff by the private insurance companies in this province?
Hon. Mr. Peterson: The honourable minister asked me to convey his regrets to the member that he could not be here to discuss the matter with him today. I know how much he enjoys the member's questions in this House.
I am operating on the principle now, and I am being charitable, that the member's facts are accurate. I do not have a response to that particular case, but let me say to the member, and through him to his visitor in the gallery, that I would be very happy to introduce her to the minister upon his return. I welcome her to Ontario, by the way, and say, "I hope you enjoy it here very much." Perhaps we can sort out the problem, but I cannot comment on the specifics.
Mr. Swart: The Premier realizes, of course, there is nothing in legislation here to solve that problem. If he is sincere about protecting motorists against the insurance companies, why has he not proclaimed section 371 of the Insurance Act, which could immediately stop these blatant injustices that he seems now to have found out do exist? Why has his government, during the two years of the insurance crisis, refused even to investigate the benefits of a public plan like the ones in BC, Manitoba and Saskatchewan?
Hon. Mr. Peterson: I am just praying for mercy here and I am going to insist that the minister is here every day from now on so that I can avoid this kind of personal abuse in the House.
I guess I understand the honourable member's point of view with respect to the state ownership of almost everything and I respect that it is a difference. We have discussed in the past some of the differences in the driving complexion of the various provinces, and I understand that as well, but I think the minister has proceeded on an excellent course that will cure some of the excesses in the system and still guarantee competition in the marketplace. I am sure even the honourable member opposite will feel that the people of this province will be extremely well served by the creative leadership of the Minister of Financial Institutions (Mr. Kwinter).
WORKERS' COMPENSATION BOARD
Mr. Brandt: I have a question for the Minister of Labour. The Minister of Labour is aware that both our party and the third party have called for a royal commission into the affairs and the way in which the operations of the Workers' Compensation Board are being undertaken at the present time. Would the minister indicate what his response is to the request of both parties in connection with that matter?
Hon. Mr. Wrye: I am not actually sure I have seen anything that has been received in terms of a joint resolution or a joint proposal from the two parties, but I want to share with the House and with my honourable friend a concern that I have and that I believe both the business community and, indeed, the trade union movement have, in that a lot of reforms are now ongoing at the WCB.
There has been a board of directors in place for about a year and a half. Significant regionalization of the board's adjudication and pension services are under way. Regionalization proposals are now under way in the medical services field as well. As the member knows, there is now a report proposing significant changes in the current Downsview hospital and rehabilitation centre.
I think that rather than put all the reforms on hold -- and there are many reforms which will aid both injured workers and the business community -- with yet another royal commission -- and there have been six or seven -- the WCB should be allowed to complete the job and see that those reforms, we hope, will begin to solve some of the problems and some of the concerns that both sides, and indeed, members of the Legislature, have had over the years.
Mr. Brandt: The minister should be aware that the reforms he speaks of will not necessarily have to be put on hold during the time the royal commission is undertaking its review of the situation.
The minister is also aware that there are some very critical problems going on at the present time with respect to the Workers' Compensation Board, among which are: an unfunded liability which is quickly reaching the point of some $6 billion; the bureaucracy is growing very rapidly; there are many employers and employees in this province who are simply unable to understand the system any more, the costs of which are going completely out of control.
Would the minister indicate what kind of a response he is prepared to give with respect to these kinds of immediate problems? Anything he has suggested will not address the very fundamental problems with respect to the structuring of the WCB.
Hon. Mr. Wrye: There are some very significant structural changes under way, but I think the concern the honourable member raises is a concern about the unfunded liability. The honourable gentleman is on the standing committee on resources development. I believe he has heard in the past, and if not I can inform him today, that over the past three years there have been a number of proposed rate increases that will begin the process of bringing the unfunded liability under control.
The significant aspect is that in the 1987 rate year it was not necessary to pass on to the business community the full 15 per cent that the WCB had allowed. The maximum increase passed on was 14 per cent. I know the member would want his business community to know that there were some 16 or 17 rate groups that actually had rate decreases. Thus, the average increase this year was only 8.7 per cent. We hope we can do much better, but the honourable gentleman will know that it is the rate groups producing much improved accident statistics that are receiving the decreases in their assessments.
Mrs. Grier: I have a question for the Premier. In the throne speech, we heard of enriched support for upgrading municipal sewer and water systems. A recent report has estimated it would take $140 million a year to maintain and rehabilitate the water distribution system alone. Can the Premier tell us how much enhanced support means and how quickly his government is prepared to restore the sewer and water systems of our municipalities?
Hon. Mr. Peterson: I am not in a position to respond specifically to the question today. As the honourable member knows, it is a budgetary matter that the minister will be talking about in some detail in the future.
Mr. McClellan: Why does he not bring in his budget?
Hon. Mr. Peterson: The House leader has a wonderful suggestion. Why do we not bring in the budget? That is an excellent suggestion. The members of that party have been spending 95 per cent of their intellectual energy in the last little while trying to avoid the budget. We will be happy to share it with them. Until that time, I am not in a position to give specific figures.
I think they saw a minister who understands those problems intimately and is in the process of attempting to address them. We have a serious problem with infrastructure in the province. We are in the process of rebuilding schools, environmental and pollution control equipment, roads and other things. We cannot undo 42 years of neglect in one day but we are making great progress.
Mrs. Grier: If the Premier will not answer budgetary questions, perhaps he can answer a policy question. The minister has had two years to deal with this, but he is obviously not prepared to.
I am sure the Premier understands that industrial discharges to the sanitary sewer systems are a major contributor to their deterioration. We have called upon the minister on innumerable occasions to close the major loophole in his municipal-industrial strategy for abatement program that allows almost 12,000 industries to discharge into our sanitary sewer systems. Can the Premier tell us whether it is the government's policy -- and if not, why not? -- to regulate these industrial discharges at source so that the government will not have to spend money just to rehabilitate systems but can also prevent their future deterioration?
Hon. Mr. Peterson: As I said, the minister will have more to say in the future on his plans in this regard. I am sure the member opposite, because she is very fair-minded and knowledgeable on these issues, will recognize that our Minister of the Environment (Mr. Bradley) is taking a leading role in North America with respect to industrial waste and airborne and other forms of pollution. I am sure, when the member sees what he has done, she will want to stand up in her place and celebrate the leadership of this minister.
HIGH WATER LEVELS
Mr. Brandt: To my friend the Minister of Natural Resources: I would like to ask a question with respect to the problem of high water in the Great Lakes communities. The minister is well aware that the recent high water levels have caused a great deal of devastation amounting to millions of dollars in many of the communities around the Great Lakes basin. Is the minister aware of the federal disaster financial assistance program with which the federal government is prepared to provide up to 90 per cent financing, to enable both municipalities and private property owners to undertake necessary adjustments and make necessary renovations to their property to provide them with the protection they require from high-water problems? Is the minister aware of the program and is he prepared to make submissions to the federal government so that our province can qualify for some of that money?
Hon. Mr. Kerrio: Yes, I am very much aware of the federal program. It is rather a disappointment that it is a disaster program, that a disaster has to be declared before any of that money can be brought into place. The fact of the matter is --
Hon. Mr. Kerrio: If the members will be quiet for a few minutes, they will understand that I am going to answer the question.
The fact is that the disaster fund is precisely what they say it is and until a disaster is declared no money is going to flow from the federal government. Believe me, we have been trying diligently for a good long time to get the federal government to face up to the responsibility of 3,000 miles of shoreline in Ontario alone.
Hon. Mr. Kerrio: No, it is not. The member knows precisely what it is.
They are just not doing what needs to be done with the American federal government, and that is to address themselves to the problem. This government has taken into account the things it can do to help, with the Minister of Municipal Affairs (Mr. Grandmaître) and with more money put into the help we can give provincially. It really is a matter for the federal governments and the two nations that share the largest fresh water system in the world to address the problem. We are fully prepared to respond and be helpful to the degree that we can, as are municipalities and individuals, but this really is a responsibility that should be initiated by the federal government. That disaster money is not available unless a disaster is declared and I think that is not fair.
Mr. Brandt: Some of the members opposite talk about 40 years of neglect. With respect to this program, I want to tell the members about two years of absolute unequivocal neglect on the minister's part. He has done nothing about this program. In the past two years, the high-water problems in this province have reached critical levels. Upon receipt of requests from municipalities declaring a disaster, if they declare a disaster in their area with respect to high water, is the minister prepared to carry that request to the federal government for the allocation of funds that are set out under the terms of this program? The minister should not pass the buck to the federal government or to some other level of government. Is the minister prepared to carry the request and fund the difference that is required to qualify our province for that money?
Hon. Mr. Kerrio: I am not passing the buck; the buck was there in the first place. The fact is that it is an international problem and it is of proportions that a provincial government and municipalities cannot handle. Certainly, I am prepared to bring forward any submission to the federal government. Up to this point, they have not responded. We are looking and anxious. We have put in place a group of people that has had public input from one end of the lake system to the other. We now have put in a permanent group of advisers that is going to bring the kind of direction that a provincial government can to people who are affected. If there are those who bring forward disaster relief requests to the provincial government, certainly those requests will be forwarded to the federal government. However, the honourable member should remember that in every instance there has to be $9 million worth of damage before the federal government will participate, and that is the key. In each event or in each specific place --
Mr. Harris: Are you telling the people there has not been $9 million worth of damage? The last storm there was --
Hon. Mr. Kerrio: The member is not talking specifics. The fact of the matter is that it is the high water that is causing it and the federal government is going to have to play a role.
OCCUPATIONAL HEALTH AND SAFETY
Mr. Martel: I have a question for the Minister of Labour. The Advisory Council on Occupational Health and Occupational Safety obviously agrees with the trade union movement, the Provincial Auditor and the Ontario Law Reform Commission that the McKenzie-Laskin report was a whitewash. Let me quote one sentence. "However, council believes that in addition and in light of the almost 10 years of experience gained since the enactment, a more thorough and comprehensive review and examination of the act and the administration" -- I thought we just went through that -- "thereof is needed."
In this most blistering condemnation of the minister's performance, does he intend to follow its advice or continue to ignore it as he has since he became minister?
Hon. Mr. Wrye: I do not think that the advice of the council, which is very valuable advice, always ought to be followed, or indeed always ought to be ignored. The council's advice is looked upon very carefully in each and every memorandum that it sends me. I know the honourable member wants to make a great deal about this latest memorandum. Frankly, we will take a look at the advice it offers.
Mr. Martel: If I had a memorandum such as that and I were minister I would probably resign.
The Advisory Council on Occupational Health and Occupational Safety roasted the minister in the report. Last week, he refused to deal with the content of that report in any of the questions asked of him. I reviewed the questions again to see whether he had. Is he prepared to tell us today in the House whether he disagrees with its content and who besides him as Minister of Labour and McKenzie and Laskin think things are going well in this province with respect to occupational health and safety?
Hon. Mr. Wrye: It is fair to suggest that there is widely viewed to have been a great improvement in the administration of the Occupational Health and Safety Act in the past two years. That view is widely shared. There is a greater understanding among the business community, among the trade union movement and indeed among all workers in this province today than there was two years ago of the need to ensure and to work at all times towards healthier and safer work places.
It has been some time since the upward trend in lost-time accidents and in occupational health problems has been arrested. In the first three months of this year, there has been at least a very modest decline, not the kind I would hope for. In the months to come, with the kinds of direction that now are beginning to appear and with a better working of the internal responsibility system that has begun to appear in the past year or so in many plants and factories in Ontario, I hope that process will be accelerated.
SPECIAL GRAINS PROGRAM
Mr. Stevenson: I have a question for the Minister of Agriculture. In spite of requests by Ontario producer groups, the minister did not contribute to the special grains program for this year. We know that federal-provincial meetings now are under way studying a proposal for this year's crop. To what percentage does the minister plan to enrich the program for this year?
Hon. Mr. Riddell: I will be prepared to answer that after the staff from the federal government and from the provincial government meet to decide just where we go from here. I assure the honourable member that whatever we do will be effective, equitable and market neutral.
Mr. Ashe: On a matter of privilege, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Speaker: I do not think I have received notice of that.
Mr. Ashe: You have it right now, Mr. Speaker. If you will indulge me for one moment, I feel that my privileges as a member of this Legislature have been abrogated and I suggest that all members should be particularly concerned on this issue.
Last week, a day or two following the speech from the throne, meat on the bones, if you will, to do with the education transfers was given out; the numbers were given out. The parliamentary assistant to the Minister of Education (Mr. Conway), the member for Middlesex (Mr. Reycraft), came out to Durham region, not to my constituency and made --
Mr. Speaker: Order.
Mr. Ashe: Mr. Speaker, this is a matter of privilege. How can you tell it is not if you do not hear me out?
Mr. Speaker: Order. I understand the point. The member is stating that some of this information was given in his constituency not by himself or not by the member of the constituency.
Mr. Ashe: No, that is not the point.
Mr. Speaker: What is your point of privilege?
Mr. Ashe: My point of privilege is this: we all agree that we should at least be aware of information to do with government programs at the same time as other members. That is a privilege we all should have. What happened in this, and I presume in other situations, is that the member, on behalf of the minister, had a press conference to which selected members of the press were invited but to which duly elected members were not invited. Believe it or not, Mr. Speaker, the duly elected school boards that were affected were not invited, yet the local nominated Liberal candidate was.
Mr. Speaker: Order. Will the honourable member take his seat? I listened very carefully and it is not a point of privilege. I advise the member that he will have ample time to put that type of information when we are on the throne speech. He may also put that type of information before the House during members' statements, if he so desires, but it is not a point of privilege.
Mr. McFadden: I have a petition addressed to the Honourable the Lieutenant Governor and the Legislative Assembly of Ontario. It reads as follows:
"As parents and teachers of students attending John Wanless Junior School, we wish to state our concern over products such as Sarasoda and Caesars' Shandy which are sold in local stores. We are not happy that our children can purchase a product which masquerades as a soft drink but which contains 0.9 per cent alcohol. This type of product should not be available to minors."
This petition is signed by 55 concerned parents and teachers associated with John Wanless Public School.
Mr. Warner: I wish to table a petition that reads:
"To the Honourable the Lieutenant Governor and the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:
"We, the undersigned, beg leave to petition the parliament of Ontario as follows:
"That the Ministry of Health respond to the need for a renal dialysis unit at Scarborough General Hospital, since no such unit exists between the city of Toronto and the city of Kingston."
It is signed by 172 persons now, bringing the total to 958, with many more to come.
PROPERTY TAX GRANT
Mr. D. S. Cooke: I wish to table a petition that reads as follows:
"To the Honourable Robert Nixon, Treasurer of Ontario, and to the Lieutenant Governor and the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:
"The Ontario property tax grant, which was first issued in 1979 at $500, or 20 per cent of a person's gross rent, has never been changed. The average yearly increase in the rate of inflation has been 7.63 per cent. Therefore, it is our request that the Treasurer of Ontario revise the property tax grant to reflect the increases in the cost of living over the last eight years."
It is signed by several hundred residents.
Ms. Bryden: I wish to table a petition about Sunday racing at Greenwood Race Track. It is signed by 19 residents who live close to the track and is the same as petitions presented last session by almost 700 other residents. It reads as follows:
"To the Honourable the Lieutenant Governor and the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:
"We, the undersigned, beg leave to petition the parliament of Ontario as follows:
"Whereas the Ontario Racing Commission in its hearings into the Ontario Jockey Club application for Sunday racing at Greenwood Race Track has ruled that it does not have the jurisdiction to hear the concerns of residents surrounding the aforesaid racetrack;
"And whereas many residents have shown their concern with the impact of Sunday racing at Greenwood Race Track on their neighbourhood and have indicated their wish to voice that concern;
"That the government amend the Racing Commission Act to ensure that the rights and concerns of residents in the neighbourhood of the racetrack and in the surrounding community be considered and protected by the Ontario Racing Commission in setting racing dates, times and schedules;
"Further, that the legislation provide that the long tradition of no Sunday racing at Greenwood Race Track be maintained."
I support this petition.
INTRODUCTION OF BILLS
INTERNATIONAL COMMERCIAL ARBITRATION ACT / LOI DE 1987 SUR L'ARBITRAGE COMMERCIAL INTERNATIONAL
Hon. Mr. Scott moved first reading of Bill 17, An Act to implement the Model Law on International Commercial Arbitration adopted by the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law.
L'hon. M. Scott propose la première lecture du projet de loi 17, Loi concernant la mise en application de la Loi type sur l'arbitrage commercial international adoptée par la Commission des Nations Unies pour le droit commercial international.
Motion agreed to.
La motion est adoptée.
Hon. Mr. Scott: It is another one.
Hon. Mr. Nixon: We are adjusting the model law.
Hon. Mr. Scott: This is the same bill that was introduced in the last session.
METROPOLITAN TORONTO POLICE FORCE COMPLAINTS ACT
Hon. Mr. Scott moved first reading of Bill 18, An Act to amend the Metropolitan Toronto Police Force Complaints Act.
Motion agreed to.
Hon. Mr. Scott: The bill is a replication of the bill that was introduced in the last session.
DISTRICT OF MUNICIPALITY OF MUSKOKA AMENDMENT ACT
Hon. Mr. Grandmaître moved first reading of Bill 19, An Act to amend the District Municipality of Muskoka Act.
Motion agreed to.
Hon. Mr. Grandmaître: This bill was previously introduced.
MUNICIPALITY OF METROPOLITAN TORONTO AMENDMENT ACT
Hon. Mr. Grandmaître moved first reading of Bill 20, An Act to amend the Municipality of Metropolitan Toronto Act.
Motion agreed to.
GREENWOOD RACEWAY ACT
Ms. Bryden moved first reading of Bill 22, An Act respecting the Operation of the Greenwood Raceway and the Composition of the Ontario Racing Commission.
Motion agreed to.
Ms. Bryden: This bill is identical to Bill 175 that I introduced last session on December 11, 1986. Its objective is to ban Sunday racing at Greenwood Race Track and to protect the democratic rights of residents affected by racetrack activities. It also changes the composition of the Ontario Racing Commission to include representatives of the general public living in the vicinity of racetracks.
ORDERS OF THE DAY
Hon. Mr. Nixon moved resolution 2:
That the membership on the standing and select committees of the House for the third session of the 33rd Parliament be as follows:
Select committee on the environment: Messrs. Charlton, Eves, Gillies, Mrs. Grier, Messrs. Henderson, Knight, Mrs. Marland, Messrs. G. I. Miller, Partington, D. W. Smith and South.
Select committee on health: Messrs. Andrewes, Baetz, Callahan, D. S. Cooke, Cordiano, Ms. Hart, Messrs. Henderson, R. F. Johnston, Reycraft, Miss Stephenson and Mr. Turner.
Select committee on retail store hours: Messrs. Barlow, Bernier, Guindon, O'Connor, Philip, Polsinelli, Reville, Sargent, Shymko, D. W. Smith and Ms. E. J. Smith.
Standing committee on administration of justice: Messrs. Brandt, Charlton, D. R. Cooke, Ms. Fish, Ms. Gigantes, Messrs. O'Connor, Partington, Poirier, Polsinelli, Rowe and Ward.
Standing committee on finance and economic affairs: Messrs. Ashe, D. R. Cooke, Cordiano, Ferraro, Haggerty, McFadden, Mackenzie, Morin-Strom, Ramsay, Miss Stephenson and Mr. Taylor.
Standing committee on general government: Mrs. Grier, Messrs. Guindon, Lane, Lupusella, McCague, McKessock, G. I. Miller, Offer, Pollock, Sheppard and Swart.
Standing committee on government agencies: Messrs. Fontaine, Foulds, Gregory, Hayes, J. M. Johnson, Leluk, Mrs. Marland, Messrs. Mitchell, Polsinelli, Sargent and D. W. Smith.
Standing committee on the Legislative Assembly: Messrs. Bossy, Breaugh, Mancini, Martel, Morin, Newman, Sterling, Treleaven, Turner, Villeneuve and Warner.
Standing committee on the Ombudsman: Messrs. Bossy, Hayes, Henderson, Hennessy, Mancini, McLean, McNeil, Morin, Philip, Sheppard and Shymko.
Standing committee on public accounts: Messrs. Barlow, Callahan, Cousens, Epp, Gillies, Mancini, Philip, Pope, Runciman, D. W. Smith and Wildman.
Standing committee on regulations and private bills: Ms. Bryden, Messrs. Callahan, Dean, Haggerty, Hennessy, Lupusella, McKessock, G. I. Miller, Pouliot, Shymko and Wiseman.
Standing committee on resources development: Mr. Bernier, Ms. Caplan, Messrs. Gordon, Laughren, McGuigan, Offer, Pierce, Reville, South, Stevenson and Wildman.
Standing committee on social development: Messrs. Allen, Andrewes, Baetz, Callahan, Cordiano, Davis, Grande, Ms. Hart, Messrs. Jackson, R. F. Johnston and Reycraft.
Motion agreed to.
Hon. Mr. Nixon moved resolution 3:
That the following standing and select committees be authorized to meet as follows:
Select committee on the environment in the morning of and following routine proceedings on May 6, 1987.
Select committee on health following routine proceedings on May 4 and 5, 1987.
Select committee on retail store hours following routine proceedings on May 4, 5, 6, 7, 11 and 12, 1987.
Standing committee on finance and economic affairs following routine proceedings on May 11, 12, 13 and 14, 1987.
Standing committee on the Legislative Assembly in the morning of May 13, 1987.
Standing committee on resources development following routine proceedings on May 13 and 14, 1987.
Hon. Mr. Nixon moved that the motion be amended by adding to the end thereof:
"Standing committee on the Ombudsman in the morning of May 6, 1987."
Motion, as amended, agreed to.
THRONE SPEECH DEBATE (CONTINUED)
Resuming the adjourned debate on the motion for an address in reply to the speech of the Honourable the Lieutenant Governor at the opening of the session.
Mr. Grossman: I want to begin by congratulating the mover and seconder of the speech from the throne on their comments, however brief, last week. I regret their absence from the House today, as I wished to have the opportunity to congratulate them on the honour that was bestowed upon them.
I am also pleased to have the opportunity to rise today in response to the speech from the throne itself. My colleagues and I had awaited His Honour's address with great anticipation because it offered us and all Ontarians our first real look at the Liberal Party of Ontario. After all, it was our first chance to get a good glimpse of Liberal economic and social policies; to have a look at that alone, without any encumbrance or help.
Last year's throne speech, co-authored as it was in a way by the New Democratic Party, cannot be said to have revealed much of the true nature of the thoughts of the government of Ontario. I say to those members present across the way that their government was an infant government then, rocked in the cradle of the New Democratic Party, with an accord for swaddling clothes and newness for a blanket. No one expected vision from the government in those early days. No one expected a bold plan of its own for the future.
Indeed, on only one occasion in last year's throne speech did the government have the courage or the vision -- let us call it vision for the moment -- to set forward something in the high-technology area. This was the late, belated $1-billion high-technology fund. Twelve months later, we know where that single bold Liberal step in the first throne speech ended. The government managed to spend three per cent -- imagine, three per cent -- of the announced annual spending on the high-technology fund.
Today it stands as an embarrassment, and I do not mean only to the Premier (Mr. Peterson). To his credit, he even allowed his Premier's Council, the now red-faced high-tech club, which has wasted thousands of dollars presiding over literally nothing, to put in a repeat performance, no less, in this year's throne speech. After all, the Premier's Council had such a sparkling record last year that the Premier was eager to bring it back to lead us for a second year into the bold high-tech world of the future.
I remind the members that this is the group that was given $100 million last year to spend on high technology, the group that managed to spend all of $800,000 on high technology and the group that caused one of the ministers of the crown to stand in his place a couple of weeks ago and say, if you can believe it, that it had trouble finding places to invest the money in high technology in Ontario. This is the futuristic group that the Premier thought ought to guide us into year two of the Liberal view of high technology.
Let us look at what the fund did -- you recall it, Mr. Speaker -- a $1-billion high-technology fund; $100 million a year. In point of fact, after two or three days of reading the leaked headlines and every single leaked detail in the favourite newspaper of announcement of the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations (Mr. Kwinter), the Toronto Star, it was acknowledged somewhat red-facedly by the Treasurer (Mr. Nixon) that this was not really $1 billion, but was $100 million for 10 years.
He acknowledged later on that it was not a new $100 million. They would not want to invest $100 million a year in high technology. No, it was a new $50 million. That was the extent of their commitment. It was not the $1 billion they leaked into a headline in the Star; it was not the big, bold new step forward. It was a new $50 million a year for high technology.
Now we see not only that they did not spend 10 cents of the $50 million new money, but also that they spent only $3 million -- stretching it, I might add. They allege they spent $3 million of the old money the previous government was putting into high technology on an annual basis. Net result: the Premier's high-technology council, his advisory council on our future, reduced the spending on high technology by $47 million, and it admitted at the end of the year it could find no places to invest the money.
Mr. Speaker, you will have to forgive my colleagues and me if we say we have awaited this throne speech with some reservations. The carefully orchestrated media leaks prior to last Tuesday's throne speech touched, I will say, on some areas of real significance. Indeed, if last year the approach of that government was to preannounce the throne speech in the favourite newspaper of the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations, we thought this year the approach was to allow the Toronto Star to plough the furrow.
I am delighted that the Minister of Education (Mr. Conway), unlike any of the other three members of the A team, has chosen to be with us today, because it was mainly in the area of education that we thought the Toronto Star had ploughed the furrow.
What happened? We find, of course, that the commitment to high technology has disappeared. We find there is no promise to spend even the $50 million of old money that the previous government was spending on high technology. Indeed rather than one, two or three specific areas of vision that any government ought to have after two years in office, we saw just a panoply of requests and a wish list.
Someone said to me last week that this was not a plan for government, but a job description. It was simply a job description of what the government was supposed to have been doing for the past two years. Nowhere in there was there a plan as to how to do it. The throne speech itself is riddled with words such as "we hope to," "we will have a pilot project," "we will offer more money to" and "we will expand." Those are the kinds of words we got.
In fact, I know what happened. Some time during the last couple of months, there was obviously a decision taken that as the normal course of throne speeches unfolds, a letter would be sent out to all ministries asking them for their wish lists. That is the way the system works. With respect, the system has always worked that way, for longer back than 42 years. I think Mitch Hepburn started the system.
One writes to all the ministries saying, "Tell me the things you would like to do," and all the ministries traditionally write in, having prioritized what they would like to do and the things they would request. One would have hoped that when it got to the A team, when it got to the four horsemen on the front benches there, that they would have gathered somewhere and decided to prioritize those requests.
One would have thought the Treasurer of Ontario might have said, "Listen, Premier, you have this much money to spend." One would have thought he might have said to the Premier, "Listen, if you do not want the highest level of taxes in the land, you have only this much money." One would have thought the Treasurer might have said: "Premier, we have a deficit which we have chosen not to attack during this era of prosperity. If you want to make a significant attack on it, then you could better reduce the deficit by this amount of money and that will leave you $X million to go."
It is quite clear that none of that happened. It is quite clear that a decision was taken by the four horsemen on the front row, the A team and Hershell Ezrin, our representative-designate in India, to do none of that. The decision was taken: "Let us just get every hare-brained fond wish of every bureaucrat, every civil servant, every minister and, yes, even René Fontaine" -- that is the degree to which they went -- "lay it all on a list, and we will put it all in the throne speech. Let us not be selective."
Mr. Jackson: We cannot afford René's list.
Mr. Grossman: We cannot even afford his travel expenses. How can we afford his list? The only difference between his travel expenses and the wish list is that you actually have to pay for his expenses. The wish list you never have to pay for because there is no government in the land that could afford to meet all these promises, so it is simply a list.
It was simply the Premier saying to every one of the 80,000 civil servants and every one of the 20 ministers masquerading as four ministers: "Tell us everything you would like to do every day of the week. Do not give us a focus, do not give us a theme, do not give us a strategy; just tell us everything you would like to do."
There is the Minister of Education who holds up the words "July 4, 1985."
An hon. member: June 4, 1985.
Mr. Grossman: June 4, 1985, by which he means to say, "Remember the realities of June 4, 1985." I say to the minister, "We remember what happened on June 4, 1985." What happened was a party that has yet to be elected by the people of this province was put in office by a party which had 25 seats out of 125 in this House. I say to the minister, "Do not let the realities of June 4 do for you what the realities of March 19 did for your predecessors." It did them in and it is going to do the minister in.
Let us get on to the wish list. Let us look at last year for a second. I wish the Minister of Agriculture and Food (Mr. Ridden) could have been with us today. He is no doubt doing press clippings in the London Free Press or he is meeting with Chuck Yeager. There was a commitment in last year's throne speech to establish a modern food quality lab. If the minister were with us today in body or in mind, I would say to him it is a great idea. Actually, it was my idea. It was quite clear and direct in my first leadership campaign. He borrowed it for last year's throne speech, which made me happy. Only a small problem developed; they did nothing about it. It died in last year's throne speech.
Do members remember last year's promise of a world-class -- where have I heard that word before?
I failed to bring in with me the Premier's explanation of what world-class means. I hope my staff are somewhere in the building -- I know they are -- if they find that for me, I do not want to miss this opportunity to read into the record the Premier's vision of what world-class means. In any event, it is his favourite word. Last year it was a world-class pesticides lab. I have not seen a bit of it since last year's throne speech.
How about the chair of science and entrepreneurship? Have we seen that? Have we seen the northern Ontario high school of science and technology? I want to ask my colleague the member for Cochrane South (Mr. Pope) if we have seen a world-class or Peterson-class northern Ontario high school of science and technology.
Mr. Pope: We have seen a world-class mess.
Mr. Grossman: Of course, we have not. It would have been named after that world-class expert René Fontaine if we had had it, and we have not seen that opening. No, we have not seen anything approaching the northern Ontario high school of science and technology.
I should also like to ask the Minister of Northern Development and Mines, otherwise the Premier, what happened, indeed, not only to the northern Ontario high school of science and technology but also to the northern Ontario hydro advisory board. Could they not find seven Liberals left in northern Ontario who were not already on the so-called economic development committee? Could they not find seven Liberals, or seven New Democrats, to serve on the northern Ontario hydro advisory board?
Mr. Gillies: I could think of two.
Mr. Grossman: Yes, but on grounds of good taste alone, they would have declined.
Instead of appointing the member for Sudbury East (Mr. Martel) to what they are going to appoint him to, they should appoint him to the northern Ontario hydro advisory board. We will support that appointment, just so long as we finally get what they promised a year ago for northern Ontario. We are not surprised to find that they were not able to put together the northern Ontario high school of science and technology, or the world-class pesticides lab or the hydro advisory board because they were not even able to deliver on the much-talked-about, boasted-about toilets on Highway 401. The cornerstone, the core, the essence, the substance of last year's throne speech was, of course, the world-class washroom facilities along the 401 that they so boasted of last year.
Mr. Epp: We know where you are going now, Larry.
Mr. Grossman: Wherever I am going, like the member for Waterloo North (Mr. Epp), I am not going into the Liberal cabinet.
Now here it is. My staff has delivered to me the Premier's definition of "world-class." I want the members to listen to this. "It is a question of putting the right ingredients together, creating the critical mass for cross-fertilization." There it is. I am going to keep this here. I do not want to forget it. My children are hoping I will bring it home.
I want to say one word about those washrooms on the 401, because as always, it is the little things that tell you a lot about how serious a government is about doing anything. The Premier was asked at the press conference last week what happened to the washrooms on the 401 and he said, with a straight face, mind you -- the member for Waterloo North should think about this as he drives home tonight -- "Washrooms take a long time." Honest, he said that; I am serious. He said they take a long time.
He also told the press conference last week -- his advice to the member for Waterloo North as he drives home tonight along the 401 -- "Take an air-sickness bag with you in the meantime." That is what the Premier of Ontario said about that key part of his throne speech last year.
That kind of leadership carried right on to this year's throne speech. Let me talk about how we intend to measure this government. The Premier's words, and I want to use his words, were, "We will be judged on our record." He said: "We are now a mature government. The so-called afterglow is all gone." I want to judge them as a mature government with no apologies and none of the words that worked in the first six or eight months about: "We are just new people on the block. We are going to make lots of mistakes."
The Premier has put that behind him. He has said that they are going to be judged on their record and that they now are a mature government. As such, the taxpaying public had reason to hope that last Tuesday's throne speech would indicate we had seen the end of the government's infatuation with the shallow, with the trendy and with tinkering. But no, the throne speech was an intrusive grab-bag.
The Minister of Citizenship and Culture (Ms. Munro) is going to find the member for Brampton (Mr. Callahan) to give him tomorrow's questions.
Instead of getting a direction, we got a grab-bag. There was no purpose, or sense of vision or direction, found in last week's throne speech. Indeed, someone said to me that last week's throne speech does for platitudes what Don Smith did for patronage and budget control at the dome. It does perhaps for the future what the Attorney General (Mr. Scott) has done for judicial independence. It does for the taxpayer what the Solicitor General (Mr. Keyes) did for race relations. It does for our industrial base what the Premier's trip to Washington did for Ontario's steel industry. In other words, it speaks simply to every loose, half-baked idea cooked up by image-makers and bureaucrats who have been looking for someone finally to print some long-forgotten idea, but it speaks to little that matters in the real Ontario.
I say it is a self-satisfied string of reruns, policies revisited, problems restudied, programs refurbished and promises repeated -- nothing new. The priorities in this government's agenda read like a job description in the help wanted ads. It is a statement of the obvious, a duty list, the minimum requirements for government.
I say to the Minister of Education, the government is supposed to seek excellence in education. The government is supposed to enhance trade opportunities. It is the proper role of government to renew our transportation infrastructure.
I suppose it is somewhat reassuring to find out that after two years the government has finally recognized its obligations, but I thought for a second the people of Ontario wanted to know how the government was going to meet those obligations, what its plan was, what its program was, not that it finally figured out that its job is to seek excellence in education.
The question is how. In education, the government announced its intention to reduce our school drop-out rate; a laudable goal, one I suspect every government in the western world shares. The people were wondering just how this government is going to address this well-documented problem. The "how" in the throne speech? The answer is "a study." So the government can figure out how to keep its promise of reducing the drop-out rate by one third in five years, it is going to have a study.
I say to the minister, what about the other two thirds? What about the remaining 160,000 students who drop out of school? For them, the throne speech has a brilliant answer. They are going "to foster a desire to stay in school." That is the plan: to foster a desire to stay in school. For 160,000 students, whom they write off because their target was to reduce it to only 22 per cent, not to eliminate it, they say they are going "to foster a desire to stay in school." That is really terrific.
What is the minister doing about it? Where is the plan to keep them in school, and above and beyond that, where is the driving force that made the minister want to serve in government?
I would have thought that someone with the background of the Minister of Education would have been the kind of zealot, would have been the kind of hard worker who said to his Premier, "Premier, during my term as Minister of Education, before I go to hell, I want to reduce the drop-out rate to zero." I would have thought this Minister of Education would have said the 22 per cent drop-out rate is intolerable and too high. I would have thought this Minister of Education would have said, "The drop-out rate has to go to zero in five years, not down to 22 per cent in five years."
In this case, not only is their strategy missing but also their goal is totally inadequate. I say to the minister that it is not good enough in Ontario in 1987 to say that he hopes over five years to achieve a state where 22 per cent of our young people still drop out of school without completing grade 12.
They have set their goals low. They have set their sights low. They show all the signs of a government that has been overtaken by its bureaucracy after only two years.
The Minister of Education went on, of course. He talked about the need for new capital funding. When we get by the grand announcement, the minister is intending to add 37,000 school spaces across the province. There are more students than that in portables in York and Peel regions alone. If all those 37,000 school spaces were devoted today to York and Peel regions, it still would not solve the problem in York and Peel, let alone the rest of the province, and there are 166 other school boards yet to consider.
It is consistent with the government's strategy: Just give a little bit more so that you can make an announcement that you have taken a step, but do not come close to solving the problem.
Then, of course, there was the much-talked-about focus on literary and numeracy achievement among elementary students, yet one would look at the throne speech and say, "What are they going to do about it?"
What are they going to do? Are they going to roll up their shirtsleeves and get down to work on dealing with literacy and numeracy in our elementary schools? I will tell the members how they are going to roll up their sleeves. Are the members ready for this? They are going to have demonstration learning skills projects in selected schools. That is what they are going to do.
They are not going to say, "We have an urgent problem here." They are not going to say, "We have a generation of young people in our elementary schools who are going to be totally left behind the Japanese, the Germans and now the Koreans in the new high-technology world." They are not about to say that. They are going to say, "Because of this major challenge, we think we will have some demonstration learning skills projects in selected schools."
It is for that reason that I indict the members of this government. They have a chance today to be more than shoppers. They have a chance to be investors. They have a chance to invest in those young people, but not with a token that can be dropped in a throne speech as they say, "Here, I have done something," because the minister has not done anything. He should not try to kid himself or the public. He has not done anything for skills, numeracy, mathematics or science and technology in our schools when he has a demonstration learning skills project.
I bet that is exactly what the Japanese are doing today. I guess they are out there having demonstration learning skills projects in selected schools. I think they are not. I think they are about the task, and I think they have been for some years.
We got that ridiculous statement last week that talked about this new testing program in Ontario, which turns out to be an information-gathering program costing $500,000 a year. Obviously, the minister did not have any desire to do anything more than address the cosmetics. It is $500,000 a year, not to put in province-wide assessments, not to put in province-wide testing, not to come to grips with science and technology and mathematics, but instead to gather information from students and teachers throughout the system. Just so that we know their commitment to dealing with this problem right off the top, they are not going to deal with mathematics in grades 11 and 12 until 1992.
Why does the minister bother? Why go through this charade? Why did he let the Premier embarrass him by handing him this piece of paper and telling him to stand up and pretend that he is doing something, as the throne speech says, to deal with skills, mathematics, science and technology by having information gathering in 1992 from grade 11 mathematics students. If it were not such a tragic circumstance, it would be a laugh. That is this government's commitment to the future.
I want to move on past what is clearly in the first 10 or 11 pages of the throne speech a twinkle at, a nod at, a simple wink at the education problems our people face and say that the minister has just totally failed in all those areas. We stand here with this Liberal throne speech, two years into the Liberals' time in office, and should ask, "What has this government done in the education area in the two years during which it has had the chance?"
Should we test students in mathematics in grade 11 five years from today? Should we not offer enough new classrooms across the province to eliminate the portables in the regional municipalities of Peel and Durham and York? Is that the Liberals' contribution?
The single thing that they talk about is having passed Bill 30 which, on his fair days, even the minister will acknowledge would have been passed under any government, given the cooperation received from all sides of the House. Why is the minister occupying that chair? Of all the ministers over there, we thought he might bring a sense of direction and vision, but instead one believes the Treasurer, who is no fan of the education system, has prevailed.
I want to talk about housing. The throne speech goes on to housing. Again, a range through the favourite newspaper of the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations to plough the furrow for them -- understand? -- but what do they do? The throne speech revisited every program, every effort and every strategy pursued by government in the past. Some are to be accelerated and some expanded; to break the back of the affordable housing problem? Do not be silly. They did not have the courage to mount that. Then they introduced the concept of selling crown land to encourage low-cost and moderate-cost housing. It was a good plan and it even got its way into the speech from the throne, half-heartedly -- not what was intended when it floated the trial balloon two weeks previously, because it did not go too well. We understand.
One would have thought that if the government thought this was a good idea -- let us put it where it is. If Gardner Church really thought it was a good idea, if he had been able to convince the Premier or the Treasurer that it was a good idea, they would have put it in the speech from the throne and it would have been there. Instead, the backroom advisers said, "Let us put it out on a trial balloon and see how she flies first." What happened? It did not fly too well. This was not a question of solving the problem; it was, of course, a question of appearing to address the problem. It did not go too well so they said, "Let us hide it in the speech from the throne.
I have a question for the government. Is it going to use crown land? Is it going to be sold or leased? How many units does it intend to build? By whom and at what cost? Before they visit the people, I have a more important question. Which crown land is it? It might be interesting to know. I know the member for Downsview (Mr. Cordiano) would be interested to know whether some of the crown land in Downsview might be on the list. I know he would want to share with his constituents the very good news that the government may be thinking of using the Ministry of Transportation and Communications land at Keele Street and Highway 401.
I know the member in that area would want to know and be able to boast to his constituents that on that publicly owned land there will be thousands and thousands of Ontario Housing units. I am sure he will want to take that to his constituents. We want to know whether that land is on the list. What land is on the list, friends, or is this a general plan on no specific land? Tell us what land it is on.
Let us talk about pension reform for a second. I was, as I know my friend the member for the New Democratic Party was, intrigued and encouraged to see that the Premier once again kicked the Minister of Financial Institutions in the shins and said, "Monte, you said a couple of weeks ago that if inflation protection were brought in, all sorts of pension plans would leave the province, they would be folded up and companies would flee Ontario." We saw the Minister of Financial Institutions during the speech from the throne looking at his papers. He would not look up at the Lieutenant Governor, he would not look across the floor and he was not addressing his favourite newspaper people in the media when the speech from the throne said we will have inflation protection.
My question now is, are we going to have it early? Are we going to have it early enough to make a difference for a lot of workers, the Goodyear workers who have been spoken about earlier by our colleague the member for Lakeshore (Mrs. Grier)? Are we going to have it this year? Will it be put on Orders and Notices? Before they abort this parliament do they mean what they put in the speech from the throne? If they do mean it about inflation protection, let us get it on and let us get it dealt with.
I want to look at a section called "Greater Independence for Seniors." Let us read it. The following words describe the government's bold new initiative in the area of greater independence for seniors: "The integrated homemaker program expanded; home support further enriched; a pilot project; assistance provided; more funds; ceiling will be increased." Do they want to tell us by how much? Does the Treasurer not know by how much? All we have are vague promises.
There is no new plan for dealing with geriatrics. There is no new plan in care for the elderly. They have a minister responsible solely for that, although no one over here kids himself that the minister has any kind of authority over the Minister of Health (Mr. Elston) -- who after all has only one boss, the Attorney General (Mr. Scott) -- or the Minister of Community and Social Services (Mr. Sweeney). Nothing has been done. Two years they have had to do it and nothing has been done. Instead they just crank up old programs and try to keep them going for another period.
In the health area, I was also intrigued to see this kind of comment: "My government will inaugurate a major campaign to promote healthy lifestyles among all Ontario citizens." This from the government that cut its advertising campaign on smoking from $2 million down to $60,000. We are going to have a major new campaign to promote healthy lifestyles from a government that eliminated its antismoking campaign. Can we believe this comment? The only people who believe this comment are, perhaps, Vickers and Benson. No one else could possibly think they are going to do anything in that area.
Let us go on to some of the northern Ontario issues in the budget. Health care problems of northern Ontario are going to get special attention. They do not get one report, as most people get from this government; they are going to have two reports. That is what the government is doing for health care in northern Ontario.
They are going to have a feasibility study on ways to link northern health facilities with southern centres. They are not going to have any new health facilities in the north. They are not going to do anything directly for the north this year. They are going to have a new office to study northern health care delivery.
I say to the minister, and I say to the Minister of Education, soon to be the Minister of Health over the objection of the present Minister of Health, this has been studied to death. Not only has it been studied to death, but also the answers are sitting on the shelf in the ministry. I do not guess in this regard; they are there. They are ready to go. Are they being saved for an election, does the government not have the political will to do it, will the Treasurer not give the money to do it, or is the government waiting until it elects more members from the north? Heaven help us, there will be 30 or 40 more generations go by before it does that.
What the north needs is more medical staff and more facilities, not more studies, more offices and more bureaucracies. It is typical of this government's approach. Instead of doing something to protect the softwood lumber industry in the north, instead of doing something to change fundamentally the economic base in the north, it moves offices from Scarborough to North Bay, it moves civil servants from southern Ontario to northern Ontario. It says in health care, "We are going to have an office in health care to study more linkages," and it washes its hands and says, "Terrific, the job is done."
Of course, the Premier has one other tactic: have a meeting in the north, have a conference in the north. Anything short of action. Anything short of dealing with the substance of the problem.
The northern Ontario heritage fund: I have a prediction for you, Mr. Speaker. If we ever get the budget of this Treasurer, the northern Ontario heritage fund will turn out to be simply the moneys lost from northern Ontario due to this government's singular mishandling of the softwood lumber issue. We will be giving them back only the money this Premier fumbled away in his negotiations with Ottawa and British Columbia and his legendary negotiations with Washington, if we can call them that.
There is probably nothing which outlines the attitude of this government -- big spending, big tax, big deficit -- better than this otherwise ignored quote from the speech. I want to read it. This government is so convinced that it is the centre of all intelligence and all expertise and that the private sector is totally devoid of the ability to compete that it actually introduced this phrase into its throne speech. "A technology diffusion initiative will be introduced to ensure that government expertise is shared with the private sector."
Think about that for a second. They are going to introduce a program to make sure that IBM Canada gets to share the expertise of the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology. That is what they are saying here. "A technology diffusion initiative will be introduced to ensure that government expertise," the huge wealth of government expertise in high technology, so large it could not invest more than $800,000 in high technology this year, is going to be "shared with the private sector."
I expect to find the high-technology sector breaking down -- I thought I would have trouble getting to work today after the throne speech -- rushing down to Queen's Park to be able to share the minister's technology.
Mr. Grossman: Yes, only one person succeeded, Abe Schwartz, and we see what happened when he had the chance to share the government's technology.
This is the key phrase from the throne speech. This is it. If you want to get a sense of who Liberals are, how they see the economy, where they see economic activity coming from, that is it: to ensure that government expertise is shared with the private sector in technology. It is not to be believed. They could not even get their technology on Highway 401 within a year. It is not to be believed.
How do we find this in other areas of the throne speech in the eastern Ontario section? In eastern Ontario, an area that is in drastic need of some special attention by the government, one would have thought they might have had a specific plan as to what to do and that they might have said: "Let us give them some money back. Let us give them a chance to develop some technology. Let us reduce the cost of doing business in eastern Ontario."
What did they do? They are going to put in a network of self-help offices, 10 of them, in eastern Ontario, plus an office in Pembroke. There they are quaking in Japan again: There are going to be -- would the members believe it? -- 10 more offices headed by the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology. I bet there will be one in Belleville. What do the members say? I think there will be one in Belleville.
I can hear the Japanese saying now, "Oh no, not 10 more self-help offices of the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Technology spread all throughout eastern Ontario." I suspect that is what they are saying. I suspect the Americans are pulling away from the freer trade negotiations saying: "No, sir. If you are going to play that hard and tough with us, we are not going to negotiate with you."
I have a suggestion for the minister. The small business people in eastern Ontario are not sitting and waiting for their new self-help offices. They are not even waiting for the new office in Pembroke. They are simply waiting for some of their tax dollars back. Ask them if they want a new office in Pembroke or whether, maybe, they want $500 back in their pockets. Ask them whether they would like each and every one of their customers to have another $500 to spend in their small businesses in Pembroke.
I invite the Minister of Education when he goes home this weekend and I invite the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology when he goes home to Belleville this weekend, to go up and down Main Street in Belleville and tell them the Premier told him that he could put in 10 more self-help offices throughout eastern Ontario or that they can each have $500 back in their own pockets and $500 in the pockets of each and every one of their customers. I invite the minister to come back here next week to tell us which one they selected. I suspect that with the exception of Vickers and Benson, Don Smith and Abe Schwartz, every one of them will say, "Give us our tax dollars back," and the minister can count on that.
I want to talk a bit about trade. It was tragic to see it. On the largest issue of the day, the issue on which Ontario has been looked to across the land for some guidance and direction, the freer trade discussions with the Americans, the throne speech had the nerve, the gall, to have these words, "My government will continue to play a forceful and constructive role in addressing all of the issues involved in US-Canada trade negotiations...." If this Premier believes his role has been either forceful or constructive, then I fear for any of the other discussions he ever enters into. It has not been forceful. It has been weak-kneed. It has been equivocal. It has sent out conflicting messages. It has been fence-sitting to the nth degree. It has not been constructive. It has been counterproductive.
I have far more respect for the position of the New Democratic Party. I happen to oppose it dramatically, but it has been both forceful and constructive for its side of the case. The Premier has chosen to walk this province saying 260,000 jobs will be lost, which is not accurate. That is not contained in any study. It is not sustained by the studies he himself quotes. He has chosen to go to the extreme of suggesting that the Americans will peg our dollar for us. That is silliness. It is fairy-tale time. Public discussion is not forceful or constructive when, in the midst of freer trade negotiations, the Premier of the largest manufacturing province in the land goes around telling fairy tales such as that, scaring people, setting them up for job losses that need not occur, not talking to them about the potential, not talking to them about new opportunities, not talking to them about the possibilities.
I will not ask him to be bold enough and courageous enough to step up and say there will be new opportunities. I am not asking him because I know his nature, which is to sit on the fence until he has the last poll in, until he knows exactly where he is going on these issues. I understand. It is like his commitment on extra billing. He only became an advocate of banning extra billing when the results from the polls were clear, when it was clear, safe ground for him. It is the same on freer trade.
I will not ask him to be courageous enough to step forward and argue the case for freer trade. He has neither the courage nor vision to do it. However, I will say that he should not have been counterproductive. I will say he at least should have offered a balanced assessment.
He should at least have said to the people of Ontario: "We could gain as many as X thousands of new jobs" -- he can ask his advisory council how many jobs might be created -- "and we could lose a number of jobs. Here is my plan to keep you from losing jobs and here is how many jobs I think you might gain." But he did not do any of that. He consciously went out on a mission to sabotage the freer trade talks and in the throne speech he embarrassed the Lieutenant Governor by asking him to suggest that the government of Ontario has played "a forceful and constructive role" in that debate. It has done the reverse.
On the trade issue, what do they propose to do? Reinforce links with our major trading partners, build adjustment programs for those industries that might be affected, promote the freer trade discussions and make sure there is a good deal for Ontario? None of that. Their strategy in the throne speech is to announce "a package of initiatives to strengthen our links with the nations of the Pacific Rim."
How do they do that? Last year's throne speech said they were going to double their exports of agricultural products to the Pacific Rim. How did they do? A 0.1 per cent increase this year, which means it will only take them 1,000 years to meet that commitment in the 1986 throne speech.
What is their other major step in trade? They are going to open an office in India.
Mr. Pope: Who is going to man that?
Mr. Grossman: Who do the members think is going to be there to cut the red ribbon for the new office in India? It will not be the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology (Mr. O'Neil). He is never invited along when there is heavy going. They do not trust him. They are not that dumb. He will not be there; the Premier will be there. Guess who will be standing next to the Premier? The members might have thought Don Smith, but he has already been looked after. The members might have thought Abe Schwartz, but they tried to look after him and he is not a friend any more.
Ms. Fish: Ivan.
Mr. Grossman: The members might have thought Ivan Fleischmann, but we will wait until we have a chance to get all the details on that. We know Ivan Fleischmann will look forward to giving us all the details in court one day.
How about Wilf Caplan? He has been looked after. It is not Wilf Caplan, though he knows a lot about international commerce.
Mr. Barlow: René.
Mr. Grossman: The member for Cochrane North (Mr. Fontaine)? No. It is going to be Hershell Ezrin. It was close. It was the member for Sudbury East or Hershell Ezrin and Hershell Ezrin won out. That is their approach to trade.
I say seriously, our trading circumstance is more serious than to open an office because that is where Hershell Ezrin wants to spend the next few years of his life. Let us talk about freer trade with our largest trading partner. Let us talk about what we are doing in that market. Let us not be silly and trite in opening offices in places because Mr. Ezrin wants a place to work, when the first thing this government did was to close trading offices in the United States of America. That is silliness.
I want to move on to some other areas in the throne speech and to come back to one of the themes. In every case, instead of having a policy, this government has chosen to have a study, a pilot plan, a pilot project or a report. In the most important area of high technology and our economy, it has chosen to abdicate leadership. The Premier's Council has apparently taken over the job of government. The Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology has learned in his two years to say one thing: "That is more than you did in 42 years." That is the only speech he has. It is the only thing he knows. It is the only thing they will trust him to say in question period.
As a former minister, I am embarrassed by many of the things he stands up and does in this House. I ask the minister, what has happened that the Premier has had to appoint a Premier's Council that now has taken on the job that traditionally was the job of the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Technology, that traditionally was the job of government? The Premier's Council, a group of volunteer business people with labour representatives on board, all volunteer, has taken over the job of allocating the centres of excellence. It says in the speech from the throne that it is going to make the decision. "The council will recommend the designation and funding of six centres of excellence in strategic fields."
Does the government not have the competence to do that? Does this government, which offers to share its technological expertise with the private sector, not know where to put the centres of excellence?
Let me also ask the minister this: Do the ministries of Industry, Trade and Technology and Treasury and Economics -- both ministries I had the honour to serve at the head of -- not have the capability to do research studies focusing on the international competitive position of our key industries? Did they need the Premier's Council to take two years to study "the international competitive position of 15 key Ontario industry sectors"? Do they need the Premier's Council to assess the capability of our educational, science and technology infrastructure? Is that not the job of the ministries?
I say quite clearly to the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology, and I would say it to the Treasurer and Minister of Economics if he were here, that this was precisely the job of those ministries when we were there. The ministries have not changed. They have world-class -- to use the Premier's favourite word -- people there. The experts are there. Why hand it over? Did they lack the courage to take it on? Did they want to use it as a trial balloon? What have they done, added a new layer of bureaucracy? Why did they do away with the Ontario Economic Council if they were going to set up a new board and give half the job of the ministries of Industry, Trade and Technology and Treasury and Economics over to volunteers?
Why abandon their responsibilities? They have abdicated their responsibilities in education, high technology and freer trade. They have abdicated in a wide variety of economic matters, handed it over to the Premier's Council and said, "Listen, it is better than the last 42 years." Well, it is not; it simply is not.
I have a word about the contradictory words of the speech from the throne when it comes to something as important as child care. We thought that this province, with the vast resources it has, would step up to the table on child care, as the minister has been promising since he took office two years ago.
Just conceive of this: The government talked, not about doing something about child care, not about what it was prepared to do immediately with the $919 million extra it has, but about being willing to proceed in the child care area in conjunction with the federal government. That is what it wrote last Tuesday, that it was waiting on the federal government initiatives and was looking forward to sharing the responsibility with the federal government to enable it to proceed.
That was Tuesday. On Thursday evening, 48 hours later, the Premier goes to the Meech Lake conference and agrees explicitly to a clause that would allow Ontario to opt out of the national child care strategy. My simple question is, why did he write it in on Tuesday if on Thursday -- I suspect that on Tuesday he already knew -- he was going to reserve the right to opt out? If it was their intention to opt out, to keep that right to opt out, why put that qualifier in? Why not say in the throne speech on Tuesday, "We in Ontario are going to proceed with a child care strategy all of our own, as we promised when we came to office, and we hope the federal government might participate, but if it does not, it does not"?
The Premier knew on Tuesday, and he certainly knows today, that he has every right to proceed with a child care strategy without the federal government. He knows he has the money to do it. He knows he has given all the speeches on the subject. Why not boldly say in the throne speech, "We are going to do it, and here is how we are going to do it"? The answer is because, as in so many other issues, they simply want to be on the record as being pledged to do something but not be called to account for having had to do it before they face the people. It is inconsistent. It is covering off their bets. It is to do anything but lead. There is nothing in this throne speech that leads.
We could go on at some length, as the Lieutenant Governor was forced to do. We could go on and use a great deal of time in this House simply to repeat the job of government; simply to say what the government's goals should be, not what they are; simply to say that pilot projects, studies, reports, analyses, enriched funding are all the goals of government. We all know that. That adds nothing to the debate.
What I want to say is that this government may well succeed, sticking with the cosmetics; I do not think so. Political life has shown me that cosmetics never prevail in Ontario, that substance prevails in the longer term over style, that the Premier cannot talk about increasing the transportation system in northern Ontario at the same time he has taken $180 million extra out of the taxpayers of Ontario in gasoline taxes and not reinvested it back in northern highways.
But he cannot get away for long in saying to the Ontario Good Roads Association that if only they will agree to a one-cent-a-litre increase in gasoline tax, then the Treasurer will give them the money for more roads, because the Treasurer increased that tax by more than one cent a litre this year and he did not give them back the money. That will work for only one speech. It will work for only one good roads convention. It will work for only a year, a year and a half. After that, it begins to catch up.
We, the people of Ontario, were entitled this year to a government standing up with a direction, not with pilot projects; to a government that clearly said, "We have this much money to spend and here is how we are going to spend it"; to a government that set out a plan, not a pious hope. We got none of that. We got a throne speech that was long on verbiage, short on substance; long on promises, short on plans.
We cannot endorse a government that chooses as its modus operandi pious hopes and a job description in the throne speech. It has left us far short. There is no area in which this throne speech has seized the initiative, not in freer trade discussions, not in high technology, certainly not in education, not in child care, not in international trade and not in housing. In all those areas, the Premier simply chose to repeat a pious hope. He simply said he hopes to increase the supply of housing. He said he would like to improve the quality of education. He said he would continue to participate in freer trade talks. He has talked about pilot projects across the map.
When it came to seizing the initiative; when it came to saying to seniors, "Here is a new quality of life"; when it came to saying to the disabled, "Here is specifically what we are going to do"; when it came to our young people needing science and mathematics training; when it came to post-secondary education and the crying needs there; when it came to portable classrooms; when it came to improving transportation links in Metropolitan Toronto -- ask Dennis Flynn -- or in northern Ontario, the government simply got away with saying, "We would like to do this." It did nothing of the sort.
It did not lay out a plan; it did not spend money; it did not make a commitment. It was the most shallow effort I have seen in political life in 12 years in the federal or provincial House. I say "shallow" because they have the money do it.
They had an opportunity which will not return quickly to government. They had an opportunity in Ontario in 1987 to say that they are wallowing in money and that they have an economic boom and increased tax levels which have produced for them the financial flexibility to solve a great many problems. Instead of choosing to solve any, they have promised to think about a lot.
They had an opportunity, at this point in our history, to have seized the initiative and to have opened up a new vista for northern Ontario, to have said to the north, "An unemployment rate of eight per cent, nine per cent or 10 per cent in the midst of a tremendous boom in southern Ontario is unacceptable, and we are going to invest that money back in the north."
They had an opportunity to say that the unemployment gap between northern Ontario and southern Ontario has not been closed and, therefore, they will recycle tax money with a northern Ontario tax credit. They had an opportunity this time to put a massive program in place to build the northern highways that might help a little bit with the gasoline tax revenue they took from the taxpayers last year.
They had an opportunity this year to eliminate, not reduce, the number of portable classrooms in two regions. They had an opportunity to put computers in the classroom this year, but they missed the chance. They had the opportunity this year to do something about mathematics, technology and science in the schools, and they chose instead to study it in grade 11 in 1992.
They had the chance this year to seize our housing crisis and to step forward and say, "Here is a medium-term plan on the affordability side," and they chose not to do it. They settled for trial balloons in the newspapers instead of an action plan in the throne speech.
They had an opportunity to take the $47 million in unspent old money and the $50 million in unspent new money for high technology and make some big investments, be they at the universities, directly to industry or -- I would not object -- in government-based high technology, but they did none of those things.
After two years in office, they had the opportunity this year to step forward in some key sectors and lay out some specific plans, but they instead asked the Premier's Council to report by the end of 1987 on what we ought to do in 15 key industries.
They had the opportunity this year to take the care-for-the-aged scenario and make the fundamental investments that will leap the institutional barriers that lay in place, and they chose not to do that either.
In no area were they bold; in no area did they take advantage of the tremendous resources and make a fundamental difference for the people of Ontario.
In any event, we will come out of this tremendous boom in southern Ontario with only two things. We will come out with a deficit not as much dented as it could have been. We will come out with a deficit which will greatly cripple the government's successors and our successors in terms of their ability to stop shopping with their children's credit card in the years to come, when it is going to be needed during a recession.
The second thing we will come out of this time with is such bloated spending and such incredible tax levels that our ability to compete during the recession will have been hampered: 19 tax increases. I say to the Minister of Education that I hope in the new office in Pembroke they will have a list of the 19 new tax increases brought in by that government over there, which in two years has taken $4.75 billion more taxes from the people of Ontario.
Our heritage from this government and this throne speech will be twofold: high deficits and high taxes, and a crippling of our ability to compete. We will have a trade office in India and self-help offices in eastern Ontario, but our ability to compete, to attract investment, to get into the American market, will have been totally destroyed by high taxes, high deficits and a negative, hypocritical approach towards freer trade from the government of Ontario. After two years, that will be the heritage of this throne speech and this government.
Our education system will be the same in 1992, when the minister finally gets around to studying mathematics in grade 11, as it was last year and the year before that. There will be no changes from 1985 to 1992 -- none.
In the absence of any desire by this government to reform, in the absence of the kind of reform zeal that one would have thought 42 years on these benches might have brought the so-called reformers over there, in the absence of any of that idealism -- the last vestige of which, of course, was the Minister of Education -- in the absence of all that, now that it has all been depleted, we ask one thing: Would it not have been better simply to have given some money back to the taxpayers; to have said, before the member for Cochrane North, the member for Niagara Falls (Mr. Kerrio) and a number of others gobble up that money in silly frills, "Why do we not give it back to the small business people in eastern Ontario? Why do we not give them a chance in their own community?"
There is nothing this government has even promised to do that is going to make a difference in all the small communities spread throughout eastern Ontario, nothing that is going to make an impact anywhere across northern Ontario approaching the impact of its total failure on the softwood lumber issue and nothing it is going to do that is going to boost the economy of this province that approaches the significance of pumping $1 billion back into the hands of the people instead of back into the hands of Gardner Church, Pat Lavelle and the 80,000 civil servants, all of whom, together with Hershell Ezrin and the other advisers, will find lots of excuses and ways for the government to spend it.
The people of Ontario simply deserve more. I know the government will want to get its budget out. I know that in the budget it will outline specifically how much money is allocated to these initiatives. I know it will account for every one of these programs. I put the government on notice now that we will do an audit of the throne speech, tracing it through the budget, and see just how much is reflected in that budget, how much it is committed to doing in the next year and how serious it is about these commitments. We will know how serious the government is when we see whether it actually has the courage and willingness to bring forward a budget for 1987.
That budget should do more than reflect whatever they intend to do out of this throne speech. It should simply offer a 10 per cent reduction in personal income tax and cut retail sales tax to six per cent. It should also -- and they all have the flexibility to do it -- do something that I remember the Minister of Natural Resources (Mr. Kerrio) used to talk to us about all the time, before he had the opportunity to spend the money over there. Remember how he used to believe in lower deficits and balanced budgets? Remember the free enterpriser?
They will have an opportunity to reduce the deficit significantly.
Mr. Barlow: All that for a car, Vince.
Hon. Mr. Kerrio: A used one at that.
Mr. Grossman: They got a used minister.
It suits my party's partisan political needs and agenda very well to have this throne speech. It is more and less than we could have hoped for. It is perfect to allow us to go to the people, be it when we should go, in 1989, or when Mr. Goldfarb, Mr. Ezrin and others say we ought to go, in 1987. At that time we will be able to say: "Here, find the strategy; find the economic plans; find the social programs; find the commitment." It is not here, so it suits our partisan political agenda.
I will admit I would have been happier today had this been a document which instead dealt in three or four specifics, with an actual game plan for the economy, for the environment, for care for the elderly, for the education system; a thoughtful speech, setting out an action plan, setting out a clear financial commitment; not one, I say to the Minister of Education, to begin to replace portable classrooms next year and not this year, not one to begin to test people in 1992 but to do it all this year.
I had hoped this would have offered a Liberal vision and a Liberal plan for the economy, for the environment, for housing, for child care, so we could look at their plan and we could put ours to the people, and the people would have a clear selection between two approaches. Happily for our partisan political purposes, they will have the opportunity to pick between our approach and, as I have called it, dropping money from a low-flying aircraft.
I leave it to the Premier to explain how this scatter-gun approach, without a theme or a direction, will be better for the people of Ontario than a focused Progressive Conservative approach, which we will have the opportunity to present when Progressive Conservatives deem it appropriate. When we present that alternative, it will be an alternative not to another game plan but to chaos, to disorganization, to the politics of "Promise everything and plan for nothing." It will be a distinct change.
I say with some regret that the people of this province would be far better served if we had a government that was mesmerized not by its short-term political needs but instead by the willingness and need to build up a record over four years and use this throne speech as the second stepping-stone to changing economic directions in Ontario.
I say to the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology, who is most fond of saying things about the last 42 years, that the key thing about those 42 years is that they worked for those 42 years. That is one of the reasons -- not the major reason, but one of the reasons -- the economy is growing so well today.
But that was then; this is now. Different things are needed for the 1980s and 1990s than were needed in the 1960s, the 1970s and the early 1980s. This government had the chance on Tuesday last to lay before us a different strategy for the 1980s and 1990s and chose instead to lapse back, not to the early 1980s, not even to the 1970s, but maybe to the 1960s and 1950s. That abdication of responsibility, that unwillingness to invest, will come back to haunt the government.
Finally, we have had the chance to see the opposition. We have had the chance to see what the government would do standing alone. It has now had the opportunity, thanks to the events of June 4, 1985, to see if the Minister of Education can do more than read from Rosemary Speirs's book. We have had the chance to see it. The Premier has chosen to write a throne speech which is a compilation of all the pious hopes and wishes of all his members and all his civil servants. He has failed. He has brought forward a shallow, empty document.
My colleagues and I have been given a massive opportunity to step into an enormous vacuum, to say to the people of Ontario, "You have had two years, you have had three years, you have had four years of David Peterson" -- we will give him the chance -- "and you have higher deficits; higher taxes; no change in your education system; no change in your economic system; no change other than more speeches on the environment; no change in housing policy; no improvement in low-cost affordable housing; in particular, no change in northern Ontario except for the softwood lumber loss of jobs, no changes in the northern transportation network."
The government will have to go to the people, as the Premier himself has said, based upon its record. Based upon its record, I say it will be called to account finally. The government has had its chance to defend itself. It had its chance to turn the page. It has failed to lift the page, let alone turn it. The government is good at buzzwords. It is good at the speeches. It is good at world-class speeches and at "putting the right ingredients together and creating the critical mass for cross-fertilization." That will do nothing for our economic future. It will do nothing for the government's political future.
My colleagues and I, ready as we are to put together an alternative platform, ready as we are to come together with substance, not style, and with real policies, not pious hopes, intend to vote against this pot-pourri of clichés and buzzwords. We intend to vote against government that leaves our province stalled somewhere in the middle of the 20th century. We are prepared to force this government to create an agenda, to stick to the agenda and to get back to the job of governing; indeed, after two years, now that it is without the help of the third party, to get on with governing this province.
We urge all members of this House to join with us in voting against this shallow collection of clichés, buzzwords and vague promises.
On motion by Mr. Warner, the debate was adjourned.
The House adjourned at 4:48 p.m.