EVENTS IN CORNWALL

RABIES

CARROUSEL OF THE NATIONS

PROVINCIAL PARKS

ACADEMIC STREAMING

SMALL BUSINESS

ONTARIO STUDENT ASSISTANCE PROGRAM

SENIOR CITIZENS

ENVIRONMENT AWARDS

ANNUAL REPORT, INFORMATION AND PRIVACY COMMISSIONER, 1992

SOCIAL CONTRACT

TRANSPORTATION OF WASTE

RACE RELATIONS

SOCIAL CONTRACT

HEALTH PROFESSIONS

OZONE-DEPLETING SUBSTANCES

SOCIAL CONTRACT

LANDFILL

POLITICAL ADVERTISING

SPECIAL EDUCATION

HEALTH EDUCATION

GAMBLING

AUTOMOBILE INSURANCE

PUBLIC SERVICE EMPLOYEES

GAMBLING

NATIVE HUNTING AND FISHING

TAXICABS

GAMBLING

CLOSURE OF AGRICULTURAL COLLEGE

AUTOMOBILE INSURANCE

CLOSURE OF AGRICULTURAL COLLEGE

AUTOMOBILE INSURANCE

GAMBLING

AUTOMOBILE INSURANCE

CLOSURE OF AGRICULTURAL COLLEGE

ROSALIND BLAUER CENTRE FOR CHILD CARE ACT, 1993

CITY OF TORONTO ACT, 1993

EXTENDED HOURS OF MEETING

RETAIL BUSINESS HOLIDAYS AMENDMENT ACT (SUNDAY SHOPPING), 1993 / LOI DE 1993 MODIFIANT LA LOI SUR LES JOURS FÉRIÉS DANS LE COMMERCE DE DÉTAIL (OUVERTURE DES COMMERCES LE DIMANCHE)


The House met at 1331.

Prayers.

Mr Robert Chiarelli (Ottawa West): On a point of order, Mr Speaker: I don't believe there's a quorum present.

The Speaker (Hon David Warner): Would the table count for a quorum, please.

Clerk Assistant and Clerk of Committees (Ms Deborah Deller): A quorum is not present, Speaker.

The Speaker ordered the bells rung.

MEMBERS' STATEMENTS

EVENTS IN CORNWALL

Mr John C. Cleary (Cornwall): It is that time again when francophones in the Cornwall area celebrate their heritage during La semaine française. During Sunday's parade I was pleased to witness the friendship that existed among the francophone population in my riding. Bonne semaine française à tous les francophones à Cornwall.

I would also like to highlight the 11th annual multicultural festival, which will be held on June 27. Despite financial constraints that had threatened the survival of the festival, I am happy to announce that the 1993 gala of food, music, dance and crafts will proceed with the special assistance of the Cornwall Rotary Club.

This year's exhibition is shaping up to be a great success. I invite all members to join me, the leader of our party and the people of Cornwall and area to visit the civic complex in Cornwall to treat themselves to a multicultural festival beyond compare.

And for the eighth year, Cornwall will host a festival of traditional dance and theatre from July 7 to 11. Worldfest/Festimonde involves international performers. Its popularity has caused the event to grow steadily from what was a three-day, six-country exhibit in 1985.

I am proud to represent a part of Ontario that honours not only Canada's founding cultures but also celebrates the people who have chosen it as their home. Any member of the public looking for a fun holiday should consider taking in one of these activities.

RABIES

Mr Bill Murdoch (Grey): I would like to advise the House and the Minister of Natural Resources of the problem the people of Grey are experiencing with the spread of rabies.

Rabies is a viral disease which attacks the central nervous system. It is spread through saliva, usually through an animal bite, and will kill all affected mammals.

I have received several letters and calls from constituents who fear for the lives of not only their sheep and cattle but their children and their household pets.

The incidence of rabid foxes, skunks and raccoons is on the rise in Grey, and something must be done. I understand that a very successful bait dropping program has been in effect in southeastern Ontario since 1989 and that ministry officials are so pleased with the results that they have prepared a proposal for cabinet's consideration which would expand it to other affected areas of Ontario.

At the present, Mr Minister, your officials tell us that the province is presently spending $25 million a year for case investigation, diagnosis of rabies, livestock indemnity and human vaccinations. We feel that the prevention of the disease would cost no more. I urge you to consult with sportsmen's clubs, which would be delighted to assist you in this endeavour. This partnership with sportsmen and environmentalists would result in the desired elimination of this spreading disease and would greatly ease the concern of farmers who live in constant fear that their livestock and their families are in danger.

I would ask the minister to thoroughly investigate this situation as quickly as possible and press for cabinet approval of your staff's plan to help those desperately in need of it.

CARROUSEL OF THE NATIONS

Mr George Dadamo (Windsor-Sandwich): The Multicultural Council of Windsor and Essex County is proud to present the Carrousel of the Nations 1993. The carrousel takes place in various locations scattered throughout the city of Windsor. These locations of course deliver food, fun, entertainment and cultural displays.

Multicultural is the meshing and sharing of cultures and ideas with others, meant to open doors to new and diverse worlds. These worlds are filled with exciting foods and displays one is normally not exposed to.

The Carrousel of the Nations is the formulation of years of hard work and perseverance by hundreds of volunteers in the city of Windsor and the county of Essex. These volunteer workers work hundreds of hours to put together what amounts to a city-wide entertainment network.

Last weekend was the first weekend of the Carrousel and the beginning of six days of celebrations among all the races. The menu is as varied as the locales. The food fair will delight and tempt everyone. There's German food, Ukrainian, Vietnamese, Polish, Italian and dozens more. This weekend, the culture of India will be situated at St Clair College, Greek at Holy Cross Church on Ellis Street East and Filipino at 935 Northwood Drive in south Windsor. The hours are Friday, 6 pm to 1 am, all the way through Sunday, noon to 10 pm. There are Carrousel passport guidebooks, discount coupons and special lottery numbers for fantastic prizes.

The Multicultural Council of Windsor and Essex County invites everyone to visit all these exciting villages. We celebrate 20 years of racial harmony. The slogan: "Emphasize our similarities; celebrate our differences."

PROVINCIAL PARKS

Mr Michael A. Brown (Algoma-Manitoulin): I'd like to bring to the attention of the House and the people of Ontario the work that this government, and in particular the Minister of Natural Resources, is doing to fundamentally dismantle and abandon the provincial park system.

The provincial parks and natural heritage policy branch of the Ministry of Natural Resources has become the latest casualty of this government in the chaos that it euphemistically describes as management. Under the new and improved Ministry of Natural Resources, responsibility for provincial parks management and policy has been divided and absorbed into different sections of the ministry. This sends a clear signal to Ontarians about the government's lack of commitment to our provincial parks.

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The Federation of Ontario Naturalists has condemned the rationale provided by the ministry for this reorganization. In a letter sent to the minister dated June 10 they state, "The effects of this latest shake-up have dealt what appears to us to be a mortal blow to an already weakened provincial parks system."

Mr Speaker, 1993 marks the 100th anniversary of the provincial parks system in Ontario, a system that started off with the creation of Algonquin Park and has since grown to include 260 parks covering 63,000 square kilometres throughout our province. The NDP has chosen to celebrate this significant milestone by radically and fundamentally altering the provincial government ministry that is responsible for planning and managing these important natural and recreational areas.

ACADEMIC STREAMING

Mrs Dianne Cunningham (London North): My statement is directed to the Minister of Education and Training. Recently I have received approximately 100 letters, most of them addressed to the Premier, from young students in the gifted program at Churchill Heights Public School in Scarborough.

As a result of this government's destreaming initiative that will place all students, regardless of ability, in the same class, these students and their parents are concerned that the Churchill Heights gifted program may soon be eliminated.

I would like to take a moment to read to the minister a few sections from some of the letters.

Steven Abra writes: "This is my first year in the gifted program and I find it much better than the normal program. Last year I found the work very boring and I didn't concentrate on my work very much."

Rex Lam writes: "The gifted program has given me benefits: the challenge of climbing to the top of the class to gain more skills. In my old school I did not have any challenge."

Prasanna Kirupa writes: "In my former school I would finish my work quickly and I had to wait for others to finish. Now I have more fun learning with my new peers."

Minister, are we not striving for excellence for our education system? Do we want to challenge our students so that they will want to learn more, rather than becoming bored and withdrawn? These students will be denied a gifted program when they enter grade 9 because of your education policies. Is it fair? Isn't our education system supposed to provide opportunities for all of our students? Have you studied the success of the special education initiative, Bill 82, for both advanced and learning-disabled students, all students with special needs, before you change the policies that are working in Ontario today?

SMALL BUSINESS

Mr Anthony Perruzza (Downsview): Ontario is at last beginning to recover from the worst recession in my lifetime, certainly the worst recession that all but our senior citizens have ever seen. But in spite of all the initiatives undertaken by our government -- investments in housing, infrastructure and training -- this recovery has been painfully slow in getting on track. I feel that the one group -- small business -- that could do the most to get the economy moving has been held back by the very institutions that should be providing help, and those are the banks.

We all know that small businesses are collectively the largest employers in Ontario. They are the men and women with a dream, a product, a service, and the determination to get things done. But they are starving for capital. At a time when low interest rates can help them to expand, to take on additional staff, the banks have been cutting back on their credit lines and have been making it harder for small businesses to get loans.

Recent amendments to the Small Businesses Loans Act by the federal government have increased the willingness of at least one of the major banks to expand its funds available to small businesses, but more, much more, needs to be done. We all realize that banks are governed by federal regulations and there's a limit to provincial action in this matter; however, at the very least we can speak out and urge the banking industry to play their part in helping to get Ontario back to work by helping small businesses.

ONTARIO STUDENT ASSISTANCE PROGRAM

Mr Hans Daigeler (Nepean): In my previous responsibility as Liberal critic for Colleges and Universities, I tried valiantly to get clarification from the ministry on how Ontario student assistance is distributed. Although the former minister did write me a lengthy letter last fall, my constituents are far from assured about the fairness of the system.

What they're concerned about is the apparent arbitrariness of the approval process. They have seen too many cases where seemingly well-off students receive OSAP, whereas others in less fortunate circumstances are refused. Surely it should be possible to publish a booklet that would detail the guidelines used by the ministry and give some easily understood examples of how all of this works. This is what I suggested to the minister, and the minister noted my advice with interest, but that was the extent of his action.

I call on the new Superminister of Education to do better. Ontarians have a right to judge for themselves whether or not they or their children qualify for OSAP support. At least, they should be able to get a reasonable explanation from the ministry why they were refused. It's simply not good enough for ministry officials to say, "We know best."

My constituents and I are still awaiting the publication of a well-prepared booklet that details the OSAP approval guidelines for the public.

SENIOR CITIZENS

Mr Cameron Jackson (Burlington South): The month of June is dedicated to recognizing the significant contributions made by our senior citizens. It is also a time to pay tribute to those whose efforts on behalf of Ontario seniors have increased the quality of life for all seniors.

I should like to acknowledge my constituent Phyllis Hawkins, whose efforts to meet the varied needs of Burlington seniors earned her an Ontario Senior Achievement Award. Jane Leitch, the president of United Senior Citizens of Ontario, has advocated effectively on behalf of seniors. When faced with the NDP cutbacks to seniors' health care benefits, Jane has been in the forefront with her recommendations on how the government may save money through ways other than the unilateral cutting of seniors' programs. Certainly at no other time in Ontario's history have good advocates on behalf of seniors, like Jane, been needed more.

In Halton, a first-of-its-kind program was developed involving the Halton Regional Elderly Services Advisory Committee, the Halton Regional Police and the OPP, called Seniors and Law Enforcement Together. The SALT initiative takes aim at reducing elder abuse through partnership with seniors, police and the community.

Many seniors' seminars are also being held this month where seniors can learn about how best to deal with specific problems and how they may obtain improved access to needed resources. I am pleased to say that my colleagues Jim Wilson, Bob Runciman, David Turnbull, Charles Harnick, Don Cousens, David Tilson, Chris Stockwell and others have joined with me in promoting such seminars in their ridings.

On behalf of Ontario's seniors, I urge the NDP government to reverse its trend of the cutting and delisting of seniors' services and benefits. During Seniors' Month, let's reflect on the fact that we have an obligation to value our seniors and that they should be able to live with the kind of dignity, respect and security that is their inalienable right.

ENVIRONMENT AWARDS

Mr Noel Duignan (Halton North): It is with great respect and pride that I rise in the Legislature today to congratulate a number of Canadian environmental groups that were recently honoured in Washington.

Members of the Legislature will likely be aware of the US-based Citizens' Clearing House for Hazardous Waste, headed by Lois Gibbs, the famous environmentalist who successfully fought the Love Canal 10 years ago. Her organization acts as a central organization for a tremendous number of environmental groups, local to international, to distribute and share important information and to communicate with each other in the whole area of the environment.

Recently in Washington, the Citizens' Clearing House honoured 14 Canadian environmental groups for their victories and constant efforts promoting a clean environment, protecting public health and safety and advancing the goal of environmental justice for all people. Ralph Nader, the well-known consumer advocate, and Lois Gibbs presented these Environmental Justice awards.

I am proud to announce that of the 14 Canadian awards distributed, 8 went to citizens in my own riding of Halton North. There is a strong environmental movement in my riding, and I believe the rare and natural beauty of the Niagara Escarpment in my riding has a major role in attracting many of those who dedicate their lives to defending the integrity of the environment.

A number of the groups and individuals honoured by Ralph Nader and Lois Gibbs were ICE, Incineration Counteracts the Environment; FOAD, Furiously Opposed to Acton Dumping; HELP, Halton Environmental Land Protectors; Envirowatch; Dr Leonard Landry; Diane Van de Valk; and Rita Landry.

I trust that all members of the Legislature will join with me in honouring these deserving groups and individuals dedicating their lives to protecting the environment.

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ANNUAL REPORT, INFORMATION AND PRIVACY COMMISSIONER, 1992

The Speaker (Hon David Warner): I beg to inform the House that I have today laid upon the table the annual report of the Information and Privacy Commissioner, Ontario, for the period covering January 1, 1992 to December 31, 1992.

Mr Steven W. Mahoney (Mississauga West): On a point of order, Mr Speaker: I'd like to refer you to page 24 of the standing orders of the Legislative Assembly, section 32(a), where it reads:

"A minister of the crown may make a short factual statement relating to government policy, ministry action or other similar matters of which the House should be informed.

"The time allotted to ministerial statements shall not exceed 20 minutes" etc.

Recent events caused me some concern and I would just like, as a part of this point of order, to refer back to comments by the honourable House leader in referring to ministers within the government who sit as ministers without portfolio. I would quote the Honourable Mr Charlton from the April 20, 1993, Hansard: "Ministers without portfolio have been specifically assigned responsibilities for which they have sole carriage."

Hon Floyd Laughren (Deputy Premier and Minister of Finance): Who is the real House leader? Will the real House leader stand up or sit down.

Mr Mahoney: Is the Treasurer having an apoplectic attack? What seems to be the problem?

The Speaker: Order.

Mr Mahoney: I know life is not easy for you these days.

The Speaker: Order. Will the member for Mississauga West address his point to the Chair.

Hon Mr Laughren: I am wondering who the House leader is these days.

Mr Mahoney: Mr Speaker, I'm being interrupted, as so often happens when I try to raise a valid point in this place.

Anyway, that is the point that I make on behalf of the honourable House leader, Mr Charlton. Then it goes on to quote the Premier on that same day in response to a question, where he says:

"So I want to say to the honourable member, the purpose of having larger ministries, of having ministers which in other governments are called ministers of state or associate ministers or ministers delegate, which they are in France or in Germany or in England or in any other place you want to look at, the determination was to have a cabinet which would be smaller, that is to say 20, but a ministry which would be made up of the ministers who are there.

"The ministers without portfolio who are working within ministries are working in association with the minister. They are taking" -- and then there's an interjection. It so happens it was by me, where I say, "That's one of the PA's jobs," and the Premier goes on to say:

"The member opposite shouts and says, 'That's a parliamentary assistant's job.' It is in part, but it is a position that carries with it, obviously, more experience and in which it is possible for that minister without portfolio to carry on a significant job for the government."

My point of order in reference to section 32(a), regarding the factual statement of the minister, would relate to the recent resignation by the junior minister of Health, the member for Perth, and the statement by the Premier that the minister, among other ministers without portfolio, is there to carry on a significant job for the government. My point of order is that we would like to know what the significant job was. We would like the government to tell us who in fact will be carrying out the member's significant job on behalf of the government. In relation to section 32(a) --

The Speaker: The member for Mississauga West will know that he does not have a point of order. However, it sounds as if he may have material for a question during oral questions, which comes along in a few minutes.

Mrs Barbara Sullivan (Halton Centre): Mr Speaker, I rise on a point of order with reference to sections 32(a) and (b) of the standing orders, which read:

"(a) A minister of the crown may make a short factual statement relating to government policy, ministry action or other similar matters of which the House should be informed.

"(b) The time allotted to ministerial statements shall not exceed 20 minutes without the unanimous consent of the House."

Mr Speaker, yesterday and in the six days immediately preceding that, a decision has been made by the government which affects every community in Ontario. The mediator, Dr Graeme McKechnie, has presented his report with respect to negotiations between the Ministry of Health and the Ontario Pharmacists' Association. His recommendations are precise and full and suggest that a joint committee --

The Speaker: Would the member take her seat, please.

Mrs Sullivan: Mr Speaker --

The Speaker: Would the member take her seat. I ask the member to take her seat.

Interjection.

The Speaker: The member will know she does not have a point of order. There is nothing out of order. Would the member please take her seat.

Mrs Sullivan: Mr Speaker, the ministry yesterday --

The Speaker: I ask the member to please take her seat. I must caution the member that if she remains out of order, she will be named. The member does not have a point of order. She knows full well that ministers have the opportunity to make statements; there is no obligation on ministers to make statements.

Mrs Sullivan: On a point of privilege, Mr Speaker: My privileges have been breached because, as Health critic, I've had no information from the Minister of Health. The public's privileges have been breached because they have had no information from the Minister of Health about a singularly important aspect of government policy which is being unilaterally introduced, the mediator's report unilaterally dismissed, and at the same time --

The Speaker: Would the member for Halton Centre please take her seat. She will know that she does not have a point of privilege but, as with the member from Mississauga West, it sounds as if she has material for question period. It should be a lively question period.

ORAL QUESTIONS

SOCIAL CONTRACT

Mrs Lyn McLeod (Leader of the Opposition): My questions today will be to the Deputy Premier, the Minister of Finance for the province of Ontario.

The legislation that this government presented in this House yesterday may be the worst piece of legislation that any of us have ever seen. This government is so desperate to pull something out of the disaster of its social contract talks that it is now ready to impose arbitrary conditions on an absolutely unworkable process, and it achieves not one of the goals that the government itself set out to achieve.

I want to start with the fact that this legislation sets up the government to meet its budget target by deferring the bulk of the cost to some time in the future, some miracle year when supposedly there's going to be lots of money to pay the bills and this government won't be around to deal with the problem.

The legislation very specifically states that if employees are required to take special leave, in other words, unpaid leave instead of their normally paid holidays, the employer will grant an equal number of compensating days to these employees some time in the future. That means up to 36 days of paid leave will be owed to every employee affected.

I ask this Finance minister, in the name of fiscal responsibility, how can you possibly defer these kinds of costs to some time in the future? Have you looked at how many people will be affected by this special category? Will it be all teachers, all hospital workers, ambulance drivers, policemen, firemen? Have you even begun to look at the future cost impact of what you introduced yesterday?

Hon Floyd Laughren (Deputy Premier and Minister of Finance): I appreciate the opportunity to clear up the misinformation put forth by the leader of the official opposition.

The leader of the official opposition would recognize surely that simply the imposition of, for example, 12 mandatory days off in a given period of time in some essential services would not provide the flexibility of scheduling in those essential services only that the legislation recognizes and provides for. I think, just to put things in a bit of perspective, that the leader of the official opposition is trying to paint a picture in which this would apply to the entire public sector in the province. That's simply not the case. But we wanted to make sure that in cases of essential services -- it might be jail guards or ambulance drivers -- it would not be appropriate not to provide that kind of flexibility within the legislation so that scheduling could be done in an appropriate manner.

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Mrs McLeod: That, as the Treasurer well knows, is no answer to the serious question I asked. The question was, how much will it cost, who will it affect and how much will some future government have to pay for this government's sheer stupidity? This is nothing more, this particular clause, than a feeble attempt at appeasement. It is one of a great number of tortured ways the government has used in this bill to avoid calling a spade a spade.

Let me give you another one. This is a wage rollback bill. It is a temporary three-year wage rollback, but it is a wage rollback. You disallow negotiated wage increases. You require people to take unpaid leave if that's necessary to meet your budget targets. That, by any other name, is a wage rollback. I ask why you refuse to acknowledge that you are indeed rolling back wages. Why do you keep pretending this is a wage freeze? You know; you've said it yourself; the Premier said it: A wage freeze is not enough to get you the dollars you need. If you're going to bite the bullet, why don't you bite it and stop trying to avoid it by simply deferring horrendous costs to some time in the future?

Hon Mr Laughren: I'm not sure what the leader of the official opposition means when she says that this is an attempt to appease. Appease whom? I don't know what she's talking about. As far as the language is concerned, what we said from day one was that there must be roughly a 5% reduction in public sector compensation. That's not using avoidance words. That's not pretending it's anything other than that. What we said was that we wanted to achieve expenditure reductions of $4 billion, public sector compensation reductions of $2 billion, and then there was going to be a tax package in the neighbourhood of $2 billion.

If the leader of the official opposition is saying, "You must not do that to the public sector, what you must do is increase taxes by more than $2 billion or reduce expenditures by more than $2 billion," why won't she bite the bullet and say what she really means?

Mrs McLeod: It is smoke and mirrors, and less than being directly up front with people, to try and lull them into believing that simply a wage freeze is enough to achieve your budget targets when you know very well that is not the case. I would say that this bill puts forward other tortured proposals to try and create another illusion, and that's the illusion that you're giving people job security as a tradeoff. No one really believes that this is job security when you put in place a job security fund for laid-off workers.

But what is even more frightening is what you have previously proposed for the redeployment of workers, what you refer to in your legislation simply as something called "sector redeployment," which is going to be further defined, we assume, by regulation in the secretive way this government chooses to operate.

In the appendix to your last offer, and this is why we're concerned, the government said that employees who are being supported by the job security fund must accept a job for which they are qualified -- in another piece of legislation this would be called deeming -- and employees furthermore will be eligible for similar and related employment within a reasonable geographic area both within and between sectors.

I say to you that this would be a nightmare. I want your assurance that you will not, through a regulatory process which we never see, put this kind of a nightmare into place.

Hon Mr Laughren: Once again, I think the leader of the official opposition is reading something into this legislation that's not there.

Mr Steven W. Mahoney (Mississauga West): Firstly, we don't trust you, Floyd.

The Speaker (Hon David Warner): Order.

Hon Mr Laughren: I'm not asking you to trust me. I'm just saying to the leader of the official opposition that I believe a job security fund and redeployment among sectors is to the benefit of people in the public sector. That's why I think it's terribly important that there be sectoral funds, sectoral agreements, so there will be an understanding that if an employee is laid off in one institution, for example, there will be an opportunity for that person to be employed in another institution, because some institutions will be expanding, some will be contracting and so forth.

I think, to be fair, the redeployment language which was at the social contract table, I might add, as well, is something that is of potentially enormous benefit to employees in this province and, quite frankly, important in the restructuring of government all across Ontario.

The Speaker: New question.

Mrs McLeod: I say to the minister that I only hope people listen very carefully to what he just said because it is absolutely, completely unworkable. I am even more alarmed than I was before I asked the question that this is exactly the direction this government is going to take. If this government set out to create the most cumbersome, unworkable, irresponsible legislation it could possibly devise, it has certainly been successful in that one respect, at least.

Last week, the Premier said, "Comprehensive solutions will not work." He said he had heard that message from both employers and employees. He heard it eight weeks too late, but at least he finally heard it. We thought that the legislation you were bringing in yesterday would finally open up local negotiations to achieve the financial targets that you put in place. Instead of that, we have an unbelievable process that is not even going to be able to get off the ground. Let me just describe it.

You have put in place the process of sectoral negotiations that have to lead to agreements, that meet government's conditions and then get the minister's approval, we assume yours, although that's not even specified. Then you have to have local negotiations to reach 9,000 local agreements that fit with the sectoral agreement. Then there is an appeal and a sort of arbitration process if employees feel they have not been dealt with fairly, and all of this has to be done by perhaps August 10 at the very latest.

I ask you in all seriousness, do you really believe this can work? Has anybody over there ever negotiated a collective agreement?

Hon Mr Laughren: I would say to the leader of the official opposition that any number of my colleagues on this side have individually negotiated more contracts than every member on that side combined, I suspect. Lots of our members have done that.

Interjections.

The Speaker: Order.

Hon Mr Laughren: It doesn't take much to tease the bears today, Mr Speaker.

Interjections.

The Speaker: Order.

Hon Mr Laughren: Gee whiz. I would say to the leader of the official opposition that the legislation does indeed allow for individual agreements at the local level. It encourages sectoral agreements, because we think that in the long run that's much better and allows for redeployment to take place across the sector and so forth. If anything, this legislation both encourages and provides an incentive for agreements at the local level and for sectoral agreements as well.

It seems to me that's a responsible way in which to encourage people to reach an agreement. At the same time, we recognize the fact that this may not happen, just as it didn't happen at the social contract table, and because of that we need legislation that says that if this is not achieved by August 1, then the legislation takes effect. I think that's the most fair and reasonable way in which to proceed.

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Mrs McLeod: I actually did make an assumption that there were some people over there who had some idea of what it takes to reach an agreement. That's why we cannot understand how you could put this absolute insanity into legislation. The fact is that I just don't think there are any longer any really constructive or workable ways to get us out of the absolute mess that this government has created.

We supported your need to find $2 billion in cost reductions in public sector compensation. We said, "Set your financial targets, negotiate with your employees to achieve those targets, and give other employers and employees the tools that they need to achieve the goals you set." Instead of that, we have had eight wasted weeks of a social contract circus and the situation now is made even worse, which I hardly thought was possible.

Why did you have no faith that people could actually find better ways to meet the financial bottom lines that you put in place? Why did you not give local negotiations a chance to work?

Hon Mr Laughren: Now let me get this straight. I want to be perfectly clear. I don't want to misrepresent her position, because I think I've found one. The leader of the official opposition says that she and her colleagues support -- I presume this means the entire Liberal caucus, including the House leader -- the target of $2 billion, support the target of achieving that $2 billion in public sector compensation, support our attempts to get it through the negotiating process. I think that's what I heard her say.

Mrs McLeod: No, a basic difference: not your attempts; they're disasters.

Hon Mr Laughren: Oh, so now wait a minute. Now she's not supporting the attempt to get it through negotiations. So presumably she has now bought into the Mike Harris bang, bang, bang way of achieving the reduction targets.

I want to tell the leader of the official opposition that while the social contract table didn't work, I will never regret for one moment our attempt, a serious attempt, to achieve the reductions through collective bargaining, because I think that was worth the effort even though it failed, and we feel so strongly about it that we're willing to give it another six weeks, till the end of July. I don't see why that's such a ridiculous proposal. Perhaps you don't have the faith in the exercise that we do, and I don't expect you to have, but if we're able to achieve an agreement worked out by employees and employers, then I think that's the best solution.

Mrs McLeod: It is exactly because I had faith that people could work out better solutions than can be imposed by this government on 9,000 collective agreements that I said in April, before you ever devised this social contract nonsense, that this government had two responsibilities. The first was to bring in a realistic and responsible budget that would set financial targets, and the other was to negotiate with its own employees for whom it was responsible to negotiate. You never even began to put in place a process like that which had a hope of working from the beginning. That is why I am just so totally frustrated today that after all the time and all the anguish, we are actually now, in June, in mid-June, further behind than we were eight weeks ago.

I just say to you, Minister, that these are critical times, that people are frustrated and anxious, that we desperately need strong leadership in this province, that we needed strong leadership last fall when you knew your budget was in trouble and did nothing about it, and we needed strong leadership even more when finally you convinced somebody that you had to deal with your deficit problem. We still need it, and I wonder when we are going to get leadership that deals with reality. When are we going to get some leadership that works?

Hon Mr Laughren: I gather rhetorical questions are in order today. That's certainly what that was.

I would say to the leader of the official opposition that we did bring in a budget that set targets. We did that. We did set up a negotiating process with our employees. That's what you're now saying we should have done, and we did it. We did it for about eight weeks. The fact that it didn't work surely is a separate argument. Negotiations don't always come to a successful conclusion. I hope you appreciate that.

The leader of the official opposition is saying she doesn't like what we did and what we're doing, but she hasn't told me what it is that she would have done. I suspect that if the leader of the official opposition were standing over here now, she'd do what they did between 1985 and 1990: raise taxes, spend more money, layer program on top of program on top of program.

For the first time, there's a government in this province that recognizes the problem and is dealing with it head-on and is not running away from a difficult problem. We're dealing with it.

Mr W. Donald Cousens (Markham): My question is for the Minister of Finance. For the past eight years, you and the Liberals have increased the size and the scope of government to the point now where we just can't afford it any more. The costs are out of sight; the size is beyond our ability to pay for it. Finally, it's become so obvious even to you that you've had to do something about it, and we see the social contract legislation.

The problem is that you've still missed the point. My leader has made it very clear that he and our party will amend your legislation, because it is not about downsizing government, it's about downsizing Bob Rae's political baggage, if anything. So I ask you a very simple and straightforward question: Why is there nothing in your legislation to encourage your transfer partners to downsize? Why is there nothing in this legislation to act as an incentive to limiting the size and scope of government?

Hon Mr Laughren: The purpose of the legislation is to reduce compensation in the public sector, and as part of the whole process -- I think the member for Markham would understand this -- we are encouraging early retirement, voluntary exits. As to the broader public service out there, the reduced expenditures have already taken place, in one sense, in our expenditure reduction program, which was $4 billion worth of downsizing out there, if you will, and now we are taking $2 billion more out of public sector compensation.

I know the Conservative opposition would opt for a much tougher position on slashing programs and jobs in the public sector. I understand that. His leader's been very clear on that. What I think we've done is to take a very responsible position by raising some taxes, by reducing expenditures and by reducing public sector compensation. I think that's a much more reasonable solution and it protects jobs and services out there all across the province.

I can tell the member opposite that if he thinks he can simply wave a wand and reduce expenditures without affecting the services that people out there want, he's sadly mistaken.

Mr Cousens: The last thing we need is to have you telling the Conservatives what our policies are. We've had enough difficulty getting you to come to the realization that you've got a problem. You've finally realized it, but for you to come along and say that we have policies to axe and tax the way you are doing, you're absolutely wrong. Our policies don't begin to do the long-term damage you're talking about, but you have not begun to address the long-term solutions. What you've got is a short-term fix to a long-term structural problem.

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At the end of three years, the government will be the same size, if not bigger, than today. In 1996, employees who have taken a wage freeze for three years will be asking for large increases to make up for the freeze, and for those employees who banked their vacation time because of enforced unpaid time off, government may have to make massive payouts or be saddled with unmanageable amounts of time off.

Can you tell those of us who come to clean up the mess three years from now just how much your short-term fix will cost Ontario in the long run?

Hon Mr Laughren: The exact opposite is the case. What we've done on the expenditure reduction side is to take out $4 billion in expenditures. That becomes annualized every year, in the form of reduced expenditures every single year. On the public compensation side, the $2 billion in expenditure reductions is not a one-year program; it's not a deferral of public sector compensation. To answer the member directly, this is a long-term solution to expenditures in the province and to public sector compensation so that we can put the financial house of Ontario back in order for the first time in a long time.

Mr Cousens: I don't think you're reading the same legislation that we are, because what you're saying is 12 days off this year, 12 off the next year, 12 off then, and then what happens? They're all going to be wanting their time off and they're back into the whole long-term problem again.

Structurally, you have not begun to deal with the long-term problem. What you're doing is short-term, it's panic-driven, it's nothing more than a fix to '96. You're grasping for anything to help meet your targets, regardless of the long-term effects.

The Premier himself has said that the wage and price controls imposed by Pierre Trudeau in the 1970s led to a catching up by the unions in the 1980s. That's what ultimately was destructive to the economy, and it forced prices up.

I ask you again, how can your plan work? It's so full of short-term approaches rather than a long-term structural reform of the government.

Hon Mr Laughren: His own leader, rather than taking a long-term, responsible, reasonable approach to the problem said: "Go get 'em. Bang, bang, bang." You tell me that's responsible and a thoughtful way of downsizing the public sector in this province? Absolutely not.

I can tell the member opposite, if his colleague behind him will stop frothing at the mouth, that what we've done is to downsize the public sector, reduce compensation in the public sector, and if you'll read the legislation, you will understand. I think you're making the same mistake the leader of the official opposition did: that the deferrals to which you refer deal only with difficult situations with essential public services, not for the public sector at large.

TRANSPORTATION OF WASTE

Mr David Tilson (Dufferin-Peel): I have a question for the Minister of Environment and Energy. You're the minister who's responsible for overseeing the three superdumps in the greater Toronto area. I will tell you that the Interim Waste Authority has recently asked Canadian Pacific and Canadian National railways to provide quotes on the construction of necessary rail infrastructure to ship waste to each of the sites identified as the potential landfill sites in the greater Toronto area regions.

Are you aware of this request by the Interim Waste Authority, and do you support it?

Hon Bud Wildman (Minister of Environment and Energy): The answer to the first question is yes; the answer to the second one is, I'll wait to see what the results might be.

Mr Tilson: As you're no doubt aware, the Canadian National Railway has been working with other interests to have Metro's waste shipped to the abandoned Adams mine site outside Kirkland Lake. This system is already in place, the rail line is already in place, the infrastructure is already there.

Obviously, the recent proposal by the Interim Waste Authority to consider shipping waste by rail from Toronto to Georgina will require major investments and construction at a time when this province can't afford them. We have your Treasurer on the one hand saying you're going to cut civil servants, and on the other hand you're saying you're going to build a new railway.

The IWA has already spent some $30 million, as of the end of April, on a questionable process. How can you possibly justify spending more money on new railway lines when you already have a complete system in northern Ontario?

Hon Mr Wildman: I don't justify it; it wasn't my idea. Any suggestion that will be considered will have to be considered by the IWA very seriously before coming to any conclusions as it might relate to any particular site that might be chosen, and then if it is part of a proposal that is decided upon by the IWA through its thorough process, it will be subject to the environmental assessment process. All of those processes will determine whether or not they are economically, environmentally and socially acceptable.

Mr Tilson: You know, the difficulty is that you say you didn't. Of course, your government was the government that created Bill 143, and that was the start of this whole process which simply is looking at the superdumps in the greater Toronto area and not looking at anything else, notwithstanding that there's an area that's prepared to consider the long rail haul.

Your essential assumption behind Bill 143 was that communities will not initiate the 3R activities with a distant landfill site, if it's located beyond its immediate region. That was your essential assumption. The record of the city of Seattle, as I'm sure you are aware, totally destroys your theory. This city has one of the most progressive waste reduction programs in North America. While the target you announced several weeks ago was 50% diversion by the year 2000, Seattle has achieved 60%, yet all of this is being accomplished while it's sending its waste to a site 325 miles away from the city.

The system is now in place to consider sending waste by rail to Kirkland Lake --

The Speaker (Hon David Warner): Could the member place a question, please.

Mr Tilson: I'm asking the question, Mr Speaker. Why will you not allow this to be compared to sites selected in the greater Toronto area? Why will you not allow the site in Kirkland Lake to be considered by the Interim Waste Authority?

Hon Mr Wildman: The member is fully aware that I've stated and the government has stated clearly that if a proponent wishes to initiate an environmental assessment on any proposal with regard to any site, whether it be rail haul or otherwise, they are welcome to do it.

RACE RELATIONS

Mr Alvin Curling (Scarborough North): My question is to the Deputy Premier. The Deputy Premier should be aware of the increased activities of hate groups across the province. We've seen a recent spate of violent, racially motivated criminal attacks, which has heightened the concern in all segments of our society. The people of this province want to know what specific plan is in place to deal with increased racial tensions and to protect those innocent citizens who have been victimized by these hate groups.

Hon Floyd Laughren (Deputy Premier): The Attorney General is not here today, nor is the Minister of Citizenship --

Mr Steven Offer (Mississauga North): We know that.

Hon Mr Laughren: If you'll let me finish. One reason they are not here is that they are at the anti-racism round table, which for the first time is allowing people to have direct access to political decision-makers in this province. I think that's an important initiative, and those are the kinds of issues they'll be dealing with at the round table.

I agree with the member for Scarborough North that there are no more important issues than the ones he is raising in this regard, and I'm hoping that some of the advice that will come forward from the round table will be helpful.

Mr Curling: I have no doubt at all about the sincerity of the Deputy Premier and the apologies for all these ministers not here, but all they do is talk the talk and never walk the walk. We have more discussions going on and groups getting together to find out what we should do. These groups want to know, what action are you taking, Deputy Premier?

Three groups had press conferences today: the B'Nai Brith, the Human Rights Commission and the Urban Alliance on Race Relations. They're appealing to you, appealing to this government to live up to some of the promises -- not the talk, not the rhetoric, not the apologies that they are not here, around a round table, because it doesn't solve racial problems in this province.

These groups suggested that this government has not committed enough resources to deal with hate literature and hate groups. Furthermore, they are calling for amendments to the Human Rights Code that would facilitate the commission's ability to deal with hate literature and hate groups. They were promised some time ago that you would have dealt with this issue. When are you going to act and stop talking?

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Hon Mr Laughren: Normally the member for Scarborough North is very fair in his comments, but I really think he's being unfair in this regard.

One of the signals that has come to us from the individuals most affected by racism or hate literature has been that they want to be part of the decision- making process. They want to have input into the way in which we should address these very serious problems.

I'm not sure whether or not I heard the member for Scarborough North saying that he didn't approve of the anti-racism round table process, because I think he's wrong: People all across the province who are most affected by racist tactics are the very ones who are endorsing the whole idea of a round table. All wisdom does not reside in government, and I think it's a very good process to have direct input from people who are most affected by the problems to which the member refers, and I know the Attorney General is herself dealing directly with these problems at the round table. So I hope that the member for Scarborough North will allow us that, that at least we're trying to do something about it and we're meeting directly with people who are most affected by it.

The Speaker: New question, the member for Etobicoke West.

SOCIAL CONTRACT

Mr Chris Stockwell (Etobicoke West): Thank you, Mr Stock -- that's me -- Mr Speaker.

My question is to the Finance minister. This piece of legislation, apparently your piece of legislation, has been pretty much universally condemned as being chaotic and incomplete. The unions don't like it; your alleged partners don't like it; there appears to be diminishing support within your own caucus, as every day we hear of a new member who's gone astray.

Hon Bud Wildman (Minister of Environment and Energy and Minister Responsible for Native Affairs): Every day?

Mr Stockwell: Well, every day: It's only been out for a couple and you've lost two, so I can only say "every day."

In a matter of seven months you're asking municipalities to compress cost-cuttings for a full year. For 5% wage rollbacks it means they're going to have to look at an 8% to 10% wage rollback. For one person laid off they're going to have to look at two people laid off.

Your partners have said that this is going to cause a chaotic situation in the municipal sector, in education, in the hospitals. We're not talking about not cutting a lawn one day, we're talking about not doing open-heart surgery.

Can you not understand the chaotic mess that you're going to create if you continue down this single-minded, error-prone road? Would you please contact your partners and meet with them and decide exactly how much of an impact this is going to make on them and possibly rethink the position of this government?

Hon Floyd Laughren (Minister of Finance): I knew that when the leader of the third party was absent today the member for Etobicoke West would have a chance to ask a question, and I welcome him.

It's the first time I've seen the Tory opposition in this House question the need for expenditure reductions, so I'm not sure what the member for Etobicoke West is saying. On one specific point he raised, however, such as the municipalities attempting to achieve reductions in the balance of the fiscal year, I indicated yesterday, and certainly the municipalities know this, that while there's only from now till the end of December for the calendar year, there is from now until the end of next March for our fiscal year, and that is the year in which the savings must be achieved, not necessarily in the fiscal year of the municipalities or our other social partners out there. I disagree with the member for Etobicoke West that there's only a half a year left in the fiscal year in which to achieve these savings. There is most of this fiscal year to achieve the savings.

Mr Stockwell: Mr Minister, we're not opposed to cost reductions. We've never suggested we're opposed. You see, the difference between this party and yours is, we're in favour of planned, reasonable, acceptable cost reductions that the partners understand and the community accepts. That's the difference. What you have done is create a complete and utter mess, an incompetent piece of legislation, and suggesting that we're not in favour of reductions compounds your problem, because you have no friends left. You may as well cultivate the few you potentially have.

I say to the minister, we are not opposed to the processes. We understand that if they're going to get these cuts in place, the best they'll do is September 1. We know an August 1 deadline can't be implemented till September 1. Take your fiscal year, and there are only seven months left. Now, be straight with the people. Be upfront. If you're going to make cuts in seven but you insist on a full year, if you still have this disbelief you're going to get your $2 billion, then tell your partners outright that for every job they lay off there are going to be two; for every 5% rollback --

The Speaker (Hon David Warner): Would the member place a question, please.

Mr Stockwell: -- it's going to be 10%; for every pay pause day it's going to be two; and three years out, whoever sits on that side of the House is going to be faced with a huge, huge bill from your short-term fix for '96.

The Speaker: Would the member place a question.

Mr Stockwell: Be frank and upfront, Minister. You can't possibly tell me you can save 12 months' worth of saving in seven and not have a chaotic --

The Speaker: Does the member have a question?

Mr Stockwell: -- painful mess out there.

Hon Mr Laughren: I'll pretend I heard a question in that rant. First of all, it's reassuring to hear the Tory party call for central planning in the province of Ontario. The next thing they'll be calling for are five-year plans.

The member for Etobicoke West, my friend, should understand that the reductions to our transfer partners out there don't start in October or September or August; they start on July 1, and the fiscal year ends next March 31. That's not five months or seven months; that's almost the entire fiscal year. So I wish the member for Etobicoke West would stop trying to frighten people out there --

Mr Stockwell: When's the deal?

Hon Mr Laughren: The member for Etobicoke West, all I'd ask him to do is sit down and think about it. July 1 to next March 31 is the length of time during which the savings must be achieved.

HEALTH PROFESSIONS

Mr David Winninger (London South): My question is for the Minister of Health regarding the right of psychologists to admit patients to Ontario's hospitals. As you are aware, psychologists have provided services in hospitals for 75 years and have been a regulated profession for 40 years. They have a high level of training and education and play a unique and vital role in our hospital system in promoting wellness.

Under the Regulated Health Professions Act, psychologists have the right to diagnose and treat mental disorders, yet psychologists do not have the right to admit patients to hospitals, even though studies show psychological intervention reduces costs through a decreased length of hospitalization. In cases where a psychologist has an acutely suicidal patient, that psychologist will have no right to admit a patient to a hospital.

I would ask you whether you are considering implementing a necessary change to allow psychologists the right to admit their patients to hospitals and when psychologists can expect your decision.

Hon Ruth Grier (Minister of Health): I've had an opportunity to meet with representatives of the profession and I understand the vital role that psychologists play in the hospital system. I have to say in response to the member's question that the decision about hospital privileges for the professions, particularly those under the Regulated Health Professions Act, is going to be part of the ongoing review of the Public Hospitals Act.

As the member is aware, there has been some consultation around some changes to the Public Hospitals Act. We are currently reviewing feedback from those public hearings, which were held across the province last summer. I must also say to him that the matter of practice privileges is a broader issue than just hospital privileges and requires more study of both policy and legislative implications.

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Mr Winninger: Do you have at this time a definite time line for consideration of the recommendations being made on the basis of your public consultation and, in the meantime, what are we to tell the psychologists with regard to their consumer-based desire to gain the admitting right for their patients?

Hon Mrs Grier: I'm afraid I can't at this point give the member a definite time line. As I said, there has been consultation around the Public Hospitals Act. We are currently reviewing that, and I would certainly hope that before the end of this year we might have some amendments in the House. But it is a broad issue and an issue that will require some considerable consultation both with this profession and with other professions before we come to a definitive conclusion.

OZONE-DEPLETING SUBSTANCES

Mr Steven Offer (Mississauga North): I have a question to the Minister of Environment and Energy. Last month you released a regulation ostensibly to deal with substances that critically damage the ozone layer and threaten human health as a result. Your regulation includes hydrofluorocarbons, which have absolutely no ozone-depleting potential -- in other words, they pose no threat to the ozone layer -- but excludes halons, which are used in fire extinguishers and which constitute as much as 40% of ozone-depleting substances.

Why have you chosen to ignore a major source of ozone-layer destruction and include instead one that poses absolutely no threat at all?

Hon Bud Wildman (Minister of Environment and Energy): I thank the member for his question. He will know that when I made the announcement I made it clear why we were including what we did, beyond CFCs themselves. He'll also know that I announced that we will be dealing with halons this fall, and we will have a regulation to deal with the spray elements and the uses in things like fire extinguishers and so on this fall, so that by the end of the year we will have a regulation that will cover 100% of the ozone-depleting substances.

Mr Offer: There's no question that the regulation that has been introduced by the minister involves a substance which has no ozone-layer depletion effect whatsoever and excludes one that does.

Parents are concerned about the amount of sunlight they and their children receive. There is widespread concern about direct sunlight. Children do not go out of doors now without hats, without sunblock. This past weekend the ultraviolet radiation levels were as high as 8.4 on the UV scale.

When can the people of Ontario expect your government to take concrete action in protecting their health and their environment through regulating all sources of ozone-depleting substances in the province and excluding those substances which have no impact on the ozone layer whatsoever?

Hon Mr Wildman: I can only conclude from that question that the member didn't listen to my first answer. I told him that we would have regulations dealing with halons this fall, so that by the end of the year we will have 100% of ozone-depleting substances covered by the regulation.

We all share the concern about UV exposure in sunlight, and the concern is shared by all members of the House and all who are concerned about the environment. That is why we are moving so quickly to have such a comprehensive regulation that will be the leading regulation of all jurisdictions in North America, and I welcome the member's support for our efforts.

SOCIAL CONTRACT

Mr David Johnson (Don Mills): My question is to the Minister of Finance. The municipalities are still totally confused by your announcements on the social contract, but I must say they are still trying to help with your deficit. You have said to freeze wages. Most municipalities have already frozen wages. You have said to have the employees take a day off without pay.

There will be no negotiated agreements before July 1. There will be no negotiated agreements before August 1. As a matter of fact, before it gets implemented, practically it could well be September 1. That will leave the municipalities with either seven or eight months by the end of March that you've indicated as their deadline. There won't be enough months to make the savings. There will have to be layoffs.

What the municipalities would like to know is how much do you expect from the municipalities, how much of a cut will they have to take, not only by the end of your fiscal year, but they need to plan on their fiscal year. Will you tell them how much will they have to cut by the end of their fiscal year, which will probably be about three or four months after this has been legislated, December 31, 1993?

Hon Floyd Laughren (Minister of Finance): To the member for Don Mills, I think it's a fair question. Each municipality will receive, probably tomorrow -- the letters have been approved already -- from the Minister of Municipal Affairs a letter which provides to it its reduction target, not only its own but everyone else's as well, every other municipality's as well, because I think it's appropriate that they see the whole picture of other municipalities. It has been indicated to them that the transfer reductions will take place and that they will be encouraged to work out whatever system they can.

I don't know, quite frankly, whether or not there is going to be a sectoral agreement in the municipal sector. I can't answer that question. But I do believe that through a combination of the freeze which will be dropped into place, if it's done voluntarily or through the legislation, along with numbers of days off, it should look after the bulk of the problem. I have never said, nor would I say now, that I don't think there may be some layoffs associated with this exercise; that is, it is conceivable that there will have to be some.

The Speaker (Hon David Warner): Would the minister conclude his response, please.

Hon Mr Laughren: It is my hope that will be minimized.

Mr David Johnson: In your response you continue to put a great deal of emphasis on the days off, the pause days, although the municipalities, in my estimation, will have only seven or eight months to implement that policy. The problem is that municipalities have different areas of jurisdiction. For example, in day care and homes for the aged there are legislated staff complements. They cannot have people take pause days. They must have staff in place.

There are essential services -- the police. I understand from your previous response that these are not all of the public servants across the province of Ontario, but we are talking about thousands and thousands of people in legislated areas. In essential services there are 6,000 police officers in Metropolitan Toronto alone, 72,000 pause days, about $14 million a year worth of pause days.

The Speaker: Would the member place a question.

Mr David Johnson: What do you expect the municipalities to do in those situations? Do you expect them to bank those days for three years? What is the cost? What sort of cost have you estimated that the taxpayer will have to pick up after three years, the burden on the taxpayer at the end of the social contract?

Hon Mr Laughren: There's no question whatsoever that as we go about this exercise of downsizing government and of reducing expenditures in the public sector through compensation, days off and so forth, it's going to be felt at the local level in the delivery of services. There's absolutely no question about that. People must understand that when they call for lower expenditures, cuts in government, that's what it translates into at the end of the day. There is no avoidance of that. There is no easy way out of that.

All I would say to the member for Don Mills is that it's going to require employees and, in this case, municipal employers to sit down and work these things out in the most creative way possible. If the member is asking me what's going to happen in 1996, I think at that point there already will have been a freeze, presumably for three years.

At that point the days off to achieve the overall public sector reduction targets will have been achieved and municipal governments, as the provincial government, I hope, at that point will have gone through a restructuring exercise that will allow them to deliver their services in a more cost-efficient and effective way.

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LANDFILL

Mr Larry O'Connor (Durham-York): My question is for the Minister of Environment and Energy. As you may be aware or not aware, on Saturday, June 5, several hundred Georgina residents came to Toronto. They walked from Nathan Phillips Square to Queen's Park to a rally.

The community is united behind an environmental group called GAG, Georgina Against Garbage. They held the rally here in Toronto to make the people of this city aware of the garbage crisis. They have very many concerns, and so do I, about the Interim Waste Authority process, the potential damage to the local community up there and to Lake Simcoe.

If you were to drive down Woodbine Avenue -- and I invite you to take the trip some time -- you'd see many signs along the side of the road. In fact there's one every 20 seconds as you drive which shows how many trucks will be going down it.

My question is, will the IWA take a look in consideration of the huge potential negative impact the truck traffic will have on the local environment as well as the wellbeing of Lake Simcoe?

Hon Bud Wildman (Minister of Environment and Energy): The answer is yes.

Mr O'Connor: When you take into consideration the distance between downtown Toronto and that remote community that I represent up in Georgina, it's a huge distance. What I want to know is, will the IWA take seriously in the selection criteria, the process, this whole distance, because it's a huge distance?

Hon Mr Wildman: I appreciate the comments from my colleague. I know of his concern as well as his constituents' and I appreciate the fact that he has raised this matter so vociferously on behalf of the communities in his riding, particularly Georgina, over the last number of months.

Obviously the IWA, in choosing sites, will have to take into account questions of transportation. We had an earlier question during question period on this today. The decisions with regard to truck traffic, which are very important to the people of the area, as well as the quality of Lake Simcoe, will be central to deciding how a site should be selected. The IWA will take those matters into account in choosing a site.

Then again, whatever site is chosen, as I've said so many times in this House, will be subject to a full environmental assessment, and questions of transportation, truck traffic, dust, noise, effects on the local communities and environmental effects on water quality will be matters which will be central to any environmental assessment.

POLITICAL ADVERTISING

Mrs Elinor Caplan (Oriole): My question is to the Chair of Management Board. A few days ago I asked the Premier a question about wasteful advertising expenditures to advertise the budget. The Premier admitted that you are wasting over $300,000 of taxpayers' money on NDP propaganda in several major newspapers.

Today I have yet another example of wasteful expenditure and wasteful spending habits. It seems that you have distributed yet another piece of advertising on the budget which proudly advertises a 1-800 number that people can call for answers about your budget. When people call this number, they're simply referred to the federal government. How can you justify a 1-800 number, costing the taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars, that simply refers them to the federal government?

Hon Brian A. Charlton (Chair of the Management Board of Cabinet): I'm not aware of the 1-800 number the member refers to, but the publication she's holding up is not a government publication. It is in fact a caucus publication.

Mrs Caplan: The number advertised in this piece of advertising is the budget hotline number. When a constituent called that number to ask about provincial income tax increases in your budget, to her utter amazement she was referred to the federal Department of Revenue. She was just told, "Call Revenue Canada," and she was shocked.

You have provided, at taxpayers' expense, a 1-800 number designed to answer questions about your budget, yet when people call, they are simply referred to Revenue Canada. I say to you today -- you're always asking for good ideas -- why don't you simply scrap this number and in your self-serving advertising put the number to the federal government directly? Why have a 1-800 number that simply refers people to Revenue Canada? Will you scrap this 1-800 number and simply advertise the Revenue Canada number and save the taxpayers of Ontario hundreds of thousands of dollars of waste?

Hon Mr Charlton: I think I could deal with a number of the issues the member has raised here. I want to start out by making it very clear -- because the member implied in both her original question and her supplementary that we had wasted government money on the publication in question -- it is not a government publication.

Secondly, I'm not familiar with the specific number the member is referring to. She obviously says it's a Ministry of Finance number. I'm prepared to look into that matter. I would assume it is a number that deals with questions associated with the budget and specific tax matters in the budget. However, the member will know that any publication put out that's intended to provide people with information sometimes has to provide people with information from other levels of government as well as this one.

PETITIONS

SPECIAL EDUCATION

Mr Hugh O'Neil (Quinte): Yesterday I had the opportunity to present a number of petitions from the Sir James Whitney School in Belleville, being from students, parents, teachers and members of the union at that school. Again I would like to present this petition today which consists of in the range of about 1,500 people who have signed it. It reads:

"To the Parliament of Ontario:

"Whereas the Ministry of Education proposes to substantially modify the provincial schools for the deaf and learning-disabled by either downsizing, closing parts of or restructuring the schools, resulting in significant hardship for students, families, employees and the local community, for the purpose of saving money; and

"Whereas the Sir James Whitney Parents' Association believe that quality education delivered today within the current provincial schools for the deaf and learning-disabled provides the lowest total-cost option available while allowing deaf students to wholly develop within their own culture and to receive the best education possible,

"We, the undersigned, petition the Parliament of Ontario as follows:

"(1) Maintain the current provincial schools for the deaf and learning-disabled until an acceptable model from all interested parties has been developed; and

"(2) Empower local boards of trustees, as set out in model 5, to manage their own budgets within ministry guidelines and funding."

I have affixed my signature to this petition.

HEALTH EDUCATION

Mr Jim Wilson (Simcoe West): I have a petition that's signed by some 400 people from my part of Simcoe county. It reads as follows:

"We, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario as follows:

"Whereas the Toronto Board of Education is already endangering the health of children, discriminating against heterosexuals by distributing the dangerous and heterophobic sexual orientation guide as well as the so-called AIDS education flyers which condone and recommend buggery and teaching that anal sex with a condom is safe; and

"Whereas the Education Act guarantees the right to withdraw from instruction that is in conflict with the religious belief held by a student, guardian or parent,

"We demand that the Ministry of Education immediately prohibit any instruction in the school system that offends against the Criminal Code or conflicts with the personal values and beliefs of most people, including the teaching of homosexuality, any homosexual counselling and any homosexual hotline service in the schools or promoted by the schools and the distribution by any person of so-called AIDS education flyers."

This is signed by some 400 people from Collingwood, Stayner and throughout my Simcoe West riding, and I too have affixed my name to this petition.

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GAMBLING

Ms Christel Haeck (St Catharines-Brock): I'm presenting a petition that contains the signatures of 26 constituents from the St Catharines-Niagara area, and it relates to casinos. The "Be it resolved" reads:

"Therefore, we, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario as follows:

"That the government of Ontario cease all moves to establish gambling casinos."

I have affixed my signature to the petition.

AUTOMOBILE INSURANCE

Mr Steven Offer (Mississauga North): I have a petition to the Legislative Assembly and the Lieutenant Governor of Ontario:

"Whereas the people of Ontario are undergoing economic hardship, high unemployment and are faced with the prospect of imminent tax increases; and

'Whereas the Ontario motorist protection plan currently delivers cost-effective insurance benefits to Ontario drivers; and

"Since the passing of Bill 164 into law will result in higher automobile insurance premiums for Ontario drivers,

"We, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario as follows:

"That Bill 164 be withdrawn."

I have affixed my signature to this petition.

PUBLIC SERVICE EMPLOYEES

Mr Robert W. Runciman (Leeds-Grenville): I have a petition addressed to the Honourable the Lieutenant Governor and the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

"We, the following undersigned citizens of Leeds and Grenville, members of Ontario Public Service Employees Union, Local 440, employed at the Brockville Jail, beg leave to petition the Parliament of Ontario as follows:

"The Ontario government must immediately reset its course to build an Ontario society which is fair and just, protecting those who are most vulnerable within it, and not scapegoat public sector workers in times of economic difficulty.

"Further, the government must respect these fundamental principles: free collective bargaining, a strong public sector and the strengthening of public services."

I have affixed my signature in support.

GAMBLING

Mr Dennis Drainville (Victoria-Haliburton): I have a petition that adds some more signatures to the thousands that we have presented against casino gambling in the province of Ontario:

"To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

"Whereas the New Democratic Party government has not consulted the citizens of the province regarding the expansion of gambling; and

"Whereas families are made more emotionally and economically vulnerable by the operation of various gaming and gambling ventures; and

"Whereas creditable academic studies have shown that state-operated gambling is nothing more than a regressive tax on the poor; and

"Whereas the New Democratic Party has in the past vociferously opposed the raising of moneys for the state through gambling; and

"Whereas the government has not attempted to address the very serious concerns that have been raised by groups and individuals regarding the potential growth in crime;

"Therefore, we, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario as follows:

"That the government immediately cease all moves to establish gambling casinos and refrain from introducing video lottery terminals in the province of Ontario."

I am very glad to affix my signature against this terrible bill.

Mr Jim Wiseman (Durham West): Mr Speaker, as you are no doubt aware, members of the executive branch cannot read petitions into the Legislature, so I have been asked by Frances Lankin, the member from Beaches-Woodbine, to enter this petition on behalf of her constituents:

"To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

"Whereas the New Democratic Party government has not consulted the citizens of the province regarding the expansion of gambling; and

"Whereas families are made more emotionally and economically vulnerable by the operation of various gaming and gambling ventures; and

"Whereas creditable academic studies have shown that state-operated gambling is nothing more than a regressive tax on the poor; and

"Whereas the New Democratic Party has in the past vociferously opposed the raising of moneys for the state through gambling; and

"Whereas the government has not attempted to address the very serious concerns that have been raised by groups and individuals regarding the potential growth in crime;

"Therefore, we, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario as follows:

"That the government immediately cease all moves to establish gambling casinos and refrain from introducing video lottery terminals in the province of Ontario."

That read on behalf of Frances Lankin, Beaches-Woodbine.

Mr Sean G. Conway (Renfrew North): I'm pleased to present a petition signed by several of the good parishioners of Trinity St Andrew's United Church in Renfrew, which petition begs the government of Ontario to cease all moves with respect to establishing gambling casinos in the province of Ontario.

NATIVE HUNTING AND FISHING

Mr Allan K. McLean (Simcoe East): I have a petition to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

"Whereas in 1923, seven Ontario bands signed the Williams Treaty, which guaranteed that native peoples would fish and hunt according to provincial and federal conservation laws like everyone else; and

"Whereas the bands were paid the 1993 equivalent of $20 million; and

"Whereas that treaty was upheld by Ontario's highest court last year; and

"Whereas Bob Rae is not enforcing existing laws which prohibit native peoples from hunting and fishing out of season; and

"Whereas this will put at risk an already pressured part of Ontario's natural environment;

"We, the undersigned, adamantly demand that the government honour the principles of fish and wildlife conservation, to respect our native and non-native ancestors and to respect the Williams Treaty."

That has 200 signatures on it, from Chapleau to Bobcaygeon to Picton, all over Ontario, and I've signed it.

TAXICABS

Mr George Mammoliti (Yorkview): I too have a petition addressed to the Lieutenant Governor of Ontario and it reads as follows:

"We, the undersigned, Metropolitan Toronto electors, being persons involved in the taxi industry, hereby petition the Lieutenant Governor to investigate or cause an investigation into the activities and the relationship between the municipality of Metropolitan Toronto, Metro council, its legislation and licensing committee of Metro council and the Metropolitan Licensing Commission."

There are about 100 signatures, and it's the second of two that I'm introducing.

GAMBLING

Mr Steven W. Mahoney (Mississauga West): I also have a petition, from a number of residents in the Erin Mills community of Mississauga West which reads:

"Whereas the Christian is called to love of neighbour, which includes a concern for the general wellbeing of society; and

"Whereas there is a direct link between the higher availability of legalized gambling and the incidence of addictive gambling; and

"Whereas the damage of addiction to gambling in individuals is compounded by the damage done to families, both emotionally and economically; and

"Whereas the gambling market is already saturated with various kinds of government-operated lotteries; and

"Whereas large-scale gambling activity invariably attracts criminal activity; and

"Whereas the citizens of Detroit have since 1976 on three occasions voted down the introduction of casinos into that city, each time with a larger majority than the time before,

"Therefore, we, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario as follows:

"That the government of Ontario cease all moves to establish gambling casinos."

CLOSURE OF AGRICULTURAL COLLEGE

Mr Ernie L. Eves (Parry Sound): To the Lieutenant Governor of the province of Ontario and to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

"Whereas the NDP government has decided to discontinue funding education programs at the New Liskeard College of Agricultural Technology,

"We, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly to seriously consider reversing your decision to close the New Liskeard College of Agricultural Technology."

This is a matter of great concern in my riding and it's signed by some 222 concerned constituents in my riding. I have affixed my signature thereto.

AUTOMOBILE INSURANCE

Ms Margaret H. Harrington (Niagara Falls): I have a petition here from 63 residents of the city of Niagara Falls asking that Bill 164 be withdrawn.

CLOSURE OF AGRICULTURAL COLLEGE

Mrs Joan M. Fawcett (Northumberland): I have a petition to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

"Whereas the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Food has decided to close Centralia College of Agricultural Technology and the veterinary services diagnostic laboratory at the college as of May 1, 1994,

"We, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario as follows:

"To reverse the decision to close the Centralia College of Agricultural Technology and the veterinary services laboratory diagnostic lab located at Centralia's campus."

I have signed the petition.

AUTOMOBILE INSURANCE

Mr Chris Stockwell (Etobicoke West): I have a petition from the constituents of Etobicoke West and surroundings, as well as the constituents from Etobicoke-Rexdale and Etobicoke-Lakeshore.

Mr Mahoney: What about Etobicoke Centre?

Mr Stockwell: No, it's federal, but Mississauga centre. The petition is to the Legislative Assembly and Lieutenant Governor of Ontario:

"Whereas the people of Ontario are undergoing economic hardship" -- due to this government -- "high unemployment" -- due to this government -- "and are faced with the prospect of imminent tax increases" -- specifically due to this government, I might add parenthetically, as my friend from Scarborough does -- "and

"Whereas the Ontario motorist protection plan currently delivers cost-effective insurance benefits to Ontario drivers; and

"Since the passing of Bill 164 into law will result in higher automobile insurance premiums," -- and that's not debatable -- "for Ontario drivers;

"We, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario as follows," -- and it's very simple --

"That Bill 164" -- and it's this simple so they'd understand it -- "be withdrawn."

I will sign my name to this and hopefully get it entered in to the Clerk's table.

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GAMBLING

Ms Jenny Carter (Peterborough): I have a petition addressed to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

"Whereas the Christian is called to love of neighbour, which includes a concern for the general wellbeing of society; and

"Whereas there is a direct link between the higher availability of legalized gambling and the incidence of addictive gambling (Macdonald and Macdonald, Pathological Gambling: The Problem, Treatment and Outcome, Canadian Foundation on Compulsive Gambling); and

"Whereas the damage of addiction to gambling in individuals is compounded by the damage done to families, both emotionally and economically; and

"Whereas the gambling market is already saturated with various kinds of government-operated lotteries; and

"Whereas large-scale gambling activity invariably attracts criminal activity; and

"Whereas the citizens of Detroit have since 1976 on three occasions voted down the introduction of casinos into that city, each time with a larger majority than the time before,

"Therefore, we, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario as follows:

"That the government of Ontario cease all moves to establish gambling casinos."

This is signed by about 27 constituents of my riding, and I have signed this petition.

AUTOMOBILE INSURANCE

Mr John Sola (Mississauga East): I have a petition which reads as follows:

"To the Legislative Assembly and the Lieutenant Governor of Ontario:

"Whereas the people of Ontario are undergoing economic hardship, high unemployment and are faced with the prospect of imminent tax increases; and

"Whereas the Ontario motorist protection plan currently delivers cost-effective insurance benefits to Ontario drivers; and

"Since the passing of Bill 164 into law will result in higher automobile insurance premiums for Ontario drivers;

"We, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario as follows:

"That Bill 164 be withdrawn."

I am signing it as well.

CLOSURE OF AGRICULTURAL COLLEGE

Mr David Ramsay (Timiskaming): I have a petition from the riding of Timiskaming.

"To Premier Rae, Treasurer Laughren, Minister Buchanan:

"We, the undersigned, request that you seriously consider reversing your decision to close the New Liskeard College of Agricultural Technology."

I'll sign this.

INTRODUCTION OF BILLS

ROSALIND BLAUER CENTRE FOR CHILD CARE ACT, 1993

On motion by Ms Haeck, the following bill was given first reading:

Bill Pr34, An Act to revive Rosalind Blauer Centre for Child Care.

CITY OF TORONTO ACT, 1993

On motion by Mr Marchese, the following bill was given first reading:

Bill Pr80, An Act respecting the City of Toronto.

ORDERS OF THE DAY

EXTENDED HOURS OF MEETING

Mr Charlton moved government notice of motion number 4:

That, notwithstanding standing order 9, the House shall continue to meet from 6 pm to 12 midnight on June 15, 16, 17, 21, 22, 23 and 24, 1993, at which time the Speaker shall adjourn the House without motion until the next sessional day.

The Speaker (Hon David Warner): Does the House leader have any introductory remarks?

Hon Brian A. Charlton (Government House Leader): Yes, I do, thank you, Mr Speaker. In moving this motion, I want to note just a few things for the House that I think become important in terms of how we deal with and consider the questions that will face us, both over the course of the rest of the next week and a half and any time beyond June 24.

The members opposite will know that although we haven't debated a motion to sit beyond June 24 yet, I have tabled that motion and in my discussions with the House leaders opposite I have made it very clear that the government has a priority legislative agenda and that we intend to finish that agenda during the course of this spring session.

We have had a situation since the beginning of this Parliament, for the last two and a half years since the election in September 1990, when the behaviour of this House in terms of its attention to legislation has changed quite dramatically.

I made reference both during a debate on a time allocation motion a week and a half ago, and provided some further information last week on a similar debate, about time spent on legislation in this House. We have heard a number of accusations from the opposition on a fairly regular basis that changes to the standing orders of this House that were implemented last year about this time have gutted the democratic process. But the reality is that the members opposite, both the members of the official opposition and the members of the third party, have been and are still spending more time debating legislation than has been true in the history of this Legislature.

Interjections.

Hon Mr Charlton: Facts are facts. Some of the members across the way say, "Oh, Brian," but facts become facts.

I talked a week and a half ago about the amount of time that was being spent on third readings, and I talked last week about the fact that overall, in general, on every single piece of legislation we're now operating at 240% of the norm, the tradition in this House.

The members across the way like to talk about the traditions in this House, and the traditions in this House have been, throughout all of the 16 years I've been here -- at least until recently -- that opposition members debated at length on particularly controversial pieces of legislation, they debated at length on those things around which they had very primary fundamental disagreement with the government direction, but for the most part, as to the government's right to govern and to implement administrative and policy and program changes, although opposition has commented, it hasn't used all of those pieces of legislation, on a consistent, ongoing, repeated basis, to tie up movement of government programs through the Legislative Assembly.

Interjection: What about the budget, Brian? One day.

Hon Mr Charlton: A member opposite is again referring to time for budget debate. I have said, and I will repeat here this afternoon, that if the members of the opposition want to have extensive time to debate the budget, this government House leader is prepared to see that they get that when they're prepared to bring the time spent on average legislation in this House back down into a normal domain.

As I said a few moments ago, for two and a half years now this House has been operating, in terms of debating time on legislation, at 240%, 2.4 times the amount of debate on each and every single piece of legislation that the traditions of this House would indicate. That doesn't say to me that members are just taking up their normal right to speak, express their opinions. That says to me that when you look back over a decade or 15 years or 20 years and find that the old norms, the old traditions, held and held well, in fact the members of the opposition are abusing the debate process in this House from the perspective of a very intentional tactic to slow down the government legislative agenda.

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This government is not going to put up with that any longer. Even with all of the rule changes that occurred last year, rule changes which, as I said a few moments ago, members across the way would suggest have gutted their right to speak, they're still speaking at 2.4 times the rate on every piece of legislation than what has been the norm. Now, in any democratic parliamentary system, there should be a right to speak. There should be a right to be heard. But that right to speak and that right to be heard, when it becomes consistently a tactical abuse, has to be dealt with.

One of the reasons why the rule changes were made last year and one of the things that could drive this government, or any other government for that matter, to consider further rule changes and further restrictions on the practice in this House is that continued abuse of time in this House, both on controversial legislation and on non-controversial legislation. But, more importantly, one of the reasons this Legislature has always had among the most small-l liberal rules in its standing orders, one of the reasons this Legislature hasn't proceeded as quickly as others to toughen up the rules, to restrict members by standing order and set-out procedures, is because traditionally the House leaders' process in this place has worked. It has worked because, when I was in opposition, along for a time with Liberals and along for a time with Tories, the House leaders sat down with the government House leader and, yes, took tough positions on controversial, fundamental legislation around which there were differences, but also facilitated in a significant way the passage of non-controversial government legislation.

The reason I raised two weeks ago what has happened with third reading debates is because third reading debates become a very important reflection of what's gone on here for the last two and a half years. I'd like to repeat some of those figures so that perhaps they can start to sink into some members' heads.

From 1981 till 1985, during the last Conservative administration, the average time, although it varied from session to session -- in the first session of that Parliament, the average time spent on third reading was four minutes. In the second session of that Parliament, the average time was 10 minutes. If you'll recall, Mr Speaker, because I think you were here at that time, that was 1982, the year in which we had a number of very controversial pieces of legislation, and even with that, we only got up to 10 minutes average time spent on third readings. In the third session, 47 seconds was the average time, and in the fourth and last session of that government, an average of three minutes was spent on third readings.

Now, it is true that during the Liberal years -- not all of five of them, because for two of those five years we had a minority government and an accord between the official opposition and the government around a number of issues, so obviously there wasn't the same level of debate that occurred in those two years. But for the three years from 1987 to 1990 during the Liberal administration, in the first session of that Parliament, we spent an average of seven minutes on third readings. In the second session of that Parliament, we spent an average of 15 minutes on third readings. Again, Mr Speaker, you were here and you will recall that in that last session before the 1990 election, we had a number of very controversial pieces of legislation, including the Liberal auto insurance legislation, which for many of us became a quite famous and memory-burning piece of legislation. But even with those controversial pieces, we only achieved an average of 15 minutes for third readings.

During and throughout this entire Parliament, we have seen a continuous escalation of opposition tactics against government legislation that is, in my view, beyond the call of anything reasonable or acceptable. In the first session it was 48 minutes, on average, for third readings. In the second session that jumped from 48 minutes to an average of 122 minutes, on an average debate on an average bill, on third reading, and in the current session we've jumped to 171 minutes, on average, debating third readings.

Mr Speaker, that doesn't reflect a set of standing orders and rules in this place which is slowing down or restricting, silencing opposition members. That in fact reflects the opposite, which I've suggested to you, which is an intentional abuse of the process of this House by opposition members.

When we take into account first reading, second reading, committee stage and third readings, on average, uncontroversial legislation and controversial legislation, we're now operating at 240% of the norm. I repeat that that is unacceptable to this government. It is happening, though, because the House leaders' process has failed.

Mr Steven W. Mahoney (Mississauga West): Get a new House leader.

Hon Mr Charlton: One of the opposition members, in fact the chief whip, would suggest that we should get a new House leader. My response is that the members across the way had either better get a new House leader, give some direction to the one they have in terms of normalizing the process in this House, or have to face, somewhere not too far down the road, further rule changes.

As I've said on a number of occasions, and I'll repeat it again today, this government has a legislative priority agenda. We have some two years left to complete that agenda. We can no longer afford to continue to bump dozens of pieces of legislation from one session into the next.

I have said before in this House, and I want to repeat it again this afternoon, that this session will continue until our legislative agenda is complete. This House will continue to sit. A number of opposition members approach me daily trying to find out when we're going to get out of here, and I want to suggest to all of the opposition members that we're going to get out of here when the members across the way come to their senses and start dealing with legislation in a responsible and reasonable way.

None of us likes sitting late in the evenings, either. The motion we're dealing with here today will have us sitting late tonight and for the next eight evenings. We will sit late because the opposition has made it necessary for us to sit late, and we will sit past June 24 if the opposition decides to make us sit past June 24, and we will sit past July 1, because we will proceed to finish the government's legislative agenda. And if we can't re-establish the tradition of this House around a useful, workable House leaders' process that can help us in a reasonable and effective way to deal with the orderly business of this House, albeit from time to time there will be controversial pieces of legislation around which the opposition feels a need to have a prolonged debate -- that's not unacceptable, but it is unacceptable on every single piece of government legislation -- we will either re-establish a reasonable process around here or we will have to deal with the consequences of that.

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Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): The last time I dealt with the issue of rules of this House, I was certainly exercised and not in the same jovial mood I'm in this afternoon, I must say.

I always find it difficult when the government House leader, who always has to be a heavy, is in the House threatening the opposition with what's going to happen if the opposition isn't compliant.

First of all, I should tell him that I intend to be supporting this motion to sit for these evenings. That's part of the rules. It's a provision there when the work of the House backs up. It's not convenient for members because they have a lot of things to do back in their ridings, a lot of explaining to do about government legislation and so on, but I'm more than happy to be very cooperative with the government in this regard and with other members of the House. I hope tonight, for instance, to have a chance to come back to speak on the Sunday shopping issue.

By the way, if the government House leader feels he must leave for other business, I won't be offended when he leaves, because I know he'll read the full Hansard of all my remarks.

What I want to indicate, first of all, is the cooperation of the opposition in this regard. It's difficult for ministers and members of the House to have to sit well into the evenings when they have already been at meetings all day.

I should point out, for those who might be watching this program, that many ministers are starting at 8 o'clock in the morning at some of their meetings. To go through right to midnight is a very compelling schedule and very difficult, so I wonder why the government House leader would want to torture his colleagues within the cabinet in this regard. But they are bears for punishment, I suppose, and will continue to work hard. I do want to indicate that they work very hard. I've always supported the considerable pay that members of the cabinet get, which is over and above the rest of us in the House, particularly those who have special responsibilities, because it is a very onerous task.

I want to deal with a couple of issues that this particular motion permits me to. First of all, I don't know that legislation gets the kind of intense scrutiny that it should in night sittings, but it does allow the opportunity for more people to be able to speak on the various bills that come before the House.

I expressed a great concern last year when the Premier rammed through the House, with his majority, some rule changes that were certainly contrary to what he stood for in his entire life in both the federal Parliament and the provincial Legislature, but we have seen 180-degree turns by the Premier on many occasions so I suppose nothing should surprise me today.

What does surprise me is that the Premier has abdicated his position this week, a very important week for the government. The Treasurer, now called the Minister of Finance, had to bring a very important bill in. Today there were some significant questions directed to the government, and of course the government caucus meets on Tuesday morning. I would have thought it would have been appropriate that instead of hobnobbing with the Rhodes Scholars -- I know he's a Rhodes Scholar and I congratulate the Premier on being a Rhodes Scholar -- he should have been in this House answering questions and being with his caucus, to assure them of some of the difficulties they'll be facing and that he believed these difficulties could be overcome.

I have objected strenuously to the Premier's absence from this House on many occasions. I've done so -- this gets into the issue of why we're sitting at night -- because the House never seems to sit. I point out to members of the House, who may not recall this, that the House sat on December 10, 1992. The next time it sat was April 13, 1993. That's over four months that the government did not have this House in session. That meant that the Premier and members of the cabinet could avoid the news media, who line up outside the Legislature each day to ask questions, and, of course, avoid the kinds of questions that come not only from members of the opposition, but I've heard some sharp questions that have come from members of the government, who are obviously feeling heat on certain issues at home and want to bring to the attention of the ministers the concerns that are being expressed by the people there.

So I must say that I think it's unwise for the Premier to be down in Washington. If he wants to go to Washington in the summer and talk to those people or in the winter break, that's fine. I think he has a role to play; I don't deny him that opportunity. I just think it would have been wise in these times of crisis that the Premier not simply leave it to the Treasurer, who's a very capable individual, and a few other ministers to carry the game in the House while he heads to Washington on so-called more important business.

Perhaps it's just an opposition point of view, and I have no statistics to substantiate this, but it's an observation that we seem to have a lot of absences of ministers. Now, ministers have a lot of things to do and some ministers are quite faithful in their attendance in the House. I must give them credit for that, because I know the many responsibilities that they have, but there seem to be more absences than usual and again, perhaps that's just an observation because I'm now on this side and see that and because I have a special responsibility as deputy House leader to arrange question period and I see that there are several ministers absent from time to time, but I always felt, particularly with the House sitting as few days as it does, that it would be nice to have the ministers here for not only the members of the opposition but members of the government to direct questions to them.

One of the reasons we may be sitting at night is because the government wants to bring in legislation which is clearly contrary to established NDP policy. Two I think of; one, for instance, is the -- and I have a piece of information that will be useful a little later on in my discussion, provided by the member for Etobicoke West, Mr Stockwell. But I do want to say that perhaps it's Sunday shopping, perhaps it's casino gambling that will consume some of the time that this House will be spending on legislation. I would not have thought there would have been a need for either bill because I clearly listened to the Premier during the last election campaign and I have his speeches in the Legislature on this and I was certainly supportive of his position on this when he said that he didn't want to have a wide-open Sunday in the province of Ontario. But we're going to have that as a result of the Premier's initiative.

Second, I happen to know that one of the strongest opponents of casino gambling has traditionally been Premier Rae. He is now, if not -- I can't say complicit in -- he is the initiator, as the Premier of this province, of casino gambling, something which the NDP has stood against for years. Mel Swart, the former NDP member for Welland-Thorold, who will be celebrating very soon his 74th birthday in the town of Thorold, on Richmond Street where he resides, is a person I know who would be opposed both to the position of the government on Sunday shopping and the position of the government on casino gambling. I think one of the reasons we're sitting at night is so we can put these bills through. That's most unfortunate because I agreed with the original NDP position on both of those particular issues, that of casino gambling, which I think is not in the best interests of the province of Ontario, and of course Sunday shopping or a wide-open Sunday, which the NDP used to stand against.

I want to indicate, as well, that I note over there some signs of dissension, and that's perhaps normal when there are some difficult circumstances facing the government. I happened to have a chance last night to watch on television the comments of the present member for Welland-Thorold, Mr Kormos, who is not complimentary of legislation that was brought in by the government. I think Mr Morrow as well had indicated his disapproval. Both of them are carrying on in the tradition of being frugal.

I remember when there was the retreat at the posh surroundings of Queen's Landing in Niagara-on-the-Lake; I even went down there to see it. I went down to see it because I had read about it in the newspaper and had seen it on television, and they kept saying this place was posh. So I went down, I drove past, I encountered one of the cabinet ministers in the street, asked this person if it was as posh as everybody said it was. He indicated clearly to me that they had a special deal and it wasn't posh and that there was no need for Mr Kormos and Mr Morrow to be having a brown-bag lunch in the lobby while everybody else ate caviare, whatever it was they had, in the establishment itself.

1540

Mrs Ellen MacKinnon (Lambton): It wasn't caviare.

Mr Bradley: I'm told it wasn't caviare. Mrs MacKinnon, the member for Lambton, says it was not caviare, so I will take her word for it, because she is a person who does not try to betray this House in any way. I'll take her word for that.

I see that there is considerable dissension. I understand why. Perhaps those people are annoyed that they're going to have to sit at night when they had many obligations back in their own ridings. For instance, I know that OPSEU and other public service unions are holding rallies and other meetings back in the constituencies. I wish I could get back to some of those meetings so I could discuss with the brothers and sisters the problems that exist with this government, because I know that many of them worked very hard to unseat the previous government and elect this government. I think they probably thought that with the number of people who came from public sector unions who are sitting in the government caucus this time, they could probably count upon this government to at least be fair.

Mrs Margaret Marland (Mississauga South): On a point of order, Mr Speaker: I've been in this House eight years now. I always know that the member for St Catharines has very valuable comments to make.

The Acting Speaker (Mr Noble Villeneuve): Your point of order, please.

Mrs Marland: My point of order is that I think it would be to the benefit of more members to be present to form a quorum in this House.

The Acting Speaker: Is there a quorum present?

Clerk Assistant and Clerk of Committees (Ms Deborah Deller): A quorum is present, Speaker.

The Acting Speaker: A quorum is present. The honourable member for St Catharines can resume his participation.

Mr Bradley: I thank the member for Mississauga South for her kindness in attempting to ensure that there are sufficient people in this House.

The report that the government House leader always gives out -- and there are certain news organs that take it as said, that print verbatim the government line, and others that do not. But the line that they will put out in this case is that the opposition is delaying all this legislation and if only they could get it through, all would be fine. What has to happen, as you understand as a long-time member of this House, Mr Speaker, is that the government has to actually bring this legislation forward.

Very often there are some relatively minor bills that can be processed in this House very quickly. They have the consent of the three parties, perhaps a few very brief remarks from representatives of each of the parties and they can pass. What the government does is it hides all these bills in the background and then tells the people in local municipalities that these bills will never pass because the opposition's holding them up. But I'm sure there would be acquiescence to allow these relatively minor bills, if only the government would bring them forward. They seem to bring bills forward at the very last minute for consideration.

I'm awaiting the casino gambling bill. I wish I had more than 30 minutes to speak on it. But Bob Rae has limited my ability to address an issue of that importance to some 30 minutes. I wish there were more flexibility. The Premier, by bringing in his rules, has almost ensured that the opposition takes 90 minutes, as they are entitled to, as their initial remarks on any particular bill. Subsequent speeches are usually 30 minutes.

In the past, my recollection has been that in this House members have spoken less than that on bills which were not particularly significant to them. But there seems to be an obligation now to speak at length because of the rules that happen to exist. I think those rules were ill-conceived. They were ill-conceived for a few basic reasons.

They limited the amount of time that members of this House can address important legislation and issues of the day. What reminded me of this was the constitutional debate, the referendum debate that took place in this House. I refused to take 10 minutes to speak on something of that importance and instead yielded time to one of my colleagues so that it could be addressed in a more comprehensive manner.

If we had the flexibility, I think we would find that members of all sides would be able to participate in a more meaningful way. But the rigid rules that the Premier has set ensure that there are going to be some lengthy speeches when we don't always want to have those lengthy speeches.

The government wonders as well why some lengthy debate does take place. I submit to the House that some of the legislation -- not all of the legislation, but some of the legislation -- submitted by this government is clearly at odds with what the majority of the province believes. This is essentially a group of people who are very committed to their cause, or have been in the past until reality has changed a lot of that, but essentially I always looked at the NDP as a group of people who are very committed to specific causes which had the support of perhaps 20% or 25% of the people in the province.

So when you bring forward controversial legislation, you must expect that there's going to be considerable debate on it. It will still carry. The government has a majority. The government was legitimately elected as a majority. There are people now who complain, "Well, the government got just under 38% of the vote." Those were the rules of the day when the government was elected. Nobody said, before the election, anything about those rules. So if they didn't like them before and they don't like them after, it's too bad. The government was legitimately elected and can pass legislation.

I'm simply suggesting that debate in this House should be meaningful, that it should move the government to make some changes in its legislation to make it more acceptable to mainstream Ontario.

I look at the attitude of the Premier to the Legislature. I was always a person who, from a distance, admired Bob Rae when he was in the federal House. He had the quick turn of phrase, he was the darling of the news media, particularly the CBC, in Ottawa when he was in Ottawa, and he was quite articulate. He was described as articulate and bright and so on and a fresh face on the scene, and indeed, when he was in Ottawa, I think he maintained that reputation throughout.

Well, he came to Queen's Park -- and it's a different venue; I understand that -- and was not quite so successful, but was still considered to be a member of this House who had principles and who stood for parliamentary democracy. That is why I found it so annoying and so disappointing and discouraging when we had the new rules of the House implemented last summer which in fact limited the role of members of this House.

What it did, and why I remain annoyed about those rules, is that it really gives power to the people who sit under the press gallery. These are people who are not elected. At least the people who sit in this House, whether one agrees or disagrees, are people who are directly accountable to the electorate in their particular constituencies and therefore tend to reflect the views of people in those constituencies. The people in the constituencies, rather, can get at these people. They can't get at the brains trust in the Premier's office, they can't get at the brains trust in the ministers' offices, but they can get at those of us who are elected members.

That is why I was particularly annoyed that we saw these changes. They took power away from the Speaker, they allowed ministers, almost at will, to dictate how much time would be devoted to each of the bills. I know there are government members today who will no doubt like to speak at some length to the legislation the Treasurer introduced just the other day because they will want to debate fully the ramifications of that legislation, either to defend it or in some cases to be critical of it.

I heard a threat at the last minute from the government House leader, the kind of threat one doesn't like to hear, because he said in effect, "If you don't behave now, if you don't behave the way we want," then there's a veiled threat of some new rule changes, not just the ones that exist now, which are draconian enough, but new rule changes which will further limit the role of individual members of this House, particularly those in the opposition. And when this government goes back into opposition, if the electorate chooses that to be the case, they will find themselves very restricted in their ability to carry out their responsibilities as elected members.

I wanted to leave some time to my colleague the member for Mississauga West, who indicated I should stop at 1:18, which is a short period of time. I still have some further time.

I wanted to say that I have been reading with a good deal of interest what some of my former colleagues in this House have been saying about the government. Mike Davison, the member for Hamilton Centre in years gone by, is someone I always admired in this House as being an independent-minded individual, a reformer. The member for Etobicoke West, who used to watch this House on television and read about it, probably admired Michael Davison, the former member, even if he didn't agree with him.

He's had some interesting things to say about the government, a couple of articles in fact. He said Bob Rae must be defeated as leader at the NDP convention. I don't know whether that means this weekend; I think this is just a provincial council this weekend. I would like to attend the provincial council this weekend to remind the members of the government caucus where they stood on various issues.

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From time to time I found myself in disagreement but, as I've said in this House on many occasions, I always thought the other parties perhaps didn't adhere to policies as close as the NDP; that what the rank and file of the NDP had to say about the various issues before the government of Ontario counted; that Bob Rae and his cabinet and members of the caucus were truly accountable to the provincial council which represented the NDP across Ontario.

It ought to be a good accountability session this weekend. I hope it's in the open. I hope the Premier doesn't shut the doors, as he did on previous provincial councils, and not allow that accountability session to be in public.

I remember when I used to have to go to the annual meeting of the Liberal Party, we would have an accountability session where the news media were present, members could ask anything they wanted and sometimes those questions could be pointed and could be embarrassing.

The Premier, who is a great believer in removing the doors and being wide open in his policies of openness towards government, decided he would shut the doors, and all of the questions that took place, all of the criticisms that took place and perhaps some of the praise, that was all conducted behind closed doors, contrary to what I would have expected from the New Democratic Party, which over the years has had a tradition of being in favour of openness and democracy.

I know the member for Mississauga South would certainly agree with me, having observed this since her election to this House.

Mrs Marland: I do.

Mr Bradley: She has confirmed that indeed she does.

Now, the final conclusion of Michael Davison is -- he says: "The NDP is losing its way in Ontario. It is dragging down the federal party and it must, in my view, now begin the long journey home."

The long journey home may in fact begin in Gananoque this weekend. That may be the beginning of a long journey home, but part of this long journey home is going to involve debates in this House which will take place over the next period of time, some of them till midnight.

I hope government members get a chance to speak on legislation. I know that in order to get the bills through the House, the government House leader and others are sometimes restricting the government members.

I suspect that one of the annoyances of the member for Perth, who recently resigned from the cabinet, was in fact -- I remember one debate in here where she was told she could speak a certain period of time. That was reduced, reduced further, and then she was told she couldn't speak at all on a particular piece of legislation or a resolution.

Mr Chris Stockwell (Etobicoke West): Who was that?

Mr Bradley: This is Karen Haslam, the member for Perth, who has resigned from the cabinet because of her disagreement with government policy.

Interjection.

Mr Bradley: No, she was speaking in the House on a piece of legislation. It was most unfortunate. I understand why the government does this. I understand the limitations in a debate. This happened in the House. That may have been one of the reasons, besides the fact that she in principle believed this legislation is wrong. Karen Haslam, the member for Perth, as a person of principle said she could no longer sit in the cabinet, a cabinet which was making decisions which were clearly contrary to everything the New Democratic Party had stood for over the years.

I am sure there are many in the public sector union movement who will compliment her on the stand she took. I'm sure that will put considerable pressure on other members of the caucus as the representatives of OPSEU and CUPE and many of the other public sector unions come to the individual members of the NDP and suggest that perhaps they should take a principled stand on this piece of legislation and stand up for what they were elected upon and follow in similar steps.

The member for Welland-Thorold -- I don't know what he's going to do. He has indicated publicly his great opposition and concern. I think he has indicated he's going to vote against any legislation in this regard. The member for Wentworth East too has been very independent-minded and has indicated something similar.

It will be interesting to see as we go on, as we debate to midnight each night, how many members of the government will continue to support the kind of legislation, the kind of financial policy, which is being brought forward by this government.

It must be mighty difficult. I sympathize completely. I see the glum looks on the faces of the members of the government. I see that they're very tired. Only the member for Sudbury is smiling and I won't say why. She must have had some bad water over there or something, but she is smiling at the present time.

Anyway, I indicated to the member for Mississauga West that I would like to save him some time. I know the member for Etobicoke is eager and the third party House leader, Mr Eves, is probably eager to speak on this particular resolution, but I want to indicate clearly the support of the Ontario Liberal caucus, despite the fact it's an inconvenience for government members, for members of the cabinet, perhaps for the staff in this Legislature and for all members who would like to be at other meetings, important meetings with their constituents in their constituencies.

I know that it's going to be difficult but I'm quite willing to see the House sit. I'm quite willing to participate, to be here to midnight. I'm looking forward with great anticipation to making my speech on Sunday shopping, because I intend to use all of the arguments that the Premier has used in the past to enunciate my position, and if the government House leader would like us to sit all summer, I'm delighted to sit all summer.

There is air-conditioning in this building now. I know that, so there is some comfort. I look forward to all of the question periods where we will be able to direct important questions of urgent interest to the people of this province and also I know that the news media will be interested being out in the hallway to, as we say, scrum, meaning interview intensely the members of the government.

So you have the full support of the Liberal caucus for this initiative. We're just being as cooperative as ever in this and all matters before the House.

Mr Ernie L. Eves (Parry Sound): It's a pleasure for me to partake in this debate on this particular motion at this time. I'm not so sure, however, that I share the enthusiasm of the member for St Catharines for extension of sitting hours.

I want to start by going back to what the rationale for extended sitting hours is in the first place. The rationale for extended sitting hours is that during the last eight days of a session, the hours can be extended until no later than midnight so that legislation can be cleaned up during the last eight days.

Is the government House leader telling us unequivocally that we will be out of here next Thursday and these are the last eight days and that's why he's introduced the motion? That is the reason why he's supposed to introduce the motion. That's the only reason the standing order exists in the first place.

It seems to me that we went through this last year, if I'm not mistaken. We went through this charade about pretending how hard we're working here that we have to sit till midnight for eight days, but we're going to sit for another three or four weeks after that anyway. So who's kidding who?

We went through this last year. If we were serious about getting the legislative agenda cleared up, we'd have been back here on March 22, when we were supposed to be back here, instead of on April 13, some three weeks later. There's three weeks of time. If time is what he needs, he would have done the responsible thing, and members of all three parties, I recall, when we implemented the parliamentary calendar around here, were totally in favour of having a parliamentary calendar that would be rigidly adhered to, never deviated from -- just to quote some of my NDP friends who now find themselves in government -- so we could do things in a responsible, logical manner. So much for responsible, logical government.

We have a parliamentary calendar that says we come back on March 22 and we come back on April 13 anyway. Why did we not come back until April 13, I ask myself. Why weren't we here on March 22? If we had all these important pieces of legislation, if the government knew what it was doing and had to get done, surely they were important enough to come back when the parliamentary calendar said so. Why weren't we here? What happened the week of March 22, the week of March 29 and the first week in April? Why weren't we here doing this important business? Why did we leave everything till the 11th hour?

Why didn't we talk about social contract legislation in April and May? It would have made some sense to do it before March 31, but we didn't even want to sit in March. We didn't want to start to sit until April 13, and now we're going to go through the charade of sitting till midnight, as we did last year, for some seven or eight days, to make the public think we're working hard, and then we're going to sit for another three or four weeks in July anyway.

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Who's kidding whom? This is a charade. The purpose of this standing order and this motion is to clean up business during the last eight sessional days. If somebody on the government side wants to stand up and swear under oath that these are the last eight sessional days, I'll support the motion wholeheartedly. But if you're going to tell me, "I'm doing this to go through the political optics of pretending that I'm working hard and pretending to try and get it done when I didn't come back here on March 22 for the second year in a row, as I was supposed to," that's a joke and I don't support it. We should have been here the week of March 22, we should have been here the week of March 29 --

Interjections.

The Acting Speaker: Order, please. The member for Parry Sound has the floor. Please allow him the privilege of participating.

Mr Eves: The reality is that this motion wouldn't have even been needed if the government would have been back here March 22. With its legislative agenda for the spring session in order on March 22, we'd have had all this done by now. But instead, we don't show up for three weeks and then we decide, "Ah, gee, I guess we'd better sit till midnight to make it look like we're doing something and then we'll sit here in July anyway." What sense does that make? It doesn't make any sense whatsoever.

We went through it last year. We did exactly the same thing last year. We came back late -- I think it was the first week in April last year instead of the second week in April -- and then we sat here for the month of July. We sat till midnight for two weeks in June. We played the charade and we tried to pretend we were working hard till midnight. But we're going to sit for another three or four weeks anyway. Who's kidding whom?

If you really had a job to do and you had an agenda to accomplish and you wanted to get it done, you should have been back on March 22, two years in a row, and you wouldn't have had this problem.

Going back to when we did come back in April, I can recall, without telling any tales out of school, going to House leaders' meetings for about the first five or six weeks that we reconvened and asking every single week of the government: "Can we have a list of the legislation that you want to pass? Surely, having come back three weeks late, you have your act together, you have all your legislation drafted, you know what you want to do and you can give me a list." "Oh yeah, I'll get that for you next week," they said at the first meeting.

Next week became the week after that, the week after that, the week after that, the week after that. I think it was about the end of May or beginning of June that we finally got a list of 25 pieces of legislation that had to be passed, some of which didn't even have a government bill number because they hadn't been introduced yet. We have a whole pile of others listed here that have to be dealt with in the committee summer intersession, if there is a committee summer intersession, because we're going to be here most of the summer to accomplish this list that the government should have had ready on March 22 and finally got ready by about the end of May, only two months late.

There's two months' wasted time and now we want to sit till midnight for seven days to pretend we can do in seven days, from 6 pm to 12 pm, what we should have been doing the three weeks that we didn't sit, the list that we should have had ready on March 22, that we didn't get ready till about May 22.

Having talked about the government's legislative agenda, I would also like to talk about the manner in which the budget has been introduced the last two years under this government. For the last two years in a row, not only has this government not come back in March, when it's supposed to according to the legislative calendar, not only has it come back about three weeks to four weeks late each spring, but also, just accidentally on purpose, I'm sure, for two years in a row now, instead of introducing the budget when it is normally introduced, in late April or very early in May, one year it waited till the day before we took a break week and this year it was really kind and did it one day before we left for a break week.

I'm sure that is totally accidental. I'm sure it had nothing to do with trying to control political fallout. I'm sure it was not machiavellian in any way, shape or form. It's just a freak of nature. I mean, we've been around this place for 125 years and the last two years in a row it just so happens that the Treasurer can't get his act together until just before he's ready to leave on a nine-day vacation. I'm sure it just worked out that way. I'm sure nobody sat down and thought: "Jeez, if we introduce it then, nobody will be able to ask us questions about it in question period. The media won't be able to harpoon us every day in question period, because the House won't be sitting for a week." I'm sure that's just a coincidence.

This is the same government that can't get its act together on March 22. Not only does the House come back three weeks to four weeks late, the budget's introduced three to four weeks late, and it's always introduced just before we have to go on a little off-time for a week. We worked so hard we came back a month late, and now we've got to take a week off because we've worked so hard.

Now we're going through the same charade that we went through last year. Somebody gives you a list of 25 or 35 pieces of legislation. They give it to you four weeks before you're supposed to be out of here and say: "What's the problem? Why can't we do all this business of these 25 or 35 pieces in the next four weeks?"

You're supposed to do it in three or four months. If you would have had this list ready and we had been sitting in our places on March 22, it would be done by now and you wouldn't be negotiating or talking about a motion to sit from 6 pm till 12 midnight for the next seven days to try and make it look like you were working when you should have been here.

As I recall, when you introduced the calendar, you also had us come back later than we normally had traditionally done. You also gave us two constituency weeks off, which we never had before, one in May and one in November. You also have us leaving here one week earlier in December. So not only did you shorten the calendar by three weeks to start with; you don't adhere to the calendar and you come back another three weeks late.

Then you wonder why you have to introduce a motion like this to sit till midnight. Give me a break. You just wrote off six weeks when you could have been doing business, and now you want to sit till midnight because you took six weeks' vacation.

Let me get this straight. You don't want to be here, you don't have your act together when you're supposed to have it together, yet you want to sit till midnight so you can try to fool the public into thinking how hard you're working and you're trying to get this cleaned up.

Look at what's happened with the social contract legislation. If the government really had its act together, it would have been into this. If they knew that's what they wanted to do and they aren't just knee-jerk reacting to a problem that's been there for a long time, if this is really and truly a seriously well-thought-out, responsible agenda by this government and piece of legislation, they would have been doing this negotiating in January, February and March. By the time the House reconvened on March 22, they would have had the legislation on the table ready to go so that their partners would know, when the fiscal year started on April 1, what they were dealing with.

Now we have legislation that's introduced. We sit on our hands. We do nothing. We come back a month late. We wait until the end of May, beginning of June to get serious about it. We give people a deadline of June 4 instead of April 1, and now we extend that deadline till August 1.

That's why we have to sit in here for the next seven nights till 12 o'clock, to make up for the incompetence of the government, which obviously doesn't know what it's doing, which obviously had no plan in January, February or March. They dreamed one up in late May, early June, and then they decided to go ahead, and now they want to make it look like they're working really hard.

Well, I'm here to tell you that they weren't. They weren't here on March 22 like they were supposed to be. They didn't have a plan of action. They did not have anything done with respect to social contract negotiation or legislation in January, February and March, like a responsible government would have. They didn't return to work until the middle of April. Then when they finally got back here, it took them until the end of May, the beginning of June to get serious. Then they wonder why we're sitting here and we don't have these pieces of legislation that they didn't give us till the end of May, for the large part, wonder why we don't have them passed yet. Because we didn't introduce them in time. Because we didn't have our act together.

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This is the second year in a row I've had to give this speech, and I'm getting a little tired of it. If nothing else, please, I say to the government, next year try to adhere to the parliamentary calendar. When you're out of this place and the House isn't sitting for three or four months at a time, try to get your act together, draft your legislation, do your work, so that the day the House reconvenes, you've got your act together, you know what you're doing and you're ready to go ahead.

This year, we may as well have come back here, quite frankly, about the third week in May, because nobody did anything until then anyway. Nobody had their act together. The government certainly didn't have its act together. It didn't introduce its social contract legislation until this week, in the middle of June. Why the middle of June? Why wasn't this done in the middle of March like it was supposed to be done?

Now we come back here some three months later and we're going to deal with the problem we should have dealt with on March 22. They wonder why their social contract partners, as they call them -- "partners" is a funny name. You don't treat partners the way this government is treating some of the transfer agencies that it gives out percentages of money to. You do not come about partway -- in some cases, those that have a calendar fiscal year, those transfer agencies and those agencies, are really up against it. We are almost six months into their year and you're asking them to try to straighten this mess up for an entire fiscal year. That is totally unacceptable and not very responsible on behalf of the provincial government. It is totally irresponsible.

Mr Mahoney: On a point of order, Mr Speaker: Even though this is the second time the honourable House leader for the third party has been forced to give this speech, I think someone should be here to listen to it. There doesn't appear to be a quorum.

The Acting Speaker: Is a quorum present?

Clerk Assistant and Clerk of Journals (Mr Alex D. McFedries): A quorum is not present, Speaker.

Mr Stockwell: We've got more members than you do over there.

The Speaker ordered the bells rung.

The Acting Speaker: A quorum is now present. The honourable member for Parry Sound can resume his participation in the debate.

Mr Eves: The point made by the honourable member for Etobicoke West that we had more members here than the government did over there, I think is probably indicative of the result after the next provincial election.

Mr Jim Wiseman (Durham West): You better check with what is happening federally first.

Mr Eves: We don't worry about federal Conservatives; we worry about provincial Conservatives.

Mr Mahoney: You can't deny the federal Conservatives.

Mr Eves: No, we don't. They are federal Conservatives. Different party.

Mr Speaker, I think I will turn the floor over now to somebody else. I just wanted to make the point that this whole thing and this motion is indeed a charade. It is a public relations exercise that doesn't establish any good relations with the public and it is strictly a PR gesture to try to convince the public that something is being done when everybody who is in here knows that it is merely a time filler and an attempt by the government to look like it's trying to do something that it should have been doing between March 22 and April 13, for the second year in a row.

I hope we don't have to be back here doing this again next year, because three strikes and they may be out.

Mr Mahoney: I for the most part would echo many of the comments by the House leader for the third party in his sense of frustration.

Interjections.

Mr Mahoney: I said for the most part. Certainly the political comments -- I'll leave that to the people of Ontario to make that judgement.

I have the privilege of serving as the chief whip for the official opposition. As a result, I attend the House leaders' meetings on a regular basis. I've been through three different House leaders for the government. I forget her riding, but the current Minister of Northern Development and Mines, Shelley Martel, was the first; the Minister of Education and Training, Dave Cooke, was the second; and now we have Mr Charlton as the House leader.

I don't think it's appropriate to get into the difference in personalities, even though they're quite substantive. But I'll stay away from that, because I get a sense that in the case of each House leader, they are earnest, perhaps would be a good word, in attempting to put forward the agenda of the government, and I respect that. What I have a great deal of difficulty with, though, are the tactics that are used and, when communication breaks down, the threats and the intimidation that occur.

I think the people of Ontario have some difficulty with that as well. If there's one thing I've heard in my six years or so in this place, it's been that the people of Ontario expect us to do what we're paid to do, and we are the opposition. Our job, I see it as fairly clear: As Her Majesty's loyal opposition in this place, the first job is to hold this government accountable. If you've got a majority government and it simply is allowed to run roughshod over the opposition, without the opposition having the opportunity to stand up and hold it accountable, without the opposition having the opportunity for full and public debate, without the opposition to put amendments -- how many amendments to pieces of legislation has this government accepted? Could it be that every idea that comes from the opposition benches of duly elected MPPs is crazy? You might think so in your partisan moments, but the reality is that many good ideas come forward from these benches, and they get ignored.

I'll tell you what happens. You go to the committee hearings when a bill finally gets out of this forum and goes into committee, and there's a whip for the government side, a committee whip appointed by their chief whip. The whip says to his or her members, "Our job is to get this legislation in and out of this committee as fast as we possibly can, without any exceptions, without any amendments, without any changes, and don't listen to what the opposition says."

What are we supposed to do in opposition? We represent people. In my riding of Mississauga West, I represent close to 100,000 people from all three parties, most of them, I might add, being apolitical, not involved in any one of our parties. I've got to try to represent those people, whether it's on Bill 164 on auto insurance, whether it's on Sunday shopping, whether it's on casinos.

Hon Bud Wildman (Minister of Environment and Energy and Minister Responsible for Native Affairs): Do they all agree with one another?

Mr Mahoney: No, they don't agree with one another, but what they do agree with, even if they didn't vote for the current sitting member, is that in true parliamentary tradition, that sitting member should be given a voice, should be given a place to stand in this place and should be given an opportunity --

Mr Stockwell: To grow.

Mr Mahoney: We're all growing too much, I think at times, in certain areas -- but should be given an opportunity to stand up and fight on behalf of those constituents. That's our role.

Mr Speaker, "hypocrisy" is not a word that's parliamentary, so I won't use it, but the thing that astounds people is to see this current government, this government of social democrats, this government that sat right where I currently stand --

Mr Stockwell: On a point of order, Mr Speaker: The points are well taken by the member for Mississauga West, salient as well. We need a quorum, though.

The Acting Speaker: Is a quorum present?

Acting Table Clerk (Mr Franco Carrozza): A quorum is not present.

The Acting Speaker ordered the bells rung.

The Acting Speaker: A quorum is now present. The member for Mississauga West may resume.

Mr Mahoney: You know, I don't take it personally that members leave to go into the back room or go to their offices, but this clearly is a government that gets more quorum calls than I can ever remember any government getting in all the time I've been down here, let me tell you. You folks are paid to be here and work. I suggest the least you can do is keep 20 or so of your members here. You are the government, after all.

Hon Howard Hampton (Minister of Natural Resources): What a short memory you have.

Mr Mahoney: It's a convenient memory at times, I'll admit, but it's not really that short. I'll never forget what's-his-name.

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The point I was attempting to make is that we have a process here. This government talks about tradition. I heard the House leader actually have the nerve to get up and talk about respecting the traditions of this Legislature. When they sat on this side of the House, they were always disrupting attempts of the government to put legislation through.

Let's talk about the debate on Sunday shopping, how long it went. I even remember one member of the third party bringing in a rubber chicken and throwing it around; quite astronomical, the depths to which they sank in an attempt to make their point.

I remember public auto insurance so well. I was over there somewhere. I was where on a clear day you could see the Speaker, I was so far back in the back bench. But I can remember seeing, right up here in this corner, the only true New Democrat that I know left in this government, Peter Kormos; the only one who has steadfastly stood by the rules of the democratic socialist party of this --

Interjection.

Mr Mahoney: You deny that? You don't think Peter is a democratic socialist? Maybe he is a little bit extreme. I see everyone's head shaking, so I don't know. But the only true democrat --

Hon Mr Wildman: I didn't deny it. I denied the point about him being the only one.

Mr Mahoney: Well, if you were a true democrat, you would sure as heck not be supporting the current legislation on the floor by your Treasurer, let me tell you that. If you were a true democratic socialist, you would not be looking straight in the faces of your union buddies and telling them you're going to strip away their rights to collective bargaining, you're going to roll back their wages and you're going to totally destroy everything they've worked hard to build up. If you were a true democratic socialist, frankly, you would not be supporting that legislation.

The role of opposition, as I said before, is to have a place to stand and fight for the people who are underrepresented, for the people who don't have a voice. They expect us to do it. What's the response of this government? At one of the recent House leader meetings I attended -- here's the list. We're handed a list. I can never remember, in the time that I enjoyed being on the government side, our government preparing a list like this and saying to the opposition, "You'll do it my way or the highway." That's what he said. He said, "I'm the government House leader," with his chest out and his chin stuck into the air. Maybe it was his nose stuck into the air. He said, "Until you give me" --

Interjections.

Mr Mahoney: I like the members opposite to get excited. I just want to make sure you're here and paying attention, I say to the minister. Delighted to see you.

He said, "We demand that you allow the government legislation to pass." I've got a question for the House leader.

Mr Wiseman: I know the government House leader. He never put it like that.

Mr Mahoney: You weren't there, sir. I was there.

The Acting Speaker: Order, please. Interjections are out of order, and I would like to remind the honourable member for Mississauga West to address his remarks to the Chair.

Mr Mahoney: Mr Speaker, I must admit that when I tease the bears and they get a little excited, it does draw me into the confrontation. I will attempt, sir, to put my remarks -- but, Mr Speaker, I want you to know that this document was put in front of us, and then I hear the government House leader today say, "Until the opposition comes to their senses, we're going to sit here through July, through August, through September."

Well, I say, folks, let's go; let's do it. Every day we're in this place is another day for question period, it's another day for us to hold all of you accountable, it's another day for us to go after the policies, the draconian legislation you're bringing forward. Let me tell you, we don't have a problem. You're the government. As your caucus falls apart, as the resignations start coming in daily, you're going to find it more and more difficult just to keep a quorum, never mind to get your legislation passed.

Let me go back to the roles, the traditions of this place. When legislation goes through for first reading and then it goes into second reading, it goes into committee of the whole or it goes out to committee for public hearings, and the government has its mind made up. I have said for some time that it's time this place, in a non-partisan way, looked at ways in which we can make the committee system work better. Instead of sending predetermined legislation drafted by the Minister of Economic Development and Trade to the standing committee on finance and economic affairs for this province, why not identify a problem in this place prior to the legislation being drafted and send the problem to the committee?

Picture it: The minister would stand up and say: "Mr Speaker, we've identified a problem. Some of the people want to shop on Sunday in the province of Ontario and some of them don't. Some of the people want to work on Sunday because they need the money and some of them don't. We think there's a problem out there. We think there are some inequities. We want some answers. I, as the minister, would like to refer the issue," not the legislation, "to the committee, for them to travel, for them to investigate, for them to hold public hearings, for them to ask questions, for them to research, and I'd like to ask the committee to then come back with some recommended legislation." Imagine the difference.

The government members would not be required to go out in support of a piece of government legislation drafted up in a back room in the Whitney Block. They would not be given their marching orders by a whip. It would function very much like the select committee process functions, and that, as the Vice-Chair of the select committee on education for three years, I can tell you, worked in a very positive, constructive non-partisan way. In fact, the NDP member Mr Johnston, the former member from one of the Scarborough ridings, I believe, was a very active and helpful participant in that process, and it allowed us to write a non-partisan report. What's wrong with that?

That report can then come back into the Legislature for debate. If the government decides it's got to hold firm on certain positions within that report, it can do so. If the opposition decides, when it comes back in here, that it wants to oppose certain aspects of the report on which consensus was perhaps not achieved, on which it was not unanimous, it can do so. In that way the public is served, because they have an opportunity to see non-partisan, duly elected representatives in action.

But this government would never adopt that. This government would have to actually agree to freedom for its members. They would actually have to release the trained seals and allow them to go to a committee and make constructive suggestions, and I know they would never agree to that.

We owe the people of Ontario, at the very least, an opportunity for some non-partisan debate at committees. We should be working together as legislators in an attempt to put in a system that will allow for that kind of non-partisanship to occur. Instead, what do we get? We get the committees all being predetermined, everything's a done deal, the whole thing is a sham, we go out and we pretend we're listening. It's absolutely incredible.

Do you know, in Kingston I was on a committee working on the auto insurance deal. The government would not allow one of its members on that committee an opportunity to speak or to ask questions. Guess who that member might have been.

Mr David Tilson (Dufferin-Peel): Who?

Mr Mahoney: Who do you think? Mr Kormos again. Here he is; he's got to come over to the opposition side of that committee and beg us to give him time from our allocated time so he could speak. Needless to say, we agreed to do that. We thought it was probably an interesting idea to hear one of the government members taking on the government about some of its own problems.

So when the House leader talks about tradition and talks about doing it his way, we have a system, frankly, that is not working in the best interests of the public, of the taxpayer, in this great province of Ontario.

I also heard the House leader say that he wanted an opportunity to pass some of the non-controversial legislation. I think we passed the first one on the list, the Ryerson Polytechnical University Statute Law Amendment Act, Bill 1. Well, to some there was some controversy over that -- I recall the debate -- but to most of us, we don't have a problem with that, and we will be cooperative in those areas.

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But how they can then bring down the hammer and time-allocate public auto insurance -- it isn't really public, but it might as well be. It's a major change in the way the no-fault insurance bill has been operating quite successfully for some time in this province -- they simply come down and bring down the hammer. They bring down the hammer on OTAB and invoke time allocation.

In essence, when they say that, as a government, to the members in opposition, they in turn say that to the people whom we collectively represent, not just Mississauga West. Everyone who is represented by an opposition member is under siege in this province when we have an arrogant government simply intimidating members of the opposition, telling them that it's going to bring in the hammer, that it's going to invoke closure, that it's going to invoke time allocation, because it's a little tired of hearing the objections of the members opposite to them. That is really fundamentally against democracy and fundamentally contrary to parliamentary democracy, as we know it.

The House leader for the opposition says that unless we give them their omnibus bill on education, which clearly has an impact -- we haven't had an opportunity to really debate that thoroughly -- we're going to sit here as long as it takes. I've got news for them. The Liberal caucus is quite prepared to stay on the job and to stay in this place for as long as it takes to fight this government on the implementation of some of its programs which are destroying economic growth and opportunity in this province.

You know what? If I get asked one question several times a day -- that question is not just by constituents but by people you meet anywhere you go in the province -- they say, "How can we get rid of this government?"

I can't imagine what it's like to be an NDP backbencher and have to go home to your riding on the weekend and watch the trade union leaders lining up outside --

Mrs MacKinnon: It's no problem. We don't have a problem with them.

Mr Mahoney: No, you probably don't have a problem because you probably don't listen to them any more than you listen to amendments by the opposition. You're probably telling the trade labour movement that you're going to invoke closure on them somehow. You're going to shut them out of the process somehow. It's really quite remarkable.

Take a look at the CECBA bill.

Mr Speaker, might I, by the way, publicly, just for a very short time, take a moment to apologize to you, sir, for my outburst last week in this place, in losing my temper when you brought a ruling down. In having time to reflect on that, I did lose my temper and I apologize for doing that. Yes, sure it happens from time to time. It's a little bit of the Irish in me, but part of being Irish is not being afraid to admit you've made a mistake and that you apologize to the gentleman who is so offended; and I do so, sir.

But let me go back and just take a look -- stop smiling. You look like a Cheshire cat up there. It isn't that big a deal.

Along with, I might add, legislation that the Treasurer introduces to totally suspend all collective bargaining in the province of Ontario, then what do they do? They introduce legislation to give the right to strike to public servants. That's really quite a remarkable flip-flop, because imagine what's going to happen in 1996 when the current social contract negotiations -- it's not negotiations; it's a hammer, it's legislation. That in fact is a form of closure on those people you call your partners. Those people in the municipalities and the school boards and everyone involved as your so-called transfer partners across the province have had a hammer put down on them. So you've come in with closure on them.

You guys are almost bullies. You're going around the province, you're muzzling the opposition, you're limiting debate, you change the rules -- incredulous as you can imagine -- after all of the filibustering. I don't know if the public understands that this is not a filibuster. What Peter Kormos did in public auto insurance for 17 hours, standing up here reading a phone book, giving off the lists of names in his riding, was filibuster. You're not allowed to do that any more. Bob Rae gets elected --

Interjections.

Mr Mahoney: Well, he thought it was okay. I can remember the opposition members running in here with information for Kormos. They had a conga line coming from the third floor all the way down the stairs with little notes and titbits and "So-and-so called," and Peter would stand up and go, "Mr Speaker, I have a phone call here from John Doe in Mississauga, who says the following," and then he'd get another message, somebody would come in, and he'd say, "I have another message here, Mr Speaker, from so-and-so in Perth."

I mean, it was really quite a remarkable thing to watch. Some say it required a tremendous amount of talent. I don't know how much talent it requires to stand up and read the phone book and read phone messages for 17 hours, but in all due respect to the member, he did do a job of delaying and filibustering and stalling the government and taking away the due right of the government to have reasonable debate. He hogged the floor, he wouldn't allow other members to participate, and yet this government then gets elected -- and, you know, it's interesting: The only way you guys can get legislation, because of the inability of your House leaders, all three of them so far, to put any kind of reasonable due process in place, is to invoke closure. That should tell you something. That should tell the government members opposite that maybe a lot of the legislation they're putting forward is flawed.

So you come along and you give Bill 40 to the labour movement and you tell the people in the labour movement that you're going to tip the playing field in their favour and everything's wonderful. Everybody's here -- Gordie Wilson, Leo Gerard's up there -- and everybody just thinks this is terrific, we got a social democratic labour government that has given us everything we've ever wanted, that's going to allow us to organize, that's going to allow us to expand the trade labour movement, that's going to allow us to increase our dues and increase our revenue. It's going to allow the New Democrats to increase their party membership. Bill 40 was a pretty nice little gift-wrapped package for the big labour leaders -- Mr White, Mr Gerard, all of those people. And we understand that.

We understand that in fact this government's hands, if they were to even come close to recognizing the social democratic principles that they were espousing, were tied. They had to deliver on Bill 40; they had to.

Now what's happened is they've totally -- don't be too overly proud of that because what's happening to that on the business side is that the moving vans are going down the QE right by Mr Kormos's riding, let me tell you, right through Niagara Falls and across the river because they cannot survive in an atmosphere where you have polarized the trade labour movement --

Hon Mr Wildman: Bunkum.

Mr Mahoney: You have polarized the trade labour movement and the business community more than any government in history ever -- more than some of the right-wing Tory governments could have done. At least they understood there was a necessity to have happy workers, to have well-paid workers, to have workers who were safe on the job, as we realized. It's important to have a balance; I understand that.

Even the trade labour leaders, even the people on the shop floor, the rank and file of the labour movement, they don't much care. They've been voting at their conventions to dump you guys. They've been passing resolutions all across the province that say, "We will no longer financially support the NDP." I don't hear "Bunkum" from the opposition members on that one. I'm listening; they're not denying that. So that's happening; we agree on that.

Why is it happening? Could it be that they realize probably not so much a concern about the fact that you failed to follow the principles espoused in the Agenda for People and every other principle espoused when Bob Rae was the Leader of the Opposition down here and standing up and just bashing everything the government tried to do; what they realize more, the rank and file -- not the highly paid, big-buck labour leaders, the rank and file on the shop floor -- is that you are making life more difficult for their kids. They realize that you're making it more difficult for them just to take a holiday, to be able to keep their job, whether it's the Scarborough van plant or whether it's in Niagara Falls or whether it's in Windsor. They realize that you're so bankrupt both financially and morally and out of principles that you're resorting to gambling casinos as a way --

Interjections.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr Gilles E. Morin): Order, please. Order. The member for Mississauga West has the floor. If you want to entertain some conversations, I would recommend that you do it outside the House.

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Mr Mahoney: If they do it outside the House, they won't have a quorum, so you can let them go. They're not bothering me in the least. Frankly, I don't think they much care what people on the opposition side have to say. I think they've proven that.

What we're really debating here is whether or not we should have night sittings. That is traditional. In the last two weeks of the sitting of the Legislature, in an attempt for the government to get more business done, we traditionally have agreed that we would sit at night. Frankly, I tell you that my party is in support of sitting at night. As a matter of fact, we think we should probably sit every night.

We should sit here in July. We should hold this government accountable for the mess it's creating. We should be in this place on August 1 when this government's self-imposed deadline on this legislation that is so draconian -- it is more draconian than the War Measures Act under former Prime Minister Trudeau. It is. You read it. It is. It strips people of their democratic rights in this province. It goes way beyond anything anyone could ever have imagined.

Instead of calling together --

Mr Stockwell: On a point of order, Mr Speaker: I think, again, he's right on topic and there should be a quorum to hear this.

The Deputy Speaker: Table, would you please check if there is a quorum.

Acting Table Clerk: Mr Speaker, there is no quorum present.

The Deputy Speaker ordered the bells rung.

The Deputy Speaker: A quorum is present.

Mr Mahoney: The legislation I was referring to that's been introduced on the social contract -- let's be clear, we in the Liberal caucus absolutely support the need for restraint. We need to change the way government does business. We've been saying that -- my leader, Lyn McLeod, has been saying that for as long as she's been leader of this great party. I support that position.

We understand that this government has to look in the mirror and negotiate with its own employees and not just simply pass the buck on down to the lower levels of government -- a trick, I might add, initiated by former Tory governments and brought to a great science by them, but now adopted by the Tory-come-lately party led by Bob Rae and Floyd Laughren.

Very clearly, it's important that we decide what business government should be in. We've got to get off the back of small business. Instead of being on their back, we should be standing by their side. We've got to take a look at how can we reduce this paper burden on the business community, absolutely an incredible problem for anyone trying to -- you have to hire a full-time accountant just to run a small retail operation when you get by the PST and the GST and the EHT and the MPT and the UIC and the WCB and the CPP. It's frightening for small business people.

What do we have? We have a government which thinks it can solve all the problems of the business community by taxing them more. You know what you're going to do by the tax increases? You're actually going to reduce the revenue you're going to enjoy as a government and then you're going to come back and say, "Gee whiz, we got lower revenue than we thought we had. I guess our deficit is not going to be $9.2 billion," even though it really isn't to begin with because they put $800 million into crown corporation debt. They create new crown corporations and say, "We don't have that debt any more."

Who do the crown corporations answer to, I ask you? It's very clear to me. They're responsible ultimately to the taxpayer. So the deficit really is $10 billion. When this government wakes up and realizes that its tax increases -- you know, they talk about, with great pride, "We eliminated the tire tax." Wonderful stuff. "We eliminated the commercial concentration tax." Wonderful stuff.

Hon Mr Wildman: Both inventions of the Liberals.

Mr Mahoney: Total revenue, I say to the Minister of Environment and Energy, for those two taxes was $150 million a year. Terrific.

Then you put in place an insurance tax, a tax on every auto insurance, home owner insurance, small business insurance policy, liability insurance policy -- on everybody, on every senior citizen, on every young driver, on every single mother, on every working family. They put a tax on their insurance.

Can people afford to live without insurance, I ask you? Think of the damage that would occur to a family if they were not to insure their home and they lost it. Think of the damage that would occur to a family if they were not to insure their automobile and they got in an accident and, God forbid, killed someone or lost a family member. It's not an option in modern-day society; you must have insurance to protect yourself against catastrophe.

So what does this government do? They say, "What's the one thing that every single man, woman and child in this province must have, and we'll tax it." Insurance premiums.

Now, $150-million reduction in the taxes from the two taxes I mentioned. How much do you think is generated from the insurance tax? It's $715 million; a $500-million tax grab by this government. You know why they did it? Because people's insurance policies come up at different times of the year, so there will never be one united outcry when they all get a tax bill. Mine expire in September; yours expire in July. It will happen over time. It's divide and conquer, exactly the same mentality in the sector-by-sector negotiations and the refusal of this government, supposedly the champion of organized labour, supposedly the champion of collective bargaining. This government divides and conquers and splits and totally polarizes the labour movement.

When could we ever imagine demonstrations in the lobby, a woman on this floor yesterday, who got in here screaming at a minister? People up in the galleries -- and they're your people that are doing it -- people in the galleries chanting and saying, "Shame on Floyd Laughren."

This government should be ashamed of itself. This House leader should be ashamed of his attempts to intimidate this opposition. Let me tell you in closing that this opposition will not be intimidated. This opposition will use every piece of parliamentary procedure we can to stop this government from destroying this great province of Ontario, anything we have to do. We will talk, we will debate, we will fight in committee and we will attempt to get you people to realize that your mandate is over and it's time you called an election.

Mr Stockwell: This is getting to be a yearly occurrence debating a couple of things, actually. Probably the longest in wide-ranging debates that we've had here are closure motions and extension of sitting. It's always somewhat curious, I find, that in the same session where we extend the sittings and the House leader du jour stands up and makes these outrageous comments --

Mr Wiseman: You are so bilingual you ought to run for leader.

Mr Stockwell: Look, I've got Mr Durham here, Mr Dump, and you know, I think if you want to get rid of him, I'll count 19 as a quorum. It's okay.

It's always interesting that we have the House leader who stands up and suggests to us on the opposite side of the House that we are being obstructionists, we're slowing down important pieces of legislation. It's also the same person who hadn't called the House back for two weeks later than he could have who's telling us we're being obstructionists and we're slowing the process down.

Well, the debate's what happened last year, and I think our House leader at the time, the same person -- which is kind of unusual for this government, to see the same person in the same job year after year after year. We save a lot of money, actually, when they don't have to shave the names off the doors. They've gone through hundreds of thousands of dollars in cabinet appointments.

1650

The point that was made: As a caucus this session, I could say from the caucus meetings I've attended that there's not been one debate or discussion in our caucus about obstructing any piece of legislation. There's not been one debate this session about how we're going to slow down the process. There's not been one debate this session about how we want to take this piece of legislation and string out the time so they can't get it passed.

Hon Mr Wildman: It is just understood.

Mr Stockwell: The Minister of Environment, the tieless lounge singer who we have here today, says it's just understood, but you know, that's just not the case this time. We have not, in fact, strung out any debate at any time --

Hon Mr Wildman: I will sing my next interjection.

Mr Stockwell: I'm sure he's going to break into Feelings any moment now; I'll be ready for that -- nor at any time have we ever obstructed any piece of legislation that came before this House.

I say that quite openly. Why? Because really we haven't had any piece of legislation come before this House this session that was worth any serious, lengthy debate. The only three you could have had some debate on this session, and I say very openly across the floor to the snoozing members, were (1) the budget, (2) maybe Sunday shopping and (3) your auto insurance. What happened with those three reasonably contentious pieces of legislation? One, the budget, you didn't debate, and the other two you moved closure on.

Now we have the House leader for the government side standing up in glory, crowing about the fact that for third readings, we average some minutes more than previous governments.

Mr Wiseman: Some? Some hours.

Mr Stockwell: Maybe more so, but I'm going to get to that point, the member from dumps. We average more time on a debate on third reading than the average generally was in previous years.

That may well be true, but beyond that point, there has not been a lot of restrictive debate on the opposition benches in hopes of delaying or postponing legislation, and I say that candidly and very openly to the few members of the socialist, democratic, unionist, conservative, liberal government before us.

Why is it that there's been some kind of prolonged debate on third reading? I say to the member from Durham, if you listen up, I'll tell you. The reason we have a prolonged debate on third reading, and we've had more prolonged debate on third reading, is because the process is set up. On first reading, it's simply passed and printed, and I think mostly that's been accepted. On second reading, we, as a Legislature, debate the principle, the content of the legislation that's presented to us, and there has been some healthy, sometimes long-winded debate, I will admit, but generally some healthy, reasoned debate.

Third reading comes after the committees meet and amendments are made and committee of the whole has met. On third reading, I say again to the member from Durham, the debate takes place on amendments to bills. Now, I make one simple example. Third reading on the advocacy legislation contained 250 changes. Those weren't debated on the second reading.

Mr Wiseman: Most of them were word changes, and you know it.

Mr Stockwell: Well, word changes. Some of them were word changes, but a lot of --

Mr Wiseman: Most of them were word changes.

Mr Stockwell: Even most, but there was a substantial number of substantive changes to that piece of legislation.

Mr Wiseman: You change one word in one section and you have to change it in the other places.

Mr Stockwell: So, Mr Speaker, through you to the ex-member from Durham, I say to him we have that many substantive changes. The only opportunity --

Mr Wiseman: Not substantive and you know it.

Mr Stockwell: The member is suggesting up to 250 changes on the advocacy piece of legislation. Most of them were word changes and lots of them were terribly insignificant, I will admit that, but there were a considerable number -- 50, 60, 70 -- of major changes to the piece of legislation. So where is the opportunity for opposition parties to debate amendments when you change it from second to third reading? Of course, it's at third reading.

We on the opposition benches stand up hopefully and have an opportunity to debate dramatic changes, 250 in some instances, to a major piece of legislation, and what does this government do? They move closure on third reading.

Now this government stands today, two weeks late back, always two weeks late back; it comes back and complains that the opposition benches take up some time debating third reading on legislation that has changed dramatically when they figured out what they were doing. So that's a very simple parliamentary system that allows opposition parties to comment on amendments of government bills.

Let's talk about this government. This government hasn't truly, I don't think, ever come to grips with what its plan, its agenda is. I remember vividly sitting in this place back in 1991 when the Minister of Finance, the member from Never Never Land, brought in his legislation for his first budget. He brought in his first budget and his whole thrust of that first budget was, "We're going to fight the recession, not the deficit." Then he brought in this recent budget and his thrust was --

Mr Wiseman: The federal Tories spent the UIC.

Mr Stockwell: See, he doesn't even know what I'm going to say and he's already commenting.

Then his second budget was, "We're going to fight the recession." So in essence he began with fighting the recession, not the deficit, then he's fighting the recession. Now this government is doing nothing but simply fighting among itself. They've forgotten the deficit and they've forgotten the recession.

Mr Bill Murdoch (Grey): They also forgot the brothers and sisters who elected them.

Mr Stockwell: That's more than true.

They're having people leave their caucus. They've got Mr Kormos and Mr Morrow travelling the province outlining their problems with this government in no uncertain terms. They've got a deputy minister -- no, not a deputy, a Minister without Portfolio, Ministry of Health who stepped down and they really have not got a concrete plan.

I think if two or three years ago you had told those people who had worked for this party for a number of years -- I always recall that for a number of years they worked for them and they always said: "If we just get into power, boy, things would be good. Things would be good in Ontario if you just let us get elected."

If two years ago you had told the rank-and-file union representatives or the Sid Ryans or Liz Barkleys of the world that this government would be introducing the most draconian, far-reaching piece of legislation that would reopen collective agreements, claw back wages, lay people off, I think they would have looked at you like you had two heads.

Now today, with a legislative agenda that is empty for the first four or five weeks, we're back here. The cornerstone of this government's mandate now is, "We want to reopen 9,000 collective agreements and claw back wages that have been negotiated," negotiated in some cases by the very people who sit opposite us today. They sat in and negotiated these settlements, and through a stroke of rationalization second to none, they sit here and say, "We must do it because we have no more principles." That's their defence.

Their legislative agenda now, from now on in, will probably be dominated by the social contract, the social contract they spent eight weeks not achieving, the same social contract that their Premier said if it wasn't accepted by the Sid Ryans, Liz Barkleys et al, they would in fact lose 30,000 or 40,000 jobs, the same social contract that goes about stripping contracts, rolling back wages, laying people off, from social democrat union supporters, all for the price of an MPP's salary and probably a parliamentary assistant's stipend. That's what we have now sitting in the province of Ontario representing the viewpoints of the trade unionists around this province.

If this government wants to try and blame this fiasco of a government on the opposition members, we have broad shoulders. If this government doesn't want to take responsibility for the actions it takes, if this government doesn't want to take responsibility for the recession, if this government doesn't want to take the responsibility that governments take when they're in power and trying to lead provinces out of recessions, then we do have broad shoulders. We have broad shoulders.

1700

Mr Wiseman: Hey, look how far Ernie tried to distance himself from your Tory counterparts: "We are provincial Tories, not federal Tories."

Mr Gary Carr (Oakville South): Have you called Steve Langdon lately? What did he say about the federal New Democrats? You only need to say to any federal New Democrat two words: Bob Rae. Two words and they curl up. Don't talk about your federal counterparts; they don't even want to know Bob Rae.

Mr Stockwell: We accept the fact that they've pointed so many fingers. They've pointed fingers at unions, they've pointed fingers at business, they've pointed fingers at each other. There's no one left to point the fingers at but us. We have broad shoulders. If we have to accept the responsibility for the incompetence of this government, to try and prop it up and re-create a province that it took over in 1990, we'll have to do our best for the benefit of the people of the province of Ontario.

Interjection.

The Deputy Speaker: Order, the member for Oakville South.

Mr Stockwell: Mr Speaker, what about the member from Durham? You'd think if there were one member who wouldn't have much to say, it would be the member from Durham, who got elected on the proviso that there would be no dumps in Durham.

Mr Wiseman: That's not true.

Mr Stockwell: Now he says: "It's not true. I didn't get elected on that proviso." We'll let the people of Durham speak, as they will speak in 1995, and with resounding clarity. We'll find out exactly what they think of the member from Durham and his five dump sites. I'll let the people of Durham decide the fate of this member, because I think they'll handle it in a very upfront and unemotional fashion.

We now are left in this situation, the situation of having to listen to this House leader -- and I've known three House leaders now. The member from Sudbury was the original, then the member from Windsor went in and tried to do the job and now they've got the refrigerator salesman from Hamilton who is now House leader. He's a very successful refrigerator salesman because he doesn't charge any money for his fridges. That really goes a long way to saying, "Buy high and sell low."

We hear the member opposite, the House leader for the governing party, stand up and extol the tremendous pressure this government's under to get its legislation through, so I reviewed what legislation they needed. This legislation they have to have -- they can't sleep at night unless this legislation is passed; they can't do their jobs or function or meet with constituents without having this legislation -- we didn't see most of it until not much more than a couple of weeks ago. All this "got to be," "have to have," "need to know," they didn't know they needed this until a couple of weeks ago when we'd been sitting for four or five weeks, because they've been preoccupied with ensuring that the social contract failed.

Now it's the opposition's fault because they don't know what they want. I've often said in this House, "If you just tell us what you want, we'll be even more uncooperative," so they've taken us to point. We sit here and every day is a new occurrence, every day amazes me even more than the one before. Today or yesterday we hear from the Minister of Finance, the member from Never Never Land, that he is in fact introducing legislation that, under the guise of a social contract, has words like --

Mr Murdoch: Clawback.

Mr Stockwell: No, he doesn't use those words. He uses words like "compensation adjustments." Isn't that lovely? You go to the employee and you say, "I'm sorry, but we're going to have to do some" -- no, you don't say "I'm sorry," because you hope they don't know what compensation adjustment means. You say, "We're going to do some compensation adjustments." The employee says, "Well, okay," and you say, "That means you get a pay reduction of 5%." Then they're going to have the -- I'm tempted to say "notwithstanding" clause, but it's not that. It's the -- help me.

Mr Murdoch: The exit?

Mr Stockwell: Yes, the early exit clause: "You're fired."

Mr Carr: And the pay pauses.

Mr Stockwell: The pay pause day is, "You're getting a 5% rollback." What is the last clause they have, the emergency clause? I forget the name of that one.

The Deputy Speaker: Order.

Mr Stockwell: Mr Speaker, I'm trying to ask for some general assistance from the members here.

Mr Carr: The fail-safe.

Mr Stockwell: The fail-safe is basically just reopening every collective agreement in the province of Ontario and stripping it, while people sleep at night. That's the fail-safe clause. This is what we've got: We've reduced this socialist government from the socialist bastions of this province, the Windsors, the Hamiltons, into a pale imitation of Conrad Black. That's what this socialist government has been reduced to: wage-stripping.

I'm glad the Minister of Labour walked in, because I recall vividly the old Legislature. I'd watch the news and I'd see the very vocal and vociferous and argumentative and obstructionist member from Hamilton who is the Minister of Labour, who would stand screaming at the top of his lungs about any and every piece of labour legislation that was ever on the books, opposing anything that any government ever did.

Mr Murdoch: That's when he believed in unions.

Mr Stockwell: Union born and raised. A union man who was bred for many years to take the mantle of power in this government on labour is now the member who is going to support reopening 8,000 collective agreements -- I look him directly in the eye -- 8,000 collective agreements, and clawing back increases, clawing them back, and looking for pay pause days, for rollbacks of 5%. I wonder, in his heart of hearts, how he squares this with his tyrannical rages he went on in opposition, how he squares this with the constituents who elected him, how he squares this with his union brothers and sisters, how he squares it with them that now this socialist government considers acceptable to reopen 8,000 collective agreements and roll back wages and lay off union people.

I ask that question of the Minister of Labour: How do you square that in your own mind and everything you've stood for the past 40 years? Is it all up in smoke? Is it all gone for the price of one cabinet position and a chauffeur-driven car? That's what it comes down to: the price of a cabinet post and a chauffeur-driven limousine.

As I sit on this side of the House, I don't feel any sense of sorrow for this group, because I think they've made their own bed. They set expectations far too high. They wrote An Agenda for People. They simply opposed reasonable legislation without really giving it a lot of consideration. In fact, they probably made their bed and now they've got to lie in it. I look across the floor at the Minister of -- it used to be Industry, Trade and Technology --

Mr Carr: Economic Development.

Mr Stockwell: Economic Development, which is sort of an oxymoron in this province these days, but Economic Development. I know full well that she, in her other life, used to negotiate contracts. I suppose you're probably going to be very instrumental in reopening collective agreements that you negotiated for your brothers and sisters in the unions. It's very ironic that on one side of the table in one year, you could negotiate collective agreements that you think are fair and reasonable and should never be touched, and not but two years or three years later, sit on the other side of the table and dismantle all those things that you collectively negotiated in your other life.

I guess somebody someplace could rationalize that kind of thinking. I guess somebody someplace could give you some thought as to how the Minister of Economic Development and the Minister of Labour could rationalize that in their minds. I'm not sure I know, I'm not sure their union brothers and sisters will buy it, but I'd just like to know how they square it in their own minds that they can in fact negotiate collective agreements for their brothers and sisters and a mere two or three short years later dismantle those collective agreements to a greater extent than any other elected provincial body has in the history of this province.

Mr Murdoch: Just for a chauffeur-driven car and a minister's job.

Mr Stockwell: For a minister's portfolio and a chauffeur-driven limousine.

Mr Mike Cooper (Kitchener-Wilmot): So are we sitting till midnight or what?

Mr Stockwell: Yes, we're going to sit, to answer my friend from Kitchener, I believe, the motorcycling member. To answer his question, yes, we'll probably be sitting till midnight. We're sitting till midnight, I'm quite certain, because in effect you've manhandled this particular session; you've mishandled the social contract; you've thoroughly messed up on all the legislation you had hoped to address this session; you moved closure on probably two of the most important pieces of legislation we're going to deal with this session; you allowed no debate on the budget. And you're going to extend the sittings because we've been obstructionist?

1710

Mr Murdoch: It's our fault again.

Mr Stockwell: It's our fault that this legislation is working slowly. I don't know what they expected. I'm not sure what they expected. Of the most contentious issues that you brought forward to this Legislature you moved closure on two of them, so how could we have obstructed a closure motion? On the other one, the budget, you allowed no debate, so how could we obstruct a non-debatable issue?

I'd like to know from the House leader of the government side exactly what we were doing this session that was slowing you down to such a degree that you couldn't get your agenda passed. What bill did we hold up? What legislation did we hold up from you? What bill did we speak to too long? What bill was it? The only bills we've debated in the last week or two were closure motions and extension motions, yet apparently we're obstructing the work of this government.

I always like to get in on these because I get to make my points about the new social contract and the reopening of the labour legislation. It's kind of nice, after all those years of listening to the New Democrats when they weren't in power and how responsible they were with their 20-second glib responses to complicated answers -- the member from Hamilton, the Minister of Labour, I think outlined a few glib responses for 20-second clips that absolutely held no water -- to see them in this very awkward situation.

I see my friend up there, the ex-Minister of Education, now Minister of Community and Social Services -- as chairman of the Toronto board of education it was always interesting to read his quotes in the newspapers about the responsible level of provincial governments in 60% funding and the funding process that took place, and to see him here today trying to rationalize or square that with his educational deep-thinking academic friends, -- I wonder how those dinner parties are going these days. Certainly the heat from that room must be up a few degrees as my friend Mr Silipo tries to defend government decisions which he absolutely opposed in his other life as what I would consider a principled, honourable municipal official.

It's also interesting to see the member sitting beside him. She has a very interesting track record, as well, as a member of the city of Toronto council, and she used to take some interesting positions. I remember her position on casino gambling at the CNE. That was a very clear and honourable thing she did. She was opposed, but now as the minister she seems to have found a new life, much to the chagrin, I'm sure, of the Minister of Natural Resources, who took a great deal of time in his life to write a paper, a book in fact, on why legalized gambling shouldn't happen and the terrible crime rates and the awful things that would take place. He must have talked to the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations because she used to agree with you, and at some point you two must have absolutely gone to bed thinking one way, woken up the next day and then thoroughly rationalized everything you've ever stood for.

Of course, that happens in politics. It's never usually quite as obvious as that. There's usually a process that takes place where they change their mind, but this government seems to change its mind more often than its socks.

Mr Murdoch: Just for a car and a portfolio. How easy it is to buy people off.

Mr Stockwell: Someone may say, that issue itself is debatable. We have an interesting time ahead of us, the period of time when the member for Fort York will come in here and strip 8,000 contracts and roll back wages. That will be of interest. It will be of interest to all the union representatives that you used to call your brothers and sisters, your friends, the great unwashed out there that you looked after.

We in opposition will have a very difficult decision because we see you going down a very useless track trying to get a social contract with 8,000 partners and trying to recapture $2 billion, which you can't, to prop up a budget that is totally and thoroughly and financially without merit, and watching the $25 billion you've added to the debt blossom, watching your party executive taking shots at you from the side as well as your union friends and the general public as a whole, watching your general popularity drop below the fringe party status in most ridings, and watching you rationalize or square all these positions in your own mind for the sake of an MPP's salary or a cabinet minister's and a car. If it weren't so sad to see this lot, you'd cry to see people and see how far they've fallen from this pedestal that they built for themselves.

We will sit till midnight and we'll hear, chapter and verse, the members opposite rhyme off the total rationalization that they're going to give to the social contract, the total rationalization they're going to give to Sunday shopping, the rationalizing that they're going to do on casino gambling. We're going to watch as they slowly shrink beneath the seats, beneath their desks, as they absolutely and completely sell their souls and principles for the sake of a cabinet minister's salary and a car.

I'm voting in favour of this extension of hours because I can't think of anywhere I'd rather be than to watch 74 or 71 or 66 members opposite, whatever the number may end up being, shrink into a complete bag of nerves as their constituents, their union friends, their brothers and sisters, those opposed to Sunday shopping, those in Windsor against casino gambling, each take their pound of flesh and cart it out the front door, and see them slowly evaporate before my very eyes till midnight, every night for the next few weeks. I'll be here and it'll be exciting.

The Deputy Speaker: Mr Charlton moves that notwithstanding standing order 9, the House shall continue to meet from 6 pm to 12 midnight on June 15, 16, 17, 21, 22, 23 and 24, 1993, at which time the Speaker shall adjourn the House without motion until the next sessional day. Shall the motion carry?

All those in favour of the motion will please say "aye."

All those opposed will please say "nay."

In my opinion, the ayes have it. I declare the motion carried.

RETAIL BUSINESS HOLIDAYS AMENDMENT ACT (SUNDAY SHOPPING), 1993 / LOI DE 1993 MODIFIANT LA LOI SUR LES JOURS FÉRIÉS DANS LE COMMERCE DE DÉTAIL (OUVERTURE DES COMMERCES LE DIMANCHE)

Resuming the adjourned debate on the motion for second reading of Bill 38, An Act to amend the Retail Business Holidays Act in respect of Sunday Shopping / Loi modifiant la Loi sur les jours fériés dans le commerce de détail en ce qui concerne l'ouverture des commerces le dimanche.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr Gilles E. Morin): I believe the last time we debated that issue, the member for Durham-York had the floor. If not, I will recognize the member for St David.

Mr Tim Murphy (St George-St David): I am pleased to be able to speak in favour of the bill to provide for Sunday shopping. I want to say in preface that in our caucus we're providing, like in the government caucus, a free vote. There are differing views among members on that issue, which I think is interesting, because it reflects to some degree the legislation passed when the Liberal Party was government, which was a local option. In a sense, I suppose, a free vote reflects that principle, at least in part, although not quite all the way.

I stand in support of it, at least in part, because I think the public views it as already passed. I remember campaigning in the by-election in my riding of St George-St David, and every Sunday there'd be a lineup at noon outside the No Frills store just down from the campaign office, now the constituency office, on Parliament Street in the great riding of St George-St David. The people would be lined up there, ready to go into the store. It would provide a great opportunity for me to meet a lot of voters at one time. I thank the government for that opportunity, because it paid off in the by-election.

There are many other stores in the riding where that same thing happens. I can think of Mr Grocer at 155 Sherbourne and the Dominion store and Loblaws in St Jamestown, where people are provided with the opportunity to shop on Sundays, and I think they appreciate it.

I think they like it because of the convenience of the opportunity. Frankly, I think it's a modern thing to do. When I say "modern," I know that picks up a bit on the debate that happened on the bill in 1988 and 1989 under the Liberal government of the day, but I think it is a sense of the growing modernity of the province and of the acceptance in our province of newer notions as we move from old blue Ontario into perhaps at least a red Ontario.

1720

I do have some concerns, however, and one of them I think does relate to what the then leader of the third party, now Premier, expressed at the time, which was a common pause day. I think about the concern about a commercialization of Sunday, of that move away from the allowing of a common pause, of the sense of family, of people being able to gather together in other than a commercial environment. There is, no doubt, a tradeoff that has to be made between that commercial interest and the family interest, and I think that this bill, while allowing the accommodation to the interest of those who wish to shop and provide the convenience of shopping on a Sunday, may not go all the way in protecting that other interest.

I know that my friend the co-critic for the Solicitor General, Mr Chiarelli, is proposing an amendment to hours, and I think there is some logic to that, and I'll speak about that in due course.

My other concern relates to corner store operators. I know during the campaign in St George-St David one of the issues that came up was the concerns of many corner store owners, including the Ontario Korean Businessmen's Association, about the impact of Sunday shopping on the corner store operations. One of the things that I am concerned about is that impact as well.

I hope the government, in the course of dealing with this bill, will also think about those corner store operators, because I think the impact can be quite detrimental to what might be called the mom-and-pop stores of people who have come to this country and sacrificed a lot to be able to start up a business and send their children off to college to a better life. They see those prospects dimming and the prospects, frankly, for their children dimming. So I hope that some consideration will be given by the government in that regard.

Now, as I said in the beginning, one of the issues that was related to the free vote was the idea of local option. That was provided for in the initial bill before it got changed to no Sunday shopping at all and now changed back to free and wide-open Sunday shopping. But I think there was a workable concept in local option, and I think if left alone we could have survived with that.

I think the experience with a court challenge to Sunday shopping, which provided that window of some eight or nine months of Sunday shopping, would have allowed people to become comfortable with the idea and allowed the opportunity, frankly, for municipalities to make a decision that was workable in their own environment.

I would be remiss in that regard if I didn't quote from my predecessor in this seat in the riding of St George-St David, the then Attorney General Mr Ian Scott, who, when introducing the legislation at the time, in April 1988, said about local option, and I quote:

"This change recognizes the value of community autonomy and local choice in the matter of regulating Sunday and holiday shopping. Ontario is a vast and diverse province. The regulation of store openings must be sensitive to this diversity and recognize the differences among communities. The government's proposal will provide communities with the freedom to choose for themselves."

I think that's an important principle and one that could have been reflected in the existing law if this current government hadn't decided to change its mind and then change its mind again. In fact, that tradition of a local option carries a long and weighty authority going back to Premier Leslie Frost in the 1940s and 1950s, who was a great proponent of the local option.

I want to return to the concept of hours of opening on Sunday. As it stands now, some of the research that I've conducted and others have conducted on my behalf indicates that the municipalities may not have the authority on a Sunday to regulate hours of opening if your municipality has the desire, for example, to say stores should not open until noon on a Sunday to provide maybe not a common pause day but a common pause half-day. I think there's some virtue to allowing municipalities the option to do that, to regulate.

Now I'm not sure that I think it needs to be that we change the definition of "Sunday" for holiday purposes to start at noon, but I think there should be some recognition of a municipality's right to do that. I'm not sure -- I believe it's section 214 in the Municipal Act -- that it has the authority in it for municipalities to provide that regulation, and I hope the government will consider that possibility as this bill works its way through.

Now, I said too that I thought there was some sort of sadness to the process of wide-open Sunday shopping because it is that commercialization. In that regard, I did actually bring a quote, a poem written by F. R. Scott ages ago, that I thought sort of reflects a bit of that shock. It was written in 1967, and I know the members will appreciate that. It's called National Identity. It's in a fine book called The Blasted Pine, which I recommend to many members. It says:

The Canadian Centenary Council

Meeting in Le Reine Elizabeth

To seek those symbols

Which will explain ourselves to ourselves

Evoke unlimited responses

And prove that something called Canada

Really exists in the hearts of all

Handed out to every delegate

At the start of proceedings

A portfolio of documents

On the cover of which appeared

In gold letters

not

A Mari Usque Ad Mare

not

Dieu Et Mon Droit

not

Je Me Souviens

not

E Pluribus Unum

but

COURTESY OF COCA-COLA LIMITED.

I think it's that same sense of commercialization that Frank Scott is trying to achieve that causes me some concern about Sunday and why I think municipalities should be given the option to regulate hours, to provide some sense of pause, at least to perhaps noon.

I was in the Mr Grocer at 155 Sherbourne in my riding on Sunday, in fact when I was doing a little Sunday shopping, talking to one of the clerks there who had to work from 10 to 5 on Sunday who was not paid any kind of overtime, just straight-time pay. That's making Sunday a regular day, and I think there is a certain loss in that regard. We should be able to provide municipalities the option to deal with that situation.

I also have a concern, and I hope the government will look at its own report that it commissioned at the time that it was proceeding with this bill with respect to worker protection and other matters. I have some concern about the issue of worker protection on Sunday.

I recall the debate at the time in 1988 and 1989. The then leader of the third party, now Premier, and others in that party were of the view, frankly, that they thought no protection would be sufficient for workers on Sunday. I suppose I share some of that concern but, that being said, some recommendations were made by this committee, and I hope the government will heed them.

I think there are really two issues. The way the amendment to the Retail Business Holidays Act works I think is going to leave some patchwork quilts related to tourist exemptions and statutory holidays. I think the government should look at how that's going to operate.

For example, recommendation 7 from the working group talks about the confusion and concern regarding the enforcement of the provisions in the RBHA as it applies to those statutory holidays. Employers, for example, have complained that illegal openings on statutory holidays create competitive disadvantages, and I think there is some credit to that argument; owner-operators believe these holidays are one of the few competitive edges they have over large retailers; there are labour concerns, and I think valid ones, about the continuing erosion of workers' rights, as they are required to work on statutory holidays.

I hope the government's going to act on the issue, because I'm concerned about workers too, having in the course of my life worked as a clerk in a Dominion store, when I turned 16 until I was 19. At $2.35 an hour I know the value of Sundays and the occasional opportunity to work overtime, because at that amount of pay, I could work 40 hours and not earn $100, which wasn't a lot of money. But I hope the government will take heed of its own recommendation and give some protection.

In that regard, with respect to the amendment -- and I realize this may be some discussion that's more appropriate at a more detailed stage -- I'm just wondering if the minister or the Solicitor General would take a look, or have his officials take a look, at section 5 of the Retail Business Holidays Act in connection with the impact of his amendment. I'm not sure on the face of it how it's going to work where you're now providing Sunday shopping, and yet section 5 says notwithstanding, you can open on Sunday if you're closed on another day a week.

It may end up being a redundant section, depending on how it relates to the operation of the tourist exemption but, on its face, it's unclear how it's going to operate. He may want his officials to look at how that impacts. Having practised law for a while, I find judges and lawyers are often frustrated with redundant sections in legislation. My interpretation may be incorrect; that's been known to happen in legal circles from time to time, but I hope you'll do me that favour.

1730

I also have some concerns regarding the process by which we have ended up with Sunday shopping. I think there is a certain -- I hesitate to use the word -- arrogance in that process, because we have Sunday shopping now, yet we don't have a bill passed, enacted and proclaimed that permits that Sunday shopping.

While I support the principle, I believe in the importance of this institution. I was recently elected to uphold, I think, the principles of this institution, and I'm concerned very much by the idea of enforcing a law prior to its passage, especially in the context of a free vote on a bill when the government isn't ensuring that its majority will pass that bill.

I frankly think there is a form of contempt of the House in that. I'm doing some further research on that and I hope to be able to raise a point in that regard, but I do think there is a contempt of the House. That is one of the symptoms of the arrogance with which this bill has been proceeded, and that concerns me. I don't mean to lay that blame on the shoulders of the current Solicitor General. He has inherited that problem to some degree, but it is none the less the government of which he is a part that is proceeding in that way, and it does cause me concern.

That comes from one of his predecessors, in any event, the previous Solicitor General, the Honourable Allan Pilkey at that time, who I think is in another capacity currently, still honourable but in another capacity. He said at the time the bill was introduced that he would ask the officials of his ministry to inform police services across the province of the introduction of these amendments and that measures would be retroactive to the day of the introduction of the bill, June 3, 1992.

It strikes me that there's a certain, as I said, arrogance in that, because it's usurping the functions of this institution to tell police forces not to enforce the law on the books. It places police forces, crown attorneys and others in a difficult position. I know the Solicitor General would be concerned about that too, because there may be ways in which a government can abuse that authority to tell police to be selective in their enforcement of the law. I'm not saying that this Solicitor General will do it, but I think it's a principle that matters. I am concerned about that and I think that does fit with the context of a free vote on this bill, because there is no guarantee of passage.

Again, from Hansard at the time of the introduction of the bill, the Premier stood up and gave the statement, I suppose, because it was an important issue to the government at the time. He said, "I want to make it clear that the vote on the legislation, while it has the full support of the cabinet, will be a free vote in the Legislature for my own caucus, of course." It was nice of him to allow the others that opportunity to make up their own mind. But it was a free vote and there's no guarantee of passage. That does concern me.

I raised a point of privilege in the House at the reasonable first opportunity in that regard, and upon consideration I think it's more than a privilege point. It is a contempt of the House point. I hope to be able to raise that again with the Speaker. I intend to do so, because I think it offends that principle of the responsibility of the executive branch of government to the legislative branch of government, one that dates back as far as the Durham report in 1837, and a principle for which people in this province even fought.

Rumour has it that some of my relatives at one point at least intended to fight for that principle, although leaving Mount St Louis, north of Barrie, the story is that they got diverted at a tavern at about Bond Head and never quite made it down to Toronto for the rebellion, but that could be just family lore. I of course mean no disrespect to my predecessors by telling that story.

But I do want to quote from Durham's report at that time, because it's a principle that I think is important and one that members in this House often forget. "But the crown must, on the other hand, submit to the necessary consequences of representative institutions, and if it has to carry on the government in unison with the representative body, it must consent to carry it on by means of those in whom that representative body has confidence."

My concern is that by enforcing legislation prior to using the means by which that confidence has been placed in the executive, it is in contempt of the House.

The second way in which I am concerned about the process by which this bill has come to the position really relates to the rhetoric that was involved at the time of the debate on the previous, predecessor bill in 1989. The then Leader of the Opposition, now Premier, used quite extensive and expansive rhetoric in criticizing the then Liberal government about Sunday shopping and about expanding it and was quite effusive in his praise for his own position about a common pause day.

I understand that times change and circumstances change and the Court of Appeal, or at least the Divisional Court, in ruling initially that the Sunday shopping law contravened the charter, provided that opportunity for people to have an experience, and I can understand how that experience can change people's minds and I don't frankly take as much criticism with the government for coming to some degree to its senses.

What I do take issue with is, again, an issue related to this institution and the role of the members in it. I think the level of public disenchantment, frankly, with politicians and the political process really in part, in any event, comes from that concern of the public when they look at this institution, when they look at politicians, when they look at people speaking and they hear rhetoric, they hear the line being drawn in the sand and people saying, "You cannot step across this line or else things will come tumbling down," on issues that may not be of the most fundamental importance, or even if they are, they draw the line in the sand.

I think far too often we draw that line and say, "No further," as politicians, and this happens to some degree in all parties, and then none the less we erase that line and move it a little bit back, and then erase it and move it a little bit back. The public sees that and I think their level of distrust with politicians increases.

I think there's a bit of a lesson in how the rhetoric was used in relation to this bill, a lesson for all of us in how that can increase the disenchantment, because I think the current Premier's rhetoric at the time was quite expansive and he was very critical of the then Attorney General, my predecessor in the riding of St George-St David, who I'm proud to have at least succeeded, if not replaced.

I'd like to read a little bit from what the Premier said at that time to give a sense of how high the rhetoric was, so that we get a sense of how that can build up an expectation, which when it gets shattered, leads to further disenchantment with the political process.

For example, in I believe it was the second reading debate, the then Leader of the Opposition, now Premier, said, "Let's at least have the honesty to recognize that in our society people who have to work on a Sunday are giving up something a little different from people who have to work on a Thursday or Friday." I don't disagree with that notion. There is some truth to that.

He goes on, "The first argument I hear," in favour of the principle of Sunday opening, "that it is modern, that it is contemporary, that it is commercially successful, that it is the way to go and that it is the way the world is working seven days a week, 24 hours a day. 'Let's keep the stores going. Let's keep them open. Let's keep all those options available. Let's give that right to the individual to shop whenever he or she wants.'

"I must confess I do not regard that as a contemporary or a particularly modern notion. There is nothing contemporary or modern about it. It is, if I may say so, a very old-fashioned, commercial Victorian idea that people should be working 12 hours a day, 7 days a week. It is not a modern doctrine at all. It is a very old-fashioned doctrine and a very vicious doctrine."

Then he goes on, "The first thing I want to say is when members of the Liberal Party talk about modernity, all I can say is if that is their vision of the noble city, they can have it, it is theirs. They can flog that commercial doctrine, that it is somehow trendy and contemporary to work 12 hours a day, 7 days a week. I will say, quite frankly, I do not regard it as restful to go shopping with my family."

I don't want to speak about the Premier's family, but it's sometimes restful to go shopping with mine.

He goes on to say, "If we can provide convenience for people, great, let's provide convenience, but not at the expense of this notion, this idea of a common day of rest, of a common day of pause."

1740

So there it is, the rhetoric of clear drawing the line in the sand.

It goes on to say much the same thing again:

"That public policy is a law that says that, as much as possible, Sunday should be a common day of rest, a common day of pause for the working people of this province, and the provincial laws should be designed to implement that desire and that goal of public policy. That means that our labour laws, our commercial laws and our retail shopping laws should all reflect that view."

The Premier continued on in that same vein, in both of the official languages of this country, although not quite of this province. He said:

"They were in favour" -- talking at that point about my party, the Liberal Party -- "of a common pause day before the election in 1987. They said they agreed with the approach to a common pause day in 1987. I'm not talking about 1787 or 1887. I'm not talking about a Liberal Party that is totally different from the one we see before us. I'm talking about people who are still members of this House.

"I'm talking about the most remarkable transformation. Since the transformation of Cinderella, we have seen none equivalent to that which took place in the heart of the member for London South. When she was a member of her party and her caucus, she was in favour of a common pause day. Give her the coach and the carriage and the footmen, and my God, it is all changed. Make her a minister and suddenly the opinions are totally different. She is given the job of ramming this legislation through the House and not listening to what the people are saying."

He goes on to reinforce that same rhetoric, in the other official language of this country, saying, «Mon deuxième point, qui est fondamental : si le gouvernement veut vraiment protéger ceux qui travaillent dans le monde du commerce, dans les magasins et dans les boutiques de notre province, la meilleure législation possible est de garantir que ces magasins resteront fermés le dimanche.»

What is clear is that we have a rhetoric of drawing the line in the sand, a rhetoric of principle, a rhetoric of high-mindedness. While I think that is appropriate and has its place and I think it's important that the public see politicians take those stands because I think the public wants to see politicians be principled, the problem I have is that when that kind of rhetoric is used in the context of issues that may not require it, where circumstances may not need that kind of rhetoric, and then politicians turn around and change their mind, then it just brings all of us down, not just the government party, not even just the third party, but all of us in this institution.

That is the second manner in which I'm concerned about the way this bill has proceeded, in the broader sense. I do think it, unfortunately, has spoken to the irrelevance of this institution on occasion, both in terms of the rhetoric and in terms of the fact that there's an enforcement of the bill prior to its passage.

When I look in this House and see some empty seats, and I think about the people who might be watching at home --

Mr W. Donald Cousens (Markham): No, you turned them off. The natives have turned off their TV sets.

Mr Murphy: The member from Markham says they were turned off. Well, I dare say I don't wish to rival his oratorical excellence in doing that. I'm sure some have turned off, but I hope some in the great riding of St George-St David have stayed tuned in and I hope they'll continue to stay tuned in for the last few minutes.

To go back to my point, I think there is concern that this institution is irrelevant, that the way it operates does not provide a forum for decision-making in this province. The way this bill has been proceeded with reinforces that impression, that what we do here doesn't matter, that decisions are made elsewhere, that they're made in government caucus or cabinet room, the opposition caucus room or the third party caucus room, and that this is really the theatre within which these decisions are played out -- sometimes very bad theatre too, sometimes better than others. I won't make any particular point in that regard. I'm certain all will know who I talk about when I talk about bad theatre, and I wouldn't dare mention the member from Etobicoke West in that regard.

None the less, there's a sense that this is not an institution of relevance to people, and I think that we, as politicians in all parties, have a responsibility to re-create the relevance of this institution, re-create the sense that their politicians are here not just in the packs that we call parties but as individuals representing their constituency, are here fighting for those interests, are here making decisions and not just participating in the theatre of this institution.

Sometimes, I see people speaking in this House and often there's a concern that it falls on deaf ears. I hope that's not the case. I don't claim to be the most articulate of speakers, but I hope the message is none the less getting through to all members of the House. It's important that we not be part of the continuing denigration of this institution, of the way in which we govern this province.

In summary, I support this legislation. I've identified some concerns for the Solicitor General. I have a great respect for his ability. I hope he will take those back to his officials and take a look at them. I am concerned too -- and I hope he will respond to that concern -- about the protection of workers and about convenience store operators.

I can remember in the by-election talking at the corner of Parliament and Wellesley to my friend who had, just a few days before I talked to him, gone to meet the Premier on the point of perhaps providing some way in which they could continue to survive. He was a member of the Ontario Korean business persons' association -- there is a large Korean community in my riding -- and I know that corner stores, for example, are one of the ways that community provides itself economic sustenance. I hope the government will do something for those members in our community.

There are other individuals, of course, operating corner stores. My riding has quite a few, along Parliament Street and Church Street and Yonge Street and Wellesley, and even the fine Summerhill Market. I'm concerned that those local places continue to thrive and grow, because they're an important part of my riding. I hope the government will assist in making sure they continue and thrive.

Thank you for allowing me to participate in the debate. That completes my remarks.

Mr Cousens: I'm pleased to make a few comments, if I may, on the presentation of the member from St David-St George. First of all, it's my first opportunity to have had a chance to be in the House for the duration when the honourable member has made his pitch. I haven't had a chance to publicly welcome Tim Murphy, the member for St David-St George, to the House. I think he is going to be a very good combatant, because it took him a long time to reach the conclusion I wanted to hear: what he was going to do.

He learned the art by being an intern years before: You don't say all that much; you don't want to get caught, but you want to say enough that you can put something in your brochure if it comes out just right. He's going to be able to at least say to the people with corner stores and convenience stores on Yonge Street and Wellesley and Church and a few other parts of his riding that he's been in there fighting for them.

It might make a difference; it might not. It depends upon whether or not Mr Rae needs your support when it comes time for this, because there are enough New Democrats who may not be voting for it. But at least we've got another person that's going to support the New Democrats from the Liberal ranks.

I just wondered if you could comment on your own experience with the convenience store owners. How supportive are they of the Sunday shopping you're now supporting? I had a feeling that a number of the convenience store owners weren't too thrilled with this because it's impacting their business. Are you taking a different position from the convenience store owners in your riding? Certainly the ones up my way are quite concerned with someone supporting Sunday shopping if there's being nothing done by the government to help them survive the impact of what Sunday shopping is causing them.

The Deputy Speaker: Any further questions or comments? If not, do you wish to make further comments for two minutes?

Mr Murphy: Yes. I appreciate the intervention by the member for Markham who, through his many years as a member, has always been cogent and sometimes interesting. Well, maybe it's interesting and sometimes cogent; I'm not sure. Or maybe it's sometimes interesting and sometimes cogent, but always here. I'm sure the voters of Markham appreciate his presence. I appreciate his intervention.

It's fair to say that I can't speak for the convenience store owners in Markham. I can only speak for the convenience store owners in my riding, and I think I've made it clear that I want the government to do something to help out those convenience store owners in my riding.

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The member for Markham also talked about those members of the NDP caucus who may not be supporting this bill. I just want to say that I applaud -- I believe I was here when the member for Yorkview and the member for Downsview stood in their seats and said, "I can't, in principle, vote for this." Let me say I commend them for that. I think that's a principled position and speaks to what I was talking about during the course of my remarks, which was that people want to see their politicians take a more principled stand. They have done that, and for that I give them credit.

In that regard, there was a motion back in May 1992 brought by my leader and at that time there were 15 or so members of the NDP who voted against the motion to provide Sunday shopping, quite a long list. I hope they too will stand by the principles that they espoused at the time and shared and that continue to be shared by the members for Yorkview and Downsview. I hope enough members come together to pass this legislation. I think that in truth the public is fed up with dealing with this issue any more and we should get on with it.

The Deputy Speaker: Any further debate? The member for Markham.

Mr Cousens: I'm going to participate in the debate on Bill 38, An Act to amend the Retail Business Holidays Act in respect of Sunday Shopping. This is a bill that was brought forward by the New Democratic Party -- the government, anyway -- on June 3, 1992. That's just over a year from now that this was given first reading in the Legislature, and here, a year later, the government has so mismanaged its timetable on expediting legislation through this House that we're dealing with it a year later.

The least you can do, if you're going to bring in a new bill or a new law -- I mean, we're dealing with a number of instances of this in this Legislature where the government, by decree, makes changes from previous laws and doesn't even bother to bring them to the Legislature so that we, who are responsible for giving debate and approval or turning them down, have a chance to do that.

I think there is some reason for concern within the New Democratic caucus that if they were to have the bill brought before the House and if both opposition parties were opposed to it, this bill would be defeated, because there are enough people around here who have great concerns with what Bill 38 is all about.

Mr Rae and the new Solicitor General have brought forward legislation which may or may not have the approval of this House. Doesn't that raise some questions about the propriety of the way this place is governed, that in fact the government can pretty much, under the auspices of the Premier and his cabinet, do what it wants and, at some point in its own good time, bring it to the House for consideration?

I'm not at all pleased that the government has procrastinated as long as it has on this subject, as it has with Bill 34 and Bill 36. There are other bills which are also being brought forward from last year, budget bills which should have been dealt with before the House prorogued at Christmas time. But not so; the government just continues to bring them forward.

I have to say shame on you, New Democrats, because it's just another instance of poor management of this Legislature and this House. This is another example of a classless act where you've had the law in effect since it was given first reading and now, if it's turned down, you've got all those other people out there who wonder just how the system works.

I'd like to just comment briefly on how a government, when it is elected to office on the basis of certain promises, assurances, commitments and platform issues and then, when it's elected, changes its position on things.

Hon Bud Wildman (Minister of Environment and Energy): Surely not.

Mr Cousens: To the honourable Minister of Environment and Energy, I'd just like to point out that there are a number of examples of that with your government that really are causing many, many people great dismay. It's not only Sunday shopping where you've had a change in position; it has to do with the casino gambling, it has to do with government-owned or government-run automobile insurance, it has to do with the kind of statement made before the last election when your Premier, who was then Leader of the Opposition, in visiting Keele Valley landfill site, in visiting Britannia landfill, in visiting Whitevale, said, "On these sites, I will protect you. Nothing will happen here that is against the best interests of the community and the province and there will be no expansion of these sites. Nothing will happen without a full environmental assessment," and along shortly after that, when he's in power, brings forward Bill 143 and proceeds to break his own promises that he made prior to his election.

What I raise on this point is the issue, why don't we change the system, that if a government is elected to office based on a platform that they've established before they were elected, and when they're elected they find they have to change their position, instead of just doing it, they go back to the public, who voted for them, and ask for a referendum on those issues and let the public then determine whether or not they're going to allow the government to change that position?

I'm putting this forward as a suggestion for some consideration. It's an idea, because what we're dealing now is a breakdown of the parliamentary system. The public have entrusted the government of Ontario to the New Democrats, where 37% of the voters gave this government the power. It's a one-party government. They're in power for their term of office as long as they stay in office or until they lose a confidence vote, and when they're in office they can do as they will. So their promises before they were elected don't mean a thing. If they want to change it, they can change it.

I am only suggesting that the honourable Minister of Environment and Energy and all those people who serve in cabinet have the integrity to go back to the people and say, "All right, we're having a change of position on this" --

Hon Mr Wildman: Bill Davis never changed his mind?

Mr Cousens: -- "and rather than our coming along and just doing an about-face" --

The Deputy Speaker: Order, order.

Mr Cousens: -- "and rather than just come along and make what we said a perfect, full and complete lie, we are instead coming back to you to see that the public confirms what's going on."

So, Mr Speaker, if you want to pay attention to the honourable minister -- I see I'm getting him rattled, or is that his head shaking? I'm not just sure. But the fact of the matter is, I believe that there is a tremendous need --

Hon Mr Wildman: Tell us about Bill Davis and Catholic school funding.

Mr Cousens: Mr Speaker, either you're going to control the honourable member -- I'm not able to do that, I'm not Speaker, but the point I am trying to make --

Hon Mr Wildman: I am just putting it in a historical context.

Mr Cousens: I ask you, would you either shut him up or kick him out?

Mr Wildman, who is the Minister of Environment and Energy, is just constantly interrupting. Either you're in the chair, you're going to do something about his insolence, his bad manners, his lack of understanding, his dealing with the lies of government -- and what I'm trying to say is there should be parliamentary reform that puts these people in a position that they're going to do something.

The Deputy Speaker: Order, order. Our remarks should not be made personal, please. You have the floor and I would ask the minister to make sure that you don't interject while the member is addressing the House. The member for Markham.

Mr Cousens: Thank you very much, Mr Speaker.

Hon Mr Wildman: Thank you, Mr Speaker. I realize that all interjections are out of order but I just wanted to put it into some historical context in terms of the Davis government.

Mr Cousens: As we've seen on the whole subject of parliamentary reform, I'm suggesting, just to make the point again, that if the government has a change in position based on new findings, new information or their new polls -- I mean, who knows how Mr Rae operates? It certainly hasn't been on the basis of principle, of what he said before he was elected. Once he's in there, he starts saying and doing what he wants and it's irrelevant as to what he said before he was elected.

I'm saying, in order to put some credibility in the system, let there be a way in which the public, having placed their trust in a government, can then, when the government changes its mind, changes its heart, for whatever reason, be gone back to and then there is some way in which the public participates in the reversal of a decision. So the public can then say yes to a referendum or no to a referendum, because on the basis under which you were elected, you come along now and retroactively change things. It's wrong that you do that. You should seek public approval before you just come along and do that.

So the democracy that we have under the New Democrats is a lie because you say one thing to get elected and you do another thing once you're there. That's what so hypocritical about the New Democrats. The socialists of this province have become communistic. It's a one-party government and all you're trying to do is your own thing. There's no respect for the parliamentary process, and I say we --

The Deputy Speaker: Order, please. Take your seat, please. Order. I would ask the member for Markham to address the Chair. Ignore the interjections, but address the Chair, and I'm sure that you'll prevent all those exchanges.

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Mr Cousens: What it makes you question is the way in which --

Hon Mr Wildman: Mr Speaker, point of order.

The Deputy Speaker: The member for Markham, would you please take your seat. On a point of order?

Hon Mr Wildman: Mr Speaker, I recognize that I inadvertently provoked the member, but I would ask you to ask the member to be more temperate and not to use the word "lie" or to accuse anyone in this House of being members of the Communist party.

The Deputy Speaker: You may be totally correct in your remarks, but I apologize, I did not hear what was said. If it was said, I'm sure the member for Markham would apologize and withdraw those remarks, if he has said so.

Mr Cousens: I wanted to comment on the remarks made by the then Leader of the Opposition, Mr Bob Rae, on June 16, 1988. What I'd like to point out is the hypocrisy of those statements with the kind of bill before us today. I would like to just put them back on the record. It's easier that you go, Wildman, because I think the ignorance that comes out from you guys -- you can come along and do whatever you want --

The Deputy Speaker: The member for Markham, please take your seat.

Interjections.

The Deputy Speaker: Order. The member for Durham West, you have a point of order?

Mr Jim Wiseman (Durham West): Yes, I do. I'd like to recall a ruling that you made in this Legislature approximately two years ago on the use of the word "hypocrisy," and since the member from Markham has just used that word in reference to the current Premier of the province -- the ruling that you made at that time was that "hypocrisy" is a word that is not parliamentary in the context that it was used and it should not be used because it inflames the atmosphere of the House, which the member is obviously trying to do. Your ruling at that time --

The Deputy Speaker: Please take your seat. The ruling at that time was referring to a member. He was referring to an act, he was referring to a government. Therefore, I don't accept your point of order and I would ask the member for Markham once again to address your remarks to the Chair, please.

Mr Cousens: Thank you for your intervention, Mr Speaker. I appreciate it.

I'd like to draw to the attention of the House and put back on the record comments made by the then Leader of the Opposition, Bob Rae, when he was speaking on June 16, 1988, on Sunday shopping.

"What I want to suggest to the members of the Liberal Party is that they are not being very straightforward with themselves or the public in refusing to debate this issue as a question of what they think should happen." Here he was at that time being very, very critical of the Liberals and Joan Smith when they brought in the bills at that time.

He says: "I have a much more practical sense as to why this issue is important and why it has assumed the importance that it has. It is simply this. We live in a world where more and more people are having to work longer and longer hours in order to make ends meet."

He goes on to say, "For that reason, the pressure to work on a Sunday and the pressure to be away from the family is growing all the time." Part of his explanation on why he was opposed at that time to Sunday shopping.

Mr Rae went on to say: "Surely, if one genuinely wanted to be modern or contemporary, one would be talking about ways we can ensure that people should be working less....I believe profoundly that we should not only be talking about making Sunday a day of rest; we should be talking about making Saturday a day of rest."

Mr Rae at the same time, on the same day, June 16, 1988, when he had a very different position from the one that he brought forward last June when he brought in this bill -- and people elected him on the basis of the positions that he'd enunciated very clearly before that, which are in Hansard, so that he had a position; it was a known position; it was part of the New Democratic position, because as leader, he had put this on the record.

He went on to say: "I think it is fair to say, as a matter of sociological fact, that municipal governments have been less successful in resisting the pressures of the marketplace on their political systems than other levels have been. I think that is just a fact of life."

He goes on to say:

"The third point I want to make is that the Liberals have argued that this law" -- to make Sunday shopping available -- "is more rational and that the current law cannot be enforced.

"That argument, if I may say so, is just about the stupidest argument I think I have heard from the lips of the Attorney General.

"I might add that this law," -- and again he's referring to the Liberal law at the time -- "in its entire stupidity, also allows the municipalities to set the level of the fine for stores that are going to be deciding whether or not to comply with this legislation."

Mr Rae went on to say on June 16, 1988: "What I do not understand -- it seems to me that my describing the law as stupid has had some problems in translation. I do not know whether that is the case.

"What I want to suggest is that the arguments that have been put forward by those in favour of this legislation" -- for Sunday shopping -- "just do not hold water if one is sincere in wanting to maintain a common day of rest in this province. For those who do not think that such a common day of rest is important, all I can say is that we have a very real difference of opinion and I think if we were to have a totally blind vote of members in this House on the question of whether there should be a common day of rest, I do not think there is any question we would win. I do not think there is any question about that."

So these again are further statements made by the then Leader of the Opposition, Bob Rae, on Sunday shopping. "I think they are making a mistake." That's what he's saying of the Liberals: "I think they are making a mistake. We intend to fight them on this issue. We intend to give the people an opportunity, through the hearings process which will be going on this summer, to express themselves and to take those views to the committee."

Okay. He goes on and there's more in Hansard and I could quote more lines, but there are several pages of the debate at that time. That was the then Leader of the Opposition speaking out clearly and precisely and stating his position in opposition to Sunday shopping. Then he can come into the House after he's elected and change his position and that has to do with respect for the House and respect for the people who elected that person. They elected him on the basis that he would do certain things and when in his own good spirit, whatever the spirit is that moves him -- he can come into this House and reverse and change those positions from what they were before.

I'm not opposed to the fact that he changed his mind. I'm opposed to the process that's being followed, the fact that he can come in this House elected on one set of terms of reference and then, without so much as an apology, turn it around and change his position without giving the people that elected him any opportunity to reflect, to comment or to have any impact on what is happening in regard to that new decision.

He was elected for a combination of other reasons. He was elected in part because the Liberals had done such a deplorable job, and we can go into the history of what Mr Peterson was all about, but we can also say that there was a platform people knew was part of his baggage, his inheritance, what he would bring forward. When he can come along and just shove it aside, it's an example where I think it's bad-faith bargaining. It's bad-faith presentation to the people of Ontario, and yet the people of Ontario have no recourse in dealing with a government that comes along and changes its mind.

I'm saying, is that not a time to open up referendum politics? Let the public have a say in what's going on here so that when a government does change its mind, and if it has good reasons for presenting it, go back to the public and have a referendum and let the public then take that issue and deal with it, argue it through. So democracy costs money. I hate the fact that it costs so much but at least the public then own the issue and take responsibility for it rather than this government. So that becomes one of my points.

The next point I want to make is, why isn't the government doing something to deal with the issues that are part of the convenience store owners? I have a number of convenience store owners in my riding who are genuinely concerned about what has happened to their business since this bill was brought into law in the province of Ontario.

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A Hasty Market store on Apple Creek Boulevard -- when you start talking to the proprietor of that store, business has been seriously impacted because of Sunday shopping. As part of a group of proprietors, they've gone on record as the Ontario Convenience Stores Association in trying to get the government to address some of their concerns as to the impact that Sunday shopping has had on their businesses. Unfortunately, the government has not responded to those concerns. In fact, at one point, they hadn't even had answers to their letters. They may have them by now, but a number of the things they've raised in their presentation --

Mr Chris Stockwell (Etobicoke West): On a point of order, Mr Speaker: The member from Markham is making very good points that should be heard on Sunday shopping. I think we need a quorum.

The Speaker (Hon David Warner): I won't comment on the quality of the speech, but is there a quorum?

Clerk Assistant and Clerk of Committees (Ms Deborah Deller): A quorum is not present, Speaker.

The Speaker ordered the bells rung.

The Speaker: We have a quorum and I will recognize the honourable member for Markham.

Mr Cousens: The convenience store owners have put together a paper that outlines a number of the concerns they have with regard to the impact of Sunday shopping on their businesses. From June 7, 1992, when the Ontario government first allowed Sunday shopping, to September 30, 1992, these are some of the data that were accumulated as to the impact it had on their corner stores and the convenience stores association members:

They lost $59 million in total sales from June 7 to September 30 last year. Convenience stores have lost $12,000 each in sales for the months of June, July, August and September -- $12,000 each in lost sales during those four months. Close to 2,000 of their convenience store employees lost their jobs during that period of time, because the impact was that as people were going to larger stores and other stores, there was less need for the convenience store to serve that need in the communities. Two hundred convenience stores were closed during that period of time.

You're seeing, on the one hand, a piece of legislation that comes in, and a group of people -- entrepreneurs and business people -- in our province who are in business to serve the public entrepreneurially are being devastated by the change that took place.

This year, from June 7, 1992, to June 6, 1993, the members of the Ontario Convenience Stores Association will have lost $179 million in total sales. The convenience stores will have lost $38,500 each in total sales during that one-year period. An additional 1,000 of their convenience store employees have lost their jobs in that period of time.

On the one hand, the government has made a significant change by introducing the bill that allows for open Sunday shopping, and then on the other hand, you have the convenience stores that are extremely exposed, because their business, which was largely made up by business that would come in on weekends when other stores were closed, has been devastated.

In the meantime, they've written the government. They've asked the government for some consideration. They've brought forward suggestions. The suggestions are legion. One chap I've talked to in my riding is saying, "If only we could have some freedom to sell some extra products, if we were able to have some fast food without necessarily all of the washroom facilities and the other things, at least it would generate some money for us." Their business is in jeopardy.

Eighty-two per cent of the respondents of the convenience store owners and managers association have indicated that they have fewer customers in their stores on Sundays since Sunday shopping came into effect; 83% indicate a drop in revenue. On average, 62.7% of them indicated that their Sunday revenue is down from 10% to 30%; 81.2% of the respondents indicated that their weekly revenue has gone down because of Sunday shopping. Of those, 27.7% say their earnings are down 5% to 10%, and 53% say their earnings are down 10% to 30%.

What we're talking about is a group of people, entrepreneurs within our society, who have been looking for a way to deal with this issue. In going back to the government, the fact that the government has stonewalled them, refused to deal with them on the issue, has just exacerbated their frustration by not being able to find a solution.

All I can say is that it's pretty obvious that the bill is going to be approved. The legislation, Bill 38, would now seem to be almost a fait accompli, although one wonders. The House is divided on the issue, but there are probably going to be enough people that it carries.

The fact of the matter is that the government hasn't looked at all the domino effects that go on when you make one change. That becomes the issue of the convenience store owners and their managers. They are an important segment of our community. They have the entrepreneurial spirit. Yet somehow, when the government fails to listen to them or understand them, then they're left out on a limb and the government just cuts them down.

I don't think there are any of us who along the way haven't had a change of position on this issue. It's gone from Ontario being really shut down and closed on Sunday with no sports and no other activities. In my own riding, back a number of years, I did a poll. I asked the public, back in 1988, what their position was on Sunday shopping and 65% of the people in my riding -- and that's the riding of Markham -- were opposed to Sunday shopping. If I weren't going to ask them the question, then I wouldn't have accepted their opinion and followed it.

Two years later, when I asked the same questions again on whether my riding was in favour of or opposed to Sunday shopping, it had reversed. Though 65% were opposed to Sunday shopping in 1988, two years later 56% were in favour of Sunday shopping. There had been a significant shift in public opinion.

At that point, when that poll and survey of my own riding came out, I made it very public that my riding had had a change of view and a change of heart and that my position as well had changed. I went public with the results and indicated that as the elected member for that riding, inasmuch as that was then the view of my constituents, my view would reflect their view as well. There was a sense, as things changed, as they can change, that I wanted to have that interplay back with my constituents so that I could be honest with them.

I think that's really the fundamental point which causes irritation to me, that as a government you don't have the luxury to change positions from before you're elected to after you're elected. What I ask for on the part of Mr Rae and his people who are around him is that he be much more careful on any future legislation that's coming about.

It's too late now to go and seek a referendum or to get public input or to go back and listen to the people, but I ask that you begin to understand that when you are elected on the basis of certain premises or on the Agenda for People, which was laid out by the New Democratic Party, or on other issues which are all part of the platform of that party, you don't come along and change your platform unilaterally, arbitrarily, without listening and understanding what the public has to say. That is the challenge that government has to have.

In rebuilding credibility with the public, the government needs to have some way of dialoguing or talking or sharing with the public so that as things change, you're in a position then to reflect on that and use that information or revise your position. But the public participates in it. The unilateral positions taken by this government without having that consultation are the offence of a majority government, of a majority government that has lost touch with its promises. I know I'm talking about a form of parliamentary renewal where democracy can then go to the grass roots and public and they can say, "We can make a difference. We can be involved and can influence what the government is going to do."

I know the member from Don Mills would know the numbers better than I, but less than 55% of the people in his riding voted in the by-election recently, and that means only about 42% or 44% of the people voted in that election. People aren't voting because they say, "What difference does it make?" It should make, in their own minds, a huge difference to be able to participate in the parliamentary and democratic process.

What government has done, by coming in elected on one set of terms of reference and then changing its mind, is causing a massive turnoff by the public at large, because the public now feels it has nothing to contribute. Who is going to listen to them anyway?

Bob Rae and his government have already shown that they do not listen; in fact, that their word is not as good now as it was before they were elected. Now when they're in office, they're able to reverse significant positions such as on the casinos or on Sunday shopping or on auto insurance or on strikes or on various other things. This is a government that just lives according to the opportunity of the moment and does not really seem to care about the integrity of what it's saying and what it's doing. It has lost touch with what it said before it was elected, and then it does something totally different afterwards. That is what's causing a breakdown in the trust and credibility of politicians.

In fact, I can say that Bob Rae gives all politicians a bad name when he does that kind of thing. What he really has to understand is that the people out there are looking for more from their politicians than broken promises. They want to see a sense where if you're elected, your word is worth something, and that if you say you're opposed to Sunday shopping before you're elected, if you change your mind after you're elected, you go back to the public in some way and give them a chance to react and respond to it. That hasn't happened.

Here we've gone for a year in which this bill has been implemented arbitrarily, unilaterally by Premier Bob Rae. The public are now used to it. The House will now vote on it a year later. Far better to have gone back and dealt with the people that elected him and said, "I am going through a change of heart, and I ask you if you're in favour of it," and find some mechanism where they're able to react to it.

That is what government is all about, I think: to maintain the trust of the people. For this government to have done this is just a breach of trust.

Report continues in volume B.