34th Parliament, 2nd Session





















































The House met at 1330.




Mr Kormos: Sadly, Tyre King in Hagersville is not the only tire dump in Ontario. Even more sadly, the Ministry of the Environment has displayed no more concern about the other tire dump locations than it has about Hagersville.

Let me tell members about Dain City in Welland. It is a unique community; a small village with an attractive rural/residential area to the west, immediately adjacent to the old Welland Canal. The people who live there are proud of their community and are doing everything they can to maintain it as a fine place to live in and grow up in.

Regrettably, an operator called Adelstein, running a company called Ontario Tire Recycling Inc, has set up shop as a tire dump and so-called tire recycling operation right in the middle of Dain City and right beside the old Welland Canal.

Dain City residents have lived in daily fear of fire in the stored tires of Ontario Recycling; long before Hagersville these people were pleading for help and protection from the Ministry of the Environment, the city of Welland and anybody else who could be approached or who would listen to them. Ontario Tire Recycling has taken advantage of nonconforming usage to avoid compliance with zoning requirements. Adelstein and Ontario Tire Recycling are also taking advantage of the thorough ineffectiveness of the Ministry of the Environment.

Notwithstanding that Ontario Tire Recycling currently faces not only charges at its Wetland location but also 11 more charges at its Port Colborne location, the ministry has still earmarked taxpayers’ money of almost $500,000 as a grant to Ontario Tire Recycling.

Dain City residents—good people like the Monaghans, Edith Rominger, the Cranshaws and others—are mad as hell that this could take place. Ontario Tire Recycling does not belong in Dain City. The threat to the welfare of the community is amply demonstrated by Hagersville.


Mr Runciman: Members will recall concerns I expressed in this House related to the release of criminally insane or forensic psychiatric hospital patients into the community through loosened Lieutenant Governor’s warrants.

One of the cases I raised was the release of John Finlayson, a man responsible for the sexual assault, brutal murder and mutilation of a nine-year-old Toronto boy, Kirk Deasley. Following his release into the community, Finlayson was involved in a knife attack on a Brockville woman and earlier this week was found not guilty by reason of insanity on charges arising from that attack.

The not-guilty verdict for Finlayson is a guilty verdict for the review board process that permits dangerous people like these out into the neighbourhoods of our communities and for the Ministry of Health and its officials who are responsible for these people once their warrants are loosened.

I want to call on the Minister of Health to ensure that Kirk Deasley’s mother, Carol Ann, is allowed to give testimony before the review board hearing on Finlayson slated for 25 April and that all other victims or victims’ families be given the same opportunity of review board hearings determining the future of individuals responsible for criminal acts against their families. The inclusion of victim impact statements at review board hearings would be a good first step towards ensuring that public safety is given greater consideration than it has received in the past and in restoring public confidence in the process.


Miss Roberts: The Minister of Agriculture and Food will meet with federal Agriculture Minister Mazankowski and the other provincial agricultural ministers within the next few weeks in Victoria to discuss the key challenges facing Canadian agriculture.

We all know that the feds are determined to offload their responsibility in various areas. This cannot be allowed to happen in agriculture.

Our provincial government has been fighting hard in its negotiations with the federal government to create a new national grains and oilseeds stabilization program that would include feed grains. This is essential to the long-term health of Ontario’s agricultural industry. Our producers want this program and Mazankowski should listen. The subsidy war between the United States and the European Community is placing our agricultural industry in a difficult position. Ad hoc programs are not the answer. Farmers want improved, affordable crop insurance, just like the program our government wants to put in place. Mazankowski should put those amendments before the federal Parliament with all possible speed.

Ontario farmers want well considered, fiscally sound programs. They want a federal government that does more than apply Band-Aid approaches to fundamental problems. Ontario farmers are competitive and they want to stay competitive. Mazankowski should start listening and acting like a federal Minister of Agriculture and not just another member of the federal cabinet.


Mr D. S. Cooke: I would like to make some further comments about the tragic death of Joel Bondy, a 23-month-old child who died while waiting six months for heart surgery at the Hospital for Sick Children. The Minister of Health said at the time, before she left for her three-week vacation, that she would conduct a full investigation by her ministry and the Hospital for Sick Children, and then she left for her vacation in India for three weeks. When she returned, she refused to give any additional information or report on the findings of the investigation.

I can say to you, Mr Speaker, that the people in Windsor and Essex are outraged at what has happened and very sad that Joel died while waiting for access to Ontario’s world-class health care system. I and other members in our area have received dozens of phone calls and letters that express their profound grief and anger at this government for its lack of action and its complete lack of confidence in the minister and her system.

In yesterday’s question period I asked for a simple answer from the minister as to the results of the investigation. She refused to answer and instead gave what the member for Windsor-Walkerville called “bureaucratic bafflegab,” which we have come to expect from the current Minister of Health. I am saying today on behalf of the people of my community that we expect a full response from the minister, an explanation and response on the investigation, and not the complete coverup we have been getting from this government and the minister on this tragic death.



Mr Jackson: I rise to acknowledge, on behalf of the Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario, the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. This day marks the 30th anniversary of the Sharpeville massacre in South Africa, when peaceful demonstrators against apartheid were wounded and killed. To commemorate this tragic event and to promote the cause for which the victims of that massacre died, the United Nations declared 21 March the day on which all peoples might reflect on the terrible injustices inflicted on all humanity whenever and wherever racial discrimination is to be found.

I am proud to say that Canada is a leader in the fight to combat racism. Canada was quick to subscribe to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which recognizes the inherent dignity and equal and inalienable rights of all members of the one human family and race as the foundations of freedom, justice and peace.

However, much remains to be done. In the words of Martin Luther King Jr, “Legislation cannot change hearts, it can only restrain the heartless.” In addition to enacting legislation for the purposes of promoting civil liberties, we need to continue to promote mutual understanding and appreciation of the differences that all of us share and which define our uniqueness and special quality as citizens of Ontario. May this day see a renewal of our common commitment on behalf of the ideals of freedom and justice for all in Ontario and throughout the world.


Mr Elliot: Roy Ward of Georgetown is sitting in the members’ gallery. On 12 March 1990, Roy was honoured by his town for seven decades of involvement in minor hockey. At the dinner held in his honour, Ron McLean and Brian McFarlane, of TV renown, Brian Lewis, the vice-president of the National Hockey League in charge of refereeing and a Georgetown native, the mayor of Halton Hills, Russ Miller, and the regional chairman of Halton region, Peter Pomeroy, all spoke in glowing terms of Roy’s dedication to hockey and, more important, to the participating young people of the community.

Roy participated as a player for more than 30 years and then became a number one volunteer as a coach, organizer and fund-raiser for about 40 years. In small-town Ontario, the backbone of our communities are persons like Roy, who, for no personal gain, give of themselves decade after decade for the benefit of our youth. This fine tradition is being carried on by his sons and their children, one of whom scored five goals and five assists in one game in this year’s hockey tournament, held the week of the midwinter break in Georgetown.

I am really pleased to recognize publicly Roy Ward of Georgetown, the 1990 recipient of the Hockey Heritage Award, and to thank him for his many years of dedicated service to the youth of Georgetown.


Miss Martel: In mid-January Falconbridge announced the closing of its East Mine on 27 April. The reason given was lower nickel prices. It is no longer profitable for Falconbridge to extract lower-grade nickel out of that mine.

The affected employees will be transferred to other company operations. Originally the 200 workers involved were slated for layoff. As a result, some 80 employees opted for an early retirement package. The company has backed off a bit by announcing it will accommodate the remaining workers for six months. After that, if prices and hence production do not pick up, layoffs will result.

Two points must be raised. In recent years, Falconbridge has made money hand over fist because of high nickel prices. When MPPs and MPs met with company officials in March 1989, they admitted times had never been better. Now, when the profit margin is reduced, they will close East Mine and leave some 2.5 million tons of recoverable nickel ore in the ground. That is an unacceptable waste and it is made on the backs of workers in our community.

Second. the government has done nothing to ensure that mining companies will extract existing ores instead of causing layoffs when times are not as good. In fact, in December 1989 this government gave Falconbridge another 10-year exemption from the Mining Act. The company can continue to refine its nickel-copper concentrate in Norway instead of in Canada. We lose Canadian jobs as a result, but with no conditions placed on that exemption, we also lose any leverage we might need to counter company moves like the one at East Mine.

I would like to know what this government intends to do for workers in our community.


Mr Harris: Overcrowded jails are reaching crisis proportions, and our Liberal Minister of Correctional Services responds by saying, “The courts may be ordering too many jail terms.”

I want to bring the case of Wayne Benard to the attention of all members. In November, Mr Benard escaped from custody while being transported from Winnipeg to North Bay. He was recaptured and charged with escaping custody, two counts of forcible confinement and robbery and one each of aggravated assault, rape, possession of a dangerous weapon, having intercourse with a girl under 14, intimidation, indecent assault on a woman and gross indecency. He was released after paying $2,500 bail.

Within one month of the arrest, even before Mr Benard’s bail review, the police had already been tried and punished for allowing Mr Benard to escape. Apparently they did not use handcuffs because he complained of arm and hip ailments. One officer was slashed in the face. One was choked with a seatbelt. Both were left with their hands bound and were hospitalized. They were penalized eight and 10 days’ pay for neglect of duty, for a combined fine of $3,200.

So a man accused of rape and 11 other serious charges who has already violently escaped once is freed on $2,500 bail pending trial, the police are immediately tried, convicted and punished and the Peterson Liberals are complaining about courts ordering too many jail terms.

As my constituent who brought this matter to my attention said, “Is this a great country or what?”


Mr Miller: On Monday 12 February the attention of the province and that of the nation, and in fact the world, was directed towards Hagersville where 12 million used tires started burning. Within a record-setting time period of 17 days the inferno had been extinguished.

I would like to commend our local firefighters, especially Chief Buck Slope of the Hagersville Fire Department, Ralph Berry of Waterford and Howard Elliot of the Jarvis Fire Department and their staff, who worked around the clock in the first week of the fire, and the firefighters sent in by the Ministry of Natural Resources for a job well done.

I would also like to recognize and commend the local community for the way in which it banded together during this crisis. Our thanks to the regional municipality of Haldimand-Norfolk and its chairman, Keith Richardson, who played an integral part of the joint response team, as well as the city of Nanticoke and the town of Haldimand.

Thanks also to the Ministry of the Environment for all the efforts it has made and what it continues to accomplish during the cleanup process, the Solicitor General, the Ontario Provincial Police and the Ministry of Natural Resources water bombers.

I am pleased to report that things are under control. The cleanup process is moving along at a rapid rate. The water processing plant has caught up with the runoff water and is processing the water being transported back from the Mississauga South area. While on tour of the site this past Saturday, I noted that the robins have returned and the wheat is growing up in the fields nearby.

Hon Mr Wong: Mr Speaker, I seek unanimous consent from all parties to recognize the independence of Namibia.

Agreed to.


Hon Mr Wong: It is with much pleasure that I draw the attention of the honourable members to the fact that Namibia became independent yesterday. On this happy occasion, the government and people of a sovereign Namibia are proudly celebrating the end of three quarters of a century of colonial rule and a hard-fought struggle against South African apartheid. Namibia’s triumphant transition to democracy is a testimony to the resolve of the Namibian people and, more important, it is another example of a victory for reason and human rights over ignorance and prejudice.

Canada, as my honourable colleagues are no doubt aware, has long been a strong supporter of the Namibian independence movement. In 1977, Canada and other western members of the United Nations Security Council designed a plan for Namibia’s independence from South Africa. After much internal struggle and international pressure, that day has finally arrived.

I would like to invite all members of this House to join Namibians in celebrating this great day in the history of their country and in expressing our hope that true democracy may soon triumph in southern Africa and indeed in the whole world.

Mr R. F. Johnston: I rise on behalf of the New Democratic Party to also celebrate this day. If you were looking at southern African politics over the last number of years, at 18 minutes past midnight last night one of the most unbelievable occurrences took place. Mr de Klerk from South Africa and Mr Nujoma, the old South West Africa People’s Organization guerrilla leader, were on the same stage to celebrate the independence of Namibia, brought about peacefully by an amazing co-operation of the superpowers and other groups, an example for all of us.

Today and tomorrow and in the days following, Namibia will become the 160th member of the United Nations, the 50th member of the Organization for African Unity, and a new democracy will have found its way into southern Africa, hopefully setting a trend that will have found its way into southern Africa and hopefully setting a trend that will follow, as Mr Wong has said, in its neighbours immediately to its south.


Canada has announced it is going to give $4 million in aid, something which is quite useful, and humanitarian assistance, which is well needed. We have already played a role there, of course. When we were in Lithuania recently, Bill Blaikie, our external affairs critic, was telling me all sorts of stories about the time when he was in Africa to watch the Namibian elections take place; quite an incredible experience, given the distances and the nature of the armed struggle that was around the country at that time.

I would just hope that this government will also perhaps look at this time as maybe a moment in history, with all the amazing change that is taking place around the world, to take some international initiatives of our own and to look at Bill 77, which is on the order table, to talk about the notion that we might get involved in international development aid as well. The elections were last November; the peace has occurred, surprisingly; the new government is with us, and we should all be happy and there to assist in its prosperity and its democratic future.

Mrs Marland: It is a pleasure to rise on behalf of the Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario and congratulate and offer our sincere best wishes to the people of Namibia. They have finally achieved independence. Today, Sam Nujoma becomes the first president of the country. He was elected on 16 February. Mr Nujoma. a former rebel leader, has spent 30 years in exile and was active in the fight for freedom during the l950s. He had to leave the country in 1959 and a year later was chosen leader of the newly formed South West Africa People’s Organization.

The road to independence has been long and hard for the country formerly known as South West Africa. It became a German possession in 1884, but after the First World War was placed under South African trusteeship by the League of Nations. In 1966 the United Nations cancelled the trusteeship and two years later changed the name to Namibia. South Africa refused to recognize the action and continued to occupy the country. Finally, after the people of Namibia had waged a long guerrilla war, South Africa agreed to grant the territory independence under a regional peace accord signed in 1988 with Angola and Cuba.

We join with free people around the world in welcoming Namibia into the ranks of independent nations. May those people who live in that country be richly blessed with health and happiness.


The Speaker: Just before we go on to the next proceeding, I have a ruling I would like to make, and the members will be glad to hear it is not quite as lengthy as the ruling yesterday.

Yesterday, the honourable member for Leeds-Grenville raised a question of privilege of which he had given me notice. After listening to the honourable member, I advised him that initially I had certain doubts as to the appropriateness of the question of privilege, but I did undertake to look at it and report back today.

On studying his presentation carefully, I must advise that I can find no prima facie case of privilege in this matter and, in doing so, I must refer to my ruling of yesterday. That is to say that I am not now making a decision based on the arguments of the honourable member as presented to the House yesterday, but rather I am making a ruling on the basis of procedure.

As I said yesterday, matters arising out of the proceedings before committees should be settled in the committee, and only if a report comes forward from the standing committee to the House dealing with the member’s question of privilege could this matter be studied by the Speaker.

Let me therefore refer the honourable member to standing order 118(a), (b), (c) and (d), which sets out the appropriate procedure, as well as quotation 822 of Beauchesne’s sixth edition, which can be found at page 232: “Procedural difficulties which arise in committees ought to be settled in the committee and not in the House.”


Ms Hošek: I rise to make a statement on the occasion of the visit of Rev Tokës to Canada. I believe there is all-party agreement to that.

The Speaker: Is there unanimous consent?

Agreed to.

Ms Hošek: On 15 December 1989, about 200 people gathered in Timisoara in Romania to protect Rev Laszlo Tokës from being arrested by the dreaded Securitate police force of the Romanian regime. Rev Tokës was an outstanding supporter of human rights and pastor of the Reformed Hungarian Church in that town, and he is a hero to both Hungarians and Romanians for his advocacy of nonviolent resistance and reform. That moment, the moment at which the people gathered to protect him from being arrested by the security forces, became the moment at which a demonstration of thousands of Romanians of all ethnic groups joined together to protest the human rights violations of the Ceausescu regime. The regime responded with bullets.

The world is small and very interconnected. A few days later, on a bitterly cold night, hundreds of people of Romanian-Hungarian origin, and others who supported them, stood outside this very building where we sit right now to condemn the violence of the Ceausescu regime and to call for liberty and democracy in Romania. Several members of this House were among those who were privileged to speak at that rally, and one of the people who helped to organize it was Istvan Tokës, the brother of the reverend, who lives in Canada.

Human beings sometimes forget that we are all brothers and sisters. It sometimes requires heroism for us to be reminded of that, and Rev Tokës is such a hero. Because of his steadfast speaking out against the destruction of Hungarian communities in Romania, he was under constant surveillance, had to deal with death threats and intimidation and be followed everywhere. He was assaulted by four people with knives and he was injured. His family was harassed. His food rations were taken from him. Through all this, he continued to preach every Sunday.

Because of the respect in which he is held, when the security forces came to get him on that fateful December day, he was not alone. Many other heroes surrounded him to protect him and to fight for a larger liberty for all the harassed and oppressed people living in Romania. A few days later the regime was toppled, and today Rev Tokös is a member of Romania’s governing National Salvation Front.

Since the toppling of the Ceausescu regime, we have discovered the many horrors hiding behind the secrecy and silence of totalitarianism. Now Rev Tokës is part of the group of people working to rebuild their country and to build it on principles of democracy and human rights, which are still threatened.

On behalf of the government of Ontario, I extend our great respect for his courage and honour and our very warm hopes for his country to Rev Tokës, who is sitting in the members’ gallery today, and I ask the members to recognize him.

Mr B. Rae: I can honestly say that the member for Oakwood was speaking for all of us when she spoke so movingly about Rev Tokës. I would like to add a few words of welcome and also to pay special tribute to him as a symbol of the extraordinary events in eastern Europe which have so changed the world and so changed all of us.


Together with my colleague the member for Scarborough West, my wife and I had an opportunity to travel to Poland and to Lithuania in recent weeks, together with members from other parties, the representatives from Durham East and from High Park-Swansea in this Legislature and several members of the House of Commons. It is so extraordinary to sit in living rooms, as we were able to do, and to have an opportunity to share thoughts and ideas; to be able to walk the streets and talk openly and freely; to see books in the bookstores, like Animal Farm and books by distinguished philosophers and people who were looking at events around the world, books that we take for granted in the west that are now readily available in Bucharest and in Budapest and in Warsaw; to talk with young people and to get a chance to talk to university students, as I was able to do, who look to such a different future from the one which was apparently and tragically laid out for them. It is, I can say, just a marvellously moving experience. We can only hope that this wonderful light which has begun to shine will shine even brighter. But we do know that the lights would not be shining at all were it not for the courage and the dedication of men and women like Rev Tokës.

So I say to you, sir, welcome. Welcome to this assembly, which in its own modest way tries to be as democratic as it can, in a province that tries to be as democratic as it can. We celebrate with you the arrival of democracy in Romania and throughout the world and look forward to working with you in achieving it. Thank you and welcome.

Mr Brandt: I too want to associate myself with the remarks of the member for Oakwood, as well as the Leader of the Opposition, in welcoming and recognizing the presence in our Legislative Assembly of Rev Tokës and his being here today. It is rare that this Legislature has had the opportunity to honour an individual who has played such a critical, dramatic and pivotal role so recently in European and world history.

Rev Tokës’s resistance to the former brutal Ceausescu regime in Romania is, of course, well known in his own country and throughout Europe. But I say with respect that his name was largely unknown to most Canadians until the townspeople of Timisoara literally ringed his church to prevent his being taken away by the Romanian secret police. Many of those who defended Rev Tokës died because of their faith and their belief in what he stood for. Those deaths in the town of Timisoara led directly to the overthrow of the former regime in Romania.

We in this House often forget the price that others pay for the democratic system and freedoms that we enjoy here on a daily basis. Rev Tokës’s presence here today, the awesome courage that this man has portrayed in the past, representing his church and speaking out for his beliefs in spite of the threats of imprisonment, of beatings, even of his own death, is the most vivid reminder possible of just how precious and how wonderful our own system of government is and what a valuable way of life we enjoy here in Canada.

It is an honour on behalf of my party to welcome Rev Tokës, to recognize in him one of the modern architects of a new way of life in eastern Europe. I also want to acknowledge that the work of Rev Tokës, as he well knows, is far from over. Even today we learn of new random acts of discrimination and persecution that are taking place in Romania. My party and I wish him Godspeed in meeting the challenges facing him in his own country and we wish to thank him for being an example of courage that we can all recognize and admire as parliamentarians and as Canadians.

We welcome you, sir, to Canada, to our Legislative Assembly, and we thank you for being here with us today. Good luck.



Hon Mr Peterson: As members are no doubt aware, earlier today the Premier of New Brunswick tabled in the New Brunswick Legislature two constitutional resolutions dealing with the Meech Lake accord. The first of these resolutions is the Meech Lake accord itself. The second resolution proposes a number of additions to the accord which do not remove or delete any of its basic elements.

The New Brunswick proposals are detailed and complex and will merit serious consideration and study by all members of this House. However, even at this early stage it is evident that the New Brunswick proposals represent a careful and balanced attempt to deal with the concerns which have been raised regarding the Meech Lake accord.

Cependant, même à ce stage précoce, il est évident que les propositions du Nouveau-Brunswick représentent une tentative équilibrée et prudente de trouver une solution aux préoccupations exprimées quant à l’entente du Lac Meech.

I believe that all Canadians are indebted to Premier McKenna of New Brunswick for his act of leadership in bringing forward these moderate and reasonable proposals.

The New Brunswick proposals make a number of suggestions for improvements to the Meech Lake accord. New Brunswick would clarify that the intention of the accord is not to diminish or affect the rights of women. They would reinforce the accord’s protection for minority rights by recognizing the role of the federal government to promote linguistic duality in Canada; they would permit the territories to nominate senators and Supreme Court judges and provide that the territories can now become provinces with the consent of the federal parliament, and they would add aboriginal rights to the list of agenda items for future constitutional reform.

There are two points to emphasize about these constructive and positive proposals from the province of New Brunswick.

First, the New Brunswick government has now introduced a resolution to formally ratify the Meech Lake accord. This represents a significant step forward from a province and a premier that have expressed a number of reservations regarding the accord. Premier McKenna’s decision to introduce the resolution into his Legislature after extensive public hearings and many months of serious reflection reinforces a collective judgement which was reached in this House by members of all three parties. The collective judgement which was reached in this Legislature in a thoughtful and considered manner was that although Meech Lake may not be a perfect document, its flaws were not so serious as to preclude ratification. Today’s events are an indication of the fact that the New Brunswick Legislature may soon be in a position to reach the same conclusion on the historic settlement achieved at Meech Lake.

Second, the additions to the Meech Lake accord which have been proposed build upon the accord without removing any of its existing elements. Indeed, the New Brunswick proposals take up a number of the recommendations which were put forward by an all-party select committee of this Legislature and adopted by our own House.

The Ontario recommendations dealing with the territories, with the need for public participation in future constitutional change and with aboriginal rights are all elements of the constructive suggestions put forward by the New Brunswick government. The parallels between the New Brunswick proposals and the all-party suggestions of our own Legislature indicate that very serious consideration needs to be given to these proposals for future constitutional change.

The challenge now, and it is a challenge shared by all members of this House, is to work together in the same constructive and generous spirit that has characterized past debate on these issues in this House.

Le défi que nous devons maintenant relever -- et il s’agit d’un défi qui devra être relevé par tous les députés des deux côtés de cette Assemblée -- sera de travailler ensemble dans le même esprit constructif qui a caractérisé les débats du passé sur ces questions au sein de cette Assemblée législative.

In the days and weeks ahead I will be conferring with my colleagues here as well as with Canadians across the country in the search for elements of a broader consensus. I know that all members of the House share a deep and profound passion to Canada, to its integrity and to its unity as a nation. As we move forward, we must all rededicate our efforts to keeping whole this vast, diverse, tolerant and wonderful country.


Mr B. Rae: Mr Speaker, on a point of order: I believe we have unanimous consent among the three parties to allow me and the leader of the Conservative Party to respond. I express my gratitude for allowing me to do that.

The Speaker: Is there agreement?

Agreed to.

Mr B. Rae: I am afraid I cannot stay, but I did want to simply reply to the Premier by saying that I share his views with respect to the positive nature of Mr McKenna’s initiative. I have had an opportunity, at an initial stage, to review the points that Mr McKenna has been suggesting. I look forward to discussing them with the Premier and look forward to discussing them with the leader of the Conservative Party.

This is a very important moment for Canadians. We are at a very touchy spot, and I think it is extremely important that no one in his initial response draws lines in the sand. One of the disadvantages of CBC Newsworld is that we tend to see some rather instant responses. I think it is very important for us to recognize that the impasse in front of us is not going to be resolved unless there are some shifts and some moves, not away from Meech Lake, but some shifts that take us beyond the agreements that were reached back some three years ago. I think that if we can reach the point where some additional agreements can be arrived at, then we will have made progress.

Je crois qu’il est tellement important pour tous les gouvernements, le gouvernement du Québec et les autres gouvernements partout au pays, de ne pas dire non tout de suite aux suggestions de M. McKenna, mais de les étudier et de comprendre la réalité qu’il n’est pas question de changer l’accord du Lac Meech directement mais qu’il est question d’un compromis canadien, d’une solution canadienne à ce grand problème.

I think it is a truly historic moment, the next few weeks and months in our history. I have already said outside this place that unless we make some constitutional progress, the country is going to be facing enormous difficulties. I do not think any of us should underestimate the challenge, but let us remember that we have succeeded in the past. Indeed, to borrow a phrase that the Premier has also borrowed from Frank Underhill, “A nation is a group of people who have done great things in the past and who will do great things in the future.”

It is with this sense of confidence about what Canada is and what Canada can be that I personally, and our party, approach the next few weeks and months. We will be playing whatever constructive role we possibly can. This is a time for us to set aside some partisan differences and to try to be as constructive, as Canadians, as we possibly can be. That is the role I intend to play and our party intends to play in the future discussions.

Mr Brandt: I welcome the Premier’s response to the initiatives being taken today by the province of New Brunswick and I would like to reaffirm my personal support for the accord and to indicate to him that the flexibility and open-mindedness that has now come into play with respect to this historical debate is one in which I pledge my firm support as well in a totally nonpartisan way.

I would like to say to the Premier that some 20 months ago—I just want to re-establish in the minds of all members of the Legislature that it was this party that suggested that a parallel accord may well break the logjam in terms of some differences of opinion, and it appears that New Brunswick is on a path which is not particularly dissimilar to that which was proposed by our party at that particular time.

I do not want to revisit history necessarily, other than to say that some of the flaws in the initial debate centred around the fact that 11 people got behind closed doors in order to come to a conclusion with respect to the historic and future direction of our country. That has proven to be not good enough. Now that the debate is opening up and now that other ideas are coming forward, we welcome some of those suggestions.

We want to work co-operatively to struggle with the other members of this Legislature in finding a common position that will in fact be in the best interests of the country. That common ground and that recognition of a need for change in what was the fundamental structure of the accord is something that my party is strongly in favour of and that we will work co-operatively to achieve.

As a result of the initiative of New Brunswick, since it has just come to our attention today, we too want to study what all of their proposals are.

We have taken a very quick look at what their suggestions are, and we realize that they are being reviewed by the other provinces as well.

I want to indicate to the Premier and to the leader of the New Democratic Party that my party will in fact sit down at any mutually convenient time to try to arrive at a consensus position so that we can all join together as members of this assembly in a common front to hopefully construct together a strong and united Canada.


Hon Mr Wong: As members know, today marks the 24th anniversary of the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. March 21 has become a global symbol for the worldwide struggle against racism.

The United Nations proclaimed this day in 1966 in memory of the 70 South Africans killed protesting apartheid in the Sharpesville massacre of 1960. In a way, 1990 has already become a landmark year. As all members will recall, it was on 11 February that Nelson Mandela was released. He, more than anyone else in our lifetime, has come to represent the fight against racism.

Racism hurts all of us. The cost in terms of human pride, dignity and potential are incalculable. It affects our wellbeing and our prosperity. In Ontario, a province which welcomes newcomers from every corner of the world, the drive to build a harmonious society is more critical than ever. While we stand together, resolute and united in our contempt for racism, we require new approaches to foster greater tolerance, goodwill and understanding.

In this respect, I would like to inform members that the Ministry of Citizenship is sponsoring Building Together: A Conference on Race Relations, which gets under way today in Orillia. The three-day conference, sponsored by the ministry, marks a new era in our province.

For the first time, we are bringing together key decision-makers from industry, labour, education, the media and community groups to develop proactive race relations strategies and initiatives. This is no small task. But I am confident we can lay a solid foundation with the support and participation of every individual and every sector of our society. We can hope to eliminate discrimination and enter the 21st century a stronger, richer and more dynamic society.

The struggle to eliminate racism is far from over. But we can all be proud that in Ontario and across the nation we are taking major steps to build a more just and fair society for all.


In view of the fact that all members are wearing these pins today, I thought it might be appropriate to indicate that members of the B’Nai Brith are here who are helping us to stamp out racism in Canada on this very special occasion.


Hon Mrs Caplan: The Ontario government assumed responsibility for insuring health care benefits to the people of this province in 1968. At that time, the management system chosen for the Ontario health insurance plan was based on families.

It was a natural thing to do. Family life has always been a fundamental ingredient of Ontario society. However, in recent years my ministry has come to realize that the family registration system used for OHIP is not as useful as it once was. At the same time, the technology available today for the processing of information is way ahead of what we have had until now in the Ministry of Health.

So two things are needed. We need to change the family registration system to one which treats everyone as an individual and we need to introduce new information technology into the health system to make maximum use of the improved data we will be gathering.

The new information technology for my ministry is now being designed and built. It is a complex and time-consuming task because what we have to have at the end is a system that will serve Ontario’s health system well into the next century.

My ministry will be moving in the near future to issue new individual health cards to the residents of Ontario. The new card will be plastic and will carry a 10-digit personal health number. The number will remain valid for the lifetime of the cardholder and will eventually be the only number needed to access any of Ontario’s health services.


Among the early advantages will be a special card for senior citizens. Once the initial registration is completed and every person in Ontario has the new card, senior citizens will no longer need a separate Ontario drug benefit card or senior’s privilege card in addition to their OHIP cards. Everything will be accessible with just one new Ontario health card.

A personal number, good for a lifetime, is the key to reliable records that will no longer need to be changed as people grow up, leave home, switch jobs, marry, divorce, raise families or retire.

I should like to say something about confidentiality too. As is well known, the Ministry of Health has always accepted its responsibility to safeguard the confidentiality of personal health information. However, dangers do exist in this area under the current family registration system.

Until now, many people were covered by a family card, but the only person in the family whom OHIP could contact was the one in whose name the premiums had been paid. That meant there was a risk of talking to that registered person about a health issue affecting someone else in the family, an issue that we regard as confidential. That will not happen with the new cards.

The family-based system also falls short administratively, both for the Ministry of Health and for health care providers. Because registration information is not available for all family members, we cannot monitor payments as closely as we would like. This problem was pointed out in 1987 by the Provincial Auditor, who expressed concern about OHIP’s limits of accountability, given the system of family registration.

This same shortcoming led to the need for a separate registration system to administer the Ontario drug benefit plan. There are other examples in the ministry and outside as well. For example, hospitals have had to develop their own separate registration systems in order to compile essential information on individuals that was not available through the health ministry’s family-based files. That information will soon be available to hospitals through the use of the new cards.

For health providers, the new system will also mean speedier settlement of their accounts. The delays that have occurred in the past have been partially due to difficulties with identification and confusion over exactly who was covered by a particular family card and who was excluded.

Adoption of this new system of registration will also result in important long-term benefits. The unprecedented accuracy and reliability of the information to be gathered through use of the new Ontario health card will greatly enhance my ministry’s ability to plan for future health needs.

This sort of planning will ensure that resources are allocated effectively and efficiently. Health services now account for one third of the provincial budget, and we owe it to the taxpayers of Ontario to plan and manage those services using the best possible information.

The comprehensive updating of all information technology in the Ministry of Health, which, as I mentioned at the outset, is now well under way, we estimate will lead to savings of more than $1.5 billion over the next 10 years. About 10 per cent of those savings can be attributed to the introduction of the new Ontario health card.

I want to assure everyone that the new card will mean no reduction in benefits or services. On the contrary, it will improve the planning and the delivery of those services; it will help us achieve an even higher level of confidentiality than we now enjoy; it will significantly lighten the administrative burden for health providers; it will simplify access to all health services for the people of Ontario, and since residency must be established in order to register for the new card, it will tighten control over both fraudulent and unintentional use of Ontario health benefits by nonresidents.

From 17 April, residents of Ontario will begin to receive their registration kits in the mail. A new plastic Ontario health card with a new personal health number on it will be sent to each eligible person for whom an application is completed and returned. I would urge all Ontarians to fill in and return their form to get their new health card. By doing so, they will be working with us towards more efficient management of our excellent health system: the Ontario health card.


Hon Mr Sweeney: I would like to inform members about changes to Ontario’s rent review system, changes we believe will result in lower rent increases for some tenants.

I am sure members are aware of the controversy surrounding rent increases that some tenants feel are based on unnecessary repairs or luxury renovations. After studying this issue for the past several months, I have determined that this concern is valid and that some tenants have good reason to be angry.

I believe that the vast majority of landlords in Ontario have a good relationship with their tenants, but there are some, a minority, who have been taking advantage of the rent review system at the expense of their tenants, so now we are going to change that system.

The changes I am announcing this afternoon follow lengthy consultation with representatives of both tenants and landlords. It has become clear that some aspects of rent review can be improved for the benefit of everyone.

Perhaps the most important change we are making involves communication. We will be introducing measures so that landlords will inform tenants about the nature, cost and timing of capital expenditures in advance.

Another change to the rule involves a landlord’s motivation for doing work. Some tenants have accused landlords of renovating their buildings merely to sell them at a higher price. We will be making changes to discourage that practice.

Other changes will result in lower rent increases for tenants by reducing certain claims landlords can make.

Another change we are making will allow landlords to reach agreements with individual tenants who want their own apartments improved or upgraded and who are willing to accept higher rent.

Some landlords have defended large, onetime increases by saying that the rules of rent review encourage them to do a lot of repairs and renovations all at once. Here we will be changing those rules to encourage landlords to do the opposite; in other words, to plan repairs and renovations over a longer period, meaning the cost will be spread over several years instead of all in one year. To reduce rent increases even further, the cost of certain types of repairs will be spread over a longer period of time.

I will soon introduce regulations to implement these changes. To ensure that we are achieving our goal, we will closely monitor the effect of these changes over the next 12 months. I believe that this will encourage tenants and their landlords to work together to maintain and preserve every apartment in this province in a way that is fair to everyone.



Mr D. S. Cooke: I would like to respond to the Minister of Housing’s announcement today, and I must start off by saying that I am not exactly sure what he has announced. He has indicated that there will be a change in the regulation to discourage unnecessary renovations at some point in the future, but we are not sure what the regulation is going to say. We are not sure how he is going to discourage the motivation unless he is going to put a prohibition on unnecessary renovations without the approval of tenants. That is not clear at all by what the minister has said today.


I think the minister has started off attempting to find a solution to this with the wrong motivation. It is impossible, and the current rent review legislation shows this, to get a system that is going to satisfy landlords and tenants. The landlords have found every loophole in the current legislation that is possible, and they have as a result raised rents in an unjustifiable way for hundreds of thousands of tenants across this province.

Over the next few weeks, we will be raising case after case with the minister of the refinancing costs that tenants are suffering from, the renovations, and now the new loophole that we have discovered, landlords who are renting out their land to themselves and raising that rent to raise tenants’ monthly rents as well.

What is necessary is a complete scrapping of the current rent review legislation and an introduction of rent control in Ontario.


Mr Philip: I would like to concur and agree with the statement of the Minister of Citizenship. Hopefully, by involving key decision-makers in developing proactive race relations strategies, appropriate decisions can be made by those with power, and we can lessen the tragedy where our brothers and sisters are forced to go through the agonizing process of being forced to take even democratically elected bodies before the Ontario Human Rights Commission. At the same time there are specific actions, such as compulsory affirmative action, that can be taken immediately. Study is important. Action is equally important.


Mr Harris: Briefly on the statement by the Minister of Housing, I would like to share the concern of the New Democratic Party that we have a statement here purporting that something is going to be done, with no tabling of what it is the minister plans to do or how he plans to do it.

As I read through the statement, there were a few things I agreed with. At the bottom of the first page the minister says, “It has become clear that some aspects of rent review can be improved for the benefit of everyone.” This is the understatement of the century. I think tenants and landlords universally agree that the current system in place does not work to the benefit of anybody.

I am also intrigued that now we are going to legislate against a landlord’s motivation for doing work. Somehow or other a number of bureaucrats, probably another $5 million or $10 million worth, are going to be able to look into a landlord’s mind and determine the motivation for why he wants to maintain his building or, perish the thought, even improve his building. We are going to legislate against that, it appears. How they are going to get into that landlord’s mind and get at the motivation, I am not sure. Perhaps that is why the minister has not tabled any of the regulations yet, and maybe it will take $5 million worth of bureaucrats just to figure that out.

When is this government going to get at solving the real problem facing tenants? There is a shortage of supply. There are no options available for tenants. When is the government going to invest in the infrastructure required, get the serviced land out there at an affordable price so that we can increase the supply of housing and give tenants a true choice and a true option?


Mr Eves: Briefly on the Minister of Health’s statement, we have been looking forward to this statement for some years, as the minister’s predecessor, the member for Bruce, well knows. He has been promising the new advocate of a smart card or improved computerized system at OHIP for some years now. We will look with interest to see the provisions with respect to confidentiality, which I am sure all members share.



Mrs Grier: My question is for the Minister of the Environment. It is with respect to yet another ticking time bomb of tires, this one outside Hamilton, the owners of which are named Musitano. The Ministry of the Environment has been in correspondence with them for the last two years. In fact, in October 1988 a letter from the ministry read, “This site is currently an illegal waste disposal site.” Can the minister tell the House what action his ministry has taken with respect to what he acknowledges is an illegal waste disposal site?

Hon Mr Bradley: As the member would be aware, members of the investigation and enforcement branch of the Ministry of the Environment have visited the site, as well as members of the waste abatement branch of the Ministry of the Environment and members of the office of the fire marshal of the province of Ontario. She would be aware that there is 24-hour security on the site at the present time.

She would be aware as well that in terms of moving in with the full force of the law, first of all, the amendments that have been proposed to the Fire Marshals Act and to the Ministry of the Environment’s act, the Environmental Protection Act in this case, will be very helpful in this regard. Our people have conducted an investigation in this regard and appropriate action will be taken by the legal department.

Mrs Grier: If it was an illegal waste disposal site under the law in 1988, it is still an illegal waste disposal site today. The minister, I am sure, is very familiar with the sections of the legislation -- I am talking of sections 40 to 43 -- that provide that where an owner fails to comply with an order under section 42, the director may cause the necessary work to be done and charge the owner with the cost thereof. Section 146 says that to run an illegal waste disposal site is an offence against the law.

Can the minister tell the House, have charges been laid against the operator of this illegal waste disposal site? Has a control order been issued against this illegal waste disposal site, and if not, why not?

Hon Mr Bradley: As I have indicated to the member, officials of the Ministry of the Environment’s investigation and enforcement branch, as well as the fire marshal’s office, are conducting an investigation. Of course when they complete their investigation they will be in a position to lay charges if appropriate. The member will know that charges have been laid around the province under both acts. In fact, if there is evidence that is compelling enough to bring to court, the investigation and enforcement branch always does so. We will be prepared to do so in any one of these instances, whether that one or another one.

Mrs Grier: It was obvious from the questioning yesterday that the minister was not even informed by his officials that there had been a fire at an illegal dump in Hagersville in 1977. In that case the ministry had been looking at the site, saying it was going to do something for three years before we had a massive and tragic fire. It now appears that for two years they have been behaving in the same way at the Musitano dump, and we know that it is only since 13 March that inspections have been made of almost 100 other dumps across the province.

When is this minister going to acknowledge that he has failed to carry out his responsibilities under the Environmental Protection Act, and that there are illegal sites he is not charging? Why will he not issue an order and lay charges as soon as he finds something is illegal? Why does it take two years to get any action?

Hon Mr Bradley: In fact a compliance order has been issued under the fire code by the fire authorities in the province of Ontario. In addition to that, as I have mentioned to the member, there is 24-hour security on the site at the present time, which is independent security to ensure that we do not run into a situation like Hagersville.


Mrs Grier: My question is for the Premier. On 11 April 1985 a coalition of environmental groups called the Project for Environmental Priorities sent a questionnaire to all the candidates prior to the election in 1985.

One of the questions, if I may read it, was: “Millions of Ontario residents draw their water from the Great Lakes and yet toxic chemical levels in the lakes have been allowed to reach alarming proportions. Similarly, surface and ground water sources of drinking water have been contaminated by industrial effluents. Do you support the establishment of a Safe Drinking Water Act which would guarantee Ontario citizens the right to safe drinking water?”

The Premier, on behalf of the Liberal Party, answered yes to that question in April 1985. Since 1985, I have had a private member’s bill before this Legislature calling for an Ontario Safe Drinking Water Act. Can the Premier explain why his government has done nothing to guarantee safe drinking water for the citizens of Ontario?


Hon Mr Peterson: I think the minister could tell the honourable member of the significant number of initiatives that have been undertaken by this government in the last few years.

The Speaker: It has been referred to the Minister of the Environment.

Hon Mr Bradley: I thank the Premier very much for referring that question to me this afternoon. He is always kind enough to do so in these situations.

I want to tell the member, as I think she would know, that we have in the province of Ontario a drinking water surveillance program which is certainly second to none. I do not know of any other jurisdiction that does as much testing of its water as the province of Ontario.

The drinking water surveillance program of course looks for well in excess of 100 potential contaminants. It does a mass scan that allows them to pick up any other substances that might be there. It services municipalities to the extent of 80 per cent of the population, as it is expanding each year. The parameters, as I say, are simply not duplicated elsewhere.

In addition to that I would mention to the member that the measurements take place in parts per trillion in some circumstances, and in some circumstances parts per quadrillion. So with that kind of drinking water surveillance program, with the plant optimization program we have at many of the plants in the province of Ontario, which are to enhance the treatment that takes place at many of these, with the municipal-industrial strategy for abatement program that we are in the process of implementing—

The Speaker: Order. Thank you; supplementary.

Mrs Grier: His ministry officials spent three years surveying the tires in Hagersville too and a fat lot of good that did us.

I did not ask the minister about his surveillance program; I asked him why we had no standards in this province. The minister must know, as he so frequently says I must know things, that what we operate under in Ontario are outdated guidelines that were established in 1978 and that only cover 50 of the up to 1,000 toxic chemicals found in the Great Lakes.

How can the minister stand in his place in this House and attempt to tell the people of Ontario that we have a drinking water program when we do not have any standards of our own against which those parameters can be measured? Has the minister really any confidence that the health of the people of this province is being protected by his ministry’s drinking water program?

Hon Mr Bradley: I draw to the member’s attention the fact that we have in this province, through the programs we have established, a design to get at the potential sources of contamination that we would see anywhere in the province of Ontario. That is what the municipal-industrial strategy for abatement is.

In terms of the standards she talks about, of course we have the Department of National Health and Welfare which provides standards for us and is the lead agency in this regard. They are highly respected in many fields by people who are aware of the work they have done, work that is supplemented by universities in this province and in this country. In addition to that there are standards which are provided by the World Health Organization, the United States Environmental Protection Agency and ourselves. All of this is designed to ensure that we have water in this province that is superior to what it is in most parts of this world. Wherever we identify problems in this province, we go in to try to solve those problems as quickly as possible.

Mrs Grier: The minister seems to be content to compare us to parts of the world that are acknowledged to have no drinking water standards. Some parts of the Third World are better supplied with drinking water than parts of this province.

How can the minister stand in his place today and attempt to say we have good drinking water standards when the guideline level that we are going by in Canada for one of the parameters, trihalomethanes, is 350 parts per billion and the World Health Organization calls for 30 parts per billion? There are cities in this province with, and I quote just a few of them, Ottawa, 240 parts per billion; Brantford, 178 parts per billion; Peterborough, 153 parts per billion.

The World Health Organization says that 30 parts per billion is what we should be aiming at, and perhaps even that is not safe. How can the minister justify the fact that there are no legislated standards for drinking water in the province of Ontario? Is that world class?

Hon Mr Bradley: As the member is well aware, the Department of National Health and Welfare has established those for all of Canada, and the department—

Mrs Grier: Let Mr Bouchard do it.

Hon Mr Bradley: No, it is not Mr Bouchard in National Health and Welfare; it is the Minister of Health and Welfare in that particular case.

It has established those standards as the lead agency, as the agency which establishes drinking water standards in this country. The member may also be aware that the federal government, through the Department of National Health and Welfare, is reviewing that particular standard at the present time, and I am supportive of improving that standard, and I believe that is what you are going to see. We have supported that. I have supported that in the province of Ontario, and I expect that through the review that the federal government is undertaking, National Health and Welfare is undertaking, that is exactly what will happen.

In addition to that, with regard to the substances that you are talking about, through the drinking water surveillance program in the province of Ontario, which covers at least 41 municipalities at the present time, the utilization of chlorine for the purpose of disinfecting is one aspect of it that is being brought to the attention of individual operators in order that they can have a more efficient system.

The Speaker: Thank you. I would remind all members that I have a surveillance program also, keeping time on the members and the responses.


Mr Brandt: My question is for the Minister of the Environment. The Minister of the Environment is probably aware that the Musitano-Port Hope site is in fact about one third the size in terms of total tire volume of Hagersville, so it is a very substantial site indeed. Some 16 months ago the Ministry of the Environment determined that site was illegal. In the case of Hagersville, the minister indicated that there was nothing he could do because of legal complications and that there were really no steps he could take until this matter walked its way very slowly and very carefully through the courts. Why, after 16 months, did he do absolutely nothing with the Port Hope site until after the Hagersville fire?

Hon Mr Bradley: First of all, I want to indicate to the member that the figures he uses as one third of the site are not up-to-date figures, that in fact the Ministry of the Solicitor General, through the fire marshal’s office, has done an inventory of it and has determined that rather than the five million or

whatever he is suggesting, there are in fact 800,000 tires on the site. I do not wish to diminish what the member is saying. I just wanted to bring him up to date as to what the fire marshal’s office has been able to provide in terms of information.

We have had members of the investigation and enforcement branch at that site, conducting an investigation. The fire marshal has also put a compliance order on, and with the 24-hour, round-the-clock security we have at the present time, we have considerably diminished the risk of the same problem occurring at this site.

Mr Brandt: With respect, that is all after the fact. Back in May 1988 the minister wrote to this particular company indicating very clearly that there had to be some steps taken to clean up this site, that the tires had to be piled in very neat little stacks in order to reduce the risk of fire. There had to be fire extinguishers onsite. There had to be a reservoir of water that was onsite. The response the minister received was that the owners of this site could not afford to comply at that time and refused to take any action whatever.

I ask the minister why, back in May 1988, after writing and requesting that the owners take these particular steps, he did absolutely square root of nothing until such time as the Hagersville fiasco broke. Can the minister justify to this House his total sense of irresponsibility as it relates to this question and his inaction on the whole issue of Port Hope?


Hon Mr Bradley: I do not think this was in Port Hope, but Mount Hope.

Mr Brandt: Mount Hope, sorry.

Hon Mr Bradley: I know the member probably meant that.

As I say, first of all there has been a legal dispute which has existed as to whether depots are in fact waste management sites. That is, I understand, involved in a legal litigation matter at this time, whether it is a waste management operation that requires such a certificate.

What happened with the Tyre King situation was, I think, a recognition that the laws we have on the books at the present time are not sufficient to carry out all of the activities the ministry would like to carry out. That is precisely why the fire code is being amended by the Solicitor General, through the fire marshal, and that would more likely apply in the circumstances that the member is talking about, but also in this and perhaps in many other circumstances the changes to the Environmental Protection Act would have the positive effect of allowing us to have the kind of undisputed powers that we would like to be able to solve these problems.

Mr Brandt: For the record, if I might, by way of clarifying, it is Mount Hope rather than Port Hope. I apologize to the minister.

But in the case of Mount Hope I would say to the minister once again that there was a time frame that elapsed between May 1988 and today in which he took no action whatever. It is interesting to note with respect to both Hagersville and Mount Hope that no new laws have yet been passed by this assembly, no steps have been taken to give the minister additional powers and yet he has, as a result of the Hagersville fire, increased the security around a number of these tire sites and, second, he has brought about certain improvements without any new laws. Why would he not have taken those steps earlier, why would he not have done something to protect the interests of the residents of the Hagersville area and now why is he doing nothing about the Mount Hope situation, which potentially could be a serious problem as well?

Hon Mr Bradley: The legislation that we are proposing, both the Solicitor General and I, for the purpose of dealing with these matters -- and indeed I think it will be positive in other areas -- will, as I have indicated on a number of occasions, prevent automatic stays of ministry orders that are being appealed. The appellant will have to apply to the appeal board or court for a stay to suspend the requirements of the order. That is one aspect of it. It will allow the ministry, if it believes the work itself must be done immediately, to carry out the order at the taxpayers’ expense. Even if a stay is granted, the Ministry of the Environment would then have the power eventually to get on to the private property and ultimately the courts would decide whether or not we would be able to recover our funds, if in fact our contention was justified.

Under the legislation as it stands at the present time those powers are certainly not clear and the people who act on a daily basis in the legal department of the Ministry of the Environment, some of whom may have been there when the member was there, have indicated that under the powers that we had the actions they took were the strongest possible actions and it was unfortunate, they believe, that the individual in this case, or any other individual, would not decide to comply with the act and would spend money on legal cases instead of spending money on complying. But certainly the changes to the legislation that arise partially from this experience will solve that problem.


Mrs Marland: My question is for the Minister of Health. We are not getting anywhere with the Minister of the Environment and we want to at least give this government a chance to protect the health and safety of the people of this province.

I am sure that the Minister of Health is following the CBC at Six series on drinking water with the same concern as I am. I can only describe last night’s series as being horrifying and shocking. I know, as was mentioned earlier this afternoon, that the fact that we have a standard of 350 for trihalomethane count in Canada, as opposed to 30 proposed by the World Health Organization, must be of concern to the Minister of Health.

When Canada’s level is the highest in the western world, and we have heard about what is happening in the cities around Ontario, this is a truly alarming situation. In the interest of protecting public health, will the Minister of Health undertake to immediately review and lower the trihalomethane limits in drinking water for the province of Ontario and will she consult with her federal counterpart in the development of a new national—

The Speaker: Thank you.

Hon Mrs Caplan: I am going to properly refer this question to the Minister of the Environment, who referred to the federal standards.

Mrs Marland: Oh, what a copout.

The Speaker: Order. I understand it is referred to the Minister of the Environment.

Hon Mr Bradley: To answer the question the Minister of Health has referred to me, I think the member would be aware by now that the Department of National Health and Welfare, which has the responsibility of setting drinking water standards in Canada, is in fact reviewing this particular standard and that I have indicated my support for that. I think that indeed there is a good opportunity that this is going to happen. I am certainly hopeful of that. I know that there has been consultation with various provinces, there has been consultation with the scientific and technical community right across the country on the part of the federal minister and I am sure that the federal minister will take the action that he deems appropriate.

Mrs Marland: This is the most irresponsible copout of this Liberal government yet. We do not have a Minister of the Environment and obviously now we do not even have a Minister of Health. Do you not care about the people in this province in terms of drinking water? The fact that the Minister of Health could not answer the question and had to refer it --

Hon Mr Elston: I never expected that from you, Margaret.

Mrs Marland: I guess you don’t even understand what it means.

The Speaker: Order.

Hon Mr Scott: Free Margaret Marland. Free Margaret. Oh Andy, free her up, let her go.

Mr Brandt: Does it sound like I’m muzzling her?

The Speaker: Order, the Attorney General. Once again, thank you, I would remind the honourable member, when I recognize her for a supplementary question she should place her question through the chair. You have already placed a question, you know, but please place your question through the chair.

Mrs Marland: Mr Speaker, I will place the question through the chair, with great restraint. I think one of the things that these ministers, both the non-Minister of Health and the non-Minister of the Environment, and I may even say the non-Premier, who refers these subjects as well --


The Speaker: Order. I am asking all members; I would like to be able to hear the question immediately.

Mrs Marland: My question obviously now has to be to the Minister of the Environment. I hope he understands my question because the fact of the matter is that in order for the Minister of the Environment to answer this question he has to understand that adding chlorine creates trihalomethane in water that already has contaminants and organisms in it. It is the Ministry of the Environment that is recommending that the people in this province add Javex to their water. That is the minister’s standard in 1990 for drinking water in Ontario. I ask him, how can they know how much and whether it is safe? And if the Minister of Health does not care about it, does he?


Hon Mr Bradley: I am surprised that she would not have the faith in the Department of National Health and Welfare, with Perrin Beatty as the minister, with the scientists, the health experts and so on that they have there, who are at the present time in the position of reviewing their standard for THMs in this country in consultation with others in the scientific community and the technical community.

The member mentions as well the use of chlorine in terms of the decontamination of water. She would recognize that it is essential. It is a matter of using it in certain instances and in certain quantities and certain ways which will reduce the potential effects. Remember that a couple of days ago, she may have been asking questions about other substances --

Mrs Marland: No, I wasn’t here a couple of days ago.

Hon Mr Bradley: Well, yesterday -- about a number of substances, bacteriological substances that can arise, and this of course is why virtually all municipalities in Ontario add chlorine to the water, in fact, to disinfect it, to kill those substances.

What we have to ensure and what we are doing, of course, through the municipal water supplies in this province, is ensuring, through the plant optimization program that we have developed, that operators are in a position to use chlorine that they use in their systems in the best possible way to reduce the production of THMs.

Mrs Marland: It is shocking to know now that the Minister of the Environment does not know that there is an alternative to adding chlorine in the water. Perhaps if he knew a little bit more and showed a little bit more concern, even his staff would have been able to have described for him the method of ozonation.

My question is this: In light of the fact that ozonation is a technology already being used in many cities in this country, including some in Quebec, and in light of the fact that he should be interested primarily in the health of the people of this province, who need drinking water, I ask the minister, as someone who obviously is now charged --

The Speaker: Place the question.

Mrs Marland: -- with the health of the people of this province, since the Minister of Health is not, will he promote a change in the water treatment technology so that other options such as ozonation replace --

The Speaker: Thank you.

Hon Mr Bradley: The member, having watched the television program, has quickly jumped on to ozonization, and that is one method which is used in many parts of the world. I just want to point out to her that oftentimes you will hear about other methods of treatment of water -- and that is not a new method, by any means -- which from the initial reaction sound as though they are the answer, except you have to recognize that they do have some down sides as well.

For instance, ozonization takes care of the bacteriological contamination right at the source, as it comes in, but it does not on down the system. In other words, if it gets by the initial system, it does not continue to disinfect through the system.

There are various studies, some of which we have funded as a ministry, in conjunction with Health and Welfare Canada, in conjunction with universities and so on, studies such as Ozonization as an Alternative to Chlorination for Drinking Water, which we shared with the Department of National Health and Welfare, which is responsible for setting those standards. The Ministry of the Environment and Health and Welfare Canada both sponsored a study entitled A New Water Treatment Method for THM Precursors and Synthetic Organic Removal --

The Speaker: Thank you.


The Speaker: Order. What a waste of time.


Mr Allen: I have a question for the Premier of the province. On 5, 6 and 8 March, at my urging, representatives of food banks and emergency food services across the province came before a legislative committee in order to tell us the graphic details of hunger in this province. By latest count, he is the Premier of a province where 196,618 persons monthly patronize food banks in order to feed themselves. That is half of the total social assistance case load. It is a large number of working people. Half of that group are children.

If this situation is not acceptable to the Premier, would he please explain to the House why the elimination of hunger in Ontario is not right at the very top of the agenda of his priorities?

Hon Mr Peterson: I think the minister can tell the honourable member of the significant number of initiatives we have undertaken to combat the very problem my honourable friend speaks of.

Hon Mr Beer: I want first of all to say that I believe the sitting of the standing committee on social development brought forward a number of groups, experts and those who are experiencing poverty to set out in detail and to bring to all of us in a public way a much better sense of the kinds of problems that are being experienced. I think that is why it is important to underline that coming out of the committee’s hearings, I believe, was in effect support for several of the major program thrusts that we have taken, in terms of the $415 million that was brought in last year and is being implemented through this year, in looking at the question of basic shelter and basic needs and in terms of providing more opportunities for people to move off social assistance and to get jobs.

I think what this government has been trying to do and will continue to do is to attack those fundamental areas of putting more money into individuals’ pockets so that they can move off social assistance if they are able to take on employment or so that they will have an adequate amount of income coming in to look after their shelter and their basic needs.

Mr Allen: I guess I can understand why the Premier would not want to tell us why this particular question was not right at the top of his agenda. At the presentations, one of the operators of a food bank told us the story of this box of macaroni and cheese, which cost 69 cents in the store, on its way to a hungry person via a food bank. Someone buys this box and takes it home, then at some point decides to take it to a collection agency, like a firehall. Then a truck comes from a food bank and takes it to a food bank where it gets sorted and stored and put in order on a shelf again. Then it is taken by an emergency food service provider, where a parent will come and pick it up and take it home to feed his kids. Think of all of the extra waste, energy and cost that go into all that movement and handling --

The Speaker: And the supplementary?

Mr Allen:—just because this government does not provide the 69 cents directly to that person to buy it off a shelf to feed his kids.

How can the minister, or the Premier, justify such an irrational and wasteful way of getting food to hungry people?

Hon Mr Beer: I think it is terribly important to recognize that the amount of money that has been added to our whole area of social assistance over the last year is beginning to have a real impact, and that is to put more money into the pockets of those individuals who are receiving social assistance. Clearly the best way to end the use of food banks is to provide people with money that they can use to make the choices around shelter and around food. That is the critical way to go and that is where we should be adding our funding.

I think we are doing that, we are putting that money into the system. I would tell the member that since September, for those people who are receiving assistance, whether it is under family benefits or under the general welfare assistance at the municipal level, we see a real increase in the number of people with more earned income, and that is beginning to say to us that that is where the funds should be going. That is beginning to have a real impact.


We have also said that we are going to be implementing a review of the supports to employment program to see exactly how those funds are having an impact on the whole system and on the use of food banks. We are working closely with all of those who are involved.

But I would remind my honourable friend --

The Speaker: Probably at a later time.


Mr Villeneuve: My question is to the Minister of Agriculture and Food. The minister knows very well that these are very unsettling times for supply-managed commodities and producers based on GATT decisions and other very unsettling statements made recently, the minister’s own Food Industry Advisory Committee report and now yesterday’s announcement by Ault Foods Ltd, Ontario’s largest dairy processor, that it might close if it cannot buy or operate at competitive prices and costs. What is this government proposing to do to address both the producer and processor concerns regarding the price of raw products here in Ontario?

Hon Mr Ramsay: I would like to tell the honourable member that in the last five months probably 50 per cent of my time has been concentrated on this particular problem. As the member knows, free trade has really acted as a catalyst in the rationalization of the food processing and producing industry. What we are doing is strengthening our Ontario Farm Products Marketing Commission, making sure we get equal processor representation on there, strong producer representation on there, working with our officials.

I, personally, and my deputy minister, have been working with the CEOs of the various food processing companies and also the heads of the commodity producers.

Mr Villeneuve: It is very annoying when we hear the largest dairy processor in Ontario stating that it may leave the province unless something is done regarding operating costs and the cost of the raw product. The minister’s report here cites Ontario taxes, red tape and other levies as factors which make our food industry uncompetitive and vulnerable to competition. That is in the minister’s own report.

Considering how many communities and people, as well as producers, depend on food processors, how does the minister in charge of both the processing and the production of these products intend to react to these statements? And he will have to react.

Hon Mr Ramsay: We have already begun to react to this report and I would remind the member that the report is advice to this government, advice to the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology and myself who had asked the food industry to form a committee and report information to us.

I would say to the member, though, that we are working with our marketing boards, we are asking them to produce strategic plans in the next two years and we are quite prepared to help them with the expertise and the resources to do so, so the Canadian agriculture and food industry can be competitive and sustainable.


Mr Adams: My question is for the Minister of Transportation. Now that the Via Rail service between Peterborough and Toronto is no longer with us, I am, more than ever, concerned about the extension of GO Transit into and beyond Oshawa. I wondered if the minister could advise the House of the status of that extension project.

Hon Mr Wrye: I guess this is a good day for this question to be asked, because one of the stages of the process that is now under way will take place tonight with the regional municipality of Durham. We have split the Oshawa GO process into two stages for ease of handling and, quite frankly, to speed the process up.

Stage 1 will see us moving into the westerly half of Oshawa, with stage 2 moving us right through the community of Oshawa to the far east end. The environmental assessment process is well under way in terms of consultations, and indeed council meetings are being held beginning tonight -- or began earlier this week -- and will continue for the next week or two. Public information centres will be held, I believe, at the beginning of April.

We hope, in short, if we can complete the process smoothly and if all goes well in the EA process, we can be under way in terms of construction early next year, with completion hopefully scheduled for the very end of 1992.

The second stage of the process will take longer, but we are trying to move this thing forward just as quickly as possible for the people of Peterborough and indeed all the people in that eastern part of the province.

Mr Adams: I am grateful for that additional information. I wonder though, in the meantime, what alternatives are available for the people of Peterborough who want to commute to Metropolitan Toronto? How should they get to work at the present time?

Mr Cousens: Put a GO train in. Get a GO train from Peterborough.

Hon Mr Wrye: My friend the member for Markham is so provocative, and we are so constantly expanding the GO train facilities up his way.

But the member asks a good question. I think some actions have been taken. Voyageur Colonial has been in the market for a long time with its bus service and it continues to offer a number of options, including now an option either directly to downtown Toronto or to the GO train station at Whitby. As well, Trentway-Wagar has now moved into the bus system and is also carrying passengers outside of Peterborough.

Finally, I know the member will want to know, as will those from within that area, that our very aggressive construction timetable for the four-laning of Highway 35-115 is still on schedule in spite of a number of difficulties. We are hopeful that by the end of 1992 that very important linkage between his community and Highway 401 will be complete.


Mr R. F. Johnston: I do have a question for the Minister of Education, and it has to do with the recent ruling in Alberta about French language rights by the Supreme Court on the Mahe versus Alberta situation. I presume the minister, like myself, has had a chance to read this thoroughly. I wonder if he can tell me what he thinks the impact of the following statement by Chief Justice Dickson is on Ontario. ‘In my view, the measure of management and control required by section 23 of the charter may, depending on the numbers of students to be served, warrant an independent school board.” Can the minister tell us what he thinks the impact of that kind of a decision is going to be for Ontario?

Hon Mr Conway: Mr Speaker, I want through you to thank my friend the member for Scarborough West for raising a very important and timely issue. I can tell him that the officials within the Ministry of the Attorney General and the Ministry of Education are, as we speak, very carefully analysing an extremely important court judgement, and I would rather not comment until we have concluded the assessment of what is a very significant and complex judgement.

Mr R. F. Johnston: I can understand why the minister would not want to comment, especially when, following that comment by Mr Justice Dickson, there are other things about minority rights on boards which pertain to challenges which he is being challenged on in the courts right at this moment in Ontario.

I guess what I would like to know from the minister is, rather than putting the francophones of Ontario through the court system when there is this very comprehensive ruling down, when are we going to hear from him and the esteemed Attorney General, who is quoted in this ruling, as to what Ontario is going to do about this ruling in the near future?

Hon Mr Conway: My good and learned friend the member for Scarborough West very helpfully observes that the matter of his question touches upon some litigation currently before the courts in Ontario. Of course he, like me, would not want to in any way prejudice that consideration in the courts.

I would, however, want to remind my friend that in Ontario, the minority language legislation that we prepared and introduced as a new government in 1985 took into account the very helpful judgement of the Ontario Court of Appeal which was rendered on reference, I believe, in June 1984 and which outlined very clearly and, we thought, very helpfully what the charter would mean in so far as the Canada clause in Ontario and the whole question of minority language education are concerned. He knows that chronology, and I do not want to take him through all of that, but I do recognize the importance and sensitivity of this. But I can tell him that we are still in the process of analysing the judgement, and I will keep him posted on a priority basis.

The Speaker: New question. The member for Parry Sound.


Mr Eves: Mr Speaker, I was just over here briefing the Minister of Health on our question.

Seriously, in the past year and a half, there have been some 242 children who have had heart operations postponed at the Hospital for Sick Children. One of those surgeons who has had quite a few postponed is Dr Bill Williams, who was recently quoted as saying that the problem can be traced to one thing only: the lack of intensive care nurses. I wondered if the minister agreed with that statement by Dr Williams.

Hon Mrs Caplan: As the member knows, I am very aware of, particularly interested in and concerned about the trends and the impact on, particularly, downtown Toronto around issues concerning nurses. It is the reason that I brought in a significant package of nursing initiatives to change the culture, improve labour relations and in fact give nurses more say in hospitals. The situation in downtown Toronto is somewhat unique in the province and it is also the reason that we have established the kind of networks to ease and speed access, particularly for children who require cardiac services in this province.


Mr Eves: A lot of those statements were all very interesting, but I do not believe that they addressed the specific question that was asked.

The nursing unit administrator, Mary Jo Haddad, also at the Hospital for Sick Kids, said: “We need higher wages for our nurses. The only thing that has not been instigated by the institution is a major addressing of the salaries we pay to nurses.” Then she goes on to say that the province should increase wages of nurses according to experience, expertise, education and responsibilities. She also says a cost-of-living premium should be paid to those nurses who live and work in Metropolitan Toronto. I would like to know whether the Minister of Health agrees with those statements by Mary Jo Haddad, and if so, when she plans to implement them so that we can address the severe nursing shortage in Ontario.

Hon Mrs Caplan: I am pleased to have an opportunity to clarify for the member opposite the role of the Ministry of Health. In fact, the nurses are employees who work for the employers, the hospitals. The negotiations are between the nurses and their hospitals. The Ontario Nurses’ Association, the union which represents some 50,000 nurses in this province, canvassed the views of nurses and in fact members of the nursing profession themselves, while they have many diverse views, have never requested, negotiated or supported either specialty pay or regional wage rates.

I know that these issues are under consideration by the union and I will refer the member’s question to them for consideration.


Mr Miclash: I have a question for the Minister of Culture and Communications. As the minister will know, I spoke yesterday in a statement to the House regarding the federal cutbacks as they affect my riding, and particularly to the funding of native communications. What can the minister do to help the valuable radio, newspaper and television services for the native people in Ontario?

Hon Ms Hart: I can say to my friend from Kenora that the federal government is sending a very clear message by slashing funding to native communications organizations. It is denying our native communities access to their language, their heritage and their culture. It is attempting to silence those native communities.

I can also say to my friend from Kenora that my staff has already met with the executive director of the Wawatay Native Communications Society, and we are working on bringing together various provincial ministries to find a solution to what can only be called another federal faux pas.

May I add that, unlike what we read in the Globe and Mail yesterday morning, our meeting will not take away any money from native communications.

Mr Miclash: As we know, at the present time people are being laid off, programs are being shut down and time is presently of the essence. I am just wondering if the minister can give us any of her particular or specific plans to aid the native people across the province.

Hon Ms Hart: May I say to my friend that I clearly understand the need for action in this area. I have instructed my ministry officials to bring me a plan outlining a proposal for support of native and francophone broadcasting in Ontario as soon as possible.

May I add that this government is clearly committed to supporting our minority communities. We are certainly not afraid to let them talk to one another.


Miss Martel: I have a question to the Minister of Labour concerning recent events at the Workers’ Compensation Board. The first concerns vocational rehabilitation counsellors, and I assume his government would be worried about this, given its supposed commitment to rehab in Bill 162.

On 28 December, 120 people were advised in writing from the board that they had been given permanent positions with the Workers’ Compensation Board beginning 1 January 1990. Many of those people gave up their permanent positions and went to the board for those permanent positions.

On 1 March, the same 120 people were advised in writing again from the board that the board had overrecruited and overstaffed rehabilitation and, lo and behold, these people no longer had permanent employment with the board. In addition, none of the workers has been guaranteed that after the present six-month contract finishes he or she will in fact be taken on in a temporary position. I would like to ask the minister if he thinks this is an acceptable labour practice at an agency of his ministry.

Hon Mr Phillips: It is true that the board did overrecruit for the positions. As I recall the circumstances, they were individuals on probationary contracts, and I think the board, as I am told, wanted to ensure that people with seniority were offered positions that were available. So that is the first thing; I think these 120 individuals are on probationary contracts.

The second thing, I am told, is that it is the expectation that there will be permanent jobs available for those 120, not in exactly the role they were hired into, but in other roles. I recognize that it has been a dislocation for those individuals, but the people with more seniority are being offered the permanent positions, and I am told that the 120 will be offered alternative positions at approximately the same rate of pay.

Miss Martel: If you look at the letter of confirmation, it says very clearly that they “will be transferred to our permanent staff.” They were all hired as new rehab counsellors. They did not work for the board before.

The second event that I want to bring to the minister’s attention now deals with claims adjudicators. Several weeks ago, claims adjudication staff at the board were asked to fill in a survey on alternative work hours. They were clearly told that in filling out the survey they were not under any obligation to work those hours. On 13 March 1990, all of those people received a memo from management stating that whatever they had filled in on that survey were now the hours that they were going to work.

I want to ask the minister if he thinks that is an acceptable practice in an agency of his ministry and, if not, what is he going to do specifically to get to the bottom of this?

Hon Mr Phillips: Indeed, I have been told that the requirement to work different hours than they had been accustomed to would be entirely voluntary. I think the board is attempting to provide service not only through the day but also at night.

I intend to look into the matter the member has raised, because it is my understanding that it would be entirely voluntary. I think if indeed an individual filled out the questionnaire on the assumption it was merely a questionnaire, there is some question in my mind whether he is required to live with what he said in that questionnaire. The operating principle for me would be that a change in the hours would indeed be voluntary, which is what I think they have been assured, and I will assure myself that is the case.


Mr Jackson: I have a question for the Minister of Education. What arrangements has he made, as the Minister of Education, to assist the children at St Bruno’s school?

Hon Mr Conway: The member raises another very timely issue, and I am pleased to report that the Metropolitan Separate School Board has made an arrangement to relocate the students, I believe effective at the end of this week, from St Bruno’s to the Cardinal Carter school in North York. The Ministry of Education has been working with the school board and we expect to be supporting the school board in some of the busing costs that will accrue as a result of that change.


Mr Jackson: It is my understanding that the school board has not had any direct contact with the minister’s office with respect to support. The school board has had to make a very difficult decision, but it was a decision that had to be made in the best interests of the safety and the health of the children in that school. It is a temporary decision, which is at best going to last until the end of August with the alternative accommodation arrangements. What guarantees will he give as Minister of Education to the parents and the children that his ministry will help the separate school board to find a solution, an affordable solution, to this problem?

Hon Mr Conway: I want to take this opportunity to congratulate the school board which has worked very effectively over the last little while to resolve a serious concern, certainly in terms of the situation that the parents and students felt was the -- well, the note makes clear that the school board has been dealing with the central regional office. The regional office has made plain that we intend as a ministry to support the school board in the additional busing costs that will be developed as a result of this transfer.

I can assure my honourable friend who quite frankly would want me to repeat that I expect that working with the Ministry of Education and with the ministries of Environment and of Labour -- we all intend to work very diligently to resolve the issues around the St Bruno’s site because clearly we are all motivated by that which is in the best interests of those students.


Mr Chiarelli: My question is to the Treasurer and it relates to comments that the Prime Minister of Canada has directed to Ontario over the last several weeks blaming Ontario for fuelling inflation. He blames this on excessive spending by the government of Ontario. The residents of Ottawa West would want to know how the Treasurer would respond to this allegation.

Hon R. F. Nixon: I thank the honourable member for notice of the question. I too was surprised that the Prime Minister in various cities, including Halifax, had indicated that the fiscal policy of the province was responsible for the inflation and therefore the interest rate and therefore the inappropriate value of the Canadian dollar. I felt that he was giving Ontario far too much credit for a problem which was much more closely associated with the fiscal policy of the government of Canada.

I think most honourable members would be aware that it is not government expenditure that causes inflation; it is deficits that cause inflation. The members of the House would share -- we all share -- in the pride that our fiscal capacity has enabled us to reduce our deficit from close to the $3 billion level in 1985 now to a balanced situation where we hope to have a surplus of $11 million this year.

Mr Chiarelli: It is my understanding that the federal government is now spending 35 cents of every dollar towards debt servicing. I would like to ask the Treasurer how this compares with Ontario, first, and second, what impact does this type of debt servicing have on inflation in Canada?

Hon R. F. Nixon: The relative number in Ontario is about 10 cents. I think the honourable member would agree that the inflationary impact of the increasing deficit in the federal fiscal policy announced this year, which is in fact $2 billion higher than it was last year, is a matter of great concern.

But the impact here also is in the federal minister’s attempt to reduce his expenditure by reducing the transfers to the provinces, particularly Ontario, in the established programs that we are aware of that are intended to support medicare and post-secondary education. This is particularly important as the pressures continue to come on for improvements in our colleges and universities and, more particularly, in our hospitals.

Less than a decade ago, the government of Canada paid 52 per cent of the cost of medicare, and this year it is expected that would be reduced to 37 per cent. In the last six years, the transfers to the province of Ontario have really been reduced by about $1.2 billion, and it really is impossible to make up that kind of shortfall. The hospital administrations have to do their best under these very difficult circumstances.

The Speaker: That completes the allotted time for oral questions and responses.

I hope the members do not mind me drawing this to their attention. We have been getting along for quite some time without using too many props in this House, and I noted today we had three. I just hope that maybe we can continue in the future having members speak without bringing props into the House. It would be much appreciated.



Mr Offer moved that, notwithstanding standing order 94(h), the requirement for notice be waived with respect to ballot item 40.

Motion agreed to.



Mr Philip: I have a petition to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

“Whereas the Peterson Liberal government has decided to charge drivers of greater Metropolitan Toronto $90 per year for a car licence plate while at the same time only charging residents of other parts of Ontario $33 per year for identical licence plates;

“Whereas the same Peterson government has in this year’s budget imposed other taxes and levies on the people and businesses of greater Metropolitan Toronto which will not be imposed on those in other parts of Ontario;

“Whereas these taxes which are not based on income or profits hurt seniors and others on fixed incomes;

“We, the undersigned, petition the Legislature of Ontario to express to the Liberal government our great disapproval of its policies of tax discrimination against the people of the greater Metropolitan Toronto area.

There are 10 people who have signed it, most of whom live in my riding, some of whom do not.


Mrs E. J. Smith: I wish to present a petition on behalf of the late Dalton McGuinty, who had it in his care at that time.

The petition is addressing the matter of smoking in the workplace and ends up as follows:

“We respectfully submit that the Ontario government enact comprehensive legislation which will severely restrict the presence of environmental tobacco smoke in both work and public places to reduce the senseless death and disability of many of our citizens.”



Mr Black moved first reading of Bill 114, An Act to amend the Ontario Lottery Corporation Act.

Motion agreed to.

Hon Mr Black: This legislation proposes to add the words “protection of the environment” to the existing beneficiaries specified in section 9 of the Ontario Lottery Corporation Act. By allocating lottery funds for environmental protection the government is taking positive action to ensure that the people of Ontario can enjoy the health benefits of a clean and safe environment, a commitment this government made in last year’s speech from the throne.


Mr Eves, on behalf of Mr Sterling, moved first reading of Bill Pr8, An Act respecting National Capital Children’s Oncology Care Inc.

Motion agreed to.



Mr MacDonald moved first reading of Bill 115, An Act to amend the Representation Act, 1986.

Motion agreed to.

The Speaker: The member might have a brief explanation.

Mr MacDonald: The purpose of this bill is to change the riding name of Prince Edward-Lennox to Prince Edward-Lennox-South Hastings.


Mr Bossy moved first reading of Bill Pr61, An Act to incorporate The City of Chatham Foundation.

Motion agreed to.


Mrs Sullivan moved first reading of Bill Pr44, An Act respecting the Royal Canadian Legion.

Motion agreed to.


Mr Curling moved first reading of Bill Pr58, An Act to revive Gursikh Sabha Canada.

Motion agreed to.



Mr R. F. Johnston: As tempted as I am to ruin things, I will not, Mr Speaker.

Mr R. F. Johnston moved that the order for second reading of Bill 83, An Act to amend the Education Act, be discharged and the bill withdrawn.

Motion agreed to.


Mr Kormos, on behalf of Mrs Grier, moved motion 1 under standing order 42(a):

That this House deplores the government’s failure to safeguard and improve the quality of the Ontario environment in general; and that in particular, this House deplores the government’s failure to use powers available to it under existing legislation to prevent the recent massive, dangerous and toxic fire at Tyre King Tyre Recycling Ltd near Hagersville, powers which would have protected the health of people and the environment in the Hagersville area and more generally in southwestern Ontario; and the minister failed to pursue fully the remedial measures outlined in his order to Tyre King Tyre Recycling Ltd of 22 January 1987; and for all these reasons, the House no longer has confidence in this government.

Hon Mr Offer: Mr Speaker, if I may, I seek unanimous consent to divide the time equally among all three parties.

The Speaker: That request has been made by the acting House leader. I understand there is unanimous consent that the time will be allotted equally among the three parties, and also, according to the standing order, at 5:50 the debate will conclude.

Mr Kormos: Earlier today, at the beginning of the sitting this afternoon, during the time allotted for members’ statements, I spoke a little bit about Ontario Tire Recycling Inc down in Dain City in the southern part of the city of Welland.

First of all, that scenario is very important to those people who live in Dain City and indeed in the city of Welland, and south of them in Port Colborne and north of them in Thorold and in St Catharines. It illustrates, among other things, that the phenomenon at Hagersville is probably not unique, certainly not isolated. It illustrates as well that the government’s lack of interest, lack of preparedness, lack of responsiveness, lack of concern about the incredible impact that tire dumps like Ontario Tire Recycling have and the catastrophes that can be associated with them is not isolated to Hagersville.

The people in Dain City have been living with Ontario Tire Recycling for some time now. I should tell members that the city council of the city of Welland zoned the lands upon which Ontario Tire Recycling is located and the neighbouring people as rural-agricultural, notwithstanding the strong and articulate arguments by spokespeople on behalf of Ontario Tire Recycling that its plot of land in the midst of this rural-agricultural land should be zoned industrial to accommodate tire recycling.

City council has given the message loud and clear that this is not a suitable location for a tire dump, which is what this location is, or a recycling plant. It does not belong in residential neighbourhoods; it does not belong in rural-agricultural neighbourhoods; it does not belong immediately adjacent to the old Welland Canal where, in the event of a fire, in the event of a catastrophe, there is a collecting pond for the effluent, for the oil, right in the old Welland Canal, from which communities like Welland take their drinking water.

The Minister of the Environment thinks he has problems now with the quality of drinking water. Just wait until Ontario Tire Recycling lets the contaminants that result from burning tires flow into the Welland Canal. The minister ain’t ever seen nothing like it. I will tell you this, though, Mr Speaker. The city council is concerned because the city council made it quite clear, when it zoned that land, that that land was rural-agricultural, not industrial land.

What the people of Dain City find incredible is that not only is the ministry tolerating the continued operation of that plant, but it is tolerating it notwithstanding that that plant, that location, that dump, Ontario Tire Recycling, has been charged -- the charges are currently being processed in the court -- and that some of the actors involved have acknowledged to the local Ministry of the Environment officials that they knew they were in a conflict, that is to say, that they were noncompliant with the prevailing law.

They knew that they were not abiding by the legislation, and specifically, in the case of the Dain City location for Ontario Tire Recycling, the charge according to the press was starting a separate scrap tire processing plant without getting a certificate of approval and exceeding its storage capacity of 1,000 tons.


The evidence at trial to date is that the personalities involved told the Ministry of the Environment inspector that they knew they were in a conflict but planned to continue processing tires and asked for the ministry’s co-operation. I say that asking for the ministry’s co-operation under those circumstances, where you openly acknowledge that you are violating the law, is asking for the ministry to be involved in collusion with a very dangerous and illegal process.

This company is facing one charge for its failure to get a certificate and exceeding its storage capacity of 1,000 tons in Dain City where it is surrounded by small farms and residential areas, and where it is adjacent to the old Welland Canal. In an adjoining community, this same company is facing 11 charges for its operation in the city of Port Colborne -- 11 counts of violating its certificate of approval. Adelstein, who is the current president of the company, mind you, has pleaded not guilty to those charges.

What is remarkable according, and very legitimately so, to the people of Dain City -- once again I am talking about good people and hardworking people who have made major investments in their homes and in their community, people like Harold Froude, people like Peter Monaghan, people like Bonnie Valeriote, people like Edith Rominger who own their homes there and have grown up in those neighbourhoods, and want to see their children and grandchildren safely grow up in those neighbourhoods.

What is of incredible concern to them is not just that Ontario Tire Recycling is permitted to carry on its storage and recycling operation there in Dain City, but that there is almost half a million dollars earmarked by the Ministry of the Environment as a grant to Ontario Tire Recycling once it clears up its little legal problems.

The people of Dain City say, “How can the government advance money, first of all, to scofflaws who would openly defy the legislation and admit that they were doing it, and with a wink and a nudge” -- a wink is as good as a nudge to a blind man -- “how would the ministry dare set aside almost half a million dollars’ worth of taxpayers’ money for a company that clearly illustrates that it has no intention of ever complying with the law, for a company that clearly indicates that it has no intention of ever complying with the spirit of the zoning, for a company that persists in having its highly dangerous operation take place in a residential neighbourhood?”

The people I have talked about, the people of Dain City—Ann Wood, Ed Lochhead, Renee Kiers and Lise Plamondon—people like those are concerned, angry and afraid because they know that Hagersville is not an isolated scenario. They know there is no preparedness on the part of the government and they know that all the facts, as they stand now, illustrate that the government is not just prepared to condone this, but indeed to sponsor it.

I support this resolution. I support it not just from my own perspective but from the perspective of those hundreds and thousands, perhaps tens of thousands, if not more people, who find their health, safety and welfare jeopardized by the continued presence of uncontrolled tire dumps.

Mrs Marland: I rise today to speak in support of the nonconfidence motion that is on the floor of the House. As it deals exclusively with the problems which face the environment of this province in 1990, I must say at the outset that the recent toxic and dangerous fire at Tire King Tyre Recycling Ltd near Hagersville has only been, as far as we are concerned, another nail in the coffin as to the confirmation about what exactly is going on with the environment in Ontario today because of the lack of concern by this Liberal government.

I will not read the motion into the record again because that will be printed in Hansard ahead of the previous speaker to myself. Since it is a nonconfidence motion of the official opposition of this House, it is on record.

I do want to say right up front, however, that our party, the Progressive Conservative Party of this province, wants to congratulate all those people who were involved with fighting the fire at Hagersville. I know that yesterday my colleague the member for Leeds-Grenville made a statement of congratulation and appreciation for the efforts of those individuals.

I think this fire was an example where the staff of the ministries did their job, and certainly they were left to cope because we did not have any ministers around who seemed to be either concerned about the fire or even acknowledged that it existed for the first week it was burning. But I also think it is terribly important to recognize that the volunteer firefighters who coped with that fire for the first six days that it burned were risking their own personal health and safety.

Frankly, it is certainly true that for most of us who have relatives or friends or family members who serve in volunteer firefighting departments, we know what a tremendous risk those people at Hagersville put themselves under when there was nobody in the world, it seemed, there to help them. Certainly the provincial Liberal government was nonexistent at the beginning of that first week of the two-week fire. So I want to really say that the congratulations and the appreciation of all of us in the Progressive Conservative Party go to the volunteers and professional firefighters for their outstanding efforts, both the volunteers in the first week and the professional staff who assisted in the second week.

I think it is very important to understand what issue is being debated this afternoon. We are talking about the nonaction of this Liberal government in terms of safeguarding and improving the quality of the Ontario environment in general and in particular addressing the issue of this fire.

We had a statement yesterday in the House by the Minister of the Environment where he told us that everything was fine in Hagersville now. Of course, the fire is out, there is nothing wrong with the water, there is nothing wrong with the air and all their tests prove that everything is fine. He said that there is a little soot in some of the houses and that the government is very generously going to clean the houses inside and out. It is embarrassing. In fact it is completely irresponsible of this government to think that because the fire is out and it has done this local testing of conditions, the Hagersville tire fire is now a nonissue.

Nobody will ever be able to address specifically what the long, far-reaching damage to the environment will be from the plume that came from that fire for the two weeks that it burned. Nobody has followed that plume through the environment. We have no idea how far-reaching that damage is.

What is really sickening to all of us who are concerned about the environment is that the whole thing should never have happened. It would never have been allowed to happen if the Minister of the Environment had been doing his job.

This Minister of the Environment talked yesterday about the fact that the tires have been piled there for a number of years. However, it was this Minister of the Environment and his staff who issued the order to the operator of that tire dump to comply with the regulations of the ministry and the fire marshal’s office.


Mrs Marland: Just to put on the record the sequence of events so that those Liberal members who are interrupting me at this point and may not have the background of this disaster in their own memory bank, I would like them to give me the courtesy of perhaps listening and then they will understand why the blame for this fire lies wholly and totally at the feet of the current Minister of the Environment.

In January 1987, the member for St Catharines fingered the legal roadblocks.


Mr Curling: Not in 1977.

Mrs Marland: The member for St Catharines was the Minister of the Environment in 1987. Then the Ministry of the Environment advised the company to make its site safer. In order to do that, they were asked to do four things: one was a security fence to keep out intruders who might start fires; two, an onsite water supply to fight fires; three, tires sorted into smaller piles no higher than 10 feet; four, lanes 10 feet wide between piles to give fire trucks access.

This was not frivolous advice. This tire dump had caught fire in 1977, 10 years before.

Mr Miller: Who was the government at the time?

Mrs Marland: The Hagersville fire chief, Ronald Slote, recalled the fire took seven hours to subdue. Changes were not made, so the ministry upgraded its advice to its order.

Mr Miller: Who started that one?

Mrs Marland: I think it is amazing that for someone I respect in this House, as I do the member for Norfolk, a member who is as experienced as the member for Norfolk, his blind faith in his Liberal government would put him in the position this afternoon that all he can do is prattle and interject and he will not listen to the facts. That is his choice. I would ask that he give me the opportunity to speak without interjections, since they are out of order.

Since the changes were not made to this site, the ministry upgraded its advice to an order, so it was no longer advising the owner of the site, it was ordering the owner of the site. The ministry lawyer, Bruce McMeekin, told the board -- this is the Ontario Environmental Appeal Board, and this is the board that heard the appeal of the tire owner when he said, “No, I’m not going to do what the ministry’s told me to do.” The ministry lawyer said, “Given the gravity and the risk materializing at this site, I don’t believe the requirements are unreasonable.” In April 1989 the Environmental Appeal Board upheld the ministry orders for the site and agreed it was a hazard that could cause “a very serious disaster.”

We now know that the statement made by the Ontario Environmental Appeal Board was true. It has been a very serious disaster, and the delays that held up safety improvements at the Hagersville tire dump had dragged on for three years with no resolution in sight. Surely it should have occurred to Ontario’s lawmakers that the law did not work fast enough for public safety.

In case the government members in the House today who are looking for an opportunity to speak think that my comments are totally partisan, I want to just read into the record some quotes from journalists who I would assume are neither Liberal, Conservative nor NDP.

First of all, I quote from the Toronto Sun of 4 March 1990, where Michael Bennett says, “Bradley was nowhere to be found for the first four days of the province’s most spectacular environmental disaster.” Later, in the same newspaper, the quote is, “If the environmental laws are overly cumbersome, then why hasn’t Bradley changed them?”

Also, in the Hamilton Spectator on 20 February of this year:

“The tax should bring in $40 million a year. For their money, Ontarians expect results.” In the Kitchener-Waterloo Record on 20 February 1990, “Neither minister, Bradley or Nixon, has accepted the blame for what amounts to a $45-million annual ripoff.” I will address in a few moments why that tire tax is a ripoff.

This is another quote from the editorial of the Ottawa Citizen, 20 February: “On Sunday, six days after the tire dump erupted into flames, the Ontario government announced the formation of a joint response team. If the government is seriously concerned about preventing similar disasters, it must learn to act faster than that.”

The final quote I will use from a journalist, Michael Bennett in the Toronto Sun, is of today’s date, 21 March. Mr Bennett says: “What is he? An idiot? Environment Minister Jim Bradley says one of the reasons he didn’t do anything about the Hagersville tire dump until 14 million tires were torched by an arsonist is because the opposition never asked him about it in the Legislature.”

I just think that perhaps sums up the actions and the attitude and the commitment of this Minister of the Environment. He is only going to do something about it if we in the opposition parties ask him. I think it is shameful. I think it is absolutely shameful.

When we talk about where the minister was before this, I think it is time for us to look to where the Globe and Mail published an interview with the minister. He had no answers; blamed the disaster on Mr Straza for spending money on lawyers and not on compliance order; expects the damage to be considerable. He said the damage was very serious and could be the worst environmental disaster, but also said it would be viewed differently if it had happened 10 years ago; then a rubber fire would not draw as much interest. He promised financial aid to residents, says Mr Straza would be asked to pay costs of the cleanup. It would be interesting to see how you get blood out of a stone.

He rejected suggestions that the government could have gone in and made the dump safer, citing the Charter of Rights; also rejected the suggestion that the government misled voters with the $5 tire tax. The problem is that this Minister of the Environment just rejects everything. He does not want to accept any responsibility. It would even be more creditable if Mr Bradley had said: “You know, we really made a mistake. We should have gone in there two years ago and prevented this disaster from ever happening.”

Also, where is the Minister of Health in all of this? The federal Minister of the Environment, Mr Bouchard, sent in a team of experts to monitor the health effects. Of course, we learned this afternoon, when we were discussing the subject of water and when I asked the Minister of Health a question today on protecting the drinking water of the people in this province, that she did not even answer the question. She refused this afternoon to answer my question and referred it to the Minister of the Environment. So we do not have a Minister of Health either. We are in a very serious state in this province as far as I am concerned.

I might also say that the Solicitor General took six days after the fire was started to announce anything to indicate that he was concerned. He announced a joint response team to work with local officials to set up an information network, give full-time wages to the volunteer firefighters and co-ordinate tests on drinking water. Is this not interesting? The Solicitor General is co-ordinating the tests on drinking water, not the Minister of the Environment, not the Minister of Health. I guess we are lucky that we have a Solicitor General, perhaps, who has enough intelligence to realize that if his other ministerial colleagues in the cabinet are not doing their job somebody has to do it. But even then, it took the Solicitor General six days after the fire to act.


The Ministry of the Environment’s bungling of dealing with this tire fire is also reflected in its bungling of other potential crises. I want to give as an example a toxic dump site in Rednersville, near Belleville. I happen to have a copy of a letter here today that I wrote to the Minister of the Environment on 18 January. Incidentally, today is 21 March. I would suggest it is more than two months since I wrote that letter and I still do not have a reply. I want to say to the Minister of the Environment that this situation, which I wrote to him to deal about, to do with the dump site at the farm owned by George Crowe near Rednersville is something that was identified by his ministry 18 months ago and still nothing has been done about it.

We seem to have a situation where the Minister of the Environment thinks that it is fine to stand up in this House and give nonanswers. He seems to think that the people of this province will accept that. The people of this province will not accept it. Why is it that the environment is the number one concern for everybody in Ontario, and indeed Canada, today? Certainly we know it is an accelerated concern in the province of Ontario because time and time again, tragically, we have evidence that the Liberal government is not concerned about the environment and certainly that this Minister of the Environment is not concerned.

It is rather ironic that the CBC television series CBC at Six is continually identifying environmental concerns. I expect now that the Minister of the Environment is quite happy that CBC television does his research, quite frankly. I think it is shameful, irresponsible and disgusting that we in this Legislature, with the kind of bureaucracy this Liberal government has -- and it has added 8,000 bureaucrats, it has increased the staff of the province in terms of the Liberal government ministries by 8,000 in the last five years. With 8,000 more people working for them, why would they require and depend on CBC television to do their research? But that is in fact what is happening. Everything they are doing is reactive to somebody else’s research and discovery.

I think it was shameful yesterday when the Minister of the Environment admitted that he did not know there had been a fire at Hagersville in 1977, pretty embarrassing stuff.

We also have other examples about this Minister of the Environment that I will not take the time to go into today, but we could talk about the delays of implementing the municipal-industrial strategy for abatement. We could talk about the failure to take action to introduce a new air quality regulation to replace regulation 308. We have been waiting for that now for four years.

We could also talk about the slowness in reviewing and modifying the environmental assessment process, with the result that the government is now designating short-term interim sites for the greater Toronto area in terms of landfill sites and subjecting them to a less-than-thorough assessment under the Environmental Protection Act rather than the Environmental Assessment Act. That is how this government works. It does not do anything, it does not make decisions until we get to a situation where we have no time left.

The Environmental Protection Act is not an act that sufficiently investigates whether a sanitary landfill site location is safe for the environment, yet last August the Premier of this Liberal government made the announcement that for the next period of time in the greater Toronto area, where we have the biggest garbage crisis in the history of this country, the landfill site selection process would no longer go under the full environmental assessment of the Environmental Assessment Act but under the short-term provisions of the Environmental Protection Act.

What was so significant was that it was the Premier making the announcement, not the Minister of the Environment. Here was a major change in environmental protection policy and nowhere to be found was the Minister of the Environment. Can members believe that? No Minister of the Environment. Suddenly the Premier is the Minister of the Environment.

I think that as far as taking time this afternoon to get into the legal technicalities as to what sections of the act were available to the Minister of the Environment to prevent the Hagersville fire is concerned, it is not necessary for me to go into those details. Simply suffice it to say that he did have powers available to him within the last two years to prevent that fire from happening. That is where it is a criminal irresponsibility on the part of this Ministry of the Environment.

I have to say this because it is very significant: When this Minister of the Environment chooses to use his ministerial power in terms of a ministerial order, he does. The region of Peel had selected its sanitary landfill site, and I am talking about four years ago. They were on the road down to the environmental assessment hearing for that site, and it was then a full hearing. Suddenly, at the midnight hour, this Minister of the Environment issued an order to the region of Peel that it could not proceed to its environmental assessment hearing on that site; it had to go back and re-evaluate a number of sites and come back to a new hearing. That order, that threat, by this Minister of the Environment was interesting from two points of view.

First, it may now be purely coincidental that the site that we had selected in the region of Peel was owned by Ronto Development Corp, and I do not have to remind the Speaker that Ronto Development was a company in which Patti Starr’s husband was the major shareholder. It was rather a coincidence that suddenly the site selection for the region of Peel’s landfill site was put back on hold by this Minister of the Environment.

Second, that action by that minister forced the taxpayers of the region of Peel to spend between an additional $3.5 million and $4 million to go and evaluate other sites; re-evaluate, because they had already done an evaluation to where they had come to select the one site anyway.

So there is this Minister of the Environment saying: “Okay, Peel. We don’t want you to go any further. You cannot proceed to your environmental assessment. I’m issuing a ministerial order to stop you from doing that.” How come this same minister did not issue a ministerial order, or use any other section of the act that he wished to use, to force the operator of the tire dump in Hagersville to comply with his order to remedy a very unsafe situation? He could have done it. The fire could have been stopped.

In fact, the environmental lawyer David Estrin was quoted in the Globe and Mail -- and I may say that David Estrin is a very highly regarded environmental specialist in law -- as saying that the ministry has had the legal means since 1983 to get around Ed Straza’s delaying tactics. According to Mr Estrin, a 1983 amendment to the Environmental Assessment Act allows the ministry to ask that a control order be carried out even though it is under appeal, the very thing I have just said. The amendment covers cases where it is “necessary or advisable to prevent or to reduce a hazard” to people or the natural environment.

The minister knew there was such a hazard, as his official, Christiaan Beek, testified in evidence given in 1987 and 1988 to the Environmental Appeal Board, that if the tires were to catch fire they could release an estimated 17 million litres of oil, which could pass into the ground.

Mr Estrin also said that it was determined by the Ministry of Environment’s regional director in 1985 that Straza was operating an illegal waste disposal site. The minister could have ordered Straza, the Tyre King operator, to remove the tires, and if he had not complied the ministry could have done the work and sued the company for the cost. This fire could have been prevented.


I really feel that regardless of the announcements by the Solicitor General there were options that were available to him too. The Fire Marshals Act provided the government with the power it needed to have reduced the hazard quickly, efficiently and effectively. The fire chief of Hagersville area had the power under this act to prosecute the owner of Tyre King for violating the Ontario fire code, and because the fire code contains regulations of general application, its provisions cannot be appealed.

An article in the Toronto Star quotes the deputy fire marshal, Roy Philippe, as saying that if an operation is not run in compliance with the regulations, the fire chief can prosecute and, even though the owner can appeal the conviction, the fire chief can see to it that the work is done regardless of any legal delays.

The same Toronto Star article quoted Gord Yoshida of the fire marshal’s office saying that the Ontario fire code specifies that refuse in salvage yards should be in piles of certain sizes, separated by lanes of three metres wide. Complying with the fire code would have required Tyre King to separate his 14 million tires into more than 100 smaller piles. Then, if a fire had started, it would at least have been easier to manage and unlikely to spread. So if the Minister of the Environment did not think he had the powers under the Environmental Protection Act, why did he not consult with the Solicitor General to utilize the powers under the Fire Marshals Act?

We are, of course, left to wonder, did these ministers really care? Did the Minister of the Environment really care? As with so many cases, he refused to take action until a disaster forced him to do so. The bottom line is, if the minister did not think that the Environmental Protection Act was sufficient to make Ed Straza, the owner of the dump, take action or to allow the ministry to do so, then he could have taken steps to amend the Environmental Protection Act before the disastrous tire fire took place. The Minister of the Environment could have taken action. There is just so much evidence to support that.

Finally, I want to talk for one minute about the betrayal of the Ontario taxpayers. I want to talk about the tire tax that was announced by this Liberal government in its budget speech last year. Any logical government, in making an announcement for a taxation to provide a program, if it were logically planning and honestly thinking, would have the program in place before it started taking the money. But not this Liberal government. This Liberal government has collected in excess of $30 million in tire tax since it implemented its tax collection, and when did we get the tire recycling program announced? I will tell members. Since we cannot enter into a debate, I will tell members that we did not get the program, we have not had any announcement of the program, we have had no knowledge of what this Liberal government was going to do with the money collected under the tire taxation until after the tremendous environmental disaster of the fire at Hagersville.

So in spite of the fact that this government refused to support my amendments to the tax bill implementing the tire tax, where all the money collected would be designated for tire recycling programs -- it voted down those amendments; it would not agree to honestly pass a bill up front collecting money and say where the money would go -- it did not have a program in place. The people of this province who pay taxes were betrayed, and they continue to be betrayed, by a Liberal government which thinks it is fair and above board to collect tax for a purpose and never follow through with expending the money that is collected under that tax.

An environmental menace and hazard and potential that was waiting to happen as the biggest environmental disaster in the history of this province happened only because it was allowed to happen by this Liberal government, and now after the fact we are getting all these wonderful announcements that, “Everything’s fine around Hagersville.” “What about the other locations?” “Oh well, we’re going to have some security guards here and there.”

Their incompetency is unbelievable. It is frustrating, day in and day out, to hear how this Liberal government’s nonaction and reaction take place. They never do anything that is proactive except one thing: they take money. This Liberal government will tax and tax. They will put titles on it -- tire tax -- and we never hear anything about where that money goes and where it is spent. Even the programs they finally announced amount to about $16 million. The fact they have collected $30 million has nothing to do with it; there is still $14 million and we do not know what they are spending it on. But we still did not get that announcement until after the tire fire.

In fairness, I have to adjourn my comments at this point. Obviously we could talk about the disaster of the Liberal government, as well as the disaster of the tire fire, for another four or five hours, but I will adjourn my comments at this point.

Hon Mr Offer: I rise today to speak against this motion before this House. In fact, in some of the time allocated to me I hope I will deal with some of the comments made by the member for Mississauga South, especially in respect of the response to the fire at Hagersville. I say her response and her comments were incorrect. Second, in dealing with her interpretation of the Fire Marshals Act and the powers permitted under the Fire Marshals Act and the code, I state categorically, from the comments of the member for Mississauga South, that her interpretation is also incorrect.

Let me say that the unquestionable priority for any government is to look after the safety and security of its citizens. In that regard, this government acted in identifying the problem at the Tyre King waste site and in seeking to enforce remedial action to minimize this potential hazard. I emphasize that the operative term here is to minimize, since I think it is fair to say that the strongest laws and regulations cannot ever fully protect the citizens of this province from blatant criminal acts. It is important for the members of the House, especially opposite, to recognize that this fire was a result of a criminal act, an act of arson.

After saying this, I would like to outline in some detail those steps which were taken by this government to address the potential hazard posed by the tire site in question. In 1986, the owner of the site was served with an order under the Environmental Protection Act. The Environmental Protection Act was utilised as it was the most appropriate tool available to this government. The order under the Environmental Protection Act incorporated two sections under the fire code, those provisions— and—which specifically deal with the piling of tires, the way in which they are to be piled, the distance between the piles of tires and the distance between those piles and the property line or any building.

So the first point to be made is that the fire code, as part of the Environmental Protection Act, was in fact used. The Environmental Protection Act was used because it provided a mechanism, a means, with which we could not only deal with contraventions of the fire code, but also deal with securing the premise with fencing. We could also deal with the question of water reservoir, we could also deal with the question of general fire control measures and we could also deal with how the tires on the particular tire site were to be dealt with, those unprocessed tires. So this type of action, this appropriate type of remedy, was used because it provided to us the most comprehensive way in which we could deal with all of the aspects of this particular tire site.


Let me underline, and it is clear, that at this point the government had identified the potential hazard at the tire site and it had taken measures, through the appropriate regulations, to require remedial action, but the owner then exercised a right to appeal. He launched an appeal before the Environmental Appeal Board, which is his right. As we know, before this process had a chance to run its course, a criminal act occurred. The tire fire was started by an act of arson. No matter how strict or how severe the law, government does not have the ability to guarantee total security in the face of such criminal intent.

Since this fire, the government has reviewed all the options possible to minimize the possibility of any similar occurrence. Last week I announced a series of measures, measures designed to broaden the scope under the fire code but also to strengthen the Fire Marshals Act, whereby corrective work could be taken in light of a potential threat to the environment. Let us be clear, especially in light of the comments of the member for Mississauga South, that that particular right, that particular authority, does not exist presently in the Fire Marshals Act. Let us be specific again that the particular code provisions now apply only to the way in which the tires can be piled and deal with the distance between the piles and the distance between the piles and property or buildings. That is what is there now.

We have, through my announcement of last week, decided to broaden the type of code provisions available. With the regulation under the code, not only will we be able to deal with the piling of tires, but we will also now be able to deal with the water reservoir and with security fencing. Those things are not permitted currently under the legislation but, under the announcements of last week, will be available in the future.

The member for Mississauga South alluded to the response of this government to the fire at Hagersville. I think that the important point to be made at the outset is that this fire was handled on an incredibly professional manner. In that regard, it is important to compliment and congratulate all the individuals who took part in fighting this particular blaze. But let’s make no mistake about it: This provincial government was involved from day one. Advisers from the office of the fire marshal and officials from the Ministry of the Environment were at the scene the first day.

There was a mutual aid regional co-ordinator involved who called in resources from the surrounding area. Command posts were established by the second day. Heavy equipment was brought in and there was already a call for a water bomber, through the Ministry of Natural Resources, which was brought in, not one week, seven, eight or nine days later; we are talking two, three days into the fire. So to say that the provincial government was not involved in the fire from day one is just to blind oneself to the facts of the matter.

Yes, we did create a joint response team, and that joint response team was established as a formalized mechanism really to deal with an already existing informal structure and to provide direction and advice for putting out the fire as quickly and environmentally safely as possible. It was this provincial government which committed that all the resources necessary to put the fire out as quickly and environmentally safely as possible would be provided. Those resources would take the shape of equipment, personnel and in fact, as we know, the evacuees’ out-of-pocket expenses. So to say that this government was not involved in fighting this particular blaze until seven or eight days later is incorrect.

It was an example of a co-operative, consultative effort, not only by the provincial government but also by the municipal government and the regional government, and it is to them that congratulations must also be extended because this showed how a fire which, when first broken out, was estimated to last three or four months and, through consultation, co-operation and provincial commitment to resources, was put out in just 17 days.

In conclusion, it is clear that this government took measures to address the tire waste situation not only after the fire broke out but, indeed, before. I want to emphasize again that when we are faced with criminal intent, such as was the case at Hagersville, the best intentions and strongest regulations cannot give a total guarantee of safety and security. Every member of this House shares the common goal of ensuring that every possible precaution is taken so that another incident of this type cannot occur again.

My announcement of last week dealing with the strengthening of the Fire Marshals Act and dealing with the broadening of the fire code is indeed directed to that purpose. After taking all these facts into consideration, I ask that members of this House strongly oppose this motion.

Mrs Grier: I would like to thank the other members of the House who are participating in this debate today on the motion that I have placed in Orders and Notices, but I particularly welcome the support from the member for Mississauga South and regret the defensive attitude taken by the Solicitor General and his ministry’s refusal to recognize its very real failure to deal with a crisis that occurred and to prevent that crisis from occurring.

For those of us who care about the environment, there is no real pleasure in pointing out the failures of the government to do what we all hope it will do. To say that the emperor of the environment wears no clothes, in this particular case, is to understate the situation. I think it is fair to say that the entire government is stark, staring naked when it comes to actually acting on protecting the environment of this province, and that is frightening. It is frightening to even contemplate such a vision but far more seriously frightening to understand the degree of failure and the amount of risk to which many people are exposed because of that failure.

People today are bombarded with bad news stories about what is happening in the environment. The media, every newspaper, every television station tells us about one problem after another. At the same time, we get confused by conflicting claims from governments at all levels and from industry, each one trying to be greener than the next one. It tends to make people rather cynical and wonder whom to believe.

This government has been particularly adept at playing the public relations game. We all get a raft of press releases announcing every single expenditure, no matter how minute, by the Minister of the Environment. We get wads of self-congratulatory speeches. We even get copies of lectures that the minister has delivered to industry and to the major polluters urging them to do better.

But what the fire in Hagersville exposed so very vividly for everyone to see is, when you look behind that veneer of action, when you examine and toss aside the studies, the strategies, the discussion papers and the green papers, two things are clear. First, there is not much real activity going on in that ministry and, second, not much has changed in the five years since the party opposite took over from the party to my left. After five years in office, the bureaucracy still moves at glacial speed. There does not appear to be any sense of urgency about the need to protect the environment.

The Solicitor General said that no matter how good the regulations are, they had to be implemented and enforced. I could not agree more. It is our position, as we have made very clear in this House, that the minister had at his disposal the tools to prevent the Hagersville fire from happening. It is the lack of will to use those tools, to enforce them, that led to the tragedy. There is no sense of urgency, as I have said, no examination of how they can push the legislation to its limits to make sure that what they are all about is preventing problems, not running around and boasting about how well they are doing after the fact.


I feel very sorry for the Minister of the Environment. I think this Minister of the Environment began his term in office by sincerely trying to change the way in which environmental legislation had existed in this province. I think he began by struggling to obtain greater resources for his ministry by having the environment seen as a higher priority within the government. But he has been consistently undercut by his colleagues in cabinet.

There is a complete lack of interest on the part of the government as a whole in environmental issues. We see today that for an issue as critical as the quality of our drinking water the Minister of Health has no answer but passes it to the Minister of the Environment. There is a Minister of the Environment and everybody else ignores the environment.

That is why I feel sorry for the Minister of the Environment; not that I want to suggest for a moment that he is devoid of blame in the matter that we are discussing today, but I felt sorry for him as I listened to his pitiful explanation of his lack of action in the House yesterday.

He tried yesterday to excuse his failure to act. His first reason was saying that the opposition had not asked him to act, that we had not raised the issue, and why have we not, to blame us for his inactivity.

He was asked to act by the residents of Hagersville, who appeared before the Environmental Appeal Board to express their concerns. He was asked to act by the regional chairman of the area, and I would like to read into the record a letter from the regional chairman, a letter that Keith Richardson wrote to the Minister of the Environment on 25 October 1985.

“Dear Mr Bradley:

‘Thank you for the opportunity given to Councillor Orval Shortt and I to meet with you briefly in the Legislature yesterday.

“Our concern is the collection of an estimated 12 to 13 million used tires on property located at lot 1, concession 14, Walpole township, and owned by Mr Ed Straza of RR 4, Hagersville.

“The major concern is the pollution that would result to both the air and water if this pile of tires were in some way ignited. Secondary to this is that we understand that liability insurance previously in place has been allowed to lapse.

“I would appreciate your staff investigating this matter and, if necessary, introduce legislation or regulations to better control possible environmental threats, as we believe this issue to be.

“We thank you for your interest in this matter and trust that some action can be taken.”

That, as I say, was in 1985, shortly after this minister, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, had taken office with pledges to change the way in which the Ministry of the Environment operated.

The regional chairman concludes, “and trust that some action will be taken.” How sad that we have to acknowledge that that trust was completely misplaced.

The other person, of course, who asked the minister to act was his very own colleague the Treasurer. We have put on the record a couple of times the statement that the member for Brant-Haldimand made in May 1989 when he said that a fire at Straza’s dump would be a worse pollution threat than the PCB fires in Quebec.

I am flattered that the minister feels he cannot act until we in the opposition have raised an issue with him, and I can assure members that if the minister will give me perhaps one sixth of his staff complement and his resources, there is not a single issue that I will leave unmentioned.

The second excuse that the minister gave us yesterday was that the civil rights of the dump owners had to be protected. He conveniently forgot that there were civil rights of the residents of Hagersville, rights of the volunteer firefighters, who were exposed to the toxic fumes, the rights of the surrounding farmers. In opposition, members of the party opposite supported having an environment bill of rights for this province, a bill which I have introduced on several occasions since then and a bill which they consistently have refused to enact into law. They seem to prefer the rights of businesses to operate and to continue to use the law to prevent their having to clean up rather than to recognize that rights work in two ways and that there are the rights of the people of this province to be protected from environmental contamination. Of course, once the fire had occurred, suddenly the issue of rights was not quite so important, as they moved speedily against the owners of other dumps right across the province.

The third pitiful excuse the minister gave yesterday was the excuse that he did not have the power, that he needs new legislation. I would like to put on the record the chronology of events at Hagersville so that that excuse can be finally laid to rest.

In 1977, Mr Straza purchased the property from his brother-in-law. At that point, there were four acres and two to three million tires, and there had been a fire in the building on the site in 1977, prior to Mr Straza’s purchase. No less a person than the fire chief of Hagersville, in testimony at the Environmental Appeal Board, said that it took a great deal of hard work and many man-hours to extinguish a burning pile of tires.

On that occasion, the fire started at 5:20 am in the recycling building. By the time the fire department arrived, the building was completely engulfed in flames. The firemen manually dug a 10-foot path through the burning tires around the building and, after some seven hours, managed to extinguish the fire. It was clearly known there was a problem on that site in 1977. Shortly after the minister took office, as I said, he had the letter from the regional chairman that alerted him very explicitly, as a result of a meeting, to the problem.

In 1985, the Ministry of the Environment wrote to Mr Straza suggesting that something ought to be done about the dump, but it was not until 21 January 1987 -- and I want to put that quote on the record too -- that it sent him another letter, saying: “Of most immediate concern is the danger of these tires, as presently stockpiled, to the public and the natural environment in the event of a fire,” and “This report clearly indicates a contravention of the fire code and... outlines the actions required by you to separate the existing stockpiled tires.” So in response to the comments we have just heard from the Solicitor General, in 1986 they felt he was in violation of the existing fire code.

It was not until January 1987 that an order was placed on the site, so we are moving a year at a time before we do anything about this infringement, and that order said that the piles of tires had to be limited, that there had to be fencing around the property, and a reservoir to hold water for firefighting purposes, and that 30 days from the date when the order becomes enforceable, no further tires were to be added to the existing stockpiles. What happened? Mr Straza appealed the order, and it was at that hearing, on the appeal, that the testimony of the fire chief, I think, went on the record perhaps of the Ministry of the Environment for the first time.

Other testimony at that hearing deserves repeating. A fire services adviser employed by the Ministry of the Solicitor General testified that if the tire piles caught fire, the fire department would have to use unmanned hose monitors to attempt to control the fire on the site since they could never get proper firefighting equipment to the middle of the piles, and that such a fire would burn for weeks or conceivably for months. The smoke and intense heat from even one of the burning piles would cause immediate evacuation of persons from the property and probably the evacuation of persons from the neighbouring properties. The radius of the evacuation area would depend upon the wind conditions and climatic conditions.

The residents were at that hearing and they were represented by a lawyer. I think most telling of the evidence in the appeal decision is the argument put in by the Ministry of the Environment’s own lawyer, who said that the ministry has had numerous dealings with damage to the natural environment and it is the ministry’s position that people cannot act in a manner that poses substantial risks to the natural environment. For the past eight years, Mr Straza has run the risk of damage to the natural environment. Given the gravity of the harm that could be caused by the risk materializing, the requirements of the order were not unreasonable.


He urged the board to implement the spacing and piling requirements and, should the board consider the spacing and piling provisions unnecessary, at least the board should not forgo the implementation of the fencing and the water requirements. It begs the question why, in the face of that concern, they did not act to lift the stay of the control order that had come into place after the appeal had been launched.

On 6 April 1989, the control order was upheld. That was over two years from the time it had first been launched. Why, we may ask, does it take two years to go through the environmental appeal process? In that respect, it is interesting to have a look at reports from the Environmental Appeal Board. In their annual report of 1988 and 1989, the board appealed to the ministry for a full-time chairperson and one or more full-time vice chairpersons because of the significant workload facing the Environmental Appeal Board. This government has refused to give the agencies which it empowers to protect the environment the tools to do the job, and that is one of the reasons we have no confidence in it.

With respect to the staying of the stop on the control order, I referred yesterday in the House to the section of the Environmental Protection Act that in my opinion and in every environmental lawyer’s opinion would have allowed the minister to act. The minister says he had to have an actual event, not a potential one. He had an actual event in 1977. He had a fire on the site. The fact that he did not know about it and uses that as an excuse not to act is not an excuse at all, in my opinion.

The story does not end there, because Mr Straza, after the control order had been reaffirmed by the Environmental Appeal Board, once again exercised his civil rights and appealed to the Divisional Court. That was in April 1989. He had 30 days to file documentation. He did not do that. At the end of May 1989, just at the time that the Treasurer was imposing a tire tax and telling us how dangerous Mr Straza was, there was no documentation in the file at the Divisional Court.

The ministry had the power to go in then and ask that the appeal be dismissed. It did not do that. Nothing was done. Why? Because the minister says he was afraid of losing. I suggest that the consequences of not even trying to have that appeal dismissed are far more serious than the consequences of losing, far more serious for the residents of Hagersville.

What is particularly disturbing is that when we talked to ministry officials during the fire about the fact that they had not asked to have the appeal dismissed, the ministry lawyer told us that now that a fire had occurred, there would be no trouble and no problem in going to the courts to have the appeal dismissed. A fire had occurred in 1977. Had they used that as a reason for having the appeal dismissed, it would have been, I am quite confident. There was a concrete example there on the record.

The fact that the minister was unaware of it until I revealed it yesterday is shocking. The fact that this government dillied and dallied and completely failed to prevent the disaster of Hagersville is shocking. The fact that this government is now scrambling after the fact, posting security guards and introducing legislation in order to appear to be taking action and cover its previous inaction is too obvious a ploy to fool the people of Ontario.

Protection of our environment requires more than slick public relations, and it is sad that it takes a crisis to truly reveal the lack of substance to this government’s commitment. The gap between its rhetoric and the reality of its behaviour is becoming daily more apparent. The tragedy is that while this government fiddles, the flames of Hagersville have affected for ever the lives and the livelihood of the people of that community.

I have met with and spoken to those residents. They have no confidence in this government’s ability to safeguard and improve the quality of Ontario’s environment. We in this party have no confidence in this government’s ability to safeguard and improve the quality of Ontario’s environment.

I ask the members on all sides of this House to signal their distress at the actions of the Minister of the Environment, to signal their understanding of the concern that all of their constituents have about the environment of this province by supporting the motion that is before us today.

Mr Miller: I rise today to take part in the debate on the resolution which has been brought forward by the opposition and which I do not support. I am pleased to have the opportunity to participate in it because I will be the first one to admit this is one of the biggest disasters we have had in Ontario. It has created more interest than perhaps anything in many years.

I happen to live within six miles of this site. We have a farming operation there and we have family that live in Hagersville. As a member of this Legislature, I am as concerned for the environment and the future, not only of that area but of Ontario, as anyone in the Legislature.

When we have a disaster of this magnitude and we are taking the time within the Legislature of the province of Ontario to debate it, I hope we can make some gains in dealing with these environmental issues. The opposition has tried to portray us as the villains, and I would only like to say that I congratulate the government that I represent for moving in, taking over and taking on its responsibilities in a meaningful way.

Today I had the opportunity also of thanking the people in my area, who are only a fraction of the people who should be thanked, because they took the brunt of the load of taking over the responsibility of that fire, which started at 1 am on 12 February. The fire department was at the site at 1:30 am. There were some people there from the Ministry of the Environment in St Catharines at three o’clock in the morning. The Treasurer was there the next day to view and give advice and assistance to that municipality.

I think our government moved very quickly and I am proud of that. I am not proud of the fact that we had a resource of 14 million tires. Those tires have been there, stockpiled since the 1960s. The number had been growing on a daily basis until there were approximately 14 million tires at the time of the fire.

I think every member of this Legislature has to take some responsibility. We all use tires, we all contributed to it, but we have no way of disposing of them. I think as far back as 1982 when we were in opposition and the third party was on this side of the House, we brought to its attention that there was a resource there and suggested it move ahead to harness that resource.

Mr D. S. Cooke: What have you done except put a tax on them?

Mr Miller: At least the minister is moving ahead and trying to get the confidence of the people.

The point I want to get to is to get the people of Ontario to support utilization. Elected government officials are the best ones to stir up the fire and promote it for their own benefit rather than for the benefit of the environment and the people of Ontario: that in my view is wrong, but that is what has been presented here today by both opposition parties.

Before the fire there were possibilities of using this as a resource. As I said, it was a resource. It has gone to waste. Somebody put a torch to it and that resource has gone.

Mrs Marland: If it did not exist, you could not have put a torch to it.

Mr Miller: Certainly. That is what I am trying to say. The opposition has not given the assistance and the support to utilize those tires in a meaningful way.


Mr Miller: Well, that is okay.

As I say, I have been a member here since 1975. We have been trying to come up with a solution and we have not been able to arrive at that solution. I would think the best thing that could come out of this debate today, and that is what we are really debating, is to find a use for the resource.


That brings up another point. There was a member a few years ago -- and I know the Speaker who is in the chair was here at the time -- who wanted to burn PCBs in the cement plant at Mississauga. The member, a Conservative member for the government, stood up and said, “No way we can do that,” with indications that it was going to be a safe way of disposing, and we have not dealt with that problem since. Many of them are still sitting down at Smithville, and while we could have utilized them—

Mrs Marland: Do you want to burn PCBs?

Mr Miller: I am saying, let’s move ahead and recycle them, because the United States is doing it.

The other thing I would like to bring to the attention of this debate today is that we have had people in our own area who have come up with suggestions like putting in a shredder that could shred these tires, and again be utilized for fuel, for energy purposes. They can be recycled for other tires. Other countries are doing it.

I hope that the real benefit from this debate is that we cannot have that resource sitting around so it is a potential hazard; we can put it to work on behalf of the people of Ontario and Canada and progress ahead, rather than be strictly critical and just sitting on our hands and not doing anything.

That is really what is happening with those tires today. They are sitting there. That was what happened to that pile that was at Hagersville. It sat there and sat there, and nothing was dealt with. The individual did not have the dollars to deal with it, because, as I said, we have watched it grow. He had to get a return off it before he could remove those.

Mrs Marland: He was allowed to let that pile grow.

Mr Miller: It was a collecting agency. Where else -- you have to store them.

I would like to just indicate that the site itself, as I indicated today, has been cleaned up and the water processing has taken place, and for the information of the member for Mississauga South, they are drawing that water back and recycling it in through that plant and it will be discharged.

The other area of concern is -- while I toured the site on Sunday and Saturday of this week, the robins are back and the wheat is growing in the field. As a farmer in that area, I think that things are going to continue in a safe manner. The Minister of Agriculture and Food met with the farmers in the area, and all the tests have come up negative and their products are safe to use, the same as any other farmer’s. The final thing I would like to think is that I would hope that those reports still come up negative so that our future is protected in that area of Ontario.

Mr Mackenzie: I am pleased to rise in support of the nonconfidence motion of my colleague. I want to emphasize the first two lines of the nonconfidence motion, “That this House deplores the government’s failure to safeguard and improve the quality of the Ontario environment in general.” Then it goes on to say that in particular it deplores the problem we have had at Tyre King.

I want to first say to the member for Norfolk that if it will make him feel any better at all, I will apologize for using tires and being responsible for this mess in Hagersville.

But I want to say that nothing so clearly outlines the lack of confidence that this House and the people of Ontario should have in this Peterson Liberal government. If there is one issue in this province that clearly underlines the incompetence of this government and the fact that it does not deserve the right to continue ruling in the province, it is its actions on the environment. If there is one issue that justifies the defeat of this government, it is the lack of action to secure a future for our province, our people and our citizens, and indeed play our role in securing the future of our planet.

We could add all kinds of other issues to this issue, whether it is unfair taxes or the betrayal on auto insurance and free trade and health and safety legislation and pensions and plant closures, but we will leave that for another motion. I want to deal with the environment and I want to deal with it briefly, but I want to deal with it specifically as well.

I want to say to this government that when this motion says we have no confidence because of its lack of action on the environment generally or on the Hagersville situation, the tire fire, it makes a point that is crystal clear and is becoming crystal clear to the people in the province of Ontario. Where is this government in terms of a water policy? We heard some of the debate earlier today and we know that there is more than a little truth to the program Not a Drop to Drink.

We know that we have not been dealing adequately with the water problem for the last several years, and it shows whether it is the wells, the contaminants that are in the water or the condition of the lakes. It has not become a major priority of this government.

Where is this government when it comes to the issue of asbestos? Let me tell members: I do not know what they are getting, but there is not a week that goes by that we do not have another example of problems, whether it is schools or public buildings or you name it. We are not adequately dealing with the health of our kids and the health of teachers in terms of the contamination and asbestos that is in the schools or in public buildings. This government is in a sorry state when it comes to what kind of action it is taking on the issue of asbestos.

Where is this government on dumps, on construction waste? I do not know what those folks are getting from contractors. They are not normally the people who are probably the first to support my party, but I have had more complaints from construction people and from contractors over the increasing prices on dumping, over the fact that if they have a transfer station they are locked into a monopoly because many of the locations for dumping construction wastes have been closed down. The prices are way up and there is absolutely no clear government policy that tells them how they are going to dispose of the waste.

What is happening? The constructors tell me themselves that it is being bulldozed under. It is being burned or buried onsite. The level of waste coming out of some of the construction sites is down by half or three quarters because they do not have the facilities to dispose of that construction waste.

Where is this government in terms of the tire pile at Mount Hope, another issue that was discussed in this House here today? We do not see any answers. We know it has been declared an illegal waste site, and this government has not moved on it. Where were they in the years leading up to the fire in Hagersville? I think the lack of action is damning for this government.

You look at the environmental issue and the toxic substances issue and our water, and you look at efforts to get orders enforced in our plants. Why did we have a walkout of 3,000-odd workers at McDonnell Douglas? Because there were some 650 orders that were not enforced and it took a walkout by those workers before they could get the attention of this government to take a look at that particular issue.

I am simply saying to the members in this House, if there is an issue that this government in the province of Ontario should be defeated on, it is the issue of its actions, or lack thereof, on the environment. It is sort of a sad commentary to think that it took 42 years before the people of Ontario found out just how bad the Tories were. It is significant, I think, that it has taken less than five years for them to begin to find out that the Liberals are just as bad or worse.

I say to the people of Ontario that this government does not deserve support. Whether it is the economic issues I mentioned or whether it is the environmental issues, this government should be turfed out in Ontario. It does not deserve the support of the people of the province of Ontario. The issue is much too vital to be left in the hands of the Peterson Liberals any longer.

Hon Mr Bradley: There are four pieces of legislation that form the legal foundation for pollution control in the entire province of Ontario: the Environmental Protection Act, the Ontario Water Resources Act, the Pesticides Act and the Environmental Assessment Act. Fines under the Environmental Protection Act were doubled in 1989, and prosecutions for environmental offences have more than quadrupled and convictions more than tripled since 1985.


The ministry is proposing amendments to the Environmental Protection Act which would prevent automatic stays of ministry orders that are being appealed -- the appellant will have to apply to the appeal board or court for a stay to suspend the requirements of the order -- and allow the ministry, if it believes the order’s work must be done immediately, to carry out the order at the taxpayer’s expense, even if a stay is granted.

Environment Ontario will have power of entry to get on to private property to do such work. It will allow the ministry, in the event it has carried out the order at taxpayers’ expense and won the appeal, to recover the cost. The unsuccessful appellant in these cases would have the right to have the cost of the work audited for its appropriateness and reasonability in relation to the order.

Under the legislation as it now stands, the ministry may only take these steps if there is a clear, immediate threat to health or property from an ongoing discharge, a test not legally met by tire piles which are not on fire. The legislation also provides that the costs for implementing safety measures may be shared by previous owners of the operation.

The ministry has also taken other action on tires. Strict measures to secure tire piles in Ontario have been developed. The fire marshal’s office and the Ministry of the Environment in conjunction with local fire departments have compiled an inventory of waste tire storage sites in the province of Ontario.

There have been 24-hour security guards posted at nine of the 11 largest sites. The 10th is equipped with a fence and guarded by dogs. The 11th is in an isolated rural area and is virtually inaccessible. The 49 smaller sites storing 5,000 tires or more are being inspected.

The Ontario fire marshal and the Ministry of the Environment staff, together with the local fire departments, will be inspecting each site to ensure compliance with the fire code and the Environmental Protection Act. Notices of violation are being issued for fire code infractions. Letters are to be sent to the owners of each of the sites instructing them to apply for Environment ministry certificates of approval requiring security fencing, buffer zones or other environmental protection.

The actions of the ministries of the Environment and Solicitor General will require site owners to do the following: separate the tires into piles no greater than 5,000 tires, with fire lanes between piles to inhibit the spread of fire and to provide easy access for firefighting vehicles; take security measures such as guards, guard dogs and six-foot fences around the sites; construct a reservoir, where required, to provide water in the event of fire.

These security and legislative measures will enable the Ontario government to intervene immediately to eliminate a serious threat to public safety while the judicial process is under way. This joint action by the ministries of the Solicitor General and the Environment, together with the municipalities, is part of a comprehensive plan both to reduce the immediate risk posed by the large tire storage areas and to address long-term legislative and recycling solutions.

Many jurisdictions across North America are seeking solutions to used tires. In Ontario the government has set waste goals: 25 per cent diversion from landfill and incineration to the three Rs by the year 1992 and 50 per cent by the year 2000. These goals are ambitious but achievable. At the last meeting of all the ministers of the environment from across Canada, these Ontario recycling goals were unanimously adopted by all ministers and they are now national goals.

The government is taking a series of steps to win the war on waste. The government will put its own house in order. This includes purchasing policy supporting markets for recycled products, restrictions on nonrecyclable or nonreusable goods within government and maximum recycling or recovery of materials such as office paper and cafeteria wastes. The government’s goal is to reach the 50 per cent target well before the year 2000 and to share its experience with municipalities, the private sector and the federal government.

Expanding blue box recycling: Additional products such as mixed plastics, boxboard and corrugated cardboard will be recycled, and the household recycling service will be extended to apartment dwellers. By 1995 close to three million Ontario households will be recycling.

Composting organic wastes: The province will help municipalities to assist home owners and householders in setting up home composting units and to set up central composting units.

Private sector waste reduction: Key sectors, such as office towers where there is fine paper, construction companies where there is gypsum wallboard waste, commercial plazas where there is corrugated cardboard, food wholesalers and retailers using corrugated cardboard and perhaps organic wastes, and fast food outlets which are involved with packaging and organic wastes will all be expected to develop three-R programs with provincial help. Regulations will be introduced where voluntary measures do not achieve desired results. The province will share these costs with the private sector.

The Ministry of the Environment is encouraging recycling. The ministry will invest an initial $16 million in a tire program this year. More than $1 million has already been committed to four Ontario companies for sorting and retreading used tires, production of crumb rubber and underpad, flooring and moulded rubber, and for a feasibility study of other processes.

A task force on tire recycling with representatives of the tire industry, municipalities and environment groups will provide expertise and advice on new solutions to waste tires. In addition, a ministry study, due in midyear, is focusing on technologies, markets and operators in tire recycling. This $16-million program includes support for collection, handling and sorting used tires, and the funds will help in sorting and high-grading those tires that can be resold on the used tire market and retreaded before the remaining tires are sent for shredding or making into crumb rubber for new, tire-derived products.

Funds for developing and implementing used tire processing and recycling technologies: Financial assistance will be provided for development of processes like separating crumb rubber from the steel bands of radial tires; storing, handling and processing recyclable materials extracted from the used tires, and tire shredding.

Moneys for research into tire-derived products and market development: Funds will be used to stimulate the development of new products using materials from used tires and to develop market demand for viable products made from tire-derived recycled materials.

A security program to secure cleanup and eliminate large tire stockpiles in Ontario: funds to underwrite the use of recycled tire rubber and rubberized asphalt paving for roads, walks and parking lots.

This initial $16 million is in fact in addition to an $18-million enrichment announced last month for our municipal and industrial three Rs -- reduce, reuse and recycle -- funding. Provincial support for three Rs for 1990-91 totals some $54.5 million.

This government is taking comprehensive actions to secure tire piles, to amend the legislation to remove the automatic stay and to find solutions to used tires.

Mr Farnan: The people in Cambridge and in the Waterloo region are concerned. Not only are they concerned, but they are expressing more and more to me, as their member, a lack of confidence in this government. The Hagersville tire fire has increased that lack of confidence. Cambridge has confidence in our firefighters. We believe that we have one of the finest firefighting forces in the province, but we do not have confidence in this minister, nor in this government, in their approach to environmental issues.

We are seeing a government that governs by disaster. Whether it is in the health care field, in housing or in health and safety in the workplace, this government simply responds to disaster. It cannot claim that it did not know the seriousness of this situation. The member for Brant-Haldimand six months prior to the fire said it was potentially worse than the PCB fire at St-Basile-le-Grand, Quebec. It knew and it milked the system for millions of dollars, but it took that money and it put a fraction of it into prevention.


In evaluating the situation, we have to ask the question: Where was the Minister of the Environment over the first four days of the Hagersville disaster?

We are shocked at the minister’s ignorance of the 1977 fire at Hagersville. The minister could not explain why he had not been told about the previous fire. We are shocked that the minister defends his ministry’s failure to enforce a cleanup order imposed in 1987 when that ministry’s officials knew of the 1977 fire. We are shocked at the minister’s attempt to shrug it off. We are shocked that he can say, “It’s because we weren’t asked the question.” Yet there was a fire and his ministry officials knew.

We are shocked that the minister would suggest that there is no permanent damage to the environment yet. That is not the opinion of the farmers who produce the goods in that area. It is not the opinion of the tourist industry, which will lose visitors. It is not the opinion of the people who will have to drink that water in the vicinity. It is not the opinion of the residents whose property values are no doubt affected.

We have to look at the blame. It is not good enough for the Minister of the Environment to say, “I didn’t know the gun was loaded.” That kind of defence would not stand up in a court situation. The facts tell a different story. There is a historical record that clearly shows that the ministry knew and did nothing, or if it did anything, it was not good enough; it was far too little.

The government has failed in its responsibilities to the people of Ontario. This is government by disaster. Dogs, guards and railings are not going to solve the environmental problems of this province, and neither will a lottery with revenues generated for the environment. Until this government is serious about the environment and environmental issues, the confidence of the people of Cambridge and of the people of the Waterloo region will continue to erode. It has eroded significantly. Nothing that this minister has done or this government has done in the area of the environment gives us any cause to think that this erosion will not continue.

Mr Brandt: I join this debate with concern because the Hagersville situation is certainly a glaring example of crisis management on the part of the Ministry of the Environment. There is no question whatever that the ministry failed to act in a reasonable period of time as it relates to Hagersville. Any effort that they put forward with respect to Hagersville was really after the fact in a very real sense.

The fire, which burned for some 17 days, perhaps could not have been avoided entirely. I am not going to take the naïve position that the fire could have been avoided simply because of actions taken by the ministry, but it could have been contained. The damage could have been reduced if the ministry had followed through on the kind of responsibilities that are implied in the minister’s mandate.

The fire started on 12 February and it was fully four days after that when we first started hearing from the minister as it relates to the minister taking any kind of public position in regard to this fire.

Hon Mr Bradley: Be accurate.

Mr Brandt: The minister says, “Be accurate.” I am being accurate as the facts are outlined in this particular case. The minister could have required that the Hagersville tire site be cleaned up in advance, as he well knows, through a fire marshal’s order. The act gives the Solicitor General the responsibility in this particular case, encouraged by the Minister of the Environment, to move in where there is a potential fire hazard, which there certainly was in this particular case, knowing full well that some 15 million or 16 million tires could have been subject to an arsonist, an act of God or some other factors that would have resulted in the kind of fire that took place in Hagersville.

The part that is most disturbing about this whole thing is not only the environmental damage that was done, the oil that leached into the ground as a result of the burning tires and the toxic contaminants that were discharged into the natural environment and into the air, but the fact that this government has completely, and seemingly without any kind of second thoughts whatsoever about the steps that it was taking, misled the people of this province as it relates to the 1989-90 budget when it set aside a forecast for some $30 million, eventually growing to some $45 million, for a so-called tire recycling program.

Is it not interesting to note that up until the time of the Hagersville fire, $1 million was spent of the $30 million they had collected. The long litany of activities now being carried out by the Minister of the Environment did not take place until after the fact, after the problem occurred in Hagersville.

That is why we were trying to warn the minister today in question period about the problems at Mount Hope and at other tire sites and why my colleague the critic for the environment and the member for Mississauga South has been talking for the last couple of days, and has been concerned for some long time, about water quality in this province. So the minister cannot stand up and say: “Oh well, you didn’t mention anything about it. You didn’t say there was a problem with respect to water quality. How was I, as minister, supposed to know? How was I, as minister, supposed to know about Hagersville? I am completely without blame. I am completely without fault. It’s all somebody else’s responsibility.”

Hon Mr Bradley: I remember your speeches.

Mr Brandt: Well, the minister knows full well that he had a bundle of dollars in the Treasurer’s pocketbook which he refused, after calls from this side of the House, to earmark specifically for recycling programs. What did the minister do? He put all that money into that giant pot of cash, which is like a black hole in space, that this government has over there and the money is never to be found again. Is there anybody in this House, on whatever side, who thinks for a moment that the $17 million that the minister has committed after Hagersville would have been spent if there was not a fire there? That money would never have been spent. That money would never have seen the light of day.

The only reason the minister is reacting now, with respect, is because he had a catastrophe on his hands and he wanted to do some public posturing. The only way he could get away with that, the only way that he could stand before the public and give the impression that he was doing something, was to say, “I’ve only given $1 million of the $30 million so I’ve got to move very quickly to start putting some additional money into a recycling and a monitoring and a security program for the inventory of tires that are stacked up in this province.”

That is simply not good enough. When I say that the minister is acting after the fact, I am appalled that the minister would try to hide behind the so-called legalities of the Hagersville situation when he knows that the record clearly shows that the badge he is given the day that he walks into that ministry makes him one of the most powerful ministers in the government. He has the authority, in fact he has the responsibility, to set aside personal rights. Those rights are subservient to the rights of the public at large in cases of potential environmental problems. The minister knows that full well. Did he do that in the case of Hagersville?


Mr Brandt: I hear some of the members from the government saying, “What did you do when you were Minister of the Environment?” I can tell them that in the case of King township action was taken.

Hon Mr Bradley: That was a toxic waste dump.

Mr Brandt: That was a toxic waste dump; the minister knows that it was an illegal dump. We moved in and we cleaned that dump up without getting any kind of deal set in place with the owners of that particular site. The differences are not all that great, and the minister knows that. He could have moved on that site. He had the legislative authority, with the Solicitor General, to take some action and he did nothing and he would have done nothing if it was not for the fact that Hagersville blew up in his face as a major environmental catastrophe.

This ministry grabs $5 a tire. Every time you go to buy a new car now, you are going to pay $20 or $25 additional money so that those tires supposedly can be recycled. That is not what the money is being used for.


It reminds me of the concerns that were expressed by my colleagues to the former Minister of Natural Resources when he put a new fishing licence in place. We said: “Are you going to use this money to assist with the fish restocking program? Are you going to improve recreational fishing in this province? Are you going to take some steps to make that particular sport more attractive?” The minister said, “Assuredly, that’s what we intend to do.”

We asked him if he would earmark the fishing licence money for that purpose, and guess what happened? With the best intentions of the minister, one of the best ministers the government ever had in that particular portfolio -- and, as usual, it moved him out, probably because he could not get his way with respect to getting a commitment to get that fishing improved. I know how desperately he wanted to get it done, because he is a man of sensitivity and a man of intelligence and he knew that was the commitment that should have been made, but it was not followed through.

This is the same dilemma we find now with the Minister of the Environment. The tax collector collects all of this money and holds it unto himself, and the specific purpose for which this money was intended is just lost in the past history of actions by this particular government. That is simply not acceptable. The minister could have moved. He had the money to do something about it, he had the resources, he had the authority, but what did he do? It took him four days to even show his face in the Hagersville situation.

That is just not good enough. He may have been working diligently in his office, but he surely made no public statements and he was doing nothing with regard to the containment of that serious situation up until four days after that took place. The protection of the public is paramount. Their health and safety has got to come first. This minister failed in that regard.

HagersviIle stands as a long litany of failures and the minister has got to do a better job. I am going to support the motion of nonconfidence.

Mr Adams: It is a pleasure for me to join this debate as parliamentary assistant to the Minister of the Environment. I am glad to follow the leader of the third party in his remarks. I would like to let members know about the environmental measures that were taken during the fire and which continue to be taken at the Hagersville site today.

The government is committed to cleaning up any contaminants resulting from the fire. The ministry immediately dispatched a specially equipped mobile van to measure air quality. This van began taking continuous readings of air quality, providing them to the local medical officer of health, fire officials, municipal agents and citizens of Hagersville.

The ministry is still measuring air quality adjacent to the fire site and current results of test for toluene, benzene, dioxins, polyaromatic hydrocarbons and a variety of other potential contaminants show that no exceedances of air quality guidelines exist at the present time. The air quality being measured at present is regarded by ministry experts as being typical for a rural location.

Monitoring of the nearby creek for over 100 potential contaminants started and continues. Recent results of this surface water testing show that none of the contaminants is detectable at the present time. Further, with regard to ground water the Ministry of the Environment tested 172 domestic wells surrounding the fire site for more than 100 potential contaminants. The 13 wells nearest to the site are tested three times a week; 16 other nearby wells are tested weekly. This monitoring program was developed by the medical officer of health, the Ministry of the Environment and others. Results from this ring of early warning indicators do not show any evidence that ground water contamination has moved offsite.

Further, the Ministry of the Environment built a series of containment ponds on the site. These ponds caught runoff from the firefighting water. An onsite treatment system has been built and is treating the runoff water there. The plant provides oil separation, settling ponds, air-stripping and carbon filtration. The plant can treat 300 gallons of water a minute and has already treated the over one million gallons of captured runoff water that were stored on the site during and after the fire.

This treated water has been tested for a variety of potential contaminants and contains no detectable benzene, toluene, xylene, phenols or dioxins and meets all water quality guidelines.

Further, the Ministry of the Environment has started the cleanup onsite. The top level of soil has been scraped off the fire site and put into storage boxes for proper disposal. This quick soil removal will minimize the chance of contaminants from the soil percolating to the ground water.

A citizens’ liaison committee has been set up to hear citizens’ concerns and comments on the cleanup. A number of public meetings have been held and will continue to be held. A consulting firm has been selected to sample soil and ground water and to plan the complete cleanup of the site, including any remedial action required for the aquifer -- that is, the underlying rock -- and any other environmental problems that may be encountered.

Security onsite is being provided by the OPP. In addition, the Ministry of the Environment is fencing the site and providing 24-hour security.

Further, the Ministry of the Environment has offered to clean the soot left downwind of the fire from the nine nearby houses. A contract is now being let to clean the houses, inside and out, of those home owners who have indicated that they wish to have it done. By the way, air tested inside these homes for benzene, toluene, xylene and 100 other potential contaminants was found to meet all ambient air standards.

Thus, for the record, the Ministry of the Environment has acted with respect to air, surface water, ground water, water used in fighting the fire, soil on the site and soot and air in homes close to the site.

The motion speaks also to environmental programs in general. I would like to summarize the series of environmental reforms this government has put in place since 1985. Four of these programs -- the municipal-industrial strategy for abatement, or MISA, our government’s waterways cleanup program; Countdown Acid Rain; our 3R waste management program, and CFCs phase-out -- exemplify new approaches essential if we are to have a sustainable environment.

As members know, MISA’s ultimate objective is nothing less than the virtual elimination of persistent toxic contaminant discharges into our waterways by stopping water pollution at its source.

Ontario’s Countdown Acid Rain program, which sets a firm abatement timetable for our four major sources of acid rain pollution, places responsibility squarely on its shoulders to end pollution and stop damaging fragile resources such as forests and lakes that form the base of other industries’ productivity.

All four of the four major acid rain polluters have reported in detail to my ministry on how they will comply with requirements to reduce their collective sulphur dioxide pollution by two thirds by 1994.

The area of the 3Rs, reduction, reuse and recycling, is another environmental area where we are making progress. The money the government sets aside for municipal 3Rs, as our minister has said, has swelled from less than $1 million in 1985 to $13.7 million this year, to $25 million in the coming fiscal year. Total support for the 3Rs for 1990-91 is approximately $54 million.


As members also know, Ontario was the first province in Canada to act to protect the stratospheric ozone layer by phasing out the use of ozone-depleting substances such as CFCs and halons.

These are some of the new environmental programs introduced by this government since 1985. I would suggest that these programs indicate this government’s continuing commitment to environmental protection.

Mr McClelland: It is a pleasure for me to join in the debate on the motion put before the House this afternoon.

My colleague who spoke previous to me is currently serving as parliamentary assistant to the Minister of the Environment, and I too had that privilege a little over a year ago. I want at the outset to set the record straight on a couple of things that have been put on the record today.

I heard the leader of the third party not too long ago stand in his place and say that the government has taken absolutely no action with respect to recycling projects and programs with tires. I want to say that when I was serving in that capacity well over a year ago, there were submissions being made, and plans, and people contacting me in my office to talk to me about the programs that the government was considering, and a shared responsibility of government and industry working together to meet problems head-on in this province and deal with them.

I am proud to say this government took some action well ahead of the events at Hagersville. It is a tragic event that took place in Hagersville, the result of arson, a criminal act. For somebody who served as Minister of the Environment, and I say this with the greatest respect to the leader of the third party, to stand here and say that only after that fire was any action taken is completely inaccurate. I just want to set the record straight and say that much had been done beforehand, much continues to be done, and I am proud to say that this government took initiative and acted appropriately.

When the fire broke out, a joint response team that some of my colleagues on the government side have made mention of was put together. It was co-chaired by the regional chairman of Haldimand-Norfolk and the assistant deputy minister for public safety from the Ministry of the Solicitor General. That response team had some ongoing onsite responsibilities during the course of the fire. I want to say that officials from many ministries -- Environment, Health, Agriculture and Food, Financial Institutions and Natural Resources -- all played a very important role in the joint response team in the management of the fire and related issues.

One of the issues that came up was the issue with respect to financial compensation and taking care of the people who were affected immediately by the fire. The joint response team had other responsibilities, but one of the things it did was set up a legal and financial subcommittee to deal with the legal issues that were resulting from the fire, compensation for individuals who were directly affected by the fire, and then to furthermore set up a communication and information centre to provide information to the evacuees and to the media.

It is important to understand that the responsibility that this government undertook was met directly and quickly. I heard just a few moments ago, again, the leader of the third party stand in his place and say that the Minister of the Environment was nowhere to be seen. It has been said today and it has been said by the Solicitor General that he was there on day one. The fire broke out on Monday. On Wednesday the Minister of the Environment was on site. Prior to that, the Ministry of the Environment’s officials and the minister were involved directly in consultation with the joint response team.

I think it is also important to indicate to the people of this province and members of this House that the government acted very quickly and in a very responsible way with respect to dealing with that fire and dealing with the environmental concerns related thereto.

In addition to the ongoing onsite involvement of the Minister of the Environment and other ministers and other ministries, I want to say that joint consultation and that joint response team continues to deal with the issue of compensation and dealing with people who were affected by that fire.

The primary concern of the residents of Hagersville was whether or not the provincial government would provide financial assistance for them. The provincial government responded to this quickly. It responded to that concern and developed an interim compensation package and committed itself to a long-term financial compensation package for the people who were directly affected. That financial package developed by the provincial government ensured that money would be available to reimburse the evacuees for the temporary shelter. It took care of their immediate needs, all of the needs that they had with respect to accommodation and food and so on.

Volunteer firefighters will be paid for their work on the same basis as the rate for personnel from the Ministry of Natural Resources. The government saw a responsibility to compensate those people and to deal with that appropriately. A compensation system has been developed for the economic loss suffered during the fire, for the provision of long-term financial care for those that were involved.

The government through its commitment to compensation both in the short term and the long term as a result of this has met, I think, the very real responsibility it has to assist people who were affected by it. But the health and environmental concerns of the residents of the area will also be addressed on an ongoing basis, as has been commented on by my friend the member for Peterborough.

I say that simply to say that in an issue such as this, in the motion that has been put before the House today, there are very many facets of a very complex issue. Many of them predate the incidence of the Hagersville fire. Many of them dealt with the onsite response of this government and the assistance that it provided in dealing with putting out the fire. Other aspects of it deal on an ongoing basis, from the financial to the environmental and health.

The involvement of many ministries co-ordinated in an efficient, effective manner to deal with that fire and to do the tremendous job relative to comparable situations in North America I think very clearly demonstrates that this government knew what it was doing and did it in an effective, efficient manner. It is consistent with what my friend the member for Peterborough said, the current parliamentary assistant: a commitment this government has demonstrated with respect to environmental issues. The Hagersville fire is much broader than environmental issues per se, but the basis of the motion before the House today is environmental.

I listened with interest to my good friend the member for Mississauga South who got off on a tangent with respect to landfill, although it is related in terms of the general environment, and tied that somehow into the Hagersville fire. I would simply say to my friend the member for Mississauga South that if she is going to refer to the aspect of landfill in Peel region -- the proposed site that happened to be in the riding that I have the pleasure of representing -- I think it incumbent on her to really lay out all the facts and not just pick little bits and pieces and try to relate them to a fire that has absolutely no bearing on an issue that --

The Deputy Speaker: Merci. The member’s time is up.

Mr McClelland: Mr Speaker, I simply want to say in conclusion that we will be voting against this motion. Thank you for the opportunity to participate.

Mr B. Rae: I am delighted to be able to participate in this debate. I first want to congratulate my colleague the member for Etobicoke-Lakeshore for moving this very necessary expression of opinion on the part of the House.

I wanted to touch on the issues that are raised by the Hagersville fire, but I will start by reminding members or saying to members that they will perhaps not be aware of this but I, along with several of our colleagues, was out of the country at the time of the fire; however, we were sitting in front of our television sets in Lithuania. As we were sitting in the living room of the family that I was with, the nine o’clock news came on and suddenly there was this billowing of smoke appearing on the television screen and the words “Hagersville, Ontario, Canada” appeared loud and clear on the television screens of the Soviet Union.

The Premier has often said that he wanted to be known as a world-class leader of a world-class province. I can say that he is. He is the leader of a government which is responsible for a world-class environmental disaster on television screens throughout the world.


I find it unbelievable that the Ministry of the Environment would have been on the one hand telling Mr Straza and his predecessors that this site was an illegal waste disposal site. They have been saying that in correspondence to Mr Straza. They have been saying it in correspondence to Mr Musitano and to his lawyer, Mr Macaluso. They have been telling it to the owners of other tire dump sites across the province.

Mr Speaker, I want to remind you of something. The Environmental Protection Act states very clearly and very categorically in section 146, “Every person who contravenes this act or the regulations is guilty of an offence.”

I want to know, and I have been trying to get an answer from the minister as has my colleague the member for Etobicoke-Lakeshore, what happens when a person who is in charge of a site, who owns a dump site for tires, gets a letter from the ministry that says: ‘This site is currently an illegal waste disposal site as it does not have a certificate of approval. You must ensure no more tires are received at the site until the site is formally approved by this ministry. Continuing to receive tires could result in legal action.”

That letter was sent on 25 October 1988 to Dieter Pohl of New World Enterprises in Grimsby. Mr Pohl was at that time supposed to be involved with the Mount Hope site. That is typical of what has gone on between the Ministry of the Environment and the owners of these sites. They call them in and they say, “What are you doing?” This is if they have found out about it or if they have discovered it.

The particular site in Mount Hope they discovered because a ministry official was flying over the area and saw all these tires in 1987. We know about the site in Hagersville because the Treasurer knows all about it, and because the Treasurer is an aware person. I am sure he drives around and comes into Queen’s Park and says to Mr Bradley: “What in heaven’s name is that site? What’s going on there? Why can’t we do anything about it? Is there any way I can help? Is there something I can do to speed this process along?”

All of a sudden a little light goes on in the Treasurer’s head -- it might even be a very large light to fill the space therein -- which says: “I know what I can do. I’ll bring in a tire tax to deal with this problem. I’ll tax every time somebody goes in to buy a tire, and then I will go on television and say, ‘Look how green I am.”’ You might have thought that because of his reputation the Treasurer might have said that he was not exactly the greatest protector of the environment, but the Treasurer can say: “I am going to go on television and say how green I am and how progressive I am. I’m so green I am going to tax every poor soul who buys a tire $5 a shot.”

All this time the officials in the Ministry of the Environment are sending letters to Mr Musitano and other people and these letters say this: “This site is currently an illegal waste disposal site as it does not have a certificate of approval. You must ensure no more tires are received at the site until the site is formally approved by this ministry. Continuing to receive tires could result in legal action.”

It is astonishing to me that we have a ministry which is complicit all the way through this process, complicit in the fact that it was prepared to tap these fellows on their wrists every step of the way, but never at any point was it prepared to fine somebody for breaking the law. The law is very clear. You cannot have an illegal waste disposal site in the province of Ontario without it being illegal. An illegal waste disposal site is an illegal site. If you have an illegal site and you are disposing of waste in contravention of the Environmental Protection Act, you are breaking the law, and if you break the law in the province of Ontario, you ought to be charged.

No one has been charged. Mr Straza has never been charged. The Musitanos have never been charged. This government is complicit because it has sat back and done nothing. Until the fire broke out, the only step they took was to strip money out of the pockets of consumers to put it into the pockets of the Treasury of Ontario and to do nothing about the problem, neither enforce the law, nor make it work nor use the powers that are there.

This government is pathetic when it comes to environmental protection. It is pathetic when it comes to protecting the interests of consumers in this province and when it comes to protecting all of us who rely on a clean environment.

When that fire went up and when that fire was the fire that was seen around the world, it was this government’s reputation that also went up in smoke. It is this government pretending it is Sir Galahad when really it has done absolutely boo-all to protect the environment in the province of Ontario.

The House divided on Mrs Grier’s motion, which was negatived on the following vote:


Allen, Brandt, Bryden, Charlton, Cooke, D. S., Cousens, Cunningham, Eves, Farnan, Grier, Jackson, Johnson, J. M., Mackenzie, Marland, Martel, McCague, Morin-Strom, Philip, E., Pollock, Pope, Rae, B., Reville, Villeneuve, Wildman.


Adams, Beer, Black, Bossy, Bradley, Brown, Callahan, Campbell, Carrothers, Chiarelli, Cleary, Collins, Conway, Cordiano, Curling, Daigeler, Dietsch, Epp, Faubert, Fawcett, Ferraro, Fleet, Fontaine, Fulton, Furlong, Grandmaître, Haggerty, Hart, Henderson; Kerrio, Keyes, Kozyra, Kwinter, LeBourdais, Lipsett, Lupusella, MacDonald, Mahoney, Mancini, McClelland, McGuigan, McLeod, Miclash, Miller, Neumann, Nixon, J. B., Nixon, R. F., Oddie Munro, Offer, Phillips, G., Poole, Ramsay, Ray, M. C., Reycraft, Riddell, Roberts, Scott, Smith, D. W., Smith, E. J., Sola, Sorbara, South, Stoner, Sullivan, Sweeney, Velshi, Wrye.

The House adjourned at 1807.