36th Parliament, 1st Session

L118 - Thu 31 Oct 1996 / Jeu 31 Oct 1996






























































The House met at 1004.




Mr Kormos moved private member's notice of motion number 32:

That in the opinion of this House, the government of Ontario should abandon its mandatory workfare program, including mandatory community placements, and introduce locally managed welfare-to-work programs that:

(a) are voluntary;

(b) respect the dignity and human rights of the individual;

(c) provide the kind of training and support that help people get marketable skills for real jobs;

(d) pay fair wages for the work experience and training;

(e) do not displace other workers from their jobs; and

(f) allow welfare recipients to do volunteer work with community agencies on the same terms and conditions as any other member of the community.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr Gilles E. Morin): Pursuant to standing order 96(c)(i), the honourable member has 10 minutes for his presentation.

Mr Peter Kormos (Welland-Thorold): Speaker, I've got to tell you, and I've told you this before, down where I come from in Welland-Thorold, the concept of workfare is not new. In fact, I remember campaigning in the last provincial election and talking with some of the older folks, those from Crowland and elsewhere in the community, who recalled the 1930s, who recalled themselves or their families, in some cases their fathers, their neighbours, being what were called "relief workers." You see, the government of that day didn't take too kindly to the fact that people were unemployed and that their children were hungry either. Rather than providing them with real jobs or doing the things that were necessary to create real jobs in this province, the government of that day imposed workfare. So we had the relief workers in Crowland digging sewers by hand.

When they had, by God, the audacity to organize themselves, these people from eastern Europe and other parts of the world, some of them speaking broken English, and say, "We as workers in these trenches, with our spades and shovels and pickaxes in our hands, we have the right to organize ourselves and we have the right to demand some very fundamental rights, rights that will permit us to do work in dignity and permit us to work in such a way that we can feed our children and take care of our families," I'll tell you what the government of the day did. Mitch Hepburn sent down his troops. These people dug those ditches in Crowland at gunpoint. Hepburn's Hussars visited Crowland. So these people know the indignity and the evil and the violence that can be wreaked upon hardworking people, people who want jobs, people who want to support themselves and their families, by governments that are intolerant of the poor and of people for whom the economy is unable to provide work.

I've received some calls that this is a relatively modest request of the government. Quite frankly, at the end of the day, the real issue is the fact that there aren't jobs in this province for a whole lot of hardworking people who want to be employed. This government made promises. We know what the promises were. This government promised, in the course of its election campaign, 725,000 jobs. I won't dispute the fact that more Tories were elected to Queen's Park than were Liberals or New Democrats. Clearly a whole lot of Ontarians took them at their word. But what do we have a year and a couple of months later? We've got higher unemployment now in the province of Ontario than existed in June 1995. We haven't seen but one of those promised jobs and we've seen yet more working women and men forced on to the dole.

I know the mythology; all of us do. Quite frankly, people simply don't believe Ms Ecker any more, Mr Harris. I know the mythology that was generated by the Tories during the last election. It crept its way in the most mean-spirited of ways through every community in this province. But I tell you, Speaker, that unlike, I suspect, most of the Tory members, I've spoken to those people and I know those people who have been forced on to the welfare rolls. I've been in their homes, know their families. I tell you that, contrary to the mythology that this government, that Harris and the Tories, would try to perpetuate, people want to work. People want to have jobs. People on welfare assistance don't want to be on welfare assistance. People on welfare assistance want real training so they can entertain the prospect of assuming real work.

We need in this province work and jobs, not workfare and the indignity of being forced into programs that are deadend, because that's what workfare is all about. There's nothing meaningful about the job training component. There's nothing meaningful about it at all; it's about punishing the unemployed for the crisis that this government maintains in this province of joblessness.


We know, and quite frankly this government knows, that social assistance recipients are already doing everything they possibly can to get off welfare and into real employment. We know that welfare-to-work programs are irrelevant. Welfare-to-work programs of any ilk are irrelevant when there are no jobs for those people to go to after the program is completed. This government, I'm convinced, quite purposefully misses the mark. It's reneged, it's breached its promise to create jobs: 725,000 -- not one. There is higher unemployment now in the province of Ontario than there was in June 1995 when Harris and his gang were elected.

Quite frankly, this province is having a hard time putting the whole system together. It's unable to find hosts or partners, if you will, for this insidious proposal. Communities and agencies recognize how shallow and how meaningless Mike Harris's Tory workfare program really is.

This government is speedy and fast to criticize, for instance, Jobs Ontario. Were there faults that had to be corrected? Of course there were, but in itself as a new program it took people off the welfare rolls and provided them real training under conditions that promoted dignity and pride and got them into real jobs. Workfare doesn't come close.

The proposal before the Legislature today is, as I say, a modest one. Surely participation in any welfare-to-work program should be voluntary: voluntary certainly on the part of any partner or host that's involved in the training and voluntary on the part of the participant. Otherwise, it becomes oh, so meaningless.

It's imperative as well that this government not simply be creating pools of scabs or free labour for the private sector. I submit to you that no participant in a welfare-to-work program should perform duties that are performed by a paid employee or that have been performed by paid employees of a municipality or region, or even in the private sector, and that no placement should ever be permitted in work sites that are involved in labour disputes. This government has already done enough damage to the workplace in Ontario with its revocation of Bill 40, and for it to use its workfare proposal to provide scabs for employers who are unwilling to negotiate collective bargaining agreements is unconscionable.

There has to be a guarantee that participants in these programs are paid a fair wage for their training and their work experience. It's imperative to any successful transition. It's equally imperative that child care be guaranteed, be compulsory for each and every woman -- or male single parent, for that matter -- to enable them to participate in these sorts of programs. It's imperative as well that any program that it's embarked on be monitored effectively and thoroughly so that the effectiveness of that program can be evaluated.

In terms of the participation, as volunteers, in community agencies, and the community agencies have told me this as well, they understand volunteerism. Volunteerism is an important part of all of our communities, but participants have to be allowed to engage in volunteer work with community agencies on the same terms and conditions as any other members of society. These are bottom-line issues. These are real issues, and these are issues that are called for in this resolution.

The Deputy Speaker: Your time has expired.

Mr Ron Johnson (Brantford): It gives me a great deal of pleasure to speak to Mr Kormos's resolution today. I want to say that on the surface, when you look at the "whereases" he's got in the resolution, there's not a great deal of difference between our viewpoints.

If we look, for example, at the beginning, it says, "Whereas all Ontarians are concerned about the number of people on welfare...." Of course, on this side of the House we're very concerned about the number of people on welfare, and I can tell you as well that we believe most Ontarians are.

Then it goes on to say, "Whereas people on welfare want to work...." We know and believe firmly that the people on social assistance in the province of Ontario don't want to be there.

Mr John R. Baird (Nepean): I agree.

Mr Ron Johnson: I see the member for Nepean agreeing with my comments. On the government side, we firmly believe that the people on social assistance want opportunity and they want to get into the workforce.

He then says, "Whereas job creation, employment training and programs building job skills are critical to helping people become more independent and self-supporting...." Again, there is no disagreement on this side of the House. But I'm afraid that's where we part company.

We look then at what Mr Kormos goes on to say, and he talks about making it voluntary, he talks about scrapping our workfare plan. It's evident that we can identify with the problem; that's not the issue here. But what we have to determine, of course, is the solution. No matter how you cut it, the New Democrats don't have a solution, they've never had a solution, and we do.

I think you have to look as well at the fact that if the New Democrats had their way, and I know Mr Kormos mentioned it in his opening remarks, they would bring in what they called at that time Jobs Ontario Training. We know the kind of farce that Jobs Ontario was, don't we, the member for Welland-Thorold? We know the wasted thousands of dollars that were flushed down the drain through the Jobs Ontario Training program. In fact, the Provincial Auditor was very clear in his criticism of that particular program. So that's not what we're about, and we're certainly not going to do that again.

What we really want to do is develop a plan that is going to give people on social assistance opportunity and self-esteem. We believe that our workfare plan has been one small part of welfare reform. Our workfare plan is going to do just that.

I think it's important to note that when people got on to the social assistance plan in the past they've really been trapped in this cycle of dependency, and of course that has created a real generational problem, if you will, with respect to some families in the province. Workfare is going to address that very concern.

I think we have to look at the fact that it's working. If you look at our welfare reforms to date, we're seeing very clearly that our plan is working. There are 180,000 fewer people today on social assistance than were on social assistance when we took office a year and a half ago. I think, quite frankly, that's a number that we can be very proud of, and I think it's a number the New Democrats and the Liberals alike have a very difficult time refuting.

I find it somewhat ironic that we're listening to the member for Welland-Thorold, who belonged to a government that put more women and more children on social assistance than any government in the history of this province. I think it's somewhat ironic that he would bring this motion forward when, when he was in office, they struggled immensely with the social assistance plan and with the number of people going on to social assistance.

I think we have to look at what we are doing as a government, what we are doing to address the problems that, in large part, we inherited from the New Democrats and the Liberals before them.

Mr Kormos: How come unemployment has gone up since you were elected, counsellor?

Mr Ron Johnson: He'll blame the recession; I hear him heckling over there. I hear the member for Welland-Thorold talking about a recession from 1990 to 1995 that caused thousands of people to fall back on the social assistance plan. There's absolutely no doubt that there was a recession. I think we would be remiss if we didn't acknowledge that.


Let's look at how they dealt with that recession and let's look at the policies that government put in place to deal with the recession. There's absolutely no doubt in my mind, and I would argue the minds of most Ontarians, that the policies Mr Kormos and his government put in place simply accelerated the recession here in Ontario, that the policies he put in place didn't help one bit but in fact amplified the problem. Whereas Ontario had always been the engine that drove the economy in Canada, in this case, under the New Democrats, it was the last province to recover from the recession, and that was simply because of the policies his government put in place.

As a result, as I said before, that gentleman and his party put more people on social assistance than any government in the history of this country. Let's understand the facts, and the facts are very, very clear.

The member also talks about how somehow we have driven a wedge between those who are affluent -- his party says it all the time: the haves and the have-nots. Well, that wedge was already there and that wedge had been there because of the policies his government put in place. The very reason we're going through the economic reform that we're going through now is to eliminate those barriers, to eliminate that wedge so that all Ontarians can have the dignity of a job and so that all Ontarians can have the dignity of working for a living and not have to fall back on the social assistance plan.

He also referred to job creation and he talked about the number of people on social assistance today. I can tell you that 180,000 fewer is a very significant number.

I look at my riding of Brantford. I've got to tell the member for Welland-Thorold that in Brantford they have embraced the workfare plan. I was fortunate in my riding to have the minister down at that time, the Honourable Dave Tsubouchi. He came down to Brantford and toured what we call there St Leonards Pallet Co. I'll tell you, my community in Brantford embraced workfare. In fact, we are one of the 20 communities across the province that are now part of the workfare plan. I can tell you, it's greeted with tremendous enthusiasm. It's something the people of Brantford are behind 100% and it's certainly something that I know the bureaucrats and the hardworking people with the ministry are supporting 100% in my community.

And it's working too. If you look at our reforms, in Brantford alone -- these numbers are staggering. He won't talk about the successes, but let's talk about the success in Brantford. In Brantford alone, we are one third the way there of completely eliminating people on social assistance. One third of the people in my community who were on social assistance before are no longer on social assistance. That is success.


The Deputy Speaker: The member for Hamilton Centre, your voice carries so much. I would ask you just to tone it down a bit.

Mr Ron Johnson: Thank you, Mr Speaker. They get all excited when you start throwing facts at them, because of course they have absolutely no argument when they're confronted with the facts.

Let me just say in conclusion, because I know my colleague from Dufferin-Peel would like to continue, that I believe, as do the people of my community, that workfare is a good plan. It's a plan that's going to create some self-esteem within the workforce and within people on social assistance.


The Deputy Speaker: The member for Hamilton Centre, I won't have to repeat it too often.

Mr Ron Johnson: It's a crying shame when they're confronted with facts and they start jumping around in their seats because they can't combat the facts.

I want to say in conclusion that the member for Welland-Thorold has no idea about job creation. He doesn't understand job training. He doesn't understand job skills. He doesn't understand job markets. The bottom line is that he has no idea about jobs.

Mr Dominic Agostino (Hamilton East): I rise in support of the resolution of the member for Welland-Thorold. I don't think any of us in this House disagree with the concept of meaningful job training, meaningful programs that help people get off welfare, meaningful programs that will help break the cycle, that will help people get on with their lives and get off this miserable existence known as welfare in this province.

Unlike my friends across the floor, I don't believe that people choose to be on welfare. I don't believe that people choose the luxurious lifestyle of living on $500 a month, I'm sure living the life of the rich and famous on that wonderful, large income that is given to these individuals.


Mr Agostino: My friends across the floor "ah" and "ah," on and on.

What this program is all about is a chest-pounding, feel-good, bumper-sticker solution to the real problem in Ontario. There are many people on welfare who voted for the Tories, and they voted for the Tories because they believed that workfare was going to mean a job for them. They didn't believe that what the Tories were talking about was, as the minister said, fix the fireplace at firemen's park. They didn't believe workfare was painting swings or building baseball diamonds. They didn't believe that this was the meaningful retraining and upgrading programs that this government was talking about.

But you know what? Workfare sells, politically. This government knows that. This government knows that the get-tough, chest-pounding approach works. Frankly, that is the only reason this program was implemented. When this government outlined workfare in their Comic Book Revolution, they did not have a clue how the program would work. A year and a half later, they don't have a clue how this program works. They talk about 20 communities. Most of those communities have not started the programs because the agencies are smarter and have more principle and integrity than the program; the agencies refuse to become involved.

In my own community of Hamilton-Wentworth, they're having a hell of a tough time trying to find agencies that want to participate in workfare because their own integrity and their own mission in helping the poor drives them to refuse to participate in a program that exploits the poor in this province.

I don't buy the concept that the laid-off steelworker in my riding or the laid-off labourer who's been forced on to welfare needs to be forced into picking up rocks in a park or painting swings to make this government feel good. The laid-off steelworker or the laid-off labourer in my riding needs a job, needs the opportunity for a real job, not feel-good, chest-thumping, 17-hours-a-week volunteer work to continue to feed the egos and the public opinion polls of this government.

It is an expensive program. It is part of the ongoing division in this province that my colleague referred to earlier. This government loves to divide and exploit people. And we're not just seeing rich and poor any more. We're seeing those on welfare and those who are not on welfare; those who have jobs and those who don't have jobs; those who need health care and those who don't think they can afford it and get by otherwise; those who have children in day care and those who don't; those who have children in school and those who don't. This is the ongoing politics of division, the nasty and mean politics of division, the politics that believe you can add by subtracting: "You know what? If we lose a few hundred thousand votes among those welfare recipients, think how many votes we gain on the other side." That is the ultimate nastiness of the politics we're seeing over workfare. It is the politics of Michigan, it is the politics of Mississippi, it is the politics in New Jersey. It should not be the politics of Ontario.

This government likes to talk about the impact of their policies and how well they've worked. If they believe that forcing 400,000 children in Ontario to have less to eat, to force 400,000 children to go without shoes or jackets is successful, that is not the Ontario I believe in. When they came to office and their first move was to decide they were going to cut welfare benefits by 22%, they failed to realize that 400,000 kids in this province rely on welfare assistance.

Why are they being victimized by this government? Why do you feel you need to punish 400,000 kids who rely on that welfare assistance to get by? How do we win? How does this province become a better province by that? It is an ideological attack on the poor and the needy in Ontario.

This is not new. This has been tried and has failed miserably in every jurisdiction across North America. My friends like to say, "Well, it has worked in Michigan, it has worked in New Jersey. The Republic governors, Newt Gingrich's friends, have made this thing work." What they fail to realize is that the reason welfare numbers have dropped in Michigan or have dropped in New Jersey is because unemployment in those states ranges in the 4% to 5% range, not in the 9% to 10% range as in Ontario. There's a clear correlation between unemployment drop and welfare drop in those jurisdictions. There's no clear correlation, in any jurisdiction across North America, between workfare programs and welfare numbers dropping.


What workfare does is take away human dignity. It takes away freedom of choice from people. People should be able to choose the types of meaningful programs they want to get into. There are many programs that work and have worked across this province. In my community of Hamilton-Wentworth, we have programs like Helping Hands, that took hard-to-employ individuals, often who had disabilities, often who had difficulties, drug and alcohol addiction, and put them through some very extensive, meaningful retraining programs that included classroom education, that included literacy upgrading, that included work in the community, and they had a 60% or 70% to 80% success rate. That is a tremendous achievement.

What this government should be doing is helping communities enhance those programs that work, allow the case workers, allow the administrators, allow the welfare recipients to choose the programs that best suit their needs and to let them get on with their lives, not to continue to attack and beat up on and exploit these individuals.

The message you're sending out is that welfare recipients are lazy, that welfare recipients don't want to work, and that the only way you're going to get them is by forcing them to do it, and you're going to give them a swift kick in the butt and say, "Do this or we're going to throw you on the street," because the alternative, frankly, is no benefits, no home, no food, no clothes.

I don't think that is the way you deal with a serious economic problem. Welfare is not a social problem in Ontario; it's an economic problem. Let's stop treating it as a social problem. People do not go on to welfare because they choose to do so. People are forced on to welfare. We've seen statistics in the last few days that talk about the patterns over the last two or three years, where we've seen many university-educated professionals, many individuals who have graduated from high school, many people who have post-secondary education, being forced on to the welfare rolls. These people didn't all of a sudden become lazy. Nothing got into the drinking water five years ago that has made all these people lazy in the last five years. These people are forced on there because of economic circumstances and difficulties.

When you look at the programs today and the communities, I find it interesting that the community of the Minister of Community and Social Services has as yet not started and is still very much debating whether to become involved in workfare. The good people of Oshawa and Durham are raising some very serious questions as to whether this program should go ahead. Hopefully, the good people of Oshawa and Durham will determine that their community will not participate in exploiting the needy and the poor in Ontario; they'll determine that there are better ways of doing it.

I ask members across the floor to give us some idea of how many placements will occur. We keep hearing that workfare is going to put all these people -- there are about 400,000 or 500,000 eligible people, and they're all going to be doing 17 hours of community work somewhere in this community. Somehow 500,000 placements are going to magically appear and are going to be there for people to do.

The best estimates from surveys done with those municipalities that are going to be involved is that at the end of the first year there will be 5,000 placements at a cost of $120 million -- 5,000 placements at $120 million. That works out to be the most expensive volunteer program in the history of this province. We're talking about an average of $22,000 per placement, we're talking an average of $27 per hour per placement on top of the welfare benefits, and we're talking about a placement that at the end of the day doesn't lead to a job.

This government can't tell us what the projections are. No one on the other side of the House will stand up today and tell us how many individuals who are on welfare will be working as a result of workfare at the end of the program.

So we put people in a program and we say, "Go play nice in a park, go pick up some rocks in a park for 17 hours a week, go paint the swings, and you'll do that for three months." What happens to that individual at the end of three months? He has picked up some rocks in a park, he has painted some swings, he has boosted the ego of the government members, he may have boosted the public opinion polls for the government, but what happens to that individual? Is he or she any better off? Are there any more marketable skills there? What job does that person go to at the end of that 17-hour-a-week volunteer work that they're going to be forced to do?

We have today in Ontario 57,000 more people out of work than there were a year ago. This is not job creation that is working. We have approximately half a million people unemployed who are not on welfare, and then you throw into that mix about 400,000 or so who can work and who are on welfare, and you have almost a million people in this province looking for work today. Does this government not understand that that is the root of the problem? Does this government not understand that there should be a greater priority on ensuring that we have the type of climate to create jobs in Ontario?

How do you create jobs by forcing thousands of layoffs in the public service? How do you create jobs by creating a climate of labour instability that will probably be the worst in the history of this province as a result of your continuous attack on labour, on working men and women in this province? How do you create a climate where you set up a tax cut for the richest and the wealthiest friends of yours in this province at the expense of the poorest and neediest in Ontario? How do you set up a climate where you make commitments during an election campaign that you're not going to cut health care but you go and start bulldozing through communities and closing hospitals right across this province? How do you create a climate where you run during the campaign and you promise not to impose user fees on senior citizens and then you turn around and impose user fees on those same people you vowed to protect? Or copayments, as you call them, copayments; they're not really user fees. A senior citizen feels much better because you tell them it's a copayment, not a user fee that you promised not to bring in. How do you create a better climate when you promise not to hurt seniors and disabled across Ontario and then you eliminate programs that help seniors and disabled? You have left 16,000 seniors and disabled on welfare at a benefit reduction of 22% for over a year and a half now. How does that create a better climate for the province of Ontario?

What workfare is all about is an ongoing ideological attack on the neediest and punishing people because they're poor and out of work in Ontario. You're punishing people because they're in unfortunate circumstances. You're punishing people because they don't have access to your boardrooms and to your $250-a-plate fund-raisers, and they don't have access to your wealthy friends and to your government contracts. As a result of that, you are going to continue to punish them; this government will continue to punish them. This will be a continuous attack, an attack that will continue as long as the public opinion polls tell the government that it's politically popular to attack the neediest.

But I ask members across the floor to look at their own community. Get out of your seats at Queen's Park and go into the communities, go into the welfare offices across this province, go into the food banks across this province. Look some of those kids in the eyes and tell them that what you're doing is good for them. Look at some of those single moms who are struggling to get by and tell them that what you're doing is good for them. Look at those unemployed, laid-off steelworkers or labourers in my riding and my community and tell them that picking up rocks in the park is going to help them get off welfare. Don't sit here in your ivory tower and pass judgement on hundreds of thousands of Ontarians who need your help rather than the back of your hand.

I urge this government to get on with some real, meaningful welfare reform, to drop this absurd and continuous attack on the poor and to stop the myth that's out there, the myth this government has taken pride in perpetuating, that people on welfare are lazy and don't want to work. I challenge this government to create the jobs, and the welfare numbers will drop. I ask the members of the government to get on with some real reform and drop the charade. Help the people of Ontario.

Mr David Christopherson (Hamilton Centre): I appreciate the opportunity to join the debate. I want first of all to make note for the record that the previous speaker, the member for Hamilton East, I think is someone who believes very firmly in what he said here today, but let's not forget that that was the party of "mandatory opportunities," which was somehow different from what the Tories are proposing. It's interesting that they had to send in the new crop of Liberals in an attempt to try to put their recent history record behind them. I just want to lay that out for the record, that there's not much difference between what the Tories are now doing and some idiotic concept called mandatory opportunity.


The Deputy Speaker: Members, I would ask you to remain calm, serene, listening attentively.

Mr Christopherson: I assume, Speaker, you're trying to help me and I appreciate that, but with the limited time I have, let them roar on, please, sir.

I also want to make it very clear that I'm solidly behind the position of my colleague from Welland-Thorold. I think this is someone who has a record of caring very deeply for and focusing all his energy on those who are the most vulnerable in our society, those who have the least, and certainly under this government are the ones who pay the price for the benefit the very wealthy are getting from the policies they've put forward.


I also want to acknowledge that this is not anything new. The whole concept of workfare, as previous speakers have mentioned, is not something new that the Tories have come out with. The member for Brantford talks about the opposition not wanting to respond to facts. The facts are, as Susan West, who's a planner with the Social Planning and Research Council of Hamilton-Wentworth pointed out in an April article in the Hamilton Spectator of this year, this is something that's been tried before. That's the fact. Further to the fact, it failed. One of the most recent times it was brought forward was during the last Depression in the 1930s.

So there's a similarity here. Given the fact that the recession of the early 1990s was the deepest and strongest we've had since the Depression, it's pretty easy to realize that the right-wingers among us, namely, the Reform-a-tories led by Mike Harris, believe that the policies that took place during the Depression times are the ones that are needed now. At that time it meant to go after the poor, to blame them for their own situation.

In the case of what's going on now, which is so disgusting, we even see a further transfer, a deliberate transfer of what meagre money the poor have to the richest in our society. That's what you've done. One of the first things this government did when it took office was to cut the income of the poorest of the poor by 22%. I have no doubt in my mind that the history books will reflect that was one of the meanest, most vicious attacks on the poor that we've ever seen, and these will be seen as the recessionary dark times when a certain political party took the opportunity of a recession to implement the most right-wing ideological policies imaginable.

Those also, I believe, are the facts. Certainly history, I have no doubt, will prove that the facts are that you took us back decades, but in the meantime there are real people and real children who are being hurt by what you're doing.

The member from Brantford got into quite a little rant. At one point he almost made a big mistake. He almost said "and this policy will create -- " Anybody who watches the videotapes will realize that he paused. You could see the light go on in his head as he realized, "I can't say jobs, because these aren't real jobs." Then he changed it into something else. He stopped short of saying you're going to create jobs, because the truth is you aren't. You're not giving anybody any jobs. If anything, you're going to take away jobs -- jobs in the public sector. If there's decent work out there, then I say pay people a decent wage to do it. It's not only the most humane thing to do; it happens to make great economic sense.

You're going to spend half a billion dollars monitoring forced labour that threatens current public sector jobs, that threatens the volunteer sector you profess to care about. You're going to threaten the ability of judges to continue to give community placement orders in lieu of incarceration, because there's already a backlog there. All these things are threatened, and you're going to spend half a billion dollars to do it, all because you pushed a political hot button in the last election that got you a lot of votes. That did happen. I don't think it's something that we collectively, as a people in Ontario, should be very proud of, but you did that.

There's no way you can make workfare into fair work, because it's not. At the end of the day what you're going to do is try to show, through statistical manipulation in the last election, that somehow this program helped people. You need the luck of larger economic indicators in your favour and I don't know whether that will happen or not, but certainly there's nothing in workfare that helps people, particularly the poor, the most vulnerable. There's nothing that helps communities. There's nothing that helps build the economic base that we need in all our communities, like Hamilton-Wentworth, my home town. There's nothing in this that's going to provide real training for real jobs. All this is going to do is provide those who want an answer why there are so many bad things happening around us with an easy answer, and that is, blame the poor. Obviously it's their fault.

Yet when we look at the facts, the facts of the matter are that over 50% of the people who are in poverty are kids, and the vast majority of those families are headed by women who are single parents. That's who's in poverty. They're struggling to get out. What do you provide them with? A boot. A boot that says, "Go out there and perform the most menial tasks we can think of and somehow magically that's going to give you a job."

What they want is education, what they want is training, what they want is opportunities. Workfare doesn't do that. It didn't do it in the 1930s and it didn't do it during the Industrial Revolution. It will not do it. You can't treat people that way and expect that somehow something positive is going to come out of it.

I want to end my comments today by saying to each of you, as members of the government back bench: Think about your place in history, because you do have a historical role. Ask yourself if you really want your children and your grandchildren and your great-grandchildren to have to live down the legacy that one of their predecessors sat in a government that viciously attacked the poor the way you're doing and through workfare brought back forced labour into this province. Live with that, and maybe if you think about it that way, some of you will start to back off a little bit and maybe that will creep into the decision-makers of your government, because God knows, nothing else seems to be getting through.

Mr David Tilson (Dufferin-Peel): I'd like to speak to the resolution from the member for Welland-Thorold. This resolution appears to be almost a carbon copy of the position and memo that came from a press conference, I believe it was last week, by the social planning council, so I understand why he's brought this resolution at this particular time.

I sat in opposition when the member for Welland-Thorold was in cabinet and when he was in government. The member for Dovercourt, I believe, was the minister at the time. We kept waiting and waiting for the New Democratic government to come forward with some philosophy, with some statement, with some change to the welfare system. Both the member for Dovercourt, when he was the minister, and the former Premier of the province of Ontario all said, "The system is broken; we have to fix welfare," and nothing ever happened. They had four years to fix it. Now they come with this resolution criticizing an attempt made by our government to fix the system.

I believe and I hope this system will be fixed. You've got to remember that Ontario had paid the highest welfare benefits, not only in Canada but in North America in the last decade. This was during good times and bad times, and at a time when welfare payments had grown from $930 million to a staggering $6.3 billion in just 12 years; an astounding increase in the cost of welfare and at a time when welfare had tripled to 1.3 million, a figure that had continued to rise, as I say, through both good times and bad times.


I hope all the members of the New Democratic caucus are going to read Mr Rae's book. It will make a wonderful Christmas present for your friends. In this book he talked about what you did during the time you were in power. I refer the member for Welland-Thorold to page 193, where he says:

"We deliberately raised welfare rates that winter" -- this is the winter of 1990-91 -- "to soften the blow. One cabinet official said our decision was the first time she had ever heard a cabinet decide to give the Minister of Community and Social Services more than she was asking for to help stimulate the economy and maintain living standards in a recession. It turned out to be an unpopular decision once the recession began to recede." That's the problem. You threw out money you didn't have.

A government is supposed to help people. There's no question a government's supposed to help people. A government is supposed to educate people. But a government isn't supposed to give away money. You just don't give it away. You try to help people. You try to educate people. You just don't give away money.

Mr Christopherson: What about the 30% tax cut for the rich? You're giving $5 billion to the rich.

Mr Kormos: Take about giveaways.

The Acting Speaker (Ms Marilyn Churley): Order, please. Order, the member for Welland-Thorold. The member for Hamilton Centre, come to order.

Mr Tilson: I don't mind them heckling, except they're taking up my time.


The Acting Speaker: The member for Dufferin-Peel take his seat for a moment. Members, please come to order.

Mr Tilson: The problem is that welfare became a permanent way of life to many people.

Mr Kormos: Oh, please.

Mr Tilson: Well, I'm sorry; it did. You say, "Oh, please." The fact of the matter is, it kept increasing and increasing.

Mr Kormos: Well, yes, when you don't create jobs. Where are the jobs you promised?

The Acting Speaker: The member for Welland-Thorold.

Mr Tilson: The member for Welland-Thorold is heckling away at me. Some members say he's a man who cares. This is what the former Premier of Ontario said about the member for Welland-Thorold.

Mr Garry J. Guzzo (Ottawa-Rideau): Read it in. Make him listen to it.

The Acting Speaker: The member for Ottawa-Rideau.

Mr Tilson: "Trouble started almost as soon as we began. The first was Kormos himself. He was an impossible colleague, and an even more difficult minister. He missed meetings, threw tantrums, belittled his colleagues in cabinet committee. I asked him to get his act together but it was clear I was just Big Nurse to him" -- this is the Premier of Ontario -- "yet another authority figure whose nose he could find a way to tweak. And tweak he did, and not just on car insurance.

"On his own he decided to declare war on the beer companies and their advertising, asserting that what they put on TV was too sexy and exploitative. This became a silly sideshow. Then, totally inconsistently, he decided to pose as the Toronto Sun's Sunshine Boy. This was a soap opera that could only run until I had pulled the plug.

"I fired him from the cabinet on March 18, 1991, just before the House came back from spring break. The press story was that I had fired him for `appearing fully clothed in the Toronto Sun.' Not true. I fired him because he was a royal pain. I knew I had enough support in the party and caucus to get away with it. I lost no sleep over this decision."

So much for the member who cares about the people of this province.

Our party cares about the people of this province. We intend to get people who are dependent on the system off the system that you've created and get them working again. The members over there talk about how we're cruel, how degrading are our policies. Since when, when you're trying to get people working, is that degrading and cruel? We're going to get them working again. Not you. All you're going to do is write cheques. I can tell you, we're not going to do that. We're going to get people off the welfare rolls and working.

There's a statistic that came out and said we've got more people off welfare and working. There was a poll taken. Now, I know the members over there say, oh well, they don't have phones and there were all kinds -- Mr Walkom, I think, made a report in the Toronto Star talking about how fallacious that poll was. But the fact of the matter is, people have been getting off welfare because of our policies, have been getting off welfare and on to the working rolls of this province. That's our aim. Common sense is asking people who can work for something in return for their welfare cheques. It's just helping clean up the mess that you and the Liberals created for the last 10 years.

I hope that you reconsider, particularly that the former Solicitor General reconsiders his position, because we intend to make this work. It will indeed work, and we're going to get this province working again.

Mr Tony Martin (Sault Ste Marie): I want to thank the member for Welland-Thorold for providing us this morning this wonderful opportunity to speak on a subject that is close to the hearts of many certainly in the New Democratic caucus, and anybody out there in Ontario, in the communities and cities that we all represent, who has any interest at all in the welfare and wellbeing of families and children and of communities.

What we have coming at us in this province under the guise of workfare is simply another part of the Ontario Tory agenda which is, as has been described here this morning already by so many so eloquently, small-minded, narrow, mean-spirited and nothing but an effort to take money out of the pockets of the poorest, of the ordinary working person, and give it to those who already have more than they need.

We in the Ontario New Democratic caucus and party believe that Ontario is a healthy jurisdiction in every sense of that word and should not have to resort to the kind of tactics that this government is falling to to in their estimation right-side the economy and the financial situation of this government and the so many other things that they present as the real agenda of their party and of their government.

Ontario has an abundance of resources. Ontario is one of the richest jurisdictions in all of the world, and if that resource is managed properly, is mined properly, it will generate the kind of wealth that can then be redistributed in a way that guarantees that everybody who lives in Ontario has a decent, adequate and dignified standard of living.

That's not what this government is about. That's what this government should be about. This government should be about looking at people as the resource they are, providing them with an opportunity to participate that recognizes the skill and the ability they have and that should be in turn providing them with a decent standard of living by way of the wage they make or the money they get from government for participating in the so many ways they do in keeping this province a province that is envied by anybody I've ever talked to in so many places around this world today as a place they'd like to come and participate. But that won't be for long, because in the short year and some months that this government has taken control in Ontario, we have seen an exercise in smoke and mirrors that would put Houdini to shame.

We've seen an attack on the poor and the most vulnerable that would put the many dictators and despots we've all read about and some perhaps have experienced in this world today, as they beat up on their own citizens and the citizens of the world out there in an attempt to impose an agenda that in every instance was neo-Conservative, narrow, mean-spirited and selfish -- that's what we're getting here in Ontario today. So this workfare proposal fits --

Mr W. Leo Jordan (Lanark-Renfrew): On a point of order, Madam Speaker: I don't think it's in order for the member for Sault Ste Marie to be comparing our government to a dictatorship.

The Acting Speaker: No, you don't have a point of order. Member for Sault Ste Marie, please continue.

Mr Martin: Sometimes when the shoe fits, you've got to wear it, and sometimes the shoe pinches. It's interesting that the member from the Conservative Party would rise on that point, because I think I touched a nerve. Many of us, when we get up and say things on this side of the floor sometimes that we would prefer not to have to say, touch nerves and we get that kind of response.

Anyway, back to my point. This workfare initiative is just another part of this government's smoke-and-mirrors approach to doing business in Ontario and it's part of their very wicked attack on the most vulnerable among us in all of the communities and villages that we live in and represent here in this House.

I want to say that I agree wholeheartedly with the statement made by Workfare Watch in June of this year when they said: "Workfare is unnecessary. Workfare is unnecessary because people who are on assistance in this province are already out there looking for work, are already out there beating the bushes trying to find a way to earn a living so that they can pay the rent and put food on the table for them and their children. We don't need to be beating people up in this way."


They say, "Workfare doesn't work." They have done the research and they have looked at areas and jurisdictions in Canada, North America and around the world where workfare has been tried, and they've found that it doesn't work. They say, "Workfare is expensive and bureaucratic," and I agree. "Workfare always displaces paid employment. Workfare will divert resources away from genuine training."

I suggest to you, in closing, that workfare --

The Acting Speaker: The member's time has expired.


The Acting Speaker: Order, please, member for Nepean. The member for Welland-Thorold has two minutes to sum up.

Mr Kormos: I appreciate the participation of my friends in this discussion, in this debate. Indeed, we heard in the Legislature after some lengthy silence from -- who was he? -- the member for Dufferin-Peel. I haven't seen him here for a good chunk of time. I recall that he was a candidate in the Speaker's race. He was first off the ballot in a field of seven, and perhaps that reflects the esteem in which he's held even by his own colleagues.

We've dealt here with a government that has as its sole objective the fulfilment of its commitment to the very wealthiest in this province, and that's to give them a tax break they hadn't dared even dream of, a 30% tax break to the richest and a complete denial of the fact that this government's policies, and indeed so often lack of them, have generated more joblessness, more unemployment in the fall of 1996 than existed at the time of their election in June 1995.

Mr Baird: Wrong, wrong, wrong. Your majesty's wrong.

Mr Kormos: They can squeal and howl and carry on, but they can't change the facts. The reality is that there's less work available to working people in this province now than there was when the Tories got elected. The fact is that with their wacko workfare scheme, one that is oh so very American in its nature, they are attempting to blame the poor and the unemployed for joblessness in this province. They're attempting to punish the poorest in our society for their poverty. They're telling us that there's no room in Mike Harris's Ontario for single mothers and for the jobless and the unemployed. I say this government had better put its house in order because, by God, the voters of this province will put them in order in two and a half or three more years.


Mrs Fisher moved private member's notice of motion number 29:

That in the opinion of this House, the government of Ontario, in making a decision regarding the restructuring of Ontario Hydro, should take into consideration the following: the historic and economic value of Ontario Hydro to the people of Ontario; Ontario Hydro as a major resource to the province, especially the significant role played by the nuclear generating sites; the importance of creating a long-term vision to address the global competitiveness of energy production, transmission and sales; value-added projects, such as the Bruce Energy Centre, resulting in economic growth and job creation for Ontario; and the commitment made in the Common Sense Revolution to work with the chairman of Ontario Hydro and others to bring Hydro back to its proper role, providing reliable and affordable electrical power to Ontario, which may mean more changes at Hydro, including some moves towards privatization of non-nuclear assets.

Mrs Barbara Fisher (Bruce): The resolution before the Legislature today is designed to bring into focus the considerations faced by the Harris government in the management of a debt-ridden Ontario Hydro and the need to establish an Ontario electricity system as a part of an energy system that would serve the Ontario economy.

Mr David Christopherson (Hamilton Centre): "I'm sorry. Please vote for me again."

The Acting Speaker (Ms Marilyn Churley): Order. The member for Hamilton Centre, come to order.

Mrs Fisher: It is important to note that any so-called privatization could only be conceived of if and when it is viewed to be in the best interests of the people of Ontario. It is for that reason that I have brought this resolution to the House: so that we may discuss what is best for Ontario Hydro and best for the people of this province as we move into an era of competition in the electricity industry.

Ontario Hydro holds both a historic and an economic value to the people of Ontario. From its inception in 1906, Ontario Hydro has played a crucial role in the development of our province. Once a small power grid that served a handful of municipalities in southwestern Ontario, transmission lines now extend to every corner of the province, providing millions of customers with reliable electricity. For 90 years now, electricity has played a major role in building Ontario's economy and in raising our standard of living.

Ontario Hydro represents a major resource to our province, especially important because we do not have abundant natural gas and oil. Nuclear generating sites play a significant role in support of our resource. Across its system, Hydro has the capacity to generate 34,000 megawatts of power. Nuclear stations represent over 60% of that capacity, and nuclear production supplies most of the base load of the electricity system.

The Bruce nuclear power development site has contributed greatly to that 60% generation, largely as a result of a committed workforce that has achieved world records. In 1980, for example, Ontario Hydro's reactors occupied the top four positions in the 1980 world performance rankings, which compared 114 reactors with greater than 500 megawatts of production. This achievement was made possible by the performance of the Bruce A generating station, whose reactor units 2, 3 and 1 took first, third and fourth places respectively.

Of extreme significance, the Bruce nuclear power development site benefits my community by employing approximately 4,500 employees.

It should also be noted that neither Ontario Hydro's nuclear nor its hydraulic generators produce greenhouse gases. The challenge for the Ontario government is to determine how best to exploit Ontario's unique situation in this increasingly important environmental regard.

I should mention and commend the Harris government's continued support for the international thermonuclear experimental reactor project, known as ITER, for which two siting options are Bruce and Darlington. We are hopeful that the federal government will, in its wisdom, offer support for bringing this prestigious project to Canada and to Ontario.

In addition, I would like to highlight my continued support for the mixed oxide fuel project, known as MOX, for which the next steps include environmental assessment approvals and public input towards locating the MOX project at Bruce.

It is also imperative that we recognize the importance of creating a long-term vision to address the global competitiveness of energy production, transmission and sales. It is understandable that workers at Ontario Hydro's many locations are discouraged, frustrated and wary of change. I was a proud Ontario Hydro worker at a time when our nuclear plants were known worldwide for their nuclear excellence. Today we must help the employees of Ontario Hydro re-establish that same pride. That means restructuring should encourage the spirit of competitiveness within Ontario Hydro as well as outside of it. It means that, like any other business, Ontario Hydro can no longer allow waste, duplication and unnecessary spending as it addresses its $32-billion debt.

That being said, no one should confuse the fact that, because of outside forces, competition is upon us. If you were to plot current industrial electricity rates on a map of North America, you would see that we are surrounded by low and decreasing energy prices. From our neighbours in Manitoba at 2.5 US cents per kilowatt-hour to Quebec at 3.1 US cents per kilowatt-hour, some of the US states at as low as 2.7 cents and gas companies from the eastern and western United States at as low as 2 to 3 cents, Ontario's 4.3 US cents per kilowatt-hour is hardly, at best, a contender.

For Ontario Hydro to survive the effects of outside influences, we must address, through restructuring, the need to be competitive. There exist many possibilities of how competitive Ontario Hydro would look and as many ways to achieve that competitiveness. We are fortunate to be able to look at other jurisdictions that have privatized their electricity systems and learn from their mistakes.


In so doing, we can look at Britain and Nova Scotia. We can also measure our progress against other areas engaged in similar debates, such as British Columbia where, like Ontario, one of the key aspects of electricity generation is the ownership of generation, transmission and distribution by a crown corporation.

The entire world is examining the organization of electricity markets. Privatization, deregulation and competition are becoming the norm. The United States, for example, in order to compete within itself and with Canada, is currently undergoing major restructuring and precipitating industrial amalgamations. As one of the largest public utilities in the world, Ontario Hydro should be setting the international agenda on electricity, not following it or falling behind.

Ontario's long-term vision to remain competitive requires an appreciation for allowing Ontario's electricity system to become a part of a comprehensive energy system by attracting joint venture enterprise to combine its skills, creativity and capital within the current management and ownership regime.

Value added projects, such as the Bruce Energy Centre, will result in economic growth and job creation for Ontario. Activities such as industrial ecoparks must be encouraged by offering competitive electricity and heat energy rates, reflecting a true discount for not incurring transmission losses and costs. This will allow Ontario's large central generating stations to compete when open access does occur, to stimulate major job creation and industrial development, to encourage emerging technological advancements, and to minimize the mistaken attitude that competition between natural gas and the electricity interests hurts the economy of Ontario. This mindset has restricted the evolution of mutual benefits of both business interests and the Ontario consumer to date.

The commitment made in the Common Sense Revolution is to work with the chairman of Ontario Hydro and others to bring Hydro back to its proper role, providing reliable, affordable electrical power to Ontario. This may mean changes at Hydro, including moves towards the privatization of non-nuclear assets. A move to a more effective, more affordable and more competitive Hydro means that the low-cost energy should not be sold by Ontario Hydro through a US subsidiary while Ontario consumers are required to pay higher prices because of a preserved monopoly.

The Power Corporation Act must be amended to allow Hydro to be competitive, both internationally and within itself, and to provide economic development rates that will attract business to Ontario. The Ontario Energy Board Act must be opened and consideration given to, at minimum, providing the OEB with decision-making authority in place of its current role as an advisory body to the Ontario Hydro board of directors.

A third piece of legislation to be considered is the Public Utilities Act, in which the role of municipal electric utilities and public utility commissions must be reviewed. The mandate and purpose of Hydro technologies and Ontario Hydro International must be reviewed to determine the relevance as we move forward with the restructuring agenda. And we must re-establish a high reputation through controlled spending, appropriate staffing levels and local decision-making. Ontario Hydro has historically been the primary driver of Ontario's economy. It needs to be recognized as a resource, not just an industry to be torn apart.

Bringing Ontario Hydro back to its proper role can be best accomplished by restructuring Ontario's electricity system into fully accountable and competitive units, each competing with each other and with any other producer of electricity in an open market.

Mr Sean G. Conway (Renfrew North): I want to join in the debate in connection with the resolution standing in the name of the member for Bruce. I want to commend her for bringing the subject to the assembly. I think any fairminded member of the House would have to be sympathetic and sensitive to any member who represents Bruce county, since we all know that the current member, like her predecessors over the last 30 years, represents an area with a very substantial Ontario Hydro presence. I know from people like Murray Elston and, dare I say it, Eddie Sargent, that it has always been an issue before people in Bruce county, and it's quite properly an issue before the province as a whole.

It's hard in some respects to take issue with a lot of what the resolution suggests. It asks that the government, as it sets new Hydro policy, take into consideration the historic and economic value of Ontario Hydro. I think that's almost a bromide with which no fairminded person could quarrel; I see my friend from Lanark nods approvingly. It asks that Ontario Hydro be recognized as a major resource in the province, especially in terms of its nuclear division. That might be a little less unanimous in its acceptance, but certainly none the less important. And on the resolution goes. It talks about the first-order importance of providing reliable and affordable electricity, and surely there's no one who is going to contest that claim.

But I do want to take the opportunity today, Madam Speaker, to say to you and to the member for Bruce and anyone else who's listening that it is time, I think, that we had a better sense of where the government is in respect of Ontario Hydro policy. It's all well and good, and I commend the member for Bruce for doing her duty, as the member from an area with a very large Hydro presence, in bringing forward her perspective and her concerns. But I think it is only fair that one of these days we get a much clearer sense from the treasury bench, from the government, as to what kind of Hydro policy it's going to pursue.

We have reports in the Toronto media -- the Globe and Mail comes to mind, October 14, 1996, where the new Minister of Energy, Mr Sterling, is quoted as saying: "The decision on whether to privatize and what parts you would privatize," meaning privatizing Ontario Hydro, "I think it's a couple, three, four years out." Fair ball. That's the current minister's view. There will no major decision on privatization for at least two to four years. That I understand. I think some of my enthusiastic friends in the government say it's a second-mandate issue. That's got an interesting ring to it, but that then begs the question, what's Ontario Hydro doing in the interval?

I can tell you that no one, no organization of which I have acquaintance, likes a vacuum more than Ontario Hydro. And they are not static, they are a very active player these days. We have, for example, a report in a Hydro publication of this past summer; just a few weeks after the Macdonald commission's A Framework for Competition in Ontario Hydro was released in early June, we have the president of Ontario Hydro, quite a formidable executive and someone for whom I have a high regard, Dr Allan Kupcis, saying to Ontario Hydro employees in an internal publication that early in July, the Hydro board met and they made two major decisions about policy directions that they are going to be pursuing in the coming months and years. I want the House to listen carefully to what Dr Kupcis, the president of Ontario Hydro, announced as corporate policy, decided and reinforced this past summer. Reading from the Hydro document:

"In broad strokes, the strategy adopted and confirmed at the July board meeting suggests that Ontario Hydro plan for growth in each of the three signature businesses of generation, transmission and retail distribution."

We have a clear statement of intent from the president of Ontario Hydro that notwithstanding what the minister may be saying, the new minister or the former minister, the member for Guelph, we have the president of Ontario Hydro stating in July of this year that a recent board decision confirmed that there would be an active expansion of Ontario Hydro's activities in the three signature businesses of generation, transmission and retail distribution. That is a very important statement from the president of this crown corporation.

I want to know, is that government policy? It's clearly not what Mr Macdonald is recommending. I have not heard the Minister of Finance or the Minister of Energy or the real minister of hydro in this government or any other, the first minister, pronounce as to whether or not they endorse what Mr Kupcis has in fact announced as corporate policy.


Now, you might say, "Well, that's just one reference." A very fine former member of this assembly, a good Conservative, a former Minister of Health and Minister of Energy, Phil Andrewes -- some of you will know Phil; he's a very fine fellow -- he happens to be presently the chairperson of the Lincoln Hydro-Electric Commission. I raised this issue the other day, because here we have proof that notwithstanding what the minister is saying or not saying, Ontario Hydro is doing its thing in the marketplace. Two and a half years ago -- the member for Algoma will remember well -- this Legislature unanimously, as I believe, endorsed Bill 185. That bill essentially gave municipal utilities the right to expand to fulfil their municipal mandate. Many of them currently just supply a portion of their municipal mandate. In this case, Lincoln was the first out of the gate after Bill 185, and Ontario Hydro was actively involved in that.

Now we find that Ontario Hydro is participating in a not very helpful way in holding up what we all thought was a good thing. Putting it very bluntly, Ontario Hydro is down in the Niagara Peninsula actively frustrating a significant, well-intentioned local utility from fulfilling its retail mandate, in a way that we all thought was a good thing if you were concerned about efficiency and getting at duplication, because we've got in Lincoln what we've got in many other situations. We've got a local utility supplying some of the market, that is, on the retail side, and we've got Ontario Hydro in the same marketplace. I think most of us here would agree, and that was the basis of the debate around Bill 185, let there be one supplier, at the retail end at least, if it can be shown to be an efficient and sensible thing. So Ontario Hydro is down there, and that's just one place, actively frustrating a local utility from doing what most people think is a right, sensible, cost-effective activity.

Up in my area, Ontario Hydro intervened a few months ago, telling Pembroke Hydro that its 90-year-old agreement with a private supplier, a deal that predates the creation of Ontario Hydro itself, a deal that supplies very cost-effective alternate power to the electrical consumers in the city of Pembroke, a deal that's been in place since before Ontario Hydro was created, Hydro decides to exercise a right that it's had to --

Mr W. Leo Jordan (Lanark-Renfrew): They have the right.

Mr Conway: That's right. The member from Lanark is right. But they go in and exercise that right and say, "That deal must end." I thought we were all interested in more affordable, more efficient delivery of this vital resource. We have in Lincoln and in Pembroke clear evidence in recent weeks that the utility is pursuing, and pursuing aggressively, a policy that certainly seems to be at variance with what many in the government say they want and certainly what the honourable member for Bruce would be recommending in at least part of this resolution.

I repeat, if Hoover makes vacuum cleaners, Ontario Hydro is in the business of filling vacuums. Let me tell you, they're out there now very much filling a vacuum. I say to my friend from Bruce, whose intentions are good and honourable, that it is important that one of these days we hear publicly from the government as to what its policy is going to be. I will probably debate with some, perhaps even in my own caucus, about how far privatization should go. We have, all of us, I can say as a relatively senior member of this place -- Tories, Liberals and New Democrats -- accepted that there ought to be some significant reliance on privately generated electricity. That policy decision we made a decade ago. I don't sense that decision is about to be reversed by Liberals, New Democrats or Tories.

I believe and my colleagues believe that there are -- and here I agree with that part of the resolution that stands in the name of Mrs Fisher -- vital public interests in this electricity debate that we must as a Legislature and as a government and as a community defend, vital economic and social interests that governments of all kinds in the 20th century have stood up to protect.

I am deeply concerned about Bill Farlinger's concept of the public good in this electricity business. When I talk to people on Bay Street, I've got to tell you, their sense of public interest in the electricity business is not my sense. I do not believe there ought to be a significant sale of public assets that have served the public well.

I can imagine we have done certain things involving the private sector and we ought to do more. I think one of the most contentious areas of rationalization is going to come in this business of retail and distribution, where you've got two parts of the public sector: the public sector that is represented by Ontario Hydro, and yes, I say to my friend from Algoma, John Murphy and the Power Workers' Union; and you've got the local public interest as represented by Lincoln Hydro, Ottawa Hydro, Nepean Hydro, Smiths Falls Hydro or whatever. I'm under no illusions about how difficult it's going to be to rationalize those two competing interests in the public sector, but we have to do that. The customers, whether they're in St Catharines, Pembroke, Ottawa or northern Ontario, expect -- here the member is right -- reliable, efficient electricity at affordable rates and they like competition. I'm under no illusion. They like it and they want it. But I don't think that gives any of us a licence to simply sell out Ontario Hydro.

I think Don MacDonald has some good ideas; I think he has a very bad concept for the Ontario Hydro that would be remaining after this report was to be implemented. In my vision of Ontario Hydro after the reforms and changes, and change there must be -- the continental marketplace that is North America will not give us the luxury of sitting still in the comfortable pew of the status quo. I think we have to recognize that. But I believe there is a very significant role for a public utility that provides reliable and attractively priced electricity.

I'm not about to endorse selling off most of what is Ontario Hydro. Quite frankly, even if we wanted to do some of that -- I've talked to my friend from Lanark, who might want to get into this debate -- I live on the Quebec border and we've got a number of very significant hydroelectric assets that are anchored partly in Ontario and partly in Quebec. I look at those hydro dams in places like Rapides-des-Joachims and elsewhere and I have a feeling that Quebec City will have an interest. Even if you wanted to sell off those assets I have a feeling that M. Landry, M. Bouchard, M. Parizeau or M. Bertrand -- you name the Premier of Quebec. Anybody who thinks you're going to sell off those substantial hydroelectric resources, dams, on the Ottawa River and not invite the very keen interest of the Quebec government -- I might be wrong, but I suspect I'm not.

My point is that there are vital public interests. Those interests attach to the values of reliable, available and competitively priced electricity; an important, significant role for Ontario Hydro. I'm not surprised Don MacDonald said, "Keep the nuclear assets in the public domain." There is no alternative. But we shouldn't be keeping just those assets for which there is no alternative and selling off everything else to the private sector. That simply would not be in the public interest. By the way, Ontario is not southern California and it's not the United Kingdom. This is a big, empty province in many respects and it's awfully cold six months of the year.

The Acting Speaker: The member's time has expired. Further debate.

Mr Bud Wildman (Algoma): I want to congratulate my friend from Bruce for bringing this resolution before the House for debate. As my friend from Renfrew North indicated, we have been experiencing some considerable vacuum in terms of government direction with regard to the future of Ontario Hydro, a very important asset, as the member for Bruce says in the resolution.

Ontario Hydro has a history of importance in terms of economic development in the province. There has been and will be change. The energy markets in North America are changing substantially and have been changing very rapidly. This will mean that there will be continued change, but my experience in this place over the same length of time as my friend from Renfrew North is that governments that do not actively provide some important and ongoing direction to Ontario Hydro find that this crown asset and the staff at this crown asset find their own direction.


My suggestion to the member for Bruce is that there are parts of her resolution we could agree with wholeheartedly. There are other parts with which we find serious problems.

First, I really would like to find out what has happened to the member for Bruce. I first met her when I was in another guise in this place as the Minister of Environment and Energy. I met the member for Bruce who was then a very active and serious spokesperson for the people of her area, particularly for the municipal people and the business community and, I suspect, for the workers at Ontario Hydro, who was very concerned about an attempt made by our government to restructure that corporation so that it could be competitive, who was very concerned about the fact that there was going to be significant downsizing at Ontario Hydro, and who complained and raised very serious concerns, I think genuine concerns, on behalf of the communities in her area about what it would mean if there were fewer jobs at Ontario Hydro and what on earth would happen to the Bruce Peninsula if there were fewer jobs at Ontario Hydro.

I give her credit, significant credit, that she raised the importance of the Bruce Energy Centre as a way of trying to generate jobs and economic development in her area. I commend her for including that in the resolution. But to suggest that she is not here now defending, with the same vociferous approach, the interests of the workers at Ontario Hydro and the communities where they live is very disappointing; it is most disappointing. I can't understand why she would not be standing up for the people who work at Ontario Hydro and make it such an important asset to Ontario, why she isn't standing here saying to the government: "You've got to provide direction. You've got to protect this important resource. You've got to ensure that it restructures, that it is competitive, and not to sell it off."

She loses me at the very end here where she says in this resolution "the commitment made in the Common Sense Revolution, to work with the chairman of Ontario Hydro and others to bring Hydro back to its proper role, providing reliable and affordable electrical power to Ontario, which may mean more changes at" Ontario Hydro. We're with her right to that point. And then it says "including some moves," whatever that means, "towards privatization of non-nuclear assets."

In other words, what she is proposing is that all those potential money-makers at Ontario Hydro, all those parts of Ontario Hydro that potentially can provide a return to the people of this province and to the consumers of electricity in the province should be privatized, perhaps, but those very important sections which generate, as she said, about 60% or more of the electricity that is used in the province, the nuclear plants, should be kept in public hands.

Keep in mind the enormous costs that are associated with decommissioning at some point, the exact amount we know not, and the enormous costs of retrofitting those operations that we've gone through and are going through. Those should remain in public hands. In other words, we keep in public hands the costly part and we privatize the money-making parts for the benefit of the corporate sector. That really says in a nutshell what this government is about: Anything that makes a profit for the people of Ontario better be in the private sector, and anything that may cost the people of Ontario and provide a service to the people of Ontario, a much-needed service but costs money, must remain in the public sector. In other words, you privatize the profit and you socialize the costs. That's what this resolution is about. That's what this is about.

We're facing a very serious ongoing change in the electrical energy system in North America. We have proposals for wheeling that are going to have to be dealt with by the government and Ontario Hydro. We have significant proposals for natural gas generation of electricity in the province which I believe we should be responding to. I know there are many who work for Ontario Hydro who don't think we should, or if we are, they believe that Ontario Hydro alone, perhaps, should provide for those kinds of developments. I don't think that's true. I think that we all, as the member for Renfrew North said, all three parties in government, have recognized the need for diversification and competition.

All of us have recognized the need to bring Ontario Hydro under the control of the public sector; I say that recognizing that it's been owned by the public sector ever since its creation. We went through a major restructuring, which downsized substantially, made Ontario Hydro more businesslike, divided it up into sectors and units that could compete and will compete, but unless they are given direction by the government, they will compete in a way that may make it impossible for those private sector developments that could also generate power in the province to be able to do so in a way that is competitive with Ontario Hydro.

We froze rates, and I commend this government for continuing that freeze.

Mrs Fisher: You laid off 10,000 workers.

Mr Wildman: The member for Bruce says we laid off 10,000 workers. That's quite correct. That is quite correct.

Mr Conway: We shut down a construction company; that's what we did.

Mrs Fisher: No, you didn't.

Mr Conway: That's what we did.

The Acting Speaker: Order, please. Address the Chair. The member for Algoma.

Mr Wildman: She knows she's not correct when she says we laid off 10,000 workers. A number of workers took early retirement, there was restructuring and so on, but there are 10,000 fewer employees at Ontario Hydro; that's correct.

Mr Garry J. Guzzo (Ottawa-Rideau): You didn't give your wealthy friends a tax break; that's the next line.

Mr Wildman: That's correct. We didn't give our wealthy friends a tax break; that's correct. This government is indeed giving its wealthy friends a tax break, and we didn't do that; that's true. But we did downsize Ontario Hydro substantially and that's where I first met the member for Bruce before her election.

Mr Conway: I hope people remember Darlington was completed, you know. We need to keep the pre-Darlington --

The Acting Speaker: Order, please. The member for Renfrew North, come to order.

Mr Wildman: We went through a serious problem. We had a surplus. There was a depression, a recession in the province. The demand was down and there was a surplus of generation. We had, as many of us had predicted back in 1975, constructed Darlington, and Darlington, frankly, wasn't needed. So we had an enormous surplus and it produced an enormous debt which didn't come folded into the rates until Darlington was completed, because that's the way Ontario Hydro does its accounting. We had to deal with all of that and we did. I suspect that if the member for Bruce were very straight with her constituents, which I know she must be, she would say that there probably is going to be more downsizing at Ontario Hydro.


Mr Wildman: She says she's suggesting that somehow the competition on the open market that she's proposing will mean there won't be downsizing at Ontario Hydro. That's interesting.


I can tell you that if you privatize profit-making parts of Ontario Hydro, there are people on Bay Street who are salivating about the commissions they'll make on those shares. A modest estimate of what can be made on that market for those paper pushers on Bay Street is $2 billion. Can you imagine what those commissions will mean? This isn't just a tax break for your wealthy friends; this is a gift to your wealthy friends, a gift at the expense of the people who live in the Bruce Peninsula, at the direct expense of the people this member represents, and frankly, not only at the expense of the people who work for Ontario Hydro, but at the expense of the consumers of electricity in the province.

We have to deal with the proposals for wheeling. We have to deal with the proposals for private generation. I think we can. I think Ontario Hydro can. But I don't think that means we must sell off Ontario Hydro. It says in here, "including some moves towards privatization of non-nuclear assets." I know these words are couched in qualifications -- "some moves towards privatization" -- but the basic word there is "privatization," unless the member is attempting to say, "Privatization if necessary, but not necessarily privatization." This resolution is sort of a Mackenzie King approach to Ontario Hydro, is it? "Perhaps we can have conscription or maybe we won't have conscription." "Whatever we can do to make it look like I'm speaking on behalf of the people of Bruce Peninsula, in order to try to get re-elected, then if the province were to sell off Ontario Hydro at the expense of the people of Bruce Peninsula, at least I spoke out."

I don't think this is the case. I think the member is genuine in her commitment to the people of her constituency. I think she's quite genuine in recognizing the historic and economic value of Ontario Hydro; I commend her for including that in the resolution. I commend her for saying that Ontario Hydro is a major resource for the province. I commend her for saying that it must be competitive. I commend her for saying that the Bruce Energy Centre is a way of generating economic growth and jobs in her region. I commend her for saying that we must provide reliable, affordable electrical power in Ontario; that's what Ontario Hydro is about, that's what it should remain about, that is the purpose of this major component of our economic system.

But what does this mean? Perhaps the member, in her response, can tell us what she means. If she doesn't mean privatization, what does "including some moves towards privatization of non-nuclear assets" actually mean?

What we need is direction for Ontario Hydro. We need to have Mr Farlinger, on behalf of Ontario Hydro, and the Minister of Environment and Energy, on behalf of the government, make clear what the vision is for the future of Ontario Hydro in a competitive, difficult marketplace in North America. Is it only privatization? Is it partial privatization? Is it privatization of the profit-making parts of Ontario Hydro and maintaining the costly parts in the public sector? What is the government's position with regard to the future of Ontario Hydro?

Mr Guzzo: I'm particularly pleased to have an opportunity to speak to the member for Bruce's resolution this morning because she has dealt with the issue of nuclear energy as part of the government's vision for Ontario Hydro in the years to come. In my remarks I want to take that point a step further, outlining the future possibilities for nuclear technology, which is really in its infancy stage.

But I'd be remiss if I didn't make a couple of comments in response to the last two speakers. I've always been fascinated with the member for Algoma and the slant he is capable of putting on different issues, but it's really the member for Renfrew North who fascinates me. I particularly enjoy listening to him here in the House, but I'm very thankful that he's not a history professor or a history teacher in one of our high schools because I find he has a fascinating ability to rewrite historical facts and bring down a very interesting attitude or slant.

When I say that nuclear energy is in its infancy stage, it's true that nuclear power is scarcely three decades old. If you look around the world at the number of nuclear reactors, about 400-plus, in the world today, you'll find that many of them are first-of-a-kind designs or copies. This should tell you that we are witnessing a development of an emerging technology. Currently, in the phase we're at today, we're seeing that proper designs are being improved, redeveloped and that the less capable or acceptable reactors are being replaced.

Here in Canada proof is everywhere that nuclear power is constantly improving and becoming the safest, the cheapest and the most reliable form of energy. Here in Ontario we're particularly proud that we're developing protective measures under a system called passive safety, which is making us a world leader in preventive care. Passive and other safety features will solve the problems we've experienced in the past, even before they occur. That program is something that needs our attention and needs to be commended as we move into the careful and profitable use of nuclear power.

Along with those progressions, nuclear power is also becoming one of the more cost-effective forms of energy. Looking at the Darlington situation as an example, where we sell power at about eight cents per kilowatt-hour, the entire operation of the plant, or the marginal cash costs, accounts for about one cent per kilowatt-hour. The operation is inexpensive.

Mr Wildman: The debt's very large.

Mr Guzzo: That's the problem, isn't it?

Mr Wildman: Who decided to impose that debt on us? Bill Davis.


The Acting Speaker: Order, please.

Mr Guzzo: Who would know better than the member for Algoma?

Mr Wildman: Bill Davis imposed that debt on us.

The Acting Speaker: Order, the member for Algoma.

Mr Guzzo: In the case of Darlington, we had a problem other than the construction cost. We had a little matter of politics, if you recall, remembering that there was a coalition government of the two opposition parties at that time, a government that I believe put a moratorium on nuclear development that led to long delays and tremendous cost overruns in the mid-1980s. I know the opposition points with pride to that contribution, not with the same amount of pride as to tripling the debt of this province in the years 1985 to 1995, but --

Mr Conway: I want to hear Garry on the subject of debt. I would like to hear a full discourse. I would like to hear it all. You're failing this history course so far. Go back to the 1970s and look at the election campaign.

The Acting Speaker: The member for Renfrew North, please come to order.

Mr Guzzo: I'm getting around to it. The member for Renfrew North, just relax because --

Mr Conway: You're failing this history course.

The Acting Speaker: Order, please.

Mr Guzzo: Well, a history course --

The Acting Speaker: Order, please. The member for Ottawa-Rideau, address your remarks to the Chair, please.

Mr Guzzo: I'm doing my best, but the distractions are many, Madam Speaker.

I shouldn't be too critical because I have to tell you that I heard the member for Renfrew North deal with the issue of the joint assets on the Ottawa River, and I commend him for that. He's the first member of the Liberal Party, federally or provincially, to even acknowledge the existence of those problems. The federal cousins buried their heads in the sand, leading up to this date a year ago, and continue to do so without any appreciation of some of the matters that have been raised. But if only one member of that party is aware of it, it speaks volumes.


Politics aside, our nuclear industry is making tremendous headway at reducing costs. They're doing that by a number of innovative methods: modular designs of the nuclear reactor components that we manufacture and, at the present time, the calandria preconstructed unit, which is housing the fuel bundles, is probably the best example. It allows for less assembly, less construction time and much greater quality control.

In Canada, technology has come a long way in terms of streamlining the costs and the advancements being made have been exported to places like Korea, where Candu 9 reactors are employing that same modular design concept. If strongly emerging economies can recognize the value of Canadian technology, built and tested here at Ontario Hydro, perhaps our restructuring plans must also recognize that value as we plan to meet the future demand.

This resolution speaks to the need for long-term vision in the context of global competitiveness. Our neighbours in the state of New York and in the province of Quebec are moving towards competition and they have systems so that pressure remains on Ontario Hydro to keep our rates attractive for investments and jobs. To be competitive we need a utility that's lean, but large enough to take on the giant utilities that are forming on the North American continent. I think we have to be cognizant of what the opposition is doing. They're merging, they're getting bigger to compete with us. It has to work on a scale large enough to keep interest rates down and we'll certainly need the nuclear division to keep the prices down now and through scientific breakthroughs down the road.

Historically, back to the federal governments of the 1940s and the 1950s, Canada became involved in nuclear energy to meet needs that would allow us to be independent and not rely on our neighbour's coal and fossil fuel. During that crushing year of 1993 we had an example of how Ontario was better able to deal with rising fossil fuel costs because of our self-reliance and because of the developing nuclear network. I thank you, Madam Speaker, for the opportunity to partake in the debate.

Mr John O'Toole (Durham East): I wish today to speak in support of ballot item 46, the member for Bruce, Mrs Fisher. I guess I should respect the opportunity because I represent Durham East where indeed the Darlington nuclear station is located. You have to recognize that Darlington nuclear station plays an important part in the local economy of my riding and indeed, of all of Ontario. It lies 70 miles east of Toronto and has capabilities of serving 20% of the power needs of the province of Ontario. Its costs are world competitive. Looking at about five or six cents per kilowatt hour, it's highly positioned to provide reliable, safe and affordable power for the province of Ontario. Our government was elected on the platform of jobs, so there's no intention to undermine the importance of Hydro's contribution to both the local and the provincial economy.

That being said, I've listened very intently to the comments of the member for Renfrew North, Mr Conway, and he went on at great length. I have great respect for his comments, but he did come down to synthesizing it down to a need for change. He was clear on that and I think really that's what the MacDonald commission said as well. Mr Wildman, a previous minister, also suggested that there was a recognition for a need for diversity. I support those observations as I believe every member in this House should, when you think through the problem. We're trying to provide cost-effective, affordable, reliable -- and I must underline the importance of safety. In that we all know that the MacDonald report recognized the nuclear component would remain within the province's purview. In fact, most of the regulatory part of nuclear is under federal regulation and indeed, that's probably where it should remain.

I'm going to remain on topic here because I want to share the remaining part with the member for Niagara Falls who can talk about the hydro-generated water power.

This government has committed itself to examining the fair competitive delivery of affordable power, and I believe it's not in any way taking away from the important contributions Ontario Hydro makes to the community and, indeed, to the province. But they have to get competitive, they have to be global, and I think we have to work with them and the power workers, as well as the large-user component and the smaller utilities. I'm not sure the distribution system is the proper purview for Ontario Hydro, but I'm sure the argument will see us through.

Mr Bart Maves (Niagara Falls): It's my pleasure to rise to add a little bit to this debate on Hydro.

I want to congratulate the member for Bruce and say that the member for Algoma's comments are I think patently unfair because I know first hand how much she cares about Ontario Hydro and the people in her riding. I've spent countless hours with the member for Bruce debating the future direction that Ontario Hydro should take in this province and there are problems --

Mr Wildman: I didn't mean to be unfair; I was just asking what her position was.

The Acting Speaker: Member for Algoma.

Mr Maves: -- with the hydro sector and with Ontario Hydro in this province. The member for Bruce acknowledges that, and she's to be commended for that. She doesn't bury her head in the sand and say we don't need change. She doesn't ignore the problems nor does she ignore the world around us. The electricity industry is changing very rapidly around us and we're in danger of being left behind. Instead she says, "It's important to create a long-term vision to address the global competitiveness of energy production, transmission and sales," and for that she deserves to be commended, not mocked.

The member for Renfrew North spoke of the public interest. In my view, the public interest is safe, reliable supply of energy at lower rates. Do we just stick our head in the sand and say since 1914 HEPCO has run Hydro in this province and therefore that's the way it's always been historically, and that's the way it should remain; or do we look at other options and say we're bringing competition into the sector, maybe bringing some private equity into the sector? Will that lower rates and let us keep our safe supply and reliability? If so, we owe it to our constituents, we owe it to our businesses, we owe it to the folks who have those hydro bills every month to look into these different options.

Niagara Falls over the years not only has an historic place in the history of Hydro, but Niagara Falls businesses have an historic place. Several abrasive plants are in Niagara Falls. They've been there from the beginning, in the early 1900s, because they could get cheap power. Their future depends on the continued availability of cheap power in Ontario.

From 1990-94, however, with the CPI increasing on average 2% a year, electricity rates in this province increased more than 40%. That's inefficient and that's dangerous for our businesses and that's dangerous for people in my riding and throughout Ontario for their livelihoods.

If we look at the 1995 average industrial electricity rates measured in US cents per kilowatt-hour, we see Manitoba at 2.5 cents, Missouri at 2.7, Quebec 3.1, Maryland 3.6, Virginia 3.6, Kentucky 3.7, and on and on. Ontario Hydro's at 4.3 cents. We have to look at the system and we have to decide how we make our rates competitive again with the rest of the world.


The Acting Speaker: Order, please.

Mr Maves: The world around us is not going to stand still. They're moving to increase competition --


The Acting Speaker: Come to order, please.

Mr Maves: -- and they're doing it better than we're doing it. So I commend the member for Bruce for recognizing that we still have problems, for recognizing that we have to look at different options, and definitely competition is needed, perhaps private equity is needed, but congratulations to the member for Bruce. I'll support your resolution. You're right on for the need for competition and a competitive strategy for us in the future for Hydro.

The Acting Speaker: Further debate? Seeing none, the mover of the motion has two minutes to sum up. You can take this time too actually.

Mrs Fisher: Thank you, Madam Speaker. I would like to thank my colleagues the members for Ottawa-Rideau, Niagara Falls and Durham East for their contributions today, and those for Renfrew North and from Algoma. I think it's important to reiterate at this point that where Ontario Hydro is involved the status quo is not an option.

I can assure you, Mr Wildman, that I am working for the people of Bruce. I am amazed that you, as the past NDP energy and environment minister, could suggest differently. You had the opportunity to help and you failed.

He cut 10,000 workers. He shut down unit 2. He lost the support of our PW workers, and he still hasn't learned the difference between restructuring and privatization. It was myself and other community leaders who begged him to listen and to help. What did we get? Closed doors. One of the major reasons I am an elected member today is that at least I have the courage to address the issue and assist through the necessary restructuring.

As I have said, there are a number of factors increasing the pressure on Ontario Hydro to restructure. These include the open access and competition initiatives being taken by the United States, the converging of natural gas and other electricity investment interests, the aggregation of smaller US electricity units and the rapid advancement of technology.

This government has a responsibility to attract investment, create jobs and ensure that Ontario can compete globally in the face of economic and technological change by providing accessible electricity at affordable prices. We must restructure Ontario Hydro to make it competitive and a leader in the international market. I firmly believe that Ontario Hydro, and particularly our nuclear assets, can achieve excellence once again, and I look forward to participating in that process.

The Acting Speaker: The time provided for private members' public business has expired.


The Acting Speaker (Ms Marilyn Churley): We will deal first with Mr Kormos's private member's resolution 45. If any members are opposed to a vote on this ballot item, they will please rise.

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

Those opposed, please say "nay."

In my opinion, the nays have it.


The Acting Speaker (Ms Marilyn Churley): We'll deal next with ballot item 46, standing in the name of Mrs Fisher. If any members are opposed to a vote on this, they will please rise.

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

Those opposed, please say "nay."

In my opinion, the ayes have it.

Call in the members. A five-minute bell.

The division bells rang from 1203 to 1208.


The Acting Speaker (Ms Marilyn Churley): We will now vote on Mr Kormos's private member's resolution, ballot item number 45. May I remind the members that before we move to the second ballot, I will cause the doors to open for 30 seconds so members can come and go.

All those in favour of Mr Kormos's motion will please rise and remain standing until recognized by the Clerk.


Agostino, Dominic

Crozier, Bruce

Martin, Tony

Boyd, Marion

Kennedy, Gerard

Ruprecht, Tony

Caplan, Elinor

Kormos, Peter

Silipo, Tony

Christopherson, David

Kwinter, Monte

Wildman, Bud

Conway, Sean G.

Lankin, Frances


The Acting Speaker: All those opposed to the motion will please rise and remain standing until recognized by the Clerk.


Arnott, Ted

Gilchrist, Steve

Pettit, Trevor

Baird, John R.

Grimmett, Bill

Preston, Peter

Barrett, Toby

Guzzo, Garry J.

Rollins, E.J. Douglas

Bassett, Isabel

Hardeman, Ernie

Ross, Lillian

Beaubien, Marcel

Hastings, John

Shea, Derwyn

Brown, Jim

Johnson, Bert

Sheehan, Frank

Carroll, Jack

Johnson, Ron

Skarica, Toni

Chudleigh, Ted

Jordan, W. Leo

Smith, Bruce

Danford, Harry

Lalonde, Jean-Marc

Stewart, R. Gary

Doyle, Ed

Leadston, Gary L.

Tilson, David

Elliott, Brenda

Martiniuk, Gerry

Turnbull, David

Fisher, Barbara

Maves, Bart

Vankoughnet, Bill

Flaherty, Jim

Munro, Julia

Wettlaufer, Wayne

Fox, Gary

Newman, Dan

Wood, Bob

Froese, Tom

O'Toole, John

Young, Terence H.

Galt, Doug

Ouellette, Jerry J.


Clerk of the House (Mr Claude L. DesRosiers): The ayes are 14, the nays are 47.

The Acting Speaker: I declare the motion lost.


The Acting Speaker (Ms Marilyn Churley): We will now deal with Mrs Fisher's motion, ballot item number 46.

All those in favour of the motion will please rise and remain standing until recognized by the Clerk.


Arnott, Ted

Gilchrist, Steve

Preston, Peter

Baird, John R.

Grimmett, Bill

Rollins, E.J. Douglas

Barrett, Toby

Guzzo, Garry J.

Ross, Lillian

Bassett, Isabel

Hardeman, Ernie

Shea, Derwyn

Beaubien, Marcel

Hastings, John

Sheehan, Frank

Brown, Jim

Johnson, Bert

Skarica, Toni

Carroll, Jack

Johnson, Ron

Smith, Bruce

Chudleigh, Ted

Jordan, W. Leo

Stewart, R. Gary

Danford, Harry

Leadston, Gary L.

Tilson, David

Doyle, Ed

Martiniuk, Gerry

Turnbull, David

Elliott, Brenda

Maves, Bart

Vankoughnet, Bill

Fisher, Barbara

Munro, Julia

Wettlaufer, Wayne

Flaherty, Jim

Newman, Dan

Wood, Bob

Fox, Gary

O'Toole, John

Young, Terence H.

Froese, Tom

Ouellette, Jerry J.


Galt, Doug

Pettit, Trevor


The Acting Speaker: All members opposed to the resolution will please rise and remain standing until recognized by the Clerk.


Agostino, Dominic

Crozier, Bruce

Martin, Tony

Boyd, Marion

Kennedy, Gerard

Ruprecht, Tony

Bradley, James J.

Kormos, Peter

Silipo, Tony

Caplan, Elinor

Kwinter, Monte

Wildman, Bud

Christopherson, David

Lalonde, Jean-Marc


Conway, Sean G.

Lankin, Frances


Clerk of the House (Mr Claude L. DesRosiers): The ayes are 46; the nays are 16.

The Acting Speaker: I declare the motion carried.

It now being after 12 of the clock, this House stands adjourned until 1:30 this afternoon.

The House recessed from 1215 to 1330.



The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): I want to take this opportunity to deal with a couple of issues that were left on the table from yesterday, particularly during members' statements. I'd appreciate the attendance of the House for a moment, the member for Etobicoke-Humber.

There were some concerns with respect to parliamentary language, and the member for Dovercourt mentioned in his comments on a point of order that he was looking for some clarification about what is in order and what is not in order in this Legislature.

It seems to me that's a fair request to ask of the Speaker but somewhat difficult to fulfil. It depends quite often on how words are used, what kind of words are used, in what context and the direction of those contexts. Rarely, if ever, is a word completely out of order. It's very often that you can use a certain word in some context that wouldn't be ruled out of order one way and then in the next line could possibly be ruled out of order by a Speaker and in the third line guarantee you that it in fact would be ruled out of order.

Let me directly deal with the complaint of the member for Oriole yesterday with respect to comments that she made in her statement. Her position at the time was, and I know a number of members stood on points of order to address her issue, that she wasn't suggesting that a certain person in the Legislature was a racist, she was saying the remarks they made were racist.

The difficulty that I have as Speaker is that ultimately you could substitute any word for "racist" and simply allow any word to be used in this House if you felt that "remarks" was the caveat that got you theoretically off the hook. In effect, "lie" is a word that we will not use in this place and I'm sure everyone will agree is not tolerated, but if the suggestion is made, that if you say, "Your comments are a lie," "Your answers were a lie," "Your remarks are a lie," that can't possibly let the member off the hook from the actual charge that they're making.

It seems fairly clear to me on that point of order that we, or I specifically, have to make a ruling that is acceptable in my opinion for decorum in this House. Having said that, I reviewed the Hansard from yesterday and I would stand by the decision that I made. You can't simply insert the word "remark" or "comment" and be given carte blanche to make any comment you want.

To move on, the member for Dovercourt suggested in his comments, and testing me -- and at the time I decided I would review Hansard and report back to the House today to determine whether or not his remarks were in order. Having reviewed them, it seems fairly clear to me, and I think probably to the majority of this House if you review it, that they were not in order. The fact of the matter is, you can't come into this place -- as they said in Erskine May, page 382, "A member is not allowed to use unparliamentary words by the device of putting them in somebody else's mouth." So in essence the member cannot come in here and suggest, "My constituents think you are a racist," or any word you want to put in there. You can't simply, by the device of putting the words in someone else's mouth, make yourself in order if you couldn't directly make the charge yourself.

I will give notice to the House that I didn't rule the member for Dovercourt out of order yesterday. I've taken the time to review the issues before us and I would suggest in future, if anyone attempts to use that device to put their words or other words into someone else's mouth, you will be ruled out of order in future.

I'd just like to put those on the record. I want to say in conclusion that it happened during our period of what we call members' statements. I would remind members that Mr Speaker Edighoffer spoke to the standing orders and members' statements a number of years ago actually and his comments during that were:

"I have paid particular attention to the new procedure during members' and ministers' statements, and I feel that in future we might run into a difficulty that has occurred in the House of Commons. I know the guidelines for members' statements there state that no statement should be used in any way as a personal attack on another member. Because we have no specific guidelines, it is left to the Speaker. I hope that in future, members' and ministers' statements will be used for the regular purpose and not in any way for personal attacks. I ask all members to continue to be honourable members."

Clearly, Speaker Edighoffer foresaw this situation. I understand that we have evolved for members' statements, but with all due respect to people in this House and the members of this House, considering the rulings I made yesterday, considering the background checks I've made on those rulings, I think all members would be better served if they abided by those particular rulings, abided by those particular decisions.

In conclusion, you must be forewarned that if you can't make the charge directly, you cannot make the charge indirectly. That's how this Legislature in fact will continue to work.

Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): Mr Speaker, on a point of order: On your comments, I don't know if you're entertaining this or if you're going to make me sit down, but as I always say, with all due respect -- we all know what that means -- you're going to sanitize this House to an extent that it's going to become sterile if these options are removed.

I will trust your good judgement. I appreciate that you're saying, as I hear it: You will make a judgement using these general parameters but you'll make individual judgements, which I think is wise because not every case is going to be the same. That's very fair. I differentiate, as I said yesterday, between saying that a person's statement is, for instance, stupid or the person is stupid. They're two different things, because a lot of very clever, excellent people can make a stupid statement. It doesn't mean the person is stupid.

The second thing I'm worried about is your saying, "You cannot personally attack another member." I would say that is wise as well, that there not be a direct attack. However, there are things other members say that members wish to call to the attention of the House in a member's statement, and I hope you would not be too confining as long as it is not a direct personal attack on that person.

The Speaker: The points you make are very valid, and I understand the arguments you make with respect to using the word "stupid" and so on and so forth. As I said at the beginning, and I want to be clear to the member for St Catharines and the House, no word exclusively can be unparliamentary. A word can be used at any time in acceptable parliamentary language. Again, it's up to the Speaker to determine the context of how the word is used and whether or not it's properly put before the Legislature.

As far as members' statements are concerned, I agree. I think it again has to be up to the Speaker, and a little decorum and parliamentary procedure is applied to that as well.

Finally, as I said yesterday, it gets to the point of splitting hairs with respect to the term "racist," whether it's putting the word in your mouth or putting it in someone else's mouth or saying the remarks were. I want to be very clear to the member for St Catharines: That's a decision the Speaker has to make. I made that decision yesterday and I stand by that decision today. I've taken into consideration your comments. I think they're appropriate and applicable in a lot of instances. Again I say no word is unparliamentary; it depends how that word is used.

Mrs Elinor Caplan (Oriole): Mr Speaker, on a point of order: If I could comment on your remarks and on your ruling, you make the point, and I think it is a fair comment, that we do not attack another individual. But I believe that as members of this Legislature we have an obligation, when members of this Legislature act in a way that promotes sexism or racism or those isms or things that we feel so strongly and passionately about here, to stand in this House and speak out against those actions. That is not a personal attack on the individual. It is an attack on what they have said and it is raising the consciousness of those who are listening to the fact that it is not only inappropriate but the kind of behaviour which cannot be tolerated in our society.

While I hear your ruling, I would take issue once again with the ruling you made. I don't agree in any way that I attacked the Premier personally. I did not say "he was" or "he is." I specifically quoted something he said and classified that using the only terminology I felt there was to classify it. For that I make no apologies. But I say to you, Mr Speaker, that members of this Legislature, I believe, in making a statement before this House must be free to quote, in quotations, something which another member has said and label it appropriately. If your ruling is that this is unparliamentary, so be it.


The Speaker: Then, ultimately, I say to the member for Oriole, we agree. I have to be left with the opportunity to make decisions which are parliamentary and unparliamentary and, again, your decision is whether to withdraw or not. That's exactly how the place is supposed to work.

Mrs Marion Boyd (London Centre): On a point of order, Mr Speaker: I wonder if I could have some clarification from you around the comments that you made about the member for Dovercourt, who said that he had heard from his constituents a certain thing and that it was not appropriate. I wonder if you could explain to me whether or not, if something appears in the press or if we receive a letter that is someone else saying something, that is appropriate. It seems very difficult to me to understand why a verbal communication from a constituent could not be talked about. But I hardly think, and I didn't get a sense from you, that you would have been trying to prevent people from actually dealing with something that was in the public domain that in fact was attributable to a particular individual.

The Speaker: I don't want to go too far into this because, as I said, it's very difficult because specific circumstances are the only way you can work it out; hypothetically, it's very difficult. I say to the House, briefly, I can only refer you to what the member for Dovercourt said. I can only suggest to the member for London Centre that you cannot, as I read earlier, by device say something that you couldn't say otherwise. So, whether it's in the newspaper, whether a constituent has said it to you or not, if you can't level the charge, you can't get around it by saying, "My sister, my brother, my constituent said you are such-and-such." That is in fact the ruling.

I will read the 21st edition of Erskine May just briefly again. Some new members are here. Erskine May, 21st edition, page 382, "A member is not allowed to use unparliamentary words by the device of putting them in somebody else's mouth." It's very clear.

Mr Tony Silipo (Dovercourt): What if it's not in somebody else's mouth?

The Speaker: The member for Dovercourt, it's very clear, and the ruling has been made in the past.

Mr Silipo: Erskine May doesn't run this Legislature; you're supposed to.

The Speaker: The member for Dovercourt.

Mr Silipo: Don't rely on textbooks; rely on your good sense.

The Speaker: The member for Dovercourt, I am relying on my good sense.

Mr Silipo: Well, it isn't showing.

The Speaker: The member for Dovercourt, come to order. I took a great deal of time and a lot of effort. I read the context of what you said yesterday. I was very clear earlier in my statement. You cannot say indirectly what you can't say directly.

Mr Silipo: Then how the hell am I supposed to represent my constituents?

The Speaker: The member for Dovercourt, come to order. It's, again, my job to maintain parliamentary procedure, parliamentary debate, and allow you the opportunity of speaking your mind, but you cannot say, as I said earlier, something indirectly that you can't say directly. Thereby, you cannot, by device, put words in someone else's mouth that would not be properly before this place out of your own.

Mr Howard Hampton (Rainy River): On a point of order, Mr Speaker: Some of the rest of us have read Erskine May as well. If I remember correctly, one of the other points that is made in several places in Erskine May is that the privilege to say in this House things which might lead to litigation outside this House is here to further free speech and further free debate.

I just want to be sure of what you're saying here. If someone very clearly takes someone's remarks as perhaps indicating a racist attitude or in the context creating a racist impact, why would we be foreclosed from bringing that to the attention of this House? It seems to me you've got to walk a very fine line here, a very fine line, because the last thing we would want to protect in this House is someone's capacity to say racist things, to promote racist attitudes and then not be called to question in this Legislature.

The Speaker: To the leader of the third party: If in this place anyone was speaking as you said they would be speaking, I would give my undertaking, if not a guarantee, to the members of the third party and the opposition and the government that that person would be called to order immediately and asked in fact to withdraw.

The argument that you make, I say to the leader of the third party, is that you bring to this place statements that are made outside the parameters of this House.

Mr Hampton: That is our job.

Mr David S. Cooke (Windsor-Riverside): It's a description of behaviour.

The Speaker: Let me finish. It cannot be possible for a Speaker to follow 130 members around and go through every written and spoken word each member makes and then be asked to rule on whether or not that specific statement is racist, sexist, on and on and on.


The Speaker: Let me finish, please. It is my job to maintain order and decorum in this chamber. In this chamber, anyone who would make those comments would be called to order and asked to withdraw. There would be absolutely no need for a member opposite to make that request.

I say to the leader of the third party that what I am managing is the control of the chamber, of this place. Anything that happens external to this place will happen, but I must be kept informed in this House and make decisions and rulings based on actions that take place in this Legislature.

Okay, finally now, a final point of order.

Mr Hampton: On a point of order, Mr Speaker: I do not disagree with your attempts to maintain order and decorum in this House. That's what we elected you for and that's what we want you to do. But there are some important principles here. One is the principle of free speech, and I would say to you that if it comes to a contest between free speech and something else, you ought to err, you ought to look in each case towards erring in favour of free speech, because that is the fundamental this place is based upon.

Secondly, there are some other things that enter into this. The reality is that someone, in making a comment outside this House, may not in their own mind necessarily intend a racist impact or may not intend that those people who are subject of the remarks would perceive them that way, but it's well settled in our law now, in the law of this land, that it is not necessarily what someone intends, it is what the victim perceives. I would say to you that you must use that in your measurement as well, that it's not acceptable for someone to make a remark oblivious to what people who may be the receptors of that remark may perceive. That's just not acceptable. Someone cannot make insensitive and potentially racist remarks outside this House and then come in this House and ask you to protect them.

The Speaker: With due respect to the leader of the third party, I want to move on and I think everyone has had a full opportunity to make their points of order. I appreciate what the member is saying. If it came to a choice between a simple decision of opportunity and free speech etc, I believe that I in my history in this place would err on behalf of free speech, if that is the point you're trying to make. I think what I need to tell you is that it's my job to maintain order and decorum in the chamber, it's my job to rule spoken words in and out of order in the chamber.

Mr Hampton: It's also your job to ensure free debate and free speech.

The Speaker: And it's my job to allow free debate and free speech. I don't believe I've not allowed that debate and free speech to take place. In opinions of many members of this Legislature there are different views on a lot of the things that you just said. It is my job to try and maintain decorum and order and allow free speech. I don't believe that with yesterday's decision I limited free speech.



Mr Sean G. Conway (Renfrew North): To the Minister of Transportation: I simply want to report a growing level of anger and frustration on the part of thousands of my constituents in the Upper Ottawa Valley about the current state of Trans-Canada Highway 17 between the villages of Petawawa and Chalk River. As we speak, it's a mess. It is a potholed, washboarded, stone-infested mess, and people have lost all of their patience. They're beyond frustration; they're angry. Thousands of these people commute daily to two of the largest employers in the region -- Atomic Energy of Canada at Chalk River and Canadian Forces Base Petawawa.


These people, my constituents, not to mention scores of others, thousands of others, who travel the Trans-Canada through that part of eastern Ontario, all of these motorists wonder why a highway that was supposed to have been finished -- the pavement was supposed to be completed today, the end of October, or before the snow flies. Environment Canada tells us that we are going to have a very substantial blanket of snow across east-central Ontario before today is out. People want to know, why can't this road be finished? Will you commit to completing this project at the earliest opportunity and will you ensure that all of those people who've incurred damage, broken windshields and flat tires are going to have ready redress --

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Order. Statements, third party.


Mr David Christopherson (Hamilton Centre): I rise today to pay tribute to the hundreds and thousands of workers and worker representatives across Ontario who fought to save the occupational health clinics for Ontario workers from the slash-and-burn policies of this government. Specifically, in my own home town of Hamilton and in my riding of Hamilton Centre, the very first occupational health clinic for Ontario workers was established, and it was in Hamilton where Local 1005 led the fight to save that clinic.

I want to acknowledge the leadership of the president of Local 1005 of the United Steelworkers of America, John Martin, and the health and safety plant chair, John Balloch. They released from the local Bob Kilpatrick and Armin Laufs, who worked full-time lobbying the MPPs in our area, all of the city and regional councillors, the chamber of commerce, workplace health and safety agencies, McMaster University, Mohawk College, medical experts and religious groups. They blanketed our community, as I know workers did in Sudbury, in Windsor and here in Toronto.

It was as a result of those efforts that those clinics were saved; it had nothing to do with the generosity of this government. In fact, those clinics should never have been on the chopping block in the first place. They were there because it's part of this government's agenda to attack the rights workers have under the laws of occupational health and safety. Thank God those activists are out there fighting this agenda and giving workers a fighting chance to save their lives.


Mr Jerry J. Ouellette (Oshawa): It is with great pride that I rise to address the House today. Maryanne Sholdra of Oshawa has been volunteering her time and service in Oshawa and in the region of Durham for over 40 years. For Ms Sholdra, volunteering to help others has been a way of life.

Starting with her volunteering with minor community groups and youth groups, while she attended high school, Ms Sholdra expanded her volunteer activities to include such diverse groups as Oshawa Housing, the Oshawa Folk Arts Council and the Durham Symphony Orchestra.

In the spirit of volunteers being the backbone of Canadian society, Maryanne Sholdra devotes time to three Durham food banks and canvasses for the March of Dimes, the Kidney Foundation and cancer society. In the past, she has served on volunteer boards such as Information Oshawa, Oshawa Senior Citizens and the Oshawa General Hospital board of governors.

Perhaps one of Maryanne Sholdra's most challenging volunteer projects was her work as co-founder of the Citizens for a Cancer Centre in Oshawa. She collected thousands of signatures for petitions and thousands of letters of support in her tenacious efforts leading to the Durham Cancer Centre at the Oshawa General Hospital.

Ms Sholdra has also served as a councillor, both regionally and locally. Her long-term commitment to the betterment of her community is an inspiration to those who know her and make her a model for others to follow.

On October 8, Maryanne Sholdra's contribution to Oshawa, Durham region and the province was recognized when she was awarded the Ontario Medal for Good Citizenship. Maryanne and team, keep up the great work.


Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): The Harris government continues to lead the province into the dark and murky waters of video lottery terminals as it pushes its legislation allowing electronic slot machines in every bar and every restaurant in every neighbourhood in Ontario. These slot machines, the most alluring and addictive form of gambling, are designed to prey upon the most vulnerable, desperate people in our society and are bound to cause a myriad of social problems.

This unwise new venture of the PC government has earned Mike Harris the following comment from the newsletter of the national gaming industry: "For a politician who wanted to end gaming in Ontario with the consent of the voters, Harris has quickly become the highest rolling, pro-gaming chief executive in North America since the legendary Edwin Edwards, the former governor of the state of Louisiana."

I recommend that members read a series of articles on gambling in the Minnesota Star Tribune entitled "Dead Broke," how gamblers are killing themselves, bankrupting their families and costing Minnesota millions. Excellent article it is.

Here are some of the growing list of municipalities opposed to VLTs in bars and restaurants in every neighbourhood: Kingsville, Norfolk, Montague, Bothwell, Euphrasia, Culross, Tweed, Kincardine, Nairn, Belmont, Exeter, Fredericksburgh, Lanark, Mount Forest, North York, Durham, Euphemia, Merrickville, Glamorgan, Harrow, Dymond, Amabel, Madoc, Thessalon, Timmins, Clarence --

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Order.


Mr Len Wood (Cochrane North): I'd like to direct my statement today to the Minister of Transportation, Mr Palladini, and also the northern highways minister, Chris Hodgson.

On behalf of the citizens of Smooth Rock Falls and Mayor Fred Poulin, I am asking you to reconsider your decision to remove the passing lane from the reconstruction plans for Highway 11 between Fauquier and Smooth Rock Falls. With winter just around the corner, safety is a growing concern, and because 83% of the traffic in the Cochrane district involves transports, such as the increasing number of school buses, ambulances transferring to local hospitals and holiday travellers, this makes the Highway 11 corridor a prime target for accidents and fatalities. The cancellation of the passing lanes construction will jeopardize the safety of the people of Cochrane North.

The previous government recognized the need to add these passing lanes. Why can't you? Is this because of the irresponsible tax cut your government is giving away to the rich? I can't stress enough how important it is for northerners to feel safe on their roads, and now the safety of our citizens is becoming compromised with your government's cutbacks. I'm urging the government to reconsider its decision for the people of Cochrane North. It is a question of life or death. Make these highways safe in northern Ontario, which, as the Liberal member mentioned, are full of potholes and unsafe to drive. Last winter we spent innumerable days with the snowplows not going out, the sanding trucks not going out. It's a disgrace to see what you've done with the highways in northern Ontario.


Mrs Lillian Ross (Hamilton West): I recently attended the Industry Education Council's annual breakfast meeting in Hamilton. Two IEC members, Jim O'Connor and Richard Allen, have co-authored a resource guide entitled How to Engage Your Community in Partnerships in Education.

The guide is grounded in the Canadian experience. Face-to-face consultations with different groups across Canada were conducted. As co-author Jim O'Connor stated, "The guide is meant to address the real needs of partnership practitioners working in real communities." The book is a practical, easy to understand guide which explains everything, including how to establish a planning team, recruiting volunteers, raising funds and evaluating programs.

This guide goes one step further than most books about educational partnerships because it not only looks at what schools and their partners can accomplish, it also explains how to accomplish their goals. Communities across Canada often look to Hamilton for assistance on how to establish effective education partnerships, and once again Hamiltonians have led the way and responded with the publication of this very important resource guide for educators and employers.

My congratulations to Richard Allen and Jim O'Connor for their hard work in producing this resource guide and for their gift to the students of Canada.


Mr Rick Bartolucci (Sudbury): Tonight is Halloween and like every night since Mike Harris was elected, it promises to be a very scary night. People across Ontario are scared, and indeed they should be.

Tonight the Minister of Education will be hitting the streets dressed as the Joker. After all, he doesn't care what's happening in the classroom and has never listened to anything the teachers are saying.

Al Leach will be dressing as the Big Bad Wolf. He plans on huffing and puffing and blowing our municipalities down.

Bob Runciman is trying something different this year. He has hung up the Mad Dog costume and will be instead dressed as a pussycat, oblivious to everything around him.

Ernie Eves is dressing as a lumberjack. It's the only costume he could wear without his axe looking out of place.

Unfortunately, though, Jim Wilson won't be going out this year. He is too busy closing hospitals and laying off nurses and, believe me, that is scary enough.

But of course the scariest costume once again this year will be the one Mike Harris is wearing. The Premier will be dressing as himself. No costume is needed. If you're a senior, if you are sick, if you're disabled or poor, the thing that scares you the most, tonight and every other night, continues to be Mike Harris.



Ms Marilyn Churley (Riverdale): This government is radically changing the face of Ontario in secret behind closed doors. They plan on privatizing our water without any public process.

I'd like to draw the minister's attention to what happened in the United Kingdom when the Tories there sold off the publicly owned water utility, as the Harris government is planning to do here.

Competition didn't provide rate relief. Rates have increased faster than inflation and wages. There have been some increases of 400% to 500% since 1989. The 10 private water companies have a combined profit of over $2 billion annually. Sixty per cent of consumers' bills go directly into the company's profits, only the remaining 40% going to infrastructure and environmental concerns.

Water poverty is an increasing phenomenon with consumers finding themselves in debt to private water authorities. Some municipalities have a computerized metering system which if you haven't paid your bill automatically cuts off your total water supply. No threshold. There are poor children in the United Kingdom going without water.

The inefficiency of this profit-based system has led to water shortages. On top of that, there have been 250 prosecutions in the last six years on environmental --

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Thank you, member for Riverdale.


Mr Jim Brown (Scarborough West): This is National Community Safety and Crime Prevention Week, and I believe there are few issues closer to people's hearts than the safety of our children. For 20 years the Scarborough Block Parent program has created a safer environment for children and others by creating awareness of safe block parent homes in our community. There are currently 2,000 homes in Scarborough where youngsters who fear for their safety or need help can go knowing a good friend is only a doorbell away.

The Scarborough program, with the support of city council, the board of education and local businesses and shopping malls, has grown into one of the five largest block parent programs in Canada. I might add, Scarborough instituted the very first apartment block parent program in Canada to assist residents, particularly seniors who need the help of a friend. The Scarborough apartment program has since expanded to dozens of other communities right across the country.

Community safety can only be achieved when individual citizens take an active role. When people in Scarborough and elsewhere are willing to open their doors to our young people everybody benefits.

I congratulate all Scarborough block parents and director Maureen Keeping for the great job they have done over the past 20 years. I urge everyone who cares about the safety of our kids to apply to become a block parent, to put that famous red sign in your front window saying, "I want to make a difference."

Mr Howard Hampton (Rainy River): On a point of order, Mr Speaker: This is to put you on notice that we've requested and we will be requesting an emergency debate today. It's our belief that physicians have turned down the government's offer, which means that some communities in Ontario may start facing the loss of some physician services tomorrow. So we will be asking the government members for an emergency debate on the whole situation concerning physicians in the province.

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Thank you, leader of the third party. You understand you'll have to seek unanimous consent.



Hon Robert W. Runciman (Solicitor General and Minister of Correctional Services): Our government is committed to promoting the safety and security of Ontarians by taking a strong stand on crime. We're working with the police, concerned taxpayers and representatives of community safety organizations to craft a new vision for public safety in Ontario.

I'm pleased to report that we have achieved many of our goals in the first 16 months. We are well under way to realizing our new vision for justice and community safety in Ontario. Our new vision includes protecting our communities, safeguarding victims' rights, promoting crime prevention and increasing public confidence in our criminal justice system.

November is Domestic Assault Prevention Month and next week is Crime Prevention Week in Ontario. Police services have a full program of events planned for their communities, and I'm pleased to say the Ministry of the Solicitor General has assisted them in their efforts. The Attorney General and I will use this month to demonstrate our continuing commitment to our vision for justice and community safety.

We are protecting our communities by moving quickly to reform parole in Ontario. Criminals who are a threat to public safety will be kept behind bars and denied parole. For the first time ever, we are denying more parole applications than we grant. Ontario Board of Parole members are now better trained and have better tools to make good release decisions.

We are protecting our communities by reinvesting $5.2 million this year to make the DNA lab at the Centre of Forensic Sciences among the best in North America. Homicide investigators and criminal profilers will get the answers they need to solve crimes quickly. This investment will help identify and convict predators.

We are protecting our communities by doubling our funding for police RIDE spot checks to $1.2 million this year. Our goal is to take drunk drivers off the road and to save lives. As the Attorney General will later tell you, our message is clear: Don't drink and drive in Ontario.

Further, to keep our communities safe, we will introduce a community safety bill which will give the police the tools they need to release information about high-risk offenders. The public has a right to know where and when a dangerous offender will be released from jail. Victims will also be able to find out when offenders are released from jail or paroled with the introduction of the first phase of the victim notification system early in the new year.

I'm proud to be a member of a government that has introduced a Victims' Bill of Rights. We are following through on our commitment to assist victims of crime so they are given the support and respect they deserve and to ensure they are not made to suffer a second time at the hands of an insensitive justice system.

This government has committed $1.92 million to expand the victim crisis assistance and referral service. This service will expand the current four locations to 20 sites across Ontario over two years. Trained volunteers will be available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, to attend crime and accident scenes to assist victims, freeing up police officers for other front-line duties.

Although this is a positive first step, we are doing more to assist victims of crime. This November, during Domestic Assault Prevention Month, we will be announcing $500,000 in project funding to some 20 community organizations which assist victims of crime. This year's community victims' initiative program, part of the $10.2-million victims' justice fund, will focus on community projects which prevent violence against women.

Even with these two new initiatives and others the Attorney General will tell you about, this government still needs to make sure victims find the help they need when they need it. We will soon be unveiling a first for Ontario, an automated information and referral service. This telephone information service will offer callers general information about the criminal justice system and how it works. It will also put the caller in touch with someone who can explain what victims' services are available in the caller's home community.

This government is promoting crime prevention by hitting criminals where it hurts, in their pocketbook. Police will seize and this government will liquidate the assets of criminals using the proceeds-of-crime initiative. We will plow the money back into community crime prevention and law enforcement initiatives.

We are promoting crime prevention by placing high-risk and repeat young offenders into a strict discipline program. This government knows they need a large dose of discipline, motivation and personal responsibility for their actions so that they don't grow up to become career criminals at everyone's expense.


We all have a right to feel safe in our homes and communities. Achieving that sense of security takes more than a local police force; it takes a total community effort. Each and every individual has a role to play in building safer communities. That's why this government is also investing $2 million enabling communities to solve local crime problems with local solutions. Ontario needs a strong and effective criminal justice system, one which enjoys the confidence of all law-abiding people.

Ontarians know that in the age of computers and high technology, our justice system can be faster, smarter and more efficient. Our justice system is buried in paperwork. This government is linking all aspects of the justice system electronically so that police, crown attorneys, judges and jailers can, for the first time ever, share information by computer. Police officers and others will be released from the burden of paperwork to concentrate on front-line duties and help to make our justice system more effective.

Each step forward helps make our homes, streets and communities safer places to live and work. Each step contributes to restoring Ontario's social and economic health.

Hon Charles Harnick (Attorney General, minister responsible for native affairs): Mr Speaker, I would like to build on my colleague's comments and outline the steps that the Ministry of the Attorney General is taking to meet the needs of Ontarians and ensure the safety of our communities. We know that safe communities attract investment, and that leads to more jobs.

The people of Ontario have told us that they live in fear of rising violent crime. The public deserves safe communities. Ontarians shouldn't have to worry about the safety of their families and homes. As a government, we are committed to alleviating their concerns and making our communities safer. That is why we have moved quickly to create and implement a number of initiatives and programs that support our goals.

Within the Ministry of the Attorney General, we are protecting our communities by calling for young offenders to be more accountable for their actions. The government has consistently asked for significant changes to the Young Offenders Act. The act is a dismal failure. It doesn't protect the public, doesn't punish the guilty and doesn't deter crime. It must be changed.

We believe that anyone aged 16 or older should be tried in adult court. We believe the names of youth convicted of serious violent offences should be made public in the interest of community safety. We believe the federal government should allow prosecutions in some cases where the offender is under the age of 12. We believe that victims should be allowed to seek civil damages from young offenders or their parents, who should be responsible and accountable for their children. We do not believe that youth should have access to free legal services if their parents can afford to pay. We will continue to exert pressure on federal Justice Minister Allan Rock and Solicitor General Herb Gray on behalf of the people of Ontario.

At the same time, we must find better ways to deal with youth crime in our schools, communities and the justice system. I will continue to review parental responsibility legislation and expand my discussions to date with those in the education sector to try to find solutions to youth crime.

We are protecting our communities by spending $7 million on the investment strategy, a set of initiatives designed to improve the way we prosecute cases. This program ensures that we can prosecute criminals in a timely manner so charges are not dismissed because of delays.

Later this month I will be going one step further and announcing concrete measures such as blitz teams to tackle case backlogs and ensure that charges proceed more quickly, criminals are punished appropriately and our streets remain safe.

We are protecting communities by catching criminals quickly and getting them off the streets. We will introduce new ways that search warrants can be issued. We want police officers to have ready and easy access to justices of the peace when they need a search warrant to carry out a criminal investigation. I hope to soon announce new measures that provide police officers with timely access to search warrants at all hours.

We are protecting our communities by getting drunk drivers off our streets immediately through administrative driver's licence suspension. Under the government's plan, drunk drivers will have their licences suspended on the spot for 90 days by the registrar of motor vehicles if their blood alcohol concentration is higher than the legal limit.

We are safeguarding victims' rights by establishing two dedicated courts to deal exclusively with wife assault in the Toronto area. Victims, crown attorneys and judges have told us that they believe specialized courts will allow us to better prosecute wife assault cases and address the problems created by repeat offenders. Such courts will focus on the needs of victims and require that perpetrators take full criminal responsibility for their assaults. I will be announcing the details of this plan in the very near future.

We are safeguarding victims' rights by refocusing the criminal justice system to bring about meaningful change to the way victims are treated. We did this by passing one of the most comprehensive Victims' Bill of Rights in the country to provide victims of crime with the support and respect they deserve in Ontario's criminal justice system.

Enshrining the victims' justice fund so that all moneys from the victim fine surcharge are used exclusively for victims' services is something we're very proud of. To date, we have allocated $10.2 million to a variety of victims' services, some of which my colleague has already outlined.

At the Ministry of the Attorney General we are doubling the victim/witness assistance program from 13 to 26 sites. This program walks victims and witnesses of crime, 90% of whom are women and children, through the court process. It gives victims and witnesses the information and support they need to avoid being retraumatized when they appear in court.

We are improving the quality of justice for Ontarians by investing more than $90 million to construct new or consolidated court facilities where they are most needed. This investment will provide faster, more affordable and accessible courts for the public.

We are improving the quality of justice for Ontarians by making better use of technology so that all parts of the justice system become integrated.

We are creating an environment for safe communities where people feel secure in their homes and neighbourhoods, and where there is respect for people and property. Ordinary citizens want that; businesses want that; investors want that. We are taking concrete steps to make Ontario a safer place in which to live, raise children, work and invest. By doing so, we will help to restore jobs, hope and prosperity to this great province.

In the coming weeks, the Solicitor General and Minister of Correctional Services and I will be back before you to provide more details about some of the measures we have highlighted today. I want to remind members of the House that this is only the start. Our commitment to law and order is ongoing.

Mr Gerry Phillips (Scarborough-Agincourt): I'm pleased to respond to the ministers' statements and to say that the government certainly will have our full support for any measures that provide for a safer and more secure community. I'll assure the government of that and I'll assure the public of that: Our party is absolutely committed to doing whatever it can that sensibly, logically and realistically provides for safer communities.

I want to provide some overview comments, though, on the announcement. The first the public should be aware of is that the proof is often in the resources the government's prepared to allocate. I would say that the public should be aware that the government has decided to dramatically cut back the Attorney General's budget; I believe it's $200 million less than it was three years ago. The Solicitor General's budget is lower than it was last year. We are awaiting the Minister of Finance's announcement in the next three or four weeks on resources and will be watching that very carefully.

Certainly for municipalities that have the responsibility for maintaining our police organizations, the government has decided to cut its level of support by 50%. You've decided that the municipalities can get by with 50% less money from the province. The public should at least be aware that the announcement today is within that backdrop. You have decided that the municipalities are going to get 50% less money, less support from the province, and we all know that the largest single item in a municipal budget is our police organization.


The second thing I wanted to say is that the one major issue we've had with our police organizations before the Legislature in the last few weeks has been video lottery terminals, the electronic slot machines. In that particular case, we had specific advice from our senior law officers in this province, from the criminal intelligence unit headed up by one of our senior chiefs in this province and from the Metropolitan Toronto Police. Both of those major organizations that deal with major crime told the government, "You are making a big mistake in terms of law and order in this province in approving these video lottery terminals," so it is ironic that the day when you are introducing this is exactly the same time you are asking the Legislature to pass a bill that our senior law enforcement officers say is wrong and will lead to more organized crime in Ontario.

The third thing I wanted to say is that the public expects to have proposals before us, and proposals that are executed with competence. I would say the experience we in the Legislature have had in the last few weeks with both of the ministers who have just talked, one on the family support plan -- and in that particular case it is a mess, and a mess as a result of a government action. They decided they would change it. You've got much the same language around the use of new technology and what not, and you've created an enormous mess so that mainly women in this province have been suffering for month after month as a result of incompetence.

With regard to the Solicitor General we've had two or three examples: Bluewater and Elgin-Middlesex Detention Centre. I gather we have a large number of our young offenders in adult institutions; virtually against the law for them to be there. Ipperwash certainly is an area, in my judgement, of incompetent handling.

As we look at the proposals today, it is within the backdrop of, what resources does the government really believe it wants to allocate to safe, secure communities in this province and how competent is it to execute it?

I will say in closing that there are several elements in these proposals that we are very strongly supportive of, and we certainly will be encouraging the government to move ahead. There are other elements in these proposals, frankly, that we will need to see more detail on. We will need to have a good debate in this Legislature before you get our undivided support, but as an overview, I think the government talks a substantially bigger game than it delivers in these matters.

Mrs Marion Boyd (London Centre): I share the concern of my colleague the member for Scarborough-Agincourt that this is a smokescreen. This is an effort on the part of the Attorney General and the Solicitor General to divert our attention away from some of the very serious problems we face in this province. It is a technique that goes back to Machiavelli: When things are going wrong, try to find a scapegoat on whom you can blame the problems of your government. Try to hit all those hot buttons. You've learned well from your southern counterparts, the Republicans in the United States, to use law and order as a mechanism to focus people's attention on your right-wing values and your right-wing behaviour.

Quite frankly, there is much in this announcement that we couldn't possibly disagree with and wouldn't want to, but you spoil an announcement about the good things you have done by scapegoating young offenders, by making the kind of statement that gives permission to correctional officers, gives permission to people in this province, to blame unfortunate young people, most of whom have been abused themselves previous to their encounter with the law and most of whom come out of poverty-stricken backgrounds. You give permission to the people of this province to scapegoat those kids for problems they did not create and problems to which they are reacting.

You know very well that the Minister of Justice in Ottawa has stated clearly there will not be the kind of retrograde changes that you want to make to the Young Offenders Act. That is not appropriate. It does not accord with the rights of the children convention we've signed with the United Nations. It in no way reflects the expertise we have built up in this province around the treatment and the effort to prevent the kind of crime that young offenders commit.

The minister is quite right: His methods will make it difficult for young offenders to grow up continuing in crime, because some don't grow up at all. James Lonnee will not grow up. He in fact was victimized by the very similar kinds of attitudes within the Solicitor General and Minister of Correctional Services' own facility.

Who are the victims of crime who get attention from this government? Well, they talk a very good line. It is good to see an extension of the victim/witness program. It is interesting to see that the money going to that expansion is not nearly what it would have been under the original plan of our government. It is interesting to see that the money out of the victim fund is much less than the money that was taken out of the women's directorate funds that did the same kind of thing around Wife Assault Month and Sexual Assault Month.

This is a smokescreen to try to convince the women and the people of Ontario that you care about the victims of assault when you have taken away the counselling money from second-stage housing facilities, when you have cut the facilities for first-stage housing by 20% and all of those other community supports that women and children need. You have cut financial support through the cuts to welfare for women whose partners refuse to give them that kind of treatment.

The Minister of Community and Social Services decided to get up and be proud of the fact that many women have gone back to abusive partners because they cannot manage to feed their children on social assistance, and her survey showed that is a reality. She may think it's a good thing that people went back home, but I can tell you that those in abusive situations don't.

This is a method this government is using to try to divert our attention, as the member for Scarborough-Agincourt said, from the criticisms of the police and the law enforcement people in this province; to try to divert the criticisms of the Chief Justice and other justices of the Divisional Court and the provincial court about the kind of resources that are available to them to deliver justice; to try to divert our attention from the lack of budget that is there for municipal police forces because of the cutbacks; to try to divert our attention from the fact that the Ontario Provincial Police have lost many officers through attrition who are not going to be replaced; to try to divert our attention from the fact that the family support plan, which is a major protection for people who are being victimized financially by a non-payor of support that's been ordered by the court -- these are all efforts to try to blind the people of Ontario to what is really happening as a result of your budget-cutting plans.

It is an effort to try to convince us that you care. The reality is that it is getting harder and harder for people to accept the words when we see the actions as being quite different. It takes much more than words, my friends, it takes actions to really convince us that you're trying to protect our community.


Mr Bud Wildman (Algoma): On a point of order, Mr Speaker: I want to draw your attention to Hansard, the debates of yesterday, October 30, 1996, page 4929, the remarks of the honourable member for Nipissing, the Premier, in which he said in referring to the member for Cochrane North, "You are shameless in your pursuit of more politicians and big government and more money in your own pocket and less for the people." Then further down, "You are an embarrassment to your constituents and the people of northern Ontario."

Mr Speaker, could you advise members of the House whether it is appropriate for any member in this House to impute motives to the point of suggesting that a member of the assembly is only interested in more money in his own pocket?

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Order. I appreciate the point of order from the member for Algoma, but if you don't know, you should know that points of order on statements in this Legislature must be taken up at the time they're made. It's not up to the Speaker of the House the day after to go back and determine whether something was in or out of order. In fact, I was not even in the chair at the time that was said.

I appreciate the fact that the member for Algoma would like to put that on the record, but as Speaker of the House, at this time I can't begin to start ruling on statements that were made yesterday when I wasn't the Speaker.


Mr Tony Silipo (Dovercourt): On a point of order, Mr Speaker: Could you tell me then on what basis you ruled that my statement of yesterday was out of order? You made that ruling today; you did not make that ruling yesterday.

The Speaker: I think, the member for Dovercourt, I said that I didn't rule your --

Mr Silipo: Sorry. I thought you said earlier --

The Speaker: If you let me finish, I did say that I allowed you to finish and that was left in order yesterday and I didn't ask you to withdraw it. I then said I would take the time to review your statements. I came back today and said that in future, if in fact that is put on the table, I will rule that out of order. I did not rule your statement out of order; I have not asked you to withdraw. So in future reference.

Ms Frances Lankin (Beaches-Woodbine): On the same point of order, Mr Speaker: That's exactly the kind of advice to the House that we are seeking. You gave us a lot of advice today of what sorts of things are parliamentary and unparliamentary, what would be in order, what wouldn't be in order. It seems that in the characterization of those things that are unparliamentary, the Premier's comments of yesterday fit your characterization exactly. We would like to know, just for our own advice for the future, if in fact those comments would be ruled out of order if made in the future.

The Speaker: With respect to the member for Beaches-Woodbine, what I did at the time was I consciously made the decision on the member for Dovercourt to come back and speak to those issues that he spoke to yesterday and I addressed those issues at the time.

Mrs Marion Boyd (London Centre): The Tories said it's okay.

The Speaker: I would hardly think that's an appropriate comment, to the member for London Centre.

At the time that the member for Dovercourt made those statements, two members had been removed from the House. At that time in the debate --

Ms Lankin: Just tell us in the future this is the way --

The Speaker: The member for Beaches-Woodbine, if you're going to stand on a point of order, I would suggest that you listen to the response.

So what I was suggesting at the time was that I would review the member for Dovercourt's statement and report back to the Legislature today. I was not in the chair when the Premier was speaking yesterday. I was not in the House when the Premier was speaking yesterday.

Ms Lankin: Simply advise. You are giving us a lot of advice.

The Speaker: Again, the member for Beaches-Woodbine, if you're going to stand on a point of order and ask for clarification, it's easier to understand the clarification if you listen to the clarification.

The point is that I was not in the chair yesterday when the Premier was speaking. I was not in the House. The Speaker made a ruling at that time. It's not up to me to come back the next day and question those rulings. Thank you.

Ms Lankin: No, we would like advice for the future. You gave us a lot of advice earlier.

The Speaker: Again I would caution the member very clearly, the member for Beaches-Woodbine, it wasn't a question of having advice. I was very clear yesterday about telling the member for Dovercourt I would report back. I reported back.



Mr Dalton McGuinty (Ottawa South): My first question is for the Premier. Today our province finds itself in the midst of another health care crisis presided over and fostered by your Minister of Health. I'm referring of course to the fact that doctors have rejected the deal and that we are facing in this province a massive job action and Ontarians are going to be deprived of essential health care services.

When your government made your infamous Bill 26 law, you gave Jim Wilson total and arbitrary control over Ontario's health care system. Your minister has now clearly shown that he has a reverse healer's touch. He's not curing our health care woes; he's making them worse. The fact is that your minister is not an advocate for health care; he's an advocate for expenditure reductions at the expense of quality health care. Jim Wilson has today created yet another crisis that he cannot solve. He's had a year to ensure that Ontarians will be guaranteed access to doctors' services but he has failed to protect us.

We need a Minister of Health who is committed to our health. This one is not. Will you replace him?

Hon Michael D. Harris (Premier): No, but thanks very much for a positive suggestion.

Mr McGuinty: I want to bring something to your attention that you should recognize anyway. You should know that your minister has lost our trust and confidence. Doctors don't trust him. Nurses don't trust him. Patients don't trust him. They no longer see Jim Wilson as the defender of our health care system. They see him as its attacker.

His principal initiatives as minister have been to impose user fees for drugs, to cut over $1 billion from our hospitals, to prompt layoffs of 15,000 nurses and to let loose an unelected hospital closing commission. Today we are witnessing the result of his failure to manage his relationship with our doctors. Premier, 76% of Ontario doctors have rejected this deal that was put before them. This is a clear and unequivocal rejection. The net result is that once again our Minister of Health, in a very real sense, is acting as a threat to health care in Ontario.

Ontarians want and deserve a Minister of Health who will defend health care, not attack it. I ask you again, will you replace this minister?

Hon Mr Harris: This is the first Minister of Health, in my recollection in the last 10 or 11 years, who had such confidence from the OMA that it unanimously agreed with him that the negotiations that were undertaken were fair, were reasonable, were appreciated; the first time that anybody had sat down and meaningfully negotiated with them since the Liberals and the New Democratic Party were in power. On the basis of that and the unanimous recommendation of the OMA, thank you very much, Minister of Health. We agree with you and we are waiting to hear the response of the OMA. Everything that we've heard so far is: "Gosh, this is the first time in 10 years we've had meaningful negotiations. I hope we can keep carrying on with the same Minister of Health."

Mr McGuinty: Maybe the Premier didn't hear me. The fact is that 76% of Ontario doctors, those who practise on the front lines in this province, have rejected this deal. That can hardly be symbolic of a close relationship with your government.

Again, no one trusts or has faith in a Minister of Health who acts as an accountant instead of an advocate for better health care. This weekend I spoke to a number of doctors and asked them why they couldn't arrive at an agreement with your government regarding their salaries. Each of these doctors made it clear to me that the biggest stumbling block in the way of reaching an agreement was the minister himself.

You see, your Minister of Health has himself become the issue. Ontario doctors could not settle with this minister because, to put it quite simply, they don't trust him. It's time for a new Minister of Health, one who will defend health care, not attack it; one who will negotiate with doctors, not threaten them; and one who will lend comfort to patients, not frighten them. Will you do the right thing and replace Jim Wilson?

Hon Mr Harris: I am happy to answer the question. I realize it comes from a party that last week told us we were giving too much to the doctors. I might say that it's difficult for us to know exactly what the Liberal Party position is. Is it too much? Is it not enough? But if your position with reference to the Minister of Health is, what do doctors think of the Minister of Health, unanimously the Ontario Medical Association has said, "Thank you" to the Minister of Health for showing them respect, something they haven't had for a long time from either the New Democratic Party or the Liberal Party -- respect for their work, value for their work.

If you're talking about the specifics of current negotiations, I understand today I have a press release from the obstetricians at the Mississauga Hospital. They'd like everyone to know -- and that includes you and the leader of the party, if she'd care to listen, and the member for St Catharines, if he'd care to quit interjecting and listen -- "We are now accepting new patients for prenatal care. The government has at last begun to address some of the issues that cause us concern and has shown a willingness to negotiate." I would say they're quite happy with the Minister of Health, as am I.


Mr Dalton McGuinty (Ottawa South): Those few tidbits or trinkets strewn around by this government are hardly going to make up for the ravages caused to this health care system in Ontario. I'd like to continue in this line of questioning with the Premier. I want to talk to you a bit about plan B now, because you've kept the people of Ontario in the dark over this for much too long. Patients have a right to know what you, in the absence of a minister committed to our health, are going to do to protect our health care services. Tell us, what now? Now that Ontario doctors have overwhelmingly rejected your deal, what specific plans do you have to deal with the massive job action planned against your minister?

Hon Michael D. Harris (Premier): I know the Minister of Health, who has received a ringing endorsement from the OMA, would be happy to answer that.

Hon Jim Wilson (Minister of Health): The Premier is correct in saying that it's difficult to know the Liberal Party's position. I'd repeat that last week they said we were giving far too much to the doctors, that we were giving away the health care system to the doctors of the province. You can't have it both ways. You're not fooling the folks who are watching us back home. I would say that we have not received any official word from the OMA council. The council is meeting as we speak, and we want to respect the process. Certainly my door is always open to Ontario's doctors. I'm very interested to know what the outcome of today's council meeting will be, and I can assure you we will take whatever comes from the council very seriously.


Mr McGuinty: I'm going to offer a prediction for the benefit of the minister and the Premier, and that is that his deal is going to be rejected. I'm asking, on behalf of the people of this province, what the minister's plans are. All they've heard of so-called contingency plans to date is that you plan to ship women off to the United States to have their babies and to cover the signs along Ontario highways which point to the nearest hospital because there's no one there to care for patients.

What are your plans for expectant mothers across the province who are fearful for their wellbeing and that of their children because they cannot be sure an obstetrician will be available to them throughout their pregnancy? What are your plans for those women in Sudbury and Kenora, for example, for whom going to the United States to deliver their babies is not an option? What are your plans for Ontarians who are frightened and angry that they cannot be sure their emergency wards will be open, because of a shortage doctors? Who will act on their behalf? Who will save them from the massive withdrawal of services planned right across Ontario?

Hon Mr Wilson: I could go on to read the press release that the Premier started to read, from the obstetricians in Mississauga, which indicates that they're accepting patients. Most of the doctors across the province we've heard from over the last few weeks appreciate the fact that the negotiating teams have been talking and that we've been having serious negotiations.

I would say to all members of the House without hesitation that plan A and plan B and plan C and plan D and plan E are always to ensure quality access to top-quality health care services in this province for the people of this province and to always have my door open to Ontario's doctors and to work with the Ontario Medical Association to solve problems and frustrations and concerns that doctors have had for over 15 years, problems, concerns and frustrations that your party failed to address during its time in office.

Mr McGuinty: I guess we're just going to have to wait for women in Ontario to go into labour within the context of this massive job action before we find out what this government's plans are. We're going to have to wait for someone to be seriously injured and to attend an emergency department to find there's nobody there to help them before we're going to find out what this government's plans are.

This government has mastered the art of creating a crisis. What they haven't figured out yet, though, is how to solve one. The lack of a response illustrates one thing and one thing only: Protecting access to health care is simply not a priority for this government. Will you now just admit that you have failed to protect Ontarians' access to quality health care?

Hon Mr Wilson: The number one priority of this government has been to protect access to health care, and we've done that, not only by fully preserving the health care budget, not cutting one penny of the budget, but by increasing that budget. I would say in all sincerity to the honourable member that we have done that in the face of all the odds against us from the federal government. Jean Chrétien has cut this province by $2.1 billion. You're running for leadership in your party, true leadership on behalf of patients and people who need health care in this province. Would you go and talk to the Prime Minister of this country, who happens to belong to the same party as you do --


The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Order. I ask the member for Yorkview to withdraw that comment.

Mr Mario Sergio (Yorkview): What comment? "Ha"? I didn't say that he's misleading the House. Is he attempting to mislead the House, accusing the federal government --

The Speaker: Order. You cannot accuse another member of misleading the House.

Mr Sergio: I'm not accusing the member.

The Speaker: I give you the opportunity to withdraw or not withdraw. That's your --

Mr Sergio: If it pleases you, Mr Speaker, I will withdraw, but my intention does not change.

The Speaker: The member for Yorkview, it's not if it pleases me; it's either withdraw or you don't withdraw.

Mr Sergio: I'll withdraw, but my mind does not change.

The Speaker: Thank you very much.

Hon Mr Wilson: Simply pointing out a few facts that the Prime Minister himself pointed out in a Toronto Star article on October 27 that said, "Medicare `Squeeze' Needed." Somehow the members across the road can't seem to admit what the Prime Minister himself admits, that he has cut $2.1 billion in health and social service transfers to the province of Ontario.

Mr Howard Hampton (Rainy River): My question is also for the Minister of Health. Last week you said that you didn't think the leadership of some of the doctors' groups represented rank and file doctors, and you said that you were confident that doctors would vote for your government's deal. You must be aware by now of the perception that your government's deal has been turned down overwhelmingly. You must be aware of that. You must be informed of the results.

Will you inform the Legislature now of the vote results? Are you still confident that your government's deal will be accepted by doctors?

Hon Mr Wilson: I would remind all members that the Ontario Medical Association representing Ontario's doctors recommended this deal, which was a joint statement, the first step in a negotiation process. They wholeheartedly endorsed it, both negotiating teams did, and they've spent a considerable amount of time and resources recommending it to their membership. So to say that this was in any way a one-sided process certainly doesn't reflect the facts.

I think that for the next couple of hours -- and the NDP are always the party to talk about process and the respect of process -- we all should respect the process. The council is meeting right now and we've received no official word from that council.

Mr Hampton: It's pretty obvious from the minister's answer. This was the minister who a short time ago was very cocky and assumed that he knew it all with respect to health care, and what we're seeing now is a minister who is not so cocky. We can tell from your response that you know that your government's proposal has been turned down overwhelmingly by physicians.

One day you said you would go back to the negotiation table with physicians, and then the next day you said, "That's it, this is the only deal, take it or leave it." We're left wondering, where are you at now? The specialists have extended their deadline until November 8 before they start withdrawing services, but our understanding is that family physicians across the province are going to begin withdrawing services tomorrow.

I want to ask you, you who have told us all along that you know it all, what are your plans for tomorrow for dealing with the withdrawal of services of a number of family physicians across this province?

Hon Mr Wilson: Again, the honourable member is factually incorrect. This was not my government's proposal. It was a negotiated proposal agreed to by both sides. Please admit that much, Mr Hampton.

Second, with respect to the next steps, I'm waiting to hear from the Ontario Medical Association because I respect the process that both parties have entered into.

Mr Hampton: I say again, this is the Minister of Health who was in the press a couple of days ago saying adamantly to physicians, "This is the only deal you're going to get; take it or leave it," and it is apparent to all of us that the physicians of the province are going to leave it.

I want to ask of the minister, this is the health care crisis you created. You were the one who brought in the Bill 26 provisions presuming you could tell physicians where they could practise, how they could practise, when they could practise. You were the Minister of Health who apparently knew it all. What do we do now?

We are going to ask later on this afternoon for an emergency debate on this matter, an emergency debate on the health care crisis you have created. Will you agree to that emergency debate so you can tell us what you're going to do?

Hon Mr Wilson: This member is a member of a party that signed two deals with Ontario's doctors and lived up to almost nothing in those deals. When we came to office, eight of the 12 major issues in your last two agreements with the doctors were before the courts. Several million dollars have been spent in legal fees, money that should be spent on direct patient services. So I don't think you have a licence to get up and criticize the process that this government has entered into jointly with the Ontario Medical Association.



Mr Howard Hampton (Rainy River): My next question is for the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing. It concerns the way your government is going about making decisions. You are making fundamental decisions on how the 2.3 million people of the Metropolitan Toronto area are going to be governed and you're making those decisions behind closed doors and without any public input.

We've looked at your who does what to whom panel and it's interesting. You've got very few Toronto representatives. You've got Steve Lowden, past president of Metro's big business lobby, and you've got Enid Slack, a financial consultant. Then you've got some faceless, nameless, unaccountable bureaucrats. Let me ask you this: Why are you letting bureaucrats and business lobbyists decide the future of Toronto? Why don't you trust people who were elected to municipal councils, people who have been elected mayors of their communities to take part in this discussion? Why are you doing all this behind closed doors, Minister?

Hon Al Leach (Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing): I'd like to say that one of my wiser appointments was giving David Crombie a role in developing ideas for the future of government in Metropolitan Toronto. Guess who said that? Bob Rae, in his latest book, which I understand is almost a bestseller.

There has been considerable consultation. We spent well over a year with the Golden commission; Ernst and Young have developed studies providing information on where we should go with governance in the GTA. There's such a mass of information available to everybody, you should try and get hold of some.

Mr Hampton: This is not about David Crombie. It's the government that created the process here. It's the government that created a process that allows a few business lobbyists to decide the future of Toronto and allows a few financial consultants to decide the business of Toronto, but we don't see here the representatives of any community groups, we don't see the representatives of any social service providers, no labour representation. We don't see anyone being represented here who may want to have a fuller and more complete debate or discussion.

You talk about locally driven municipal restructuring, but what you're doing here is imposing a top-down solution on 2.3 million people, a top-down solution from behind closed doors. That's what you're doing. So Minister, I want to ask you -- David Crombie didn't set up this process; you and your government set up this closed-door process -- will you commit now to delaying your decision for at least 30 days, as the mayors of the areas have asked for, and will you instruct that the Crombie panel begin to hold their processes in the open, with open public consultation and open public discussion?

Hon Mr Leach: We have had more public consultation on this issue probably than any other issue this government has faced. You may have forgotten all of the public process that took place during the Golden report. You've forgotten about all of the public process and the public meetings that were held by Metropolitan Toronto, held by the city of Toronto on this issue. There have been referendums, there have been all --


The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Minister.

Hon Mr Leach: As I said, there has been scads of public involvement in this issue -- report after report after report.

Mr Hampton: I just want you to know the credentials of some of the people who are telling the government what to do here. I mentioned Mr Lowden, and these are Mr Lowden's credentials: He gave $1,000 to the Progressive Conservative Party centrally, he gave $250 to Isabel Bassett, he gave $250 to Mr Saunderson and he gave $200 to Mr Leach. This is who is going to decide the fate of 2.3 million people and how they're going to be governed.

Minister, you'd better get it through your head: If you think you are going to totally re-engineer how people are governed, if you think you're going to totally re-engineer the structure of government for 2.3 million people, you'd better start holding an open process or you're going to find out that things dig in very quickly around here. Are you willing to start now holding an open process for government and to stop listening to your corporate friends?

Hon Mr Leach: I guess a contribution of that amount was probably enough to influence that party, but it certainly isn't enough to influence this one.


Interjection: Can we give him a chance to continue to be witty?

The Speaker: That's what I'm waiting for. Minister.

Hon Mr Leach: The Crombie panel is made up of 15 individuals with a great deal of expertise in municipal affairs, and they're providing advice to this government. We'll accept some of the advice; some of it we probably won't accept. But they are dedicated people who are taking a lot of time and a lot of effort to make sure we get their best advice.


Mrs Lyn McLeod (Leader of the Opposition): I want to return to the Minister of Health, the minister who is responsible for having created this crisis in health care that we face today and the minister whose bullying tactics have made any resolution of it absolutely impossible.

This started just about exactly a year ago when this minister and this government brought in the infamous Bill 26 and tried to ram through their redirections of the health care system, when this Minister of Health arbitrarily gave himself the power to go in and shut down hospitals and then proceeded to gut the budgets of hospitals across this province and jeopardize access to patient care. It started in Bill 26 when this Minister of Health gave himself the power to decide what care patients will get instead of that decision being made by patients with their doctor. It was this Minister of Health who decided in Bill 26 that he had to be able to force physicians to go into communities that need doctors rather than providing positive incentive programs. As if that wasn't enough, it was this Minister of Health who decided to follow all of this with arbitrary clawbacks after having already broken in Bill 26 the deal with the Ontario Medical Association.


You are now back in the chaos you created, Minister, and patients today are at risk. You said this weekend that you would guarantee, in the event of a failed deal, that patients would have access to health care. How will you keep that guarantee?

Hon Jim Wilson (Minister of Health): The honourable member seems to have a very short memory. This all started, as I recall, and I was an assistant here at the time, in 1986, when thousands of doctors were on the front lawn when her government was in office.

I would also remind the honourable member that the recovery of overpayments began under the social contract when the NDP were in office. Prior to that, nobody ever heard of such a thing. We've committed, over the last 16 months, to try and get out of the crazy system of recovering overpayments after the fact.

I'd ask the honourable member to reflect for a moment that history is very clear that doctors have not been happy in this province for a number of years -- I'd say it would go back at least 10 to 15 years -- and that she should not in any way try and pretend that she has some sort of sainthood degree on this. Her party did a great deal to undermine the professional morale of doctors in this province and to truly treat them with disrespect.

Mrs McLeod: At the moment I don't need to take my memory back much past this past weekend, when the Minister of Health, having negotiated a deal with the Ontario Medical Association, beginning to feel that maybe it was slipping away, felt he had to step in and say: "If you don't vote for my deal, I'm not going back to the negotiating table. There is no way." It's ironic to hear this Premier talk about positive relationships with the physicians of this province and the Ontario Medical Association when his own minister is out trying to bully his way through the deal that he believed was falling apart.

But the issue today is that if this deal fails, as it appears it is going to, patients are at risk. You are the Minister of Health. You've guaranteed patients that you would protect their access to health care. Forget the rhetoric; forget the history lessons. Minister, what will you do to protect patients in this province now?

Hon Mr Wilson: The obstetricians in Mississauga felt compelled to put out a release today that says, "As a measure of our good faith in those negotiations, we will resume providing care to pregnant women as long as meaningful negotiations continue." Again, I have more faith in Ontario's doctors and I have more faith in the public than the honourable member obviously has.

What the public very clearly has told me and what they've told their doctors over the past few weeks is that they want the government and the doctors to solve some of these long, historic problems, and that is what we are fully committed to doing. No one in the public wants to see the government and the doctors fighting, nor do they want to see the opposition members stirring the pot. These are very serious times. This government is committed to solving the frustrations and concerns that have been long held by Ontario's doctors.


Mr Howard Hampton (Rainy River): My question is also for the Minister of Health. The Minister of Health should know that people in Sudbury are extremely concerned and unanimous in their view that your hospital closing commission's report on Sudbury's hospitals is seriously flawed.

Representatives from the district health council, members of the regional municipality of Sudbury, the seniors' advisory group and the local labour council have all expressed their dismay. They believe the commission's report underestimates the role of Sudbury as the regional health care centre for the northeast. They believe the commission has made no mention of the very pressing and grave labour adjustment issues that will result in the closing of two hospitals. They believe the commission does not adequately address the subject of community-based care, transitional care and home care.

Minister, you have appointed this commission that can order the closure of hospitals, but it cannot guarantee the funding of all the transitional costs, nor can it guarantee the funding of an adequate service once the hospital system is so dramatically cut back.

These people from Sudbury want to meet with you, and both the member for Nickel Belt and the member for Sudbury East have asked to meet with you. Will you commit to meet with these people from Sudbury in order to address the concerns they have raised about the commission's report?

Hon Jim Wilson (Minister of Health): I don't think the community is unanimous as the honourable member has said. I've got a letter here dated October 24 from Sudbury Memorial Hospital. It's one of the hospitals very directly affected by the interim decisions put forward by the commission. It says:

"The following action was decided by the Sudbury Memorial Hospital board of governors: to endorse the commission's interim direction to create the new single Sudbury Regional Hospital Corp and end historic divisions; to meet with other Sudbury hospital board representatives to discuss appropriate strategies to plan the development of this new entity; to invite the Health Services Restructuring Commission to appoint a facilitator/mediator immediately to assist in developing the plan for this new hospital corporation; to work with the other hospitals to develop a system-wide human resources/labour adjustment plan with our stakeholders."

I have all kinds of quotes, including editorials from the Sudbury Star. Dr John Malloy, who is head of emergency services for Memorial Hospital, said, "Thank God somebody's finally brought some common sense to the chaos we've been living under for years and years."

We're very much in touch with the people of Sudbury and their desire to improve hospital services and health care services in the region, and to make sure we have top-quality services for the people of the northeast.

Mr Hampton: It's a very simple question. Municipal representatives, representatives of senior citizens, other people who are very concerned about how the hospital closing decisions were arrived at, people who are representative of people in Sudbury, want to meet with the Minister of Health. The hospital closing commission has the authority to close hospitals but doesn't have the authority to order reinvestment, doesn't have the authority to require that money be put aside for labour adjustment, doesn't have the authority to require that money be put aside to ensure the provision of community services.

It's a very simple request. People who are representative of Sudbury want to meet with you to talk about some of the concerns they feel were not addressed in the commission's report. A simple request: Will you meet with that representative group from Sudbury and will you meet with it soon?

Hon Mr Wilson: A law was passed to ensure that we took politics out of the hospital restructuring process. The law requires that during this period from the interim decision to the final decisions rendered by the commission, all members of the public, all MPPs -- because there are no special rules for MPPs -- all people are to direct their concerns to the commission. So no, I will not set up a separate process, a special hearing for MPPs. I, for example, saw our department's response yesterday. We're following the rules as one of the parties. The deputy minister wrote the ministry's and the government's response yesterday, which is a public response, and I expect all members to follow the law. As my predecessor George McCague used to say, "The law is the law is the law."


Mr Jack Carroll (Chatham-Kent): My question is to the Minister of Education. During question period on Tuesday, October 29, of this week, the leader of the third party made some disparaging comments about Tilbury District High School, operated by the Kent County Board of Education. Quite frankly, I'm surprised the member for Essex-Kent, Mr Hoy, who represents the fine people of Tilbury, hasn't risen to protest. I'd like to quote from Hansard. The leader of the third party said:

"A young woman named Kim Wright went back to her high school this past week and found that instead of two guidance counsellors there is now one, and that guidance counsellor is hard pressed to deal with all the kids who need her help; classes and grades have been doubled up; when a teacher is sick, the class is cancelled instead of a supply teacher being brought in; and students are afraid they will have to go to another high school to get their classes."

Have you had a chance to investigate these serious allegations?

Hon John Snobelen (Minister of Education and Training): I want to thank the member for Chatham-Kent for his question because it's an opportunity to set the record straight. It's unfortunate that the leader of the third party set out to deliberately distort the Kent County Board of Education's record yesterday, so let me set that record straight: The facts are that the individual who was named by the leader of the third party yesterday --

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): I say to the Minister of Education that you can't claim that the leader of the third party set out to distort the information. That is in essence suggesting that they are manufacturing and lying. You must withdraw it.


Hon Mr Snobelen: I will withdraw it, then, and suggest that the comments in the statement made by the leader of the third party had the effect of distorting the record on the Kent County Board of Education. Let me be specific.

The Speaker: Minister of Education, I think I just spent about 30 minutes suggesting to this House that you can't indirectly do what you can't directly do. So it's either withdraw or don't withdraw. Make a call right now.

Hon Mr Snobelen: I will set the record straight on the Kent County Board of Education's record. The individual who was mentioned by the leader of the third party yesterday I am told graduated from the Tilbury school last year. What I've heard about this individual is very impressive, as both a volunteer and an employment record, because this individual has been a volunteer and, I understand, a summer student for the New Democratic Party. She told the principal and guidance department head at the school that she was doing research on secondary school education. For the record, the guidance department staff was reduced by one period from the previous year, which is the equivalent of one sixth of a teacher, because of declining enrolment.

Mr Carroll: Minister, as you know, both Kent county boards of education are among the lowest-spending boards in the province. During that same exchange, the leader of the third party asked, "How would you have done it differently at Tilbury?" Minister, according to the director of education for the Kent County Board of Education, have any of your changes resulted in any cutbacks at the Tilbury District High School?

Hon Mr Snobelen: I can assure the member that no, that's not the case. To set the record straight, let me quote from the Kent county director of education. He told us, "The Kent county board has not reduced any teaching staff due to the recent budget cutbacks, but this year's" -- I think this is important, and I hope the members opposite will listen -- "reductions are a direct result of the cuts imposed by the social contract in the previous year." I think the leader of the third party would own those cuts.


Mr Monte Kwinter (Wilson Heights): I have a question for the Minister of Economic Development, Trade and Tourism. Minister, in March 1992, the Ontario government and Bombardier Inc signed a deal to buy de Havilland Inc to save the thousands of jobs that were at risk. Under the deal, Ontario spent $49 million for a 49% stake and Bombardier spent $51 million for the rest. The deal provides that Bombardier has the legal right to buy out the government stake by January 31, 1997, for $49 million. Bombardier has indicated that they are going to exercise their option as provided for in the deal.

Minister, this morning there was a news report that you were having second thoughts about the deal. You said, "We have the right to negotiate another arrangement." Minister, could you tell me under what provisions or what authority you think you have the right to renegotiate this deal?

Hon William Saunderson (Minister of Economic Development, Trade and Tourism): I'd like to respond to the member for Wilson Heights. At the present time, our government and Bombardier are in negotiation about the subject that the member referred to. Because it's under negotiation, I think I'll decline to give comment any further.


Mr Kwinter: I find it rather strange that I called de Havilland this morning --

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Order. The member for Lake Nipigon, you can't say those kinds of things in this place. I would ask you to withdraw.

Mr Gilles Pouliot (Lake Nipigon): I will withdraw, Mr Speaker.

Mr Kwinter: I find the minister's comments very strange. I called de Havilland this morning. They were calling an emergency meeting because they have never even heard of this suggestion. They said they don't know where this came from. They have a deal. The contract has no provision to renegotiate and I'd like to just read into the record the response that the Minister of Transportation made to my colleague from Windsor-Walkerville in a question about Highway 407.

He said: "This is something the previous government initiated and agreed to do. All we've done, basically, is inherit what the previous government had negotiated. We have a contract that we must abide by. We've done just that. We've abided by the contracts that were in place in order to deliver the 407, and that's what we're doing."

I would suggest to you, if you're going to start renegotiating unilaterally, then instead of doing it with de Havilland, take a look at 407, because, as an analyst said in the paper today, the de Havilland deal was the deal of the century. I can tell you that the 407 deal was the deal of the millennium. That is where you should be looking if you're going to start renegotiating deals, which I don't think you can do.

Hon Mr Saunderson: In response to the supplementary question by the member for Wilson Heights, those two deals you are referring to were negotiated by the previous government and also, I'd like to say to you that, yes, there is an exit time; it is January 31, 1997. We are working with Bombardier on that timing and that's all I can say at this time.


Mr Tony Silipo (Dovercourt): My question is to the Premier. I want to ask you about events that are continuing resulting from your comments the other day after this weekend's events, particularly comments that you made about the Arab community.

As you know, there was a press conference held earlier today by members of the Canadian Arab Federation. They expressed some very serious continuing concerns about your comments. They certainly appreciated the fact that you issued an apology and they acknowledged that and accepted that, as I am sure you know.

But they made the point that they believe you should understand that, as the Premier of the province, your comments have a serious impact and in fact reverberate across the province. Their main concern, as I heard it, is that what your comments did was to reflect some deeply ingrained, negative imagery of Arabs and, I'm sure unwittingly, encourage racist sentiments and expressions right across the province, and also imply that these Ontarians are not seen to be part of the mainstream.

I just want to ask you, Premier, do you understand fully the impact of the comments that you made and the fact that to deal with them involves more than just a simple apology?

Hon Michael D. Harris (Premier): I think you are aware that I acknowledged that they were in the parade, the context within which that was reported that caused offence, and I've apologized for that.

Mr Silipo: I am troubled by the Premier's curt response and what I see as an attempt to just dismiss the issue as if it was just "another goof that I made" or another unfortunate comment. The point is that this goes much deeper than that because, as one example of the kind of sentiment that your comments have unleashed, the group today released, among other things, the comments that were called in by one person to their headquarters, making the statement as follows: "You have no right to criticize my government. You should go home where you come from."

Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): Who said that?

Mr Silipo: A caller to the Canadian Arab Federation said that. The point that the federation and the others who were at the press conference are making, Premier, is that in fact your comments are unleashing exactly this kind of a response and are making those comments acceptable.

They've asked to meet with you, Premier, and they've asked to meet so they can talk to you directly and impress upon you the importance of what you have done and look at ways in which you can rectify, beyond the apology, the damage that you have caused. Will you do that, Premier? Will you meet with them and will you look seriously in your heart and in your soul --

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Member for Dovercourt, order. Premier.


Hon Mr Harris: I think I acknowledged that all those who participated on Saturday did so, and I congratulate them, in a very fine way. I also acknowledged that if they had concerns, I would be happy to meet with them and accept positive suggestions about why they were in the parade or concerns they may have had.

In this case, as you know, there were press reports that indicated I acknowledged they were in the parade. This has caused some concern. I have apologized for that, and if they would like a meeting and are prepared to request one, I would probably meet with them the same as I do with all groups that wish to meet with me.

I would like to indicate, as well, that I have had many, many calls from many members of the Arab community saying: "We understand. We like your policies. We like you. We take no offence. Thank you for the apology as well."


Hon Ernie L. Eves (Deputy Premier, Minister of Finance): I have a response to a question asked on October 29 by the member for Hamilton Centre. He asked a question about many non-profit organizations in Jackson Square in the city of Hamilton. I would like to report to him today that the space occupied by these non-profit organizations in Jackson Square is assessed as vacant. Any decision regarding the status of those non-profit organizations as occupants is entirely up to the landlord. There is no connection between the occupancy status of non-profit organizations and the current assessment appeal by Jackson Square.

Mr David Christopherson (Hamilton Centre): First of all, I appreciate the minister getting back so promptly, and like you, I'll review your response and see if that squares with the understanding people have in my community. If it doesn't, rest assured, Minister, I'll be back on your doorstep in this House.


Mr Pat Hoy (Essex-Kent): My question is to the Minister of Education. I read in the press yesterday that cash-starved boards of education in Toronto are moving to allow full-scale advertising on the outside of school buses. Next month I'm introducing a private member's bill aimed at protecting school children. In researching my bill, I've learned how often drivers ignore the warning message on the back of school buses. Advertising is a distraction by its nature. I have spoken to the Ontario School Bus Association, which is greatly concerned. They say no to external advertising.

Minister, you are responsible for the safety of school children. This isn't about the propriety of endorsement; it is about children's lives. Will you commit today that you will not allow advertising outside school buses which would compromise the safety of Ontario school children?

Hon John Snobelen (Minister of Education and Training): I want to assure the member opposite that I have not yet been advised of any intentions to advertise on school buses. I know there has been some speculation about that for a number of years in the province and that a board is now looking at doing advertising on buses, but I don't think there are final plans for that, at least I have not been advised of them.

I've talked to the Ontario School Bus Association about this as well. They are concerned that if there are obstructive signs it might cause a safety problem. I can assure you that both I and the Minister of Transportation will review the situation if in fact it imposes any safety hazards on school children.

Mr Hoy: My bill, which amends the Highway Traffic Act, will significantly increase fines for drivers who ignore flashing school lights and assign vehicle liability to owners when the driver cannot be identified. The Ontario School Bus Association supports my bill. Will you give me your commitment that you will place the safety of children first and work with the Minister of Transportation and other stakeholders to ensure child safety on our roads.

Hon Mr Snobelen: I want to again thank the member opposite for his interest in the safety of schoolchildren. Of course, I'm interested. I think everyone in this chamber is interested in making sure that the safety of school children is not jeopardized. I can assure the member once again, and I'm pleased to, that the Minister and Transportation and I will make sure that the safety concerns are addressed if there is any advertising done on school buses in Ontario.

Again I'd like to assure the member opposite that I have been in contact with the Ontario School Bus Association. I talked to their director and their president this week and I'm very well apprised of the situation.


Mr David Christopherson (Hamilton Centre): My question is to the Minister of Labour. Last week my leader raised with you the fact that in a speech you gave on September 24, less than a month ago, you said that the folding of the Workplace Health and Safety Agency into the WCB would not result in the staff being laid off. You said in that speech, "The functions and staff of the Workplace Health and Safety Agency have been integrated into the WCB."

These staff members were shocked on October 10 when they were told verbally that they were going to receive layoff notices very soon. When you were asked about this by my leader last week, you said: "I understand it is being resolved and no one at all is being laid off at the present time. For you to indicate that anybody is being laid off at the present time, you know that's not true."

Yesterday seventeen of those staff received their layoff notices. Some of them are here in the gallery today. Will you stand in your place and advise these workers that you will honour your promise, cancel the layoffs and ensure that we don't lose that expertise in terms of preventing workplace accidents?

Hon Elizabeth Witmer (Minister of Labour): As you know, we have integrated the activities of the health and safety agency into the WCB. What we are endeavouring to do is to focus the activities of the WCB on prevention. There is an internal restructuring taking place, and yes, there were some individuals who I understand, as a result of the information I received yesterday, received their layoff notices.

Mr Christopherson: It certainly sounds to me like you're acknowledging that your word is not as good as your policy, not as good as your bond. The fact of the matter is that you assured people in the audience on September 24 that the functions and the staff would be integrated into the WCB. You didn't say just the function or just the mandate or just the intent; you said the functions and the staff. Then you ridiculed my leader when he had the temerity to put your own words in front of you because these workers had received a verbal notice. Now it has happened. They've received formal layoff notice.

Many times I ask you specific questions, you give me generalities. I'm asking you again specifically, will you stand in your place today and honour the commitment that you made to ensure that the functions and staff of the workplace health agency be put into the WCB? Cancel those layoffs and keep your word to those workers.

Hon Mrs Witmer: It's very important to remember there are still 30 members of the staff employed in the function. I would just indicate to you that our focus is on prevention. We have integrated those activities --

Mr Christopherson: You broke your promise. I can't believe you have the audacity to stand there and say that. They're right up there. Tell them. They're right there. Tell them your word is no good.

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): The member for Hamilton Centre, come to order.


The Speaker: The member for Hamilton Centre, come to order.


Mrs Barbara Fisher (Bruce): My question is for the Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs. I have heard from many food producers in my riding that they often feel they are not on a level playing field with their Quebec counterparts. Specifically, Ontario hog producers and packers are concerned about Quebec's stabilization program and believe it is hurting Ontario's industry. It is my understanding that the minister recently met with his counterpart from Quebec. I wonder if he could share with the members of the House the highlights of those discussions he had with the Honourable Mr Julien on the issue of hog subsidies.

Hon Noble Villeneuve (Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, minister responsible for francophone affairs): I want to thank my colleague the member for Bruce for the question. I met with the Honourable Guy Julien last Thursday in Quebec City. We discussed many, many problems that are not unique to Ontario but are shared with Quebec.

The honourable member is right when she says that it is the view of the packers and the producers that these payouts are responsible for a large number of weaner hogs leaving Ontario being finished and processed in the province of Quebec. Honourable members will know that this results in fewer hogs available for processors in Ontario. Honourable members will be pleased to know that the minister from Quebec has initiated substantial decreases in support levels and will announce later this year what indeed these reductions in support levels will be.


Mrs Fisher: Ontario food producers and processors have also raised their concerns with many other Quebec subsidy programs. It seems that all provinces except one have signed the safety net framework agreement as part of the bilateral agreements with the federal government. It seems that Quebec would like some further amendments to the framework agreement. I believe that Ontario farm leaders would be critical of the Ontario ministry if we agreed to amend the current framework agreement as such and would like to know the minister's position on this issue.

Hon Mr Villeneuve: The member for Bruce brings this House a very important question for the agrifood industry. I certainly share the views of the industry about maintaining a level playing field to allow for fair and open competition without government intervention. I told the Quebec Minister of Agriculture that it took a long time to negotiate the agreements on the safety nets and that I'm not prepared to make any amendments at this time to simply accommodate them. It's important that the federal government is seen to be treating all provinces fairly and equally, and I'm confident that is the treatment we all will get as provinces in this country.


Mr Rick Bartolucci (Sudbury): My question is to the Minister of Health. The 30-day appeal period is over and Sudbury anxiously awaits the final decision of the Health Services Restructuring Commission. It has come to my attention that one of your members on the Health Services Restructuring Commission has informed a member of a local hospital board that his commission, the Health Services Restructuring Commission, will be launching a targeted and very high-profile communication strategy in Sudbury starting today. According to this individual, the lobbying strategy will be targeting the key opinion leaders in our region to try to win them over to the commission's final decision in Sudbury. The following quote is almost verbatim from the member of your commission: "We will be using the key issues contained in individual briefs and do some horse trading to win certain groups over in order to gain their support."

My question is threefold: (1) Are you aware of the lobbying strategy undertaken by the commission for Sudbury? (2) Is there a coalition between the commission's lobbying scheme and the work Kerbel Communications did for your ministry in Sudbury? (3) Is that a mandate of the Health Services Restructuring Commission, as outlined in the mandate --

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Order. I appreciate you didn't get a supplementary, but you can't ask them both in the same one. Minister.

Hon Jim Wilson (Minister of Health): The answers are no, no and yes, it is the mandate of the commission to explain its decisions.


Mr Len Wood (Cochrane North): On a point of personal privilege, Mr Speaker: Yesterday during debate of Bill 81, the Fewer Politicians Act --


The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Order. It's a point of personal privilege and I'm having difficulty hearing it. Thank you. Go ahead.

Mr Len Wood: Earlier there were a number of points of order raised concerning some of the comments Premier Mike Harris made in his rebuttal. I want you to look at this in Hansard, at page 4929, "You are shameless in your pursuit of more politicians and big government and more money in your own pocket and less for the people." There's also another sentence that is --

The Speaker: Order. Member for Cochrane North, just take your seat for a moment, please. I think your House leader brought that point of order up earlier.

Mr Howard Hampton (Rainy River): This is a point of privilege now.

The Speaker: I'm sorry, you're right. Go ahead.

Mr Len Wood: This is a matter of personal privilege and, Speaker, I would like you to take a look at it. I know you're not going to be able to make a ruling at this point in time, but we had discussions where people were thrown out of the House. One of our caucus members was thrown out. One of the Liberal members was thrown out just yesterday in the afternoon. We have accusations, what I consider accusations. During the rerun of the debate last night people are calling my apartment, people are calling my office and saying, "Is it true that the Premier of the province of Ontario is accusing you of filling your pockets?"

The Speaker: The member for Cochrane North, you've asked me if I would take it away to review it and report back to you. I'll take it away and review it and report back to you. I'll give you my undertaking. And it's a point of privilege; there's no such thing as a point of personal privilege. Thank you.

Hon Michael D. Harris (Premier): Mr Speaker, I rise to ask you two things. One, if you would allow me to clarify comments I made yesterday in talking about the members lobbying for more members, I think in the context it was more money for politicians, but as I read Hansard it could be interpreted as an individual as opposed to all politicians, and I'd like to clarify that was certainly not my intention. That may help you with any ruling.

While you're looking at them, though, you might want to look at the comments that were made by the member for Cochrane North at the top of the page with reference to me.

The Speaker: Thank you. I'm obviously going to review the comments of the member for Cochrane North, and I will also review the comments outlined by the Premier.



Mr Monte Kwinter (Wilson Heights): I have a petition to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario.

"Whereas the final report of the Metropolitan Toronto District Health Council hospital restructuring committee has recommended that North York Branson Hospital merge with York-Finch hospital; and

"Whereas this recommendation will remove emergency and inpatient services currently provided by North York Branson Hospital, which will seriously jeopardize medical care and the quality of health for the growing population which the hospital serves, many being elderly people who in numerous cases require treatment for life-threatening medical conditions;

"We petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to reject the recommendation contained within the final report of the Metropolitan Toronto District Health Council hospital restructuring committee as it pertains to North York Branson Hospital, so that it retains, at minimum, emergency and inpatient services."

I've affixed my signature.


Mr John O'Toole (Durham East): It's my privilege to present a petition to the Parliament of Ontario.

"Whereas pregnancy is not a disease, injury or illness; and

"Whereas abortion is not therapeutic; and

"Whereas abortion is never medically necessary; and

"Whereas the Canada Health Act does not require elective procedures to be funded; and

"Whereas there is no right to publicly funded abortion clinics; and

"Whereas it is the responsibility and the authority of the province exclusively to determine what services will be insured; and

"Whereas there is mounting evidence that abortion is indeed hazardous to women's health; and

"Whereas the availability of abortion at public expense leads to the use of abortion as a means of birth control; and

"Whereas Ontario taxpayers funded over 45,000 abortions in 1993 at an estimated cost of $25 million,

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

"That the Ontario provincial government remove abortion as a service or procedure covered under the provincial health insurance plan."

It's a pleasure to affix my name to this petition.


Mr Pat Hoy (Essex-Kent): I have a petition signed by a number of residents from Essex county.

"To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

"Whereas the 800,000 children who ride the school buses of Ontario are at risk and their safety is in jeopardy from unsafe drivers who are not stopping for school buses; and

"Whereas the current school bus law is difficult to enforce since not only is a licence plate number required, but positive identification of the driver and a vehicle as well, which makes it extremely difficult to obtain a conviction,

"Therefore, be it resolved that we, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario as follows:

"That private member's Bill 78 be passed. The bill doubles the existing range of fines for identified drivers and establishes vehicle owner liability. We ask for the support of all members of the Legislature."

I have affixed my name to the petition.



Mrs Marion Boyd (London Centre): I have a petition to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario.

"Whereas all employees have the right to a safe work environment, free from workplace harassment and violence; and

"Whereas sexual harassment has rightfully been recognized in the province of Ontario as an occupational health and safety issue; and

"Whereas workplace harassment is harmful to the health and wellbeing of employees and to their employers; and

"Whereas Theresa Vince was a victim of workplace harassment and Theresa's harasser did murder her at their place of employment, and we do not want her death to have been in vain; and

"Whereas Theresa Vince's family, women's organizations and members of the workforce have been left with serious, unanswered questions and fear that this type of violence could happen again;

"We, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to fund a special committee comprised of grass-roots women's organizations, labour, feminist lawyers, employers, diverse communities reflective of the province of Ontario, parliamentarians. The mandate of the special committee would be to develop recommendations and guidelines that would assist all employers in creating a safe work environment that prevents workplace harassment and violence and ensures a thorough and objective investigation of harassment complaints when circumstances require.

"We make this petition in memory of Theresa Vince of Chatham, Ontario, and for all employees in every occupation."

This is signed by hundreds of people from all over the province of Ontario, and I'm proud to affix my signature.


Mr Carl DeFaria (Mississauga East): I have a petition to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario and from residents of 370 Rathburn Road East in the great city of Mississauga. It reads as follows:

"Whereas the government of Ontario has clearly indicated that it `wants to get out of the housing business'; and

"Whereas the Ontario government is reviewing the legal contracts and budgets of every co-op housing project in the province; and

"Whereas co-op housing is a proven success in providing affordable homes owned and managed by the people who live in them;

"We therefore request that the Ontario government sit down with the co-op housing sector to negotiate a deal which will ensure the long-term financial viability of housing co-ops and the continuance of rent-geared-to-income assistance upon which thousands of co-op members depend and which will promote greater responsibility for administration by the co-op housing sector and less interference by the government in the day-to-day operations of housing co-ops."

I affix my signature to this petition.

Mr Peter North (Elgin): I have a petition here to the Legislative Assembly.

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

"Whereas members of housing cooperatives the province over have exemplified self-sufficiency through their volunteer efforts by managing their properties; and

"Whereas housing cooperatives' cost-effectiveness has been investigated and reported by Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp; and

"Whereas the very nature of housing cooperatives' internal structures has proven to provide accountability, safety and quality housing to low- and modest-income citizens; and

"Whereas housing cooperatives prevent the formation of ghettos through their income mix of resident members and ability to volunteer in the management; and

"Whereas housing cooperatives provide cultural support for members of aboriginal groups, seniors and families alike; and

"Whereas our housing cooperative model is highly commended all around the world; and

"Whereas other countries are now looking at our housing cooperative model to provide a more effective and efficient method of housing low- and modest-income people; and

"Whereas past federal and provincial governments have successfully provided affordable housing to those most in need within the cooperative housing sector; and

"Whereas present-day governments are now making plans that will adversely affect our co-op communities in Ontario;

"Therefore, be it resolved that the business of non-profit housing, including cooperatives, be preserved for the people of Ontario; and

"Be it further resolved that this government review their own reports regarding the cost-effectiveness of our self-sufficient housing cooperatives managed by volunteers and renew their commitment to support cooperative housing across Ontario."


Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): I have a petition that reads as follows:

"To the government of Ontario:

"Since video lottery terminals will contribute to gambling addiction in Ontario and the resulting breakup of families, spousal and child abuse and crimes such as embezzlement and robbery; and

"Since the introduction of video lottery terminals across Ontario will provide those addicted to gambling with widespread temptation and will attract young people to a vice which will adversely affect their lives for so many years to come; and

"Since the introduction of these gambling machines across our province is designed to gain revenue for the government at the expense of the poor, the vulnerable and the desperate in order that the government can cut income taxes, to the greatest benefit of those with the highest income; and

"Since the placement of video lottery terminals in bars in Ontario and in permanent casinos in various locations across the province represents an escalation of gambling opportunities; and

"Since Premier Harris and Finance Minister Eves were so critical of the provincial government becoming involved in further gambling ventures and making the government more dependent on gambling revenues to maintain government operations;

"We, the undersigned, call upon Premier Harris and the government of Ontario to reconsider its announced decision to introduce the most insidious form of gambling, video lottery terminals, to restaurants and bars in the province."

I affix my signature, as I'm in full agreement with this petition.


Mr David Christopherson (Hamilton Centre): I still continue to receive thousands of petitions from workers upset and outraged over this government's continuing attack on WCB and health and safety protection in this province. Today I have petitions from the president of the Orillia and District Labour Council in Muskoka, Linda McDowell; from Nancy Hutchison, the health and safety coordinator, district 6, United Steelworkers of America; Herb MacDonald, United Food and Commercial Workers, Local 175; Cathy Walker of the Canadian Auto Workers; as well as from members of CUPE and OPSEU. Their petition reads as follows:

"Whereas the Harris government has begun a process to open the Occupational Health and Safety Act of Ontario; and

"Whereas this act is the single most important piece of legislation for working people since it is designed to protect our lives, safety and health while at work and allow us to return home to our families in the same condition in which we left; and

"Whereas the government has made it clear that they intend to water down the act and weaken the rights of workers under the law, including the right to know, the right to participate and especially the right to refuse; and

"Whereas this government has already watered down proper training of certified committee members;

"We, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario not to alter the Occupational Health and Safety Act or erode the rights of workers any further."

My caucus and I continue to support these workers.


Mr Bart Maves (Niagara Falls): I have a petition signed by 16 members from my community. I'm sure more would sign if they had that opportunity. Following several "whereases," we finish off with:

"Whereas the fact that a very high percentage of seniors eventually pass their road tests has led the Minister of Transportation to state that he will re-examine the requirements of issuing drivers' licences to seniors,

"We, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario and the Minister of Transportation to develop a system of licensing that is less onerous on the senior citizens of Niagara Falls and that recognizes that when road tests are required, familiar local roads are the fairest place to assess driver ability."

I will affix my signature to this as I am sympathetic to its contents.


Mr Dominic Agostino (Hamilton East): I have a petition signed by constituents to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario.

"Whereas the Common Sense Revolution states that a Conservative government `will not cut health care'; and

"Whereas in the 1995 election campaign, the Conservatives clearly promised to defend the health care system by protecting ministry funding, stating in a campaign document, `There'll be no cuts to health care funding by a Harris government,' and calling this their first and most important commitment;

"Therefore we, the undersigned, call on the Minister of Health and the government of the province of Ontario to reject any recommendations that would lead to a closure of any Hamilton area hospital."

I sign my signature to the petition.


Mr Tony Silipo (Dovercourt): I have a petition signed by many parents from schools in my area -- Dovercourt Junior Public School, Perth Avenue Junior Public School, Carleton Village and Oakwood Collegiate -- all from concerned parents demanding a say on education spending, petitioning the Premier of Ontario and the Ontario Minister of Education and Training and the members of provincial Parliament.

"We strongly object to any changes to be proposed by the subpanel on education finance set up by the Who Does What panel chaired by David Crombie. There has not been adequate time nor satisfactory provision for parents to express their views about how schools should be funded. We are seriously concerned that the subpanel will make recommendations that will mean much reduced funding support for our children's education. We insist that the subpanel neither continue to meet nor issue any recommendations until it includes representation on the Metro Toronto Board of Education and until the subpanel begins to conduct itself in an open, fair and democratic manner."

I've attached my signature to those as well.



Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): I have a petition that reads as follows:

"Whereas the government of Ontario appears to be moving towards the privatization of retail liquor and spirit sales in the province; and

"Whereas the LCBO provides a safe, secure and controlled way of retailing alcoholic beverages; and

"Whereas the LCBO provides the best method of restricting the sale of liquor to minors in Ontario; and

"Whereas the LCBO has an excellent program of quality control of the products sold in its stores; and

"Whereas the LCBO provides a wide selection of product to its customers in modern, convenient stores; and

"Whereas the LCBO has moved forward with the times, sensitive to the needs of its customers and its clients; and

"Whereas the LCBO is an important instrument for the promotion and sale of Ontario wines and thereby contributes immensely to grape growing and the wine-producing industry;

"Therefore, be it resolved that the government of Ontario abandon its plan to turn the sale of liquor and spirits over to private liquor stores and retain the LCBO for this purpose."

I affix my signature as I'm in full agreement with this petition.


Mr David Christopherson (Hamilton Centre): I have a new petition but with the same message regarding the attack on the WCB and health and safety.

"To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

"Whereas it is vital that occupational health and safety services provided to workers be conducted by organizations in which workers have faith; and

"Whereas the Workers' Health and Safety Centre and the occupational health clinics for Ontario workers have provided such services on behalf of workers for many years; and

"Whereas the centre and clinics have made a significant contribution to improvements in workplace health and safety and the reduction of injuries, illnesses and death caused by work;

"We, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to oppose any attempt to erode the structure, services or funding of the Workers' Health and Safety Centre and the occupational health clinics for Ontario workers.

"Further, we, the undersigned, demand that the education and training of Ontario workers continue in its present form through the Workers' Health and Safety Centre and that professional and technical expertise and advice continue to be provided through the occupational health clinics for Ontario workers."

I continue to support these petitioners.



Mr Gilchrist from the standing committee on resources development presented the following report and moved its adoption:

Your committee begs to report the following bill, as amended:

Bill 57, An Act to improve the Efficiency of the Environmental Approvals Process and Certain Other Matters / Projet de loi 57, Loi visant à améliorer l'efficience du processus d'autorisation environnementale et concernant certaines autres questions.

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Shall the report be received and adopted? Agreed.

Shall Bill 57 be ordered for third reading? Agreed.



Mr Agostino moved first reading of the following bill:

Bill 88, An Act to amend the City of Hamilton Act, 1985 / Projet de loi 88, Loi modifiant la loi intitulée City of Hamilton Act, 1985.

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Shall the motion carry? Carried.

Mr Dominic Agostino (Hamilton East): Just briefly, the city tomorrow will be launching a formal bid to apply for an NHL franchise in New York City. As a result of that, they simply need an amendment to the City of Hamilton Act that would allow Hamilton Entertainment Convention Facilities Inc, HECFI, the corporation, to be part of the bid and get this sports franchise.

Mr David S. Cooke (Windsor-Riverside): Mr Speaker, I request unanimous consent that the Legislature allow us to move a motion to have an emergency debate on the crisis that exists as a result of the rejection by doctors today of the agreement between the government and the OMA.

The Speaker: Is there unanimous consent for the emergency debate? No, there is not.



Mr Galt, on behalf of Mr Sterling, moved third reading of the following bill:

Bill 76, An Act to improve environmental protection, increase accountability and enshrine public consultation in the Environmental Assessment Act / Projet de loi 76, Loi visant à améliorer la protection de l'environnement, à accroître l'obligation de rendre des comptes et à intégrer la consultation publique à la Loi sur les évaluations environnementales.

Mr Doug Galt (Northumberland): Madam Speaker, I believe we have unanimous consent to divide the time for debate on Bill 76 as follows: two members from our caucus to speak first and consecutively for approximately 15 minutes; from then on, a rotation between the two opposition parties. Also, I believe we have come to an agreement with our colleagues that we will complete third reading today but defer the vote until after question period on Monday, November 4, 1996.

The Acting Speaker (Ms Marilyn Churley): Agreed?

Ms Frances Lankin (Beaches-Woodbine): No.

The Acting Speaker: No, there's no consent. Parliamentary assistant, go ahead. There's no agreement on your motion, so go ahead.

Mr Galt: We had agreement.

Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): Okay, to split at the start.

The Acting Speaker: Can we do it this way? Is there agreement to split the time? There's agreement to split the time. I understand the agreement is, as Mr Galt stated, for the Tories to split their time.

Ms Lankin: To split the leadoff times.

The Acting Speaker: Yes. Thank you for that distinction. Is everybody clear? Okay, Dr Galt, go ahead.

Mr Galt: Today, on behalf of the Minister of Environment and Energy, the Honourable Norm Sterling, I'm pleased to move third reading of Bill 76.

I'd like first to take this opportunity to thank all of those members of the public who took time to appear before the social development committee with their comments and suggestions. Their input was very valuable and resulted in a number of improvements to the legislation before us today.

The Honourable Norm Sterling and I would also like to thank the Honourable Brenda Elliott, who in her term as minister took the bill through first and second readings.

The intention of Bill 76 is to improve environmental protection, increase accountability and enshrine public consultation in the Environmental Assessment Act. With Bill 76, this government is furthering its commitment to the environmental assessment process as an important means of protecting the environment and health of our communities.

The Mike Harris government recognizes that environmental assessment has become antiquated and bureaucratic in recent years, with the process often overwhelming the results being sought. The cart has gotten somewhat ahead of the horse. Fortunately, this is eminently correctable. This government is determined to make Ontario's EA system more workable, more certain, less costly and less time-consuming. We are taking action.

The first step was the introduction of Bill 76 for its first reading on June 13, 1996. Since June, the bill has received second reading and has been the subject of public hearings before the standing committee on social development. During the hearings, we heard presentations from a number of stakeholders, both those supporting the reforms and those making recommendations for improving the bill. We've listened to these recommendations, and in some cases we've made changes accordingly.

I want to assure the members that the implementation of this legislation will be shaped by one overriding principle: the need to protect the environment. That's the reason for the Environmental Assessment Act and the reforms that we are proposing.

We have taken great pains to ensure that the key elements of environmental assessment are maintained. These include the continued requirement of EAs for the projects subject to the Environmental Assessment Act; the broad definition of the environment; the examination of alternatives in environmental decision-making; and an independent Environmental Assessment Board. These defining features of the EA process will not change.


We are, however, proposing a number of new features. For the first time, proponents will be legally required to consult with the public. This will provide early access for all interested parties and ensure that issues are identified and resolved early in the EA process.

Clear and early direction will be provided to all EA participants through the development of terms of reference by the proponent. These terms will have input from the public and government agencies. They'll be approved by the Minister of Environment and Energy and will be legally binding.

This will help to avoid such nightmare situations as the Wellington-Guelph waste management plan. They spent $4 million, worked for 10 years and ended up with no results. The problem with the Wellington-Guelph plan was that the EA studies weren't focused from the outset. Approved terms of reference will provide that focus. Proponents will have a clearer idea of what is required of them, and interested parties will have a clearer idea of what is being proposed.

The foundations will be laid at the outset of the EA process for more efficient and productive follow-through. Other measures will also keep the process moving smoothly along. Tight time lines will be established, through regulation, for all key decisions. This will provide certainty for all participants and ensure that decisions are given in a timely fashion. We want to get to a yes faster for projects that are indeed environmentally sound and a no for those that are not environmentally sound.

New powers will be given to the minister to send contentious issues to mediation. This will help to resolve issues before positions become entrenched and polarized. Again, there will be time limits on mediation. If hearings are required, the minister would be able to focus the discussion on specific outstanding issues.

Finally, Bill 76 will achieve the goal of "one project, one assessment" by giving the minister authority to harmonize the environmental assessment requirements with those of other jurisdictions.

Consultation is a key feature of the Environmental Assessment Act, and we want to expand its use wherever appropriate. We have added the requirements for proponents to consult with the public when developing the terms of reference. We've also amended the bill to require environmental assessments when municipalities contract with third parties for waste disposal. This comes as a result of several groups and individuals who appeared before the committee with concerns that there might not have been sufficient opportunity for public input in the decision-making surrounding waste disposal.

Another change will provide for mediation without prejudice. This means that all parties must agree to the release of information regarding issues that have yet to be resolved. There will now be a longer transition period for using both the old and the new EA process.

Two other amendments put forward by the opposition parties include a provision that only Ministry of Environment and Energy employees can act as directors under the Environmental Assessment Act and a requirement for public notice and written reasons for most decisions by the minister.

I believe the changes that have been made to Bill 76 because of the hearings have improved it, as well as the original writing, and will lead to a better environmental assessment process for the province of Ontario. This is a goal that is shared by all members of this Legislature and by all Ontarians.

The Acting Speaker: Further debate?

Mr Tom Froese (St Catharines-Brock): I am pleased to have this opportunity also to talk about Bill 76. In addition to retaining the essential features of the Environmental Assessment Act, Bill 76 actually improves and strengthens it with a number of important firsts. Dr Galt has already mentioned some of them, but it's important that we repeat them so that the public understand.

For the first time, the public will be guaranteed a say through access to the EA process from the outset. For the first time, early and clear directions will be given to ensure that proponents know what kind of information they must include in their environmental assessment documents. For the first time, tight time frames will be imposed up front for each key step in the decision-making process. Mediation will be available for the first time also, to resolve conflicts in a timelier and less costly manner. For the first time, the minister will have the opportunity to reject an incomplete assessment early in the process. For the first time also, there will be a provision to harmonize the federal environmental assessment process. This says no to duplication and overlap and yes to cutting red tape.

For the first time, the role of the class EAs will be made clear in legislation and the Minister of Environment will for the first time have the power to focus Environmental Assessment Board hearings on outstanding contentious issues. Hearings will not have to go back to square one and cover all issues.

One of the most important parts of Bill 76 is consultation. Consultation of course is essential to any democratic process. Nowhere is this more true and important than when it comes to environmental protection. After all, environmental decisions can have a profound impact on people's lives. We must remember that when an environmentally significant project is set up in a community it is the community that must live with the consequences. That's why the decision-making process has to be as inclusive as possible. People have the right to voice their concern when it comes to such far-reaching decisions. This right should be ensured right from the beginning, rather than when things have proceeded to a point where the momentum is hard to stop.

The airing of public concerns is at the heart of the environmental assessment. In addition to ensuring that the important environmental issues get resolved, consultation gives people from all sides the confidence that their concerns have been heard and adequately dealt with.

At the same time, however, we must ensure that consultation remains focused and constructive. Too many important opportunities and initiatives failed when endless consultations were used to hold up the process without ever getting to the point. We need to bring back consultation in the true sense of the word, to collect meaningful public input.

As I mentioned earlier, under the bill, consultation on the assessment is being required for the first time. This will give all interested parties the earliest possible access to the decision-making process. This levels the playing field by making sure that everyone knows what the issues are right at the outset. It's especially helpful to proponents, who need to know what concerns they must address through their environmental assessment documents. With early input, proponents will be spared having to go too far without being certain of what issues are considered most relevant by other interested parties. Of course, smart proponents already seek out this information at the earliest stages of the environmental assessment preparation, but until now they haven't been legally required to do so. The legal requirement reflects the fact that people have a right to early input. It is not a privilege bestowed upon them by the project proponents. People shouldn't feel that they are reliant on the goodwill or the good sense of those proposing to do business in our community.

We also want to discourage any proponents who think that they don't have to consider public concerns with respect to their actions and decisions. Previously, shortsighted proponents would end up with more issues to resolve at the end of the process and now they won't have that option to shoot themselves in the foot, as it were.

The minister will now have the mechanism to send issues to mediation at any time during the environmental assessment process so that they can be quickly resolved and then get off the table more quickly.

The expanded use of consultation will come into play most often with terms of reference. These terms, as the members know, set out the kinds of information in the level of detail required to make an informed decision on an environmental assessment. Proponents will now be required to consult with interested persons on these terms for the purpose of developing their environmental assessments or class EAs. This must be done before submission of the environmental assessment documents to the minister. The proponent will also be required to provide a description of this consultation and the results obtained. This requirement parallels the condition that the proponents must report on consultations in the environmental assessment document.


These provisions will strengthen the public's ability to influence decision-making at the terms of reference stage. Having these terms of reference approved by the minister will make them legally binding at later stages in the process. In the past, consultations have not been focused and the process was getting derailed by issues that weren't necessarily relevant.

Public consultation is the cornerstone of any successful environmental assessment process. Throughout the development of Bill 76, this government has gone to great effort to enshrine the public's right to a say in environmental assessment. I believe that especially with the latest version of the bill, we'll succeed.

The Acting Speaker: Questions or comments? Further debate?

Mr Bradley: Thank you, Madam Speaker, for the opportunity to address issues related to the environment and in particular to this bill. As you know, whenever we look at the bill -- and I'm pleased my friend from St Catharines-Brock was able to participate in the debate this afternoon and can now go home to give out Halloween candies before I can. But I do want to address a number of issues that are related to this piece of legislation and look at the legislation in the context of the entire record of the government and what I believe to be the biases that the government may have against the environment.

I was just looking with some interest at some of the environment officials who are here today who I recognize have served many governments. I want to compliment them for the service that they provide. They provided it to a Conservative government, a Liberal government, an NDP government and a Reform government now -- oh, I'm sorry, a Conservative government now. I admire their work, because they have to be flexible. One has to understand that ministry officials have to be flexible. They're very professional in their approach. They provide the best advice that they believe can serve the people of this province, and then the people who are elected make the choices as to whether they'll accept that advice, modify that advice or ignore that advice. It speaks well to our ministry officials that they have been able to adapt to all of the governments and the instructions that are there.

I think that has always been one of the strengths of the public service system in Ontario -- the civil service, as we used to call it at one time -- and that is that it has largely been a non-partisan, very professional group of people who have served the people of this province. That's something important for our democracy, to see that happen, because I think all of us, as we approach government, look at the civil service and say, "Whatever government was there previously, they must all be wedded to the policies of that government and infiltrated by people who have an allegiance to that government." What you discover after a few months in the job is that those suspicions can often be removed and in fact they are there as neutral people, as people who are expert in many fields and they give service to us.

So I want to pay tribute to the Ministry of Environment officials, many of whom I recognize, who continue to give good service to the people of this province and I hope that will be the case for many years to come. There are fewer of them these days because, as the parliamentary assistant would know, this government has made a choice to drastically reduce the budget of the Ministry of Environment.

So when we look at the environmental assessment process -- and the Speaker who is in the chair at the present time, as an environmentalist who used to give me advice when I was minister and she was somewhere else in Toronto, would recognize how important that is. I look at that and say, well, this is one ministry -- I suppose most ministers could make this speech -- which requires the necessary staff and the necessary resources, the necessary funding to carry out its responsibilities in an appropriate fashion. You cannot protect the environment, you cannot anticipate the problems and deal with them before in fact they become serious, if indeed you do not have those resources. I always felt that the previous minister, who is in the House this afternoon, was not allowed to have the kind of resources that she needed to carry out that responsibility. I said that on many occasions, that I felt bad watching as the government chopped constantly the Ministry of Environment, because no minister can carry out that responsibility without those resources. The new minister is going to have to do that and he's going to find it a particular challenge.

When I look at the legislation that's come forward from this government or the policy initiatives, they are largely designed to move us back 20 or 30 years in terms of our treatment of the environment. My very good friend, the municipal affairs minister, made a rather telling comment, I'm told -- he will correct me; I know he's said it wasn't perhaps this way -- when he was in Ottawa and he said, "I think we need more construction cranes and fewer whooping cranes in the province of Ontario," and he nods acquiescently. I know that would be well received at the Albany Club, that particular statement, if indeed it were made.

Hon Al Leach (Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing): We need both.

Mr Bradley: He says we need both and probably that's true. That statement was really in keeping with what the government wants in Ontario, in my view, today, and that is that the protection of the environment has been moved back several notches from what it has been in recent years.

I think that's a mistake for the following reason: because I suspect, from talking to people of all political backgrounds, that the environment is a very important issue. I have many friends in the Conservative Party locally, in my constituency, and across this province who have had a genuine concern about the environment and indeed who participated in trying to improve legislation and regulations and policies so that the environment would be better protected. Keep in mind that the environment ministry was in fact established by a previous Progressive Conservative government in this province. It was strengthened as time went on.

There were several very ambitious initiatives that took place during the 1985 to 1990 period. The economic recession made it difficult for the New Democratic Party to move extensively in this field, but again, if I look at what people are saying, even polls that you people do or whoever does them, you will see that even when the economic issues are in the forefront, people in this province still believe when you scratch that surface that the environment is important to protect, whether they're in the agricultural parts of the province, the resource-rich parts of the province or the urban areas.

So when I look at the Environmental Assessment Act, I don't think there's any piece of any legislation anybody can say is perfect, and the government is entitled to examine all previous legislation, as it should, and try to improve it. This is a tricky one. This is a tough one. I don't pretend for a moment the government can have an easy time with this because if we move in one direction, there are going to be people who say that you are abandoning the environment. If you move in another direction, they say you're overly restrictive. Even when I was minister and we put together a committee of people to look at the environmental assessment process, it was extremely difficult to get a consensus. There was a consensus on some of the problems that existed. The consensus was difficult to reach on what those solutions might be.

I think the present Minister of Environment suggested this in one or two of his answers and that was if the government errs in the field of the environment, it should err in protecting the environment instead of abandoning those provisions which might, let's say, have a detrimental effect.

So when I look at what the government is doing and the general attitude of its members towards the environment, I worry. I worry because I sat through hearings to do with the Planning Act and that's somewhat associated with environmental assessment, when you think of planning and environmental assessment. I thought there were many backward steps taken in the Planning Act; some of them were not. Some of the provisions were quite all right I think with many people in this province, but I worried immensely, and I've said this on many occasions. My friend from Middlesex is here, so I have to mention this again, how the committee system I think failed us with the Planning Act, which is an environmental act to a large extent. Because, as I've mentioned before and I think it's important to reiterate -- not in any way to embarrass the member for Middlesex because I wouldn't want to ever do that, and I say that on a sincere basis -- I remember here was a professional planner, much more professional than I in his knowledge of the Planning Act and of planning processes, who had to remain silent during the committee hearings because I suspect that if he were to offer some suggestions, he may well have confirmed what many municipalities have said and what many ministries have said, perhaps privately: that they don't have the staff to speed up the process the way the government would like to speed the process up.


I think that's important. That's a debate I had with some of my colleagues in cabinet who thought that the process should be speeded up. I said, "It can be, if you're prepared to have the appropriate staff there to be able to deal with it in an expeditious manner." Because you can't deal with it in a non-expeditious manner.

I think of the city of Richmond Hill that is dealing with this situation with the condominiums. I am sure there are people and municipalities who say: "We must get this development through quickly. It's good for our economy. We need this boost." Then we find out in this situation that there are severe difficulties with this particular development and, I have to believe, because people in the municipality years ago didn't look as carefully as they might at it. Now the present minister has to answer questions in the hallway or the other ministers, when really this was something that happened a number of years ago.

But the point I make is, whenever you weaken the environmental assessment process, whenever you weaken the planning process to make it less onerous, you increase the risk that in fact this is going to happen.

Hon Mr Leach: That was when you were the minister.

Mr Bradley: It was indeed; that's why I mention that when you weaken it you increase the risk of this happening. When you turn over more and more to the municipalities who don't have the resources, the chances of these things happening are greater and greater.

I can remember a development in the Kitchener-Waterloo area that had significant problems because it was built near or on an old landfill site and they had an explosion, a methane gas problem.

That's why I say the environmental assessment process, while it may be bothersome to some in this province, is an important process to protect. I believe that the government in some provisions -- not all provisions -- of this legislation is in fact taking a step backward.

But when you look at the environmental assessment process, we will note that this government has disbanded the Environmental Assessment Advisory Committee. I always thought that was a very useful committee because there are many contentious issues out there. Ordinarily, there are going to be people who demand this come to a full hearing of the Environmental Assessment Board. And yet, in the mind of the minister or the mind of ministry officials, it may well be that their view is that there is not a compelling case to do so, but many concerns have been raised.

So what we would do is send out the Environmental Assessment Advisory Committee to take a look at it. They would bring a report back to the minister and often the proponent would find that a full hearing was in fact avoided because the Environmental Assessment Advisory Committee -- objective people, professional people on it, top-notch people -- would make that recommendation to the minister and would, as I say, take into account what the ministry officials and others had provided in the way of information.

I think this government has made a mistake. I know it looks good when you want to check them off, and some in the Reform Party here want to check these off. "We have eliminated this agency; we have eliminated that agency." When you do that, I know there's a certain group of people who will applaud you. They are a minority in the province, but they will applaud you and they will go to your fund-raisers. I am told the fund-raisers are highly successful today and I am going to tell you, that doesn't surprise me a bit because I can think of a lot of people who are going to be pleased with what you have done.

You have disbanded the Municipal-Industrial Strategy for Abatement Advisory Committee. Again, I guess it had too many environmentalists on it. But I'd point out to you that in fact it had representatives of industry and representatives of municipalities. It had environmentalists who were on it, a good cross-section. Even the member for Etobicoke-Rexdale would have looked objectively at it and said it was a good committee. And yet you've abandoned it. I know he must be deeply disappointed that this has happened, knowing his genuine concern for the environment. But I digress, and I should not do so.

The Municipal-Industrial Strategy for Abatement Advisory Committee was very helpful because it was a major initiative of the Ministry of the Environment to grind down the amount of pollution that was going into our waterways. It was viewed by people across the world as very innovative. People came from Europe, Asia, Africa, South America and the United States to see this program which was developed, called the municipal-industrial strategy for abatement.

Now my fear is --

Mr Marcel Beaubien (Lambton): Don't fear.

Mr Bradley: The member for Lambton is advising. There are perhaps people from the Lambton area who are in the industries who are a bit apprehensive about it, and when the program started out there was indeed some considerable problem that had arisen because people were suspicious of one another. What happened was that people from the industries and from the environmental groups and from other areas were brought together and hashed out the problems ahead of time. They looked at them and came up with some solutions that avoided some major confrontations down the line, and as a result Ontario became a leader.

I'm told there is a weakening of this program. I know there are fewer people who are able to enforce it because you've drastically cut the staff of the Ministry of Environment, you've drastically cut the funding and the resources available to the Ministry of Environment. The polluters are applauding. I can hear them now. I can hear the champagne glasses ringing in the high places of this province --

Mr Dan Newman (Scarborough Centre): The Albany Club.

Mr Bradley: I won't say the Albany Club -- it would be unfair to say that -- but in high places of this province as you dismantle many of these initiatives which have been positive for the people of this province.

You have disbanded the Advisory Committee on Environmental Standards, and I don't know why, because I heard the present minister say that it was important to change standards, that standards had to be upgraded. Why on earth would you abandon the Advisory Committee on Environmental Standards if indeed you wish to upgrade and change some of these standards? It doesn't make any sense to do so. It may just mean you're going to turn that over to the polluters. I hope not.

Mr John Hastings (Etobicoke-Rexdale): You can't think of any other way.

Mr Bradley: The member for Etobicoke-Rexdale may want to sit on such a committee and make his representations, but I might not agree with him on that.

You have disbanded the Ontario Round Table on Environment and Economy. I was talking about the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing and his statement about whooping cranes and construction cranes, and his interjection was that he hoped to see both in the province; fair enough. That is what the Ontario Round Table on Environment and Economy was all about: trying to demonstrate that a good environment and a good economy could exist side by side. There was a lot of progress made; again, consensus-building that was taking place in the province. Some people who previously had viewed industry with extreme suspicion and other people in the industrial groups who had viewed the people in the environmental groups with extreme suspicion were brought together around the table and were developing policies which were good for this province, but that wasn't to be because we need the checklist for the Reform Party supporters to go, "We have eliminated all of these."


The Acting Speaker: The member for Etobicoke-Rexdale, come to order, please.

Mr Bradley: I will allow him some opportunity perhaps at the end to comment. He's always interesting to listen to.

You have terminated the funding for the blue box program locally, a highly successful program emulated by many. There were the naysayers to begin with. I remember some of them at the municipal level who said: "This can't possibly work. You know, it's never worked. It didn't work in Rochester." Now, as I go back to St Catharines and put my blue box out, I see there are blue boxes all over my neighbourhood, out there with an increased number of items in them. It's a huge success. I think the government was wise in providing some assistance for that program, and now that's been completely abandoned.


"We're going to give them more powers," says the Minister of Municipal Affairs, so they should be happy with more powers -- less money and more powers. That's a dubious exchange, and I know that in his heart of hearts the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing probably doesn't believe he should be bullied by his cabinet colleagues into doing this. I know that in his heart he is a strong supporter of municipalities, and I sympathize with him when I see them impose things on him, when I see David Crombie usurping his authority.

David Crombie, if he wanted to run and get elected to this House -- he's a good fellow, by the way; great fellow, David Crombie; I admire him. But there he is; I don't know who the Minister of Municipal Affairs is any more, or the Minister of Education, because David Crombie makes all of the comments about what's going on. I have to read the Crombie reports before I know what's going on, and I want to tell the minister I'm sympathetic when I see Crombie pulling the rug out from under him on so many occasions.


Mr Bradley: The member from Rexdale asks, "What else have we done to the detriment of the environment?" You have cut the green communities program, which boosted Ontario's green industry and saved homeowners and businesses money. I've always said, and I think there are many people out there who agree that there is money to be made in green industries, in energy control; in other words, conservation that can take place in the field of energy. It's not easy when the gas and oil are flowing as they are, but as soon as there's some kind of crisis -- whether the price goes way up or there's simply a shortage for some other reason -- people begin looking at these. We have to be forward-looking. We have to continue these initiatives for energy conservation and other forms of conservation.

What else have you done? You've terminated the environmental research grants. They were really important. I heard the Premier say the other day, "We have to have a highly educated, first-rate province." Many of these grants that were provided, largely to people at universities, were extremely helpful in developing new methods of dealing with environmental problems or, better yet, preventing environmental problems. Again, the money's been taken away from that.

Ontario was becoming a leader. People came from all over the world. Indeed, they would invite our officials to go to Sweden and Paris and places like that to make presentation of papers at international events of an environmental nature. Why? Because Ontario was in the forefront, and in particular the Ministry of Environment of Ontario. Now what is happening? You've withdrawn the funds, you've terminated the environmental research grants, which were extremely important over the years.

You have terminated the urban and rural beaches cleanup and restoration programs. I can think of a number of ridings represented by government members that benefited immensely from these programs over the years. They provided some jobs, but more important in the long run, they protected the environment, made Ontario a better place to live and work in, and therefore attracted others to this province with industries and businesses because of the general quality of life that is available in Ontario.

Don't think that doesn't mean something when a company is going to decide business, is going to decide where to locate. The quality of life -- that is, what kind of health care system you have, what kind of environmental regulations, legislation and policies you have -- has an effect. That's one of the components that is looked at when people decide where they're going to locate.

You have terminated the household hazardous waste programs. Why you'd do that I don't know. You save money in all of these. These are preventive measures. No one ever costed out, when you looked at it originally, the true cost of a landfill site, for instance -- how much it would cost to, first of all, get it going; second, to operate it; and third, to look after it in perpetuity. What happened was that there were a lot of problems out there that had to be addressed later on in a curative fashion rather than a preventive fashion. That is not wise, because the cost is invariably larger when you have to cure the problem than prevent it.

I understand that there's no way of totally eliminating risk, but we certainly should try. I thought the household hazardous waste programs were excellent because people could take their materials to the local municipality with some provincial assistance and dispose of those things that they used to either pour down the drain or put into the garbage, again, improving the quality of life, avoiding problems down the line.

You'll reduce funding the Niagara Escarpment Commission, the Ontario Energy Board and the Environmental Appeal Board. I'm going to dwell for a moment on one of my favourites, the Niagara Escarpment Commission, because it has to deal with environmental assessment. I know there are some people who don't like the commission. My good friend Mr Murdoch does not like it. However, I must say there are many who do.

I always like to compliment the present minister who, when he was resources development secretary as a member of the cabinet of Bill Davis was responsible for the establishment of the Niagara Escarpment Commission, with the full support of the two opposition parties, the Liberal Party and the New Democratic Party, represented in this House.

My fear now is that I see who they're knocking off the board. They're knocking off the board people who are committed to protecting the Niagara Escarpment, a jewel recognized by the United Nations as a biosphere to be protected surely for all humanity. Yet I know people out there who would like nothing better than to plunk a Holiday Inn right in the middle of the escarpment or to have these lovely homes for rich people -- maybe Conrad Black or somebody like that -- on the escarpment. I'm going to tell you that you need people on there to protect the Niagara Escarpment. You need people to protect the environment of the escarpment.

I worry too about how this will be covered, because now that Conrad Black owns 58 newspapers out of 104 in this country, how are the environmental issues going to be dealt with? Who on the editorial board will stand up for the environment when Mr Black is firing people out the door who disagree with him? He buys the newspapers, he has his multinational corporate agenda, and then if you disagree with him out the door you go. Somebody who's in keeping with his views is brought in and they get new columnists who have the same old right-wing sludge -- he complained about the left-wing sludge -- that we have seen from time to time in those newspapers. This is why it's important that the federal government in this case -- I can't blame you people -- take the necessary action to ensure that there's competition in that field and that there's not a monopoly in that field.

I'm a very magnanimous person, I say to the Minister of Municipal Affairs. That's one area that is not your jurisdiction, although I did ask your minister of industry, trade and technology, or economic development -- whatever we call him today -- Mr Saunderson, about it and he said, "That's the way things are; people must downsize and we must do all these things," and he didn't seem to worry too much about it. He's reflecting government policy. He'll be applauding because now Conrad will be having his views, which are similar to many of yours, permeating his newspapers throughout. The independent, objective, progressive views that used to be in some of those newspapers on environmental issues, for instance, will disappear.

What else have you done? You've cut the conservation authority funding by 70%. Many old Tories used to sit on those boards, I'll tell you. They were great wardens and reeves and people like that and they were supportive of the environment. They sat on the conservation authorities, and I sat and applauded them. When I was on municipal council, I said, "Isn't it nice to see these Conservatives really living up to the word `conserve'?"

What have you done now? You've just yanked the funding out; 70% of the funding gone. Now they have to start peddling this environmentally sensitive land, probably to rich people who want to build houses in very nice scenic places or developments when this should be kept for all the people in this province, regardless of their income and background, in perpetuity.

You have terminated a program aimed at preserving the province's fruit lands. On many occasions in this House I have spoken about the importance of the farm land in the Niagara region and in particular the fruit lands that are from Hamilton to almost Niagara Falls. Some of the best soils are available there. Certainly second -- there's a combination; it's not just the good soils -- are the climatic conditions that exist there. It is a fact that on average there are 27 or 28 more growing days at the bottom of the escarpment as compared to the top of the escarpment. That allows for the growing of product that is not able to be grown in other places. Along with the good soils, this is a real asset.


The Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs -- rural development, whatever it's called now -- has not been quick to acquiesce to those who are demanding almost unlimited severances in the Niagara region. I want to compliment him on that. There's a lot of pressure on him, don't worry, to start granting severances which are called economic severances. I well understand the situation facing those people who are on the farms. I want to support them. I want us to promote the foods that we sell in this province, to do everything we can, because I'm prepared to see that economic support for those individuals. That is land that should be retained for agricultural purposes for many years to come.

I don't consider progress to be paving everything from Toronto to Fort Erie. There are some people who think that is progress. There are some people in municipalities who think that until you've got every last centimetre of land paved, somehow you haven't attained the ultimate of progress.

One high use of land, and you people who come from the agricultural areas I'm sure know this, is the agricultural use of the land. We tend to underestimate the importance of the agricultural industry to this province. I want to make sure that doesn't happen. I'm sorry the government has terminated a program which was established by the previous government to do with conservation easements, to assist people to stay on that land and still be productive and still make it viable. That was not something I wanted to see happen; on the other hand, I want to be fair both ways, I want to compliment the minister on not acquiescing to the great demand now, as a result, for economic land severances.

You have revoked Bill 163 measures which protect the environment and the planning process such as speeding up the development of agricultural land. I dealt with that a little earlier and I won't go back into that. You have permitted contaminated soil to be used as cover at landfills. Some people don't like that. It's a tough issue, I know, because there's the definition of what's a contaminated soil. Even scientists, I suppose, will disagree on this. You have to develop those standards and live up to those standards, and that's always going to be a difficult issue for people to deal with in terms of landfills. You are considering eliminating 80 regulations protecting the environment.

I listen to people -- I've heard the Republicans in the United States say it many times. I know my friend from Rexdale admires the Republican Party in the United States, the Newt Gingrich crew that are in the House in the US, and I know he would applaud many of their measures. They are the people who talk about -- it's glib to say it -- "Let's get rid of all those regulations."

It sounds good until you start looking at the regulations you're going to eliminate. Some of them you can toss out the window. They don't matter any more because we're now in 1996. There may have been some old regulations that simply do not apply. Nobody objects to getting rid of those. Every government should be reviewing those all the time and eliminating them. But there are many out there that are simply a nuisance to the development community because it makes them take a little longer or perhaps a few more precautions. I know when they go to the Tory fund-raiser they will whisper in your ear: "Oh, this is too much trouble for us. You know, we could move much more quickly if you let us do this or that."

But a lot of these regulations you have in effect have a very good reason for being there, and that is to protect the environment. You don't let people simply pour oil down some drain the way it might have been many years ago or allow people to dispose of certain items that are borderline hazardous in certain ways, or the weigh-bill system. These are all regulations which were developed because there were problems that had arisen that people of wisdom and perception had spotted and decided to deal with. That's my concern: that you're going to be throwing out those regulations simply because of the mantra, simply because of the ideology, simply because of the checklist you have that you must get rid of so many regulations because it will please many of the people who have voted for you.

You have refused to permit the passage of the city of Toronto's clean air bylaw, which I thought was quite progressive, a bylaw dealing with trying to clean up the smog that exists in a major city because you have so many vehicles in a major city. They were prepared to move forward with it. They were prepared to take responsibility for it. What happened? The Ministry of Environment said no. Somebody obviously got not to the minister, not to the members; I know who they have to get to. They got to the Premier's office. You have to call the Premier's office. You have to call the ideologues who run the government. You don't call the Tory members, because they're secondary, unfortunately. I wish you weren't. You know I've spoken many times on your behalf in this House, trying to increase the powers you have.

I have a note that says I'm allowed to speak for a longer period of time. I know that will certainly intrigue many of you people.

So what else have you done? You've fired environmentalists from the Hydro board of directors. Now, am I suggesting everybody on the board of directors of Ontario Hydro should be an environmentalist? No. I hope they all have the environment in mind, but I don't think you have to have 10 people from Greenpeace on the board of Hydro. But I hope you have some. I hope you have a variety. I hope you have a variety of views there so that all views are canvassed and considered. Ultimately, Hydro and the Minister of Energy, addressing his concerns to Hydro, will make the ultimate decisions, and there's nothing wrong with that. You are elected politically to do so and that is a mandate you get from the people. But I think when you start removing people who simply have a difference of view from what you might have, you do a disservice to that board or to the people of this province. So I hope when you're considering further appointments, you will consider people from the environmental movement as at least having some positions on the Hydro board. I'm not suggesting that they hold all the positions by any means.

You have exempted the Ministry of Finance from the Environmental Bill of Rights. As soon as you start exempting ministries from things, it's not good. The private sector will say: "You people in government are great talkers. You impose a lot on us. But when it comes to imposing the same provisions on government, you're a little shy."

I can remember, when we passed in 1986 some very substantial increases in penalties to polluters, the chagrin with which some of my colleagues read in the Globe and Mail the next day, "Under sweeping new provisions under the Environmental Protection Act, sweeping new penalties being introduced by the government, corporation presidents and cabinet ministers could go to jail," or something of that nature. Well, the first didn't entirely perturb them if they were indeed guilty, but when they saw "cabinet ministers," they were a bit beside themselves. That's because we removed a significant clause that used to be in there previous to that under the old Conservative government, and that was, "This act does not apply to the crown."

I thought that was unfair. I thought governments should live up to the same obligations and the same provisions under the Environmental Protection Act, the Environmental Assessment Act or any of the other acts in the environmental field as people in the private sector. I think most people agree with that. But there was some consternation in government and I see now that you have exempted the Ministry of Finance from the Environmental Bill of Rights, which I think is a step backwards.

You are proposing reducing wetlands areas where you restrict development. The wetlands are disappearing quickly, particularly in urban areas, and it's very important to have them. I've seen many of them; we've all seen them in our communities. I've been through the city of Guelph and they've had some significant wetland areas and nice park areas that I have seen in the midst of that community, and other communities. I think it's important to retain those. There is a scientist in Niagara-on-the-Lake, Dr Lemon, who is involved in using wetlands and marshes for the purpose of cleansing waste water, using a new method out there that now people are beginning to look at in various jurisdictions.

So wetlands serve a purpose. They maintain much of the wildlife that we've always wanted to have around us, and at the same time have helped the general environment in which we live. I become concerned when you're prepared to see wetlands used up.


You are permitting the sale of environmentally sensitive lands protected by conservation authorities. Again, that's the numbers crunch. They can't afford to keep them any more so they have to sell them off, and they were to be for the protection of everybody. I know, as I say, they are nice areas to build on. If you have enough money and enough connections, I suppose, and you can get the land rezoned, I guess that's nice to be able to have. But I happen to believe, as I think many people in this province do, that those environmentally sensitive lands under the auspices of conservation authorities should be retained.

You have reduced environmental regulations on the mining industry. That was under Bill 26 you managed to sneak that in. Bill 26 was that massive bully bill, as we call it in the opposition -- even people in the newspapers called it a bully bill -- that gave unprecedented new powers to the cabinet and to unelected officials. The members will well remember that I said at the time this was an excuse for the Premier's office -- I say that generically as opposed to perhaps politically -- to take more power from the elected members, because all they want from government backbenchers is for you to applaud at the right time, to laugh at the Premier's jokes and to go out and give the message on what your government is all about. When Bill 26 came in, that took away some of those powers, and I was chagrined by that, to say the least.

But that is where the mining industry had its regulations eased. You know, when a mine is completed -- not only when it's operating, but when it is completed -- there is perpetual care which is required because the tailings that result from the mining process can be very detrimental to the environment if not dealt with appropriately.

You have removed legislated restrictions on the development of public lands, again to the detriment of the general population, and generally have moved in a backward direction on the environment.

This bill is in the context of all of these things you have done. The bill itself, as I mentioned, will have some support in some areas. It will have some, let me say, less than enthusiastic support in other areas, because the minister now has sweeping new powers. Oh, when you're a minister, you like to have that. I'm not convinced it's healthy for democracy, but these are sweeping new powers.

It is the minister's sole discretion over approving the terms of reference, designating which issues can be sent to the Environmental Assessment Board, and the time allotment for board review. Previously, only the full cabinet could grant exemptions to environmental assessments or overturn EA board decisions. Now the minister has complete authority for both actions. Not only does that take the power away from the backbenchers, but even members of the cabinet now who might have a different view are not allowed to express that particular view, because the minister has that sole power. I don't think that's healthy for democracy. It's always good to have input from other cabinet ministers, and as a former environment minister, I can tell you I wasn't always enthusiastic about some of the input I had from other ministers, but I thought the process as a whole was better when I was allowed to explain to them our position and have the input from those ministers. That was very good.

At present there are no terms of reference for a project and the minister does not have the power to assign only specific issues or a set time frame to the EA board. New issues can be raised by the public at any time during the current EA process. That's because sometimes people don't think of a situation or a problem until well into the process. Apparently you're going to prevent them from having that considered.

The minister, with cabinet approval, has always had the right to approve an EA document without it going to the EA board for hearings. That's always been there. Then, as I've mentioned to many people who don't like the environmental assessment process, most environmental assessments never go to a hearing board, never do, because the concerns are handled through the consultative process, with objectors and with other interested observers, and so it moves through quickly, or expeditiously. It's only where there are major contentious issues that there have been significant hearings that have taken place.

You have new landfill and site decontamination standards. The minister also has introduced proposed new minimum standards for landfill sites and for soil cleanup, and while these standards will allow both sides of the EA process to know what their minimum requirements are, environmental groups are very concerned that the minister will use these standards as an excuse to exempt many more projects, especially landfill sites, from EA hearings.

Anybody who knows of the Pauzé site up in the Simcoe area will know what I mean when I say that it's important to look at the site of a landfill and all conditions around it before proceeding, and we may see a weakening of that process under the provisions of this bill.

There are also concerns that these will be province-wide standards, whereas many landfill sites face unique water and soil issues and the minister has allowed only 30 days for the public to respond to these new standards. That really means hiring professionals. That really means that you are going to say, "You, as the public, can't do your own research in 30 days; you're going to have to hire somebody to do a very quick assessment." I become concerned about that, that they don't more than 30 days to respond to the new standards that are available, because not everybody's an expert in the field.

I forgot something else you did. You also removed intervenor funding. Intervenor funding was designed to level the playing field. You had the rich developer come in with --

Mr Hastings: Conrad.

Mr Bradley: I don't think he's a developer. The rich developer would come in -- and I know Hansard has noted that the member from Rexdale has suggested Conrad is a rich developer. I wasn't aware of that. The rich developer can come in with all kinds of resources, hire the best of lawyers, the high-priced lawyers, hire the best of scientists, engineers, technical people, and make a presentation, while the other side has to have a bake sale and a garage sale to raise funds to hire perhaps a new lawyer coming out of the system. That is not equal.

So I believe that you have to have a levelling of the playing field. The intervenor funding project allowed that to happen, because they were protecting the environment.


Mr Bradley: If you simply want to turn it over to the developers, as the interjection from the member from Rexdale suggests, that somehow you will simply turn this whole process over to the developers and rely on their goodwill, I don't think that is possible to do. That's why I think the government is moving in the wrong direction with this provision of the bill.

You have harmonization with federal EA legislation. This bill allows the minister the freedom to allow a project to proceed through another jurisdiction's EA process -- another province, for instance, or the federal government -- and bypass the Ontario process. Although this system will discourage needless repetition and waste, environmental groups are concerned that the federal EA process, in particular, is not as stringent as that in Ontario. After we're finished with this government, the groups may change their mind, but the fact is this province has established already a very onerous and complete environmental assessment process. While I agree with having a combined hearing, for instance with the federal government in certain situations, I don't believe we should turn it over to the federal government holus-bolus.

There are the interest groups. In general the industry groups such as the Ontario Waste Management Association support the proposed changes. While environmental groups, like the Canadian Environmental Law Association, support the mediation, review deadlines and mandatory public consultation provisions, they're concerned about the level of power given to the minister. Essentially they don't trust the minister to use his new powers in the best interests of the environment.


I remember getting a letter from the Ontario Waste Management Association, I think it was, right after the election and obviously they didn't check which party they were sending it to. They made several disparaging remarks about previous governments, and I can understand that. If I were from the waste management association and had had these onerous regulations placed on me, this tough legislation to deal with, the difficult and I think wise penalties against those who violated the law, I tell you, I wouldn't be happy with the previous government.

I think they put "the last 10 years." The letters to the Liberals were supposed to be "the last five years," but somehow I got one that said "10 years" and it had to be corrected. It's even more interesting when I get the ones that go to the Tory members, because then you really find out what these groups think of other political parties, and I'm sure you get the same thing from to time to time -- it goes to the wrong person -- and it's always rather enlightening. But I can understand the Ontario Waste Management Association. Hey, they're going to be in favour of this. They'll love you. I think they'll be at the fund-raisers. I hope they go to Rexdale because we need to build up the funds in the Rexdale riding.

So we recognize --

Mr Hastings: At the St Catharines Club.

Mr Bradley: There is a St Catharines Club. I should tell the member for Rexdale there is a St Catharines Club. I do not belong to it. I have been in it from time to time at the invitation of others, because I represent and meet with all of the people in my constituency, all of the people. So when the Conservatives invite me to the St Catharines Club, I do occasionally walk into the place; some very nice people in there. I don't think I would have majority support among the members, however. Somehow I think it would be distinctly minority support in that place, but it certainly doesn't match the Albany Club. But I'm off topic and the Speaker has been very kind and tolerant, as he always is in these debates, and I want to compliment him on that.

We in the opposition recognize that the existing EA process needs to be modified. That's fine; nothing wrong with that. We would agree with that. Many environmental assessment hearings were taking too long and were too expensive. I saw some of those happen. EA reform, however, cannot come at the expense of full public scrutiny and environmental protection.

There was somebody who suggested -- I'm going to say a former member of the Environmental Assessment Board because if I said a present one, the person might be in trouble -- that if only you could get the lawyers out of there, you would have a lot faster hearing. I don't know that. I can't say that personally, but I'm told that there was a lot of niggling over minor issues sometimes, procedural issues. I think where the government can make a difference is if you have a hearing where you say: "Okay, what are the issues? Let's deal with those, let's not get caught up in procedure, let's not get caught up in very tiny, time-consuming issues that lawyers can find to get caught up in."


Mr Bradley: The Minister of Municipal Affairs is going to listen in the back room to what I'm saying now.

So I understand that, and I don't want to sound as though -- I know you've been told by the Premier's office to say the opposition are against change, because, you see, there's a perception out there the public wants change. So all you do is, you listen to two or three members and you say, "Ah, that's what the Premier's office is saying." That's what's in the notes that come out to you. So we're not opposed to change; we just think that change should continue to protect the environment.

The bill takes away far too many powers from the Environmental Assessment Board and grants the minister sweeping discretionary powers over environmentally significant projects. By tying the hands of Environmental Assessment Board members, the board is now severely limited in its ability to provide objective, independent advice on environmental issues. Given the Tories' record, we do not trust this government to use its powers in the best interests of Ontario's environment. This is clearly the case when we see the lack of initiatives that are forthcoming from this government.

Although we support the inclusion of mandatory public consultation on EA documents, the government has eliminated intervenor funding. That means that few groups will have the resources to participate in the EA process. So once again we divide Ontario into the rich and the not-rich, and the rich shall prevail in Mike Harris's Ontario. That's exactly what happens. The member for Etobicoke-Rexdale understands that and he nods over there, and I assume he's nodding in agreement and not nodding off during my speech.

The bill gives more responsibility to the Ministry of Environment and Energy environmental assessment branch staff. At the same time, the minister is decimating, it says, the ministry. I guess that would mean cutting it into 10. I would say he is annihilating the ministry. Fifteen people have recently been laid off from the branch and the branch's resources are already overstretched.

You can't be unfair to the civil service. You can't say to them: "Well, we've go to move these things much more quickly, but guess what? We're turfing 15 people out the door," and maybe more. These briefing notes are old so it may be even more people are out the door now. If you're going to make these changes, you've got to have the appropriate staff available to deal with those changes.

I look at this piece of legislation and say while it is not revolutionary, it certainly does not go as far as some in the Reform Party would like, but it nevertheless is moving down the path of the weakening of environmental protection in this province in some of its aspects -- not all, but some of its aspects.

I hope the government will listen to those who are advising it that it's getting a bad environmental reputation. I read somewhere where they had some advice from -- I don't know whether it was a consultant or polls or something -- and there were Tories now feeling a bit concerned that they were going to be perceived as being weak on the environment. Even people who would agree with them in other areas would say, "But on the environment we think you're weak."

I expect there's going to be a couple of high-profile initiatives coming from the Minister of Environment and Energy which will give the appearance of major environmental aggressiveness on the part of the government when indeed the government will be stepping backward.

My good friend the member for Mississauga South was in the House this afternoon listening in rapt attention to my remarks, a former critic and I must say a good critic in the field of the environment, I always thought, very personally concerned about the issues affecting her riding and other issues in the province.

She must be disappointed in the direction that the government is moving. I don't expect her to say so because she's a member of the government caucus, she's a good team member, but I remember what she used to say in this House and how she was aggressive. She was wondering, "Could we go further in reducing acid rain in this province?" I agree with her. She was on a committee that helped me out. I said to the committee: "Let's get a good report in. Let's get a strong report in." When we were reducing by two thirds the sulphur dioxide emissions in this province, a truly revolutionary new program, she wanted the government to look even further for reductions and I agreed with her at that time.

But somehow I have not seen the government moving in that direction. In fact, I understand that they are casting out people in the department that used to responsible for acid rain. I think they've dismantled that aspect of the Ministry of Environment and Energy and thrown it in together with another general branch and fired some world-renowned scientists who are expert in the field.

I think we have reason to be pessimistic. I'm a member of the Optimist Club. I like to be optimistic. But I am pessimistic on this occasion about the direction in which this government is moving on the environment. I only hope that government will change.

My friend the member for Hamilton Centre is eager to participate in this debate and I want to give him ample time today to canvass the various issues that are related to this legislation, because I know he too would share many of the concerns that I've expressed.


So to the members of the government caucus, I urge you to put the pressure, all of you who are raving environmentalists, on the cabinet and particularly on those in the Premier's office, who control everything, to increase your environmental awareness, your environmental initiatives, your environmental aggressiveness and show that it is truly a non-partisan issue, that even Conservatives who are bent on revolutionary change to help big business and the international-multinational corporations in this province, that even you are able to protect the environment.

I know you may not get rave reviews in Southam News or in Hollinger where Conrad Black will be looking carefully at the editorials that are written. If you come forward with a new initiative that's going to protect the environment and might impose some restrictions on business, Conrad will ensure that those who are writing the editorials will not be kind to you, but I can tell you, I will be kind to you in opposition, for what that's worth, and I'm sure the majority of people in this province will be kind to you even if the Black empire will not be. The Hollinger-Southam empire that he has built will not be kind in its assessment of this government. But you will know that you will be on the side of virtue. You may have to wait for your reward in heaven, but heaven knows, you'll deserve that reward if you make those changes.

The Acting Speaker (Mr Bert Johnson): Questions or comments?

Mr Galt: Thank you for your presentation: certainly interesting and enjoyable. There is an area I would like to clarify with you for a little more understanding of what the environmental bill, Bill 76, was all about. You're quite aware of many of the problems we've had in going through environmental assessment for landfill sites. The proponent would go through the whole exercise and get down to the end and somebody would come along and say, "Did you look at this alternative?" and they'd have to start all over again. Millions of dollars have been spent as a result of that kind of activity, and also many years -- like the one in Guelph, some 10 years, and some of them, while we were on the road, were telling us it was up to 14 and 15 years -- and they still didn't end up with a landfill site.

What we're doing with this bill is putting up front the terms of reference identifying what needs to be examined in the environmental assessment evaluation. We also have enshrined that there will be public consultation in designing these terms of reference and then the public will also be involved in actually working through the environmental assessment. So it's all up front and everybody knows what's to be carried out, what has to be done. Yes, somebody may come up with some alternative down the road, but surely to goodness, as we work through in a year, most of those ideas will be up front and there won't be that much new research that comes up during that year while they're working through the environmental assessment.

We think it's fair, it's equitable and it should work for the proponent, as well as for the public and the general public interest. That was really the basis and the purpose of this whole bill, to get things up front, understandable, clear and to be able to work it out.

You made reference to participant funding, and the funding can also be involved in this. That can be part of the proposal of the proponent or part of the objection of the public if they feel there should be some funding in there, and the proponent can provide it and it can be agreed to by the minister. It really comes down to what the minister's provided to sign off on and have up front in those terms of reference.

Mr Gilles Pouliot (Lake Nipigon): I too listened intently to the remarks by the member for St Catharines, and why not? We have the longest-serving authority, a member of the party council: five years, four months and three days of consistent care, of bettering the environment in which we work, in which we live. I take his words, his words of wisdom indeed, at par value. That's the longest-standing tenure indeed.

The members opposite have not been too critical, for they too will readily acquiesce that when the member for St Catharines, Mr Bradley, grants us the pleasure of an audience when it comes to this most important subject matter -- that is, of the environment -- we shall listen and learn indeed.

My experience is far more humble, but I recall vividly that in the great riding of Lake Nipigon -- and you know we're resource-based, forestry and mining. While most players were good corporate citizens, it's been our experience that in far too many cases, alas, people have to be dragged in kicking and screaming for the bottom line. The profit margin was consistently more seductive than a good environment for their fellow citizens to live in.

So we say to the government, beware, be careful, be on your guard. You have the strength, the mandate, the authority to monitor.

I want to conclude by again thanking the member for St Catharines for his most insightful remarks.

Mr John L. Parker (York East): I'm pleased to take this two-minute opportunity to speak to the traditions of this place and the importance of the traditions to our way of government and to our system here, and to the importance of maintaining and respecting the time-honoured traditions of this place; and my concern that the remarks of my friend from St Catharines failed to honour one of the most significant traditions of this place, and my deep concern for the possible consequences of this failure to adhere to the traditions of this place.

It is, after all, the traditions our system is based on. It is the traditions of this place that retain our democratic system, that separate our form of government from other forms of government that we find elsewhere in the world in less happy societies, less happy communities. It is the respect for tradition that is important to all of us and vital to the smooth operation of our parliamentary system in this province, and I'm very concerned that one of the traditions has been lost in this chamber this afternoon.

Now, some of the traditions were respected. When my friend from St Catharines spoke, he did honour his tradition of speaking approvingly of past Tory governments. This is good. This is important. We've come to expect this, and it's important that that tradition be maintained and respected.

It's also traditional that my friend from St Catharines speaks of Conrad Black whenever he speaks of our current government, somehow works Conrad Black into the commentary and suggests that Conrad Black is pulling the strings behind the scenes somehow and running things, deviously or otherwise.

But there's a very important tradition that was entirely neglected and abrogated, and that is to mention the popping of champagne corks at the Albany Club. Now, champagne was mentioned, but it was the clinking of glasses. I deliberately reminded my friend to mention the Albany Club. He failed to do so, and I'm deeply distressed at that.

The Acting Speaker: Comments or questions? The Chair recognizes the member for Durham Centre.

Mr John O'Toole (Durham East): Mr Speaker, I'm very flattered. Durham Centre is Jim Flaherty, my good friend. However, I'm from Durham East.

It's a pleasure to participate briefly on Bill 76, the Environmental Assessment and Consolidated Improvement Act, 1996. I want to compliment not only Minister Sterling and the previous minister, Minister Elliott, for being so well qualified to comment and to make structural changes, but also, more importantly, Dr Doug Galt from Northumberland. He has all the skills of a community leader and plenty of background in that area, as a previous warden, dealing with municipal and planning issues. Mr Bradley made that point, that much of the environment comes under the realm of planning.

I want to take a couple of minutes and get more specific, that the importance of the environment is very, very central to this government's platform. Really, what we're doing here is trying to make the process work. We're all very much aware of Bill 143 and the absolute waste even in Bill 163, the planning bill, by the previous government, how it really created nothing but the whole intervenor funding acquiescence to process, but no solutions, no outcomes.


In my view, it's very clear that our record is that we are going to protect the environment. We'll also get rid of the waste, the waste that the process itself created. I really think that by funnelling or channelling up front in the whole process of the EA hearings, anyone who opposes the proponent has the right to appeal before it's even considered in the public forum.

I just want to conclude my remarks: There have been extensive public hearings. I believe the essential elements of this particular debate are to protect the environment and to protect the process so that indeed we end up with a solution at the end of expense. They spent over $100 million under Bill 143 trying to find a dump site. At the end of the day they spent the money and had no site. We will find solutions.

The Acting Speaker: The member for St Catharines has two minutes to respond.

Mr Bradley: I'd like to thank the members for Northumberland, Lake Nipigon, York East and Durham East for their contributions. I happen to think, by the way, that this opportunity to respond to speakers is a good provision within our rules. It wasn't always there and I think it makes it much more meaningful.

First of all, I want to thank the member for Lake Nipigon for the very kind words that were forthcoming from him, because I know on some occasions when I was Minister of Environment I wasn't always the most popular person in Terrace Bay or other parts of Lake Nipigon when there were major issues to be confronted. He understood the circumstances facing that.

I appreciate that the parliamentary assistant has provided some clarification. He identifies some genuine problems. I want to tell him that I'm glad he raises some of those issues, or other issues on the other side, but those were some problems that I think concerned a lot of people. The very lengthy process that ultimately would not produce a result, sometimes the fault of proponents, sometimes just the fault of the system; we want to see that rectified, and I take at his word the fact that this is what the government wants to do. I appreciate that clarification.

My friend the member for Durham East has said that the government has as its central concern the environment. I hope that is the case, because I've said on many occasions that indeed it's something that goes beyond political considerations. I hope that's the case and I encourage members to do that.

The member for York East is very kind. I was trying to avoid a reference to the Albany Club because I have on occasion been not kind to it. I've never been in the Albany Club, but my friend the Minister of Municipal Affairs was kind enough to provide me with a bottle of Albany Club wine because I mention it so much. So I will enjoy some of the flavour of the Albany Club, if never enter its doors.


The Acting Speaker (Mr Bert Johnson): I beg to inform the House that in the name of Her Majesty the Queen, His Honour the Lieutenant Governor has been pleased to assent to certain bills in his office.

Clerk Assistant and Clerk of Committees (Ms Deborah Deller): The following are the titles of the bills to which His Honour did assent:

Bill 49, An Act to improve the Employment Standards Act / Projet de loi 49, Loi visant à améliorer la Loi sur les normes d'emploi

Bill 70, An Act to provide Co-operative Education and Film Industry Tax Credits, to create Economic Growth, to implement other measures contained in the 1996 Budget and to amend certain Acts administered by the Minister of Finance / Projet de loi 70, Loi créant des crédits d'impôt pour l'éducation coopérative et l'industrie cinématographique, favorisant la croissance économique, mettant en oeuvre d'autres mesures mentionnées dans le budget de 1996 et modifiant des lois dont l'application relève du ministre des Finances

Bill 79, An Act to improve Ontario's court system, to respond to concerns raised by charities and their volunteers and to improve various statutes relating to the administration of justice / Projet de loi 79, Loi visant à améliorer le système judiciaire de l'Ontario, à répondre aux préoccupations exprimées par les oeuvres de bienfaisance et leurs bénévoles, et à améliorer diverses lois relatives à l'administration de la justice.


The Acting Speaker (Mr Bert Johnson): Further debate?

Mr David Christopherson (Hamilton Centre): I would like to begin by first asking the same consideration for our party that the government was given on this debate; that is, consent to divide the opening time between myself and the member for Riverdale.

The Acting Speaker: Is there consent? It is agreed.

Mr Christopherson: First of all, I found it quite interesting to listen to some of the comments of the member for Durham East in particular. It made me think of what this is all about, because there are two parts to this: One is the overall protection of our environment, which is supposed to be the top priority of the Ministry of Environment and Energy; and also you have the need, in terms of the process changes you've made here, to ensure that those communities in whose backyard a dump may go have a fair and democratic process so that if they have concerns -- and they usually do -- they would be honestly and honourably and fairly dealt with up front.

It was interesting to listen to the member talk about the money that was spent by the previous government in pursuit of a process that was expensive and timely, but one of the priorities in that process was to ensure that communities and everyone involved had an opportunity to be heard.

I would like, just for the record, to ask the members of the government back benches -- those who raise their hand, I will mention you so that it's there for the record -- how many of you, just to save us a whole lot of time, would like to offer on behalf of your constituents to have a dump? Who would like to offer up your riding and offer on behalf of your constituents a dump? Perhaps if you did that now, we could save all the money in the world and just go straight there. Maybe I'll give the members an opportunity to raise their hands. Who wants to invite and welcome a dump into their backyard and make that offer on behalf of their constituents here today? It will save a lot of money. Don't forget, that's what this is all about. It will save a lot of time; that's what this is all about. Again, please put your hand up so that we can let the minister and your constituents know.

It's interesting. I see one of the members going like this. That's sort of the point. Obviously, I didn't expect that anyone would offer up. The point of the matter is that when it comes to dumps there are very few people in the province of Ontario, particularly elected representatives, who are going to stand up and offer their community.

That's why it's so important that there be a proper process and that there be an opportunity for consultation. That's why when we talk about the lack of intervenor funding and the power that's been granted to the minister to waive certain requirements of the process, we raise a very loud and concerned voice; that's the reason.

Any of you who have to face that -- and quite frankly, I hope you don't, because it's a terrible thing for a politician to go through, and it's an awful thing for residents and constituents who are honestly and sincerely concerned about their family and their relatives and their community. If there are going to be technological and medical mistakes made, the normal reaction for most people is: "I hope it happens somewhere else. I don't want to wish anyone else ill health or bad luck or, God forbid, for them or their families to be poisoned, but being a responsible parent and a responsible member of my community, I'd just as soon it wasn't here." Of course the problem is that we all feel that way. Everybody has that very human, legitimate concern about where you're going to put a dump or, now that you've legalized them again, an incinerator. People are frightened.

If you as a politician ever have to go through that, for those of you who are not too seasoned yet, you're going to get real experienced real quick, particularly if you're in the government back benches, and now even more so under this law because there are fewer rights for the communities and the citizens you would represent. Believe me, you will be politically dancing from morning till night around that issue, and that issue alone. You will not only have responsibility for speaking on behalf of your constituents; you're going to have to explain to them why there's no longer any intervenor funding, why decisions that used to belong to the whole cabinet can now be made by one person, the minister. You're going to have to answer those questions in addition to the broader questions any politician in that circumstance would have to answer.

I've watched it. I've watched it with my own colleagues when I sat on that side of the House and we had the question of the location of the next dump in this area of the province, and it was quite difficult for those individual members. So for those of you who face that, you have my sympathy on a personal level, and more so because you're going to have to defend why Bill 76 took away rights your community once had in the process that you supported taking away. File that way in the back of your mind when we get to the third-reading vote on Bill 76, because you may indeed rue the day you said, as you are today, that Bill 76 is such a wonderful thing for the people of this province.


Secondly, as I have done with other bills, I want to point out the sheer hypocrisy of the naming of these bills. The politics of this is very simple to understand. First of all, you say that you're going to do one thing. The Minister of Labour, the area I'm responsible for as a critic, does it all the time: stands up and says these glorious goals and ideals that they have as a government, which sound good. One could never argue with how they sound, but when you get in behind it and see what the legislation is and what they're doing, it tells quite another story. This government has turned this into a science. You truly have.

The second part of this is that we know the name of the bill is being traced along the bottom of the TV screen. An awful lot of people will do channel surfing and may stop for a minute if they recognize one of the ministers or recognize the leaders of the other two parties or a member of their own area. But most people, the majority of the time, would not have a connection with the speaker who's on their feet, as a lot of people won't now as I'm speaking, but they may wait long enough for that trailer to come along the bottom of the screen to see if they're interested. If it says An Act to improve -- well, there's a message; I was going to say subliminal but it's not even subliminal, it's rather up front -- unless you want to stay tuned and watch the whole debate and listen to both sides of the argument, and not just what the government spin doctors are putting forward, you'd never really understand that is hypocrisy in its finest form, because the bill is nothing of the sort.

You did it with Bill 20. That was one of your previous environmental bills where you again gutted the process. I remind members that I spent five years on my local planning council as an alderman, so I have an understanding of how all that works and I came away from the debate on Bill 20 without any doubt in my mind that you have weakened the protection of the environment under Bill 20, and yet you had the audacity to call it An Act to promote economic growth and protect the environment. You did nothing of the sort.

You've gutted the Ministry of Labour, you've attacked rights that people have, that communities have, you've gutted the regulations that have provided protection for the environment, all under the guise of streamlining and cutting red tape. In your eyes, anything that gets a regulation out of the way is an improvement, period, full stop. That's the whole idea.

You've even got one of your little committees running around in your caucus whose sole existence is to cut, as you see it, red tape. Never mind that it may have been there for a very valid reason or that perhaps it needs to be modified but not eliminated; that's not what you've done. You've taken out your meat cleaver, and when you stop long enough in your chopping of funding to all the things that make Ontario a great place, you move over to the regulatory area and you start chopping it up with the same reckless abandon you do when you're trying to find money to pay for your tax cut that your rich friends are going to get richer from. That's exactly what you're doing with the Ministry of Environment and Energy. I defy you to find a credible environmental organization that says you've done anything that improves protection for the environment.

There are an awful lot of groups which, quite frankly, will, regardless of the political stripe of the government of the day, acknowledge when something is an improvement. They maybe go on to say that you should have pushed more here, you could have done a little better here, but they'll give you your due. That's not happening with this government. Every credible environmental group in this province is on the ceiling. They're on the ceiling; they're beside themselves. They cannot believe that any government in this province would decimate protection to the environment the way you have.

Again we see with Bill 76 the title, Environmental Assessment and Consultation Improvement Act. For those who are only watching for a couple of moments and see the little trail along the TV screen, your hope is that that's the message they get and that they then flip to Oprah or whatever else they're going to watch and think, "Oh, well, all they're doing is debating some improvements to the environment." The fact of the matter is that you aren't; you are taking away more rights and more protection under the guise of streamlining things.

If there's any doubt in the mind of anybody watching this, contact your local environmental group, contact anybody who is involved in the environment at all, and they will give you a litany of things this government has done that is nothing short of an outright attack on the protection so you can take care of your friends. We know why you're doing it. You've got your political debts to pay, you've got to take care of your pals, and a lot of these environmental protections get in the way. The government members don't like that, they don't want to have those problems, so they accommodate with the bills they've brought forward and then, as I've said, have the hypocrisy to put a label on it that says they're actually improving something. It's quite disgusting in the extreme.

Let's talk a bit about what this bill is doing.

Mr Peter L. Preston (Brant-Haldimand): Streamlining. It's nice to be on top.

Mr Christopherson: There we are. You hear the government backbenchers howling away: "Streamlining. It's nice to be on top." Of course, if this were a minority government situation -- not that it is, and I accept the realities of last June. The fact of the matter is, if you ever did have to try to get any support at all in a minority situation, you wouldn't be able to get this bill even on the floor. So it must feel good to be on top, particularly when you know you're ramming through an agenda that doesn't have the support of the people.

We're also aware of some of the poll numbers. I think it was only a couple of weeks ago that a poll came out that showed that, gee, people are sort of concerned about what this government's agenda might be in terms of the environment. We know the polls are beginning to show there's some real concern about what you're doing with health care. Now we're beginning to see that there's some real concern about what you're doing with education.

If you'll recall, and it's in the Hansard to look at, there were those of us who have been around here a little while -- I'm not one of the longest-serving members, but I've been here a while -- a number of us who said, "Watch the arrogance, be careful, don't get too cocky, don't get too far out in front of yourself, because in this business popularity can change like that."

Mr Preston: And you know all about it -- living proof.

Mr Christopherson: To those who say we know all about, indeed we do, indeed I do, which is why I cautioned you to not be quite so arrogant because you are on top and you had the poll numbers. To give you some defence, you didn't know any better, because all you knew was the sweet taste of victory. But the fact of the matter is that you cannot do what you have done to the environment and not expect that your poll numbers are going to show that people are getting concerned. You cannot do what you have done to health care and expect that the numbers won't begin to reflect the concern, and you cannot do it without expecting to see the numbers reflect around education cuts, and, I would say, around WCB, around occupational health and safety, all of the things that affect ordinary, middle-class, working families. That is the group of people that loses the most under your agenda.

So I say to you very clearly, as I have before, to those government backbenchers -- I mean, the cabinet ministers have got a shot. We saw, with the Liberal change, as my colleague from Lake Nipigon will recall, and we saw here in our own caucus that it is beneficial politically to be a cabinet minister, even though it's tough to be under the gun and it's a very stressful position to be in. There is an opportunity to help raise your profile, and that can help you get re-elected. But you're not all going to get in cabinet.


So whatever you think you're relying on to get re-elected, I would say to those backbenchers deep in the back benches who will only see the inside of the cabinet room when there's a public tour, you had better start thinking about what you're going to say to people in three or four years when you're knocking on doors, when you can't pick and choose who you're going to talk to, when you can't pick and choose which people are on what side of an issue, like the environment, that you're going to talk to, because you can't hide from the people during an election. When you go consistently hitting people, as you are, on matters that affect their quality of life, as you are doing on Bill 76, you will indeed see the numbers change.

Mr Galt: On a point of order, Mr Speaker: The member across the floor has been speaking on everything except Bill 76. According to standing order 23, "In debate, a member shall be called to order by the Speaker if he or she...directs his or her speech to matters other than" what is the topic. I think he should get on topic.

The Acting Speaker: That is a point of order, but I was listening carefully to the member's remarks. I find his debate proper.

Mr Christopherson: Thank you, Speaker. I appreciate the fairness of your ruling, sir. I would just say to the parliamentary assistant, what are you afraid of? If you're so worried that I'm saying something that may not directly relate to Bill 76, why are you worried? You're worried because you don't like what I've got to say. Why don't you just sit there with your 80-seat-plus majority and give those of us in the minority an opportunity to have our say?

I'm talking about the environment. I'm talking about Bill 76. I'm talking about the impact on our communities, like mine in Hamilton. And, to your benefit, I'm talking about how you're going to have to weather all this at the end of the day. So I thank you for recognizing the connection of all that, Speaker, and would tell the government, don't be so worried. You're so cocksure that you know what you're doing, what do you care what we say over here? Just sit back, Mr Parliamentary -- pardon me; Dr Parliamentary Assistant. Relax. You don't even have to pay attention. Just relax. Let me have my say.

One of the things about this bill, as I started to say, is that it provides that where there will be federal environmental assessments, Ontario will back away. That's quite consistent with a government that wants to have as little protection as possible. That's why they've changed the law, watered it down. That's why they've gutted the regulations. That's why they've gutted the personnel in the ministry. This allows them a neat little trick where if Ontario's standards were higher, they can just pull out and say, "The feds are involved." They do it under the guise of duplication. They say, "We don't want to have duplication because that's a waste of taxpayers' money." On the surface, just like all of your simplistic little bumper-sticker slogans, it sounds fine. But what is so sinister about it is that in most cases the reality is that the Ontario standards would be tougher, and this allows the government to pull out of that process and let the lower standards at the federal level be the standards that are used to measure whether or not an approval will be given.

That is not the way you protect the environment. You ought to be doing it the other way around. Anybody who cares about the environment would say you don't allow Ontario to step out where our standards are higher. Make it clear that that's the intent and that's the law. That's not what you've done. You've provided another avenue for protection of the environment to be circumvented, and we say to you that's what you've been doing consistently with everything that affects the environmental agenda, or lack of, that you brought forward.

You've again, like we saw in Bill 26, the omnibus bill, the bully bill where you gave yourselves so much power and we saw the health minister get all the power to shut down hospitals and he gave it to the commission -- he stood up today and said: "It's the commission. It's the law and you've got to respect the law. They're the ones." Hell, he wrote the law; he appointed the players there. We said that this was about shifting power away from this Legislature and accountability away from the minister, and that's exactly what you're doing here.

Decisions where there are exemptions that can only be made by a full cabinet can now be given at the stroke of a pen by a minister, period. Full cabinet not required; only the minister. Sounds familiar. It's the whole concentration of power away from the public arena, away from people who are accountable, into a single source, in this case the minister. The whim of the minister of the day, and you've already had two, will decide whether or not an exemption is given. I want to say again, if that's your community and your backyard and your kids, you wouldn't take too kindly to that kind of change in the law. You would at least expect you would maintain a full cabinet debate and full cabinet responsibility and accountability on the decision.

I want to end my comments because my colleague from Riverdale, who has had much greater experience than I in this area and is currently our critic, has now had a chance to return to the House, having served in the Speaker's chair and taken other responsibilities. I want to give her that opportunity to speak.

But I want to say in closing that the whole idea, from any level, that you have improved the consultation process and the ability of communities to be involved is absolutely and thoroughly negated by your withdrawing intervenor funding. Remember, that wasn't taxpayer money; it was paid for by the applicant. That gave communities an opportunity to hire the kind of scientific evidence that's needed to make their case, as one does in a democracy -- two cases -- as one would do for medical evidence, to hire geographers and all of the other experts that you need to make the kind of decision in a highly technical, complex world like we now have today.

You have completely negated the ability of community groups because that funding's not there. On the one hand, you've got a huge corporation with access to millions of dollars making the case, because obviously they're planning to make some money at it and that's the way the system works. But on the other side, you're supposed to have an equal chance for communities to have a say. You can't do that by having a bake sale. You can't do that by passing the hat at a community meeting of 50 people. You just can't do it. That legislation and that funding was in place to balance the scales so there could be a fair and honest discussion, debate, and process between, as close as you can get, two equals. You have tipped that so far that that alone denies any ability for this government to say you've made an improvement in consultation, an improvement in community involvement.

I end my speech the way I began it, and that is that if any one of you has to go through a proposal for a dump in your riding, I only ask that you re-read these Hansards, not just my comments but your own, because you will have to defend them. You will have to defend your community and you will have to defend the rights they no longer have because you're going to stand up on third reading and support Bill 76, which is taking away many of those community rights that those people are entitled to.

Speaker, thank you very much for the opportunity to speak.

Ms Marilyn Churley (Riverdale): I'm pleased to be able to participate in the third reading of this bill. I have a hard time even mentioning the title because once again, I will say, and very carefully say it, the title of the bill, like all of the environmental bills I have seen, does not represent what is actually in the bill. On the contrary, this bill says An Act to improve environmental protection, increase accountability and enshrine public consultation in the Environmental Assessment Act.

It sounds like a good title, and what I have to say to the members here today is that the title does not reflect what is in this bill. I again congratulate the government members or whoever their spin doctor is who is able to come up with these great titles for these devastating bills. It's really quite incredible work.


The first thing I'm going to say today in the few minutes I have is that Mike Harris is breaking his promise on dump sites. The government members can argue till they're blue in the face, which I know they will, which they've said and will continue to do, that that isn't so.

Members on the committee, the parliamentary assistant and others, were told by members of the public who came to speak to the committee, when asked, in their view, "Given what you know about this bill and what Mike Harris said in the House when asked the question, `Will you guarantee full environmental assessment on any landfills in Ontario?' Mike Harris said: `Yes, I do. In spite of the fact that we felt the previous government was proceeding in error with their megadump proposal, at least they were having full environmental assessment, not trying to short-circuit the process, not going without any full environmental assessment'" --

The key quote, actually, in the question is, "Yes, I do." You cannot be any more categorical than, "Yes, I do." That's what Mike Harris said.

Then what happened is that the then minister went away and came forward with this bill we have in front of us today for third reading. I was shocked to see, when I went through the bill, that indeed Mike Harris's promise, a fundamental promise to the people of Ontario that there would be full environmental assessment hearings for landfills in Ontario, would be fundamentally broken. The government continues to argue about this, but I am going to tell you why it is being broken.

Under the act, as it is now -- and let me say here that the Environmental Assessment Act is, I would say and many others agree, the most important environmental planning statute in Ontario. At the heart of EA, what makes environmental assessment what it is and so comprehensive and so thorough, is the consideration of alternatives, to have to look at need for the undertaking, to look at alternative sites and to take all the environmental impacts into consideration.

That is the heart and soul of environmental assessment. This bill allows those key elements of environmental assessment to be negotiated off the table during the setting of the terms of reference. What that means is that when people sit down at the very beginning of the process and start scoping out the entire process for the EA -- and that's when it will all happen, it will happen at that time. And may I say here that the original bill, although it says "improving public consultation," froze the public out of the process of the setting of the terms of reference. We were absolutely astounded and amazed that the government could come forward and say: "We're improving public consultation. By the way, we're changing the very fundamental way the act works, but the public won't be involved in this scoping."

I am happy to say that there was one, but only one, significant amendment made by the government.

Mr Christopherson: Just one?

Ms Churley: There were others, but just one significant one made by the government; that is, they did say they would allow "interested parties" -- whatever that means; we're not totally sure, as it hasn't been totally defined -- to be involved up front in the scoping of EA under the setting of the terms of reference.

They did that because not only did the environmental groups demand that but, interestingly enough, a lot of the industries which came forward, although they often agreed with most parts of the bill, for obvious reasons -- as an aside, it was quite interesting that there was a line right down the middle in terms of who supported it and who didn't -- even some of the industries knew this was a fundamental flaw. They know from long experience that if they don't consult up front with the public and those who are going to be affected, they're going to be in trouble and they're not going to get anywhere anyway.

I would say that most industries out there know that and do consult. Although I'm clearly happy to see now and I do give the government credit for enshrining public consultation into the bill, I will say as well that it was a very easy step to take. I've had long years of environmental assessment, indirectly in a variety of ways and once directly. De facto, these people consult with the public, because if they don't, they know they're stalled forever, that they have to figure out where the problems are and try to come to some agreements on things. So de facto it happens.

It's nice that it's in there. I'm glad to see it there, but it was an easy thing to put in and then pretend, wrap your arms around that and say, "See, we're improving public consultation," when in fact throughout the entire bill public consultation is curtailed in all kinds of areas. Later, I will point to some of those areas where public consultation is actually curtailed, not improved.

But the problem with the bill -- there are many problems, and I know my colleague went into some of them and I did on second reading. But to me, I suppose, out of all of them, the allowing to scope off the key elements of EA is perhaps the most important one. In a way, although I was happy to see the amendment allowing the public to participate in the setting of the terms of reference, it's a little bit of a red herring. I'm glad it's there and I'm sure the public is really glad, but the fact is, you can still, under this bill, scope these things off the table.

Interestingly enough, what that means is that the government is not going to be able to achieve its timetable. You're going to have a situation where every single EA is going to be different; the same rules won't apply. You may say, and I've heard government members say, "Well, that's the way it should be, that different projects demand different things and sometimes you don't have to look at all these things." But again, Mr Harris, the Premier of this province, promised that there would be full environmental assessment hearings for landfill in this province, and that promise has been broken.

I want to tell you that in terms of public consultation, this bill does not improve it; it curtails it. But secondary to that is that the Intervenor Funding Project Act -- and I see the Attorney General is here; I know that's in his ministry -- has come to an end. Our government knew as well that that was going to come to an end and we were looking at alternatives when it ran out. What this government has done is just stopped it. There's no more intervenor funding. The government members did not accept my amendment to find another way to provide intervenor funding in a way that would not cost the government a red cent, that you enshrine in the law some kind of system where the proponent has to pay some intervenor funding up front. The government said, "There can be money awarded at the end of the process." Well, that's very risky.

Supposing, Mr Speaker, in Perth you had a threat of a huge landfill or an incinerator and a lot of your constituents were very, very upset about it. They don't have a lot of money and they want to fight back, want to go through a very complex, complicated environmental assessment process where the proponent has a ton of money to hire the best lawyers, the best scientists, the best experts to give their version of the story. Your residents, your constituents, are not going to be able to raise very much money through a bake sale, and these things, whether you like it or not, are very costly, because a landfill and complicated technical undertakings tend to get very complicated in hearings.

That is a fact, and if you have a citizens group in your riding that doesn't have enough money to go into an environmental assessment with an expert who says: "Look, we have all these credentials so we can match the credentials from the proponent. We've looked at the implications for groundwater contamination here and we can prove to you that there could be or will be serious problems with our drinking water down the road" -- Mr Speaker, I'm sure you would agree with me that you would like assurances that there was a possibility your constituents would at least have that option.

Mr Speaker, it being almost 6 of the clock, I will adjourn the debate until Monday.



Hon David Johnson (Chair of the Management Board of Cabinet and Government House Leader): In terms of the business statement, we thought we had an arrangement for next week, but obviously we didn't so consequently all I can say is that the business for next week will be undetermined at this point for all four days.


The Acting Speaker (Mr Bert Johnson): Pursuant to standing order 34, the question that this House do now adjourn is deemed to have been made. The member for Scarborough-Agincourt has given notice of his dissatisfaction with the answer to his question given by the Attorney General concerning native affairs at Ipperwash. The member for Scarborough-Agincourt has five minutes to debate. The Attorney General will have five minutes to respond.


Mr Gerry Phillips (Scarborough-Agincourt): The reason for my dissatisfaction with the answer is that this is a very important issue for all of Ontario, and the question I asked on Tuesday is extremely important to dealing with this matter.

Just to refresh our memories, there is a provincial park, Ipperwash Provincial Park, on Lake Huron, not far from Sarnia or Grand Bend, and on September 4, 1995, a number of our first nations people went into that park and occupied it. One of the reasons they did that was because they believed there was a sacred burial ground within the boundary of that park.

Hon Charles Harnick (Attorney General, minister responsible for native affairs): That isn't why they went into the park.

Mr Phillips: The Attorney General is shaking his head and saying that is not why they went in. That is one of the reasons they went in, Attorney General. If you want to deal with it this way, I understand perhaps better why the situation developed.

On September 4, they occupied this. They were there on September 5, and on September 6 there was a most unfortunate incident where one of our first nations people was killed. I gather from reading press reports that the government denied publicly at the time of this incident that there was a native burial ground within the boundaries of the provincial park. Had they known or acknowledged it at the time, I have to believe things would have been done very differently. So the government denied there was a burial ground while this occupation took place and this incident took place.

We now find that on October 21, the government, in court, when there were 23 people charged with forcible detainment, and I think most of them native people, decided to drop all those charges. Why did they decide to drop those charges? Because the government finally acknowledged -- this is what it says:

"The crown has confirmed the existence of correspondence made in 1937 between the federal Indian Affairs branch and the Ontario Department of Lands and Forests which refers to `the old Indian cemetery which...is located within the territory now being developed as a park....'" -- in other words, Ipperwash Park -- "This documentation gives objective support for the reasonableness and the honesty of the accused's belief."

"Further, it has been clearly indicated by provincial division judges at pre-trials that this defence will succeed in all instances...."

In other words, the government had in its possession clear evidence that there was within the boundary of the park a sacred native burial ground. There are only two explanations for this. The government, when this incident took place, was negligent in not properly searching its files to determine if this existed, and therefore the entire direction the government was providing for this operation was based on a false premise that there was no native burial ground there, or the Attorney General, who is responsible for native affairs, knew at the time that there was a native burial ground and decided, for whatever reason, to deny that.

There's only one of two explanations. You did not do your job, Attorney General responsible for native affairs, to find this correspondence that existed within the Ontario government clearly indicating that there was a sacred native burial ground. You did not do your job, and had you done your job, things would have been very different over those three days, or you knew about the sacred native burial ground and you chose to deny its existence.

The reason for this background is this is the question that needs to be answered for the people of Ontario, to the Attorney General, and this is why we're meeting tonight. Attorney General, did you know about the existence of this correspondence at the time of the native occupation and, if you did, did you inform the police who were carrying this operation out? Or did you not find this documentation and therefore did not know it existed?

Hon Mr Harnick: The member for Scarborough-Agincourt makes some rather bold assumptions. He makes an assumption as to why there was an occupation at Ipperwash Provincial Park, and he makes that assumption on the basis of the only reason being that there was a sacred burial ground. I don't think he can leap to that conclusion because there is no evidence that is why or that is even the sole reason that the occupation took place.

Mr Phillips: Are you going to answer the question?

Hon Mr Harnick: The member for Scarborough-Agincourt asks if I'm going to answer the question. I am going to answer the question, but I have an opportunity now, in the five minutes allotted to me, to respond to the five-minute speech that he made, and that's a rule of this place.

It's very interesting to note, and I will deal very directly with the passage that he read from the crown attorney's remarks, but first he wants to know about a document. What I can tell the honourable member is that it's a matter of public knowledge that certain correspondence was released by the federal minister in mid-September of last year. I am not about to speculate who in government may have known about the existence of this correspondence in the intervening 60 years.

I can also tell you that an archaeological survey of Ipperwash Provincial Park was concluded by the Ministry of Natural Resources in 1972 and it was found that there was no burial ground at Ipperwash Provincial Park.

But it's very important that you understand what it is the crown attorney said, because my friend from Scarborough-Agincourt read the paragraphs that he believed were pertinent and did not read the most important paragraph, I believe, and the nub of the legal issue that was before the court that he is relying on. He takes some liberties as to what was said and the breadth of what was said without reading the key paragraph of the letter.

What it says is: "Whether or not there is, in actual fact, a burial ground within Ipperwash Provincial Park and whether or not there is in actual fact a valid right of ownership, possession or occupation by the accused persons, these are considerations which are not relevant in determining whether the defence of colour of right is valid."

There is a defence of colour of right, but it is not a conclusive issue. It doesn't even pertain to the issue of whether there is a burial ground at Ipperwash Provincial Park, and to read the letter that my friend did is to take some liberties, because he skirts around what the real legal issue in that very limited proceeding was.

I certainly have made it very clear that we, as a government, have been prepared to entertain any land claim that would be made pertaining to Ipperwash Provincial Park. I have spoken to Chief Bressette and indicated very clearly that we are prepared to do anything that is necessary to determine if indeed there is a burial ground and to ensure that that sacred ground would be properly protected. We have made all of that very well known to Chief Bressette. We've had discussions with him about these issues.

I can tell you, Mr Speaker, there has been no land claim advanced. There has been no claim advanced with respect to the burial ground. My friend has taken extreme liberties with what was said in court and has not provided you with the full import of what the case was all about.

I think that very adequately addresses the issues that my friend has raised, and those are my submissions.

The Acting Speaker: There being no further matter to debate, this House stands adjourned until 1:30 on Monday.

The House adjourned at 1812.