L020 - Tue 2 Jun 1987 / Mar 2 jun 1987
The House met at 1:30 p.m.
Mr. Speaker: Members' statements.
Hon. Mr. Ruprecht: Mr. Speaker --
Mr. Speaker: The member for Simcoe East (Mr. McLean).
Hon. Mr. Ruprecht: Mr. Speaker, if I could be recognized, please.
Mr. McLean: My statement is for the acting Minister of Government Services (Mr. Conway).
Hon. Mr. Nixon: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker: I do not want to interrupt the honourable gentleman, but my colleague the member for Parkdale (Mr. Ruprecht) was going to ask for unanimous consent to recognize --
Hon. Mr. Ruprecht: I rise to ask for unanimous consent in order to pay tribute and recognize a special event that took place in Italy and in order to honour the Italo-Canadian community today.
Mr. Speaker: Is there unanimous consent?
Mr. Harris: Maybe I could suggest it is news to me. I want to give unanimous consent, and it might be more appropriate if I did that before ministerial statements.
Hon. Mr. Nixon: On the point of order, it is news to me that it is news to the honourable member, and on that basis I must apologize. If this has not been properly ordered, then it is a very serious matter and I apologize for it.
Mr. Harris: Could we have unanimous consent right before question period?
Mr. Speaker: Is there unanimous consent at the moment?
Mr. Shymko: Before question period.
TABLING OF INFORMATION
Mr. McLean: My statement is for the acting Minister of Government Services (Mr. Conway). As the minister is well aware, I originally asked him on October 14, 1986, to provide me with a list of ministers, members and their staff who have been using government-assigned automobiles since June 26, 1985. My original notice was served on October 14, 1986. The interim answer was tabled on November 13, 1986.
I was then informed the approximate date the information would be made available was January 15, 1987. A revised interim answer was tabled on January 22. I was then told the approximate date the information would be made available would be in February 1987. I was then told I could expect to receive this information by April 29, 1987.
We are now in the first week of June, approximately eight months after I originally made my request. I have been told that additional time is required to obtain and assemble the data for all government ministries. The latest date I have been given for receiving the list requested last year is now August 31.
The question I originally asked last year was a relatively simple one: How many civil servants and members of the Legislature have cars assigned to them? The people of Ontario have the right to know where their tax dollars are being spent. It is rather odd that the minister cannot seem to get his hands on a list of such major assets as government-assigned automobiles or the names of the ministers, members and civil servants who are using these vehicles. The time has come to answer these questions.
RETAIL STORE HOURS
Mr. Philip: It was fairly clear earlier this year that the Liberal government had no idea what to do concerning the issues related to retail store hours, in particular whether there should be Sunday shopping, and if so, to what degree.
Although members of one party had held extensive hearings across the province and prepared a report, the government established yet another group, an all-party select committee, to travel around the province, at considerable expense to the taxpayers, and prepare yet another report. This report, which had the support of members of all three parties on the committee, was tabled on May 21.
We now understand the cabinet is greatly divided on certain recommendations contained in this all-party report. Among the various issues addressed in the report are the designation of tourist areas and the exemption of small bookstores and art galleries from the Sunday-closing requirement. With reference to the latter, there is a bill before the House which could easily be amended in committee to conform to the committee's report. Unfortunately, the government has refused to call the bill.
The tourist season is upon us, businesses are losing money and, in some cases, businessmen are being harassed as a result of the indecision of the government. It is time for the government to stop sitting on the fence and show leadership in this matter. The issues and recommendations raised by the select committee will not go away until after the election. It is time for the Premier (Mr. Peterson) and the Attorney General (Mr. Scott) to bite the bullet and tell us where they stand on the report and bring forth the legislation.
WEST PARK SECONDARY SCHOOL
Mr. Reycraft: I would like to rise today and voice my great satisfaction at the recent announcement by the Metropolitan Separate School Board and the Toronto Board of Education regarding their leasing agreement to share West Park Secondary School.
As a member of the standing committee on social development who participated in the construction of Bill 30, the extension of separate school funding, I must say this is the essence of the type of local board co-operation we envisioned as we worked long and hard drafting that legislation.
I want to congratulate the members of the joint planning committee for their successful resolution of the negotiation process. I would like to particularly mention Ann Vanstone, chairperson of the Metropolitan Toronto School Board, Nola Crewe, chairperson of the Toronto Board of Education, and Caroline DiGiovanni, chairperson of the Metropolitan Separate School Board, for their efforts in this process.
I say to my friends in opposition who were members of the social development committee, especially the member for Scarborough Centre (Mr. Davis) and the member for Hamilton West (Mr. Allen), that joint committees do indeed work for the best interests of all students and I do acknowledge their active participation in the development of this subsection of Bill 30.
This is not the first example of local board co-operation in the negotiation and the sharing of facilities. Others include Essex and Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry. I think we should all be proud of the efforts of our boards in co-operating in the implementation of this important piece of legislation for the benefit of all our students.
Mr. Harris: Today I would like to put on the record some of the basic information in the budget that should have been shared with Ontarians.
Since the Liberals took office, they have increased personal income tax by $4 billion. That is a $1,000 increase for every Ontario taxpayer. Other revenues, taxes and user fees are up another $1,000 or so per taxpayer. There is no chart in the budget showing that the average taxpayer now is paying about $2,000 more per year in taxes.
Some of this money is from growth in the economy, but where is the chart showing the large portion of it that is from tax increases in the last two budgets? Where is the chart showing that inflation on government spending is up $3 billion? Well, the Trudeau-style, Peterson-style, Nixon Liberal-style spending is up $8 billion, a level of $5 billion over inflation. There is no chart showing the cumulative inflation for their three budgets, up 13 per cent, versus cumulative spending for their three budgets, up 30 per cent.
What there is in the budget is some fast-handed chicanery that improperly shows the deficit going down, but in fact it is going up to $1.3 billion. There is some more chicanery in the education funding that shows either school board transfers are down or the deficit is up to $1.6 billion. The Treasurer (Mr. Nixon) refuses to tell us which.
Surely, the Treasurer should fess up today or resign before it is too late for Ontario ever to recover from the savage attack and damage he is doing to the economy of Ontario.
Mr. Allen: It was a great disappointment when the Treasurer (Mr. Nixon) and the Minister of Education (Mr. Conway) could not combine to tackle the over-ceiling spending of school boards, the problem of the disproportion of commitment to education expenditures between the province and the boards and in particular to tackle in some measure the gap between elementary and secondary school grants in the system.
Those grants, if I may refer to the latter, moved from $476 a decade ago to $911 this past year. While the government has spoken a great deal -- indeed all of us have -- about the importance of improving elementary education for a number of reasons, not least of all to provide a better base for secondary education and to tackle the drop-out rates, and the early primary education review has indicated the importance of that whole period of education for children, the government has not moved or provided the funds to make it possible for boards to move to more adequately confront that issue.
It is, for example, a major scandal that in the elementary schools the rate of textbook spending is far below the national average. There is a major problem, for example, in the expenditures necessary to acquire the computer capacity to give each child computer experience in the classroom and so on.
It is time for the minister and the Treasurer to move to begin to eliminate this gap in our education expenditures.
Mr. Sheppard: I am very pleased to rise today to announce that the Victoria College site on University Avenue in Cobourg has been sold to a private firm that plans to convert it to a retirement community. I have always maintained that the historic building should again become a functioning part of our community and I am extremely happy that Victoria College will finally be restored and made use of.
There were four responses to the tender call last February for the sale and development of the property. The site has been sold for $530,000 to a Brockville firm, Wachfree Construction. The Wachfree Construction proposal includes a retirement community of 85 rental units in a mix of bachelor, one-bedroom and two-bedroom units in existing buildings. The balance of the site will accommodate detached and semi-detached homes as well as townhouses designed for seniors. In addition, the former auditorium will be restored as a community centre for the complex. Not only will this project provide very much needed rental accommodation for seniors, but it will also create long-term employment for the community.
Wachfree will begin engineering studies immediately and primary work on the project will start once the transaction is finalized.
Mr. Warner: I think there is a new accord afoot here. Accords are really popular these days. It is between the member for St. Andrew-St. Patrick (Mr. Grossman) and the Liberal Party. This is a really strange one. I sent away for a booklet about nursing homes in Ontario. I received back a booklet from the government two days ago. It has "Minister of Health, Larry Grossman" on the back of it, which tells me this government has done absolutely nothing about nursing homes in Ontario since the present Leader of the Opposition was the minister.
STATEMENTS BY THE MINISTRY
Hon. Mr. Kwinter: I would like to announce today that I have appointed a 14-member Advisory Committee on Consumer Protection, which is holding its first meeting today.
Last summer, the Ministry of Consumer and Commercial Relations began a review of all existing consumer protection legislation. This review encompasses 20 pieces of legislation and a number of consumer issues, such as warranties, contracts, dispute resolution and complaint remedies. Since we will soon be drafting legislation, I have appointed this committee to review the work done so far and to continue to work with us.
The 14 representatives of consumer, business and other interest groups will be advising me on the changes that are needed to bring our consumer protection laws up to date.
As all members are aware, the world of the consumer is changing dramatically. Much of the existing legislation is a generation out of date and was haphazardly developed. We have seen vulnerable consumers left unprotected in the marketplace and we are seeing new services, technologies and other trends reshape our marketplace.
Our goal is comprehensive and concise legislation which will also give us the flexibility to respond to problems as they emerge during this century and well into the next.
The consumer legislative review project is aimed at developing a simplified yet comprehensive approach to consumer protection. Basic consumer protection and fair business practice measures will be included in one piece of legislation accompanied by separate laws dealing with specific industries.
The advisory committee will be overseeing the proposals of the legislative review project to ensure that they are comprehensive yet responsive to a broad range of perspectives and interests. The advisory committee will advise the ministry project team and myself as its work progresses.
The members of the advisory committee are: Judith Andrew, Canadian Federation of Independent Business; Barbara Beck, Consumers' Association of Canada; Edward Belobaba, professor of consumer and commercial law at Osgoode Hall law school and a practicing lawyer; Havi Echenberg, National Anti-Poverty Organization; Julien Guernon, Canadian Council of Better Business Bureaus; Joyce King, United Senior Citizens of Ontario; Marianne King-Wilson, Society of Consumer Affairs Professionals; Linda Lalonde, Ontario Association of Legal Clinics; Jean Lane-Davis, Association of Community Information Centres in Ontario; Serge Plouffle, Association canadienne-française de l'Ontario; Denis Sexton, Ontario Federation of Labour; Judge Pamela Thomson, provincial court (civil division); Richard Vosburgh, professor of consumer studies, University of Guelph; and Barnard Wilson, Ontario Chamber of Commerce.
This consumer legislative review project is working to build a marketplace where fairness is assured to all consumers and where honest business people prosper. The advisory committee's broad representation will serve us well in reaching this goal.
It is an ambitious project but one we want to accomplish to meet our responsibilities to Ontario's consumers.
SENIOR CITIZENS MONTH
Hon. Mr. Van Horn
e: It is a pleasure for me to announce that once again, June has been proclaimed Senior Citizens Month in Ontario, a time to honour the role of seniors in our society, to celebrate their achievements and to encourage their continuing active involvement in the life of our province.
This year's Senior Citizens Month theme, "Ageing is a lifelong affair," recognizes that ageing is an ongoing process, an accumulation of knowledge and experiences. We do not suddenly become old at 65; many of the plans, hopes and aspirations that are common during our youth remain with us throughout life.
The focus of the province's tribute to seniors will be the presentation of the Ontario Senior Achievement Awards by the Premier (Mr. Peterson) at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, June 23, 1987, in the main foyer of the Legislative Building.
The purpose of these awards is to recognize some of the outstanding contributions individual senior citizens have made to our communities and to the quality of life in Ontario.
In April, requests for nominations were forwarded to senior citizens and community organizations and were made available to the public at large upon request. The external nomination process conducted this year resulted in well over 400 individual seniors being nominated.
It was a most difficult task for the selection committee to choose the most outstanding individuals from those who were nominated. However, with the assistance of Mrs. Ivy St. Lawrence, chairman of the Ontario Advisory Council on Senior Citizens, and two of our colleagues, the member for Mississauga South (Mrs. Marland), representing the Conservative caucus, and the member for Scarborough-Ellesmere (Mr. Warner), representing the New Democratic Party caucus, 21 recipients of this year's award have been chosen.
I am pleased to announce these winners today. They are: Rev. Joseph Brown, Toronto; Paul Emile Boileau, Sturgeon Falls; Mrs. Maude Cochrane, Deseronto; Mrs. Mary Dwyer, Wawa; Miss Margaret Griffiths, Ottawa; Mrs. Mabel Harvey, Kenora; Art Hill, Deseronto; Dr. Arnold Iscove, Toronto; Mrs. Dorthea Knights, Windsor; Mrs. Anita Lapointe, Port Colborne; Mrs. Mrytle MacLeod, Kirkland Lake; Mrs. Thora Mills, Toronto; J. D. Mohan, Brampton; Grant Palmer, Peterborough; Ernest and Dulcie Pink, St. Catharines; Gus Ryder, Toronto; W. Bev Shouldice, Shallow Lake; James Spark, Guelph; Mrs. Lucy Turnbull, Mississauga; and Herb Wittich, Waterloo.
Each of this year's recipients has continued in his or her own unique way to contribute his or her skills and talents to society. Through honouring these individuals with the 1987 Ontario Senior Achievement Award, the government of Ontario expresses its appreciation to those people who have continued to use their talents and energies for the benefit of their communities and for society as a whole.
I hope all members will join me in this tribute to Ontario's seniors by recognizing the many contributions seniors make to the quality of life in their area and by celebrating this very special month at local events in their own communities.
I want to invite all members of this House to attend the presentation of the awards on June 23, 1987, at 6 p.m. in the main foyer of the Legislative Building, and also to wear one of these buttons remembering the occasion of this month as Senior Citizens Month.
SENIOR CITIZENS MONTH
Mrs. Marland: It is a pleasure for me to join in the recognition of the seniors of our province today. I must say that there is some humour in the statement by the minister, that being that perhaps for the first time in the history of this Legislature, the members will now know there is a legitimate lifelong affair, that of ageing.
The other statement refers to the fact that ageing is an ongoing process, and I think that will be a great benefit for people who have not known what the biologists, the scientists and the pre-dinner beverage manufacturers have known for some time.
I must say it was indeed a pleasure for me, on behalf of our caucus, to sit on the committee, because if all members had the opportunity we had to look through in excess of 400 nominations, they would be able to appreciate at first hand just how rich our province is in terms of the work, dedication and commitment of the senior citizens of Ontario. It would give all members a great deal of pride to know personally of people outside their immediate ridings and their involvement and tremendous dedication.
In particular today, I am of course very proud of the fact that one of the recipients is a lady in Mississauga, Lucy Turnbull, who is 84 years of age. In her case, she would perhaps be best described as the founder of senior citizens' organizations and programs within the city of Mississauga. She has in excess of a 20-year involvement.
In recognizing her, it is only because she is the only one I know personally. All these recipients are equally as tremendous in their contribution and in their work, and I think the recognition of our seniors through this program of the Ontario Senior Achievement Awards is one in which we should all take pride, joy and gratitude.
Mr. Cousens: We have more words from the minister. I believe every day is seniors' day. Certainly, the background of our province has been built by those people. When we start looking at the grey hair and the age of some of us, we realize we have a vested interest in being interested in seniors. The fact is that many of us should be far more involved in the work of seniors.
In compliment to our own leader, the member for St. Andrew-St. Patrick (Mr. (Grossman), and to the people of our party, we have had a task force going for the last year on care for the elderly, on human and social issues in the province. We have just come out with a new paper on seniors, "Senior Wise," a report on services for seniors. The government is sitting over there doing a lot of talking, but as far as real action is concerned it is not doing any. They talk about putting their money where their mouth is, but they are not doing it. When we look at the home care and home support services which should be significantly expanded, we do not see the dollars going into those services.
The fact of the matter is that our seniors are getting words. What they really want from this government is action. I have to say the government will stand judged for its lack of action for seniors. The seniors are not fools. When this government starts saying it will do something for them, it should do it, not just put the words out there. The dollars are not going out in the budget. It is time the government started to do something instead of just saying nice things.
Mr. Andrewes: The minister has now discovered that ageing is an ongoing process, something that was discovered many years ago, almost centuries ago, by scientists, by psychologists, by biologists and by those who manufacture pre-dinner refreshments. What this minister needs to do now is to say that when it comes to caring for elderly people in Ontario, we will treat them all the same. We will provide the same level of service under one statute called an extended services act. When the minister brings in that kind of an announcement, we will thank him and congratulate him.
Mr. Swart: I would like to respond to the statement of the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations (Mr. Kwinter). First, I would like to say that if consumer protection was based on the number of committees and the number of committee members that any government had, it should have the greatest consumer protection in this nation, especially when it has a bunch of committees sitting around this province dealing with 20 different pieces of legislation.
Now they have 14 more members, and many of those members are very competent people. I would like to think it was real, but I know from experience in the two years this government has been there that it is not.
For instance, the minister says in this report, "We have seen vulnerable consumers left unprotected in the marketplace." That is no understatement, by any means. What has the minister done with regard to natural gas prices when hearings have been held? He has left them loaded against the consumers. What has he done with gasoline prices in the north, even after his government made a promise? What has he done with the Ontario Hydro hearings to protect the consumers? What has he done with insurance rates over the last two years? Nothing; absolutely nothing.
It is true that in this nation we need real consumer protection. It is true that we have the highest concentration of corporations of any democracy in the world and we have the poorest competition legislation of any democracy in the world. The best the minister has been able to do so far, as the Conservatives did before him, was to form what they call self-policing agencies. They do not work.
If the minister was really sincere about consumer protection when he divided the Ministry of Consumer and Commercial Relations, instead of separating out financial institutions and leaving consumer and commercial relations together he would have had a full ministry of consumer protection and put the rest of the commercial enterprise in with the other ministry.
If he is really sincere about this, he would appoint a public advocate on behalf of the consumers, as they have done in the United States, to fight for them on every issue. Simply, what he has done today is just another measure of election posturing, like he has done on the insurance issue.
Mr. Speaker: Any further responses? The member for Welland-Thorold -- I am sorry, the member for Scarborough-Ellesmere.
Mr. Warner: No one forgets the member for Welland-Thorold.
SENIOR CITIZENS MONTH
Mr. Warner: I am pleased to respond on behalf of my party in offering congratulations to the recipients of the Ontario Senior Achievement Awards this year. I am very pleased that these individuals will be honoured.
I am sure the recipients themselves, along with our party, might also wish to deliver a message to this government that platitudes are not enough. It is one thing to honour recipients of awards each year. That is important and we appreciate it, but it is not enough.
A full year ago, this assembly unanimously passed the Seniors' Independence Act. The government has managed to stall that legislation, as it has stalled any form of revamping our system. If this government truly believes that community-based care is important and that it is important to give seniors the opportunity to remain in their own homes, then it should do something about it and not simply talk about it.
For example, in the last budget, the Treasurer (Mr. Nixon) had the opportunity to ensure that the property tax credit would accurately reflect the approximate amount of the education tax, and he failed to do so. This government has not addressed, in a serious way, trying to come up with decent wages for the community care workers. In that measure alone, the message is still that the institutions and the institutional approach are more important than community-based care. We categorically reject that.
Finally, it is with some amusement that I listen to the Conservatives as they do a little jumping up and down when reminded that they received approximately $90,000 a year from nursing home operators. That is perhaps what blocked any real reform to nursing home care in this province.
Hon. Mr. Ruprecht: I rise to ask unanimous consent of the House to mark a special event which is of great significance to the Italian community.
Mr. Speaker: Unanimous consent has been given.
ITALIAN NATIONAL REPUBLIC DAY
Hon. Mr. Ruprecht: On behalf of the Premier (Mr. Peterson) and the government of Ontario, I rise for the purpose of recognizing an important event that took place on this day 41 years ago, June 2, 1946, the establishment of the Democratic Republic of Italy.
To celebrate this day, I am honoured to recognize in the gallery representatives of the Italian government and leaders of the Italian-Canadian community, Dr. Massimo Machia, the Consul General of Italy; Dr. Gregory Grande, the president of the National Congress of Italian Canadians, Toronto district; Manlio d'Ambrosio, the president of the Ontario region of the national congress; Angelo Delfino, first vice-president of the national congress; and other distinguished leaders.
[Remarks in Italian]
That day, June 2, 1946, is of great significance and sentimental value to our citizens of Italian heritage and to the people of Italy, a country not only of monumental buildings, famous explorers and noted scientists, but also a trusted friend and ally, a loyal trading partner and a committed supporter of democratic and civil rights around the world.
We recognize the valuable contribution Italo-Canadians have made to the cultural and economic development of Ontario and Canada. Our province has become enriched because our Italian friends, on coming here, have brought with them their love of art, music, architecture and education. More than that, they have strengthened the pillars of our multicultural society by adding their traditional respect for hard work and family life.
We have benefited greatly from their participation in sports, business, the professions and, more recently, government and law. Therefore, I invite the members of this House to join me in congratulating the worldwide Italian community on this very special day. Thank you very much.
Mr. Shymko: I join the Minister without Portfolio responsible for citizenship and culture in the remarks that he has made in this House on this very special occasion. I want to point out that it is on occasions such as this that we normally and sometimes will make some remarks in a nonofficial language, the language of many communities in this great province of ours and in Canada. I also have a speech prepared and some remarks in Italian, which I will not deliver, unfortunately, because of a Speaker's ruling of May 25, where the language of Dante Alighieri is deemed not deserving of translation into the official language of English.
I would appreciate that maybe some time in the future we may review the standing orders which in the past have allowed us to address the House in various languages, so that this be reviewed. If it means providing more money for Hansard, I think it should be provided.
I welcome Greg Grande, the Toronto president of the National Congress of Italian Canadians; Manlio d'Ambrosio, the president of the Ontario region; Angelo Delfino, the national vice-president; the consul general and all the members of the delegation representing various organizations federated with the National Congress of Italian Canadians.
I would like to point out that it is on occasions such as these that we also point out the vast contribution of Canadians of Italian origin to the prosperity of our country. I would like to bring to the attention of the honourable members that perhaps there could be a three-party agreement some time in the very near future to give consideration to the passage of a resolution under item 12 in Orders and Notices which would recognize the Italian community's immeasurable contribution, as I have said, to the development, growth and prosperity of Ontario in a very symbolic and concrete way by allowing for the erection of a statue of Giovanni Caboto, whose 500th anniversary will be celebrated very soon, on the grounds of the parliament of Ontario as recognition of the fact that Canada is a land of immigrants that we respect and will continue to be one for centuries to come, as it began with the discovery by someone who represents the best of civilization and the contribution of the Italian nation.
I thank you, Mr. Speaker, for the opportunity of addressing these few words and I hope that on June 24, when we celebrate the anniversary of 490 years of the landing of Giovanni Caboto, this resolution will be given some consideration.
Hon. Mr. Nixon: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker: I do not recall the exact words that the honourable member used, but my understanding was that he indicated the Italian language was unworthy of being reproduced in our Hansard. I would say to the member for High Park-Swansea that his comments are totally unworthy and that no member of this House except perhaps the honourable member would ever say such a thing.
Mr. Brandt: That isn't what he said at all. You know that as well as I do. You're taking a cheap shot.
Mr. Speaker: Order. I do not know if that was a point of order or not.
Mr. Speaker: On a point of order -- is it the same point?
Mr. Harris: Mr. Speaker, you ruled that was not a point of order, so I assumed I had to --
Mr. Speaker: No, I asked him if he was standing on a point of order.
Mr. Harris: I will stand on a point of privilege then and try it that way, Mr. Speaker.
I wonder if you think the term "dipstick" is parliamentary and if not, would you ask the Treasurer to withdraw it.
Hon. Mr. Nixon: Without being asked, I certainly withdraw my view that the honourable member is a dipstick.
Mr. Speaker: Order. There appears to be an unnecessary discussion.
Mr. Rae: I do not know whether there is an Italian translation for that, but I am sure we will find one.
Mr. Cordiano: Try it.
Mr. Rae: I will in a moment. First of all, I want to say that any political system in which the leader of the third party becomes Prime Minister is one that has much to commend it and certainly would win support on this side of the House --
Mr. Rae: -- to say nothing of President Pertini. But let me say in a serious moment that when we celebrate this particular day we are of course celebrating not only the 40th anniversary of the declaration of the Italian republic but also -- and I think I can speak for a great many citizens of this province -- the extraordinary contribution the Italian community has made to the life of our great country.
I can honestly say my own life and my own party have been completely enriched by the presence of the Italian community in our midst. It would be impossible for us to think of Ontario and Toronto, and indeed Canada, without also thinking of the enormous contribution Italian men and women have made to the quality of life in our country and in our family.
I want to say how very delighted I am to be able to say a few words in a language that perhaps one day can be translated in Hansard but which I know will be understood by all those who have an Italian heart, which I hope is the vast majority of us here.
[Remarks in Italian]
Mr. Grossman: I have a question for the Minister of Citizenship and Culture. I wonder if the minister could tell us by what number Quebec's share of total Canadian immigration would have to be increased to honour the guarantees the Premier (Mr. Peterson) agreed to in the Meech Lake accord?
Hon. Ms. Munro: I think it is quite inappropriate for me to speak up on the occasion on which the Premier is taking part in the Meech Lake accord debates. I can tell the honourable member I have had very good discussions with the Minister of State for Immigration, however, and would prefer to wait until the Premier comes back to answer that question.
Mr. Grossman: I did not go so far as to ask the minister actually to have an opinion, heaven forbid, on the accord or its impact on the multicultural community which she is supposed to serve. I am only asking her for the basic information flowing out of the Meech Lake accord, as already signed by her Premier a couple of weeks ago.
My question to the minister, whose responsibility it is to oversee multiculturalism and citizenship and to ensure there is an ability for families to reunite, is by how many people Quebec's share of total Canadian immigration would have to increase in order to honour the guarantee her Premier has already agreed to. How many people?
Hon. Ms. Munro: I am sorry I cannot give the member that accurate information, but if he is worrying about whether I have any opinions, God forbid, I can tell him I do.
Mr. Grossman: Well then, we will wonder about the impact those opinions might have.
Yesterday in this House we offered the figure. Had the minister even been kind enough or interested enough to follow up on the questions we raised yesterday in this House, she would know that the impact of the Meech Lake accord would mean that 8,000 persons who were allowed to immigrate into Canada, outside of Quebec, would not be allowed to do that under the Meech Lake accord and therefore would have to be sent to and required to live in Quebec.
Given that fact, my question to the minister is this: how can she defend the interests of, say, the Chinese and Portuguese communities, to name just two, and the Italian community, whose representatives have just left the chamber, acknowledging the fact that the Meech Lake accord will have the impact of denying the opportunity for perhaps as many as 8,000 of their relatives to reunite in Ontario and force them instead to go to Quebec? How can she justify her position and her government's position defending multiculturalism when that will be one of the impacts of the Meech Lake accord?
Hon. Ms. Munro: I think the honourable member knows that the Premier has answered those questions, and I think his answers are accurate.
Mr. Grossman: He certainly has not.
Hon. Ms. Munro: All right then; that is all the information he feels he is allowed to divulge to the member at this moment.
Mr. Grossman: He did not even know the information.
Hon. Ms. Munro: Listen, if the member wants an answer, I will give it to him. As far as I am concerned, when Quebec enters into those kinds of special requests, it does not stop any immigrant from having any of his rights and being transferred to other provinces or from wanting to access other provinces.
Hon. Ms. Munro: I do not know what else he means in terms of equal rights to other multicultural groups. Maybe he would like to continue that question.
Mr. Pope: Since the Premier (Mr. Peterson) on matters governing the conduct of his cabinet and his ministers and matters of ethics, has again refused to accept any responsibility for the conduct of his ministers, refused to set standards and refused to indicate any kind of knowledge on his part --
Mr. Speaker: Which minister are you asking?
Mr. Pope: -- when some of these difficult matters come to pass, I have a question for the Minister of Health concerning the details of his fund-raiser scheduled for June 15.
There are a number of issues that arise from this whole matter, such as: who prepared the invitations and who sent them out, where were they sent from and by whom; how many people in the health care field were invited; and where did the mailing list come from? I think the members of this chamber and the people of Ontario are entitled to an explanation. Can the minister give an explanation for this?
Hon. Mr. Elston: With respect to the fund-raiser, which is indeed being held on June 15, the actual list of names of people who have been invited is not known to me. I did not participate in selecting them. However, they were prepared by people who work in my office and by people who are in my constituency. More people, who wish to be invited, have contacted my office requesting extra invitations and we are mailing them out. I have looked at where those things were prepared. They were prepared by people who work with me in my constituency and in my Toronto office. They were mailed out to a lot of people around Ontario.
Mr. Pope: It is clear that we now have a Premier with no knowledge of this matter and a minister, in whose name the invitations were sent, with no knowledge of this matter. That is the strategy of the Liberal government of the day. No one knows anything about it, but it was done. That is the responsibility of the Premier and this cabinet on this matter.
Mr. Speaker: Supplementary.
Mr. Pope: The minister spent $30,000 in his election campaign. He has $11,000 in his own constituency funds. He is entitled to over $8,000 in public subsidies already. When he needs at the most $20,000 for the next election campaign, if it were called today, why did he set a target of $200,000 if it is only for his use? Why did he set a target of $200,000 for fund-raising for his own riding association if it was not part of a Liberal scheme?
Hon. Mr. Elston: The role of the member, in addition to being a member of the cabinet, is to work on behalf of the party for the reselection of his colleagues and himself. I can tell the honourable gentleman that in terms of preparing for another election, which is probably going to come soon, finances are needed throughout the party structure and throughout my constituency to ensure that an adequate election campaign is run. It is part of the system.
I take my responsibilities as a cabinet member, as a member of this party and as a member of the political system as being to do what is required to gain reselection for a party that has shown it can provide progressive reform for the people of this province. I will wish to maintain that position and we will wish to continue to ensure that more reform is provided for our system in Ontario.
Mr. Pope: Now we have a clear view of the Liberal concept of open government. First, they had the Liberal Economic Advisory Forum, which sold access to the Premier for $1,000. They had the then Chairman of Management Board selling access for $250 a person for a breakfast. They had the Attorney General (Mr. Scott) inviting lawyers in the Ottawa region to have a glass of wine with him for $200. Now we have the Minister of Health sending invitations to those involved in the health care field for $200.
Mr. Speaker: And the question?
Mr. Pope: We now know that publicly paid employees of his ministry were involved. We now have the Queen's Park frank on invitations being sent out. We have invitations on government letterhead, not Ontario Liberal letterhead. We have references to the Minister of Health as sending the invitation; MPP and nothing else in there about his riding association. When are they, as Liberals, going to clean up their act?
Hon. Mr. Elston: The honourable gentleman has pointed out several pieces of information that I am sure he would like the public to have clarification on. That is not, of course, government letterhead. He knows that as well as I do. People use the crest of Ontario for a number of their mailings. The member knows that is true and the people of Ontario know it is true.
People would also like to know, when the member talks about the invitations having been franked, that I did discover that had occurred and that the very day it happened I reimbursed the people for the error that had been made. I take great exception to the implication that is being left by that gentleman that there is something improper with respect to fund-raising. This particular man has put aside for these purposes a very big amount of money to do stuff like running for leadership of his own party.
I am not running for leadership of my party. We have the best leader in this House. We have a leader who needs to be retained in Ontario to provide the very strong and very reform-minded policies which are moving this province well ahead of any other jurisdictions in this country. I will match this party against those other two parties at any time, but I am going to be prepared to do that on the basis of a very sound program and policies which we can put in front of the people of this province.
Mr. Speaker: Order.
OCCUPATIONAL HEALTH AND SAFETY
Mr. Rae: I have a question for the Minister of Labour. The minister may be aware that on May 13 a young man by the name of Anthony Medeiros was working on a demolition site at 700 Lawrence Avenue here in Toronto. He was apparently told by the company to strip completely the walls of a particular part of the site.
He had removed a number of electrical wiring boxes; when he removed the last one, he discovered the power had not been cut. He received a shock of about 600 volts to 700 volts which threw him to the floor. Our information is that those around him, including his foreman, did not know how to turn off the electrical unit and that there was a delay of somewhere between 15 and 20 minutes before emergency arrived. The other workers were unable to disconnect the wiring that Mr. Medeiros was holding, and Mr. Medeiros died.
My question to the minister is this. This is, alas, not an exceptional event in Toronto today. We know of another instance where a worker magically survived a shock of 27,000 volts because he was sitting in a forklift truck. I wonder if the minister can explain how this is happening today in Toronto and precisely what kind of prosecutorial action his ministry is taking with respect to this particular accident.
Hon. Mr. Wrye: I would have to check into the specifics of the point our investigation is at. I am not familiar offhand. There are a great number of these incidents and I can remember most of them, but quite candidly I say to the member, while it is vaguely familiar to me, I am not aware of the specifics.
I do not have any report for him, other than that the matter is under investigation, but I would expect that out of this case there would be an inquest called into this fatality and arising out of that inquest, once that inquest was completed, a determination would be made by the ministry. There would be recommendations as to whether to prosecute, which would begin with the construction health and safety branch and eventually would find their way to the legal services branch and would indeed be reviewed by senior officials up to and including the Deputy Minister of Labour.
That is the normal course of events whenever there is a fatality. Those matters go through that kind of very serious and senior scrutiny even if the recommendation is against prosecution. I can say to the honourable member that certainly any fatality is a very tragic case, and very clearly we have to do more. We have to do better than we have done before in terms of ensuring that the kind of training that might have prevented this tragedy, and indeed would have prevented this tragedy, is the kind of training given to each and every worker.
I can assure the House and the honourable member that if prosecution in this case or any other is warranted, that prosecution will be undertaken without any qualms at all.
Mr. Rae: It is interesting that the minister would describe a normal course of events which only yesterday his colleague the Attorney General (Mr. Scott) said was not going to be what was going to take place in Sudbury with respect to Joe Kuhle. We seem to have a clear double standard here when it comes to prosecutions and a clear double standard in terms of justice for ordinary workers in this province.
I am surprised the minister would not be better informed about this accident for the simple reason that on May 22, 1987, he received a letter from the secretary-treasurer of Local 506 of the Labourers' International Union of North America, Mr. Barbieri, who says:
"Representing 300 demolition workers, we are concerned with the number of accidents occurring within the industry. The basis of our concern is the apparent lack of safety regard coupled with a high number of serious accidents. We are also unsatisfied with the infrequent safety inspections of job sites." He goes on to say: "More recently, we are appalled at the bizarre and unfortunate death of Mr. Medeiros, an employee in this industry working at a demolition site at 700 Lawrence Avenue, Toronto."
If this letter was sent out on May 22, can the minister explain why he is so blissfully and abysmally ignorant of this situation when I ask him today, some 10 days after the letter was sent?
Hon. Mr. Wrye: First, I get just a little tired at the suggestions which emanate from over there that somehow over on this side there is a double standard and the suggestion is left that there is some responsibility over here, whether it is with me or with my colleague the Attorney General, for some so-called double standard. I would have expected from the leader of the third party, who is himself a lawyer, some greater degree of understanding of the differences and the intricacies of the criminal justice system than I have heard in the last couple of days. I really would have expected that.
I can say to the honourable gentleman that the letter has not been brought to my attention. Undoubtedly it will be. I regret that yesterday, as the honourable member knows, I left question period a little early and returned home. It may well now be sitting on my desk but I did not get to it last night. I will get to all of the mail that is on my desk but undoubtedly, if the letter has been received, it has already been sent out to two senior officials for their review, and not only will I expect to be able to see the letter tonight but a preliminary observation from my senior officials. So action has been ongoing ever since the letter was received.
Mr. Rae: I do not really care whether the minister is tired of something or not. It is the workers who are getting killed, not the minister, and it is time he started to recognize that he has a problem on his hands and he is not on top of it.
What I want to know is why, as soon as he heard about that particular incident, the minister did not demand an immediate report with respect not only to this accident but to the other accidents that are taking place on demolition sites and make sure that every step was taken and that every step will be taken? Does the minister know whether the same practice is going on today? Does he know whether the workers are informed? Does he know whether the company is doing anything? He does not know anything about it. He just gets up and says he is tired because people are asking him questions he does not want to answer. That is his problem.
Hon. Mr. Wrye: That is exactly what the senior officials of the ministry will be asking and demanding, not only from the inspector but also from the manager of the region, from the head of the construction health and safety branch and indeed from the executive director of the division. This government, through the generosity of the Treasurer (Mr. Nixon), has placed more resources at my disposal than we have ever had before. We are hiring --
Mr. Rae: You have fewer construction inspectors than you had in 1981.
Hon. Mr. Wrye: Pipe down for a minute.
Frankly, the ridiculous lectures from over on that side of the House really get a little tiring after a while. We are making every effort to reduce the number of injuries and to eliminate the fatalities in the work place. There is nothing about a fatality or indeed about any kind of an injury that makes me or any member on this side of the House happy. We have taken as much action as we can and will take more to attempt to eliminate that problem. I rather resent the suggestion we are not doing our job.
ASSISTANCE FOR THE DISABLED
Mr. R. F. Johnston: I have a question for the Minister of Community and Social Services. Can the minister confirm that the following facts are true: that by the end of this year there will still be a $286-a-month difference between the income of a disabled person living at home with family and an elderly person living at home with family in this province, and that in fact the annual income of that disabled person this year will be $5,328 -- one half of the 1986 poverty line?
Hon. Mr. Sweeney: The honourable member will know that the amount of money that is made available to disabled people depends upon their needs. Obviously, those living at home have fewer needs than those living out in subsidized housing or the private market. There is a range of pension ceilings. I cannot confirm the exact figure, but the member is very close to the right answer.
Mr. R. F. Johnston: I am trying to point out that we deal with disabled people very differently than we deal with the elderly, whom we do not treat in that discriminatory fashion.
Can the minister confirm that by the end of this year he will have closed the gap between the disabled person and the elderly person by only $22, given the fact that there is indexing of the seniors' incomes and that the total cost to the provincial Treasury will be only $10.5 million this year when we have this huge surplus? Can the minister tell me what he will say to people like Gino and Susan Adamo, who are living on $419 a month at this point, or Jean Newson, who is in subsidized housing living on $458 a month?
Hon. Mr. Sweeney: The recent announcement by the Treasurer (Mr. Nixon) that all disabled people in the province would get an additional $50 a month would indicate that, in fact, it would be more than what the member suggested.
I would also point out to him that there are other services available to disabled people that are not available to the elderly and that has to be factored into the question as well. The member knows that vocational rehabilitation services are available. The member knows that the disabled person is able to earn income that is not deducted from his pension, which is not the case with the elderly. He has to take the total package into consideration.
Mr. R. F. Johnston: The minister also knows that the elderly get a property tax break and other breaks that the disabled do not get, if he wants to compare lists.
Does he not think it is maybe even counter to the Charter of Rights that a permanently disabled person who is 64 years of age this June will receive $419 a month, and when he turns 65 this July he will be eligible for $740?
Hon. Mr. Sweeney: The member should also keep in mind that the eligibility for seniors is part of the federal program. It is not just the provincial program. The member will be aware of the fact that once a person turns 65, in the provincial program for seniors the additional benefits are available only to those who cannot qualify for the federal programs. He is talking on two different bases.
Mr. Speaker: New question. The Leader of the Opposition.
Mr. Grossman: The fact is this minister funded that with the cheques taken out of the pockets of 13,000 other disabled people in the province. What he did is a disgrace.
Mr. Speaker: Order. You have a question to which minister?
Mr. Grossman: My question is to the Minister of Citizenship and Culture, once again.
How does the minister feel about the Meech Lake accord, which will end up, as one reads the document, in having the province of Quebec go out and find immigrants in countries that will be more compatible with the environment in Quebec and thus mean that fewer people will be invited or allowed to come to Canada from Italy, China, Hong Kong and Portugal?
Hon. Ms. Munro: I do not read the implications the way the Leader of the Opposition does. In fact, various people who decide to immigrate, or for whom Quebec reaches out, come to Quebec and are welcome to stay there but are also welcome to transfer to other provinces.
The member will know that Quebec has already entered into different kinds of policy arrangements with the federal government, so I think to compare that with the implications of the Meech Lake accord is quite inaccurate at this point.
Mr. Grossman: The minister does not know what she is talking about.
Hon. Ms. Munro: The member does not understand that? No? That is unfortunate. Maybe I should just sit down.
Finally, I would like to impress on the member that the Premier (Mr. Peterson) and other Premiers are entering into confidential discussions today. It would be quite inappropriate for me to comment any further on that question.
Mr. Grossman: In part because of the signature of one of the architects of the accord, the Premier of Ontario, there is no question but that family reunification in the Portuguese, Italian and Chinese communities is going to be inhibited on the basis of the admitted accord provisions signed by the member's Premier.
Mr. Cordiano: Oh, come on. There is nothing there that was not there before.
Mr. Grossman: The member for Downsview (Mr. Cordiano) should go and explain to the Italian community where those 8,000 immigrants are going to come from. Why does the member not do his job for once and stand up to his Premier on behalf of his constituents?
My question to the minister is this. Given that Quebec, under this agreement, will be given the opportunity to go out and locate immigrants more compatible to Quebec's environment than to that of Ontario and the rest of the country, is she going to contemplate entering into a similar arrangement with the federal government, as the Meech Lake accord allows her to do, to ensure that Ontario maintains its current level of immigration into Ontario? Is she going to do that to protect the immigrants here?
Hon. Ms. Munro: I would like to repeat myself on three things. Right now Quebec has already entered into different kinds of policy arrangements with the federal government on issues of immigration policy and procedures. Second, the question of reunification is being addressed in the current legislation of the federal government before the House now, and this government has already advised and is taking issue with certain of those considerations. Third, I will say to the member again --
Mr. Grossman: You have cut off thousands of families.
Hon. Ms. Munro: Does he want the answer? The Premiers, in consultation with the Prime Minister of the country, are looking at the Meech Lake accord as a way in which constitutional rights can be accorded to Quebec in a way in which we, as provinces, can look more sensitively at the whole question of immigration and refugee determination.
Mr. Grossman: They give away 8,000 immigrants a year. Wave them goodbye.
Mr. Speaker: Order. The Leader of the Opposition has asked his question.
Mr. McClellan: I have a question of the Minister of Labour. I have here a copy of a decision of the Workers' Compensation Appeals Tribunal. It is decision 12, dated October 3, 1986. It involves a 50-year-old Italian-Canadian woman who worked as a cashier in a grocery store. The tribunal ruled as follows: "The appeal is allowed. The WCB is directed to recognize the worker's disability and assess the worker for a permanent disability award to be made retroactive."
Can the minister explain to us why the Workers' Compensation Board has indicated that because it does not like this decision and because it does not agree with the decision of the tribunal, it has held up the payment of this award for eight months now?
Hon. Mr. Wrye: I think the honourable member will understand that I do not have that information immediately at hand. I was not aware that the WCB had held up that decision. I will look into the matter immediately and report back to him.
Mr. McClellan: Yesterday, I raised the case of decision 72 involving the definition of "injury by accident," which the Workers' Compensation Board does not like either and which it now is planning to try to overturn by means of its own kangaroo court that I believe starts tomorrow.
Is the minister going to continue to sit by and do nothing while the Workers' Compensation Board systematically tries to destroy the integrity and independence of the appeals tribunal? Is he going to take action? If so, what action is he going to take to protect the tribunal and to prevent the Workers' Compensation Board from destroying it?
Hon. Mr. Wrye: Let us separate the two issues. The matter of an appeal --
Mr. McClellan: They are exactly the same issue.
Hon. Mr. Wrye: The honourable gentleman suggests they are the same. With respect, they are not. For members who do not know, on decision 72 the independent board has chosen to review that matter and has voted to do so. That review will begin on Thursday and continue on Friday of this week. That is entirely within the rights of the board as contemplated by this Legislature in the passage of section 86n of the Workers' Compensation Act.
In terms of decision 12, the honourable member raises what I consider and what I take to be a very serious question. He has raised with me and with this House the question of an apparent decision ordering the board to assess an injured worker for a permanent partial disability and, according to the honourable gentleman, action has not been taken for more than eight months. I am going to look into that matter on a most urgent basis because, as far as I know, while that decision was considered to be a fairly controversial one, and I remember it by number as a very controversial one, there has been no decision by the board of directors of the WCB to review that decision in any way. On the face of it, it seems to me they should be getting on with doing exactly what the tribunal asked them to do several months ago.
Mr. Pope: My question is back to the Minister of Health with respect to his fund-raising activities that are being arranged by publicly paid staff, using the franking privileges of Queen's Park and using government logos on the invitation.
In the light of the minister's earlier answers, I would like him to explain how this invitation, which I have in my hand, was sent to Bernard Reynolds, chairman of the board of Huntsville District Memorial Hospital, unless it was taken from a Ministry of Health list?
Hon. Mr. Elston: I do not know to whom that letter was sent. I do not know the names of all the people who received letters. I will check into it, if the member wishes to send it over, and I can find out how the letter was sent out.
At this stage, I wish to say I already commented on the question of the franking. I did find out about that and reimbursed the public. That was not appropriate and, in fact, I reimbursed the people when I found out the franking had been done.
Mr. Pope: It is clear that the Liberals have looted the mailing lists of every ministry in this government and are using them for partisan purposes. They are abusing government privileges. They are using government logos. They are using government franking privileges. They are using publicly paid government staff.
Just to help the minister with his explanation, Bernard Reynolds is not only chairman of the board of Huntsville hospital, for 15 years he has been the chief financial officer for the member for Muskoka (Mr. F. S. Miller). There is no way he was on a Liberal list. Now we want an explanation as to what the minister is doing.
Hon. Mr. Elston: I have found that the people in Ontario have been very open to our reform- minded policies and programs and people from all across the province are wishing to come and support a party which is in fact providing leadership, which they had not had for a long time. It may be that particular people in Muskoka are much less happy with the current leadership of the Tory party. In fact, they may even be leaving, in droves, those people across the way who used to be in government.
In my mind, our party will be open to all people to participate in programs, whatever they may be. I hold meetings on all occasions. People request meetings. In fact, I will entertain requests from all people who wish to attend my meetings. I will not discriminate on political allegiances or alliances. Anybody is welcome.
If the gentleman whom you mentioned was working with the gentleman from Muskoka who is retiring and who is, unfortunately, no longer required by that party or whatever, he is welcome to attend, as anybody is. Just to repeat something that was also said, anybody who has received an invitation is likewise free not to attend.
Mr. Speaker: Order.
Mr. Pope: On a point of privilege, Mr. Speaker: I would ask you to review the comments of the Minister of Health (Mr. Elston) today in question period to determine their veracity.
Mr. Speaker: Order.
Hon. Mr. Riddell: There is a court jester in every crowd.
Mr. Speaker: Sometimes we get a little overexcited.
Mr. Laughren: I have a question for the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology concerning the government policy of purchasing imported goods, rather than domestically produced goods, a policy which is costing Ontario approximately 150,000 jobs a year.
I wonder if the minister can recall the policy that his party had when in opposition. If he cannot, I will try to prod his memory. It went as follows: "A Liberal government in Ontario would undertake all of its purchasing, wherever possible and reasonable, from Canadian-controlled firms. These firms would receive preferential treatment as to price. This preference could extend to as much as 40 per cent."
Could the minister tell us why that was a policy when in opposition and why now there appears to be no policy at all in this regard?
Hon. Mr. O'Neil: I might say to the member I realize a question like that was asked last week. At the time the question was asked I was attending a procurement ministers' meeting in Ottawa, and I can tell the member that it is still our aim to procure more of those supplies from within Canada, rather than outside.
Mr. Laughren: I wonder if I could repeat part of my question and ask the minister why it is that it was a policy when in opposition and it is not a policy when in government. At the conference the minister was at, one of the background papers he released when he went to that conference stated that out of 55,000 suppliers on the list for government purchasing, the 10 per cent preferential treatment given to domestic suppliers was used in only 20 cases.
How in the world can he claim that he has any kind of government procurement policy when he knows that, according to his own reports, this is the only industrialized country that does not use government procurement as an economic development policy. Why is that?
Hon. Mr. O'Neil: The member is not totally correct, because we do use government purchases as part of that program.
I can assure him besides that in the procurement area, my ministry is very interested in doing some of the things he has mentioned. We run such things as reverse trade shows where we identify products that can or should be purchased here in the province and in Canada, rather than outside. We are working towards those aims, which are excellent aims.
DELAY IN SENTENCING
Mr. Andrewes: My question is to the Solicitor General. It concerns a North York man who seriously injured a young woman in a car accident and subsequently pleaded guilty to charges of impaired driving and leaving the scene of the accident.
When this gentleman appeared in court, Judge Frank Dunlap, we understand, delayed sentencing him to convenience his recreational plans. I wonder how this affects the credibility of the government's drinking and driving program, when members of the Ontario judiciary treat a very serious breach of the law so frivolously.
Hon. Mr. Keyes: May I simply suggest that the issue is one more appropriately directed to the Attorney General (Mr. Scott)? If I may be permitted to comment -- the minister is not here today; he is in Ottawa -- but he has asked to see a transcript of the remarks from the judge with regard to that delay in sentencing and he has expressed his concern about the effect it does have on the drinking and driving program.
Mr. Andrewes: With respect, I would have been delighted to address this question to the Attorney General but there is someone else in his seat. That is not him.
I have constituents coming into my office who are asking for a stay in the suspension of a driver's licence so they can complete their harvest -- the Minister of Agriculture and Food (Mr. Riddell) will understand that -- so they can carry on their business, so they can put bread on the table, so they can support their families. We have a man who now wants a stay in his sentencing and a judge who has assented to that stay so he can go to a ball game.
Does the Solicitor General think that is fair? Does he think it is reasonable? Does he think it is equitable?
Mr. Brandt: It is ludicrous, that is what it is.
Hon. Mr. Keyes: I am quite happy to concur with the remarks from the member for Lincoln (Mr. Andrewes) that it does throw some rather difficult views on the whole enforcement of the drinking and driving program we have had in the province. I can assure him that when the Attorney General returns and he has reviewed the transcript from the judge, potentially, further action may well be taken.
DOCTORS' BILLING PRACTICES
Mr. D. S. Cooke: I have a question of the Minister of Health. In view of the fact it is almost a year since we passed Bill 94, a bill that was supposed to ban extra billing in Ontario, why is it that the minister has reimbursed patients $17,055, where 247 patients have clearly been extra billed or he would not have reimbursed them, yet at the same time not one doctor has been charged by his ministry for breaking the law, Bill 94? Does he have a double standard in this province that doctors can get away with breaking the law and others cannot?
Hon. Mr. Elston: The primary goal of Bill 94, of course, was to provide us with mechanisms whereby people who were disadvantaged by extra billing could be reimbursed, and in fact we are doing that. We then seek to recover from those people the money where they did extra bill. We are proceeding to do that, and in many of those cases we are clearing up some misunderstandings as to what are problems under the legislation.
Mr. D. S. Cooke: It is a pretty stupid system when the minister says if you break the law the most you are going to have to pay is exactly what you have extra billed. Where is the deterrent?
I would like to ask the minister how he can possibly say this process is working when Dr. Marshall Barkin at Mount Sinai is charging a $500 standby fee and when Dr. Sheldon Herzig is charging a $200 administrative fee for the eye surgery that he carries out, for such things as documentation to arrange the surgery with the hospital, a pre-operative report, an operative report and a post-operative communication with the family doctor? He is charging a $200 administrative fee for all these things.
When is the minister going to get serious and start charging the doctors who are breaking this law in the province?
Hon. Mr. Elston: The honourable gentleman knows that when situations or specifics of charges are made available to us, we make determinations with respect to whether there are extra billings being made. We then make a decision about how a declaration received from the patient is reviewed and perceived, and then we reimburse a patient if in fact those charges are extra billing. We are doing that.
We then proceed to recover from the physician and charge an administrative cost for our work in terms of pursuing, and sometimes we are able to clarify the administration under the act and solve some problems for the profession, that then are not repeated.
Mr. Polsinelli: According to public reports filed recently in the United States, a lobby group called Citizens for Sensible Control of Acid Rain spent more than $3 million last year in fighting proposed acid rain controls in the US Congress. Can the minister tell us what effect this effort has had on the evolution of stricter emission controls in the United States and if it has had any effect on the minister's efforts to achieve, in co-operation with his American counterparts, more effective controls on acid rain?
Hon. Mr. Bradley: The question, I think, related to acid rain?
Hon. Mr. Bradley: I know the question did not relate to the $15,000 that the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Grossman), when he was a minister, provided to Moe Carter to race in Europe, but it did relate to acid rain, and the honourable member said there was a major lobbying effort in the United States.
Mr. Martel: You are on thin ice. I can tell by the way you started.
Hon. Mr. Bradley: They fire these things over here and they expect nothing is coming back.
Mr. Andrewes: Tell us about Abe Schwartz before you get started. Remember the guy? Tell us about Murray's party.
Hon. Mr. Bradley: I know that is old news.
Mr. Andrewes: What are they serving at Murray's party?
Mr. Rowe: Is René going to fly in?
Mr. Speaker: Order. I believe the member for Yorkview (Mr. Polsinelli) had asked a question. You could probably direct your remarks through the chair.
Hon. Mr. Bradley: Yes, I will try to answer the question. I think it was related to the coal lobby within the United States and others who were in opposition to that.
The counteraction comes from two particular sources. First, it comes from Environment Canada and the national government, which undertake a communication through diplomatic channels with those in the United States in an attempt to counteract this kind of information. It is usually funnelled through the embassy in Washington and through the ambassador.
In addition to that, we as a provincial ministry are represented on a number of occasions in the United States to present the case for the province of Ontario as to what we have done and what we would like the Americans to do.
Mr. Grossman: Claudio, tell him that is tomorrow's question he is answering.
Mr. Speaker: Order.
Mr. Polsinelli: I think the minister has perhaps failed to address the crux of my question. Perhaps I could read to him, as a supplementary --
Ms. Fish: Send him the right note, will you. Turn the page.
Mr. Grossman: He got the wrong envelope.
Mr. Speaker: Order.
Mr. Polsinelli: I would like to read to the minister the first and last paragraphs of the Globe and Mail article. The first paragraph is, "An industry-supported group spent more than $3 million" -- and this is US dollars -- "lobbying against proposed acid rain controls in the United States Congress last year." The last paragraph is, "Pollution controls bills were stalled in congressional debates last year."
Can the minister tell me what effect this $3 million in lobbying efforts from industry-sponsored lobbyists in the United States had on our controls and on the effort he has been making with his American counterparts to have more effective controls?
Hon. Mr. Bradley: I must say the supplementary was as good as the original question; excellent supplementary, excellent original question.
Of course, we are optimistic that there are a number of people within the United States Congress, both on the House side and on the Senate side, who are desirous of acid rain abatement legislation. Despite the efforts of those who are opposed to it, the coal industry and others, we have found people have been spurred on by the kind of support they have had, both in the United States and here in Canada, particularly in Ontario.
Of course, when we were represented at the National Sportsmen's Show in New York City, that was widely covered in the United States. There have been a number of opportunities for those of us in the province of Ontario from the Ministry of the Environment to make the case and in every instance, rather than a resentment on the part of our American friends, what we have found was that there was encouragement from them to continue our activities and to explain our programs south of the border.
We invite our American friends to undertake activities that are as environmentally desirable as those we are undertaking. We look forward to the assistance of the federal government in this, and I am assured that in fact it has been pleased to offer that assistance to us whenever we have inquired.
ONTARIO HYDRO RATES IN NORTHERN ONTARIO
Mr. Gordon: I would like to direct my question to the Minister of Energy. When is the minister going to put bread back into the mouths of people who live in northern Ontario? At the present time we have 20,000 workers who have lost their jobs over the past couple of years. In Sudbury we are looking at anywhere from 700 to 1,000 jobs being lost from Inco by 1990, and yet the minister is not willing to lower hydro rates in northern Ontario to produce more jobs. When is he going to act?
Hon. Mr. Kerrio: We certainly are acting and we are acting in a very positive way. We have set up a board to examine the possibilities of using hydro rates as an economic benefit tool in northern Ontario. We have set up a board that is going to react to the kind of questions the member is raising.
It is very odd that this is the first time this has ever happened, after 40 years of the Conservatives governing without ever responding to the problems in northern Ontario. Believe me, it is happening now and we are doing many other things. We are moving my forestry department north. We are going to move 1,200 jobs north. We are doing all kinds of things that are going to benefit northern Ontario.
In fact, there is a great feeling in northern Ontario now that they are going to play a full role in the province. They are not going to be considered very remote, but they are going to play a full role in the economic benefits that are flowing from the Nixon boom.
Mr. Gordon: Perhaps we do not have as many farms as they do down in southern Ontario, but I think even in the north we would call that manure. Where was the minister when it came to lowering gas prices in northern Ontario? It seems to me that he is the minister who is responsible for those high gas prices and he has done nothing. When is he going to do something about that?
More important and to the point, the minister says he is for the north. Where is that treatment centre for prisoners that was promised to Sudbury? We do not see that. More important -- and what we are talking about is energy -- when is the minister going to act to lower hydro rates in northern Ontario?
Hon. Mr. Kerrio: I have already answered the question. The member asked two or three that should have been directed to other ministers.
As the Minister of Energy and the Minister of Natural Resources, I want to share something with the member. The fact of the matter is that for the first time we have opened two hydraulic plants in northern Ontario. That has not happened in many years. We are going to open many more hydraulic plants across northern Ontario. We are going to build roads there with money that the Treasurer (Mr. Nixon) is flowing to Ontario. We are going to move things to northern Ontario. We are doing things that have never been done before.
Mr. Speaker: Order.
Hon. Mr. Kerrio: Mr. Speaker, the man is badly informed.
Mr. Speaker: Order. I would like to remind all members that the members of this House are responsible for their standing orders. They are the ones who set the standing orders. I have said that one member should be recognized to speak each time and one only. I think quite a few members have been speaking recently.
Mr. Gordon: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker: I want to make this point of order very clear to you. It is on standing order 36, and that is the one that says you cannot charge higher gas prices and say you are paying for the roads.
Mr. Speaker: I would suggest that your House leader probably show you the book.
Mr. Mackenzie: I have a question of the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology. Is the minister aware of the very real concerns of the steelworkers in Hamilton at National Steel Car, and in Trenton and Montreal, concerning the future of the railcar industry in Canada and whether the remaining greatly reduced work force, as well as the very future of the industry itself, will survive? Is he aware that in their meetings with the federal government recently, the very clear impression was left with the workers that their industry was one of the chips in the free trade talks that are going on right now?
Hon. Mr. O'Neil: I know of the member's concern in this matter. I can say to him that it is also a concern of ours. We are keeping a very close watch on what is happening with this. We are in very close touch with the federal government concerning these matters and the protection of those jobs.
Mr. Mackenzie: I might wonder what effect the minister is having then on the federal government.
Does the minister not realize that it is cheaper to bring a railcar into the country, keep it for the 90 days allowed under the permit and pay a $40-a-month rental fee from then on if one wants to keep the car here -- a similar circumstance which does exist if we send our cars out of the country -- and that this is preventing the building of new cars, along with a number of other things?
Can the minister tell us what he is prepared to do in the way of interventions with his federal colleagues to see that this industry does remain a viable one, given the importance of rail in Canada?
Hon. Mr. O'Neil: Of course it is a very important industry in Ontario and, again, I can assure the member that we are having discussions with the federal government, the people and the industry within the province, and doing what we can to make sure that those jobs are maintained.
Mr. Davis: I have a question for the Minister of Transportation and Communications.
Two weeks ago, the member for Oriole (Ms. Caplan) urged the Treasurer (Mr. Nixon) to provide funds for the Sheppard line. Two days ago, the Minister of Municipal Affairs (Mr. Grandmaître) practically announced the construction of this crucial transportation project. When will the minister announce to this House the approval of the Sheppard line, its costs and its date of construction?
Hon. Mr. Fulton: I am meeting with the member later this week to discuss other matters of transit, so he may want some funding for that issue perhaps as a priority. But I am surprised that the member, in this business and in the previous business, would have taken a very small article in one of the local papers as gospel.
The Minister for Municipal Affairs has not said anything that was not said in the statement here, I think on May 7.
Mr. Davis: It is obvious that the Minister of Transportation and Communication's colleagues know more about the transportation policy than he does, and understand its importance and crucial need to the northern part of Scarborough and North York. Metro council has agreed that the Sheppard line is a priority and must be built now.
The Toronto Transit Commission has also indicated that it is their top priority. Thousands of people in cars and in buses are anxiously awaiting some indication from the Minister of Transportation and Communications.
The Minister of Municipal Affairs is quoted as saying that there is still a chance for the line to be built. Why are these indications coming from the Minister of Transportation and Communication's colleagues, and why will he not show any leadership and approve the funding for that transportation system?
Hon. Mr. Fulton: I cannot stand here and deny that we have shown leadership. The announcement of the greater Toronto area two weeks ago took more leadership, more initiative, and thankfully more money from the provincial Treasurer, than these guys did in 40 years for this province.
Mr. Charlton: I have a question for the Minister of Energy.
The minister is aware that there is a committee here today from western Canada to discuss questions of low sulphur western Canadian coal and I believe he or his staff are probably meeting with the committee this afternoon. The minister is also aware that as a result of the Minister of the Environment's (Mr. Bradley) announcement that Ontario Hydro will no longer have access to the banking provision of the Countdown Acid Rain program, there is going to be additional pressure for Hydro to start to firm up its plans for how it proposes to reduce acid gas emissions in Ontario.
Can the minister tell us whether he is prepared to tell this House that low sulphur coal is a reasonable part of that mix and that as his present contracts run out he will replace his coal needs with low sulphur coal from western Canada?
Hon. Mr. Kerrio: I am very pleased to answer a question relating to the burning of western coal. I am very disappointed, in fact, that a federal minister at one time made some comment about us buying some western coal. He was obviously not aware of the fact that Ontario Hydro is at the present time buying three million tons of western coal and paying a $70 premium to do that.
The fact of the matter is that we certainly are very willing to buy western coal and use it in a way that is going to be to the advantage of reducing the acid rain emissions. The problem, of course, is that there has to be a very large component of shipping to get it down here. I will be talking to Ontario Hydro as to how they are going to meet the commitment that they have to in order to comply with the Minister of the Environment's very fine regulations to prove to the Americans that we really mean to cut back on acid rain emissions.
The fact of the matter is that these discussions have been ongoing for a good long time. I met with Tony Brummet from British Columbia, who is two ministers removed, in fact, from the present minister, so this is not something new to Ontario. We are very willing to enter agreements with our sister provinces in the west to be able to share the buoyancy of this economy, but of course it means we also have to take into account the cost that is going to be put to the consumers in Ontario. If we are going to protect our manufacturing base, we have to be certain that Ontario buys power at the best possible price, which is precisely what this minister is going to do.
Mr. Shymko: I would like to present the following urgent petition:
"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 we, the Home and School Association of Howard public school and the Howard school community, hereby state the seriousness of our commitment and concern regarding the need for the renovations of the Howard public school building;
"And whereas, for the sake of our children and future students at Howard, we look to you now for swift and efficient action which this matter so urgently requires;
"We petition the Ontario Legislature to call on the government and in particular the Minister of Education to:
"State that they will ensure financial support to the city of Toronto Board of Education in a period of time less than two years, that renovations necessary to the physical health and the proper educational environment of children may be expeditiously carried out.
"We, the members of the Howard Park public school community, hereby state the seriousness of our commitment and concern regarding the need for the renovations of Howard public school building. For the sake of our children and future students of Howard, we look to you now for swift and efficient action, which this matter so urgently requires."
INTRODUCTION OF BILLS
CITY OF TORONTO ACT
Mr. Offer moved first reading of Bill Pr17, An Act respecting the City of Toronto.
Motion agreed to.
CITY OF TORONTO ACT
Mr. Offer moved first reading of Bill Pr56, An Act respecting the City of Toronto.
Motion agreed to.
YORK FIRE AND CASUALTY INSURANCE COMPANY ACT
Mr. Cousens moved first reading of Bill Pr14, An Act respecting York Fire and Casualty Insurance Company.
Motion agreed to.
TABLING OF INFORMATION
Mr. Martel: Mr. Speaker, last week I requested under two standing orders that you assist me in obtaining both written and oral answers from the Minister of Labour (Mr. Wrye). That is approximately a week ago. I gave you a list; I could give you a much longer list. Those answers are still not forthcoming. I am wondering when Mr. Speaker is going to be able to ensure that the standing orders are lived up to by the Minister of Labour and those answers are going to be forthcoming.
Mr. Speaker: As the honourable member knows, I am very keenly interested and involved in making certain the rules are upheld. I do not see the Minister of Labour here but I am certain the government House leader will take note and make certain the Minister of Labour will respond.
Orders of the day.
Hon. Mr. Nixon: I would like to call order 35. The Minister of Health (Mr. Elston) is about to come and move this thing.
Mr. McClellan: My understanding was that we were going to do the 35th order tomorrow because the standing orders do not permit us to do bills in the same policy field on the same day.
Hon. Mr. Nixon: As a matter of fact, that is correct. The committee is willing to postpone its deliberations for the brief time Bill 78 will take, but the honourable member is entirely correct and I would like to call order 17.
ORDERS OF THE DAY
MEMBERS' CONFLICT OF INTEREST ACT (CONTINUED) / LOI DE 1987 SUR LES CONFLITS D'INTÉRÊTS DES MEMBRES DE L'ASSEMBLÉE (CONTINUÉE)
Resuming the adjourned debate on the motion for second reading of Bill 23, An Act to provide for greater Certainty in the Reconciliation of the Personal Interests of Members of the Assembly and the Executive Council with their Duties of Office.
Suite du débat ajourné sur la motion de deuxième lecture du projet de loi 23, Loi assurant une plus grande certitude quant au rapprochement des intérêts personnels des membres de l'Assemblée et du Conseil des ministres avec les devoirs de leurs fonctions.
Mr. Cousens: When the Clerk read off the title, it is too bad he did not go to the back of the bill in section 19 where the short title says Members' Conflict of Interest Act. It would make an awful lot more sense. I also like the title that was given by the member for Durham West (Mr. Ashe): An act for the Premier to cop out of conflict-of-interest enforcement on members of his cabinet. That is really what we are dealing with. We are dealing with an act that is full of problems. It is going to create problems for this Legislature in the future because it does not address the whole real question of conflict of interest.
It has the words, the public imagery of being an act that deals with a very important issue that, quite candidly, came to the fore because of the member for Brantford (Mr. Gillies) and the member for Sarnia (Mr. Brandt) who were able to highlight problems of conflict of interest within the government. It has been through their research and their direct questions that members of the government have had to reassess their own positions, and through that assessment, ministers have had to resign.
This is an important bill that affects the future of government in this province. It is time for us to give good leadership and to deal with more than just the form and get to the substance of it. What I see here are words that do not necessarily go to the root of the problem or deal with the issue as it really is.
We will deal with it as it is called. It is really Bill 23 and started out as Bill 160. May I suggest that I hope the government will possibly take it back under further advisement after a number of our members have discussed it further, members who share with me the common concern that we are dealing with a fundamental issue in society; that is, the whole process of selecting and choosing people to represent the people in the House that we are addressing right now.
It is an important bill. Yesterday, I was speaking on one particular section. I would like to back off and correct a certain direction I was taking because in section 12 it indicates that members are to provide certain data to the commissioner. There is an "except" that excludes the public release of certain parts of those data. May I say that my intent was still correct and I will go back just to apprise honourable members of what I was saying at that time.
In my remarks yesterday, I was indicating that clauses (a) through (l) would all become public information, except that I was not including the very important word prefacing the beginning of those subsections. Therefore, I apologize to the House that I became somewhat carried away in my analysis.
I come back, none the less, and point to subsection 12(3) of this same bill. Subsection 3 virtually does what I was afraid would happen under section 12.
What subsection 3 does say is, "The public disclosure statement shall contain a statement of the nature of the assets referred to in clauses (1)(f) to (l) and the name and location of persons or institutions against whom the assets are held."
What we are talking about is that the public disclosure statement can contain information about the nature of "the amount of cash on hand or on deposit with a chartered bank, trust company or other financial institution in Ontario that is lawfully entitled to accept deposits."
What is the government really talking about? If in fact the public disclosure statement can start talking about the nature of a member's assets, not just a cabinet minister but all members' assets, the nature of those can be made public.
I begin to say this becomes a concern, because when one starts having not only the cash on hand or the financial institution in which it is located -- mind you, the amount does not have to be listed, but everything else will be, "the amount of Canada savings bonds and other investments or securities" -- may I suggest that it is an intrusion on the privacy of a member to have all this information made public so that his whole financial status becomes public knowledge?
I believe the Quebec system certainly has merits. In Quebec, there is a commissioner, and the commissioner has the right to gather information about members of the National Assembly. This commissioner knows the background of each member. This information is shared with him. It is open. It is signed. It is authorized. It is a sense in which there is a sharing of data with that commissioner.
But may I suggest to the members, there is only one person who has it? There is only one person with whom it is shared. It is not necessarily going to come back in and out of the House. Members in that assembly in Quebec are able to rely on the decision of that commissioner. He has an awful lot of power, but that power, when exercised properly and fairly, as I am sure it would be, is sufficient to allow members to know their public trust is being upheld.
Under these guidelines, members who will agree to have that information made public are now going to have things known about them that otherwise is not anyone else's business.
When I said yesterday, why do we not require members of this Legislature to have medical examination; why do we not require them to have mental examinations --
Hon. Mr. Nixon: That is a good idea.
Mr. Cousens: I would agree. See there? It is just the inroads of the whole thing, and some might not pass those exams. There might be some honourable members who would find out they do not have what it takes.
I do not think that is important, because the public, when it elects a member -- the member for Brant-Oxford-Norfolk (Mr. Nixon) has been to the polls more times than any other member in this House except maybe the member for Elgin (Mr. McNeil). The fact is, people have accepted him for what he is, who he is; they are not interested in knowing his mental background, his medical background or his financial background, because they have established a sense of trust in him.
Mr. Martel: Anybody who tries to pass phoney money --
Mr. Cousens: I do not think he has done that with provincial money, though; it has only been with his own currency. What he will do is water down our currency so it is worth nothing anyway because it will drive inflation up and the deficit will increase. There are other ways in which he will make our currency less than what it should be and what it is.
My point is that this bill has problems within it. For us to quickly come along and say, "It is just another simple bill" -- it is not.
I was going through the bill further. I would like to comment on section 2. In section 2, it indicates just who is involved with a conflict of interest. There is no reference in section 2 to a member's spouse or the person with whom he is living or has a special relationship as defined under section 1.
May I suggest that there is a real concern, if you are dealing with conflict of interest, about having an understanding of the total relationship of a member of the provincial Legislature with another person. In fact, what could be happening is that a member of this House might well be living with someone, his or her own spouse, and doing things in his or her favour. There is nothing within this definition or this bill, except for the declaration or filing of a statement, which will force us to have any understanding of another relationship.
I believe that is a failure of this bill, not to address that relationship that members would have either with their spouse or with someone else. Therefore, section 2 of the bill should be redefined to include spousal involvement of some kind. It should have some reference to any spousal interference or action taken by a member of this Legislature for another person with whom he is living.
Section 3 of the bill indicates that each member of this House who has any special access to information and acts upon it in any way can be found guilty under the penalties section of section 16. I believe in the intent of these sections. I think the intent is saying quite honestly that we, as members of the Legislature, have to treat the information we are given as members honourably and correctly and in the service of our constituents. But since this province does not have an access-to-information act, there is an awful lot of information that flows through our offices that is not public information. What is public and what is private? Therefore, I believe that coincident with the development of this bill, there should be an acceleration by the government to introduce the access-to-information act, so there can be more sharing of information of what is going on within government.
That is not just of slight passing moment. It says here, "A member shall not use information that is gained in the execution of his or her office and is not available to the general public...." Quite candidly, a lot of the information that passes across our desks is not generally available. There are times when we have committees in camera and there are other data that go through. Somehow or other, I think that should be clarified.
I am worried about section 6, which talks about people who are going to be affected by this bill. I am reading, "The executive council, a member of the executive council or an employee of a ministry (other than an employee of an agency, board or commission) shall not knowingly...." It identifies the people who will be impacted by this legislation. Why then does the bill not deal with the impact of those people not fulfilling the terms of this legislation?
In the penalties section, where it is going to come along with the hard hand of the law and cause members to be reprimanded or fined or to pay compensation or lose their seats, there is absolutely no reference to any penalty for any other person who has dealt in conflict of interest with matters dealing with the provincial government. Why not? This act does not touch upon it except by saying they shall be included. If they are not going to have a penalty, if there is no sense in which they are going to be monitored, then I am saying this bill has a serious problem to it.
It should have some way in which every person who is doing business in the public service is going to be accountable to the people of Ontario for what he is doing, for how and why he is doing it and that his intentions are honourable. If in fact there are senior civil servants who are close to the executive council, who have private companies or private businesses, are they not going to be under the restriction of the executive council too? Are they not also going to be challenged and is there not also some penalty that can be levied upon them?
I believe that is a serious shortfall in this bill. It should go further than just saying, "We are going to deal with all these people," and then, by virtue of the fact that it does not talk about them later on in the bill, fail to address a much greater problem.
Through the questions that were raised in this House about members who had conflict of interest, or perceived conflict of interest and whose conflict of interest was later found, we have found in this House that there is a problem. That is why our party would support an honest resolution to the problems associated with conflict of interest. Deal with it more so, though; do not just say it is being dealt with. The honourable Attorney General (Mr. Scott) has mentioned it, but he has not begun to address it fully.
We cannot accept that. The people of Ontario expect more of us than that. They expect this House and those who are civil servants within our government and from the province to be honourable in all their dealings. Therefore, let us go a step further and make sure they are accountable. Let us make sure that there are going to be some teeth in this and that it is not just having words to it. It has got to have a follow-through so that every person can be truly and fully accountable, as they should be.
There are sections of the bill that begin to deal with certain aspects of conflict of interest that I believe take the right direction. In having open trust, it accepts the fact that there are going to be some members who will have businesses they can carry on through an arm's-length relationship and indeed recognizes there will be some dealings that take place. I believe there is a lot of sensitivity shown in section 7.
I am concerned with the appointment of the commissioner. The commissioner has a very, very large responsibility. I wonder what would happen in a few years if the government decides to appoint the member for Cochrane North (Mr. Fontaine) or the member for Oriole (Ms. Caplan) as the commissioners for the Members' Conflict of Interest act. Who knows who is going to be made the commissioner for this very important office? They are good people. I respect them, but they probably have more experience in this special area than many of us do. I wonder what the attributes would be to appoint any such person to this office.
In Ottawa, not too long ago, there was the McGrath report. The McGrath report was an approach to trying to open up government so that all members of the federal House would somehow be more involved in its processes and members of the opposition would again have some input to appointments at high levels of government.
It was through the McGrath report that a new process was established for the election of a Speaker, and the present Speaker in the federal House was elected by all the members of the House, through ballot. This was a way in which every member of that House had a chance to truly participate in the democratic process. It was not something, as has been the case in the past, where the Prime Minister would make a selection.
What happens now in the appointment of a commissioner, a commissioner who could be any person selected by the Lieutenant Governor in Council, who "shall appoint a person" to the role of commissioner? That very same person may have some special prejudices that are not in keeping with the thinking and feelings of other members of the House, and yet what act or what way do other members have of raising that for discussion?
I have to say that this office of commissioner is a very important officer. I think it is incumbent upon the government which makes the appointment to ensure that, whoever it is, it is going to be someone acceptable to all members of this House. If in fact someone is selected who is not acceptable to all members of the House, then that very same person could be undermining the rights, the freedoms, the privileges, the honour, the integrity and all the characteristics that make up the members of this House.
I would like very, very much to see the commissioner have a special appointment process that goes beyond it, so that those who are members of other parties in the government will have some input in the selection of that person. Something like the McGrath report in Ottawa, which gave an opportunity for all members to be more actively involved in the running of government, could also be brought to bear in the selection of this commissioner.
I am concerned as well, in section 9, that this commissioner, whose responsibilities it will be to police all members of this House to see that they have submitted their financial data and maybe eventually their medical and mental data and other things, is going to have a term of five years. I believe that is too long a term. Maybe we should be looking at a much shorter term, subject to renewal, to allow that person to be reviewed and to be watched so we can make sure no prejudice is being shown by his actions. I do not think this has been thought out deeply enough.
I am concerned as well in the whole disclosure process that is taking place. Every person is going to be treated very much the same as to what has to be disclosed, how much and so on. As I have gone through section 12 again where it asks for full financial disclosure by all members of the House, I question whether, if a person has any asset value in any situation, that in itself should show there is going to be an opportunity for some conflict.
Why are the amounts and values so important? What they are asking for in this bill is the amount of cash on hand or on deposit with a certain chartered bank, the amount of Canada savings bonds, the value of registered retirement savings plans, the amount invested in open-ended mutual funds, the value of guaranteed investment certificates, the value of annuities and the value of pension rights. If a person has any pension rights, it will be relative to his own needs and his own importance whether he has them. Is it germane to this bill that the value and the amount be given such an importance? I question that.
I believe that if we are going to have all this made public, we should remove the values and the amounts of anyone who has any investment and let it just indicate that he has them. My real fallback position is that I hope we will not get into this whole public disclosure of all the assets and all the values that every person has.
I am concerned about section 14 and how public the process will be in making public and sharing with everybody in the province what each individual person has. I think it touches upon the rights and freedoms of members of this House and of people who will be running for public office.
There are a number of aspects to this bill that make it objectionable to me. It says to the public that Ontario is dealing with conflict of interest. It does not do that. It does not do that because it does not deal with the whole circumstances that surround conflict of interest. It does not deal with the spousal relationships. It does not deal with the civil service. It does not deal with the total circumstances that can be involved in conflict of interest.
First, this bill should go further to enunciate and define clearly what those relationships are. Second, I believe this bill will undermine the very foundations that cause people to want to serve. When people offer themselves to serve in any of our three parties or in the fourth party that is about to be formed, people do so with the sense of wanting to serve their community. Do we want to put in front of them a disincentive for service, some reason or rationale why they may not want their name to stand before the public?
By asking for all this information to become public, are we then giving people a reason not to become involved? We want a whole cross-section of the public to be involved in a very significant way in the electoral, political and democratic process that has made our province as strong as it is. To remove that opportunity by virtue of excluding certain people is going to be a very large negative to the future of government.
I hope this bill is defeated. I hope the government reconsiders and comes back with a far more intelligent view of the needs of Ontario to ensure that the people are protected from anyone who is going to be in office for the wrong reasons. I believe that purpose is honourable and valid, that no person in this House should be here for other than the primary reason of making this province a better one and to serve the people.
If members are here to serve themselves, then I believe the system has to find a way of exposing them. But let us not just have an exposé of all the attributes and all the characteristics at the whim and fancy of a commissioner who can deal with these matters in a far too open way and who can remove some of the privacy that I think is paramount to a human being, a human being who has a desire to retain that sense of self-respect and dignity and that sense of privacy that is his.
Yesterday I talked about the governor of New York, Mario Cuomo, who was considered probably one of the best candidates for President of the United States. He is purposely withdrawing himself because he does not want to have himself exposed.
Mr. McGuigan: He says he will take a draft.
Mr. Cousens: He just might be drafted, but then along comes all that opening up of everything else that is part and parcel of what he is all about.
This is an important bill. It does not just affect the members of the Legislature of Ontario; it affects all the people of Ontario, because whom the people elect and whom they place in trust is going to be affected by how this bill is implemented, how it is followed and how people are going to interpret it in the future. I am concerned about that and I think therefore this bill should be defeated to allow the government to go back to work and rethink it and make sure it covers the whole ground far more intelligently than it has to date.
Mr. Baetz: I am pleased to speak to this bill. It is rather strange that about two years ago, when the question of possible cabinet conflict of interest was first raised, as all members in this Legislature remember very vividly, the Premier (Mr. Peterson) stood in his place and proudly claimed to the world that, "My cabinet is not only clean, not only cleaner than clean, not only 99.44 per cent clean, but squeaky clean."
Mr. Bernier: Squeakily clean.
Mr. Baetz: A bunch of mice.
Perhaps even at that time we should have suspected he might be protesting a bit too much, I do not know, but I do remember very clearly, and all of us do, his claims about his squeaky clean cabinet.
What has happened in the meantime, of course -- and here today we are debating a bill to deal with conflict of interest -- is there has been a report from the standing committee on public accounts, Report on the Allegation of Conflict of Interest Concerning Elinor Caplan, MPP, the Aird report, the Report on Allegation of Conflict of Interest Concerning René Fontaine, MPP, and so on.
So why this enormous, unprecedented interest and activity in this question of conflict of interest when indeed we have the privilege of having in this province not a clean cabinet or a clean-clean cabinet but a squeaky clean cabinet? We all know why. The Premier had no sooner uttered those words when serious conflict-of-interest charges were levelled and were made to stick.
I am not going to go into all the details of what happened in these particular cases; my colleagues have already expanded on them and they are a matter of public record. The thing that concerns me more than anything else about all of this is the attitude of the Premier in this.
I would like to confine my remarks pretty well to the role of the first minister, whether it is the Premier or the Prime Minister, in setting the style and setting the value systems on matters of conflict of interest, and also the role of the cabinet ministers.
Obviously, this bill will also be dealing with the conflict-of-interest questions for private members, but I would like to concentrate on the first minister and on cabinet. It seems to me there is a relationship that is indeed unique in all of society; the relationship between the first minister and his or her cabinet ministers. This is a very unique relationship. It is not a normal employer-employee relationship. It is not a normal managerial relationship to the people he or she is responsible for or to whom they are accountable. It is a very different relationship.
So much of that relationship is not set down. It cannot be set down in words and rules and regulations. There are some general guidelines, but so much of that relationship depends on a nonverbal, a nonwritten, full communication between that all-powerful first minister and his or her cabinet ministers.
I suppose it is very hard to really understand this relationship until one has served in that situation, as I had the privilege of doing for some eight years for Premier William Davis and later, for a short time, for Premier Miller.
During all that time, I do not recall Premier Davis ever saying to me, "Thou shalt" and "Thou shalt not," when it came to matters of conflict of interest, or giving me long memos or long sermons on how I should conduct myself or how I should avoid conflict of interest. But I knew, and I think every one of our members and ministers in cabinet knew, precisely where Premier Davis stood on the matter of conflict of interest. He conveyed that to us without having to set out the relationship in so many written words or so many legal documents. We knew what he expected of us and I think we knew what the consequence would be if we disregarded his value system. So we were free of conflict-of-interest charges, certainly during my years.
Today we have a new government, a new Premier, and a Premier who, I get the very disconcerting sense, is like the three monkeys, "Hear no evil; see no evil; speak no evil." Is that not the case? Is it not a matter of interest that in every one of these conflict-of-interest cases that was eventually made to stick, the initial reaction by the Premier was: "Nothing is wrong. I know of nothing. I do not know. I have not heard about that. I did not see anything."
We had it again yesterday when there was a very obviously inappropriate invitation extended by the Minister of Health (Mr. Elston) to his famous cocktail party. Yesterday the Premier came in here and said: "I think everything is fine. I have heard of nothing. I have seen nothing. I know of nothing that is questionable about my Minister of Health."
Then of course, the Minister of Health, taking his cue from the Premier, taking the value system -- no memo, I am sure; maybe the minister did get a memo from the Premier, though I doubt it, but he takes his cue from the Premier -- stands up here today in what had to be the greatest charade of smugness, of arrogance, of naiveté, and said, "There is nothing wrong with what I did."
Now we are getting into value systems. All the rules and all the regulations are not going to change that minister's attitude towards what he did or, God knows, what else he does. The whole question of conflict of interest rests ultimately and essentially on value systems, as it did yesterday and does again today.
Really, I feel that we can, as is proposed in the bill here, establish a commissioner. We can establish a policeman. We can give him or her all kinds of powers. We can set down modus operandi as to how this commissioner is going to act and what kind of punishment the commissioner will hand out to any minister who has been caught in conflict.
We can go into all of this, and I suppose this is necessary. We have to have some conflict-of-interest guidelines, some conflict-of-interest legislation. We have to have some modus operandi set out in legislation, but I cannot help but feel that unless and until the Premier, the first minister, sets the pace, sets the level, establishes the social and the moral environment and deals firmly with ministers who do not comply with that high value system, most of these guidelines and regulations will not amount to a great deal and will not provide the people of this province with the kind of protection they require.
As I say, it is not asking too much of a Premier to deal harshly with ministers who fall short of his or her standards. It should not be hard at all, because the relationship between a Premier and a minister is unique. He does not have to spell out all the reasons in the world he is going to drop this minister or that minister. He simply says, "I do not expect you to serve in my cabinet any more." There is probably not another employer-employee relationship in the whole, wide world today where the employer, the boss or the manager has that kind of power, but the Premier certainly has it in cabinet.
Hon. Mr. Nixon: Can't even get to court.
Mr. Baetz: It might go to court all right, but it would not get him very far.
That is the kind of powerful relationship the first minister has over his cabinet ministers. Therefore, I think it is not expecting too much for us to turn to the first minister and expect him to set the value systems and his ministers to follow. Quite frankly, that is my deepest point of concern with the present government.
I am not saying for one minute that the first minister is immoral or that he is guilty of this crime or that crime; not at all. But I have a feeling that this first minister views this conflict-of-interest question not as being a moral question or an immoral question, but as an amoral question. It is not very important in the value system at all. Certainly, the same applies to the individual ministers.
Frankly, I think the best guideline will be the ministers' own value systems. If individual elected members who are charged with cabinet responsibility personally believe there is nothing wrong with using their position of power to assist themselves and their friends and relatives, all the guidelines are not likely to deter them in every instance. They will regard these acts of self-help as neither moral nor immoral but as amoral and something that naturally comes with the terrain.
If, on the other hand, an elected representative regards his appointment as a cabinet minister as a trust placed upon him to work only for the best interests of the public, there will be little need for him to study conflict-of-interest guidelines. He will know instinctively and intuitively what is right and in the best interests of the public and what is wrongful self-aggrandizement.
I read that because I rather like those lines. They happen to be my own, in my last newsletter.
Mr. Wildman: You are quoting yourself?
Mr. Baetz: I am quoting myself because a few months after I had written those lines, I looked at them again and thought they were still pretty good. That is always the test: when you have said something that is pretty good, read it a year later. Some of it you will throw away, some of it will stick. This I like and I will repeat it from here on in.
If the Minister of Health is really convinced today that he did nothing wrong, if his value system convinces him that he did nothing wrong, then all the guidelines in the world are not going to help one iota.
To get back to one of the main features of this present legislation, which is to establish a commissioner who is going to police us and who is going to punish us if we are caught in conflict of interest, I feel we can pass the bill or we can defeat it, we can establish this person; it does not matter a heck of a lot. The world is going to go on essentially the way it is right now unless and until the first minister here takes seriously the whole issue of conflict of interest and deals with his cabinet in a very stern manner. The message will very quickly get through and I think we will begin to see some changes.
In a sense, it is simple to say our duty is now done; we have passed this legislation, we have set up the commissioner, we have spelled out a few more guidelines to indicate when one is in conflict and when one is not; now our job is done and we wash our hands of the whole issue and the world will go on in a much better way than it has in the past and the government of Ontario will once again return to the very high moral standards it did enjoy for so many years under the Progressive Conservative administration.
But unless and until we see some changes of attitude -- of course, changes of attitude can come with changes in parties. When we return to power and we have our own first minister in place with cabinet, then perhaps there will be a return to different standards and different mores as far as conflict of interest is concerned.
I can take or leave this bill.
Mr. Hennessy: Leave it.
Mr. Baetz: My very distinguished friend the member for Fort William (Mr. Hennessy) wants me to leave it. I will be prepared. He wants to leave it; people ought to take seriously what he says.
That is my central theme, my central thesis. There is an old saying -- I think it is European; it does not matter a heck of a lot, it has universal truth in it -- that a dead fish begins to decay and stink from the head on. That is where the smell starts. The fishermen know that. In this case, the same thing applies. Better conflict-of-interest activity here and higher standards dealing with conflict of interest start right across there with number one, numero uno, and spread out to the ministers.
When we have it there, we will have it all the way and the people of Ontario will be served a heck of a lot better than they have been in these last two shaky years. If what we have seen is a squeaky clean cabinet, I wonder what an ordinary clean cabinet would look like. It would be pretty terrible.
Mr. Philip: After listening to the last analogy about fish, one must wonder whether it is not the member who has been floundering rather than the instigators of this act. I was listening to his pleonastic, oratorical sonorities and I simply have to ask the member, because it was not clear, is he voting for the bill or against the bill?
The other question I ask the member is, what is there in this bill that in any way would make the first minister less accountable? What is there that would make a Premier less accountable than by making guidelines, by making no rules? Under this system one would have clearly deemed rules and obligations which, if not followed, the first minister, any cabinet minister or any member of the House would have to be held accountable for. Maybe he can answer those questions.
Mr. Wildman: I would like to ask the member whether he can make clear what his position is with regard to the obligations of ordinary members under this bill. He went on at great length about members of the executive council but I did not hear his view with regard to the provisions relating to members who are not members of the cabinet.
Mr. Baetz: To reply first to the last question dealing with private members, I have been a member of cabinet for some eight years and I have been a private member for two years. Frankly, I do not think the great concern in the bill should be addressed to private members. When we come to conflict of interest, the big concern still has to be with the first minister and cabinet. I cannot get too exercised about the conduct of the private members as far as conflict of interest is concerned.
In terms of the question directed by the member for Etobicoke (Mr. Philip) about this bill and the role of the first minister, the cabinet and so forth, it does not do it. I do not think this bill could very appropriately spell that out. If that is to be set out elsewhere, it should be done, but I go back to my point that we still are going to have to rely very heavily on the value systems that guide these people, the first minister and the cabinet. Quite frankly, if a first minister has any doubts about the value systems operating with any of his ministers, he should not invite them into cabinet in the first place.
Finally, as to the question of how I look at this bill and whether I am going to vote for or against it, I will know better at the end of this debate which way it will go. I do not think this is going to create a brave new world one way or the other.
Mr. McCague: I am glad the honourable farmer, the member for Brant-Oxford-Norfolk, and I are here to discuss some of the things that might apply to farmers. I see by the report that the member is now incorporated. I recall looking very fondly at the good crops in that part of the province.
Hon. Mr. Nixon: I remember you were very critical of the Brant county crops.
Mr. McCague: I should relate the story of a committee of this Legislature going to Windsor, I believe it was, and the honourable member, as he should do, has been telling me about all the great things and the great crops that were in his riding. He was driving back and forth on that road every day. The crops did look quite good from a car, I am sure, but when you got on a bus and looked down, it looked more like a rice paddy than a crop of corn coming up. The member was very embarrassed, as I am sure he was when some of these conflicts arose or came to his attention earlier on.
I have not been on the committees to study the alleged conflicts that various members had, nor connected with any committee in consideration of this kind of legislation, but what strikes me as a little odd is that the Honourable John Black Aird was asked to do a particular job, which was to examine the statements filed by the present ministers and determine whether the ministers had complied with the guidelines. Second, he was to assess any allegations of conflict of interest which might arise prior to the completion of the report; and third, to consider the entire question of conflict of interest and make recommendations for new rules regarding ministerial conduct and new mechanisms for implementing and enforcing those rules.
He points out that he addressed only the first and third points, because no allegations of conflict of interest arose during his acceptance of the request of the Premier. At the end of all that consideration and looking into the affairs of the ministers, which I suppose was a very difficult task for the ministers themselves, he did recommend a draft bill. As I read it, that bill addresses only the ministers of the crown.
Mr. Philip: Have you read the bill?
Mr. McCague: That report addresses only the members of the executive council.
As I recall the system -- in 1967, I chose to stand in my riding of Dufferin-Simcoe as a person to seek the nomination and withdrew in favour of the then sitting member's nomination as the candidate. From that time, if not before, I took a very active interest in politics in the province and in Canada. I recall that in some provinces in the years that followed, politics had a rather bad name. I recall many of my constituents saying to me: "You wouldn't want to go in with that group, would you? They can't be trusted. You can't get anything out of them unless you hand them something under the table," or "You can't do this and you can't do that without -- "; the implication was that you could not do anything without being dishonest.
I must say that I pledged to myself at that time that, yes, in fact you could be elected to this House and you could be honest. I admit that once during my 12 years here, I was indirectly offered a bribe. A chap phoned from my riding and said to my executive assistant, who was then Dan Needles, that he would be very happy to pay $1,000 if I, the member, could get his son out of jail. Mr. Needles was a very sharp young gentleman, and he very quickly said: "There is no point in talking to him at all. He won't do it. Goodbye."
That was the end of it. That was the only one in 12 years. That does not make me think it is a dishonest place.
However, some provinces have a little different system from ours. I think there is the odd province, one or two maybe, that is noted for the way it does business, whether it has ever been proved -- well, it has in a couple of cases; they are noted for the way they do business.
When that kind of mentality was sweeping the country, then-Premier Davis brought out some guidelines for conduct and the things that a person must do if he thought he could get into the executive council, if Mr. Davis wanted the person in the executive council. Those were good guidelines; granted they were not a bill, but they were good guidelines. If any member did not follow those guidelines, Mr. Davis did not dilly-dally or send somebody, or a commission or a task force to find out what he should do about a certain member. He took the bull by the horns and it was done.
I suggest the Premier could have done the same thing and used the guidelines that were in force then and conducted himself in the same way that Mr. Davis had done for, I think, the previous 14 years. No, he put it out for a look by the Honourable John Black Aird.
There is nobody in this House who has more respect for the Honourable Mr. Aird than I do. He was an excellent Lieutenant Governor. He did come back and he did a good job at what he was asked to do. Then we find a bill coming out, Bill 23, which expands it to all members of this assembly. Granted, it is not to the same extent as with the ministers, but it does extend it to everyone.
Everybody's constituents have been asking for years for conflict-of-interest rules. We have various conflict-of-interest acts, all of which, I suggest, very few people understand. Even with what there is out there, there are members out in the communities who are afraid even to vote if they happen to be taxpayers or vote if they are businessmen on the main street and the question before the council is commercial designation five or 10 miles away from them; those kinds of things.
I think honourable members of this House need not be faced with conflict-of-interest guidelines such as this. I think it is fair and proper that there should be a system of declaration by the ministers of the crown and parliamentary assistants, but to put every member of this assembly through this hoop if they want to be 100 per cent clean, as somebody has mentioned, I do not think makes sense. I really think that the Premier himself should take this task upon his shoulders and not be sloughing it off to a commissioner whom he and he alone can appoint, as the bill exists at present.
It does not seem to be a very strong bill. I noticed some place here -- for instance, in section 12, "After meeting with the member, and with the member's spouse if the spouse is available...." If the member's spouse is available; what does that mean? I do not know what it means. I guess it means what it says, but why would --
Mr. Wildman: It's pretty obvious.
Mr. McCague: That is true. Does that mean if one has one or if she does not have other duties to do that day? What does it really mean? I am not sure what the honourable member's interpretation of that is, but further down it does mention again, "and by the member's spouse if the spouse met with the commissioner." It would seem to me that all this says is, yes, if there is a spouse and you only meet if you are available to meet. If it is not convenient, so what?
What kind of legislation is that? Either you shall or you must or it should not be in there at all, dispense with it.
I think the bill is unnecessary from the point of the rules that could apply to the private members of this Legislature on all sides of the House and that therefore the government should take a little more time to draft a decent bill or to go back to the references made by the Honourable John Black Aird in his report, and not take this scatter-gun approach to a problem I do not think exists.
Mr. Wildman: I listened carefully to the member's presentation and I am a little confused, because he seems to be saying two things which sound to me to be contradictory.
They are that, on one hand, the bill is not tough enough, it is kind of a weak bill; but on the other hand, we do not really need legislation, the guideline approach of the former government was better. Perhaps the former minister could clarify those rather contradictory positions.
Mr. Breaugh: I have been sitting here listening intently, into about our third day now of debate on this bill. We are at the stage where, for the last two days, virtually only Tory members have spoken on the bill.
I have tried over this period to determine whether the Tory caucus is going to vote for the bill or against the bill. I have been unable to determine, in two days of avid listening, which way they are going to vote on the bill. It seems to be going too far, but not far enough. Some are for it, some are agin it. Some are going to listen to the remainder of their caucus speak on the bill and then make up their minds.
Would the member do us all a big favour and tell us whether his caucus is in favour of the principle of this bill?
Mr. Philip: It was not clear from listening to the last member: he said at one point, as I understood, that the bill was inadequate. Does that mean he feels the disclosure provisions do not go far enough? Does it mean he feels the commissioner does not have enough powers? If he follows his earlier comment, that somehow all members and all ministers should be honourable gentlemen and therefore there is no need for a commissioner, would he, as a former Chairman of Management Board, take that to its logical conclusion and abolish the role of the independent adjudicator of expenditures -- namely, the Provincial Auditor -- on the assumption that all ministers are honest and competent in the operations of their ministries and therefore there would be no need for a Provincial Auditor, either?
Mr. McCague: There were several questions raised and I have the opportunity in the democratic process to speak on my behalf, on behalf of the constituents of Dufferin-Simcoe. That is what I have just done. I was giving you my personal opinion of this bill. I think the guidelines were previously adequate, yes, but they are only adequate if the Premier of the day enforces those guidelines.
I do not see any reason this bill should be extended beyond the executive council and the parliamentary assistants.
As far as how the whole caucus is going to vote, I have not talked to them all. I wished to put my comments on the record; it did not take any longer to put my comments on the record than it did the honourable member for Oshawa (Mr. Breaugh) to raise his point.
Mr. McFadden: I appreciate the opportunity to speak on what is very clearly an important bill, on a subject of great interest not only to members of this Legislature but, I am sure, to people across the province.
I should say that I am sure every member in this House supports the concept that we as members should not become involved in conflicts of interest in the course of our duties as a member of this House, whether as members of the cabinet, as parliamentary assistants, as members on the government side or as members on the opposition side.
I think the voters have a right to expect that those of us who have chosen to work in public service should be beyond question. There should be no suspicion that those of us who hold elected of flee have questionable morals or are acting in a manner which lacks integrity or honesty. For example, the kind of situation we have seen in the United States with congressmen and senators who have gotten themselves into problems in terms of the carrying out of their responsibilities -- the Watergate affair, the recent retirement of Mr. Hart from the race for President of the United States -- has had an effect on all of us and has tended to cast a shadow upon everybody in public life.
As well, problems that have occurred in Ottawa, other provinces and this province which have forced ministers to step down from their jobs have reflected badly on the system. In many cases, the charges turn out to be without basis; some unfortunately do not. When that happens, we are all diminished for a time, at least a little bit, by this kind of allegation and charge.
Bill 23 is quite a sweeping bill in terms of requirements for disclosure. What I would like to ask is, what are the widespread conflicts of interest that this bill is trying to deal with? Are there indications here? Is there proof that large numbers of members of this House either today or in the past have been involved in overt and flagrant conflicts of interest that have in some way damaged the public interest in this province?
I would argue that is totally not the case. In fact, the reverse is the case. We have been fortunate in this province to have had very few conflicts of interest indeed.
Where does this bill then come from? What is the genesis of this bill? The reason we are considering this bill today is that two ministers in the Peterson government were forced to resign under the cloud of conflict of interest. It did not reach out to individual members, either on the government side or on the opposition side. The genesis of this was the resignation of two ministers from the current government.
As a result of that, of course, we have had the report of the standing committee on the legislative assembly dealing with the conflict of interest concerning the member for Cochrane North. We have had the Aird commission report on ministerial compliance with conflict-of-interest guidelines. These reports and this legislation arise from clear problems within the current government.
To begin with, I would argue that setting up a process such as we are proposing to do under Bill 23 is in many ways just window-dressing for the government and a way of deflecting criticism with regard to those two resignations from cabinet. By setting up the process as we are doing under Bill 23, we are reducing the kind of responsibility that correctly lies in the domain of the Premier for the conduct of the members of his cabinet, regardless of what party may be in power. The Premier should be ultimately responsible for conflicts of interest and the disciplining of cabinet ministers and people in authority.
I do not believe it is proper for this House to be, in effect, shifting the responsibility for conflicts of interest of members of cabinet to a commissioner who would then be investigating and deciding whether a minister should continue in the public service or at least within cabinet. It seems to me that the Premier of the day should be responsible for disciplining the government and his or her ministers. It should be the responsibility of the Premier to ensure disclosure and enforcement of rules among the people whom he or she has appointed to cabinet office.
What I think this bill has done is to try to shift the whole focus away from the Premier, with whom the responsibility for cabinet office should lie, over to a commission. Then the Premier can say: "I have looked after it all. I have created a commission. The commission will look into it." I would suggest this sets a very bad precedent for ministerial responsibility in our government and I would argue that the Premier, by supporting this kind of legislation, is abdicating his responsibility for the standards of conduct of members of his cabinet.
Public disclosure, of course, always sounds like a good thing to do, but I would like to ask you, Mr. Speaker, to consider the effect that Bill 23 could have on public life in Ontario and the people who are involved in public life.
I think it is safe to say that all members in this House, of every party and from every riding, operate in what is, in effect, a public fish bowl. We all put in 40, 50, 60 or more hours a week in public service, I would argue in general at considerable personal sacrifice in terms of not only income but also family life. There is no member in this House who simply comes to the Legislature, sits here for a few hours and then goes home and sits out in the backyard.
Every member I know in this assembly who is trying to do a good job representing his or her constituents and representing the public interest in this House not only is here when the House is sitting but also is on committees, and on various caucus committees, attends caucus and goes to all kinds of public functions involving his or her responsibilities here in the Legislature. As well, we are involved in attending endless numbers of activities within our own ridings.
In effect, all of us by running for office and securing elective office are involved in a very public way in terms of everything that we do in life, whether it is as a member in this House or in representing the interests of our individual constituents. The question I have to ask is, why do we in Canada not have public disclosure of tax returns? Why is it that everybody cannot see his or her neighbour's tax returns? What is the public interest in keeping all this confidential?
Why do members of this House feel that only members of this House should have disclosure? I would like to know. Maybe we would like to know what policemen get paid and what their deductions are. Why should we not know what teachers are earning? Maybe professors are making a little too much. Why do we not have disclosure of what professors are making? Why do we not have disclosure of what union bosses are making and all the extras they might be getting? Why do we not have disclosure of what business people get, big and small? Why do we not have disclosure of what all the public service gets?
Mr. McFadden: I hear the members of the New Democratic Party cheering, of course.
Mr. D. S. Cooke: You had that kind of legislation and Davis never called it.
Mr. Breaugh: That is right.
Mr. D. S. Cooke: You introduced it and you backed off.
Mr. McFadden: My point is that in our society we have respected the idea that the individual person has a right to a certain area of privacy. One of the areas of privacy is that of people's assets and financial information. This particular bill would extend the ambit not only to the minister and members of this House but also to their spouses. Does a spouse not have an individual, independent life separate from the member who happens to be holding public office? What about the children as well?
I would suggest that in looking at this bill, we should consider the potential deterrent this kind of legislation will be for many people who may want to enter public life, not because they are seeking to hide anything but because they may want to maintain some sense of privacy in terms of their personal lives.
That might not matter to some members of this House, but I would suggest we have always recognized in this province and in this country that people do have a certain right of privacy. I have no question about the desirability of filing with the Clerk of the House, the Speaker or a commissioner, a statement of assets and income. I would question, though, the propriety of making a family's business totally public to everybody. If we are going to do that, then this bill does not go far enough.
This bill leaves the very false impression that power in this province is totally exercised by members of this Legislature. There is not anything that is more misleading or more misrepresents the facts. The fact is that most discretionary power in Ontario is exercised either by members of cabinet or by deputy ministers and key members of the civil service. I would argue that more power and discretion by far is exercised on a day-to-day basis by members of the civil service and by various government boards and commissions.
In my view, we should have full disclosure of all deputy ministers, assistant deputy ministers, department heads and chairmen of all boards and commissions of government, in the same way as of every member of this House, if this bill is to go ahead. I would argue that there is no way that people who are exercising very broad discretionary power in this province should be exempt from this kind of disclosure requirement.
l know I am going to move, when we go into committee, and I think other members of my caucus certainly will, that the ambit of this legislation be broadly extended to include, if this bill is to go through, members of the public service who are involved in decision-making roles.
I would further argue that this should include members of all ministers' staffs, because I would suggest that, in many cases, ministers' staffs have as much authority as members of this Legislature in terms of deciding who has access to ministers, the kind of information ministers receive and the kind of advice ministers get in terms of decisions that are made. So I would suggest that personal staffs of all ministers should also be required to conform with this bill.
I think the principle we should be following in this kind of legislation is that anybody who exercises power, either under legislation to pass law or discretionary power in government, should have the same disclosure requirements apply.
I do not know what the government's attitude would be on this, but I think that if we are proposing to go ahead with this bill, then we have to take in more than members of this House. As a consequence, I would suggest that, while I have no objection to this bill proceeding in terms of committee consideration so that we can get into some of these details, I do think this House should be mindful of where we are heading.
We should be mindful of the impact this will have in terms of members' families. We should be mindful in terms of the impact this will have on people who might be seeking public office. We should also be mindful in terms of the kind of disclosure we would have to have for everybody connected with the public service if we go ahead with this legislation at all.
It is unfortunate that we have today in this province and in this country, and probably generally in other countries, the kind of suspicion about motives and approaches this bill would indicate people have. I am not questioning that. I think there are many people in our society who think members of this House become rich sitting here and serving in this assembly. I do not know of any person who is either currently in this House or has served in this House who has ever become rich through public service.
I believe the people who stand for office and who serve in this Legislature almost unanimously come here with the best of motives, with the idea of being here in the public service. It is unfortunate that we are in a situation today where we will not accept, and probably cannot accept, people's word at face value. It is unfortunate our society has reached the point where we have to be in a situation where we cannot accept the word of somebody or the benefit of doubt until it is proved.
Mr. Laughren: You did not take the word of the member for Oriole.
Mr. McFadden: With good reason.
I think what has happened here is that we have got ourselves into a spot where as a result of two instances that have happened over the past 12 months, we are getting into a whole train of events that will affect public life for some time to come. I think it is unfortunate we have had to move on to this road. We now are on it, but I think all members should address very seriously the implications of what we are doing and the logical impact of what we are about today.
Mr. Philip: I have a number of questions. First, if somehow it was only the present government that brought on the need for this legislation, why was it that things were so bad under the previous government that it was necessary for Premier Davis to bring in new conflict-of-interest guidelines? Obviously, if there was no conflict of interest, those guidelines were not needed.
Second, the member has said the public has the right to expect a high level of conduct. If they can expect a high level of conduct of ministers, why should they not equally be able to expect an impartial adjudication of that high level of conduct?
Third, the members of the Conservative Party on the public accounts committee that looked into the inquiry of the member for Oriole and her husband expressed over and over again that it was not the forum. Indeed, I believe the member for Brantford reiterated that in his earlier speech on this bill. If that is not the forum and one does need some other form of adjudication where there is an alleged conflict, what process does one use if one does not use the kind of independent adjudication proposed in the bill?
Last, is it my understanding that if the bill is extended to other public servants who act in a discretionary manner in the use of public funds, if that amendment is posed and passed in this bill, would it then be the position of the member that he could accept and vote for this bill?
Mr. Wildman: I have listened very carefully. I think the last speaker made the Conservative position clear, a little clearer at least. It seems to be that we do not need this legislation but if we are going to have it, it does not go far enough.
I am a little confused about the presentation made by the member. He seemed to be saying that spouses of members of the executive council should have some privacy when, as I recall, it was members of his own caucus who in dealing with the case of the member for Oriole argued that the business of her husband was a public matter and a matter for public debate and something that should be a matter for control because she was a member of the executive council. If my understanding is not correct, I would appreciate if the member would correct me.
Mr. Breaugh: I want to pursue just a little bit the question I raised earlier. I have been listening attentively for two days now for some indication as to whether the Tory caucus will vote for or against this bill. It is becoming a very difficult task to determine which way they are going to fall on this issue. I understand their discomfort with the disclosure provisions, but I would remind them they went to great lengths last summer at about this same time, demanding full and complete disclosure on the part of members of the cabinet. It does not sit too nicely that they would argue so ferociously here today against the same disclosure provisions.
I would just make one final plea. If the Tones do not want to disclose their financial transactions, would they please disclose which way they are going to vote on second reading of this bill?
Mr. Speaker: Are you accusing some members of being ferocious?
Any other comments or questions? The member for Eglinton may wish to respond for up to two minutes.
Mr. McFadden: I take it the members would like me to give a whole new address here to cover all these points. Let us just deal with some of the matters. I have disclosed my particular views on this. Dealing with the question of privacy, I have not argued that ministers or their spouses should not provide the information required in this legislation to the Premier or to an independent commissioner. I have not argued that. I think there should be a full and complete disclosure.
Mr. Breaugh: Now that we know what you have not argued, will you tell us what you have argued?
Mr. McFadden: Does the member want me to repeat my speech? I only have two minutes to do this.
What I am arguing is that there is nothing wrong with there being a disclosure to a commissioner. I would prefer to see the Premier, through his office or through the secretary of cabinet, enforce the guidelines on the ministers but, if that is not to be the case, I see nothing wrong with the disclosure of it to a commissioner or a commission. My point is that I see no public interest necessarily in having this published -- certainly as far as spouses are concerned -- in the daily press.
I think the questions we raised last year were instances where we found conflicts of interest. In that case, where on the public record it became clear there were conflicts of interest, then there should be some answering and disclosure in this House or an appropriate forum. As far as hearings before a legislative committee are concerned, perhaps legislative committees are not the appropriate vehicle to be investigating ministers and conflict of interest.
Mr. Speaker: The member's time has now expired.
Mr. McFadden: I would have been happy to have gone on for some further time.
Mr. Ward: I have just a few brief wind-down comments. I have listened with interest to the comments many of the members have offered and I do want to assure the members of the Legislature that as this bill proceeds through committee we can explore some of those points in much greater detail.
I was particularly interested in the suggestion by the member for Eglinton that perhaps the bill should be extended to include members of the civil service who do have some statutory authority. That is an issue we can hopefully delve into further as the bill proceeds through, I believe, the standing committee on the Legislative Assembly.
In closing, I believe that we as legislators, as well as the general public, are much better served by having in place legislation that clearly will help all our citizens, and indeed the members, to establish greater confidence in the knowledge that members do not profit in a personal way by either their knowledge or their activities as members of this Legislature. I think this legislation greatly enhances the clarity and understanding all of us will have with regard to our obligations.
Motion agreed to.
La motion est adoptée.
Bill ordered for standing committee on the Legislative Assembly.
Le projet de lot est déféré au comité permanent de l'Assemblée legislative.
REGIONAL MUNICIPALITIES AMENDMENT ACT
Hon. Mr. Grandmaître moved second reading of Bill 7, An Act to amend certain Acts respecting Regional Municipalities.
L'hon. M. Grandmaître: Ce projet de loi apportera plusieurs amendements aux règlements établis pour les municipalités régionales. Il permettra, par exemple, à chaque conseil régional de disposer du pouvoir bien défini pour fluoriser son eau potable. Il aura également pour effet d'assujettir chaque conseil régional de l'article 112 de la Loi sur les municipalités, qui interdit aux conseils municipaux d'accorder des primes à des entreprises commerciales.
This legislation will also make several amendments to individual regional statutes. For example, it will permit the Ottawa-Carleton regional council to establish a day care service area and to set up a 911 emergency response system for the benefit of the residents of the entire region.
Mr. McCague: I realize it is difficult to get an acknowledgement from the minister on second reading, but I presume everything mentioned in Bill 7 was asked for by the regional municipalities. The minister has indicated that is true and that the sections regarding fluoridation, court orders for support of juveniles, transfer of municipal materials to the archivists and prohibition of bonuses are applicable to all acts. On the trust fund accounts for homes for the aged in the various regions, I would have liked to have known how big an item those are but was not able to determine what they are at the present time.
The sections dealing with the permanent encroachments in Hamilton-Wentworth over and under regional roads and the Hamilton Civic Hospital seem to make sense. For Ottawa-Carleton, the minister's own region, he mentioned day care services and 911 emergency but did not mention the commercial park and drive which I understand forms part of this bill.
One point I noticed in going through this -- I must admit I have had a chance to look at this only in the last couple of days. In relation to the transfer of municipal material to provincial archivists, I have not yet been able to locate Bill 179, which I understand is a bill that either has or is yet to be dealt with by this House for all other municipalities. In other words, the minister does not want the regions to have the power to send certain things to the archivists -- the regulations, rules or whatever it is -- prior to Bill 179 being adopted by this House. I must admit that could have happened and I missed it, but I could not find the bill as I was looking for it this morning.
I think we all agree with the prohibition of bonuses. I guess that is an extension of the discussion we have been having on Bill 34 in the past few days. We certainly will be supporting this bill. I asked the minister a couple of questions he may wish to respond to as he makes any further comments.
I think that is all I wish to say. We endorse the bill and would like the minister to answer those points.
Mr. Breaugh: We will support the bill. The only hesitation I have is that I put to the minister that the bill causes some problems in coming forward in this form. It is traditional that usually about once a year we do an omnibus bill that reflects requests from regional municipalities for changes to their legislation. We have tried to canvass each of the regions. We have uncovered a couple of occasions when there was a little difference of opinion over language, but that seems to have been resolved.
I guess this is an example of an occasion when the omnibus bill -- putting all the requests from all the regions in one bill -- can be dealt with fairly expeditiously, but on other occasions there has been a certain awkwardness when there was something a little more, shall we say, contentious contained in the bill. It may apply to only one of the regions but it then becomes difficult to separate out that section.
I will make my annual plea that the minister give some consideration to putting these requested changes in regional municipal legislation in a somewhat different form so we can separate out parts of it if there are objections. On this one, as best I can determine by talking to people who are on the regional councils or working in the clerks' offices in the various regions, this simply conforms to the requests that have been made by regional councils over the years.
The other difficulty I have is that a somewhat more comprehensive compendium, which is supposed to come with this bill, would resolve the problem. For example, I am sure ministry staff contact each of the regions and try to respond to requests from the councils for changes in their particular legislation. When the minister introduces a bill, we have to do much the same thing as opposition critics. We have to track these people down and try to get from them: "What was the original request? Does the current bill respond to the needs as your council identified them?"
It seems to me that a little more openness in the process would resolve any difficulties people have; that is to say, if the minister would provide us with a comprehensive background paper that establishes, for example, that this is when the region of Durham made this request. "Here is the motion of the council that did that. Here is our response. Here are some suggestions they made."
In this instance, to use Durham as an example, when we called the clerk's office, staff made us aware that they had corresponded with the ministry over a very slight wording change that was proposed in the section of the bill dealing with the region of Durham. It took a little tracking down but we found out that in fact the ministry had responded to their request. Different people have been doing the negotiating, so to speak, and the region of Durham now is satisfied with the wording of the bill as is.
It took a little hustling around to determine that. I think it would be advisable in future years for the minister to find a slightly different format, or if that is not possible and he wants to stick with the omnibus bill format, then at least to try to provide the opposition critics with a little more comprehensive background information. In this instance it is apparent, to me anyway, that there is nothing untoward here. The ministry has responded to requests from various municipalities to make slight alterations to the acts that govern them.
It would have been a much easier and simpler task -- I am sure the minister already has the information -- if he had given us that background when he tabled the bill. It would have resolved it. At any rate, we are happy to support the bill.
Hon. Mr. Grandmaître: In answer to some of the questions from the member for Dufferin-Simcoe (Mr. McCague), I can assure the member that the regional solicitor was consulted and the changes or amendments have been approved by all regions. I think his second question was on the size of the trust fund surpluses. I cannot give him an exact figure but I can assure him that it is in the millions of dollars. If he would like an exact figure, I can provide him with it.
With respect to the transfer of municipal material to the provincial archivist, I can assure the member that this needed amendment -- at the present time, as the member knows, the Municipal Act provides for municipalities to transfer these documents or materials, any materials pertaining to meetings or minutes, but an amendment was needed to amend the regional acts. That is the reason this amendment is being proposed.
I agree with the member for Oshawa. We were on a very tight schedule and that is why this bill encompasses quite a number of amendments. I would have preferred to provide single bills for each item. Maybe the next time around in the fall session I will do this. I will provide my critics with more information. They are always welcome to phone me in the meantime. Until we get on a regular schedule of doing business in the House, I will try to keep the House informed.
Motion agreed to.
Bill ordered for third reading.
WINE CONTENT AMENDMENT ACT
Mr. Offer moved, on behalf of Hon. Mr. Kwinter, second reading of Bill 25, An Act to amend the Wine Content Act.
Mr. Offer: The purpose of this act is to extend existing legislation for a period of one year, which allows the limited use of non-Ontario grapes and wine in Ontario wine production. The regulations currently in effect allow imported grapes or the equivalent in the form of grape juice or concentrate to be blended with domestic wines to a limit of 15 per cent of a winery's total grape purchases or 30 per cent of the content of any individual brand of wine.
During the 1970s, consumer demand for wine increased but the trend was away from the stronger, sweeter taste that then dominated Ontario products towards a drier, lighter taste. Ontario wineries needed assistance to tackle this new market. Accordingly, the Wine Content Act was passed in 1976 to give the wineries the ability to meet these changing consumer tastes while conversion of the grape crop took place. Conversion of grape crops from the traditional labrusca variety to vinifera and hybrid varieties was originally estimated to have taken four to seven years. The conversion process has taken longer than expected.
Prior to this enabling legislation, the use of non-Ontario grapes had been banned under the Liquor Control Act. The Wine Content Act had an original sunset date of 1980 but it was extended to 1984 and again to 1986. This one-year extension will permit the continuation of the conversion process while assisting the wineries in their production planning. This initiative has the backing of both the Ontario Grape Growers' Marketing Board and the Wine Council of Ontario. It is part of a strategic plan being developed by both our government and the industry and is aimed at making the domestic wine industry stronger and more competitive.
I can assure the House that regulations can still be altered at any time in the process if the wineries and grape growers arrange a joint agreement on such changes.
Mr. Speaker: The member for Lincoln (Mr. Andrewes).
Mr. Haggerty: You have a conflict of interest, Phil.
Mr. Andrewes: The member for Erie (Mr. Haggerty) suggests I might have a conflict of interest. Let me assure him that I do not under the proposed act on this matter.
I want to comment briefly on this momentous occasion as we once again deal with the Wine Content Amendment Act as it comes up for its annual review before the House. I am sure those who are watching from the galleries and on television cannot wait for this momentous occasion when we give second reading to the Wine Content Amendment Act.
The member for Erie suggested I might have a conflict because about half, perhaps a little more than half of the growers who produce grapes for Ontario wine live in my constituency. If representing my constituents, a number of whom are also in the business of making wine, gives me a conflict here, it is one I quite enjoy having.
The parliamentary assistant has outlined, I think fairly carefully, the history of the Wine Content Act. In this ideal world we all seek, it would be most appropriate to have Ontario wines contain all-Ontario grape product. This, of course, is difficult because consumers' tastes change from time to time and unfortunately the growth and rejuvenation of vineyards cannot keep pace with those changing tastes.
A scheme was devised whereby wineries would be allowed to blend product from off-shore, whether in the form of wine, juice or grapes, with the Ontario product to enhance the overall quality, aiming of course for that ideal situation when Ontario wines would contain nothing but Ontario grapes.
The statute has an annual sunset clause, which is appropriate because it gives this Legislature and the industry an annual opportunity to assess the need for the continuation of the act and to assess the need for the regulations that might be drawn under it.
This is an industry in transition. The growers who are planting these vines and who are investing their money in the future must make those changes to keep up to date on new varieties and varieties that will allow wineries to produce the product to meet the changing consumers' tastes. For the wineries, the transition is more in marketing style and production style and in the development of improved and enhanced quality that will make them even more competitive than they already are with many wine-producing jurisdictions around the world.
Both sectors, the growers and the wineries, must deal specifically with a very strong mindset that the public of this province, the public of Canada generally and the public of the world has towards something we know as Ontario wines. There is perhaps nothing more snobbish than people's attitudes towards wine.
If it carries a label "Product of France" or "Product of Italy" or product of some other place, in many people's view it is better. Even before the cork is pulled and the first waft is taken and the first sip meets the palate, people have reached conclusions based on a mindset that has become a very serious and severe challenge for both the growers and the wineries of this province. Indeed, that mindset was perhaps the reason why the province, the government of Ontario, at its international pavilion at the world's fair last summer, encouraged the sale of wines from California as well as the wines of Ontario. Perhaps they were not convinced that this province produced as good a wine as any other jurisdiction, and in its world-class fair, in its world-class pavilion, the Liberal government of the province sold California wine. Shame on it.
That same mindset is very prevalent with the people's airline, Air Canada, which continues to insist that its passengers do not have enough respect for Ontario-produced products to serve them exclusively on domestic flights, on inter-continental flights, no matter where that airline travels; that its clients do not have the discretion to say, "Canadian, Ontario only."
l tell you, Mr. Speaker, if it were Air France, you would not find anything but French wines. If it were Alitalia, you would not find anything but Italian wines. If it were Lufthansa, you would not find anything but German wines. You agree; I agree; I am sure the government agrees.
Coming back to the statute that is before us, this momentous statute, Bill 25, I think we always have concerns that when we review this statute on an annual basis, the discussions have taken place between the wineries and the growers and there is a clear consensus that the wineries respect the investment that growers have made in growing these newer varieties, in attempting to meet the changing marketplace, and that in respecting that investment, the wineries will do their best to purchase all of the products, all of the grapes produced by those growers, in an attempt to parallel the efforts the growers are making on behalf of the consumer. In an ideal world, of course, we would not be faced with surplus commodities, but in agriculture today we are, and the grape industry is no exception to that.
Clearly, where there are growers who have undertaken to change their style of operation, to change the varieties they are growing away from the traditional varieties to meet those changing consumer tastes, those efforts must be respected by the wineries and those grapes must be purchased before they reach outside of Ontario's boundaries for additional product.
As we move to that end, I would of course encourage all members to support Bill 25.
Mr. Swart: I am sure this bill will get the unanimous support of the House. The same thing has been before us for quite a number of years and has received the support of all parties before, and I am sure it will again today.
As a matter of fact, I and other people from the Niagara area were involved in this matter when it was first proposed that the quality of Ontario wine could perhaps be improved if there was permission for imported grapes or imported wine to be mixed, within certain limits, with our local wines, and it received all-party approval in its very early stages.
I suspect that the member for Lincoln mentioned this when he was speaking. I was not in the House all the time, but there probably is the likelihood within the next year or two or three that this kind of legislation will no longer be necessary, that in fact in Niagara we will be producing the variety of grapes that is now imported, or a variety so close to it that it will no longer be necessary to have those grapes, concentrates or wines imported. We look forward to that time.
Although this bill will receive unanimous approval and will not be controversial, I think all of us who live in Niagara recognize that the grape industry and the grape growers are in very substantial difficulty, as many other segments of agriculture are. Therefore, not only do we have to pass this legislation so that we will continue to have the kind of quality wine that will sell not only in this province but elsewhere, but also we have to look for other measures to improve the sales of Ontario wines.
I know there have been more commissions on this than on almost any other sector of our agricultural industry. I believe there is another one sitting at the present time. There has been some controversy between the Canadian Wine Institute and the farmers with regard to the measures that should be taken, even though their goals are basically the same, one with the other. We look forward to that task force reporting some time in the not-too-distant future.
Mr. Swart: People from the rocky north interject on subjects like the wine industry. I suppose in some respects they may know more about it from one end of it than a lot of the rest of us, but on the production end perhaps they should not interject in any great way, because of lack of knowledge.
There is now a goal of both the industry and the grape growers that at least 55 per cent of the market for wine in Ontario should be reserved for Ontario wines. We were almost up to that point back in the early I 980s, when there was legislation on the books of this province which gave some special price advantage to the locally grown wines, but as we know, the Conservative government abolished that legislation. In fairness to them, or at least that procedure, there probably would have been difficulties under the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade if it had not been changed.
The result has been that the consumption of Ontario wines in this province has dropped to about 42 per cent at the present time. In fact, that is up a little bit over what it was a year ago.
It is not only the grape growers who have suffered fairly substantially in recent times, but also those who work in the wineries. Partly because of the reduction in sales and partly because of one winery buying out another, there have been rather serious layoffs down in the Niagara Peninsula, certainly at Jordan wines. With Brights Foods buying out Jordan, it has more capacity than it needs, and therefore it is cutting back on one of the wineries and has laid off quite a number of people.
The final thing I want to mention while we are talking about this matter is the concern the grape growers and the wine industry have with regard to free trade. There is every reason to believe that if free trade becomes a reality and there is free trade, there will be no wine industry left in this province.
Mr. Haggerty: There has to be fair trade.
Mr. Swart: "Fair trade" is a nice phrase, but I am sure I do not know what it means.
In any event, it makes me feel even more strongly that the New Democratic Party, both federally and provincially, has been taking the right position on free trade: to be very suspicious of it and basically be in opposition to it in principle. This is certainly the position the grape growers and the wineries would like to see in place in this nation; in other words, to ensure that free trade does not proceed, at least in their area, or it will likely be the end or close to the end of the wine industry in Niagara.
It is a long way around to the bill we have in front of us, but it does point out the rather difficult situation which the wine industry and the grape growers in the Niagara Peninsula are in, and the need that this bill be passed at this time so that, in some small measure, it will at least continue the quality of our wine so we can compete in the local and in the international markets with some degree of equality.
My party and I will be supporting this.
Mr. McGuigan: I want to take this opportunity to join colleagues from wine-producing areas to give my support to this bill.
Mention was made of conflict of interest. I am an unabashed wine grower, and I use that term advisedly. Rather than a grape grower, I am a wine grower, because wines are made in the vineyard. It is the variety of grape, the high sugar content and the low acid content, that makes the wine. Admittedly, a poor vintner could take a good grape juice and make a bad job of it, but the best vintner in the world cannot take a poor juice and make a classic wine. So wine is made in the field.
As has already been pointed out, in the old days we grew rather cheap varieties of vines and varieties that did well in our climate. But in the last number of years, we have imported hybrid varieties of vines from France and these are now adapted to our climate. They are doing very well and are producing varietal wines. That is a wine where the juice all comes from a single variety. Of course, that is what people recognize when they want this variety, that variety, and so on. You get classic, top-quality wines from varietal wines; not from mixtures. You may get passable product, but certainly not a classic product from a mixture. This bill addresses itself to mixtures.
As a matter of history, I want to mention in passing that the wine industry in Ontario actually began in Kent and Essex counties. More than 100 years ago, there were grapevines and wineries over on Pelee Island and along that ridge from Leamington to Blenheim. As a matter of fact, in the little village I live in, Cedar Springs, there is an old building with a very deep basement, far deeper than you would use for any storing of a farm product. When I was a kid, I was always told this building had that very deep basement because of the fact that at one time it was a winery, a place to store wine. They made wine and they stored it there.
As tobacco blossomed in this country at the time of the First World War, the tobacco lands took over the grape lands and growers moved to the Niagara Peninsula, which is another beautiful area for growing grapes. The land there has been getting crowded through mistakes of the past government in allowing those fruit lands to be taken over, building the Queen Elizabeth Way right through some of the very best part of it and allowing those irreplaceable lands to be taken over. The industry is now drifting back to Kent and Essex counties and the wineries there are producing some award-winning vintages. Charal Winery and Vineyards near where I live at Cedar Springs has won a number of gold medal awards for its wines, and the other wineries also have very high reputations.
I want to thank members for listening to this little bit of history, but I wanted to bring up the fact that the wine industry started in southwestern Ontario and it looks to be coming back there.
Mr. Ashe: Very briefly, I appreciate all of the remarks by the member for Kent-Elgin (Mr. McGuigan) and I think he should be very willing to bring in some of the products from his area so that we can sample some of them. I know they are excellent -- I happen to buy them from time to time -- but I think he should share that excellence with 123 of his colleagues.
Mr. McGuigan: It might bring a charge of conflict of interest if we did that. I think I will fall back on the conflict and will decline the member's very generous offer.
Mr. Partington: I am pleased to join in the debate in support of the act, which extends the thrust of the Wine Content Act for a period of one year and which is supported by the grape and wine industry, I am pleased to see. I am pleased a to speak on this matter, being the representative of Brock which, along with the riding of Lincoln, does represent the majority of the grape-growing area and the majority of the wineries in Ontario.
The wine industry is important for several reasons, first of all to the economy of Ontario. There are some 1,500 people employed directly in the Ontario wine industry. Two thousand Ontario families as well as some 14,000 seasonal workers depend on grape-growing.
In addition to that, I think the wine industry is important to Ontario because of the very high quality product that is produced. The Ontario wine industry has served the needs of Ontarians well in years past and continues to do so. The products that are now being produced, as the member for Kent-Elgin has indicated, are of an award-winning variety and certainly rate equally with the best of wines produced anywhere in the world. It is a quality product and one that we hope will soon be more readily recognized in our own province and in our own country because clearly, on a product basis, it is nothing but first class.
In speaking in support of this act, which is an act that supports and promotes the grape and wine industry, I applaud the government. I would hope, though, that the government would continue its support of the grape and wine industry in many more positive ways. Clearly, as the standing committee on finance and economic affairs in its report to the Treasurer urged, the government should continue to promote the Ontario wine industry. In particular, in the use of wine products in wine tastings where there is no revenue accruing to the wineries, the Treasurer (Mr. Nixon) of the province should lift the tax that is now payable in that connection.
I would hope that following the extension of this act to amend the Wine Content Act, the government will go further in promoting the wine industry by taking that step. Further, I hope that the government soon clearly comes out with a position with respect to the Ontario wine industry task force report submitted by the Wine Council of Ontario. There are certain other initiatives that should be taken by the government in support of the grape and wine industry: the elimination of the freeze on winery operated mini-stores, permitting retail stores to sell additional wine-related items including prepackaged foods, and there are many other steps the government should be taking.
An hon. member: It keeps the whine in wine.
Mr. Partington: Pardon?
An hon. member: It keeps the whine in wine.
Mr. Partington: I just mentioned sampling without tax a few minutes ago, but clearly there are many initiatives that we look forward to having this government introduce in the near future so that the quality and growth of the industry can continue. Clearly, as the member for Welland-Thorold (Mr. Swart) was pointing out, the market share of the wine industry in Ontario has shrunk over the past few years to something like 38 per cent in the past year. Clearly, with the commitment that has been made by the grape growers of this province, the commitment of the wine industry and the tremendously high quality product that is being produced, it is essential that this Legislature and the government support and promote the Ontario wine industry.
Mr. Offer: I would like to thank all the honourable members for their support of this bill. It seems there were two concerns that were brought forward. One is with respect to competition, and that in time legislation might no longer be necessary because of the growing ability to meet consumer demands and taste.
Once more, I would like to reiterate that the conversion of the grape crop from the traditional labrusca variety to vinifera and hybrid variety was originally estimated to take four to seven years and the conversion process has taken longer than expected, which requires and necessitates the extension of this particular act.
With respect to competition, it is important to note that there is a steering committee on the competitiveness of Ontario's beverage alcohol industries, which is co-chaired by the ministries of Consumer and Commercial Relations and Agriculture and Food, which is in consultation with the Wine Council of Ontario and the Grape Growers' Marketing Board. An objective of this committee is the development of a long-term strategic plan with respect to the wine and grape industry and competitiveness and trade issues.
A limited extension of the Wine Content Act will enable the government to determine an appropriate role or lifespan of the act in the context of a broader strategic plan.
Motion agreed to.
Bill ordered for third reading.
RETAIL SALES TAX AMENDMENT ACT
Hon. Mr. Nixon moved second reading of Bill 62, An Act to amend the Retail Sales Tax Act.
Hon. Mr. Nixon: This bill implements the proposals contained in the budget of May 20, 1987, as well as some administrative amendments.
The exemption level for prepared food products will be increased from $2 to $4 effective yesterday, June 1, 1987.
The bill provides for the adoption of phraseology recommended by the secretariat for disabled persons for references to persons with physical disabilities.
The bill also includes amendments providing for other administrative housekeeping changes.
Mr. J. M. Johnson: I have just a couple of questions pertaining to subsection 30(1a) of the act, as set out in subsection 6(2) of the bill, a penalty for default in remitting tax. I would like to ask you first what the change is; and then I would like to point out that most of the people who collect the tax are unwilling tax collectors. They do not have much choice in it. The government does pay them a small amount for their duties, but they are supposed to remit by the 23rd of the month. On some occasions, they inadvertently forget the date. It slides by and then they are faced at that time with a penalty that could be up to $1,000 for every vendor who fails to remit with his or her return the amount of taxes collected. Is it if they deliberately fail to remit it or if they inadvertently miss it by two, three, five days?
I am concerned about the time element, about the fact that if a tax collector, if a merchant fails because maybe he does not have enough staff or does not have staff trained specifically for tax collecting and tax remitting like a large store, some of these small merchants may miss the deadline. Then are they subject to this penalty?
The time frame is one thing I would like to inquire about; and also, in the event that there is a penalty for a late filing, is there any notification that is sent out by the ministry before the penalty is evoked? Are they warned that they have missed the date by registered letter or something of this nature; because as we know, the mail sometimes does go astray? I realize ignorance of the law is no excuse, and if they are to file by the 23rd they must do so; but is there just a reminder rather than a penalty?
Mr. Harris: I want to ask about the same section, in the hope that the Treasurer will answer the questions as to what is the situation right now vis-à-vis the penalty for late filing or for late failure to pay.
The section says "who fails to remit" taxes payable as shown on the vendor's return. Does that mean that if he sends the return in but does not have the money to pay, then he is subject to the fine, or if he is late filing? I think there is an interpretation there that I am not too sure of; I hope the Treasurer will tell us what it is now and maybe clarify that little point on those two things.
I also want to express a little bit of concern, and maybe the Treasurer can tell me the reason for what appears to be a fairly hefty penalty, 10 per cent. If a guy is three days late paying his money, that works out, I guess, to somewhere in the order of 3,000 per cent interest. As has been pointed out by the member for Wellington-Dufferin-Peel (Mr. J. M. Johnson), this is not like many government levies and fees.
It is admittedly the taxpayers' money and it is collected by vendors, but they have no choice. They are ordered to be tax collectors for the government. Many of them will question whether in fact it is worthwhile with the initiative that is there.
Mr. Laughren: Wasn't that a Tory initiative? Who introduced the sales tax?
Mr. Harris: I do not think what I am questioning is a Tory initiative. I am wondering why, when an income tax it is the going rate of interest if you are a little late paying, while this one could be 100 per cent or 1,000 per cent. Maybe the Treasurer would clarify that.
Mr. Barlow: My question is on exactly the same point as has already been discussed. I have done a fair bit of research here on the custom in a situation like this. In 1983 in the Statutes of Ontario, there was an amendment made to change the levy of assessment from five per cent to 10 per cent. This amendment says it is going to be 10 per cent. Also, an amendment was made to strike out $500 and insert in lieu thereof $1,000. Now, with this amendment, as I can see it, we are striking out some words in one section and adding a brand new section.
Why the play on words? Why change all these words around? It seems to me the act already covers 10 per cent up to $1,000 and $1,000 for anything over $10,000 in the tax collected. Perhaps the Treasurer can roll all these queries into one big answer and clear up all the concerns we have.
Mr. Foulds: I doubt it.
Mr. Ashe: Again, on the same section, it would appear that the Treasurer might have better spent his time when he moved second reading to explain this section, because obviously it seems a little redundant, if not unclear. My concern and question is exactly the same.
Hopefully, we have given him lots of opportunity to think through the answer now.
As I understand that section, there is really no change whatsoever in the penalties, but it seems to be a duplication, splitting out as to when, why and under what circumstances any penalty -- the 10 per cent with the maximum of $1,000, which has already been in effect since 1983 is payable. I repeat the concerns and question as posed by my colleague the member for Cambridge (Mr. Barlow) as to what the Treasurer is doing. The present act talks about those who do not remit the file and the money, and now he is adding a separate subsection that talks about not remitting the money with the return. It sounds like a duplication. Normally, when we make amendments, we are clarifying and simplifying. It is very difficult to see how this particular amendment does either.
The Deputy Speaker: Reply?
The Deputy Speaker: Yes, there are another 32. Has the time expired for questions and comments? Thank you. Reply from the minister.
Hon. Mr. Nixon: Mr. Speaker, frankly, I was not aware that this little procedure worked on the opening statement on a bill, but you are telling me that it does. We are having the whole debate in these 90-second intervals, and that suits me to a T.
The reason for the change is that the interpretation of the old penalty act was that if you were short by a certain amount during the payback period, the monthly pay-in, you were subject to 10 per cent on the whole amount of the payment that was due, including what you had already sent in. I am sorry, I am not phrasing that very well. With this amendment, you are subject to a 10 per cent penalty up to a maximum of $1,000 on only that amount by which you are short. I think there have been a number of instances where under the act a 10 per cent penalty would be applied on a fairly large amount of money when only a few dollars were short under the assessment. That is the explanation for the change, which is designed to really be of benefit to the collector of the tax.
I have 52 seconds to refer to what the member for Nipissing (Mr. Harris) said about the vendors being unwilling tax collectors. Certainly that is true. When I was first elected, this was the big issue. Mr. Frost, in the budget that year, had brought in the three per cent sales tax. It was considered a very high sales tax indeed. I know he was very politically sensitive about the matter. There are those who say he decided to end his career as Premier at that stage, taking what he considered to be the blame, even though because of very good judgement the Liberal leader of the day had recommended he put the tax on. That is another story which we can discuss when I have more than 13 seconds.
Anyway, the vendors are unwilling in that connection, but we reimburse them for their efforts; not sufficiently, but higher than any other sales tax collection jurisdiction in Canada.
Mr. Laughren: I shall be brief, even though I must say we on this side welcome and have been looking forward for some time to this cornerstone of the Treasurer's fiscal policy for Ontario.
We have no trouble supporting the increase in the exemption from $2 to $4 for prepared food. I think the change in the wording for the physically handicapped is an appropriate one and we support that. We are a little concerned about his anti-post office amendment in section 3, but I suppose we can live with that.
Hon. Mr. Nixon: We have so much staff.
Mr. Laughren: I know; they dream up these things. Even though this cornerstone of fiscal policy does not deal with some of the issues we would like to see the Treasurer deal with in the province, we will support it.
Hon. Mr. Nixon: May I just comment, since the member for Nickel Belt is the first honourable member who raised the actual subject matter of this bill, which was increasing the exemption on prepared food to $4, that I join him in congratulating the Treasurer for putting that in the budget this year.
This was a commitment made by the Liberal Party before the election that saw our accession to the responsibility of office. This really means that almost all our commitments have been kept. There are one or two we are still working on that are not of a minor nature and may take another budget or two to accomplish, if the good Lord gives us that opportunity.
I was really delighted that the exemption was raised to $4. Mr. Cohon himself, the owner of McDonald's hamburger stands, indicated he felt it was a sensitive move. I thought that was a very appropriate way to describe it. I was also glad to see in the newspapers today a picture of a kind of sandwich-board sign in front of a restaurant headed, "Bob Nixon's Specials." Here were these full meals for $3.99, and I think it is really quite a remarkable thing that this has been able to occur in this jurisdiction and under these times. I believe the overall cost for this change was $40 million.
Mr. Laughren: I do not want to prolong the debate, but it really is strange in this province that the former Treasurer -- I do not know whether the member for Muskoka (Mr. F. S. Miller) was ever Minister of Revenue, but he was Treasurer -- got his inspiration by jogging past used car lots and the present Treasurer gets his from jogging past McDonald's hamburger stands.
Mr. Ashe: We will, of course, be supporting this bill. If we really want to call the Treasurer benevolent -- he thinks he should be called benevolent -- maybe he should have gone a little step farther. We used to call him Buck-a-Year Bob on his first budget and Another-Buck-a-Year Bob on his second budget.
He jumped two bucks this year, maybe coincidentally, because it is about the only election promise that will have been fulfilled. Besides that, just coincidentally, it might be an election year. He will be able to stand up and say, "We did at least one thing we said we were going to do without the prompting of the third party."
One can say that is a great revelation, but I am not quite sure it is. If he really wants to go down in history, or on more sign boards, what he should do is suggest that when two or three people sit down in a restaurant, they should be able to say that it is fine, as long as it is divisible by two or three; it could be a $4 maximum, $8 maximum, $12 maximum and so on. I would suggest that Mr. Cohon at McDonald's, when he sees the lineups getting longer as everybody goes to buy his own hot dog or hamburger and chips, etc., to be able to stay under the $3 .99 limit, may not be as thankful as he has been in the past.
The last comment I have to make is on the section the Treasurer just responded to, namely, section 30: in fact, maybe in his ultimate response he can answer why subsection (1a) has been added rather than replacing the present subsection 30(1) in the bill. If one reads them one after the other, it is hard to know why both are needed and why this one does not just replace the one that exists.
I appreciate and accept his explanation about the confusion before, vis-à-vis they were subject possibly to a penalty on the total tax rather than just the tax not remitted. It seems to me that the present subsection 30(1), then, is rather redundant, and that this section would take care of both situations of not remitting or not remitting all of it. Possibly the Treasurer can ponder that over the next month or two and respond in due course.
Hon. Mr. Nixon: If I may just respond, it might save a moment or two. I really cannot give the member the kind of answer he would expect.
My own experience is that the legal advice in the ministry is excellent and quite precise, and the member knows the same. They are the same well-qualified people who kept him out of trouble who so far have kept me out of trouble. The answer is that we did that because it seemed the advisable thing to do. I will provide him with a written answer, however, as soon as that is available.
Mr. Ashe: I appreciate the offer of the Treasurer to provide a more adequate explanation in due course and I thank him.
Mr. Swart: There is just one item that I want to bring to the Treasurer's attention. I first brought it to his attention over a year ago, by writing a letter to him about the discrimination that exists with regard to kiddies' treats. I hoped, especially as he wrote back to me a year ago saying that it seemed to make some sense and that he would review it, that perhaps the budget this year would contain at least a dollar exemption for those kinds of treats, whether it be chocolate bars or whether it be ice cream that is sold by Dickie Dee and those kinds of things.
I see he decided not to do that and I think it was a mistake. I do not know whether it is because he does not eat those kinds of fattening treats himself or whether he has not got children or grandchildren who like those things. Whatever the reason is, perhaps he would like to advise us at this time, because it does seem to be a bit unfair that the tax, which was put on by the people on the right since I was here, has not been lifted by the new government, especially when it has now raised the exemption on prepared foods to $4.
Hon. Mr. Nixon: Dickie Dee has not come that far out of the peninsula that it has had an impact in Brant county. My grandchildren like Dairy Queen, and we may specifically exempt Dairy Queen in the near future. I should also say that I tend, when I respond to the honourable member's letter -- I feel so good about it because his picture is on each letter. Here is this smiling face, and I always say, "Dear Mel, nice to see your picture and we'll think about it positively." And I still am.
Mr. Foulds: The Treasurer has shown his complete ignorance of the whole issue surrounding the Dickie Dee controversy, in confusing it with Dairy Queen. Dickie Dee is on the little bicycles and carts that go around from place to place, and the argument made is that the work that is involved in selling the wares by lifting it up, even though it is prepared food, makes it actually as work-motivated and work-producing as is the production of a scoop of ice cream, which is a prepared food and thus exempt.
I would ask the Treasurer to pay some serious attention to the comments of my colleague the member for Welland-Thorold who put the case properly, I think. The Treasurer should also be aware that Dickie Dee has expanded westward from the peninsula into ridings vulnerable to Liberals, such as that held by his colleague the member for Kitchener (Mr. D. R. Cooke), the chairman of the standing committee on finance and economic affairs, who especially brought a spokesman from Dickie Dee into the finance and economics committee to make a prebudget presentation.
Mr. Harris: I too want to join in the great Dickie Dee controversy of the day. I too am surprised that the Treasurer does not appear to be familiar with the Dickie Dee problem, because I sent to the Treasurer quite an extensive brief on Dickie Dee that was prepared by a young lady who was one of the entrepreneurs who went through the startup youth venture capital program while she was in school. Lucie Sèguin was her name, in case the Treasurer might want to refresh his memory. He probably has not responded to this piece of correspondence yet, even though it came in well over a month ago, if my recollection is correct. It may be six, seven or eight weeks ago.
A young entrepreneur, still a student, started one corner store in my riding and now has two corner stores rivaling Mac's Milk and Mike's Milk -- they had all better watch out in the future -- and also took on the Dickie Dee franchises. She spent a considerable amount of time and put a lot of thought into her presentation to the Treasurer. I am not sure if he still fully understands after the explanation, but the tax laws differentiate ice cream scooped out into a cone as opposed to the already pre-scooped and packaged ices. Of course, if you throw a little sprinkle of chocolate on it, now all these things are taxable, but in an ice cream store you can throw the little sprinkles on right there in front of people and it is not taxable.
It is a problem, and had the Treasurer read his mail he might have corrected it. Unfortunately, it has not been done. I do not know whether there is still room -- there probably is not for opposition members -- but if the Treasurer wanted to propose a frame of reference to accomplish this, I am sure we can go over this tomorrow to give him tonight to look it up and do that.
Mr. Swart: My only reply would be that I am a little bit disappointed in what the Treasurer had to say, in his amiable way. A year ago, he said in writing almost exactly the same thing he said here today, and I do not feel I am making much progress.
I would have liked him to stand up and give some clear indication that he would at least consider it for next year's budget. I remind him that of course it is pre-election time and to give a bit more positive response would not do any harm to his party, as well as to the rest of us here who have people in our ridings who are concerned about this.
Maybe getting up to answer another question, he can be a bit more positive about this one and sneak that answer in as well.
Mr. Barlow: I have several things I would like to mention to the Treasurer, and I wonder if, rather than starting, I should move adjournment.
Mr. Speaker: There are three minutes left. Perhaps the member could get started, if he wishes, and then move adjournment of the debate.
Mr. Barlow: If you wish, Mr. Speaker.
I would like to join in with those who have already mentioned about the new exemption of $4 for restaurant meals. I suppose I should congratulate the Treasurer for once again throwing a bit of chaos into the restaurant business by having the restaurateurs reprogram their machines. I am sure he will vividly recall my discussion when the first $1 amendment was brought forward.
At that time, I think I stated that it was costing the people who operate the restaurants something like up to $600 to reprogram their machines to accommodate the tax exemption. Then, of course, we went through the same thing a year later in the 1986 budget when the amendment was made to increase the exemption to $2, so that the people at McDonald's and all the smaller stores that had these restaurant meals all had the opportunity of again calling in the specialists, the people who make money on reprogramming machines, to have their cash registers reprogrammed.
Now they will go through this same business once again to accommodate the $4 -- all in the interest, of course, of fulfilling the election promise, the only election promise that this government has so far been able to introduce and fulfil on its own without the assistance of the famous accord.
For the third time, the people who operate the restaurants once again go to this expense. It could have been done all at one time back in 1985 if they really were interested in fulfilling that particular promise rather than going through that nonsense of reprogramming each time the Treasurer comes up with another buck, and this time two bucks.
Mr. Speaker, I have at least one other thing I want to discuss and there just is not time between now and six o'clock to do so, so if you wish, I shall move the adjournment of the debate.
On motion by Mr. Barlow, the debate was adjourned.
The House adjourned at 5:59 p.m.