L002 - Wed 4 Nov 1987 / Mer 4 nov 1987
The House met at 1:30 p.m.
BOARD OF INTERNAL ECONOMY
Mr. Speaker: I beg to inform the House that I have laid upon the table a copy of order-in-council 2294-87 appointing the Speaker, who shall be chairman, the member for Renfrew North (Mr. Conway), the member for London South (Mrs. Smith), the member for Ottawa Centre (Mr. Patten), the member for Halton Centre (Mrs. Sullivan), the member for Windsor-Riverside (Mr. D. S. Cooke) and the member for Parry Sound (Mr. Eves) as commissioners to the Board of Internal Economy.
Mr. Speaker: I would also ask all members to join me in welcoming the first group of legislative pages to serve in the First Session of the 34th Parliament, 1987. I will name them and state the riding from whence they came.
Seth Brennan, Lanark-Renfrew; Katherine Brown, Northumberland; Nick Covelli, Mississauga East; Meredith Dodge, Etobicoke West; Erin Eacott, Oxford; Heather Hawley, Essex-Kent; Darrell Jackson, Cambridge; Stephanie Joyce, Ottawa Centre; Douglas Kirkby, Etobicoke-Humber; Robert Leckey, York North; Annie Lefebvre, Wentworth East; Geniev Mondoux, Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry; Coralee Mueller, Algoma; Theresa Miuse, Cochrane South; Patrick Mullan, London Centre; Daniel Perrier, Markham; Christopher Sattler, Simcoe East; Jodi Shanoff, Dovercourt; Haniya Sheikh, Durham West; Janet Sunohara, Victoria-Haliburton; Sam Ventresca, Niagara Falls; and Matthew Wilson, Elgin.
Please join me in welcoming our pages.
Hon. R. F. Nixon: All Canadians were shocked and saddened to hear of the death of René Lévesque earlier this week. He had an extensive and extremely interesting political career. In spite of his avowed aim during his latter days to lead Quebec out of Confederation, people everywhere recognized the sincerity of his commitment, but much more than that, his ability as a politician to sometimes cut through the bureaucratic red tape and general obfuscation of politics in general to express a view that was understood and at least respected by all Canadians.
I met him first when he was a member of a Liberal administration in Quebec and, even there, his initiative and ability to persuade showed themselves in the policies of those Liberal governments at that time. I think of the nationalization of Hydro-Québec as one of his substantial contributions in public affairs.
I also had an opportunity to meet him a number of times, both in his capacity as a cabinet minister and also as the leader of the Parti Québécois, both before he was elected and after he became Leader of the Opposition. I think it was in one of those stages as Leader of the Opposition in Quebec that one of the more aggressive and imaginative executive directors of -- I believe it was -- the furniture retailers in this province decided to invite M. Lévesque and myself, as Leader of the Opposition here, to debate separatism. I was unwise enough to participate, because on points he won hands down.
I do recall the question being put to me at the time of the debate, which I think was held in one of the halls out in the Canadian National Exhibition grounds: What would Ontario’s role be if Quebec did separate? That was before I learned the standard answer to hypothetical questions, and instead of referring to it that way, I said that in the unlikely event, and God forbid that that should happen, our traditions and associations with Quebec would surely come to the fore and we would be, whatever happened, Quebec’s best friend.
I remember returning to question period in the House -- I was sitting somewhere over there -- and a person who was my predecessor as Treasurer picking up on that in a most heavy-handed way. References to “traitors,” as a matter of fact, were exchanged. I felt very badly about it, both for my own position and for the view of the person who referred to it that way in the House. That seems to be behind us as far as an issue is concerned, because the issue of separatism being led effectively and put strongly to the people of Quebec and then being rejected has, in many respects, strengthened our Confederation in a way that perhaps we would not otherwise have imagined.
I suppose, on a more personal basis, M. Lévesque’s sudden death has an impact on us all and is a clear indication of the mortality under which we live. As a politician, his example of forthrightness, whatever we think about his views on the issues, was and continues to be an excellent one. He will be missed by all Canadians, and particularly by those in Quebec who dealt with him in a regular way both in politics and in the administration of public affairs.
M. B. Rae: À l’occasion de la mort de René Lévesque, le Québec et le Canada partagent une perte, comme nous avons partagé une vie extraordinaire.
René Lévesque fut, tout d’abord, un journaliste exceptionnel qui nous apprit beaucoup à nous tous, tant sur la place du Canada dans le monde que sur la politique naissante du nationalisme québécois. En sa qualité de ministre dans le gouvernement Lesage, il obtint pour le public québécois le droit de propriété et le contrôle d’Hydro-Québec. Ce fut également une voix qui ne cessait d’insister sur le franc-parler et la droiture au sein des conseils du Parti libéral du Québec.
Ensuite, il mit sur pied le plus grand mouvement démocratique pour un Québec indépendant dans l’histoire de notre pays. Il dirigea au Québec un gouvernement qui a laissé un héritage permanent dans un éventail énorme de domaines socioéconomiques, héritage qui continuera d’inspirer maintes autres provinces dans leur travail et l’élaboration de leurs lois.
René Lévesque consacra la majeure partie de sa carrière politique à la création d’un Québec indépendant. Ce n’était pas une vision du Canada que je partageais. Toutefois, nous devons tous reconnaître qu’il insuffla à la vie politique québécoise un sens unique de fierté et de passion, tout en apportant son honnêteté et sa probité à la vie politique de tout le Canada.
En poursuivant sa bataille avec tant de franchise et de passion, il nous força tous à réfléchir sur le sort du Canada, à nous en soucier davantage, enfin, à faire un plus grand effort d’incorporer le Québec et son identité distincte dans notre vision à nous.
René Lévesque a bien vécu, pleinement vécu. C’est une vie que nous devons tous célébrer.
If I can speak for a few moments in English, in addition to what I have said, the one thing I think is remarkable about the last few days, as Canadians have learned about and come to terms with the death of René Lévesque, is that the vast majority of us, quite obviously and quite clearly, did not share his political passion of the last 15 years. Indeed, there are many of us who, during the days of the referendum and at many other times, fought to make sure that Quebec felt itself at home in Confederation.
But it is also true to say, as I think often is the case only when one is forced to confront these things, as we have been because of his tragic early death, that Mr. Lévesque forced all of us as Canadians to care more about our country and forced all of us to explain to ourselves what Canada meant to us, in particular with respect to Confederation and the province of Quebec. Even though I am sure he himself would have regarded it as an act of extraordinary irony, I think what he did was to strengthen Confederation, because by challenging Confederation to its very limits, he forced all of us to confront what is good and permanent in that Confederation and forced us in particular to recognize, I hope, in our new Constitution the unique and distinct identity of Quebec.
He was a remarkably honest, straightforward, frank, funny and direct politician. He was not particularly a packaged, well-produced, over-managed and technocratic politician. He was a politician of the people. He was somebody who reflected in his life and in his work what he really believed in. All of us who have watched his career, who have learned from him, can only admire him as a person, as much as I certainly disagreed with him on the fundamental question of Quebec’s role in Confederation.
It was only a 65-year life, but he packed an awful lot into those 65 years. It is a life we should celebrate just as we commemorate the sadness of his death and extend to Mrs. Lévesque and to the Lévesque family the very best wishes and sentiments of the people of this Legislature and the people of Ontario.
À la famille de M. Lévesque, surtout à sa femme, nous exprimons, de la part de la province de l‘Ontario, notre sentiment de perte. Nous espérons que le sentiment extraordinaire de perte, qui est partagé par tous les Canadiens, donnera un peu de réconfort à la famille de M. Lévesque.
Mr. Brandt: I want to join my colleagues in the Legislature in expressing the very deep sympathy of my party with respect to the very unfortunate death of Mr. Lévesque.
I had the opportunity, I guess some three years ago, to attend a first ministers’ conference in Regina and for the first time met Mr. Lévesque. I was immediately struck, as many of us who had the opportunity to meet him were, with his intense love of his province, Quebec, and of his tremendous grasp as a politician of the issues of the day in his capacity to bring his own particular style of political solution to those problems.
Now, I make no apology for the fact that my party did not agree with the policies of Mr. Lévesque as they related to the separation of Quebec and to the treatment of that particular province within the context of Confederation, but we did admire him for his tenacity as a politician and for his strong belief in what he had set forward as his goals. I agree entirely with the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. B. Rae) that he caused us to take a moment and reflect on what being a Canadian was all about. He caused us perhaps to look at ourselves and make a determination as to whether this country was really worth fighting for and if the united Canada we all strive for was in fact a battleground we could enter into.
I also recall some years earlier when I had the opportunity to visit Quebec, when I was in a different capacity as the mayor of a community in Ontario. I sensed in a very direct way the intensity of feeling of some element of alienation in Quebec, of separation from the rest of the country in terms of total association with other Canadians, and it brought home to me in a very real sense the fact that we had to reach out. Mr. Lévesque taught us that lesson, that we had to reach out to the province of Quebec and to the people of Quebec and show them that those of us in other parts of Canada truly cared. That was one of the lessons I learned from that very great man.
Although I would have fought him on the issue of separation, as most if not all of us in this Legislature would have, we still stand in deep admiration and respect for a man who will leave his mark on Canadian politics, who gave his best to a province he loved very dearly. I want to join with all of us in saying our sympathies go at this moment of loss to his family, his colleagues and certainly the people of Quebec, who loved him very dearly.
L’hon. M. Grandmaître: La mort de M. Lévesque est vraiment un moment triste pour tous les Canadiens francophones. Partout au Canada, nous avons suivi la carrière politique exceptionnelle de M. Lévesque.
Comme francophone, il est impossible de ne pas apprécier la contribution de ce dernier à la protection de la langue française. Ses efforts ont permis de prendre conscience de la force et du modernisme de cette langue. Le mouvement présidé par M. Lévesque nous a ouvert de nouvelles manières d’être francophone et d’en être fier dans un monde moderne.
En ce sens, René Lévesque a poussé le Canada à reconnaître le fait français comme une partie intégrale de la société canadienne. Ses idées et ses activités nous ont forcés, comme Canadiens et Canadiennes, à réévaluer notre identité nationale et notre avenir comme un pays uni.
Son départ laisse un grand vide, car nous perdons là un homme qui a toujours illustré éloquemment notre dualité nationale. Nous avons perdu non seulement un grand Québécois mais un grand démocrate qui nous laisse en héritage la garde d’un pays dont l’avenir nous semble maintenant assuré.
Mr. Speaker: I thank the members who have spoken and I will as usual, on behalf of all members, when Hansard is printed, send a copy of those words to the Lévesque family.
Mr. Sterling: Mr. Speaker, I would seek the unanimous consent of this House to pay tribute to our departed colleague Paul Yakabuski.
Mr. Speaker: Is there unanimous consent?
Mr. Sterling: I am indeed privileged on behalf of our party to stand before this Legislature to pay tribute to our respected colleague Paul Yakabuski.
Paul was a long-standing member of this Legislature. He was first elected in 1963 and offered 24 years of service to the people of Renfrew South. There are few individuals who are prepared to make such a substantial commitment to public life and even fewer who are given the opportunity to do so.
It goes without saying that Paul Yakabuski was respected for his dedication to his constituency. He was the very essence of a constituency politician. From the village of Carp to the village of Killaloe, he was known for his ability to help those in need. No inquiry was too trivial or too small, nor was it too difficult.
He was in fact a people’s representative. But this was to be expected of Paul Yakabuski, as the people of Renfrew South were his friends and his neighbours. By entering political life, he offered to his constituency the gift of his ability to resolve their difficulties, of simply helping his neighbours.
When Paul was born in Barry’s Bay in 1922, his family had resided there for more than a century. The Yakabuski name is an institution in that community, as Paul’s father, Frank, started a hardware, building supply and furniture business which provided a multitude of services to the surrounding community.
On returning from the war in 1946, Paul joined his father and ran the family business. The business is now 70 years old and continues to thrive under the stewardship of Paul’s son John.
While having a keen sense for business, Paul also developed an interest in municipal politics. By 1951 Paul could be found on village council, and he was subsequently elected as the reeve in 1952, a position he held for nine years. Two years later he entered provincial politics.
Queen’s Park had now met its match. Even the toughest civil servant would graciously concede defeat when Paul took him on.
Every provincial plaque that was issued for Renfrew South was personally signed and hand delivered by the Yak, as we affectionately knew him in our party. He used to contend that the delivery of plaques contributed to his weight, for everywhere he went he was always invited in for a meal.
The man was simply at every possible riding event and then some. His intimate contact with his public allowed him to know families not only on a first-name basis but also on a generation basis.
Paul was an astute politician. He knew that by working hard for his constituency, his constituency would return him here to Queen’s Park. Paul was no fool, as we all know, and was not to take unnecessary risks.
You, Mr. Speaker, know how some of us choose to raise a small family, but Paul thought in terms of a campaign organization, and the result of 14 children proved that his theory was correct, as he never was at a loss for volunteers.
We are proud to have four of his children here today with us: Lawrie, Kim, Marlene and Lorna. They are indeed proud of their father, so it will come as no surprise to anyone here that Paul never lost an election in either the municipal or the provincial arena.
He did, however, come close on one occasion, when he first ran for politics for municipal council back in the early 1950s. At that time, I might remind members, there were not a lot of cars in Barry’s Bay to drive people to polls. Paul borrowed a car and drove out in the country to pick up an aunt and uncle to come to town to vote. I might add that they owned property in town, so it was all legal. I might add that Paul won that council seat by one vote.
I am told that his dealing with the staff at the Ministry of Natural Resources, where Paul was a parliamentary assistant for 10 years, was a relationship that was very close. As the story goes, Paul was always in a hurry to get back to his constituency. He was flying home to see his constituents, as he would say, but for those of you who do not know, there is no landing strip in Barry’s Bay.
Paul was affectionately known as the Mario Andretti of Renfrew South by the local police. He continually claimed that the tickets he received were written in advance and simply handed to him as he sped by.
Paul Yakabuski left a legacy of goodwill and good work to the people of Renfew South. I am very proud to represent a portion of that fine riding, as I know my colleagues the member for Lanark (Mr. Wiseman) and the member for Renfrew North (Mr. Conway) are also.
Whenever I was in Paul’s area during this last campaign, I would hear of nothing but fond remembrances and kind words for a politician who had served them for almost a quarter of a century. They were saddened by the passing of a noted community leader, but more so they were saddened by the passing of a true friend and neighbour.
In conclusion, he served his country as an infantryman with the Glengarry Highlanders, his province as a provincial member of this Legislature for Renfrew South and his municipality as a reeve and a councillor of Barry’s Bay -- a lifetime of public service that will be remembered and unlikely to be equalled. His presence will be missed by his constituents and his colleagues. He will be remembered for his dry wit and humour and his enduring compassion for the small man.
On behalf of the Progressive Conservative caucus, our heartfelt condolences go to his wife Dianne, to his children and to all those who loved Paul John Yakabuski.
Mr. Laughren: On behalf of my colleagues, I am pleased to express our regret at the death of Paul Yakabuski. I knew Paul quite well; not as well, I am sure, as my colleague the member for Carleton (Mr. Sterling) did, but I served on many committees with Paul and I even travelled to Europe with him once in the days when committees travelled. I can recall having a great deal of fun with Paul. As a matter of fact, Dianne was with Paul on that trip, and I can recall their buying presents for their rather substantial family and, on the way back, the disbelieving people at the border not understanding how anybody could be buying 20 or 21 gifts, whatever it was; I am not sure precisely. Dianne was the only member of the family whom I knew personally.
In all my dealings with Paul over the years, I always had the impression that he took his job seriously, much more seriously than he took himself. I always thought he had a rather elfish sense of humour, but it certainly had an edge to it when he wanted to put an edge on it.
When he was parliamentary assistant to the then Minister of Natural Resources -- I was the critic for Natural Resources in those days -- I can recall going to him on numerous occasions when I could not make headway with the minister, which happened from time to time. I always found Paul extremely accessible and helpful whenever he could be.
When his riding was redistributed, I think most of us had a sense and understood that it was time for Paul to retire. I do not think anybody was surprised that he would have picked that time to retire to a less hectic life and to spend more time with his family, but my colleagues and I regret very much that he did not have the kind of retirement he was entitled to many times over. On behalf of my colleagues, I extend our condolences to the entire Yakabuski family.
Hon. Mr. Conway: I would like to join in the sentiments expressed by the member for Carleton and the member for Nickel Belt (Mr. Laughren), and on my own behalf, and more important on behalf of the government, to express our condolences to the Yakabuski family, four members of which are in the gallery with us this afternoon.
It is hard for me to add materially to what has been so eloquently expressed by the member for Carleton and the member for Nickel Belt. It is certainly true, as the member for Lanark-Renfrew, the member for Carleton and I know only too well, that Paul Yakabuski was truly an indefatigable constituency politician.
I remember the former member for Armourdale, Mr. McCaffrey, and I chatting one day about mileage claims, and we were kidding Paul about how it was that he could be so active. I think Bruce and I now well appreciate, given the incredible size of the electoral district of Renfrew South, how it was that he was able to do that. It was because he worked harder than any member of this Legislature I have ever known in meeting that very important part of his responsibility.
There are a couple of things that need to be said, and I think if Paul were here he would want them to be said. One of those comments certainly must be that he was a politician of not inconsiderable independence. In fact, the member for Carleton pointed out that Paul never lost an election. That is quite true. I think it is fair to say that Paul, certainly in provincial circles, not only never lost an election, but he also never nearly lost an election. He was very much the people’s choice in that constituency.
I think one of the really important reasons is that they viewed him as their person at Queen’s Park, someone who was not afraid to stand in front of his own government and in front of his own Premier and make very clearly a case for the people of Killaloe or Carp or wherever in that part of eastern Ontario.
I reflect upon the circumstances of his first nomination and election some 25 years ago, and as I remember the story -- the family can correct me -- it was that streak of independence that brought him the nomination and the election of 1963.
He was also a character, a character in that tradition of Ottawa Valley characters, many of whom have come to this place: people like Mr. McGarry, Mr. Carty, Mr. Maloney and Jim Dempsey, to name but four. The Ottawa Valley characters I find are now receding very much into the mist of that part of the province, rarely visiting the queen city.
Paul was a character, a maverick who, as the member for Nickel Belt has said, on more than a few occasions, particularly in his committee activities, was not afraid to put forward what some might have viewed as an idiosyncratic point of view.
I think, quite frankly, that one of the ministers of education in the mid-1970s found that Paul took a particular interest in the whole notion of sabbatical leaves for teachers. I well remember the now agent general in London, the then Minister of Education, actually on one occasion coming to me wondering what was going on in Renfrew county that was so exciting Mr. Yakabuski to a daily line of inquiry in question period.
I want to say that I think that was part of his very particular appeal; an individual of tremendous tenacity, warmth and feeling, someone who will long be remembered as an outstanding member of the Ottawa Valley community.
I think it is fitting that his family in significant measure be here today because they were his great support and I think they are his greatest testament.
Mr. Speaker: Again I will, when Hansard is printed, make certain that these words of sympathy are forwarded to the Yakabuski family.
Mr. Laughren: When the stock markets around the world took a tumble on October 19, virtually every western political leader moved very quickly to reassure everyone that their respective economies were basically sound. Not so Ontario’s Premier (Mr. Peterson) and Treasurer (Mr. Nixon). These two Chicken Little twins of the western world fell all over each other declaring that the sky indeed just might be falling. The only leadership they showed was in the rush to be first on the ledge.
“The stock market’s tumble could delay Ontario’s plan to tie pensions to inflation,” thundered our normally unflappable Treasurer. The Premier reinforced his Treasurer’s fear by saying, “These are tumultuous times for the market and history tells you that the economy tends to follow this kind of downturn in the marketplace.”
It is too bad that the Treasurer and the Premier did not show a different kind of leadership and perhaps think a little more carefully before they spoke because it just caused more problems.
SPEECH FROM THE THRONE
Mr. J. M. Johnson: I would like to bring to the attention of this House my serious concern and disappointment at the government’s blatant disregard for addressing with more immediacy the many urgent problems that our province faces at this time.
To highlight this concern, I would like to quote the closing paragraph of yesterday’s speech from the throne, “With the goodwill of all members of this Legislature, we will continue to help the people of this province prepare for the 21st century.”
While it is excellent to prepare for the future, there are many problems needing solutions before the next century. What about the immediate needs of our farmers, many of whom are at this time facing financial disaster? What about the many municipalities that now lack adequate sewage and water facilities and safe garbage disposal sites? What about the problems in the areas of education, health and social services on which action must be taken now?
Is it the intention of this government to postpone solutions to these major problems for the 21st century by sloughing them off for further study to select committees, commissions, advisory agencies and the Premier’s Council instead of addressing them today?
This throne speech is one that dwells on the future and ignores the present, and this government is putting off for tomorrow what should be done today. Surely the people of Ontario deserve better.
Mr. Reycraft: I want to draw to the attention of the assembly this afternoon the achievement of Melinda Gillies of London on Monday evening here in Toronto. Melinda was chosen over 43 other contestants as Miss Canada 1988.
Melinda, who is 22 years old, is a student at the University of Western Ontario and is majoring in law and social science at King’s College. She is preparing herself for a career in politics and has announced a very specific goal. She wants to become the Minister of Community and Social Services. My friend the member for Kitchener-Wilmot (Mr. Sweeney) will want to take note. Melinda has said that she will use the scholarships that come with her crown to advance her education and is confident that the new contacts she will make will provide her with many new career opportunities.
I want to congratulate Miss Gillies and also her parents, Archie and Mary, on her success. I am sure all members will want to wish her well as she prepares to represent Canada at the Miss Universe pageant in China next May and attempts to become the second Miss London to wear that crown in this decade.
NORTHERN ONTARIO HERITAGE FUND
Miss Martel: Let me say that it gives me great pleasure as a new member and a member from northern Ontario to stand in the House today to comment upon this government’s lack of commitment to northern Ontario as it was demonstrated once again yesterday in the throne speech. In that throne speech we saw that this government continues to pay lipservice to northern Ontario.
Let me focus upon the northern Ontario heritage fund, which was announced with such fanfare in May 1987 in the budget. The heritage fund was something for which we as New Democrats had fought for years, but we in the north were also sadly disappointed that the government allocated only $30 million to that fund.
l want to remind members of this House that the $30-million sum was the same as this government put into one project, the domed stadium, in southern Ontario. The government also spent more on one plant in southern Ontario, the Toyota plant, than it did in northern Ontario. Of course, northerners still have to see that money. It has not yet arrived into our hands. I suppose this government feels that six months of waiting is not too long. I mean, after all, we in the north have been waiting for years for some action in northern Ontario from provincial governments.
Yesterday, in the throne speech, we were told that this government has been receiving input from northerners and from northern development councils. Yesterday, we saw that an advisory council will now be established to help identify --
Mr. Speaker: Order. The member’s time has expired. I would remind all members they have 90 seconds to make their statements at this time.
Mrs. Marland: Yesterday’s release of this new Liberal government’s agenda through the throne speech was littered with rhetorical acknowledgements and reannouncements directed at environmental concerns. We heard about the government’s commitment to clean up the beaches and lakes, and I quote, “to prevent pollution before it starts.”
There was no mention of the most serious problems of infrastructure renewal; no mention whatsoever of infrastructure renewal or of enhanced programs to upgrade our deteriorating and outdated water systems and sewage treatment facilities, the latter being the primary polluter of our beaches and waterfronts. If this change in policy is not formalized, we will be for ever spending money after the fact and dealing with the consequences of environmental health and safety risks.
Mr. Sterling: Later this afternoon, I will introduce a private member’s bill entitled -- guess what? -- the Non-Smokers’ Protection Act. The bill was formerly known in the 33rd Parliament of Ontario as Bill 71. It received first reading, second reading, went through public hearings, was amended and it was returned to this House in January 1987 for third and final reading.
This government found no fault in the bill and actually expressed support for the bill. On August 4, 1987, the Premier (Mr. Peterson), in writing to a constituent after the 33rd Parliament was dissolved, said the bill was still on the order paper. I take from his writing his support for this piece of legislation and that he will instruct his House leader to call a Non-Smokers’ Protection Act forthwith.
I congratulate the government in recognizing in yesterday’s speech from the throne its desire for a health care system that emphasizes the prevention of illness and disease and the promotion of healthy living habits. Now is the time for action, not just talk. Will the government, which has not opposed any part of the Non-Smokers’ Protection Act and in fact supported it, now have the intestinal fortitude to push this piece of legislation through the 34th Parliament, even though it is not its own initiative?
Mr. Breaugh: I just want to take the occasion to remind this government of a little unfinished business from the previous Legislature. Members may recall that we talked about patronage and we talked about appointments in the public sector. We drafted a complaint committee report, adopted unanimously by the standing committee on the Legislative Assembly and, we thought, accepted by the Legislature by vote.
The government never did get around to finishing up the rest of that task. Now that it can gather up its courage -- it has almost enough members to carry the day -- why does the government not make that a priority for this new Legislature too?
Mr. Speaker: That completes the allotted time for members’ statements.
STATEMENTS BY THE MINISTRY
Hon. Mr. Ward: I rise to inform the Legislature of the decision of the tribunal appointed to resolve the accommodation dispute involving the public and separate school boards in Hamilton-Wentworth.
To alleviate overcrowding in the region’s separate schools, the Hamilton-Wentworth Roman Catholic Separate School Board requested the transfer of five secondary schools from the Hamilton Board of Education and the Wentworth County Board of Education.
In spite of efforts by a mediator, the dispute could not be solved locally. On October 8, I announced the appointment of lawyer Stephen Goudge as a one-person tribunal to conduct hearings into the matter and provide a resolution. The appointment of tribunals to settle such differences is provided in Bill 30, which extended full funding to the Roman Catholic separate school system.
The accommodation question raised serious concerns in Hamilton-Wentworth. It was essential that the boards involved received an opportunity to be heard.
Following lengthy consideration of the parties’ positions, the tribunal has determined that the needs for separate school accommodation in Hamilton-Wentworth can be met by the transfer of the use of Winona High School from the Wentworth board to the separate school board, the transfer of the use of Sir Winston Churchill Secondary School from the Hamilton board to the separate school board and the transfer of the use of Southmount Secondary School from the Hamilton board to the separate school board.
The tribunal has determined that the use of the facilities will be transferred over a two-year period beginning in September 1988.
The decision of Mr. Goudge is of fundamental importance. It is a product of the first such tribunal appointed in Ontario and it resolves a serious local issue.
I have forwarded this morning to the parties and their lawyers copies of the decision and the written reasons upon which it is based.
I shall proceed to sign an order establishing the main points of the tribunal’s decision. I shall then file a copy of the order with the registrar of the Supreme Court of Ontario.
Copies of the decision are available to members of the Legislature on request from my office.
Permit me to express my sincere hope, shared by Mr. Goudge, that the parties in Hamilton-Wentworth will now work together in a productive and co-operative way to accept and implement the tribunal’s decision for the betterment of the community and its students.
Mr. R. F. Johnston: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker: I would like to raise with you the first point of order of probably a few that will follow in this session, under standing order 28(d). I know the minister is new to his job and perhaps that is the only reason he has offended the standing orders, as he seems to be doing.
Under that standing order, sir, it says clearly that “After any policy statement the minister shall table a compendium of background information.” He has told us in his statement that he has forwarded to the lawyers, and the parties through the lawyers, copies of the decision and reasons. He is going to file a copy with the registrar of the Supreme Court, but he is making copies available only to the members in his office. Nothing has been tabled here for the critics especially to have a look at to be able to respond in an adequate way to his statement today. I would suggest this is probably just an oversight, but we would certainly like to see this on the table before the afternoon is out.
Mr. Speaker: The member has raised a point of order. I am certain the minister will take close note of what has been said and will follow the standing orders.
Hon. R. F. Nixon: In keeping with the promise made yesterday in the throne speech, I am pleased to inform the members that later today I will introduce the Ontario Automobile Insurance Board Act, 1987, and related amendments to the Compulsory Automobile Insurance Act.
This legislation provides for the establishment and operation of an independent automobile insurance board and for the creation by regulation of a uniform classification system for automobile insurance. In developing the legislation, we have looked at other boards to find the best precedents. Our insurance board will be effective in meeting the needs of Ontario consumers. It will be a made-in-Ontario board with a fair hearing process open to full public scrutiny.
The mandate of the Ontario Automobile Insurance Board will be to establish reasonable rates or rate ranges for all types of motor vehicle insurance within the risk classification system set by regulation and to hold public hearings on automobile insurance rates, inviting representations by all concerned parties.
The board will be led by a full-time chairperson and a panel of part-time members. The board will be supported by a secretariat which will maintain public information on rates and administer the public hearing process. The legislation provides that an insurer shall be required to set premiums on the basis of the prescribed classification system and that all rates charged by insurers must be approved by the board. The Facility Association must also apply for board approval of rates prepared by it under the Compulsory Automobile Insurance Act.
Consumer groups, individuals and companies will be able to present their case during public hearings conducted by the board. Until the board is established and sets benchmark rates, the act provides for the maintenance of automobile insurance rates at the levels in place on April 23, 1987.
l should remind the members that this bill forms part of our ongoing efforts to protect consumers and bring stability and equity to the motor vehicle insurance market.
Further initiatives include amendments to the Insurance Act to improve consumer protection and access to information, and a review of Mr. Justice Osborne’s report on his Inquiry Into Motor Vehicle Accident Compensation in Ontario. In addition, my colleague the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations (Mr. Wrye) will be introducing, later in this session, the Motor Vehicle Repair Act.
In bringing forward substantial reforms related to automobile insurance, I recognize the importance of full public debate and consultation. It is my intention to provide a draft of the uniform classification system for public consultation prior to finalization of the regulations. I also recognize that the Ontario Automobile Insurance Board Act, 1987, warrants full consideration both in this House and in committee.
I look forward to working with members of the House to put into place, in a timely way, the legislative initiatives embodied in the bill I will introduce today.
In closing, I would like to remind the members that in a system where automobile insurance is mandatory, government has a duty to ensure that consumers receive fair coverage at a fair price. The creation of the Ontario Automobile Insurance Board will bring public accountability and greater fairness to automobile insurance rates.
METROPOLITAN TORONTO GOVERNMENT
Hon. Mr. Eakins: Today I wish to inform the Legislature of the government’s plans to reform the government of Metropolitan Toronto. Metro Toronto, with a population of more than two million people, is Canada’s largest, most important metropolitan area. Its government, which administers a budget of some $2.5 billion, has been a model for other cities.
As most of you know, Metro’s system of government has been the subject of considerable debate for several years. There have been many concerns about the Metro system.
The existing system by which Metro councillors are chosen is confusing to voters. Some municipalities send their boards of control to Metro council while others send municipal councillors. Voters do not know who does what.
Metro councillors currently sit on both Metro council and their local council. The growing demands on Metro council need the full attention of Metro councillors. Voters have tended to concentrate on more locally focused issues at election time and there is concern that the Metro-wide issues are not properly addressed.
There is also concern about the way in which the Metro chairman is chosen. Currently the Metro chairman does not need to be elected. Furthermore, over the past several years, there have been shifts in Metro’s population. Some municipalities are overrepresented on Metro council while others are underrepresented.
To address these issues, I intend to introduce, within the next few weeks, legislation to reform Metropolitan Toronto’s system of government.
This reform will accomplish two main goals: it will make Metro’s government more accountable to voters, and it will establish a better framework for local government decision-making across Metro Toronto.
Let me briefly outline the changes we are proposing.
The new legislation will provide for 28 Metro councillors. They will sit only on Metro council and consider Metro-wide issues. These councillors will be directly elected from Metro wards: one from East York, four from Etobicoke, seven from North York, six from Scarborough, eight from Toronto and two from York.
Ward boundaries may have to be changed. We will consult with area municipalities on proposals for local wards that will accommodate the system we are introducing. Our staff will work with municipal staff to accomplish that as quickly and effectively as possible.
Under this system, for the first time, voters will be able to vote directly for Metro decision-makers. The system will be simpler. Voters will know who they are voting for to look after Metro issues and who they are voting for to look after local issues.
Those 28 Metro councillors will be joined by the mayors of the six municipalities that make up the Metropolitan Toronto federation. Linkages between Metro council and the local councils are an important feature of the existing system, and the mayors, with their city-wide and borough-wide perspective, will continue to provide that link.
The legislation I will be introducing also provides for a new method of choosing the Metro chairman. As I said earlier, the Metro chairman is chosen by Metro council. There is no requirement for him or her to face the electorate.
The new legislation calls for the chairman to be chosen by Metro council from among the directly elected councillors. The Metro chairman would continue to sit as the representative of his or her Metro ward and would have to be re-elected every three years, just as any other Metro councillor would.
The new system will result in 28 new elected positions in Metro Toronto. We believe that increase is justified: consider Metro’s size, its $2.5-billion budget and the growing demand for more and different municipal services. However, we are sensitive to the concern among taxpayers about the increased costs associated with an increase in the total number of elected officials in Metro Toronto and we are taking steps to respond to that concern.
We plan to remove the legislative requirement for boards of control in the four area municipalities that still have them. Eliminating boards of control will allow area councils to decide how best to organize their committee structure to carry out their business. It will also reduce the total number of elected municipal officials in Metro by 14.
Area municipalities will be encouraged to review the size of their councils. After all, local municipal councillors will also benefit from having only one job to do.
I must emphasize, though, that while we intend to keep any increase in the number of locally elected positions to a minimum, our first concern is to set up a system of government that can deal effectively with the issues of the 21st century.
I want to stress that the legislation I will be introducing is the product of a long process of study and consultation.
The Metro system of government has served the area well for nearly 35 years and has been a model for other large metropolitan centres around the world. But circumstances are changing. The system must change along with them.
If this important reform is to be put in place before the next municipal elections, we must act now. I am making this announcement today, before the legislation is ready, to give the municipalities as much time as possible to think about the adjustments they will have to make.
The people of Metro deserve representatives at Metro council who can devote their full attention to important Metro issues. They deserve a government they can understand. They deserve a government they can hold accountable on election day. In short, they deserve the best system of government possible.
On a personal note, Metro government was initiated in 1953 by the then member for Victoria-Haliburton, the Honourable Leslie Frost, and today I take some pride, as the member for Victoria-Haliburton, in introducing the first major amendments to that bill.
Mr. R. F. Johnston: Even with the limited information that I have, I would like to respond to the minister. I have never let the facts get in my way, as members all know.
I just say that the first report by a tribunal following Bill 30 is of crucial importance to us. I think if one looks at the details of the request by the Catholic board and the opposing positions of the public boards, Mr. Goudge needed the wisdom of Solomon to come up with a response that would not require appeals. I am not sure that appeals will be avoided, but in some ways he may have been like Solomon in that I do not think either side in this dispute is going to be happy with the result. The Catholic board asked for five schools; they got one school that they asked for in particular. The public board wanted sharing of facilities, and as yet there is no notion of sharing of facilities brought forward by Mr. Goudge. One of the reasons I would like to see the compendium is to know his reasons for that.
In some ways I think it is very important that there not be seen to be winners on either side of this but that the process of negotiations for the transfer or the sharing of properties that has gone on in other jurisdictions should be seen by the parties out there to be the best route to follow. If they are going to rely on arbitrators, then nobody is going to be happy and they had better work out their own local solutions.
The final thing I would say, with regret again, to the new minister, is I feel that in the tone of his response, and also in things he said prior to the arbitrator coming down, he imposed his own view on what the solution might be. This is a dangerous thing when you consider that under Bill 30 the parties have the right to appeal, and appeal to cabinet, where obviously he will have some influence. I would just suggest to him that in future in arbitrations he would be wise to keep quiet until the arbitration is complete and then perhaps reserve his judgement until appeals have been heard.
Mr. Swart: Neither you, Mr Speaker, nor other members of the House will be surprised that I want to make some comments on the statement tabled by the Minister of Financial Institutions (Mr. R. F. Nixon).
I would point out to him that when Mr. Kwinter originally introduced the bill on the last day the House sat in the last session, he showed his recognition of and embarrassment about the ineffectiveness of the bill by quietly introducing it without the traditional statement, which could be challenged by the opposition in the House. After all, he had stated previously in this House that if Ontario had had a rate control board -- like Alberta, which has similar legislation to what is proposed -- during the last five years, “The people of Ontario would have paid from eight to 39 per cent more than they pay now.”
The minister should be equally embarrassed because his bill is basically the same as Mr. Kwinter’s, but his statement is worse than Mr. Kwinter’s and it is worse than none. The bill is a sham and a backoff in many ways. It leaves a determination as to whether rate classifications based on age, sex and marital status shall be abolished to some future decision of the cabinet.
On April 23, 1987, Mr. Kwinter committed, on behalf of the government, to abolish such classifications. So did the Premier (Mr. Peterson) on September 7, 1987. He said, according to the Toronto Star, that “if the Liberal government is returned to office in Thursday’s election, it will reintroduce legislation to freeze insurance rates and require rates to be set according to driver’s records, not age and sex.”
Now the minister in his statement is saying that he is backing off; in fact, he is going to have a consultation process on this -- of course, consultation with the insurance industry. The government through its actions has made it clear that it is in the pocket of the powerful insurance lobby. Its recent actions provide further proof of the May 11, 1987, statement of the Insurance Brokers Association of Ontario, in which it said that “to a great degree both the Liberals and the Conservatives have been the defenders of the industry.”
I want to say that over the past year we in this party promised the people of Ontario we would fight for fair, just and driver-owned automobile insurance to replace the highway robbery the insurance companies are perpetrating on the drivers of Ontario. We have not let the powerful insurance interest get in our way and, by God, we will not let this bloated, lethargic and pro-industry government get in our way either. The fight is going to continue to get the drivers of this province the same kind of reasonable and nondiscriminatory automobile insurance that drivers enjoy in Manitoba, Saskatchewan and British Columbia.
Mr. Speaker: Order.
I would like to remind all members -- using the member for Welland-Thorold (Mr. Swart) as an example, who, when he was referring to other members in the House, referred to them by their surnames -- that the proper way to refer to members would be by ministry or by constituency. I am sure the members will understand that.
METROPOLITAN TORONTO GOVERNMENT
Mr. Cousens: I have short and quick congratulations to the new Minister of Municipal Affairs (Mr. Eakins), but it has not taken him or the government long to begin a whole new set of arrogance, a new way of approaching government in Ontario.
I have to tell them they have dropped a bombshell today by suggesting the kind of changes that they are about to introduce without having the time to go and talk to those people who are directly involved in Metro Toronto. The chairman and the election of that board are suddenly going to change significantly. I am asking why have they not put out a green paper to have some discussion on it, for people to find out just what it all means.
Mr. Breaugh: He has it in green, baby blue, pink; he has it on a roll --
Mr. Cousens: A red paper, a pink paper, a paper for people who are going to be affected by the change. They have not changed a bit. So that we can begin to see that they are really concerned about the people of Toronto, I have to challenge them to respond to a number of major questions.
One question is, who will the Metro chairman serve? He will have his own electors and he will also have Metro council. Let us look at that one.
How about local councils? What is going to happen to local councils in Toronto? Are they going to become second class? Not only in the case of Toronto, but all the Metro area, are they trying to put them into a second-class status? Are we talking about more bureaucracy and more confusion?
Why have they not begun this process with some good dialogue with the people in the first place, to involve those people in Metro Toronto who are going to be affected by this decision, rather than just coming along and arbitrarily suggesting some resolutions which they say are going to be thought over?
I am sure they have the legislation ready to drop right now. Why do they not just put it forward today so that we can begin to see what they are really up to?
Mr. Jackson: I am pleased to rise and offer my congratulations to the member for Wentworth North (Mr. Ward), Ontario’s newest Minister of Education. He carries with him a very proud and long tradition of about 44 years of great Ministers of Education in this province, who on occasion have been equally controversial.
It is unfortunate that the minister in his first statement has seen fit to respond to a matter as important as the tribunal decision that has come from the Bill 30 legislation.
Mr. Speaker, I can assure you that all members of this House took no personal or political delight in having to read in the newspapers such headlines as “Board Blasts Minister’s Comments” and “Didn’t Ruin Hearings: Ward.”
No one took particular delight in the fact that happened. What it has served to do is to illustrate for all members of this House in a nonpartisan way how significant and sensitive the issues around education in Ontario are today and will be for the next eight or nine years.
I hope the minister will also inspire all members of this House to know that Ontario, at least on the issue of education, will continue to be a hallmark for tolerance and understanding and an example for those who may not understand fully the importance and the intent of Bill 30.
Mr. Harris: I look forward, as does the member for Welland-Thorold (Mr. Swart), to a full discussion on the legislation that is going to be introduced according to a statement from the Minister of Financial Institutions (Mr. R. F. Nixon). I will make only a couple of brief comments.
The statement says, “We will maintain automobile insurance rates at the levels in place on April 23, 1987.” I wonder what rationale the government has for setting that as a rate. It talks about all the things that are necessary to arrive at what is going to be a fair and reasonable rate. Yet for a period of perhaps a year or a year and half, it says, “In spite of that, this will be the rate.”
Many people think that rate is frozen at a higher level than even the insurance companies require. Many, however, feel it is perhaps a rate that discourages companies from wanting to insure people, if it is too low.
The point of the matter is that it is ridiculous. I think they are both right in some examples, as the minister nods. The point is, it is silly and ridiculous to set a rate with no foundation while we are waiting for this piece of legislation.
Mr. Harris: On a point of order before we move on to question period: I think it is a rather serious point, Mr. Speaker, and at my conclusion I would ask you to consider two matters I think are important for this Legislature.
I point out a departure from 300 years of parliamentary tradition in the introduction of Bill 1, a very important bill, which I know we will have an interesting time debating and passing into law. With your extensive experience in the chair, I am sure you are aware that Bill 1, introduced following His Honour the Lieutenant Governor’s speech, takes up business not referred to in the speech from the throne, thereby emphasizing the independence of this House from the crown and its right and responsibility to consider its own business ahead of the business of the crown.
You will remember, Mr. Speaker, that His Honour’s speech, on page 27, section 9, highlighted the content and priority of Bill 1. I think it is regrettable, therefore, that the Premier (Mr. Peterson), the government House leader and the Attorney General (Mr. Scott), the three who were involved in this conspiracy, took away from parliamentary tradition and destroyed an important part of the tradition of yesterday’s ceremony, and that we did not yesterday live up to what the government itself said we should be doing.
I refer to the program of proceedings that we had on the table yesterday. If you look at the bottom of the second page, it says: “Bill 1 will be introduced. The introduction of this bill at this time” -- the reason for having the bill introduced on that day -- “is to assert the right of the assembly to consider matters which are not mentioned in the speech from the throne.” I think that is the only reason to have an introduction of a bill on the opening day of the session.
I ask you, Mr. Speaker, to consider two things: one, in view of the fact that this assembly’s right to consider other business was not properly asserted yesterday, whether this assembly then does have the right in the future to do just that, namely, to consider any item of business not in the throne speech.
Second, I ask you to take time to consider whether the introduction of Bill 1 was in order in its own right, and if not, if it then has to be reintroduced at its proper time and place.
Mr. Speaker: Are there any other comments on that point of order?
Mr. D. S. Cooke: Very briefly. I think the point that has been raised by the House leader for the third party is a legitimate point. I hope the government might respond. I know that over the last number of years Bill 1 has taken on more significance than when I was first elected 10 years ago, when it was always a very insignificant bill. It is very clear that the bill that was introduced yesterday was directly mentioned in the throne speech. I would like to hear an explanation from the government, but the very relevant question of whether the bill is in order should be ruled on by the Speaker.
Hon. Mr. Conway: Mr. Speaker, I know you will want to take the point raised by the member for Nipissing (Mr. Harris) under advisement. I want to say very directly that, as has been observed by the member for Windsor-Riverside (Mr. D. S. Cooke), in recent years we have seen a change in the practice, that more significant legislation has been introduced as I recall in the role of Bill 1.
It might be useful to reflect back or at least look back to the situation in June 1985. I think we may have a precedent there, although obviously I would want to research that. I think it is important for me to say on behalf of the government that we view the conflict bill as a matter of priority. We have a busy agenda and we want to get on with important business that is before this province and before the assembly.
Mr. Harris: Mr. Speaker, may I just briefly respond and ask you take this into consideration?
Mr. Speaker: It really is not debate. You had the opportunity to raise the point, but if you have something, then briefly.
Mr. Harris: Yes, briefly. The government House leader has indicated that there may be a precedent. I think it is something you should take under advisement and look at. I would like to point out that the example he raises is not a precedent. However, it is something you should look at. In fact, the first half of my point of order was a similar point that was raised by the former House leader for the opposition, the member for Brant-Haldimand (Mr. R. F. Nixon). The response at that time -- and it is all in here, and that is what I was reading from -- the response from the government House leader at that time, a Mr. Grossman, concurred and agreed with his learned colleague that in fact he was quite right and there was an error made in 1985.
Why the precedent never went any further, Mr. Speaker, and should be looked at, is if you look at that occasion, Bill 1 at that time was never further debated, therefore, whether it was in order or not for it to be debated did not come up. That is one of the things you should consider.
Two, there were no other items that were considered by that government other than the throne speech, for obvious reasons. I think you will recall that on that particular occasion, upon the conclusion of the voting of that throne speech, there was not much opportunity for the government of the day to consider anything else.
I would point that out, and I would also say something that is important in making your decision --
Mr. Speaker: Order, order.
Mr. Harris: Well, I am telling you why it is even more appropriate --
Mr. Speaker: Are you? Because you are just reviewing what you had said before; so if you are --
Mr. Harris: We are now in a majority government situation where the rights and privileges of minority parties and all members of this House must be respected, and these decisions are very important. Rulings will be made, Mr. Speaker, on parliamentary tradition and those rulings will be very significant in the future of this parliament and in the rights of those of us who are in a minority, either party-wise or as individual members. I ask you to reflect on that as you take into consideration those two points I have raised.
Mr. Speaker: I have listened very carefully to all members who have spoken on this point of order. I feel that because I am a great believer in tradition and have tried my best to maintain many of the traditions in this institution, I will reserve judgement on what has been said today and requested.
TRADE WITH UNITED STATES
Mr. B. Rae: I have a question for the Premier. On many occasions in this House in the last two and one half years, he has stated categorically that it is his view that Ontario has a veto with respect to the free trade agreement. If the Premier does not agree with what I have said, perhaps I can refer to him the statement he made in the House on January 29, 1987, when he was discussing with me a conversation he had with Mr. Yeutter, the ambassador for trade of the United States.
He said, and it is on page 5009 of Hansard, “We explained to him” -- that is, to Mr. Yeutter -- “that the provinces, in our view, would have a veto over the implementation of any trade pact.”
On another date, on February 2, 1987, in the course of an exchange in the House, at page 5078 in Hansard, the Premier said, “I have said I believe we have a de facto veto over the implementation of this situation at the appropriate time.”
The question I have for the Premier is simply this: Is it still his view that the government of Ontario, the province of Ontario, has an effective veto over the Mulroney-Reagan trade pact; and if that is still his view, when is he going to exercise that veto?
Hon. Mr. Peterson: Let me explain to my honourable friend. As he knows, when the discussion started out with respect to a trade agreement there were a number of things being discussed that were under provincial jurisdiction. I can give my honourable friend some examples. Beer was one of those potential areas which everyone recognizes is under provincial jurisdiction. I think I discussed this particular question on many occasions in this House and outside of this House.
I said that in fact if there are things under provincial jurisdiction then de facto the provinces and de jure the provinces have a veto because they do not have to implement it. Now, the deal that finally appeared on the scene is much different than the deal that was originally contemplated. My honourable friend will be aware that very few things -- my honourable friend is wagging his head as if he was there. I can tell him he is wrong, because I was there and I have some understanding of how the deal was originally contemplated and as to how it turned out.
I say to him that the only areas where we have legal jurisdiction is in those areas that touch our power’s constitution.
We are doing a complete analysis of the situation at the moment to see which areas of provincial jurisdiction could be covered in this agreement. For example, we are looking at the question of services and things of that sort. One of the obvious ones my friend will draw my attention to is the question of wine markups. He will advance the case that that particular issue could hold up the implementation of the entire deal.
Again, that is a complicated issue. We are looking at all aspects of that to see where we have direct legal influence and where we do not. I should say in summary, and my honourable friend would be aware, that the federal government under our Constitution has the power to conclude treaties with foreign governments, not the provinces.
Mr. B. Rae: We have been through election campaigns, we have seen political advertisements for the Liberal Party. I can remember them distinctly; the ones that said that if such and such happens, no deal. If it touches the auto pact, no deal. If it affects this culture, no deal. The Premier did not once say during the course of that election campaign: “I am only talking about those narrow areas. I am now speaking as a narrow constitutional lawyer.”
Not only did he not say it during the election campaign, but he did not say it on many other occasions. In particular, I would like to ask him, with respect to the auto pact -- the Premier had many conversations in this House with respect to the auto pact -- when he was speaking in the House on January 29, 1987, saying it was his view that Ontario had a de facto veto, he was referring specifically to the auto pact and not to anything else.
Therefore, I would like to ask the Premier whether he still stands by these words which he is quoted as having said: “Asked whether he would exercise this power” -- that is to say, the power to veto -- “if the auto pact were threatened, he told reporters, ‘The answer is very clearly yes.’ The Premier added, ‘There is no way I would allow the situation to develop that would change the auto pact to the detriment of the province of Ontario.’”
Is that still his position or is he now, after his election, singing a completely different tune? If it is his position, when is he going to exercise that effective veto on behalf of the workers of this province?
Hon. Mr. Peterson: I think my honourable friend, presumably as the constitutional lawyer and scholar that he is, would understand this issue better than he lets on in this House. As I said to him, it is a fact, and he knows it and I know it, that the federal government has the right to make foreign treaties. Where we have an influence is if certain implementing legislation is necessary in our areas of provincial jurisdiction.
Mr. D. S. Cooke: You sang a different tune in your election speech in Windsor.
Hon. Mr. Peterson: I think other people understood it; now maybe I made a mistake. I assume a reasonable level of knowledge on these things. Perhaps I misjudged it in his particular case in understanding it. Very clearly, we are looking at all the areas that would impact on provincial jurisdiction, the influence that we have and whether enabling legislation will be called forth. At that point, we do in fact have powers to exercise in this province.
Mr. B. Rae: I think it is fair to say to the Premier that the election campaign, as in his entire presentation of this issue leading up to the election campaign for the past two and a half years, has been a complete and total fraud. The song he is singing today is a completely different song from the one he has been singing to the people of the province for the last two and half years -- completely and utterly different.
When there was talk that it was going to be on the table he said, “No, no, I have been assured it should not be there.” He said to those of us who were criticizing his position: “Do not worry. I have got the matter well in hand. Nothing is going to happen that is going to hurt the auto pact.” With respect to the auto pact, after he sat back and did nothing for two and a half years, is he now admitting that he is in fact powerless to do anything with respect to the auto pact in Ontario? Is that what he is now admitting?
Hon. Mr. Peterson: My honourable friend will be aware that the auto pact originally was negotiated by the federal government. I am sure the member is aware of that. There is nothing profound about this. I assumed he knew that already. But we are engaged now in a great national debate and I think the federal government knows very clearly where we stand on these issues.
Mr. B. Rae: The Premier has run an election campaign based on an entirely fraudulent basis.
Mr. Speaker: Order. Are you placing your second question to the Premier?
Mr. B. Rae: I was just getting warmed up, Mr. Speaker. I am placing my second question to the Premier. The Premier has now admitted that he basically has operated in the last two and a half years on a basis that is not in keeping with his own view now of his constitutional power and not in keeping with what he said to the people he would do on behalf of Ontario. He has indicated today that he is in fact breaking the solemn commitment and the mandate he said he needed to win when he called the election in the first place.
I would like to ask the Premier specifically to deal with an area which is under his jurisdiction. He will be aware there are grape producers today not very far from this House, roughly 900 or 1,000 strong in Ontario, whose jobs depend on specific provincial legislation with respect to the Wine Content Act and whose eventual markets with respect to wine depend to a considerable extent on the ability of the provincial government to regulate the sale of wine in Ontario.
Since the Premier is now indicating there is nothing he can do with respect to anything else, does he intend to do something with respect to an area which clearly is within his jurisdiction? He will also know that the provisions of the Wine Content Act changed --
Mr. Speaker: Order. You did place the question.
Mr. B. Rae: Mr. Speaker, if I may pose it to the Premier, with your permission, my question to the Premier very specifically is this: Can the government give a guarantee to the grape growers of this province that they will continue to have markets guaranteed by the province for the grapes they are producing?
Hon. Mr. Peterson: The simple answer to his question is no. I will tell my honourable friend why. I am sure he is perhaps aware of it. He will understand that the grape growers at the present time are under assault from three areas -- and the wineries depending on the nature of the Wine Content Act:
Number 1, the so-called free trade agreement. The member is quite right. We do have the power to implement those markets.
Number 2, a General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade panel. The member knows that the entire question of wine and beer distribution across this country has been under review, and we expect a decision on that in the very near future.
Number 3, a 301 trade action in the United States threatening retaliatory action against our distilling industry, which, as my honourable friend will be aware, is much larger, relatively speaking, than the wine industry in this province.
The grape growers understand these questions and they understand the complexity of the situation we are in. They are under assault from all three sides at the moment.
I say to the member, and I say to them, that we are not prepared to stand by and see them abandoned. They are important people in our province and we are going to be working with them to try to find solutions. But I say to my honourable friend, when we look at it in a broad context -- and I am sure he understands the ramifications of GATT hearings as well as 301 actions in the United States -- that it is a more complicated issue than it would appear at first glance.
Mr. B. Rae: We are now seeing more clearly than ever before how the leopard changes its spots. I cannot imagine a clearer example of a government and the leader of a government telling the people of the province a completely different reality than the one he was prepared to talk about over the last two and a half years, specifically with respect to this matter.
I would like to ask the Premier, in those questions which clearly fall under his power and his provincial jurisdiction, is he going to guarantee that in 1988, in so far as it is within his power to do so, the grape growers of this province will have access to wineries? Many of them are concerned that they are going to have no access unless the provincial government clearly stands up and fights on their behalf. Is the Premier going to stand up and fight for them? That is the question.
Hon. Mr. Peterson: The answer is, of course, I refer my honourable friend back to my first answer. We are not prepared to stand by and see our tender fruit area paved over.
I understand the problems of the wineries as well as the grape growers, which are different but related in some respects. We are working very closely with both those groups, as my honourable friend will be aware. They are aware also of the other problems they are facing, independent of the so-called trade agreement. I say to the member, as I say to them, we are prepared as a government to work with those people to find solutions to the real problems they are facing at the moment.
Mr. B. Rae: Perhaps we are allowed to ask -- because in my meetings with the grape growers they have not been particularly impressed with what the government of Ontario is going to be doing or has said it is going to be doing on their behalf. If the Premier wants names and dates of meetings, I can give them to him. They are as recent as 10 days ago and as recent as yesterday.
I would like to ask the Premier specifically: Is it the government’s intention to maintain in force the effect of the Wine Content Act for 1987, 1988 and into the foreseeable future, and is it the intention of the Premier and of the government of Ontario to ensure that grape growers in this province will have a guaranteed access to the wineries? They sell 37,000 tons of grapes a year to the wineries in Ontario. That market is protected by the Wine Content Act. Is that still going to be the law in Ontario or is it not? Surely they are entitled to that answer.
Hon. Mr. Peterson: Even if that continued as the law in the province, there is no guarantee it will save them from some of the other problems we are having at the present time. My honourable friend surely must understand the complications of this situation in the province. I can assure him when I have talked to the grape growers -- and I have talked to them on many occasions -- they say strange things about him as well. I am not sure he understands all the complications that are at work here.
I say to my honourable friend, we are prepared to do everything we can to assist the grape growers and we are searching together for those solutions.
Mr. Speaker: Order. There are other members wishing to ask questions. New question, the member for Sarnia.
Mr. Brandt: I acknowledge the applause of my colleagues in the House. I know full well it will be the last time and I thank them.
GENERAL MOTORS OF CANADA LTD
Mr. Brandt: I have a question for the Premier with respect to the announcement that appeared in today’s paper in connection with General Motors and the proposed layoff of some 3,000 workers. I want to tell the Premier that I have in fact received confirmation within the last few moments that the intent is to go ahead with the layoff. I want to bring to his attention that some months ago our party brought to the attention of the then Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology the problem of very severe overcapacity in the auto industry. We indicated to the Premier and his government at that time that there should be some steps taken to prepare for what appeared to be a severe problem in the auto industry as it relates to the overcapacity question.
Can he tell me what his government intends to do by way of anything in the throne speech or any measures that it has that he could bring to respond to this problem that may assist in these particular layoffs?
Hon. Mr. Peterson: My honourable friend the leader of a truly free enterprise party would not want me to go in and nationalize the automotive industry I am sure. My honourable friend will be aware that it has been an area where there has been a lot of speculation, the overcapacity in North America with respect to vehicle assembly. My honourable friend will be aware that there has been a major closedown by General Motors in the United States at the same time that a $2-billion investment has gone into Oshawa. Obviously, these things are in response to the market.
I am not sure my honourable friend would be advocating that they build cars they cannot sell, unless my honourable friend has a new message that he would like me to convey to the president of General Motors of Canada. These are market responses. We will obviously work with the company and the workers to assist in every single way we can, but it is part of the normal cycle in the automotive industry. Our job is to make sure we fight to protect the industry that we have, because many people are projecting a major downsizing in the automotive industry because of overcapacity over the next several years. We have to make sure we hang on to our share of the jobs that exist.
Mr. Brandt: There was not much hope in that response for the 3,000 workers who may be laid off, but let me just tell the Premier that during the course of our debate on this issue back in June 1987, the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology at that time said that we should not really have any concerns about this problem because in fact the auto industry was as healthy as it had ever been during the course of the two years the Liberal government had been in power up until that point in time.
Mr. Harris: He said there were no problems.
Mr. Brandt: “No problems. Do not worry about it. You are raising fears that are totally unfounded.” Since our fears were supposedly unfounded back in the summer of 1987, we think our fears are very well founded based on the announcement today, which has in fact been confirmed by General Motors. I simply ask the Premier what action his government is prepared to take to assist in this problem, which he should have known about in the summer of 1987. He should have foreseen it was coming prior to that by many months because of the number of reports on overcapacity. He has done absolutely nothing on this problem. What is he prepared to do now?
Hon. Mr. Peterson: I would tell my honourable friend that the unemployment level is below six per cent and is continuing to drop, one of the best records in North America. I think if my honourable friend really analyses what he is saying, he will realize that the suggestions he is putting forward here today, whatever they are, are silly. He will recognize, because I gather he used to occupy that portfolio at one point in his previous incarnation, that there are cycles in these situations.
I say to the member, what did he do when he was minister to plan because he knew there were layoffs coming on’? What did he do? He knows these things are a normal part of the situation. It is a function of markets. We are still maintaining our share in North America. Obviously, a lot of us are concerned about the future, but I cannot predict with certainty when the layoffs will come. We have adjustment programs in place to assist when we can.
Mr. Brandt: I have to say that the 3,000 workers who may not have a job will not think the question is all that silly. Those workers are looking for some action on the part of this government to protect their jobs or to find some way, since he had all kinds of time to think about it, to respond to a very real problem that is extremely significant in the areas of General Motors’ plants.
I ask the Premier again, is he prepared to have his minister look at the question, to try to resolve the problem, to look at the issue of overcapacity and see if there is some rational way in which his government can respond to what I see and my colleagues see as a very real problem?
Hon. Mr. Peterson: The honourable member will know that the minister is always looking at these questions and always working closely with the industry. If he is telling me that we should have prevented these layoffs somehow or other, then I am sure the honourable member would realize that, frankly, what he is saying does not hold water.
If he has a specific suggestion of how those layoffs could have been prevented, he can stand up in the House and share it with us.
Mr. Brandt: I have a question for the Treasurer. It is in connection with some of the comments that the Treasurer made relative to transfer payments to hospitals, to municipalities and to school boards and other bodies that receive transfer payments from the province.
At a time when there was great uncertainty in the stock market, when there were a number of spokesmen, a number of leading government officials who were attempting to calm the waters and to bring some sense of sanity into the whole debate on what was happening with the economy, why would the Treasurer pick that particular moment to muse on about the question of whether he would be able to maintain the level of transfer grants to these respective institutions, such as municipalities, school boards and hospitals?
Hon. R. F. Nixon: I am sure the honourable member, who would read those comments as carefully as he could, would realize there was no indication of any reduction in those grants; none at all.
As a matter of fact, we are very proud of the fact that the economy has been strong and continues to be strong. The Premier has just indicated that the unemployment levels are below six per cent and continue to drop and that our real growth in percentage terms outstrips almost all of the jurisdictions in North America.
We are very proud of our rate of job creation. We do not take credit for it as a government, but we are proud of the fact that Ontario’s economy has grown and continues to grow.
I certainly think that the Treasurer or anybody else, as a member of this Legislature, would not be doing his or her duty if he did not indicate that we are going into a period of some uncertainty. There is no reflection of this in any way in the province, as yet, but it is obvious that when we make projections well in advance of budgetary periods, for our transfer partners -- something that the former ministry never did, often waiting until the transfer partners, such as school boards and municipalities, were well into their budgetary period before they ever decided what sort of assistance they would give.
My point is that because we do want to give this well in advance, then it is incumbent upon me to indicate what is going to be available to them for the next fiscal year, which in some instances begins January 1 and in some instances begins April 1.
Mr. Brandt: Perhaps the Treasurer does not think he gave the impression that there may be some cutbacks or some reductions in the level of those transfers, but I want to tell him that in newspaper columns in local areas throughout this province, there were questions raised of various officials, asking what their response would be to any reduction in government grants or in government transfers.
How can the Treasurer stand up and say that he did not in any way, shape or form give the indication or transfer or telegraph the message to all of these people that in fact there may well be some reduction in the transfers of those particular moneys? I just do not understand.
Hon. R. F. Nixon: I do not recall any occasion when I have ever been misquoted, but there are many occasions when people might misunderstand what I say.
Certainly, there was no indication of anything being frozen, other than that this Treasurer and my colleagues are looking at the future with a fiscally responsible outlook to maintain the programs that we have, under our initiative, allowed and very properly allowed to grow at a rate much faster than in the years when the honourable member was a part of the administration of the province.
We are proud of what we have accomplished and we want to build on that. There is not a person here who would say it should not be done in a fiscally responsible and prudent way.
Mr. Brandt: The fiscal responsibility the minister is talking about has resulted in his not meeting his target in terms of budget objectives and in terms of what he has established for his own objectives over the past couple of years he has been Treasurer.
The reality is that he does not have a target objective that he has been able to meet. He has overshot the mark on all occasions.
Let me ask, by way of my final supplementary, will the Treasurer today stand up in this House and give a clear message to those institutions, municipalities, hospitals and school boards that he does in fact intend to retain the level of transfer grants that he had suggested earlier and that he is not in fact going to change that as a result of some forecast which he has no detail of in the future?
Hon. R. F. Nixon: It is not possible at this time to make any commitment other than to say to the honourable member that the Treasurer, as is our custom, will be making a statement to the House for the benefit of all the members and, through the members, all of our transfer agencies that depend on our level of financing, an indication in good time as to what we will be able to do for them in supporting their important programs, their essential programs, for the coming fiscal year.
Mr. Swart: My question is to the Minister of Financial Institutions, and he will know, as does everyone else, of the interminable delays his government has created in order to avoid solving the problems that are inherent in the private automobile insurance system that we have in the province. Study after study has been undertaken while drivers of Ontario continue to be forced into an arbitrary and unjust private insurance system.
I want to find out from him if there is going to be a further delay. Will he recall that the order in council which created the Inquiry Into Motor Vehicle Accident Compensation in Ontario required Mr. Justice Osborne to report to the minister by November 1, 1987? Is there going to be a delay? Has Mr. Justice Osborne delivered his report to the minister? If so, when will he table it? If not, when does he expect to get it?
Hon. R. F. Nixon: I expect the report from Mr. Justice Osborne in the near future.
Mr. Swart: I have heard “the near future” for two years and I am getting a little sceptical about the near future.
The minister has studied, of course, and will have when the report comes in, every aspect of the auto insurance business but one. He has studiously avoided commissioning an independent comparison of automobile insurance in Ontario with automobile insurance in Manitoba, Saskatchewan and British Columbia.
If the minister believes that his friends in the insurance industry are right and that we in the New Democratic Party are wrong about the western plans being superior, then I challenge him to prove it. Will he commission an independent study that will prove to the people of Ontario beyond any doubt who has the least expensive, most efficient and fairest automobile insurance system programs, Manitoba, Saskatchewan and British Columbia or Ontario?
Hon. R. F. Nixon: Mr. Speaker, I am sure you are aware -- the honourable member indicated in his question that he is aware -- that we have availed ourselves of the very best advice in preparing the legislation that we are putting before the House. If he considers our recent exercises in the democratic process an unnatural delay, then I cannot help him.
In fact, Mr. Justice Osborne and others have been working diligently in preparing their views. When they are available, they will certainly be influential on government policy and they will be made available to all honourable members as soon as practicable.
Mr. Harris: I have a question for the Treasurer, who was very proud recently, in his response to a question from the leader, about how he meets all these targets and he is right on target. Of course, in his two previous fiscal years, the only true measure we have of his record, he has never been close to the spending target.
Recently the Premier (Mr. Peterson) indicated that Liberals could not afford to keep their election promises, and we have seen that; and, of course, the throne speech omitted a bunch of them. The Treasurer, whether he did it inadvertently or was misquoted or was misunderstood, certainly left the impression that he may not be able to afford to meet municipal health and education transfer commitments for the next year. On top of that we now have a throne speech full of new promises. Could the Treasurer tell us what it will cost to implement those promises?
Hon. R. F. Nixon: The honourable member, coming from Nipissing, is in a singularly untenable position when he talks about our cutting back on public expenditure. I would think that a substantially large share has finally been allocated towards his part of the world, with the location of an entirely new ministry and a brand-new courthouse, just to list two of the things that come to mind. But the proposals in the speech from the throne will be accomplished in the budget of Ontario now, together with the budgetary statement that I hope to give to the House, God willing, some time in the spring of 1988.
Mr. Harris: I am not surprised that the Treasurer does not know what these things cost because, whether it is campaigning, throne speeches or whatever it does, fiscal responsibility has not been a priority with this government. I am shocked, I am disappointed, but I am not surprised.
If the Treasurer knows what any of the items in the throne speech will cost, could he tell us when he might be able to provide the cost of any of those individual items? If he cannot answer that, perhaps the suggestion is that when this throne speech was drafted, the Treasurer and Treasury officials in fact were not even consulted, which is what I understand he tells me if he does not know anything about any of the costings. He just dreams these things up and then worries later about whether he can pay for them or not.
Hon. R. F. Nixon: I am not sure whether there was a question there, but I have an answer. The honourable member is being critical of our fiscal responsibility. While it is not a very good benchmark to compare it with, I simply recall the record when he was a cabinet minister and supporting a Conservative administration on this side, when its cash requirements were well above $2 billion and when its programs were unnecessarily constraining for our universities, our schools, our hospitals, our municipalities, as a matter of fact people right across the province.
I am glad to report to you, Mr. Speaker, that we have been able to turn that around, and in the last budget we not only reduced taxes but we reduced the cash requirements to well below $1 billion, a point where it has not been for many, many years under the Conservative administration.
Mr. Neumann: My question is for the Attorney General. On October 3, a Brantford man, Hubert Corbett, was shot to death by a Brantford police officer who believed his life was threatened when a realistic replica of a Colt Python .357-calibre Magnum revolver was pointed at him. The coroner’s jury which investigated this tragedy has recommended that the manufacture and sale of these realistic handgun replicas be banned.
In view of the fact that these replicas can be purchased in almost any department store and needless deaths or injures can result, will the Attorney General recommend to his federal counterpart that these so-called toys be banned under the Hazardous Products Act?
Hon. Mr. Scott: I would like to thank the honourable member for his question and say that, as he knows, the Criminal Code provides that the utilization of an imitation weapon is an offence under section 85 of the Criminal Code. His question focuses on manufacture and sale, and I think the question recognizes that national regulation of this enterprise is appropriate. I will, as he suggests, be communicating the coroner’s jury determination to the Attorney General of Canada.
Mr. Speaker: Order.
Mr. Neumann: In view of the fact that tragedies such as the one which occurred in Brantford should be avoided, if at all possible, would the minister undertake to consult with his colleagues the Solicitor General (Mrs. Smith) and the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations (Mr. Wrye) to ensure that at least at this level of government we have done all that we can to avoid such unavoidable tragedies?
Hon. Mr. Scott: I will be glad to look into it, but I am not satisfied, frankly, that a prohibition of manufacturing imitations in Ontario, even if it could be constitutionally undertaken, is the resolution of the problem in a country where at least within the country there is free trade in goods. I think the honourable member is right when he focuses his attention on federal legislation like the Hazardous Products Act and I will bring his concerns to the attention of the Attorney General of Canada. I thank him for the question.
Mrs. Grier: I have a question for the Minister of the Environment. I have lots of questions for the Minister of the Environment, but today I would like to ask him about the 1986 Report on Industrial Discharges to Ontario Waterways, which his ministry released last week.
Figures in that report show that 101 out of 154 industries violated the minister’s water pollution guidelines and that in 1986 more industries failed to meet annual average limits than in 1985. It appears that under this minister we are going from bad to worse, and before the minister tells me that the municipal-industrial strategy for abatement is going to solve the problems, I would like to remind him that MISA does not become fully operational until 1990; that obviously MISA is not seen as any threat by the industries in this province, because they are not beginning to comply to this
Mr. Speaker: And the question is?
Mrs. Grier: I would like the minister to tell the House what he intends to do about this between now and 1990 to make sure that our waterways do not continue to be contaminated.
Hon. Mr. Bradley: I want to take the opportunity, first of all, to congratulate the member for Etobicoke-Lakeshore on her reappointment to the position of Environment critic for the New Democratic Party, a position she handled extremely well last time around, and to say that it certainly allows me to have the opportunity to be kept on my toes, as I know the new critic for the Progressive Conservative Party will do.
Mr. Speaker: What about the responses?
Hon. Mr. Bradley: Dealing specifically with --
Hon. Mr. Bradley: There are many interjections. The rules say that I must answer the question -- and I think it is a very good question that the member has asked -- and the answer is the following --
Mr. Pouliot: Take it under advisement.
Hon. Mr. Bradley: No. The member has addressed an ongoing concern, I guess. As she would know, the method that we use to do our testing and so on is an extremely extensive one. In fact, we go far beyond the International Joint Commission requirements in looking at the number of discharges that we do.
In addition to that, in order for a company or a municipality to pass the test, they must be 100 per cent perfect. In other words, they cannot fail in any particular month of the year on a yearly basis. We are not in a position of granting exceedances, for instance, as they would in adjacent municipalities.
Mr. Pouliot: He’s getting worse.
Mrs. Caplan: He’s just getting warmed up.
Hon. Mr. Bradley: No, I think the member understands this detail in it. She has identified the municipal-industrial strategy for abatement as being the cornerstone of the efforts of this government to deal with and substantially change the whole philosophy of dealing with discharges.
In the interim, and I think that is what the member is addressing specifically in her question, I have --
Mr. Speaker: Order. Supplementary?
Mrs. Grier: Supplementary to what, Mr. Speaker? But let me try.
My question was indeed about in the interim. I think the minister will find that all members of this House think that in the interim it is his responsibility to enforce those guidelines and those regulations that we have.
In the report I referred to in my question, it shows that 101 out of 154 industrial dischargers violated the minister’s requirements, that the dischargers exceeded their individual monthly limit 963 times out of 9,372 occasions monitored and that 35 of the 101 violators were under voluntary or imposed control orders, but as of July 1987, only eight charges had been laid by the minister.
I would like the minister to explain to this House: Is that going to be the pattern of enforcement and maintenance of the regulations that do exist from now until that day when MISA comes, and can he explain why only eight charges were laid out of a possible 66?
Hon. Mr. Bradley: As the member would know, one of the reasons that we brought in the municipal-industrial strategy for abatement is that guidelines are, in my view, virtually useless in dealing with legal situations. As she knows, you cannot go into court and charge somebody for the violation of our guidelines. That is why guidelines are not useful to us. She would recognize that they are enforced if they are standards.
One of the important components of the municipal-industrial strategy for abatement, our new water pollution regulation, is that we will therefore be able to enforce because we will have specific standards. Now we have to prove specific damage to the environment by any particular discharge before there can be a charge that will be substantiated in court.
I have instructed officials of the Ministry of the Environment to visit every one of those plants that have been in violation, to instruct the people in those plants first of all to undertake best management processes, changes which are going to eliminate a number of the violations, as I would call them even though they are only guidelines; and in addition to that, to revisit on any of the control orders that are in effect to determine whether they must be strengthened or widened. Of course, whenever we do that, it is under the public consultation process.
I think this is going to have a marked effect, but there is no question, as the member would know, that the very significant turnaround in this province will come with the municipal-industrial strategy for abatement, which will finally put teeth in what we have. The member contributed, along with members of the opposition, to a new piece of legislation, Bill 112, which has been applied to a number of other areas.
Mr. Eves: I have a question for the Premier. My question is in the area of conflict of interest. That is an area in which he has had some substantial and very real experience over the last two and a half years. Under what guidelines or rules of conduct with respect to conflict of interest were members of the Premier’s cabinet recently appointed?
Hon. Mr. Peterson: Under the rules as established in the legislation we put forward that was not passed. The Attorney General (Mr. Scott) will have a statement on that tomorrow.
Mr. Eves: I presume that the Premier is aware that as of a few moments ago no disclosure statements were indeed filed with the Clerk of the House, despite the fact that the draft legislation that he refers to requires that filing within 30 days of appointment to cabinet.
One has to wonder how the Premier can appoint individuals to cabinet on the basis of proposed legislation, especially legislation that the last Legislature had some very real concerns about, legislation that in all probability will go to committee and, hopefully, will be strengthened.
Would not the more prudent course of action be to comply with existing conflict guidelines? Or does the Premier think that because he has 45 extra members he can somehow circumvent the elected members of the Legislature?
Hon. Mr. Peterson: We brought forward the act in the last session, and a variety of members opposite decided not to pass it. That is fair enough. I told the member before that would be our operating principle, and that indeed is our operating principle. Those are the guidelines we are operating under, and I will invite the member to scrutinize everything on the basis of them.
Mr. Farnan: My question is to the Attorney General, as the minister responsible for the justice system in Ontario. In a report in today’s Globe and Mail, Judge Felstiner and Judge Scullion claim that 16- and 17-year-old young offenders are being treated more harshly under the Young Offenders Act than when they were prosecuted in the adult court system. This viewpoint was reinforced by Miriam Pinchuk, a court liaison officer with the Ontario Ministry of Correctional Services.
Is the Attorney General in possession of any studies that examine the different sentencing practices, and will he table these in the House? If such studies are not available for Ontario, will the Attorney General recommend that such studies be undertaken at the earliest possible opportunity?
Hon. Mr. Scott: I would like to thank the honourable member for his question and say that there are no studies of which I am aware that document the point that the judges referred to in the Globe and Mail this morning. But I think, anecdotally, it can be demonstrated that for two reasons the conclusions of the judges are probably factually correct.
The first reason has to do with the proof of prior sentence. As the honourable member would know, when a person is to be sentenced, regard is normally had to whether he has been convicted of a previous similar offence. Under the old Juvenile Delinquents Act, because the only offence under that statute was one of juvenile delinquency, it was not possible to prove that there was a prior similar offence. Under the Young Offenders Act, it is possible to prove that and I think, anecdotally, you could demonstrate that has increased sentences.
The second reason that the judges gave is simply that under the Juvenile Delinquents Act there was a limited number of orders that could be made. There was no order that parallels, for example, the young offender order to open custody, and as a result, the judges have begun to use the open custody provision. Therefore, people who would have been sent home under the Juvenile Delinquents Act, and therefore not sentenced in a traditional sense, are sent home or to a group home under open custody.
Mr. Farnan: Will the Attorney General, in the light of the discriminatory practices under the present system, exercise his responsibility in order to bring a greater sense of fairness and justice to this whole area of difference in sentencing practices by recommending the integration of all young offenders under one ministry, namely, the Ministry of Community and Social Services?
Hon. Mr. Scott: I am perfectly aware that the Minister of Correctional Services (Mr. Ramsay) and the Minister of Community and Social Services (Mr. Sweeney), who are responsible for those matters -- that is, the disposition of young offenders after conviction -- are considering and will consider the honourable member’s request. It is not a matter that the Ministry of the Attorney General has any control over.
Mr. Jackson: I have a question for the Minister of Education and would like to call upon him to assist the Treasurer (Mr. R. F. Nixon) in costing out yesterday’s throne speech. In that document there was reference to one of the election promises that it appears the ministry will pursue. That has to do with the reduction of class sizes in grades 1 and 2 from a previous level of 30 to a new level of 20.
In the minister’s campaign commitment, he referred to the hiring of 4,000 new teachers. I would like to ask the minister how much new capital or new money the minister will provide to build the additional classrooms for 4,000 new classes which he will be creating by that announcement.
Hon. Mr. Ward: First, I want to congratulate my colleague the member for Burlington South on his appointment. I know his background in education in Halton county is extensive, and I am sure he will provide some constructive input into education issues over the course of the next few months.
With regard to the extensive commitments that were made in yesterday’s throne speech to elementary education in this province, currently work is under way in the ministry examining the implications and formulating the policies and proposals to begin implementation of the reduction of classroom sizes. That whole process will involve an extensive analysis of the capital implications as well as the operational costs, and I am quite certain that the funds will be made available in the forthcoming budget to institute these improvements.
Mr. Jackson: Let me indicate that the minister is doing very well in being vague on these matters. It is clear that the Premier (Mr. Peterson), I understand, had one full day’s notice in terms of establishing that 4,000 teachers would be required to honour the campaign commitment. It seems that it is taking this minister over three months in order to determine its impact, and yet school boards are going into the budgetary process almost immediately. What those boards are concerned about, what this House is concerned about and what parents across Ontario are concerned about is that under his government, the number of portables used in our education system has increased by 39 per cent since 1985; it has gone from approximately 110,000 students in portables to 154,000 pupils now relegated to portables.
Will the minister promise the parents of this province that this reduction of class sizes will not result in thousands of additional students being put in portables, that they will be provided with the necessary capital to construct new pupil places?
Hon. Mr. Ward: I can tell my honourable colleague that the government is committed to flow the necessary funds to implement the proposals that were contained within the throne speech. I would also indicate that the government does recognize that indeed the reduction in classroom size will have a significant impact in terms of capital allocations throughout the province, capital allocations that my good friend knows full well have been tripled over the course of the last three years in an effort to renew the capital facilities within this province, which were in a serious state of decline for a number of years.
FIRESTONE CANADA INC.
Mr. Mackenzie: A question to the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology: Does the minister understand the concern and despair of the workers at Firestone in Hamilton who cannot make firm plans to get on with their lives or take other jobs because they simply do not know what is happening to their employment of many years? They have reached the stage where they really feel there is either some movement or people get off the pot.
Can the minister tell this House exactly what is the current state of the negotiations and assure the workers that the so-called talks that are going on are not really just a charade for the parties involved?
Hon. Mr. Kwinter: I thank the member for his question. I am sure the member knows that serious negotiations are taking place between Cooper Tire and Rubber Co. and the Firestone rubber company. I am satisfied after meeting with various parties involved in the transaction that they are serious. I should tell members that I had planned to be in Ottawa this afternoon to have a meeting with the Honourable Mr. de Cotret on this very subject and have had to postpone it because of what I anticipate will be an emergency debate, a motion that will be placed later on today. I can say that negotiations are proceeding. I cannot tell the member what the final resolution will be.
Mr. Mackenzie: Can this minister tell this House if the problem is the refusal of Firestone tire to make sure that the Banburys, the four-roll calenders, the tread-tubing department, the curing processes and other essential equipment are part of the deal so that Cooper can maintain an interim production of bias-ply tires and have a cash flow as a result of it while it goes through the conversion to radial? Is that the problem at this point in time, a refusal by Firestone to work out an agreement that the equipment that is needed will stay there? Is it fact or not fact that neither the provincial nor the federal government has been a direct party to any of the talks over the last three or four weeks?
Hon. Mr. Kwinter: The member has asked a multifaceted question. It is a very long question with a lot of implications. I should tell him that initially there was disparity in what Firestone was asking for and Cooper was offering, $21 million versus $14 million.
Mr. Mackenzie: More than that.
Hon. Mr. Kwinter: Well, there are other considerations. That is the point I am making. But on the basis that there was a $7-million discrepancy, in order to narrow that gap, Cooper and Firestone are trying to negotiate to see what equipment can remain. It is absolutely critical, as the member has stated, that the Banbury equipment, the things of that kind that allow them to stay in business, be there. That is part of the negotiation. I cannot give him any assurances because we are not party to that negotiation. That is a commercial business decision that will have to be made.
What I have done is I have assured both of the principals, the municipality and the union that we will do whatever we can to help facilitate this deal. The member should also know that at the present time they are manufacturing bias-ply tires. The prospects are that they will convert it to a radial tire plant, and the cost of doing that is staggering. We will have to get involved in that particular exercise as well.
In the meantime, at least we have the parties negotiating again, which the member will certainly understand did not happen before. They are back together. They are negotiating. I hope we can announce some progress shortly.
Mr. Cousens: I have a question for the new Minister of Housing. During the election campaign, on August 22, this summer, an ad appeared in the Globe and Mail from the Liberal Party of Ontario saying, “We will complete 102,000 affordable rental units by 1989.” It was not 100,000. It was not 110,000. It was 102,000 affordable rental units within two years.
I would like to ask the minister, does the minister have a specific plan to achieve 102,000 units of construction, or is this an example of baseless Liberal propaganda?
Hon. Ms. Hosek: I thank the member for Markham for giving me the opportunity to make it clear to everyone here that the government of Ontario is committed to building 102,000 units of affordable housing by the year 1990.
Mr. Cousens: We are off to a great beginning. I asked for a specific plan. Yesterday we had the throne speech to give the government an opportunity to lay something on the table. But given that her government was not able to build even 12,000 to 15,000 units in the best of times; given that it would be next to impossible to obtain the number of bricks she would need, and tradesmen, in order to build this number of houses in a two-year period; and given that there are no specifics being offered by the honourable minister, if she cannot built 102,000 units in the two-year period, will the minister resign?
If that is the case --
Mr. Speaker: Is that your question?
Mr. Cousens: No. At the end of two years -- we give her two years -- if it is not done in two years, will she resign?
Number two, is she saying that this is just more hollow promises from the Liberal Party of Ontario?
Mr. Speaker: Order. You have said that three times.
Hon. Ms. Hosek: The government of Ontario has a series of strategies for building and converting housing; they include convert-to-rent, new building, renovation and various other forms of building, which we will be presenting in due course.
TEACHERS’ LABOUR DISPUTES
Mr. R. F. Johnston: My question is for the Minister of Education.
Mr. Speaker: Order. I recognize the member for Scarborough West.
Mr. R. F. Johnston: I am sure the member for Niagara Falls (Mr. Kerrio) does as well.
My question is for the Minister of Education, and it concerns the recent strike in Toronto at the elementary panel, which went on for many weeks. It disrupted classes badly and ended with a resolution which I do not think has pleased parents or teachers in that community.
I wonder whether the minister would comment as to whether he agrees with this assessment of Bill 127, which caused some of the problems that we have just seen in Toronto. That is, the first offence is as follows:
“It is an assault on local autonomy. It is the removing from local boards of education the powers we feel they should have. If anything, we feel the minister should be moving in the opposite direction, giving more powers to local boards of education and reducing the powers in the Metro board.”
Does he agree with the member for St. Catharines (Mr. Bradley)?
Hon. Mr. Ward: I am not familiar with the remarks that were made or in what context they were made. I take it that was back when the legislation was first introduced for consideration before this Legislature, and it is my understanding that it underwent significant amendment before it was enacted; so I really cannot comment as to the appropriateness of those remarks. I will say, however, that Bill 127 does in fact provide for joint bargaining on salaries and the financial benefits of teachers and staffing.
I think in the context of the recent strike in Metropolitan Toronto it should be noted that the decision to include preparation time as an issue of joint bargaining was a decision which was reached jointly by all of the parties involved.
Mr. R. F. Johnston: Then the minister is dissociating himself from the position of the member for St. Catharines, and also probably from that of the member for Kitchener-Wilmot (Mr. Sweeney). At that point the member for Kitchener-Wilmot also said a number of things which, of course, I would like to read into the record. This is in third reading, I might say, after the amendments -- which the Liberal Party voted against, I will remind members.
Mr. Speaker: The supplementary question is?
Mr. R. F. Johnston: The supplementary question is as follows: Does he not agree then with the member for Kitchener-Wilmot, who said: “I am opposed in principle to this tendency of the government to make organizations bigger and bigger. In this party we believe they should be going in the opposite direction. We believe we should be seriously looking at whether we need a Metro board in Toronto at all.”
Does he agree with that position? If he does not agree with that position, does he have any plans at all to review the effects of Bill 127 and the lack of accountability that is built into that act, which caused so many problems in Metro Toronto this last month?
Hon. Mr. Ward: I believe that over the course of the past four years the experience of Metropolitan Toronto in dealing with education issues under Bill 127 has been characterized by a significant number of successes. After the strike, I did in fact ask all of the parties to the dispute to come in and to give me their thoughts as to what the impact or what the implications were of Bill 127, in terms either of contributing to the cause of the strike or prolonging the strike itself. I did not receive from any of the parties any clear indication that such was the case.
Mr. Breaugh: Mr. Speaker, on a point of privilege: I wrote to you on July 23 concerning the practice of Graham McCready in leaving with staff around the building documents which were purportedly writs to appear before a justice of the peace. In your reply you indicated that you wanted me to raise this as a point of privilege when the House returned.
I would remind you that the committee on the Legislative Assembly has done a report on this matter, but I also want to place in front of you today the awkwardness that three members of the assembly, in the middle of an election period, were served with writs. Discretion being the better part of valour, all three of us decided to appear in front of the justices of the peace even though it was in the middle of an election period. For practical purposes, we were there trying to explain our role in the given situation in a morning and get out of it, but it did place us at a disadvantage.
I feel that my rights and the rights of the other members who were served with those writs were put somewhat at risk, particularly during the course of the election period. The matter of the serving of such documents on members or their staff in and around this building still seems to be one which perplexes us a great deal. I want to leave that with you and ask you to consider it, perhaps to refer once again to the Legislative Assembly committee the whole matter of serving documents on members within the precincts here.
USE OF LEGISLATIVE CHAMBER
Mr. Breaugh: The second matter that I want to raise with you is one with which I must confess I personally do not take a great deal of umbrage, but it does raise an interesting point that I think you, sir, have to consider. The new cabinet was sworn in on the television system in this chamber. I would advocate that we ought to use the television system as much as we can, but I would point out to you that it is quite a substantial departure from parliamentary tradition to use the legislative chamber per se for any purposes other than meetings of the assembly. Going through my little background on it, I cannot find that any standing order was violated or that any rules of the House were violated, but it does seem to me that the traditions of a parliament are very simply this: The chamber itself is used for no other purpose.
It does seem to me that we as members need to clarify how this chamber will be used, how the television system will be used, and we have not done that. That is perhaps a matter which would best be sent to the Legislative Assembly committee for its consideration and a report back. I am not at this point in time going to argue against using the chamber for such functions, but I would point out to you, sir, that the television process goes across the province. If the government of the day decides to clear all the benches out of here, as the government did, and use it for a ceremony of its own purposes, as it has a right to do, I suppose, I think as members we ought to have some say about the terms and conditions under which that happens, and I would like you to take that matter under consideration.
Mr. Sterling: On the same point of privilege, Mr. Speaker, I felt that my privileges were breached --
Mr. Speaker: Order. The member for Carleton (Mr. Sterling) has the floor.
Mr. Sterling: I did feel my privileges were breached, both when the previous cabinet of 1985 was sworn in in this particular assembly and when this cabinet was sworn in in this assembly in 1987. But since that time there has been a change in the utility of this particular chamber. It has become a television studio and therefore much more attractive for a government to put forward itself to the detriment of members of the opposition.
I can tell you, Mr. Speaker, I consider my right to this chamber as a right, as much as the Premier of Ontario has a right to this chamber, and I do not think, if you were asked if they could use this chamber for that particular function, you should have given that permission without consulting each and every other member of this Legislature.
Hon. Mr. Conway: If I might: This point, of course, invites all of us who have been around for a while to recall to mind those events over the years when the chamber has been used for extraordinary purposes, if that is the right phrase.
I think, for example, of the first day that I was here, in 1975. It was for the investiture of Arthur Edward Martin Maloney, QC, the then Ombudsman of Ontario.
Mr. Sterling: He was a servant of the Legislature.
Hon. Mr. Conway: Point well made.
I think a couple of months ago we saw the investiture of some very distinguished Ontarians into the Order of Ontario, as I recall, in this particular chamber.
I think, however, on behalf of the government, I would want to say that this is a point we would want to consider, either at the standing committee on the Legislative Assembly and for at the Board of Internal Economy, because I think it would clearly be useful to have a well-established protocol for the use of the chamber. Certainly on my part, and on behalf of the government, we would be very anxious to work with honourable members to ensure that there is a clear protocol and that no one’s sensibilities or privileges are or appear to be interfered with.
Mr. Speaker: I listened very carefully to the two points made known by the member for Oshawa (Mr. Breaugh).
I would say on the first point, as far as the serving of documents is concerned, I would hope that when a Legislative Assembly committee is formed it would take a look at this part of the act. I will do my best to make certain that has an opportunity to go before that committee.
I do not particularly want to get into an argument on the second point. I believe this chamber has been used for other functions, and I should say the floor of the chamber has been used for other functions. I would be glad, again when the Legislative Assembly committee is formed, to go before the committee and discuss that, which includes the use of the chamber.
I will certainly keep that on the back burner and make certain that those two points are reviewed with the committee.
Mr. D. R. Cooke: One petition signed by 160 people calls upon the Legislature to call on the government to “introduce legislation that would guarantee naturopaths the right to practice their art and science to the fullest without prejudice or harassment.”
DRINKING AND DRIVING
Mr. D. R. Cooke: The second is signed by 117 people who are concerned with respect to the existing sentencing provisions regarding first-time offenders of the drinking and driving laws of Canada, and feel there ought to be a review in the very near future concerning these provisions, and particularly the automatic mandatory one-year suspension of an individual’s driving privileges subsequent to the conviction for one of the Criminal Code drinking and driving offences, respectfully asking the Lieutenant Governor in Council to conduct a comprehensive review of the sentencing provisions in question in the very near future with a view to considering changes in respect of existing sentencing provisions.
DEPUTY SPEAKER AND DEPUTY CHAIRMAN
Hon. Mr. Conway moved that the member for Prescott and Russell (Mr. Poirier) be appointed Deputy Speaker for this parliament, and that, notwithstanding standing order 12(b), the member for Elgin (Miss Roberts) be appointed Deputy Chairman of the committees of the whole House for this parliament.
Motion agreed to.
Hon. Mr. Conway moved that, notwithstanding standing order 2(a), the House shall meet at 1:30 p.m. on Thursday, November 5, 1987.
Motion agreed to.
INTRODUCTION OF BILLS
ONTARIO AUTOMOBILE INSURANCE BOARD ACT
Hon. R. F. Nixon moved first reading of Bill 2, An Act to establish the Ontario Automobile Insurance Board and to provide for the Review of Automobile Insurance Rates.
Motion agreed to.
NON-SMOKERS’ PROTECTION ACT
Mr. Sterling moved first reading of Bill 3, An Act to protect the Public Health and Comfort and the Environment by Prohibiting and Controlling Smoking in Public Places.
Motion agreed to.
Mr. Sterling: As all members of the Legislature know, this is the sequel to Bill 71, the Non-Smokers’ Protection Act. As I said in my opening statement today, I hope the government has stopped stalling and calls this bill for second and third readings. We considered it in the last parliament, and I would consider any amendments put forward by the government in a co-operative manner. I look forward to its co-operation in seeing that something is finally done about controlling smoking in public and in the workplace.
METROPOLITAN TORONTO POLICE FORCE COMPLAINTS AMENDMENT ACT
Hon. Mr. Scott moved first reading of Bill 4, An Act to amend the Metropolitan Toronto Police Force Complaints Act, 1984.
Motion agreed to.
Hon. Mr. Scott: This bill and the other bills I will introduce this afternoon were not attended to in the last session and they are being introduced for that purpose.
PROCEEDINGS AGAINST THE CROWN AMENDMENT ACT
Hon. Mr. Scott moved first reading of Bill 5, An Act to amend the Proceedings Against the Crown Act.
Motion agreed to.
EXECUTION AMENDMENT ACT
Hon. Mr. Scott moved first reading of Bill 6, An Act to amend the Execution Act.
Motion agreed to.
MOTION TO SET ASIDE ORDINARY BUSINESS
Mr. B. Rae moved that, pursuant to standing order 37, the ordinary business of the House be set aside to discuss a matter of urgent public importance, namely the failure of the trade agreement between Prime Minister Mulroney and President Reagan to live up to the six conditions expressed by the Premier (Mr. Peterson) during the recent election campaign and, further, the failure of this government to commit itself unconditionally to exercise its full legislative and regulatory authority to prevent implementation of this trade agreement.
Mr. Speaker: Notice of this motion was received at 11:15 a. m., therefore in time, and it is in order. So I will listen to the honourable member for up to five minutes, as well as a representative of the other two parties. I will listen, of course, to reasons why this should be debated.
Mr. B. Rae: I want to submit to you, Mr. Speaker, that we have been subjected to nothing short of a fraud by the government of the day. I want to suggest to you, sir, that last August. during the election campaign, we were told very clearly by the Premier, who is still the Premier, and I quote -- I am using his words: “There can be no deal on free trade. If it guts the auto pact, that is Ontario’s bottom line.” I think that every citizen in this province heard those words and heard the Premier of the province say that there can be no free trade agreement unless six conditions were met.
The deal came down while this House was in recess and during that time the Premier of the province suddenly discovered that his powers somehow, like those of Samson, were completely taken away. He went into the election looking for a mandate. He got the mandate and, having been given the mandate, turned around and said. “Aha, I have discovered there is nothing now that I can do.” It is almost as if Superman went into the phone booth and decided that he was going to come out as Clark Kent and walked around saying: “There is nothing now I can do. I have lost all my capacity.”
I always thought that elections and the democratic will of the people gave power and capacity to government, instead of which we see almost a kind of unilateral declaration, a powerlessness by the Premier which he again exhibited today in the Legislature in response to questions from me.
I would like to submit to you, Mr. Speaker, that the future of this country is at stake. I would submit to you, sir, that proof of that fact is evidenced by many things, but perhaps most clearly by the fact that since the House was not in session one can only presume this is the reason that it was done -- the Premier took the unusual step of announcing that he was going to ask a cabinet subcommittee to hold public hearings, which began with the process of the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology (Mr. Kwinter) being briefed publicly by his own deputy with respect to what was in the treaty. It was an interesting performance. I must say I can find no particular constitutional precedent for it. It was almost as if Yes, Minister had come to Ontario and had been brought to real political life.
I would submit in all seriousness that we in this House are entitled now to every opportunity to debate this question, to hear from the government what is its position and to hear what it intends to do. It has not, as yet, referred this matter to any parliamentary committee. It has said it cannot do that until it gets the final agreement. Ironic, one would say. If it cannot do that until it gets the final agreement, how can it ask the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology to travel so widely and to ask so many questions when, indeed, the minister seems to be admitting that he does not yet have the agreement?
The government cannot now be heard to say there is no emergency or urgent situation and it cannot now be heard to say, “It is quite an important matter, but we really have to wait until we see every final crossing of the t’s and dotting of the i’s,” because it has admitted that there is a problem by carrying out what I think you would agree, sir, is quite an unusual constitutional step of constituting public hearings without the Legislature itself being involved in those hearings.
I would like to assert that in moving this motion we are doing two things. One is getting the government to come clean about what it intends to do with respect to an agreement which it has now clearly stated is unsatisfactory. The Premier has made it very clear in his comments today to the Canadian Club that he has a great many concerns about the deal and that he in fact is clearly not in favour of it. That is not now, after a period of two and one half years, in any dispute. What is at issue in this House and what is an issue which we are entitled to debate and which is a matter of urgent, public importance is, precisely what does the government of Ontario intend to do to live up to the solemn commitments it made to the people of the province?
I am prevented by parliamentary tradition from using the language which I think describes precisely what happened in the election campaign and, indeed, in this House with respect to the actions and words of the Premier of the day. I have said that I regard this matter as nothing short of a fraud. I think it is a fraud. I think it is a fraud that ought to be debated and exposed. More important than that, beyond the divisions that are within this House, we ought to have a chance to do what we can to save Canada from this terrible agreement.
Mr. Harris: First of all, with reference to the way the government and the Premier have proceeded, I am not uncomfortable at all in associating myself and our party with the remarks that were made by the member for York South. I would concur with those statements.
I do not think anyone in this chamber disagrees with the assessment that free trade is an important issue that is facing our country, that the opportunity for job enhancement and secure access to one of the largest markets in the world is a great concern and, indeed, an opportunity for all Canadians.
It was none other than that great Liberal from Ontario, Donald Macdonald, who, after being given a mandate by the Right Honourable Pierre Elliott Trudeau to chart a course for the future economic prosperity of our nation, went out across this land for several years, at a cost of millions of dollars, and came back with the recommendation that we must seek a trade agreement with the United States to secure access to our most important market, to be able to maintain our level of exports with our most important trading partner, to be able to maintain our ability to develop new products, to be able to maintain the thousands of jobs these initiatives create, to be able to maintain our ability to fund cultural programs, to be able to maintain our sovereignty, to be able to maintain our ability to pay for a standard of living far in excess of most jurisdictions in this world.
We are a trading province. We produce far more than we consume, and we need trade to survive. Those are some of the givers. Our party agrees that it is an important issue. We agree with Donald Macdonald. It is not only important but perhaps the single most important issue facing Ontario and Canada today.
I would suggest, though, that we should calm down the rhetoric. There have been a lot of silly arguments, I would maintain, that if one disagrees with an individual’s point of view, he is somehow anti-Canadian, he is somehow anti our culture, he wants to sell out our country. This type of rhetoric, I submit, arises from debate but ignores facts. It is debate that is based on emotion or attempts to appeal to emotion when the facts do not justify what it is they want to sell to the country. These types of ideological responses are probably, I would submit, all we are in a position to debate today. I doubt that they will contribute to our understanding of the complexity and the difficulty of this issue. It is of vital importance, we agree.
We still have not seen the final text. When we do, I believe we are all agreed in this House that it will require a full airing, that there will be full hearings, that there will be a full examination, that the government itself in the speech from the throne has admitted that what it tried to put in place was a charade and a bit of a joke on the people, I guess -- which I assume will slowly be tried to be phased out and scrapped, that committee of ministers that really served no purpose at all -- and that we will have a full parliamentary debate and full committee hearings on the matter and, indeed, full committee explanations of what it is we are dealing with.
So I would submit that this ought not to be treated as a one-day wonder, and that, from my experience in this legislative chamber, is what the forum of emergency debate provides. It is not an emergency; it is vitally important. In fact, I would submit it is of most importance. While I agree with the member for York South on some of his allegations, I do not think repeating philosophical rhetoric again today which we have heard over the past year, year and a half or two years -- but I agree with him about some of the rhetoric we heard in the campaign and how ridiculous it was -- I do not think that will be particularly beneficial. So our party, secure in the knowledge that there will be plenty of opportunity for considerable debate, for considerable input, for considerable hearings, does not support setting aside the business for an emergency debate today.
Hon. Mr. Conway: On behalf of the government, I appreciate the opportunity to say a few words in response to the motion placed before us by the member for York South. I must say it is good to be back, just to begin with that kind -- it is really good to be back. I was observing parenthetically to my friend the member for Scarborough West (Mr. R. F. Johnston) that I, as government House leader, have no intention of suggesting that this motion not be proceeded with today.
One could, as the member for Nipissing (Mr. Harris) has just done, manufacture a very constructionist view of the rules of this place, and I could probably do it as well as anyone here. I have done it, I think, in the past, but on behalf of the government I just want to say that we view the whole trade question as a matter of very serious concern to the economic and cultural future of this province and of this country. As has been clear throughout the course of recent weeks and months, the Premier and leader of this government has put the case for this government and our party, I think, with eloquence and with effect. We have, as the speech from the throne outlines, indicated a number of specific initiatives that we intend to take in this connection.
I must say that I will be somewhat disappointed that we will not be able to hear today from the member for Eglinton (Ms. Poole) and the member for Algoma-Manitoulin (Mr. Brown) as they move and second a humble address in response to His Honour’s speech.
I am also going to be disappointed, quite frankly, that I will not act the full version of the point of view of the Leader of the Opposition. Unlike today, which will be limited to 10 minutes, tomorrow will presumably be 90 minutes, or whatever, but that is entirely at the call of the Leader of the Opposition, it seems to me.
I want to say to my friends across the way, particularly to those friends across the way in the opposition parties, that we will be happy to engage in this debate this afternoon. Over the coming weeks, we will be also very anxious to debate this and related questions in the standing committee on finance and economic affairs.
As I listened to the Leader of the Opposition make his case with some very interesting language that, again, might upset a constructionist, I was thinking back to Sunday night when I happened to come in to the city of Toronto just in time to catch the member for Oshawa (Mr. Breaugh) and the member for Carleton (Mr. Sterling) on the CBC’s Dateline. I will not make comments about the member for Carleton but I can only reflect upon what I thought I heard the member for Oshawa say in respect of the conduct that should attach to this whole free trade debate.
I thought I heard the member for Oshawa, an outstanding and distinguished member of the assembly and a leading light in the New Democratic Party, I understand, advance an argument for some care and caution as we move forward. Now, I am, of course, subject --
Mr. R. F. Johnston: A transcript will show that is true.
Hon. Mr. Conway: -- as the member for Scarborough West would suggest -- to a careful review of the transcript, an altogether extraordinary transcript, I should think, if one looked at it once again. I thought the member for Oshawa, unlike the member for Carleton, stole the show, but then I did not write those press reports. Enough said.
The government views the whole trade question as a matter of very serious concern. We had hoped that the throne debate might begin today, because obviously the throne debate provides a waterfront opportunity for the Leader of the Opposition and his 18 colleagues to discuss these matters and others at whatever length and with whatever attachment and decibel level they choose to offer.
Having said all that, I think it is important for me, on behalf of the government, to get a sense of the opposition. I get a sense that the official opposition would like to take advantage of the provisions of standing order 37 to have this debate today, and we will certainly not stand in the way of that debate this afternoon.
Mr. Speaker: We have had the pleasure of listening to members in this chamber on the motion. Now, pursuant to standing order 37(d), I must put the question. The question is: Shall the debate proceed?
All those in favour will please say “aye.”
All those opposed will please say “nay.”
In my opinion the ayes have it.
Motion agreed to.
Mr. Speaker: I will recognize, I guess, first the member for Nickel Belt (Mr. Laughren). Any member who wishes to speak shall have up to 10 minutes. The debate will proceed until we run out of speakers or the time of six o’clock arrives.
TRADE WITH UNITED STATES
Mr. Laughren: I am somewhat surprised at the opposition of members of the third party to this debate, but I do understand their reluctance to debate the issue, given how they must feel and some of the pressures they must be under from people who are feeling so vulnerable if this deal were to go through.
We feel the debate is important and is necessary to hold for a number of reasons: First, the importance of free trade to the Ontario economy, the potential impact of free trade on the Ontario economy; second, the implications for Canadian sovereignty; and third, the impact that such a deal would have on what we regard as the most vulnerable aspects of the economy and the society in Ontario.
The industrial sectors, for example, that are struggling now would be further devastated by this deal. Regions of Ontario that are now weak and vulnerable would become weaker. I can think of northern Ontario as an obvious example. Corrective measures would be ruled unacceptable under any kind of deal, especially under that made-in-USA dispute settlement mechanism.
People in our society who are the most vulnerable -- I think of women in particular -- would become even more so if this trade deal were to become law. This government so quickly has become complacent. They do not appear willing to act in a decisive way to stop this deal dead in its tracks.
This party is waging a very serious political battle, along with our federal caucus. We are doing so not because we want to build a wall around this country, not because it is simply a Mulroney initiative and not because it is anti-American or we are anti-American. We are waging this battle because we feel very strongly that the results of this free trade deal, if it were implemented, would be contrary to our vision of what we think our country should be like in the future.
New Democrats are not prepared to sacrifice the civility of our social programs that are unique. We are not prepared to sacrifice the somewhat understated sense of national identity that we have. We are not prepared to sacrifice our unique mixed economy that we have in this country. It may be free enterprise, but it is tempered by government regulation.
We are not prepared to reinforce the resource-exploitation nature of northern Ontario, which this deal would surely do. We want a northern Ontario that is part of the economic mainstream of all of Ontario. We want to be able to impose processing requirements on the mining companies if we so choose. We want to be able to set our own stumpage fees. We want to be able to impose pollution control orders that satisfy us. We want to be able to use a mix of crown corporations, joint ventures and private sector subsidies in northern Ontario in order to build a more diversified northern Ontario. Free trade would not allow us to do that. We have seen evidence of that.
We know that some industries would be more affected than others and we know that the hardest-hit industries employ a disproportionate number of women. For example, 80 per cent of working women are employed in the service sector. I will give the members a couple of statistics. Between 1977 and 1984, 180,000 jobs were lost in Canada as a result of the importation of computer services. In 1971, 12 per cent of Canadian firms had data processed in the United States. Five years later, that number had doubled to 25 per cent of firms. In the garment industry, it has been estimated that 25,000 out of the approximately 38,000 jobs there now would be lost under a free trade arrangement.
Surely it is not acceptable to deliberately negotiate a deal that will make working women even more vulnerable than they are now. The government must not be so sanguine, so laid-back and so complacent, because that is the picture we are getting.
Free trade is not simply an economic concept that pays homage to the discipline of the marketplace. It is an ideological doctrine that demands and gets its sacrifices. Those sacrifices are the people, the regions and the industrial sectors that are least able to defend themselves. We are not talking about our ability to compete with equals in the world in trade. We are not talking about being able to wheel and deal out there in the marketplace on our terms. Under a comprehensive free trade arrangement, the members can be sure that we would be talking about a profound restructuring of our economy. We would no longer be able to determine which industrial sectors were important to Canada in order for us to be a self-reliant nation.
Under free trade, the environmental standards, the wage laws and social programs of the least civil jurisdiction would become the benchmark for competitors. That is not our vision of Canada. That is a vision for those who believe in the doctrine that the fittest survive. We do not believe that the lowest common denominator should determine the level of environmental standards, social programs or labour laws.
This government has sent mixed messages to Brian Mulroney. This government has refused to take a strong position against free trade. As a matter of fact, if I were Brian Mulroney, I would be furious at my old pal David Peterson.
Why did the Premier (Mr. Peterson) not declare from the beginning that he was opposed to these free trade negotiations? We all know about the conditions that were laid down during the election campaign -- our leader outlined them a few minutes ago -- and some of them are so profoundly important to Ontario that I do not know how the Premier cannot do everything in his power to stop these negotiations right dead in their tracks.
We are saying to the Premier that the time for playing footsie is over. The message must be clear: Ontario will not accept a free trade deal; Ontario will not implement any enabling legislation; Ontario will veto any arrangement that encroaches on our provincial jurisdiction; Ontario will take the case directly to Washington; Ontario will take the lead and rally other provinces in opposition to this deal. We have an opportunity in Ontario to provide the leadership and to go from this battle, once it is won, on to the next one; and the next battle will be to make less vulnerable those people who are now so vulnerable and those sectors that are now so vulnerable. The next battle should be one to make this country one in which we set our own economic policy, where we set our own cultural policy and our own labour laws and our own environmental standards and our own social programs.
Canadians are proud of the social programs that are now in place, but I want to tell the members, I am firmly convinced that if this deal goes through, there is not a single social program that will not be debated in the future.
We are adamantly opposed to this free trade deal, and I urge the government to listen to what we are saying, to think about the vulnerability of people in our society, of regions in Ontario and of industrial sectors in our economy. It is that vulnerability that bothers me so much about any free trade arrangement, because the more vulnerable people, regions and sectors are, the more they will be damaged by a free trade deal.
We are not prepared to sacrifice the victories we have had in the past on these programs for the wishes of those whose vision of Canada is less generous than ours.
Mr. Sterling: It is my privilege to represent our party in saying that we are the one party in this Legislature which has unabashedly supported a freer trade or enhanced trade agreement with the United States. Our party sees Ontario as a trading province. We see our province as a province which should be first off the mark in seeking greater access for the manufacturers of our province. We see our province not only acting in its own self-interest but as a leader for all of Canada because we are the richest province.
We are, therefore, very much concerned with our Premier’s attitude in terms of how he is dealing with this whole issue. He seems more interested in waging a war, a political war for political purposes, than he does in being constructive in forging a newer agreement with the United States.
I often said on the campaign trail that given the choice between taking the status quo and a new agreement, I would take the status quo, but that is not the choice we are faced with today. We are faced with a protectionist attitude in the United States of America and we have to deal with that in some constructive manner. We have not seen that kind of reaction by the government of Ontario.
This government has done nothing to contribute to reaching a freer trade agreement in a constructive manner. They have not indicated to us, although they have the constitutional responsibility to do so, what they are planning to do if in fact the federal government goes ahead with the free trade agreement. We have not heard how they are going to help out workers who need retraining or relocation. We have not heard how they are going to help out industries that might be affected. We have not heard how they are going to help out communities that might be affected under this agreement. So instead of looking at this as a challenge for our province, we have a negative government response, a government who are doomsday-sayers and really have no vision of a future for our province.
Members might say: “Why is it so important that we reach an agreement with the United States? Our Premier has talked about greater access to Pacific Rim countries and trading with them.” I might remind members that the Liberal Prime Minister in the early 1970s attempted to expand trade with other countries. At that time our trade with the United States was approximately 60 per cent; that was for all of Canada. After this great program of expanding trade to other countries, we find now that our reliance on the American market is 75 to 80 per cent in Canada. Here in Ontario, 80 per cent of our exports go to the United States. One in three jobs is dependent upon a smooth trading relationship with the United States of America.
There can be no doubt about it: Trade, and particularly trade with the United States, has brought prosperity to our province. Now we have to seek a new way of continuing to break down the trade barriers that do exist between our countries and that process is not new to this agreement. In fact, if we take out four or five major sectors, tariffs in general have come down to around the four or five per cent level.
We believe that the current proposed agreement, which the federal government and the US government have agreed to in preliminary form, will not only be a significant step in assuring our future access to existing markets but will open new markets for us.
What will a free trade agreement do for us? We believe, simply put, that the agreement will give us enhanced and secure access to these very important markets. We believe our Ontario producers will be able to compete as they will have not a market of 25 million people here in Ontario but a market of 280 million, including the United States, and that will allow some of our industries to specialize. We will have to become more efficient but our party believes that our manufacturers are up to that challenge. We believe that this agreement will create many jobs for the people of Ontario.
This agreement is about eliminating and reducing tariffs between our countries. When tariffs fall, consumers get lower prices on both sides of the border at less cost. That means, in my opinion, that we will have a higher standard of living in both of our countries.
A larger selection of goods will be available for the consumer. Our many Ontario industries will benefit from lower production costs. The advantages we derive from our auto pact, we believe, can be enhanced under this agreement. It maintains some safeguards placed on the auto pact companies. It stiffens North American content requirements for offshore producers.
We believe that new opportunities for producers of replacement parts and tires, products which are outside our auto pact at this time, will attract new opportunities here in Ontario. We do not believe, as the New Democratic Party believes, that our national sovereignty, our social programs or our regional development programs will be threatened. We do believe that we can maintain our way of life while growing closer economic ties with the United States. All interested parties to this particular agreement are governed by their existing trade laws. Up until this time, under our situation with the United States, we have had no access to challenge those laws or those interpretations of laws.
While our party would have preferred a binational dispute mechanism with stronger powers, this binational dispute mechanism does provide us with some access with regard to trade laws in the United States. Let us not forget that what we access in terms of our attack on any ruling with regard to trade laws in the United States also works in reverse with regard to the United States attacking our interpretation of our trade laws.
On many occasions before, when the softwood lumber issue came up in this House, we have asked ministers across the floor what they did with regard to the particular attack on our softwood lumber industry. The fact of the matter is that outside of a political solution, we had no immediate retaliatory mechanism. This kind of mechanism, which we now have, would provide us with some of those mechanisms.
We believe that we in Ontario have prospered as a result of trade with the United States. The move to reduce trade barriers, to reduce tariffs, will, I think, benefit Ontario as a whole.
While we admit the free trade agreement is not perfect in every sense and we would like to see the final wording on a sector-by-sector basis, we believe that on the whole it will allow us to continue our ability to develop as a province with larger access to a larger market. It will allow us to compete in industry on a worldwide basis rather than with what we have had to deal with in the past, a very limited market.
I would hope, as a member from eastern Ontario who represents a riding that is very much dependent on high-tech industries, that access to American markets will continue. There are many projects in this province that are just waiting to see the result of this free trade agreement because access to the United States market is contingent on its going ahead with its plans.
We must never forget the fundamental issue at stake, our trading relationship with the United States, the only international economic relationship that is crucial to us as a province and indeed as a country.
Hon. Mr. Kwinter: I am pleased to join in this debate today as we examine the weighty issues we have to deal with in this US-Canada trade agreement. We believe it is the duty of all Canadians to take a look at this issue, an issue that will for ever change the character and quality of this country, one that will have everlasting impact.
Our government has examined the preliminary agreement. We weighed the benefits against the tradeoffs and quite frankly we found the agreement wanting. Simply stated, our government is not prepared to accept a trade deal under which Canadian policies are dictated by US interests rather than decided by Canadians.
The Ontario government supports enhanced and secure market access with our largest trading partner. Let there be no mistake; we have a very strong feeling of support for our American neighbours and the trade that we conduct with them. Ontario is the United States’s largest trading partner and we are its largest customer. We have a mutuality of concern and we have a mutuality of interest to make sure that particular relationship remains.
When the trade negotiations were initiated by the federal government, we saw the need for secure access to the US. We also required the elimination of trade harassment by US companies against Canadian exporters; we were in a position where the better we did, the greater the harassment against us. We also required clear roles defining permissible government programs. That is absolutely critical to a province like Ontario.
We of course knew that concessions had to be made to achieve these objectives. Again, let there be no mistake: When we looked at this deal, we did not take an ideological bent that no matter what it was, we were opposed to it. We were prepared to look at it, to take a look at what had been negotiated and if it were for the benefit of Ontario, we certainly would have responded in a positive way.
During the provincial election campaign this summer, the Premier made it clear that we understood that concessions, however necessary, could not jeopardize our most vulnerable industries. He outlined six conditions that had to be met and I think it is important that we put them, certainly from the government’s point of view, into the record: To establish an effective dispute settlement mechanism; support for regional development; preservation of our agriculture and beverage alcohol industries; ability to screen foreign investments; retain our cultural identity; and last but not least, maintain the auto pact or see it enhanced.
We know the issues involved are complex, but at the heart of the whole trade negotiations was the desire to achieve greater and more secure access by both countries to the other’s markets and resources. The major objective of the federal government and the federal trade negotiator, Simon Reisman, at the initiation of the negotiations was to secure access to the United States market. Why was secure access so important?
Ontario does not seek an agreement that will bless unfair trading practices by Ontario exporters at the expense of US manufacturers. Similarly, Canadians do not expect that under a free trade arrangement US producers should be allowed to harass Canadian exporters. The very threat of an unjustified trade action by a US company could deter many small or medium-sized Canadian firms from exporting to the United States.
The foundation of secure access is the strength of the dispute settlement mechanism. Canadians need secure access to prevent the unfair application of US countervailing protection laws. Not only do such laws create uncertainty for Canadian exporters; they reduce the attractiveness of Canada as a place for foreign investment. Under the proposed free trade agreement, the binational tribunal does not result in any substantive benefit to Canada beyond the current avenues of appeal to the US courts and to the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade.
As for government programs and our ability to promote regional and sectoral development, in order to make any real progress in this area, we believe that Canada would need to negotiate changes to US trade laws and definitions to reduce harassment of Canadian exporters. This was not achieved in the proposed Canada-US agreement. Indeed, under the terms of the October 4 agreement, regional development programs remain extremely vulnerable to US countervail. Firms that are successful on the US market can still be threatened by the mere processing of groundless US trade actions. Such actions can severely disrupt our export strategies.
The agreement does provide for continuing Canada-US negotiations over a five- to seven-year period to change Canadian and US trade laws and to reach a definition of an acceptable subsidy practice. We do not think that in practice that will work. We simply cannot foresee how great those concessions might be, if we have to make any concessions to get that kind of change, and we do not know whether we will have to cancel government programs to assist industry, research and development or make adjustment to regional development. We just do not know. That is something where they say, “Trust us,” and that presents a problem for us.
If prior agreement is not reached on definitions and new rules to govern countervailing duties and anti-dumping remedies, then either party can nullify the agreement. The fact alone that the deal could be scrapped is far more significant to Canada and this very option puts the Americans at an advantage.
I want to put into the record -- I think it is important to know -- that there are benefits for Canadians in the Canada-US agreement. Some very high US tariffs will be dropped, albeit slowly; that will be good for some sectors. Temporary-service personnel will be able to cross the border more readily. The agricultural sections of the agreement contain some good provisions, and certainly some that we think are very bad. Canadian exports will not be included in US safeguard actions against injurious imports, primarily from other countries.
What have we conceded to get these few benefits? Certainly the proposed agreement does not even come close to addressing the Premier’s conditions for acceptance. There is a loss of Canada’s ability to screen a substantial proportion of foreign investment to ensure that it is in Canada’s economic best interest and to maintain our essential right as a sovereign nation to direct foreign investment.
The safeguards under the auto pact are gone. Removing tariffs and permitting unlimited purchasing from US suppliers destroys the very safeguards that helped to build our vibrant auto sector.
The strategy must include federal implementation of uniform production requirements for all third countries producing automobiles that are in Canada. We think the provision that no one else will be allowed into the auto pact, where they cannot achieve auto pact status, absolutely prevents and guts the whole idea of the auto pact for Canada. We think the agreement must include a joint commitment by government, industry and labour to improve the Canadian auto industry’s technological capacity to ensure that we are competitive with any other country in the world.
In our view, notwithstanding that Simon Reisman claims it is auto-pact-plus, we are convinced that the auto pact was not protected in the negotiations. We are not satisfied this is a better deal for Canada. In fact, we believe the reverse is true.
We are not happy with the energy proposals. We think that if it is implemented, Canada will be tied to a continental energy market with little ability to ensure security of supply, resource upgrading or an independent pricing policy.
Then of course there is the loss for the Ontario wine and grape industry. Clearly, Ontario’s insistence on preservation of that industry has been totally ignored.
There are areas in cultural pursuits that have been hampered by reduction of postal subsidies. There is the loss of various other aspects through the areas that severely impact on Ontario.
We were told when it was presented to us on October 5 that we would have the final agreement in three weeks. Those three weeks have come and gone and we have not seen it. We now hear that we may see it in mid-November, maybe late November, maybe even later than that.
We are in a situation where, let there be no doubt, the Premier has stated unequivocally that he is opposed to the deal. We think it is a bad deal for Ontario. We think by extension it is a bad deal for Canada. We are going to voice our opposition as we are doing. We are going to use every opportunity we have to state our position and to explain to the people of Ontario what the deal is and why we think it is a bad one.
Mr. Mackenzie: I do not know whether the minister is already backing off a little bit in his comments from what I have heard him say at some of the hearings he has held around the province, but I heard the Ontario Federation of Labour and the steelworkers’ union, for example, go after him in Hamilton and here in Toronto on what this meant to our country. I heard him say: “Look, you are whipping the wrong horse, if you like, fellows. We are opposed to the deal. You do not need to get angry at us and tell us that we should be opposing it; that is our position. But of course we do not think Ontario should be telling the other provinces what to do.”
Now he is saying they are going to voice their opinions. I hope that is across this country of ours because just saying that we are not going to tell the other provinces or it is not Ontario’s role is simply not good enough.
I think what is happening in this free trade debate is a threat to this country of ours. I think the deal we have got is a nondeal and I think it would be a tragedy if we allow it to go any further. We have all the talk about the need for this bill to protect us against US protectionism when there is no limitation either on the application of current US law or on the right of the US to apply new law to Canada in the future with the current bill we have. That gives us nothing as far as I am concerned.
Free trade is cited as a boost to regional development in Canada despite the evidence, very clear, that it does nothing to preserve access for regional resource industries, that many regional industries will not get access to the US market at all and that other regionally important industries in the manufacturing sector will be devastated by the elimination of tariff barriers.
The deal, as far as I am concerned, is unbelievable, and I think it bears out most of what we heard in the select committee that met for a number of months, with members of this Legislature. I think the federal Tories have signed a deal with the Reagan administration that gives to the US almost all of what it wanted and to Canada virtually nothing of what Canada needed.
The United States has won a continental energy policy, something which it has been looking for ever since the energy crisis of the early 1970s. In effect, it has won a guarantee that no future government will ever have the temerity or the ability to implement a made-in-Canada energy policy, unless of course we get out of it. It may be too late once we are tied into such an agreement.
The United States has won an agreement to end virtually all restrictions on US investment in Canada. In effect, it has won a guarantee of immunity from future Canadian political concerns about ownership and control of Canadian industry.
It has won substantially increased access to Canadian markets for most US agricultural products, a change that will undermine the effectiveness of marketing board systems that have served Canadian farmers so well.
They got exactly what they wanted on tariffs: a total phase-out. They got exactly what they wanted on services: national treatment.
Forgive me, but I can remember back to the days on the select committee, and there are members sitting here in this House who were on it, when we were arguing that we should get out of this deal and see that it was ended before it ever got started because all we were going to do was expose all of the irritants in our trade talks between the two countries. We heard, “Oh, there’s no way, we have to at least enter into the talks and see what they’re going to offer us.” This came from the Liberal members on the committee as much as it did from the Tory members on the committee.
Of course, the caveats were that we would not deal with the auto pact, we would not deal with agriculture. I can recall making efforts in that committee to get a definitive statement that if those things went on the table, the talks were over. I knew that once those things were on the table, they would find ways and means to include them in the entire agreement, and that is exactly what we are seeing. I think there was a sellout early on, and I think there is a sellout now as far as this country is concerned.
But I think the dispute resolution mechanism is the real tragedy in the agreement we have; it really does give us almost nothing. I note with some interest the comments that were made, just two or three brief paragraphs in two of the labour briefs that the minister got. The disputes resolution panel? “All dressed up with nowhere to go” is exactly how they put it.
This dispute resolution mechanism has produced more misinformation and distortion of reality than any other aspect of the free trade deal. The deal gives the panel jurisdiction of a sort in legislation and in the administration of trade laws.
As far as legislation is concerned, the dispute resolution panel’s powers are limited to issuing declaratory opinions about any changes in antidumping or countervailing-duty statutes. If the opinion of the panel is that a proposed change in US law is contrary to either GATT rules or the objects and purposes of the free trade deal, and Canada and the US fail to agree on a compromise, Canada has the option of either retaliating or terminating the deal.
In plain English, what this means is that if we win at the panel and the US refuses to go along with the panel’s view, we can either retaliate or terminate the whole deal. It gives us absolutely nothing that we do not already have.
I cannot help -- I have done it before in this House -- but go back to some of the comments of some of the senators we met with when we were down in Washington, the comments that there was no way we could reach a free trade agreement within the fast-track time frames, and I will never forget it as long as I live, “unless, of course” -- and with the grin on the face of -- I think we got it from a couple of different senators -- “the deal is so good that we can’t turn it down.”
What we are seeing, my friends in this House, is a deal that is so damned good the US cannot turn it down. I think we are seeing a challenge to the sovereignty of this country. I think we are seeing something that, as far as I am concerned personally, borders on treason in terms of the position of some of our federal members in trying to push Canada into this deal. I think we will end up the 51st state.
We have never had defined for us what we are going to gain in the way of jobs. There is the whole lottery industry and a few things like that, or the cement industry, where there are going to be no new jobs but they just might employ for 12 months instead of eight months the couple of thousand workers who are involved in it in Canada. But to this day nobody has been able to tell us where the gains are and where the jobs are. We know and we know clearly and nobody disputes, not even those who are pushing the free trade question, the fact that there are an awful lot of jobs at risk, that an awful lot of jobs and job adjustments are going to have to be made.
It seems to me that in the face of this kind of situation, it is a tragedy to continue. I think we see it even further when we see somebody like our chief negotiator, Simon Reisman, resort really to the refuge of scoundrels. When he cannot answer the questions that are tossed at him in terms of what is going to happen to our country and what this deal means to Canadians, what does he do? He resorts to the big lie technique: Anybody who is opposed to this is now somehow or other not just a doomsayer or a naysayer, as I heard one of my Tory colleagues say, but somehow or other is tied in with the Nazis or the fascists.
It has always been that if you cannot defend in an upfront and open way, you use that lie technique or you use this kind of charge. It seems to me that it is also dangerous to our country that we see that happening.
I was a little disappointed today when I heard the Premier not resort to quite those kinds of tactics but question the intelligence of my leader on some of his statements. Surely to goodness he is not going to take lessons from Simon Reisman in terms of how we are going to deal with a situation like this in the Ontario House here.
It seems to me that we have an obligation and this government has an obligation beyond any other province, because we are the province that will be most affected, to stand up very clearly and say: “No. This deal must end, and it must end now.” It is not good enough to say, “Hey, you don’t need to hammer us, boys,” when some of the people come before the travailing road show that the cabinet has set up and tell them, “You’ve got to oppose this.” It is not good enough for the minister to say: “You don’t have to go after us. We’ve already made our minds up that we oppose this.”
They have to take the lead, this government of Ontario, going across this country and making it very clear to Mulroney and the federal Conservatives that we are not going to have the sellout of this country of ours that is being proposed.
That is the minimum, bottom line, because otherwise they are part and parcel of what I think is the biggest tragedy that has ever happened to this country, which is going to affect tens of thousands of workers and is going to take away some of our sovereignty; which is going to prevent us from things like content legislation or regional disparity assistance when it is needed in this country; which has not even begun to try to define what we really mean by subsidies; which has not resolved the questions once and for all, just as we obviously have not resolved the auto pact, whether it is on the table or not, or the agricultural industry; which has not resolved the question of whether something like our national health plan, the Ontario health insurance plan, is a subsidy.
As some of the US Governors and many others have said, in some of the arguments we have heard in the US Senate, is our unemployment insurance program a form of subsidy? Are the kinds of regional disparity programs we come up with to help areas in our country and our province that need assistance some form of subsidy?
When we have not even got that clearly defined on the table, there is no way we should be going any further whatsoever with this phoney and, I think, not only insensitive but dangerous free trade approach. I think the job of this government now is to make it very clear that yes, what we said in the election was the truth. We are going to end it.
The difference between my leader and me, I guess, is that maybe -- I do not know; I have not discussed it with him -- maybe he half believed the Premier of the province when he said, “This is our bottom line and this is what we will stop.” Unfortunately, I did not believe him, just as I found that you could not really depend on the word of the Liberal members of that committee when we met for several months a few months ago.
Mr’ Cousens: Madam Speaker, I would like to begin by congratulating you on your appointment and election as the Deputy Chairman of the committees of the whole House. I think we are seeing another precedent, and it is a happy one.
I had the great honour and pleasure of serving as Deputy Chairman of the committees of the whole House for over three years. It is a very responsible job. You even have my old office, which is one of the nicest ones in the House. I just know from your smile and from your great personality that you are going to be a credit to this Legislature. I am just proud to have you as a friend and hope you will continue to be as objective and fair as you have already been today.
We are into a very important debate.
Mr. Cousens: We start off nice in this House, and who knows how it will deteriorate?
Hon. Mr. Kerrio: Ask for her resignation.
Mr. Cousens: Well, that is right. Look, we have given her two years to solve that problem and I am sure that Madam Speaker will do an excellent job.
Our debate today is on a most important subject. The decisions we make here probably do not affect what is going to happen at all, but what is going on in Ottawa and the leadership being given there certainly does have an impact on us and we must be aware of it, we must be conscious of it. I hope we are able to bring some guidance to the federal government on a number of matters.
Clearly and simply, when it comes to the initiative for freer trade, I am for it. I believe in the future that it offers. I am for a freer trade agreement because, without solid ground rules in trade, this province and this country will be left to the whims of politicians in the US Congress and Senate who have their own vested protectionist interests and who will take great delight in writing their own agenda for us because no other exists.
I am for a free trade agreement because Canada, as the closest trading partner to the United States, deserves better than being swept up in protectionist policies aimed at Japan and Europe and then suffering the fallout of those measures.
I am for an agreement because, until there is one, politicians in the United States will continue to view Canada as a happy hunting ground, knifing at sectors of our economy one by one because there is nothing that prevents them from doing otherwise. Today, it is potash or softwood lumber or steel or farm products; tomorrow, it will be fishing, motion pictures or beer; and every day after, it will be another sector or part of our economy vital to Canadian jobs and our economic growth and security.
I want an agreement because I believe that the best form of trade protection is trade liberation -- liberation from ad hoc circumstances and the absence of control over the agenda. I want an agreement because I believe that we can compete effectively, not only in the United States where our market is 10-fold what it is here but indeed throughout the world. Our resources, our skills, our experience and our unique market positioning are our strengths. This is our confidence and this is the way to a secure tomorrow. That is what I believe in, and that is what my party stands for.
This is no game. We are into a situation where we, as leaders in the province, should be careful with the words we use -- careful that it is not rhetoric based on emotion or hysteria, but that we are dealing with facts. We are dealing with one of the most important issues affecting the future of our province. I believe the vision we have of our future, the faith we have in our ability to lead, can lead this province into a whole new era of success.
The people of this province deserve an opportunity for a continued high standard of living. They deserve direction, not abdication. They deserve confidence, not capitulation. They deserve straight talk. This is what we want to see coming from both the federal government and the provincial government.
After almost two years of debate in this province, in this country, involving all levels of government, almost every sector of the economy, academics, researchers, business and labour leaders, personal advisers to the Premier, and even the media, the issue should now be so clear in the minds of the people of this country that there are great gains to be made for this province and for this country through freer trade.
We are in a situation where, unfortunately, the documents have not been tabled, and I think that is one of the things the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology (Mr. Kwinter) has some concern about. I do as well, because until we have seen all the facts before us, how can one fully come to a decision and say one is opposed to it? When we have got that data and when we have had a chance to analyse and assess it, maybe then we can find some suggestions for our federal counterparts to review it in greater detail.
As with any negotiated deal, concessions must be made to achieve what is in the best interest of each party involved. The success of such a process is, of course, determined by the net result of the compromises made versus the benefits achieved. The recent agreement of a Canada-US free trade initiative is no exception. While opponents to a free trade or, more appropriately, freer trade arrangement with the United States have been quick to denounce the deal, most Canadians have reserved comment until the final text has been released, and rightly so.
Not all will be positive in the proposed bilateral trade agreement, nor will it all be so negative. What we must determine is how the net result of this agreement will affect not only Ontario but also Canada as a whole. The need for a definitive bilateral trade agreement has become increasingly apparent over the past few years.
Pursuing what Professor Alan Rugman of the University of Toronto has termed “administered protectionism,” American producers have made use of countervailing duties and antidumping provisions of US trade laws as a type of competitive strategy aimed at foreign corporations. Major trading partners of the United States, especially Canada, face grave consequences if this form of protectionism is further strengthened by the adoption of equally protectionist trade bills currently before Congress. In the wake of these developments, Canada has little choice but to establish a special trade relationship with the United States, a relationship, however, that is responsible and responsive to the needs of our nation.
As we look across the world, we will see how other countries have established trade relationships. The Soviet Union has a group of countries that trade among themselves; the European common market is a manifestation of trade agreements that are beginning to work; African countries, East Asian countries, Latin American and South American countries. The only two countries in the world that can survive with a trade agreement that is closely meshed as we need to have are the United States and Japan, and what we have to look at as Canadians is how we can build and nurture a long-term relationship with this major trading partner.
The draft trade agreement announced on October 3 is a comprehensive treaty dealing with tariffs and other import and export restrictions. The key sectors include the agriculture, automobile, energy, financial services, investment and cultural industries as well as provisions for a dispute settlement mechanism. We in this country are in a position to review this, to work with it, to see it as what it really can become. We can see it as an opportunity; we can see it as a way for our Canadian manufacturers, our Canadian business people to expand and open up that trade opportunity.
I do not think it is perfect. I think the dispute settlement mechanism leaves a lot to be desired. I think there can be a number of improvements, but could they not be done in the next round of negotiations, where possibly other concerns have to be considered? At a time when the US takes in roughly 70 per cent of our exports, and given that exports comprise 30 per cent of our gross national product and provide over three million jobs, Canada’s enhanced position in securing crucial access to the US market cannot be taken tightly.
I refer as well to an issue of IBM’s internal publication, Tempo. The president in his closing remarks in this article says:
“All of these efforts are based on our firm conviction that both our country and our company’’ -- IBM, that is -- “have much to gain from a more open trade environment. As a trading nation, Canada has demonstrated an ability to be internationally competitive in every sense: price, quality and marketing. However, to compete successfully in the international arena, we must have secure access to the United States market.”
Mr. J. B. Nixon: Madam Speaker, I would like to congratulate you on your appointment.
The Acting Speaker (Miss Roberts): Thank you.
Mr. J. B. Nixon: Bear with me, Madam Speaker. I would like to say that I did not expect to be making my maiden speech quite so early, but it is a very important topic, as the minister has pointed out, and I am quite honoured and happy to rise to speak on this motion.
The issue of so-called free trade was not one that went without discussion during the election. Many people during the election would ask me, “Are you in favour of free trade or are you opposed to free trade?” I would immediately have to step back and say, “I do not think that is a very fair question in the face of the fact that we have never had free trade and I do not think anyone was really posing or proposing free trade.”
At the risk of being pedantic, free trade quite simply -- I would say this to my friends over here -- is a classical theory of economics which requires perfect markets -- perfectly competitive markets -- which requires each geographic area to specialize in its area of competitive advantage and which assumes everyone is roughly equal in the marketplace. I do not think there is anyone here who actually wants free trade as one knows it; nor is there anyone looking for free trade as we know it. None the less, during the election the first party on my right made the decision to be in favour of free trade and the second party, the opposition, made the decision to be opposed to free trade. We did not get free trade; we got the Brian Mulroney trade deal. That is what we are talking about today.
I think the Premier and this party were quite thoughtful during the election. We did not say, “We are opposed to or are in favour of free trade.” What we said was, “If there is going to be a new trade agreement with the United States then it has to meet six conditions.” The minister has gone through those six conditions quite clearly. I think everyone knew what they were and knows they have not been met. I will not go through the conditions, but I will point out to the members that one of the more conservative economic journals, the Economist, published in England, did have something to say about this Brian Mulroney trade deal. I will read from the article.
“Ottawa has also given a lot away. It will lower barriers on American investment in Canada, eventually vetting only takeovers involving assets of more than C$150 million. Import licences will be scrapped on wheat, barley and oats. Transport subsidies (the so-called “Crow’s Nest” subsidies) will end on many farm products exported through western Canada. American banks operating north of the border, hitherto subject to curbs on assets and on shareholdings in Canadian financial institutions, will be treated in future as if they were Canadian banks. Canadian magazine publishers will lose their postal subsidies. California winegrowers will be pleased by the removal of discriminatory markups on their products by Canadian liquor stores.”
Remember, this is the Economist. This is not me speaking and it is not the Premier speaking. It is a respected, conservative business journal.
“The problem for the Canadians is that the agreement falls short of the goals set by their Prime Minister, Mr. Brian Mulroney, when he set the free trade talks on the road in May 1986.”
I think it is fair to say there is some international commentary that is telling us that Brian Mulroney made a bad deal.
One area I am somewhat familiar with is the area of financial institutions. I would just like to point out the quality of the deal that we got as Canadians, as Ontarians, in that sector of our economy. “The essence of the deal for Canadians is that” -- this is what Canadians give up -- “Canadians agree that US financial entities will be as free as Canadians to purchase shares of Canadian-controlled financial institutions. Canadians further agree that US bank subsidiaries, individually and collectively, will be exempt from limitations on the total domestic assets of foreign bank subsidiaries in Canada.” That was at the heart of the schedule-B-bank concept. We would control and regulate the growth and development of the foreign banks in Canada. What we have said now is that those banks have unlimited power to acquire as much capital as they want within our economy.
What did we get in return? “The United States agreed not to give Canadians treatment any less favourable than that accorded under sections 5 and 8 of the International Banking Act of 1978.” What that says is we will be treated like all the other foreign banking institutions and financial institutions that are already operating in the US.
It goes on, “To give Canadian financial institutions the same treatment as accorded to other US financial institutions with respect to amendments to the Glass-Steagall Act.”
Without going into great detail, they did not give us anything but we gave up an awful lot, and although it has not been a hotly debated area within the trade agreement, I suggest to the members it is very important that we retain some control over the institutions which finance our industrial activity, our manufacturing activity and our service economy. What the trade deal does is give up the power to control.
To speak to the motion before us, I have looked at it and I have wondered what we would possibly do by way of exercising our full legislative and regulatory authority to prevent implementation of the trade agreement. I find it, I must say, somewhat lacking.
It does not provide a constructive solution. It suggests to me that we are to engage in retaliatory measures, measures to block investment, measures to block development of the economy, which in their own right will start multiplying, will start somersaulting, leading to all sorts of international trade problems, trade disagreements, trade litigation. So I cannot support it.
None the less, I would suggest that what we have offered is a constructive approach to this very difficult problem. The first thing that this government has done is said. “Let’s listen to all those people in this society, in this economy, who are affected. Let them tell us what it means when the Brian Mulroney trade deal is imposed upon them.” We are hearing, and we will continue to hear, not very good news.
In addition, we have heard many people from within the government say we have sadly neglected our international trading opportunities. The problem with this deal is that it is a bilateral deal when we have multilateral relations with the international world and we have not explored them, and that is one area we should be looking at.
I can tell members that I am pleased to see in the throne speech support for a variety of initiatives which will improve Ontario’s trading position in the multilateral international economy whether or not this agreement comes through. They include support for the centres of entrepreneurship, the centres of excellence, an improved educational environment, because the thing that has made us as competitive as we are in the international environment, as an international trading country and province, is the quality of the minds and the skills of our human capital.
That is what makes us such strong competitors internationally. That is clearly what the throne speech has spoken to, and that is a positive and constructive step to ensuring the protection of Ontario’s economic and cultural interests in the future no matter what trade deal comes along.
Let me say that I do not oppose free trade. I should retract that. I do not oppose trade per se. What we are looking for is a good trade deal. What we have got is not a good trade deal but a very bad trade deal.
Mr. B. Rae: Madam Speaker, let me first of all congratulate you on your appointment and say how pleased we are to be working with you and note as well that it is something of a precedent. I believe you are the first woman to occupy a permanent position in the chair, and I think it is long overdue and we welcome the appointment. I am delighted to have been consulted by the Premier on your appointment and to have immediately said to him that it sounded to me like a very good idea indeed.
Let me also congratulate the member for York Mills (Mr. J. B. Nixon) on his first speech, and I will pay him perhaps the ultimate compliment of taking him on. I disagree with some of the things he said. I remember when I gave my first speech, not here but in another place, I not only was taken on, I was also heckled, and it was also on the first day of my being there. So I can assure the member that I do not mean any disrespect -- quite the opposite -- if I say something that indicates my disagreement with him.
What I would like to do is not simply take the House back to the election campaign, which is painful enough for some of us, but also go to an earlier period.
Now I see I have to address -- encore une fois, je dois m’adresser à encore une Présidente de la Chambre.
I believe the fundamental problem has been not simply the approach of the government from this point on or from the point of the announcement of the agreement at the beginning of October. The fundamental problem, and my colleague the member for Hamilton East (Mr. Mackenzie) has already alluded to it, has been the fact that this is not a new movie. This has been an ongoing process in this House, and it is quite right, there have been three very different schools of thought as to what has been needed.
The first school of thought was that of the Conservative Party, who said, “If Brian wants to do it, it is a good idea.” They are in favour ideologically, and I do not think it should be any surprise that a party that spent the first 100 years of its existence favouring a closer relationship with one imperial power -- that is to say the British imperial power -- would now spend another part of its existence trying to get close to the other source of imperial power in Canada, that is to say the Americans. I am going to leave that argument on its own for a moment.
I was going to say I have stirred up a wasps’ nest, but then that would be completely misunderstood. I have stirred up a bees’ nest and I want to make that very clear.
The second point of view has been that of our own party, and that is to say from the very start that Ontario should be doing whatever it can to stop the talks, because it was our conviction that nothing good could come of them. We were described, and we have been described again today by the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology, as narrow ideologues and simply being knee jerk. The Premier at one point said, “I know all you want to do is for me to go in there and throw a bomb into the middle of the talks.” At another point he described me as being juvenile. Today I think he said something personal about how various people were describing me. I frankly do not mind that, but I think that symbolizes the attitude of the Liberal Party. That is to say, if we disagree, then we are obviously not going to express that disagreement in principled terms but simply in an ad hominem kind of way.
But the fundamental point of the difference between us and the Liberals from the very beginning has been this: The Liberal Party and the Liberal caucus took a number of votes on this, I understand -- these votes are, of course, not publicized, but we have reason to believe that in fact they took place -- where it was discussed as to whether the party should be continuing to support the talks. At each step of the way the decision was yes, the Liberals should support the talks; the Liberal Party should not be seen to be walking away from the talks; they should continue with the talks and the Premier should continue to be there.
So I want to say that when the member for Kitchener (Mr. D. R. Cooke), who was the chairman of the standing committee on finance and economic affairs, brought down his reports, I am proud to say that it was the New Democratic Party that set up markers each time saying: “This is a mistake. If these talks continue in this way, nothing good will come of them, and by the time you figure out what you want to do about it, it will be too late.”
I would suggest to new members that they have a look at the report of the finance committee, both the first and the second report, and that they look at the dissent that was filed by the members of the New Democratic Party. It does not do me much comfort, having come through an election campaign, simply to say to the people, “Frankly, we told you that this is what was going to happen,” but we did.
I also predicted -- these are little things that I think are worth pointing out -- what would happen has happened. As I said in my earlier remarks, this is one of the first times in history when Superman has gone into the phone booth and he has come out as Clark Kent, and that is exactly what has happened.
The party which said, “If this happens, no deal,” all of a sudden says: “There is nothing we can do. What do you know? It is all in federal jurisdiction.”
Is the Premier saying that the auto pact was not in federal jurisdiction during the election campaign? Is that the argument he is making? That is nonsense. It is to treat the issue with contempt. He knew perfectly well that technically there are some areas that are a matter of federal jurisdiction and there are other areas that are not. This is one of the continuing joys of constitutional lawyers.
The position of the New Democratic Party from the very beginning has been, “Look, we know what kind of an agreement there is going to be.” I was not surprised by anything in the agreement. I am unlike some others who say, “Gosh, energy was in the agreement.” What did they expect? Could they honestly expect when the Americans -- Mr. Reagan announced it in 1980 when he said, “A continental approach to our energy problems with Mexico and Canada is part of my agenda.” Why should they be surprised when they find that in the agreement?
The question that comes now is not how do we feel about this agreement. The question that comes to this House is what are we going to do about it.
I have one other point. I suggest the member for York Mills said it, when he said, “Look at the deal on financial institutions that they got.” I am surprised the member for York Mills, because of his previous incarnation in working for a particular minister, would bring that up as the example, because who gave away the securities industry? Who was it who said, “We are going to let the Americans come right in on Bay Street and simply take it over and have that kind of agreement, without getting anything in return”?
It was the minister, who is now the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology. If I am not mistaken, the member for York Mills was right in the office when it was happening. Either he did not come in for work that day or he was there. If he was there he has no right to come into this House and say: “Gee, the federal government was terrible. Look what they did to financial institutions. Look what the government of Ontario did to financial institutions They gave the shop away. All Simon Reisman did was to continue the same trend and to do exactly the same thing.”
So I say the question is, what can we do? We have suggested that there are some things that can be done. The first thing that can be done is Ontario can say what the Premier even today was not prepared to say, which is that Ontario will not implement any aspect of the agreement which falls within provincial jurisdiction. The Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology says, “The deal is good for services.” I am not convinced that is true. I do think that many of the services that are talked about fall clearly within provincial jurisdiction. I am surprised to hear him say, “That is part of the agreement that is good so we are going to let that go through.”
Ontario has to have a sense of its place within Confederation, not necessarily bigger, or dramatically throwing its weight around, but a sense that we are nine million people. We are a province which reflects a vast diversity of industries and ways of making a living and making a life, and there is a very substantial consensus in this province against the Mulroney-Reagan trade pact.
The member for Nickel Belt (Mr. Laughren) has described it more eloquently than many of us can, our own vision and sense of Canada. I think it is important that we focus now less on the rhetoric of what is in this agreement we do not like, because that is a subject for another day. What is important for this Legislature to make up its mind about is what it can do. We can make very clear we are not going to implement. We can challenge constitutionally. If our energies and resources are affected by this deal, and they are, the federal government has no right to do that. Why has the Premier not said that? Why did he not go into the Canadian Club today and say, “We feel that our ability to deal with our own energy and resources is affected by this deal and we are not going to let the federal government do that.”
As I said on another occasion, I believe the government of Ontario is profoundly ambivalent on this question. It does not want to do everything in its power to stop this deal because it is afraid. It is afraid of the reaction from its business friends. It is afraid of taking responsibility for stopping something that should not be allowed to continue. It is a dangerous strategy on the part of the province. It is a real gamble.
The government gambled two and a half years ago when it said: “Leave it to us. We will handle it. We will make sure the deal is okay.” It is gambling now with its laid back approach and I think it is something which we are right to criticize and which ought to change.
Mr. Runciman: Mr. Speaker, let me at the outset congratulate you on your appointment. It is nice to see the government giving some recognition to eastern Ontario. We certainly do not get much out of them and we appreciate seeing you sitting in the chair.
Mr. Elston: More than when you were in the position, Bob.
Mr. Runciman: No, not true.
Mr. Villeneuve: Murray, you are wrong again.
Mr. Runciman: Not true, not true.
We welcome the emergency debate, but I think the thrust of it is probably off base. I think it would be more appropriate to be discussing the lack of preparedness on the part of this government in terms of how we are going to deal with the losers. Indeed, there are going to be some losers out of this agreement. The current government does not seem to be taking any steps in order to deal with that situation.
Members may recall that during the recent election campaign our leader proposed a $2-billion adjustment fund to be phased in over a period of years to help in retraining, readjustment, relocation and so on. The government, to this point, has not taken any action in that regard. We feel it is very seriously negligent in that area and we urge the Premier to take a close look rather than simply wandering around the province or speaking in Prince Edward Island or Nova Scotia and bad-mouthing an agreement that is going to be approved.
We have heard the Leader of the Opposition, the member for York South (Mr. B. Rae), talking about the government being ambivalent. I do not really think it is ambivalent. I think the Premier and his followers quietly feel this is not a bad deal -- not a bad deal for Canada, not a bad deal for Ontario.
But he boxed himself into a situation in the election campaign. Obviously it worked, going around with the member for York South scaring the bejabers out of people in this province with all the nasty things that were going to happen to us if we had a freer trade agreement with the United States. Forget about presenting alternatives, but scare the folks. It will generate votes. It worked to a significant extent; there is no question about it.
This is a great time for the New Democratic Party. This sort of thing is fodder for it. It is going to jump at anything that is an opportunity for the Socialist party to slam the US, although I should point out that the Leader of the Opposition does not like to be described as a socialist, if we recall his reaction during the election campaign, when he was not ready to admit publicly that he was indeed a socialist. I think all of us in this building know that he is indeed a socialist.
Anti-Americanism is an unwritten plank in the NDP platform. I am pleased to see, in any event, in a modest way, that the government is not associating itself with that kind of rhetoric.
We were talking about the Fortress Canada types who associate themselves with the NDP -- Pierre Berton, Margaret Atwood, Mel Hurtig and the CBC, folks like that -- people who really seem to have some sort of a vested interest in protectionism of one kind or another.
One can talk about the Toronto Star as another one which has been leading the way in terms of opposition to a freer trade agreement with the US. I always have a tough time with the leftist vitriol coming out of the Star.
Mr. Reville: I have a bit of a hard time with them myself.
Mr. Runciman: It is even too extreme for you, is it?
I have to wonder about Honderich. Who is advising the guy? I would like to see his reaction if the government proposed intervention in the print media. It might bring him to his senses in regard to not only the editorial thrust but also the news reporting thrust that particular journal has taken over the past number of years.
The new member for York Mills was talking about looking at our multilateral options. Of course, that is something the Toronto Star has been advocating strongly, but obviously forgetting about Mr. Trudeau’s third option, the western European-Pacific Rim initiatives some time ago, which simply did not do any good. We have had David Crane, of course, from the Star strongly pushing that. David Crane worked for the former federal Liberal government as a flunky, in my view, for the Liberal Party of Canada.
Hon. Mr. Elston: A good Tory?
Mr. Runciman: Do not make me laugh.
Mr. Philip: Did your seat catch fire?
Mr. Runciman: Yes, my seat caught fire. I can say these things four years before an election. In any event, I would like to put some comments on the record which I think are extremely valid and very pertinent to the debate being carried on today.
One of the comments is from Professor John Crispo, a rather noted economist: “It should be acknowledged that we would be compromising some of our political sovereignty in the course of trading off much of our economic sovereignty with the United States as part of a comprehensive free trade agreement, but I would argue that ultimately we are more likely to jeopardize this country as a separate political entity if we do not work out an economic arrangement with the US.
“My reasoning is as follows. Right now Canadians, on average, pay a premium of roughly 25 per cent to be Canadian. Our standard of living is simply that much lower than that of the United States. Presumably, most of this difference would gradually disappear if we chose to join the US lock, stock and barrel, but the 25 per cent less income is a reasonable price to pay to remain Canadian, and most Canadians obviously share this view or there would be a strong movement to join the US. But what if this 25 per cent difference increased to 30 or 35 per cent? At what point would Canadians, especially in the poorer eastern provinces or the hard-pressed western provinces, decide it is not worth it any more?
“If Canada does not work out a comprehensive economic deal with the United States, the differences between our standards of living will widen and that, as opposed to an economic deal with the United States, is more likely to prove Canada’s undoing as a separate political entity. If all or part of Canada is ever absorbed by the United States, it is far less likely to occur by American design than it is by Canadian default. It is ironic, to say the least, that it is the ultra-nationalists who could prove the undoing of this country by standing in the way of a trade deal with the United States that could enhance our relative economic wellbeing and hence our political staying power as a separate national entity.”
I strongly agree with Professor Crispo on that, and I think that is indeed the irony. When we talk about institutions such as the CBC, publishing and so on, if our standard of living does fall because we cannot reach an agreement with the United States, the public funding that is made available to those bodies is simply going to diminish and we are really going to threaten our culture. So there is no question that it is a great irony.
I want to talk about a couple of things with respect to my own riding. One of the major rivet manufacturers in Canada is located in my riding; 50 per cent of its product goes to the US. They have indicated to me that if we do not reach an agreement and there is the threat of tariff barriers being applied, they are going to establish a production facility in the United States to feed the US market. So we are going to lose employment in my riding through Bray Rivet and Machine.
Nitrochem Inc. is a major producer of chemical fertilizers. In Chicago a couple of months ago, the American Fertilizer Manufacturers Institute passed a resolution calling on Congress to apply tariff barriers to fertilizers going into the United States. Currently there are no tariffs facing exported chemical fertilizers to the US, and if they lose that market, if they are facing a barrier and cannot compete effectively with American producers, we are going to lose that plant in eastern Ontario and the 100-plus jobs that go with it. We can go on with numerous other practical considerations in terms of this deal where we have to look really carefully at what happens if this thing does go down the tubes.
What is going to happen to industries such as Bray Rivet? What is going to happen to Nitrochem? Those are very serious questions that have to be posed in this kind of debate. What are the alternatives? Let us just not throw stones at the Americans and throw stones at Mulroney. Let us come up with some very constructive, valid alternatives if we are going to lose this deal.
Mr. D. R. Cooke: Mr. Speaker, I too would like to congratulate you on your appointment. As well, I would like to congratulate the member for York Mills on his maiden speech. I might say for the record that there were about 51 rapt members in their seats while the member for York Mills spoke. I recall my own maiden speech during the throne speech debate two years ago when our own whip was trying valiantly to get about 20 into the chamber, and I think it speaks well, and it was a very thoughtful speech indeed.
I approach this debate, of course, from the perspective of my experience as the former chairman of the former select committee on economic affairs. I might mention to the member for Leeds-Grenville (Mr. Runciman) that Professor Crispo, if I recall, was the only professional economist who appeared before that committee without being invited.
This committee had more thorough hearings on the generic issue of free trade between Canada and the United States than any other legislative body at either level, federal or provincial or state, on either side of the border. It was a committee that in its final report made recommendations that essentially coincide with the stands of the government. At that time, that coincidence occurred with the concurrence of the Conservatives. It is a stand that basically endorsed some negotiations but placed firm restrictions on the sort of agreement we wanted.
I can indicate that over the course of the last two and a half years the federal government made all kinds of promises but was also essentially unco-operative. It was unco-operative with our committee and from what I can gather it was very unco-operative with this government.
This government appointed a special trade policy negotiator in 1985. We have had interministerial committees at work trying to determine what sectors of Ontario’s economy might benefit, what segments would not and what segments need help or adjustment assistance.
Frankly, with what I would call somewhat deceitful encouragement from the federal government, we understood that what we were talking about was how to temper a comprehensive free trade agreement. I indicated in October 1985 -- and I think a number of other members of this House have indicated their belief, and I still believe it -- that we had and have a de facto veto over a comprehensive free trade agreement. We do.
To substantiate our case, we invited a noted political scientist, Professor Richard Simeon of Queen’s University, to brief our committee on the subject and he did. It is found at page E-8 of the final report in which he says:
“In the Canadian tradition, the ratification of treaties is a crown prerogative transferred to the Canadian governor in council under the letters patent of 1948. Thus there is neither a legislative nor a federal element in how Canada formally accedes to a treaty, in contrast to the United States where the provision for Senate ratification brings in both components.
“The existing federal power to sign and ratify treaties has only limited consequences. This is because, as a result of the labour conventions case of 1937, the federal government’s power to make treaties has not been extended to the power to implement them. Implementation requires legislation to give effect to treaties. A treaty does not automatically become the law of the land within Canada once it is ratified. When it comes to implementation, sections 91 and 92 of the Constitution Act, dividing authority between the federal and provincial governments, operate. Therefore, Ottawa cannot pass implementing legislation in areas of provincial jurisdiction. It can only do so in its own jurisdiction.”
He then goes on to talk about tariffs, of course, being a federal jurisdiction, and says:
“When in recent years the issues centre on nontariff barriers, then the federal problem does arise. Now purchasing policies, subsidies, the regulation and taxing of resources and a host of other matters within provincial jurisdiction become subjects of international negotiation. This will be especially true for the free trade negotiations with the United States since tariffs are already low and are not considered to be a major item on the agenda of either country.”
So there is where the power lies. But I would indicate, and it was made quite clear by our committee as well, that there is a contrary position. There is a contrary position that was presented to us by Professor Ruth Sullivan at the faculty of law of the University of Ottawa who argues quite persuasively that there is an overriding federal jurisdiction in this matter that might in fact give a trade agreement with a foreign country overriding federal power. The committee did not agree with Miss Sullivan but we did not hide her view.
The fact of the matter is that the federal government could take us to court and maybe it could make it stick.
Let us be sensible about this. I am not disagreeing with anything the member for Hamilton East or the Leader of the Opposition has said with regard to the history of this debate, but let us be sensible. Right now, we are looking at a question of tactics as to how we should be opposing this agreement. I suggest we do so discreetly.
I have had some opportunity to discuss these matters with legislators in other provinces, and I can say that they do regard Ontarians with suspicion. This is a fact. Bob White will have a difficult time convincing a prairie wheat farmer that free trade is bad for him. The Leader of the Opposition has not convinced me that the standing committee on finance and economic affairs should travel at great expense and talk to oil workers at Lake Athabasca. I am much more impressed when I see Joe Ghiz, Howard Pawley or Brian Peckford speaking on behalf of small provinces. That is a much more effective tool than the fat cat arguing, let me tell you.
However, in the time that remains, let me remind the House of some areas in which the province may choose to be unco-operative if it wishes. I am speaking of the areas of some services. The Macdonald Royal Commission on Economic Union and Development Prospects for Canada recommended against including services in a comprehensive trade agreement. The federal government’s own secret reports recommend against it. The Economic Council of Canada has not examined the effects of free trade in services. Nevertheless, the agreement provides that there will be treatment of each other’s citizens that is no less favourable than that granted to its own citizens with respect to all new measures affecting services. Dealing with services, it also provides a right of establishment, the right to cross-border sales, discipline of public monopolies and a binding dispute settlement mechanism.
National treatment is something that has been defined by the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, and I think we can have a grasp as to what the federal government is getting us into in this regard. It is, basically, no internal discrimination. Once goods or services have entered a country, the host country will treat them no less favourably than goods or services of domestic origin. It has never been done in services, but at least we know what that means.
The agreement also refers to right of establishment. That is apparently a grey area that includes more than the basic national treatment.
The term it includes that really confuses us is “the right of a commercial presence.” I understand we have been trying to find out from the federal government exactly what “right of commercial presence” means, and we cannot get a straight answer. We cannot get a definitive answer. They give us examples and the examples contradict one another.
I took the opportunity to ask a United States administrative official, and the answer came back that in their view it means that it covers every individual and every small business that does anything. It covers all the options. So we do have some way in which we can look at what, apparently, the federal government is asking us to consent to: the control over the sale of real estate in our province, the control over the sale of motor vehicles in our province, the travel industry and the accounts that it has, requiring Canadian residency of our head offices and Canadian residency of the people who are operating those industries, collection agencies, etc.
I am suggesting that in the circumstances of our being asked to do this, we refrain from doing it. I am also suggesting that in these circumstances the federal government should have asked to have extradition laws apply to those people who come into this country to try to proffer that sort of activity, so that in fact we could carry out the good consumer protection laws that we have in this province.
Mr. Morin-Strom: First, I would like to congratulate you, Mr. Speaker, on your re-election to your position as Speaker of the House and wish you much success in trying to control the atmosphere in this House. Hopefully, we can accomplish a lot in the next years to come.
This is a very important debate that we are conducting today on an issue of an utterly critical nature for the future of Canada, not only for the economic future of our country but also for our future as a sovereign nation.
We have to stand up in this Legislature not only for the citizens of Ontario but also for our country as a whole, in the face of an overwhelming majority Conservative government which is intent upon imposing an agreement that is not in the interests of the people of this province nor in the interests of the people of Canada as a nation.
I would hope that we have a government that will be activist, that will live up to its campaign promises and will in fact act on the commitment of the Premier that there will be no agreement if the auto pact is threatened, that there will be no agreement if our agricultural industry is threatened and we are going to lose the opportunity for family farms in this province; that we would have no agreement if regional development programs are threatened by this agreement, and that there will be no agreement if there is not a binding dispute-settlement mechanism in this agreement.
Most fundamentally, the Premier made a clear commitment in the election campaign that there would be no agreement if the cultural sovereignty of our nation is threatened.
The time for the Premier to live up to that commitment is now. We know the agreement. We know in fact that the Liberal Party has come to the conclusion that it is not a winning agreement, that we have given up more than we have achieved. They have stated that, but they refuse to state what they are going to do to stop this agreement.
It is incumbent upon them. They have been given the mandate of the people of this province to take action on this issue, which was the highlight of an election campaign which saw the only party strongly supporting free trade in that election campaign decimated in Ontario; left with barely 10 per cent of the seats in this Legislature.
The time to act is now. The agreement is in front of us, and the time is running short.
We have had some comments from a number of the members today. The last comment from the member for Leeds-Grenville stated that this agreement is going to be a great success and what was going to be the alternative if we did not go ahead with an agreement on free trade with the United States?
The alternative is to continue the situation we have now and address those individual disputes as they arise and fight with the strength of our country and the strength of our province on the individual industries that are threatened.
Our trade agreement, our trade situation with the United States currently, is a good one. It is not a disaster scenario. We are running a tremendous surplus of $20-billion plus in trade with the US. We could hardly expect that a major agreement with a partner with which we are running a tremendous surplus is going to be giving us the opportunity to even increase that surplus, and the result certainly indicates that the Americans want back their share and that we are not the beneficiaries.
The people of Canada have indicated that in the survey that was released today. Clearly -- and I think quite rightly -- 62 per cent of them believe the Americans won the agreement. Only seven per cent believe Canada won in this agreement. There is no indication that there is support for this agreement, and the party opposite us that has been given a mandate to act to stop this agreement has the will of the people to do something about it.
With the member for Kitchener (Mr. D. R. Cooke), with whom I enjoyed two years on the standing committee on finance and economic affairs, we have looked at this situation, the possibility of this agreement, for nearly two years. In his remarks just concluded, he talked about what we thought or at least what the Liberals thought we were talking about in terms of a possible agreement.
Unfortunately, the Liberals on that committee got taken in by the Conservatives and by the federal government in terms of what the potential of that agreement was going to be. They would not stand up and say we have to get out of that negotiation, that all we could possibly do is lose in such a negotiating format. He should have listened more closely to the former Conservative member for York East, Robert Elgie, who was an initial member of the economic affairs committee and stated that he could not understand at all why the federal Conservatives were entering into negotiations for a comprehensive free trade agreement at a time when we were running the tremendous surplus we were, when we had all the advantages in terms of the overall trade relationship. There were disputes on a lot of individual industries, but overall we had the advantage.
The opening up of discussion in not only the dispute areas, which were under focus, but in all the various areas of our economy and our economic relationship has ended with the result we have. We have areas included in the agreement which a number of people on our committee did not perceive would possibly be included, and now we are giving up those opportunities in a field such as energy, for example. We are giving up the total opportunity for our own national energy program.
We cannot allocate the energy to meet Canada’s needs first. We are giving up the right to determine a Canadian price for energy, different from an American price or a world price. The Americans will be given the same opportunity to buy our resources. Our resources belong to the people of Canada. We have to keep control of our resources and it is absolute folly for any government in this country to promise to another nation the commitment that those resources will be made available to them on the same equal basis that they will be made available to Canadians.
The New Democratic Party position throughout the trade discussions and throughout our committee’s deliberations over the last two years has been that the talks should never have started and that the talks should have been stopped at any possible opportunity. We have not benefited from the agreement that has been reached and we now have to face the consequences. The government has been given a mandate to take action and it is incumbent upon it to do so.
We have given away most of what the Americans asked for in this deal. We have given away full access to Canadian energy supplies.
The United States has received an open market for investment in Canada.
The US receives free trade in services, a precedent-setting deal that will be a model for the US to use in the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade negotiations to open up services on a worldwide basis. Nothing in this area is of apparent benefit to Canada.
The agreement meets the US demand for the protection of intellectual property, which translates in the pharmaceutical industry into the current drug bill on generic drugs, which commitment the Conservative government has made to the Americans to fulfil.
In the auto industry we have agreed to give up the auto pact. The auto pact is a non-entity at this point. The only mechanism for enforcing the auto pact and the requirements on Canadian content was that the benefit to the auto companies meeting those requirements was to get duty-free access of auto parts and finished vehicles back and forth across the borders between the two countries. With no tariffs, there is no penalty and no reason for them to maintain those Canadian content requirements.
In agriculture, we have given up our right to control our own agricultural policies in the future.
It is time for this Liberal government to act on its commitment in the election campaign to stop this agreement. I call upon the Premier to do so.
The House adjourned at 6 p.m.