36th Parliament, 1st Session

L122 - Thu 7 Nov 1996 / Jeu 7 Nov 1996












































The House met at 1002.




Mr Duncan moved second reading of Bill 87, An Act to amend the Health Insurance Act to satisfy the criteria for contribution by the Government of Canada set out in the Canada Health Act / Projet de loi 87, Loi modifiant la Loi sur l'assurance-santé pour satisfaire aux critères régissant les contributions du gouvernement du Canada et énoncés dans la Loi canadienne sur la santé.

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

Mr Dwight Duncan (Windsor-Walkerville): It's a great privilege to stand today in the House as a private member and introduce this bill, which I have brought forward for a variety of reasons, particularly because my friends opposite in the governing party have said quite clearly in their Common Sense Revolution that they wish to respect the principles of the Canada Health Act and the principles that are entrenched in federal legislation.

In looking at their record in the health care field, it's our desire to ensure and to see that they are serious in their approach to this and that they're prepared to entrench in statute what has been done in other provinces; that is, entrenching those principles of the Canada Health Act that I think all of us support in our own provincial legislation. Let's review for a moment what those principles are, lest anybody forget.

First, accessibility: that our health care system be accessible to all Ontarians without financial or other barriers.

Portability: that this system be accessible not only across the province but across our country.

Comprehensiveness: that a full range of medically necessary hospital and physician services ought to be available.

Universality: accessibility to everyone without barriers.

Finally, that it be publicly administered and publicly funded.

The bill I've presented today will ensure through our own legislation and our own statutes in Ontario that these principles be entrenched. The act ensures that we use the resources that are transferred to us in a way that is consistent with the principles outlined in the Canada Health Act. We have established a preamble into the Health Insurance Act to incorporate these ideas.

It's our desire to ensure that these principles be adhered to, and we don't trust this government, because this government has set about on a path to undermine the universality of our health care system. We see user fees. We see all kinds of examples in Bill 26 where this government is undermining public accessibility. Yesterday they acknowledged that they are going to cut acute-care hospital beds by at least 20% in this province, with no corresponding reinvestment in community-based services, more than $1.3 billion cut, a broken promise, a government that cannot show, has not shown and will not show a vision in health care, a government that's afraid to take a stand in health care, a government that wants to do what Ralph Klein did in Alberta and a government that wants to see a system that doesn't work, just like in the United States. Those of us from where we're from understand their agenda.


The Deputy Speaker: Order. I'm sorry to interrupt you.

Please respect the person who is addressing the House and you'll have a chance to voice your opinion. In the meantime, I would ask you to refrain from heckling.

Mr Duncan: That government doesn't care about health care. They don't care about people. They don't care about seniors. They've implemented user fees, and they said they wouldn't implement user fees. We won't have obstetrical services in this province. Just today the doctors are sitting down to negotiate with a government that they have no trust in, a government that will not be able to guarantee services. We said this would happen when you introduced Bill 26 and you took away the doctors' rights to negotiate a fee schedule. Now the chickens are coming home to roost. This government will pay a heavy price.

They are at the point now where they're confident, unlike Mr O'Toole, who says when he goes home, he gets it all the time from his constituents. He was well reported; doesn't even want to run again. Why? Because the people of this province are speaking up. They're speaking up in Durham and they're speaking up in Toronto. They're speaking up in Red Lake and they're speaking up everywhere. They're saying: "Enough of this nonsense. Enough of this neo-Conservative garbage that's undermining our health care system." They've undermined it, and we are prepared on this side to stand up for those principles and stand firmly and squarely.

It will be interesting to see if they'll vote for this bill. It will be interesting to see if they're prepared to put their legislative authority where their rhetoric is, because they've talked a good game about it right across Ontario and right in their own election documents. What this bill will do is ensure that no single minister, no single government, by regulation, can further undermine public health care in this country.

Mr Michael Gravelle (Port Arthur): We need this.

Mr Duncan: We need this bill because this government won't do that. This government is prepared to step on little people. This government is prepared to implement user fees on seniors, even though they said they wouldn't do it. Remember? "No user fees," page 7 of the Common Sense Revolution. What do we have? We have user fees. That's what this government has done and that's where this government's head is.

This government doesn't understand the concept of public health care. They're not prepared to defend it and we don't trust them to defend it because they've not kept their word and they won't keep their word. Their agenda is driven by the corporate interests and by the interests of the wealthy. They'd rather give a tax cut to the president of a bank than prescription drugs to a poor senior. We say that's wrong, and we'll stand up to them right across this province.

This government, which said in the election that it anticipated the cuts in federal transfers, this government that said that in all of its documents, in all of its propaganda, now says, "Well, we didn't expect these cuts."


This government has no vision of health care. This government has no vision of a future for this province. The people of this province will give them a loud and clear message, just as they did in York South, just as they will in 1999, that this lack of vision, this singular inability to understand what's important, not only to health care but to the psyche of this country and the people of this province, is not good enough. It's not good enough. We in the Liberal Party and we on this side of the House demand that this government fulfil its obligations and protect that system.

I know there are many thoughtful members opposite who support it. I know and believe that they'll have the courage to say: "We can accept these amendments. They're consistent with our own election promises, and they're consistent with what our ministry has been saying." They campaigned on it. They ought not to be afraid to put this into law.

This isn't the first province that would do it if we adopt this. British Columbia has done it. We think that's a good model and that's why we've introduced this bill.

This government, the current government, campaigned on preserving the medicare system we've come to appreciate and cherish in this country. We challenge them today to take this bill and pass it. It's simple, it involves the expenditure of not one cent of government money and in fact it calls upon the federal government to continue transfers to make the system work.

We ask you, we ask the members of the government, to support this bill. Show that you're committed to accessibility. Show that you're committed to portability. Show that you're committed to a comprehensive public health plan that's universal, publicly administered and publicly funded. It creates a preamble in the bill and it restricts the power of any minister or any government to undermine that. It reaffirms what I think all of us believe: that one of the defining things about our province and our country is our health care system. While we know there are tough choices to be made, and we're prepared to make them, we also know that we don't trust that government to do it. We think that if they don't vote for this bill, they are going to proceed the way their friend Mr Klein in Alberta did. We're prepared to fight them every step of the way.


Mr Duncan: They laugh and they joke.

Mr Gravelle: They don't care.

Mr Duncan: They don't care. They don't care about seniors in Nepean. They don't care about what's going to happen to those people who don't have accessibility. They think it's a big joke. It's a shameless situation when a government of Ontario doesn't take our health care system seriously. They've cut $1.3 billion. Today we see for the first time that they're acknowledging that there will have to be further cuts and that those cuts won't be reinvested anywhere other than in a tax cut that will go to 20% of the people, the wealthiest people in this province.

They're a disgrace. They laugh and they joke. Well, the joke is going to be on you in 1999, because the people of this province will chase you so far out of office you won't know what hit you. Stand up for public health care in this country; stand up for the proper funding of it.

The Deputy Speaker: Your time has expired. Further debate.

Mr David S. Cooke (Windsor-Riverside): I certainly intend to support the bill, although I would that it's unclear in that it basically is a motherhood or parenthood statement that we should be following the Canada Health Act. I certainly agree that we should be following the Canada Health Act.

I would prefer that we had a federal government that continued to have national standards. I would prefer that we had a federal government that maintained its transfer payments and didn't just try to win national elections by going around and telling everybody they're going to defend medicare while Paul Martin is pulling billions of dollars out of the health care system and our post-secondary education system, although I certainly agree with the member for Windsor-Walkerville that when the campaign was on in 1995, Mr Harris said very clearly: "No one should complain about the cutbacks in federal transfers. We've accounted for all of this in the Common Sense Revolution. We can deal with all of those cuts. We can still balance the budget. We can still accommodate the tax reduction. We can do all of these things without touching our health care system, without touching classroom education, without bringing in user fees."

The fact of the matter is the Conservative Party, and I emphasize the "Conservative Party," knowing the rules of this place lied to the people of the province, and there's no doubt at all that they did. Look what they have done since they have come to office: They have cut $1.3 billion out of our health care system, out of hospitals.

The minister has made it pretty clear about what is to happen very soon. He made a statement at the Ontario Hospital Association the other day that he guaranteed that the $17.4 billion would be spent on health care.

Mr Peter L. Preston (Brant-Haldimand): On a point of order, Mr Speaker: I am a member of the Conservative Party, and if there is a lie attributed to the Conservative Party, he's attributing it to me and my colleagues. I don't believe that --

The Deputy Speaker: That is not a point of order. I heard very clearly what was said. He did not accuse any individual. Please keep on with the debate.

Mr Cooke: Mr Speaker, what I would say is that the member has obviously made the connection. If he wants to speak again to make the connection, I would appreciate that.

Let's go back to what the government had said about things like user fees.

Mr Preston: On a point of order, Mr Speaker --

Mr Cooke: Come on, Mr Speaker. Stop the clock and take it out of the Conservatives' time.

Mr Preston: He has now said that this member has made the connection, so he has identified me right here with the lie.

The Deputy Speaker: Please. You are pushing it a bit too far.

Mr Cooke: They're very sensitive over there, aren't they, Mr Speaker, very, very sensitive about these things? Can you imagine how sensitive they're going to be after they come back after the one week in their constituencies and they start hearing from their constituents about the cuts to health care, the hospitals that are closing from one end of this province to the other end, the user fees they've brought in for seniors and low-income Ontarians when the Conservative Party promised they would not bring in any user fees? It's very clear, and I say it again, that by making the promise that there would be no new user fees, the Conservative Party lied to the people of this province and won the election on that basis.


Mr Cooke: I said the "Conservative Party."

The Deputy Speaker: I know. At the same time, they're the type of words that really arouse the ire of everyone. There are so many good words in the English dictionary and, knowing you, you won't have any difficulty to do it.

Mr Cooke: I wouldn't want to hold the Conservatives clearly accountable; I would just say that the people of this province know what kind of line they were given in the last election and they're beginning to realize very clearly that the government was not very honest with them in the last election. The Conservative Party went out of its way to try to reassure people that there would be no cuts to classroom education, no cuts to health care, and that's not what has happened: $1.3 billion worth of cuts to hospitals.

Dr Sinclair, the head of the hospital restructuring commission, when he was before the standing committee on estimates a couple of weeks ago, said: "There is no relationship between the $1.3 billion worth of hospital cuts and the restructuring commission. Those cuts are separate from the restructuring process; they're not as a result of the restructuring." In fact, he made it fairly clear that if he had his way he would not want those cuts to be put in place; he'd rather see the savings come through rational restructuring of the system and then achieve the savings as you restructure it and then reinvest. That's not happening. Those cuts have been made. We can see already the impact on increased waiting lists for necessary surgery and increasing problems of accessibility to our hospitals across the province.

The Ontario drug benefit program is obviously the clearest example. The government and the Conservative Party played very fast and loose with their words in that campaign. They said there were going to be no new user fees, and everybody who read that promise understood that they meant no new user fees, period, when it came to health. Then they form a government. They bring in the copayments, they bring in some other basic fees to the drug benefit program, and they say, "What we meant to say was that there are no user fees where the Canada Health Act applies, and the Canada Health Act does not apply to the Ontario drug benefit program."


The ordinary person, the senior, who read that commitment that there would be no user fees feels absolutely betrayed by this government. There is no piece of legislation that we can pass in this House amending the Health Insurance Act to overcome that problem and that betrayal of the public trust that the government has implemented since the 1995 election, but I think it's important for us to go on record here today, all of us, to say that we still believe, we have a common belief in this Legislature, in a universal health care plan and that no government should betray that common belief that everyone in this province shares.

In fact, Mr Speaker, I think you would agree that the people of this province have two basic services that there is a complete consensus need to be protected because they're what make this province a great place to live: our public education system and our public health system. Both of those systems that we are all so proud of, that were built by red Tories and now that we have Reformers in power are being torn about, we have all paid dearly over the years, and people say in poll after poll: "We would rather protect public education and protect our universal health insurance and our hospitals and community-based programs. We'd rather maintain higher levels of taxation than see those services eroded."

I think that's one of the reasons we now see a decrease in support for the Conservative Party, because people are seeing that those two fundamental services in this province are being eroded in a very substantial way. Ministers can get up day after day in question period and think they're being cute, that they're getting away with it, by saying: "No, you're wrong. There's no impact on classroom education, and if there is an impact on classroom education, it's the fault of the chair of the public board in Peel, Beryl Ford," -- card-carrying Conservative, who believed that there wouldn't be any cuts in classroom education -- "it's her fault. The fact that there's been $400 million at this point cut out of the public education system, which is 8% of the provincial funding, has nothing to do with it. It has to do with those incompetent trustees, and if they speak out, we'll get even with them. We'll get rid of them all."

That's what the government is up to now. They're looking at options to eliminate school boards, when I remember when I was Minister of Education and we talked about a reduction in the number of school boards, the folks over here in the Conservative Party were saying: "That's all wrong. You shouldn't be reducing them. These are things that should be decided at the local level, not by some big central government in Toronto."

Boy, how things have changed. I give the spin doctors in the Conservative Party full marks. This government has been able to break promise after promise when it comes to health and education. They've been able to break promise after promise, and the spin doctors have been able to give the impression, when they're doing these things, that there has been no change in policy, no change in direction, that they're delivering on everything.

I think the fundamental mistake backbenchers in the Conservative Party caucus are going to make is to honestly believe the debates that take place in this place in question period, the answers their ministers give. They all applaud and they all show enthusiasm for those answers, they actually believe that's a reflection of public opinion and that if they do well in question period they're doing well across the province.

As a former cabinet minister, let me assure the Conservatives that we learned the hard way and they're about to learn the hard way as well. What happens in this place is almost irrelevant -- I'm talking in terms of debate -- to what is happening out there. People out there are worried about their health care system.

I am appalled to hear that the Minister of Health -- he made an absolute commitment to the people of my home community that the restructuring proposals that have gone through in our hospital system, the work that the community has put into that, and the workers in the hospital system, the boards at the hospitals, the labour community, the business community and consumers, seniors and others, all were part of that, we were told that when the restructuring commission was set up Windsor was exempt because we had gone through the restructuring process, that we were at the point of implementation. Now we're told in the scrum yesterday by Dr Sinclair, the head of the restructuring commission, that they're going to go back into Windsor. They're going to go back and do the whole thing all over again.

If I was a CEO of a hospital or if I was a hospital board chair today, after reading that in the paper, I'd say: "We're stopping implementation today. We're reversing the implementation. We're not going to be part of this sham that we worked so hard to develop a consensus on and then we're going to have the Conservative government come back in and say, `No, we're going to cut even more beds out; we're going to cut even more dollars out of your system,' and somehow say that the community has bought into it." They've turned it into a complete farce and the commitment of the minister is meaningless. It's not worth the paper that it was written on.

I think more and more communities and individuals are understanding that the Conservative Party never bought into a universal health insurance program. Let us remember that when the federal government brought in universal health, following the lead from Saskatchewan and Tommy Douglas, the Conservative government here in Ontario resisted. They did not want to be part of the universal health insurance plan. Premier Robarts at the time said he didn't want any part of it, that he didn't believe in a universal health insurance program. They were brought in kicking and screaming because the people of the province believe in a universal health insurance program. They believe in it absolutely. Any government that betrays them on that commitment is going to pay a dear price, and they should.

Sure, we hear from the Conservatives that taxes are too high in Ontario, although if you actually look at real comparisons between the cost of doing business, we're not out of line with other jurisdictions. But I know Michigan rather well and I know that when an auto worker in Michigan or in Dearborn takes a look at what their take-home pay is, and the worker in Windsor takes a look at his, the worker in Michigan may not have as much taken off for tax but he's got a big deduction for health insurance and the company's got a big expenditure for health insurance. Over here it's a universal plan. We all care about one another. We all take care of one another. That's the difference in our society. Over there it's survival of the fittest, it's individualism. Over here we have a philosophy of social responsibility, of community.

The people of this province will not allow Premier Mike Harris and the Conservative government, the Reform government of this province, to destroy that community, destroy what we have fought for for many, many years.

Mrs Helen Johns (Huron): I'm pleased to enter the debate today because I find the topic just a little ironic. First of all, we're talking about the Canada Health Act and I intend to go into the details of the Canada Health Act so everyone will know exactly what it says. But I want to start by reminding you that the federal government and the cohorts of the people who are bringing this bill forward today -- their federal cousins, if you will -- continue to cut dollars to health care in Ontario --


The Deputy Speaker: The member for Nepean, it's your own member who's talking.

Mrs Johns: -- to such a substantial point that the taxpayers of Ontario continue to pay more. We listen to the NDP, who talk about this Canada Health Act and how important it is, and they of course broke the Canada Health Act in their time by taking away the portability requirement within the Canada Health Act. So the irony of this situation today amazes me.


Let me talk about the Canada Health Act. What happened initially was the federal government believed that there should be health care throughout Canada, that we needed to have a health care system that allowed everyone in Canada to be able to have health care. At that time, lo and behold, the federal government said, "We'll pay half of it." Because they didn't have the ability to implement the system, because it was not part of their initial regulations or abilities, the province had to implement the system and carry it forward.

Initially the federal government started to pay half of all the health care in Ontario and in all provinces. Then the pot got just a little too dear for them so they moved to an established program funding system which allowed them to make transfer payments to us. When that happened, a number of the provinces said: "Wait a minute. This doesn't make sense. Why are they telling us what to do and not putting the money forward for the system?" So provinces such as Newfoundland, New Brunswick, Quebec, Ontario, Saskatchewan, Alberta and BC said, "No way we're going to follow this system," and here starts the beginning of the Canada Health Act.

With the Canada Health Act what was required was that we believe and we follow through with five different criteria. The first one is there has to be public administration. Really what that means and what is happening with our government is there has to be management of the system because there are considerable dollars tied up in health care systems in all of the provinces. So there has to be a managed system.

Secondly, the plan has to be comprehensive. The health insurance plan must ensure that all services that are medically necessary are provided. It refers to a minimum basket of services. When we talk about the minimum basket of services, I think it's very important to know what they talked about as these medically necessary services. Services are defined in a broad way:

(1) Hospital services that are medically necessary for the purpose of maintaining health, preventing disease or diagnosing or treating an injury, illness or disability, including accommodations and meals, physicians' and nursing services, drugs, all medical surgical equipment and supplies;

(2) Any medically required services rendered by a medical practitioner; and

(3) Any medically required surgical dental procedures which can only be properly carried out in a hospital.

Those were the services that the Canada Health Act said had to be provided.

The third thing they were talking about was universality, that all residents must have access to health care.

The fourth one is portability, and here's where the NDP decided that they would fall. Here's what they said: "We're not going to provide coverage for people who are outside of the province or outside of the country." They reduced that. When the Conservatives ran for power in the last election, we said there's no way we're going to be in violation of the Canada Health Act. Since that time, this government has restored Ontario's position within the Canada Health Act, a very important segment, as the NDP has stood here today sanctimoniously and said, "We believe in the Canada Health Act," and they were the people who moved us out of the Canada Health Act --

Mr Peter Kormos (Welland-Thorold): How did we do that?

Mrs Johns: By not allowing coverage outside of Canada.

The fifth decision was accessibility, and there has to be reasonable and uniform access to insured services, fees and financial barriers. So those are the things that we have to do in this province.

The Liberals over here are saying to us that we have to tie into the Canada Health Act, and we're saying we are doing everything within the Canada Health Act and we're doing more. We want you to know that we're the government who's doing more.

Let's look at the federal Liberal track record. As a result of successive federal reductions in the established program financing, the federal contributions to Ontario's health care expenditures declined from a high of 52% in 1979-80 to 32% in 1995-96. Those are your federal cousins who are cutting the money and the people in Ontario are having to make that up through their tax dollars. That's why we're at one third of our tax dollars going to pay for health right now. So it's outrageous to listen to these people try and tell us that we're not taking care of the Canada Health Act, that we're undermining the system. That's just not true and it's outrageous behaviour.

I've told you about the Canada Health Act and I've told you about how the transfers from the federal government have been cut. I also want to suggest one more important item that I think the people watching the TV need to know today, because obviously the members on the other side aren't interested: When the Liberals ran in the last election what they said was they would maintain health spending at $17 billion.

Mr Tim Hudak (Niagara South): They would have cut health care.

Mrs Johns: They would have cut it to $17 billion -- thank you very much. What we have said is we would maintain it at the same level as when we came into power, which was $17.4 billion, and at the end of the first year --


The Deputy Speaker: I have difficulty understanding how you can respond to a speech when you don't even listen to it. I ask you to refrain from heckling and give a chance to the member for Huron.

Mrs Johns: Thank you very much, Mr Speaker. At the end of the first year in office we've spent $17.7 billion, $700,000 more than the Liberals would have spent if they were in power, $300,000 more than the previous government had spent, and everybody's saying that we're not making reinvestments into health care. Maybe nobody knows how to add and subtract in this House.

Let me tell you about the reinvestments that are happening with this government: $170 million more into long-term health care. That's not even part of the Canada Health Act. We don't have to do that as a province. We do that because we believe that health care is important, and this side has made a strong financial commitment to ensure that's happened.

We have changed the way that long-term health care is delivered within the province of Ontario. We believe it will be better through our community care access centres. We've increased the dialysis in the communities. We've reduced the cardiac waiting list. All of these things take money. They just don't happen over there. You have to put more staff on, you have to have more rooms available. All of these things take money, and this government is reinvesting.

The Canada Health Act is safe with the Tories in power in Ontario. It's getting stronger, health care's getting stronger. It's a better system than it ever was and will continue to be a better system because of the way we're reinvesting in health care, the way we're helping to make sure that health care is available to every citizen, and to ensure that the Canada Health Act stays strong.

Mr Gerry Phillips (Scarborough-Agincourt): I'm pleased to join the debate on what I suspect will be one of the pivotal issues in the next three to four years.

The first thing I'd say is that I remember when the federal budget came out and the federal government announced its spending plans to the provinces. Mike Harris said: "We applaud the cuts. We like the cuts. We are in favour of the cuts that the federal government made." That's what Mike Harris said. He loved the cuts. In fact, he's told the federal government they didn't go far enough.

I just make that point because you are on record. You, Mike Harris, are on record saying the cuts are just great and that you frankly wished they had been deeper. So Ontario lost its moral authority at that time to argue against them.

The points I want to make on health care are that I know where you're heading. What you're heading for is you are going to cut the health services that are provided to the citizens of this province through their taxes, and you are going to increase the number of services that people have to go out and buy themselves. And there is no question that you are in favour of a two-tiered health system.

Mrs Johns: That's just not true.

Mr Phillips: Well, the member says it's not true. The people listening to this should recognize that everything you are doing in health care is designed to get people to pay for it out of their own pockets and not fund it through general revenues. The problem is that the people in this province who can't afford to buy out of their own pockets are going to suffer -- and the member says it's not true.

Firstly, what did you do on the drug benefit plan? What you did on the drug benefit plan is you said when you ran you would not have user fees. The first thing you did on the drug benefit plan was to put user fees on drugs for the seniors of this province. You promised you wouldn't do that. So what we find are the seniors in this province, instead of their drug benefits being paid out of the taxes that they've paid for over these years, now they've got to reach in their own pockets and they've got to pay for it out of their own pockets.


What did we find when we saw the Ontario Medical Association agreement that the Minister of Health is negotiating on behalf of the people of this province? What we see is that the government says to the doctors: "We are not going to put any more money in there. That money is frozen because we've got to fund our tax cut." So the doctors of this province don't expect a penny more for five years from the taxpayers of this province. That money is frozen. "We are not going to put a penny more into that fund. Now, however, doctors, we're prepared to find ways that we can make people pay directly, and that is called delisting services."

In other words, we have an insurance plan right now that provides medical services for the people of this province out of that insurance plan. It's paid for from tax revenue. That's OHIP, that insurance plan. What Jim Wilson did on behalf of all the people who own that insurance plan was to say to the doctors, "We are going to find a way that you can get some more revenue, because what we'll do is, things that used to be paid out of that insurance plan we'll make people pay for out of their own pockets.

For the doctors -- and I understand this -- they say: "You're only going to provide $3.8 billion. How can we get more money? We'll get more money by letting you charge people directly for services." So there's another level of second tier.

The third one is -- and make no mistake, the hospitals in this province are in a crisis situation. Why? Because they are being forced to restructure with one key ingredient, and that is, the government has said, "We are going to cut 20% of our spending from hospitals." That's the starting point. The health restructuring commission was told that. That's what's driving this: not what's in the best interests of the patients of this province, but they're told, "The hospitals of this province are going to get 20% less money from the insurance plan of this province."

As my colleague said, why is that? Well, it is because you want to give the wealthiest people in this province a huge tax break. So the seniors and all of those people who for years and years have paid their taxes to build a system of health care that they expected would be available, you are now dismantling. Why? To fund the $5-billion tax cut.


Mr Phillips: The member over there says the federal government. Mike Harris told the federal government he loves the cuts, "Cut deeper."

What you're going to find is that as this proceeds, people are going to realize that you are gutting the health system in this province to fund your tax cut.

Mr Doug Galt (Northumberland): I certainly appreciate the opportunity to rise and speak on the bill that's been put forward by our colleague from Windsor-Walkerville. It's certainly an important opportunity to talk about our party's support for the Canada Health Act.

As my colleague from Huron capably stated earlier, we are indeed committed to ensuring that the principles of the Canada Health Act are not violated. As one of the few provinces in the country in full compliance with the act, this fact is obvious, and we've made the correction of non-compliance brought in by the previous government.

However, I would like to address some of our concerns with this particular bill. Section 2 of the bill presents some difficulty for our government. It would not allow Ontario to determine services that are deemed medically necessary. This determination would be made by the federal government, and with their reduction to us under the Canada health and social transfer of more than $2 billion, I do not believe they have a right to dictate which services are medically necessary. It is imperative that we retain this determination.

This proposal would suggest that there are unlimited quantities of money out there to be spent, as the Liberals have in the past. You and your party have accused us of reducing health care spending when in fact it went from $17.4 billion to $17.7 billion. I think you can understand that's a $300-million increase. I suggest you talk to your friends in Ottawa, your Liberal cousins, the 98 or 99, about the reduction of that $2 billion.

Sections 3 and 4 of the bill would prevent our government from setting the fee code at nil. This indeed is an important concept for quality patient care in Ontario. Having a zero fee code allows us to monitor the types of services being provided to patients while physicians are being paid under an alternative payment plan.

For example, there are some 70 rural and small hospitals that qualify for the $70-per-hour sessional fee to cover emergency rooms during the evenings and on weekends. Allowing us to set the fee code at zero for those shifts allows us to monitor the types of out-of-hours services that physicians are providing, allowing them to be paid on the flat fee of $70 per hour. This is an important element in our drive to modernize the health care system. If we did not have this ability, we would be prevented from implementing new and innovative plans for physicians.

As we've said time and again, the status quo is not acceptable. The Toronto Star, your paper, in a recent edition said that over the last 10 years the actual costs of health care have gone up 45%, corrected for inflation and corrected for population increase. What we're headed for is a cabinet of one, being the Minister of Health, who would be the Premier.

We need flexibility to ensure quality patient care in all parts of the province. Setting the fee for a service at nil is also important for small communities that need to offer incentive programs to entice physicians to their communities. For example, we have announced community-sponsored contracts where the physician is paid a base salary of up to $194,000 to provide a continuum of care. The program also allows completion bonuses of $10,000 and 37 paid days off for vacation and continuing medical education programs. This is an innovative program to entice physicians to small northern communities. It almost makes one consider going back to medical school, with that kind of an offer.

Section 5 of the bill stipulates that regulations passed under the Health Insurance Act must be in compliance with the Canada Health Act. The Health Insurance Act already has a requirement that regulations passed relating to the definition of "medically necessary" and the payment for those medically necessary services must not contravene the Canada Health Act. It's already being done.

Our party is a firm believer in local people making local decisions. What is good for the people of Toronto may not be good for the people of Northumberland or Ottawa or northern Ontario. The same is true for the different levels of government. We do not need the federal government deciding what is appropriate for the people of Ontario.

There have been many comments made about copayment fees here this morning. You don't seem to understand that the Ontario drug benefit program is separate from the Canada Health Act, and therefore copayment is very much in order, and our fees for pharmaceuticals are far lower than those in any other province in Canada.

You don't seem to understand in spending that the cost of the Ontario drug benefit program went up three times since 1985, from $400 million to $1.2 billion. It would seem that cost is no objective whatsoever.

I'm really quite disappointed in the member for Windsor-Walkerville that he wouldn't stay in the House during the debate. He had to leave the House and come back in. He has paid no attention to the debate whatsoever. I really don't know if he's going to get anything -- maybe he'll read Hansard afterwards.

I'm really disappointed that this individual would take this opportunity as a leadership candidate and use this forum to extend his bid to flaunt his far-left ideology. Seriously, I wish you well in your bid, but I sympathize with the NDP, because once you win the leadership, there will be no room left whatsoever for the NDP. You'll be so far left you'll wipe the NDP right out. The poor member for Windsor-Riverside won't have a hope in running, because you will be so far left there will be no NDP left whatsoever. But I do wish you well in your bid.


The Deputy Speaker: Time has expired. The member for Sudbury, I ask you to refrain from heckling and give an opportunity to the members who are interested in delivering a speech to do so in the proper way.


Mrs Sandra Pupatello (Windsor-Sandwich): I am very pleased to have an opportunity to speak to my colleague's bill that he is introducing today. The members opposite will know that the number designated for when your private member's bill comes up was assigned right after June 8, the election, clearly nothing to do with the leadership campaign. You should take the opportunity today, when you have a chance to discuss and ensure that the Canada Health Act will remain intact in the province of Ontario, to discuss the issue at hand, and I would like to address that.

What this government has done is created the biggest joke on the Ontarian people that we have ever seen since this government came into power, and especially in the area of health care. I will tell you, coming from a community of Windsor and Essex county, I have seen the havoc this government has wreaked on my community.

We want to talk about ensuring that the Canada Health Act remains intact in Ontario, and you today have the power to do this. Very simply put, if you have a look at Bill 87, we want to see today how you will vote, the parliamentary assistant to the minister, and I want to see how the Minister of Health is going to vote on this bill today, because there is not one item in this bill that any Conservative member could possibly complain about. In fact, it enshrines the Canada Health Act in legislation in the Parliament of Ontario. That should be of concern to you all. If you choose to do the political thing and simply vote against this bill for the politics of it, I can tell you, you are dead wrong. I would suggest that you seriously consider the contents of this bill, which will not cost Ontario taxpayers a dime and simply ensures that what you say will in fact happen as we prepare health care for the future of Ontarians.

I must tell you that from the beginning when you came into power, you said one thing but you did another, and health care was the biggest of all. In my community, we had been well on our way in a restructuring plan for years. In fact, the Minister of Health stood in this House and said that we must use Windsor as the example in restructuring, that we must look to Windsor and show the rest of Ontario how to restructure with local decision-making. Instead, yesterday the head of the restructuring commission said that the commission is coming to Windsor.

All I have to say to the Minister of Health is, get out of my town. My town went through restructuring once before. My town has already had significant cuts in health care. We are already suffering. As you well know, we don't have doctors available to deliver babies. What are you doing to the people of Essex county?

I will say once again, I expect you to fully support this bill when we go to a vote, and I would like to say to the people involved with the Ministry of Health, stay out of my town.

Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): I want to commend the member on bringing forward this timely initiative this morning. I think it's extremely important when the issue of health care is being discussed that we ensure we have a health care system which we can be justifiably proud of and which will continue to serve us well.

Americans look to us, except those on the extreme right in the United States, as having a very good health care system. Canadians, regardless of their political background, have traditionally spoken favourably of our system. The reason is that all of the political parties have had a chance over the years to establish and to build upon this system, a system that is fair to all in our society.

No Conservative candidate that I can recall during the election campaign talked about closing any hospitals. I listened carefully, as I do, and I heard nobody talk about closing any hospitals, and yet I hear today that this government is going around the province closing hospitals: three out of five in Thunder Bay, two out of three in Sudbury, and they're on the march across the province.

I can tell you that if they want to close hospitals in St Catharines, they'll have no acquiesence from me on this. I believe the General Hospital, the Hotel Dieu Hospital and the Shaver Hospital, along with the Niagara Peninsula Rehabilitation Centre, provide an outstanding service to the people in our community and are essential, particularly in a community where the average age is higher than it is in other municipalities. If one reads the book Boom, Bust and Echo, which is top on the list now, you will see that the author is talking about the need for these facilities as our population ages, as those people who were part of the baby boom need more and more of those services.

What's happening, unfortunately, is that the government is using intimidation, and so you've got crackpot realism, as I would refer to it, setting in. That is, there are people there who believe if the government is going to do something more drastic, I guess we at the local level better do something. In other words, they'd better amputate their foot because if the government comes along, they'll amputate the whole leg. The government has been successful in this intimidation. People who know better are being silent and are making statements that simply cannot be substantiated.

You can't lay off hundreds of workers in the hospitals and tell people you're going to provide the same kind of service you did before. Just ask people who have been in the hospital recently and have been in the hospital, say, 10 years ago what the difference is in service provided. You simply don't have the staff today to be able to look after people the way you once did. That's not what the people of this province want. Liberals, Conservatives, New Democrats and those with no political affiliation don't want that to happen. That's why I think it's important for the backbenchers in the government to remind the Minister of Health and the person who is ultimately responsible, the Premier of this province, who really runs the province, of that.

We are already seeing an erosion of the system. We have seen user fees. Despite the fact that the Conservative Party said there would be no user fees, there are hundreds and thousands of people now paying user fees with the drug plan. We're seeing a delisting of service. That is, you remove certain services and people have to pay for them themselves. That's okay if you're rich, that's okay if you're in the privileged classes, but for people who are struggling to make it out there, people who have other obligations or senior citizens on a fixed income, that's mighty difficult.

Why are you doing it? It's being done because of the tax break. I know that was part of the platform and I know that you would have to borrow about $13 billion -- in other words, borrow money to give people a tax break. That message was getting through, and so the government said: "We can't do that. I guess that message is getting through; it's true. Let's cut even deeper into the services we provide, including health care services." As a result, we're seeing the consequences for our health care system. So keep in mind that it is not Jim Wilson, it is not John Snobelen, it is not David Tsubouchi; it is Mike Harris, the Premier of this province, who is ultimately responsible. The others can be scapegoated -- they have to say what they have to say -- but ultimately it is the Premier who makes these decisions.

We need standards that are national standards only because there are provincial governments which will erode them. There are provincial governments which will delist. There are provincial governments which will allow privatization. None in my view are acceptable to the majority of people of this province. I know the Reform Party -- and the leader is here today in Toronto -- has advocated this and there may be many people in the Conservative caucus at Queen's Park who are admirers of the Reform Party leader. But I'm telling you, if you want to look at one issue where regardless of the person's political background they believe we should have a strong and a good system, I think you'll find that it is the issue of medical care in this province. Individual members of the caucus know that and individual citizens know that and the Conservative Party of years gone by can be proud that it was in power when the Ontario hospital insurance plan was put into effect. Liberals and New Democrats who have governed since then have been part of that system and improved that system from time to time.

So I urge the members of this House to vote for this particular initiative this morning. If you do not vote for it, it's a clear signal that you're simply taking orders from the Premier and the Premier's staff rather than from the constituents you represent.

The Deputy Speaker: The member for Windsor-Walkerville, you have two minutes to reply.

Mr Duncan: It's been a good opportunity, I think, to discuss a very important principle, and that is the principle of our universal health care system.

One of the members raised the question, is this all about leadership? You're darn right it's all about leadership. It's about leadership to provide the kind of health care we've come to know in this province, a system not without problems and a system that needs reform, but one that we have to be prepared to accept and endorse the principles of.

A number of government members have raised some substantive issues around sections of the bill and how they impact, and suffice it to say we in the opposition would be happy to discuss those sections in committee if we pass this bill on second reading.


Voting in favour of this bill is about endorsing the health care system, the principles of the health care system that we have come to appreciate. It is about reaffirming the principles of universality, portability, accessibility. It is about saying that as we make tough decisions in the health care sector we will not undermine the principles that all of us support.

It's the intention of the opposition to see if the members in the government support those principles. It's a very clear bill. It's a very simple bill. It enshrines in Ontario statutes those principles which are present in the Canada Health Act.

I urge the members of the government to vote in favour of this and I urge them to incorporate into our statutes those principles, because the people of this province don't trust you in health care. They're worried about it. They see a diminution of their services. They see hospitals closing. They see a commission that's going across the province and there's a great deal of anxiety and nervousness. I suggest to the government that if you're serious about protecting our health care system you'll vote in favour of this bill and enshrine those principles in the Health Insurance Act.

The Deputy Speaker: The time allotted for the first ballot item has expired.


Mr Bob Wood moved private member's notice of motion number 31:

That in the opinion of this House, the Legislature supports the principle of the people being able to vote on provincial and municipal issues at every municipal election, with questions, in the case of provincial issues, being placed on a province-wide ballot by petition of the people or by resolution of the Legislature and with questions, in the case of municipal issues, being placed on a municipality-wide ballot by petition of the people or by resolution of the municipal council.

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

Mr Bob Wood (London South): As members will note, this resolution provides for non-binding provincial and municipal referendums at municipal elections. The questions can come from the Legislature itself in the case of provincial issues, from the municipal council in the case of municipal issues, or by petition of the people.

I would like to note that there is no extra cost to the taxpayer in this proposal as the municipal elections are of course going to be held every three years. I'd also like to note that I believe our Constitution requires that the Legislature cannot be bound by these resolutions or by proposed laws that are put on the ballot. I think our Constitution is right on that. I think the Legislature has to make the final decisions but it's important that the people have direct input to what we're doing.

I'd like to suggest to you that in this day and age the people are ready to do this. We have never had people who are more informed about provincial and municipal issues and we've never had a group of people who are more anxious to have a direct say.

It's a practice that is used by many other jurisdictions, by other provinces, by our friends to the south, by many countries in Europe and elsewhere. Good ideas come from the people. Where laws are enacted directly by the people, they are rarely changed by legislatures later. The idea of referendums is not new in Ontario. It has provided a successful policy with respect to liquor for 30 or 40 years and also on many other municipal issues.

Equally importantly, perhaps, direct democracy provides a check on arbitrary government. The parliamentary system, in my opinion, is as good a democratic system as there is in the world, but it's also important that there be democratic checks on any democratically elected government.

In our system we have parliamentary checks, we have the media, we have interest groups, we have the civil service, we have the courts, but I would suggest to you that it's also important that the people themselves have an opportunity to send their message directly to their government.

I invite all MPPs to support this resolution. I think it will involve more people and more ideas in our democratic process, and it will achieve a better result for all. This is an idea whose time has come. It will give us a better democratic system. We can indeed trust the people on this issue.

Mr John Gerretsen (Kingston and The Islands): I'm somewhat confused by this resolution, because it's my understanding that municipalities at municipal elections certainly have this power already to do this, and, as a matter of fact, many have done so in the past. They've dealt not only with provincial and local issues but quite often they've dealt with international issues as well. I can remember back in the 1980s there were a number of municipalities that had resolutions that dealt with nuclear-free zones and things along that line. I don't know exactly where this is coming from other than the fact that it must be related somehow to the discussion paper that was put out by the government a couple of months ago that dealt with the whole referendum process.

There are a couple of comments I'd like to make on this, though. Number one is this notion that there are no extra costs involved. I think any municipal clerk will tell you that whenever you put an extra ballot on at election time, it will cost money. To simply say that there are no extra costs involved is not correct. It's obviously not going to be as costly as if you set up a separate election just to deal with a specific referendum item, but there are extra costs involved. It's got to be clearly set out that if it's a provincial question that's being asked on a provincial issue, then the province ought to pick up the costs and not the local municipalities. I'm sure that can be confirmed by just asking the local clerks about that.

Number two is that if a government is responsive, then it should already be reacting to the various petitions that are presented on almost a daily basis in the House here. Some 15 minutes a day are being spent each and every day that the Legislature sits with petitions being presented to the House on a wide variety of issues, provincial issues mainly, issues that affect people on a direct basis, on a day-to-day basis. What happens to these petitions? From a practical viewpoint, usually about three or four months later a form letter comes out from the ministry involved saying that it is already doing this, that or the other thing. I think that to a certain extent these petitions are being totally ignored.

Why doesn't the government come out with a statement on a monthly basis as to precisely what it's doing about the petitions or whether or not it agrees with the issues of those petitions? That's certainly not being done.

The other issue I'd like to raise is this whole principle that people are able to vote on provincial- and municipal-wide issues. This is already the case now, so I don't quite understand why this is being brought forward here today. One of the reasons may be that sometimes these referendums are used in order to bring more people out at local elections. We all know that the turnout for local elections in Ontario is anywhere between about 30% to 50%. There's always this feeling that if you put a question on the ballot that people are interested in, you will get greater participation. I think studies have shown, certainly over the last 10 or 15 years, that this is not always the case, that the turnout doesn't improve as a result of the kind of questions that are being asked.

It's very interesting that in the letter this member has sent along with his resolution he talks about the fact that it would be a powerful tool for groups opposed to government policies, where they could muster the support of the majority of the people. I suggest to you that this is already happening in a number of different areas. I suppose one could say that in the education area right now the educators in Ontario by and large, the various teacher groups etc, would certainly not like what the province is doing with respect to education and the quality of education in this province currently. Is this not a case where they should be able to bring forward a resolution or a referendum?

The other area, I suppose, where it's hurting people on a day-to-day basis deals with the hospital closures that are taking place in the various communities right now. Is this member suggesting that a local community could still do something about it, even though municipal elections are not to be held until October or November of next year when, in a lot of cases, the various hospitals in the various communities, such as Thunder Bay and Sudbury and some of the other communities that the restructuring commission is going through, have already been closed? It's kind of after the fact.


The other thing I find interesting is that this resolution flies in the face of what we have often heard here over the last year and a half or so. We have heard over and over again, whenever one of these major issues has arisen, that a referendum has already been held, and that referendum took place on June 8 last year. The government was elected on a certain platform. It regards it as a referendum to do a whole bunch of things that it has actually done and which have affected public services in Ontario over the last 16 to 18 months or so, and no referendum is required. A referendum has already taken place; it takes place once every four years when a provincial election is being held.

Well, I say you can't have it both ways. You can't on some issues say, "The people of Ontario have decided at provincial election time how they feel about certain issues," and yet come up with a bill or a resolution like this that we somehow allow people to state their choice again at referendums during municipal election times.

If we want to be consistent on referendums, if we want to be consistent on the whole notion of democratic representation, we cannot on some issues say the people somehow gave us that authority and power to do it during the last election when they elected a majority government and on the other hand say, if they don't like what's going on, let them bring a referendum forward at municipal election times.

The other thing, of course, that's very interesting and that's a problem we have here in Ontario is that the last three majority governments that we've had in the province have basically been elected by a minority of the people in the province of Ontario. I think the popular vote for the three parties that were elected into power over the last three governments has ranged anywhere from 36% to 45%, well below the 50% minimum that is required for a pure majority government. It would be a lot more meaningful if we started taking a look at representational government in this province whereby the will of the majority of the people, whereby the will on a proportional basis of the people out there is represented here in the Legislature so that we don't get these vast swings from one extreme to the other on the minority opinion that is being expressed at any provincial election.

I don't think this resolution adds anything at all to the process, and certainly before I as an individual member can support this, I would like the member to explain the whole purpose of this resolution better than he's done so far.

Mr Rosario Marchese (Fort York): I'm pleased to join the debate on this resolution. In speaking directly to what is contained in this resolution, I want to raise some questions and points as well.

First, the resolution speaks about the fact that the Legislature supports the principle of the people being able to vote. There's obviously no force to this kind of resolution other than we as a group here or as legislators support the principle of the idea that's being put forth.

Second, the member mentioned there is no extra cost to this, and by that presumably he means there is no extra cost to the province, but as the previous speaker indicated, there are definite costs attached to this when municipalities are engaged in putting a resolution on a ballot, which they then have to administratively deal with.

The third point that is a bit unclear to me is that it speaks about a "ballot by petition of the people." I'm not clear what that means. A petition of 20 people? Is it a petition of 50, 100 or more? That's not quite clear, so the member might want to speak to that when he has an opportunity to speak to this again.

I don't disagree when he says that there are many people who are well informed in society. I happen to agree with that. I also don't disagree that there are many good ideas that come from people, as indeed there are many good ideas that come from legislators here in this place. But to simply say that everyone out there is very well informed and to simply say, in a reductionist way as he does, that good ideas come from the people, and therefore if that is the case, we are almost redundant here and we simply need to go to them for everything, that is a problem. To make that the basis for a referendum is in my view not a very reasonable position to take.

I happen to agree with the previous member when he speaks about the government proposing many different things. When it suits them, they say, "We have had the best referendum in the province when they elected us so we can do basically what we want," which is the way they're dealing with the public of Ontario. There is a great deal of tyranny that comes with governing, and when they say this, when they say, "We've had our referendum and people have elected us," they're saying, "We now have carte blanche to do what we want." On the other hand they then say referendum is also good. I think what they mean by this is: "We will do polling, we will find out what the majority of the public wants on a particular issue, and then we'll give them the referendum." If the polling reveals on a particular matter that the government is not going to be looked upon very favourably, it won't have the referendum. That's the way I think they will govern on this issue of referendum.

This resolution has very little effect, in fact. I think it alludes to the white paper on referendums, and we'll be dealing with that, I suspect, in the near future. That's basically what this resolution does here today.

But I find, generally speaking, on this resolution, on referendum in general -- I find referendum in general a problem. I'm not sure it deals with democracy in the way that we would all be pleased by democracy. Is democracy achieved when 51% of the population says, "This is what we want." If that's the case, we're just going to do it, in spite of the fact that 49% of the public says, "That's not what we want"? What we accomplish by this type of referendum where we encourage people to say yes or no -- because I'm not sure people are genuinely engaged in the debate, so when they simply say yes or no to a particular question, is this the kind of democracy you want to achieve? I'm not certain that's what you want, because what you're encouraging in that particular instance through that kind of referendum is a tyranny of the majority with very little protection for the minority.

Democracy is not achieved in that way where there is no genuine debate. I'm one who supports a great deal of genuine debate happening in society. I like a public that is highly politicized, but I'm not convinced we have a public that is highly politicized out there. I'm not convinced that we have politicians in here who are very well informed on many of the issues, and so I am worried about our legislators as much as I'm worried about many of the public not being well-informed of the issues.

But if we really want to achieve a greater deal of politicization of the public and having them more informed, we might begin with the educational system and encourage greater critical thinking and encourage that by making sure the funding is there and not cutting it as you, government, are doing. I would encourage greater funding of literacy programs and continuing education for all people, for adults in particular, because that might lead to greater literacy levels and being better informed in society. I wouldn't cut back on those types of programs.

But generally speaking, you're not achieving democracy, as it is being suggested certainly through this resolution or generally through referendum, so I won't be supporting the resolution.


Mr Tony Clement (Brampton South): Thank you very much, Mr Speaker, for the opportunity to participate in this very important discussion of a very important issue, and I commend the member for London South for bringing this to the attention of the House.

As you know, I am a member of the Legislative Assembly committee reviewing a government publication called Your Ontario, Your Choice: A Preliminary Look at the Referendum Alternative. I will be supporting the honourable member's motion because I think it is an additional step along the way to a resolution by this Legislature of this most important issue.

For at least 200 years of the history of elected legislatures, the principle has been that the representatives who are elected in the Legislature have better power, better authority, better knowledge, better expertise to make decisions on behalf of the people. That is the essence of representative democracy. Sometimes that hasn't been the case. I'm reminded of a former Lieutenant Governor in the colony of Upper Canada who referred to members of the Upper Canadian Legislature as knights of the cross. He referred to them that way because none of them could sign their names, they always had to use an X to sign their names; they were not very literate people in those days, so they only knew how to sign their name as a cross, hence the epithet "knights of the cross."

I would be so bold as to suggest that we've come a long way since the knights of the cross, that members of this place are highly literate and highly numerate and are able to conduct the affairs of the province in a better way. Having said that, though, the essence and the truth of the matter is that -- may I be so bold as to suggest that we are no smarter, no more numerate and no more literate than the constituents we purport to represent. That is a great change in the history of representative democracy. It is a sea change in the principle of representation of the people.

There is no good reason why people who are concerned enough about issues as to cast ballots on those issues and who certainly do so with regularity in municipal and provincial elections -- why those very same enfranchised people should not have more of a direct say in certain prescribed circumstances on the affairs that affect them directly. That is the principle of the referendum.

The idea is not, as the honourable member for Fort York suggests, to trample on minority rights. As the honourable member should know, any referendum that we seek to make binding on the Legislature of Ontario is subject to the same laws as every other law of this chamber. That means it is subject to the Charter of Rights and Freedoms in the Dominion of Canada and it is subject to the Human Rights Code of Ontario, which affects Ontarians in this province.

I would be so bold as to suggest that this idea that there's going to be a tyranny of the majority through referendums is no greater, and I would argue is less of a possibility, if people have a direct say. We have had times in this place where all three parties have agreed on a contentious public policy issue. There has been not one dissenter on a number of very important issues in the history of this place. While the idea of unanimity sometimes is comforting, it does not allow persons who might not be of the view of every member of this Legislature to have their opportunity to have a say. The referendum is not here to replace this institution. It will be here to act as a further check, a further balance, a further opportunity for persons who are as knowledgeable as everyone in this chamber to have their say on an issue of public importance.

I think that strengthens this place. I think one of the problems that we face as legislators -- and I'm trying to speak as non-partisan as I can possibly be -- is an issue of credibility and legitimacy that governments over the past 10 to 15 years representing the government of Ontario have tried to grapple with. I commend all parties for trying to grapple with this issue. How can we be a legitimate democratic place that represents the will of the people? No easy answers.

I suggest to the members who are present that perhaps if people had more of a direct say and it is understood that their views are going to count, number one, that increases the legitimacy and credibility of the political system and, number two, those people who have a direct say are going to take that very seriously. I have every faith and confidence in the people of Ontario that if they are assured of a direct say, of a meaningful say, they will take that say very, very seriously. As exhibit A, I would point to the Charlottetown referendum on the Charlottetown accord in 1992, where millions of Canadians read the accord, took part in the referendum process, read all of the material that was available to them, or a lot of it, had very interesting questions that they asked community leaders and asked members of legislatures and parliaments. I'm sure those who were in this place in 1992 had a lot of learned discussions with their constituents about the ins and outs of the Charlottetown accord. There was a prime example that when the people had a direct say, they took that say very seriously. That was a ballot that was cast in a very serious manner by the people of Ontario and the people of Canada.

In summing up, I would say this. In Canada there is a history of referendums -- national, provincial and municipal -- although as my friend from Kingston and The Islands mentioned, there have been municipal referendums but they have only been binding in very specific cases to do with temperance matters, for instance, or Hydro matters or fluoridation of water matters. So there are only very limited cases where they have been binding. All the rest has been more in the form of a plebescite, which is to gain some idea of what the public thinks of an issue.

We have had experiences at all three levels of government with referendums. This is not an alien concept. But what I would suggest to you, in supporting this particular resolution, is that we have an opportunity as a chamber to push that further along, to say it is not only governments who decide what the issue is before the people of Ontario or the people in a particular region or municipality, that through citizen-initiated referendums -- and my friend from Fort York was wondering why there was that reference. It was a reference to citizens initiating through a well-defined process, I would expect, a referendum question on a ballot.

Through that mechanism, we can have a further check and balance on this Legislature and we can allow the people a direct say on issues that they feel are important -- not what the political class thinks is important, not what the media think is important, maybe not even what your neighbour thinks is important, but what you as a collectivity on a petition of a certain minimum number of people in Ontario think is an important public policy issue. You can ensure that is an issue that is discussed very seriously by the people of Ontario and put on either a municipal or provincial ballot.

I think that is a very exciting proposal. I commend the member for London South for bringing it to our attention, just as we have discussed it at the Legislative Assembly committee over the last few months. Quite apart from some of the concerns that are raised by representatives in this Legislature, it will make Ontario a stronger democracy, a more accountable democracy, and ultimately allow for government for the people of Ontario. And that, I thought, was what this chamber was all about.

Mr Michael A. Brown (Algoma-Manitoulin): I want to commend the member for London South for putting this resolution before the House. I should just read it to remind members what we're talking about.

It says, "...the Legislature supports the principle of the people being able to vote on provincial and municipal issues at every municipal election, with questions, in the case of provincial issues, being placed on a province-wide ballot by petition of the people or by resolution of the Legislature and with questions, in the case of municipal issues, being placed on a municipality-wide ballot by petition of the people or by resolution of the municipal council."

This is a very interesting one. I think quite frankly most of this could be done right today. I'm not really clear why it's necessary to be bringing this resolution forward. Consulting the people can never be wrong, so referenda can't be a wrong thing to do.

But I have some cautions. I look south of the border, the home of the referendum, and I look at all the referenda that we saw voted upon just this last Tuesday. In the home of the free and the brave, what did we find? We found that in the United States in a presidential election, where you had the opportunity to vote for President, in most states you had the opportunity to vote for Governor, in a third of the states you had the opportunity to vote for a senator, you had your House of Representatives, you were voting for local assembly men or Congress, whatever you call your state government level, you were voting for dogcatcher, you were voting for virtually every office you could conceivably think of, and on top of that we had referenda questions, a whole slew, depending on states, and many of them were quite interesting, out of all that effort to get the people to vote, less than 50% of the people of the United States who were qualified to vote actually came out to vote.


What I'm suggesting here is that the questions on the ballot do not necessarily provoke interest in an election. What provokes interest in an election is electors being able to believe that their vote means something, that their vote makes a difference.

We look at our experience in this Legislature, and our voter turnouts just for a provincial election run around 65% to 70% if my memory is correct, and in a federal election we're higher than that. In other words, the Canadian electorate, the electorate of Ontario, is far more engaged in the process than we see south of the border. I would suggest to you that one of the reasons for that is that our parliamentary system reflects what people think at least slightly better than the republican system of the United States.

So when you look at referenda questions which can be placed, and are placed, on municipal ballots, you would say to yourself, that's interesting, but I'm not sure, with in some places municipal turnouts of 30% or 35%, extremely low turnouts, whether when you looked at the result you would think that was a result that reflected the people's point of view, merely because the number of electors who have shown interest is a remarkably small percentage of the people of this province or municipality who choose to vote.

We have to think about this. I have no opposition to the idea of having referenda, but in terms of gauging the public mood, they are not necessarily something that will do that and reflect the view of the public entirely. It might be a useful tool, and in that case, why not? I don't have a problem with that. But the idea that is implicit in this resolution is that we politicians, whether we're federal politicians, provincial, municipal or at the school board level, don't know what's going on out there. I suggest to you that's not the case. I suggest to you that the parliamentary system we have had in this nation works extremely well vis-à-vis what happens in republican organizations of government, and that while advice is always helpful, it is not necessarily a great thing all the time.

The second thing I think we all know -- we're sophisticated or supposed to be sophisticated politicians or at least public servants, and we know that you can get the answer you want to almost any question depending on how it's written. Witness the Quebec situation. It was not a clear-cut question. It was framed by a province which wanted a particular answer. They framed the question so they could do everything in their power to get a particular answer, and they came within 1% or 2% of getting the answer they required.

So my question would be, who in the final analysis gets to decide the question that's asked about a particular issue and how it's framed? I think that's an important concern. Do we go down to Mr Gallup or Insight Canada or Environics and get them to frame a neutral question? Even they, the experts in the field, don't necessarily get it right all the time.

We have questions on influencing votes in referenda by the way the question is framed. We have questions about whether the electorate actually cares enough about a particular issue to come and vote on it. We have a number of questions. That doesn't mean we're opposed; it just means they're not the be-all and end-all.

I want to thank you, Mr Speaker, for providing me with this opportunity to speak to this matter.

Ms Marilyn Churley (Riverdale): I'm going to just speak for a couple of minutes on this resolution and let my colleague from Hamilton Centre say a few words as well.

I have very mixed feelings about referendum, for some of the reasons my colleague from Fort York mentioned earlier. It has its upsides and it's certainly got its downsides, and my colleague from Fort York mentioned some of the downsides.

What I want to speak specifically to here and now is that I frankly am concerned about and question the sincerity, not necessarily of this member but of this government when it talks about referendum, and I'll tell you why. I am the critic for environment and energy and for women's issues. Particularly around the Ontario Hydro issue, this government talked for quite some time about the possibility of privatizing Hydro. Granted, they seem to have backed off that for the time being, because polls show actually that people across the province do not support the privatization of Hydro.

In the early days when this issue became public, we asked the government, and the Power Workers' Union asked the government, if it would consider a referendum on this question of privatization of Hydro. We could not get an affirmative answer to that. I would say, if I were to support referendum, that is certainly one issue that I would wholeheartedly support it on, because the public Hydro as we know it today was actually brought in by a public referendum. I find it extremely peculiar that this government, on such a huge issue and one that could have such a big impact on the people of Ontario, would not agree to a referendum around that very important issue.

The same thing is happening now, possibly, with the privatization of our water, which is very worrisome. We have not even been given an affirmative answer on public hearings should the government proceed on privatizing water in Ontario. I find that a government that is talking about making massive changes to the province of Ontario and won't even hold public hearings on it -- I am very suspicious of a government, then, that says it would like to do referendum. That just gets me to believing that there would be picking and choosing about what would be on a referendum. If it's something they want to do and they think they will put it out and lose it, they won't do it.

I would like to see this government open up its process more before I would trust it and its actual reasoning behind referendum. I would like to see more decisions being made in the public, not in secret, behind closed doors, as I see happening with changes in the Ministry of Environment and Energy. Even the Environmental Commissioner came out and said she was very concerned about a lot of decisions being made in secret. You hear that time and time again from my colleague from Hamilton Centre, the critic for labour: too many decisions being made behind closed doors. We had the firefighters down here yesterday saying they weren't consulted properly about that bill. You could talk about practically any bill. Go back to the infamous Bill 26, the omnibus bill. It just goes on and on. It seems as though we're at odds here.

I don't question the sincerity of the member on his resolution today. I'm talking about the Mike Harris government and the decisions cabinet is making. Frankly, I believe and I see that the backbenchers don't have a lot of say in those decisions either.

I am not going to support this resolution today, not only because I question the implications and the sincerity overall from this cabinet, this government, but also, if I were to support a resolution on referendum, I would like a lot more details today on what it means, how it would be conducted, who and how the decisions for a referendum would be made and how many signatures you'd need on a petition. There are lots of things that I would be very worried about showing up on a petition when it comes to protecting the minorities in our communities.

On that note, I will have to say to the member, with regret, today that I have too many problems with this resolution in its present form and with the whole concept of referendum in general and in particular coming from this government.


Mr Jim Brown (Scarborough West): I rise in the House today as a supporter of direct democracy in this resolution. I believe voters in this province should have more control over the legislative process and have the right to offer referendum questions and have the right to vote on these questions.

Our political system is built on the premise of "one person, one vote," yet somehow over the years voters feel more and more distant from the process. Their voice is heard at election time, and then they are silenced for three or four years. How could we have let this happen? What we have to do is make government accountable again. We must rescue policymaking from the lobbyists, special interest groups and bureaucrats and give it back to the voters. Taxpayers must have a stake in the process rather than simply being the ones who pay the bills. I strongly believe there is a direct relation between the alienation voters feel and the rise in the size and strength of the bureaucracy of this province. There are costs in holding a referendum, but they are cheap compared to the costs of an uncontrolled bureaucracy.

Our government is here to serve, to be responsive, not to coerce and control. Taxpayers believe their politicians control everything, but that's not always the case. In Ontario, 130 politicians representing the people are pitted against 70,000 or 80,000 bureaucrats. It's an unfair fight. If we had more referenda, the 70,000 or 80,000 bureaucrats would have no chance against the desires of 10 million Ontarians. That's a much fairer fight. Taxpayers blame politicians, but the bureaucrats set up the politicians, withhold information, control the agenda, define the problem, the options and oftentimes the solution. I believe the time has come to let the taxpayers, the men and women who pay our salaries, define the problem, control the agenda, give us options and the solutions.

The bureaucrats don't want this system changed. Versed in years of experience in controlling elected representatives, the last thing the bureaucrat wants is accountability. The last thing they want is to face the daunting task of trying to control the wishes of 10 million people.

While direct democracy may be a foreign concept in Ontario, the principle of "one person, one vote" governs the free enterprise system that most of us in this House hold dear. The market economy has an almost instantaneous voting system. The market economy is a dynamic system that changes each moment. It is a summation of all the votes of the participants expressed in dollars. The market system allows the merits, needs and beliefs of those who choose to participate to be expressed. Ultimately, no one controls the market for long. All are equal, and all who participate live by the results.

The marketplace is the purest form of democracy. Consumers purchase the products and services they want from the company that offers the best quality and price. The company that has a clear vision and accommodates its customers will thrive. Governments should be no different.

Just as I believe in the wisdom of the consumer to make their own decisions in the marketplace, so too do I believe in the intelligence of voters to make the important decisions about how they should be governed. Direct democracy referenda are attempts to allow voters, the little guy, to control the money he entrusts to governmental bureaucracy; the little guy, who wants a handle on his hard-earned tax dollar, wants to vote on how it's spent all the time.

Governmental bureaucracy does not want private sector voting mechanisms. They prefer to focus on their own brand of accounting. They use their own language. Lobbyists talk to them. They focus blame on politicians. They carry out their own agendas. Why would they want voting on a more regular basis? Why would they want intervention into their vested interest world?

The private sector works out how votes are recorded through devices such as the stock market or the small businessman's bank balance. The private sector is accountable through standardized accounting procedures and the ultimate that cash in exceeds cash out.

We must remove regulations and strip away the veneer that limits the democratic market system in government. We must then communicate simply, effectively and in a timely manner so that taxpayers can vote for issues and expenditures. There must be a philosophical underpinning, and that is that the little guy who pays his taxes must have a say.

None of us should ever lose sight of the fact that we are only here in this chamber because our constituents put us here. They want their voices to be heard. I urge you all to join me in giving them that voice. I urge more referenda and more participatory democracy in this technological world where direct democracy is not only possible but practical.

Mr David Christopherson (Hamilton Centre): I appreciate the opportunity to join the debate. The first thing I would like to point out is that I don't think it's at all coincidence that the parties in this province, certainly in this Legislature, and across the country that are promoting the idea of more and more referenda happen to be the more right-wing ideological parties in Canada. Reform thinks this is a terrific idea; Manning has embraced it as best he can. Now, of course, the Harris Reform-a-Tories have embraced it strongly. If you listen to Newt Gingrich and those of the right wing down in the States, they're pushing for it. I don't think that's a coincidence and so I would suggest to people who are reviewing in their own mind whether this is a good thing or not, take a look at where it's coming from first and ask yourselves whether or not those parties reflect the important priorities you and your family have.

To that degree I would also suggest, with respect but I'm making a point, that the author of this resolution tends to be known in many circles as one of even the more right-wing among that whole right-wing crowd, so I'm not surprised that he would want to be seen championing this issue.

Let's also take a look at the birth of modern-day referenda. Proposition 13 is the one that comes to mind in California, quite a while ago now. That was really the beginning of the idea of populist referenda around government decision-making taking over and replacing representational government. We know the disaster that's caused, quite frankly. I don't remember the exact wording, but it was a simplistic referendum that talked about slashing taxes and putting caps on how much increase there could be, with no consideration for the impact. One of the resulting impacts was that Orange county down there in California recently had to declare bankruptcy as a direct result of the kind of handcuffs that a simplistic one- or two-statement resolution can have if it's adopted and implemented in its very form.

I want to comment briefly on the comments of the member for Brampton South in the minute-plus I have left, because I found his remarks to be very thoughtful. I listened very carefully and I appreciated the type of debate you offered up. My only concern, I would suggest to you, is that again it's a standalone idea. Recognizing that there are problems with the form of democracy we now have, given the amount of information that's out there, that changes the nature of decision-making.

My concern with embracing this particular mode as the be-all and end-all is that you're not taking into account what's going on in the States where they're having 10, 15, 20, 30 different resolutions on the ballot. People are now being handed practically a phone book when they walk in and vote in the United States. It lends itself, in my opinion, to those who have the money. Some of the best special interest groups in this country are the ones that have a lot of money. They can buy the advertising and convince people, with rather simplistic bumper-sticker slogans, that something's a good idea, and meanwhile behind it is something that's not necessarily good for the community.

I respond in a non-partisan way as you offer up your thoughts because I think they have merit in outlining the problem. We could also talk about the fact that the Internet provides a unique opportunity for democratic expression, but I have grave concerns about embracing this as the be-all and end-all. I hope we have something other than that down the road, but we do need some changes; I would agree with that.


Mr Derwyn Shea (High Park-Swansea): I have just a moment and I'll add my comments very quickly. When we began the debate I wondered who on earth would oppose this extension of power to the people. It is very clear now that members of the Liberal Party and the New Democratic Party are opposing this extension. I find it astonishing. Perhaps they find access to special interest groups and unions more appropriate than giving the people a chance to have initiatives on the ballot. I find that really strange and very curious. I suspect that will come back to haunt them in the next election.

The Deputy Speaker: The member for London South has two minutes.

Mr Bob Wood: I'd like to respond very briefly to some of the points that have been raised. The change proposed in this resolution is of course that there can be province-wide questions put on the ballot and they can be put on, not by the politicians, but by the people themselves.

To the members who have very rightly raised the question of what questions are going to go on the ballot, the answer is, what the people want is going to go on the ballot. The government is not going to define the question; the people are going to do that.

The cost is going to be minimal and it's going to be well worth it. Whether the province should pay for a province-wide vote is certainly open to discussion.

I've brought this forward as a resolution for the express purpose of giving guidance to the legislative committee which is now studying this and with the hope it will work out the details. I suggest, however, that this Legislature should give some guidance today to the committee. Either you believe in the people having a direct say or you don't. Today's the day when members can go on record whether or not they think that's the right way to do business in this province.

The question of how many signatures you need to get a question on the ballot is a very good one. The range tends to be from 3% to 10% of the people who voted in the last election. I personally would lean towards the higher number.

When we hear the concerns expressed, what they basically are is that the people would do stupid things, and I don't think they would. The history in other jurisdictions and in this jurisdiction is that the people are quite sensible when they vote on things on a ballot, and I think that's what we would get here.

As a government member, I have absolutely no fear of public scrutiny through direct voice of the people and I would urge all members to support that form of democratic initiative.

The Deputy Speaker: The time provided for private ballot items has expired.


The Deputy Speaker (Mr Gilles E. Morin): We will deal first with ballot item number 47, standing in the name of Mr Duncan. If any members are opposed to a vote on this ballot item, will they please rise.

Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry?

All those in favour will please say "aye."

All those opposed will please say "nay."

In my opinion, the nays have it.


The Deputy Speaker (Mr Gilles E. Morin): We'll now place the second question. We'll now deal with ballot item number 48, standing in the name of Mr Wood. If any members are opposed to a vote on this ballot item, will they please rise.

Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry?

All those in favour will please say "aye."

All those opposed will please say "nay."

In my opinion, the ayes have it.

Call in the members; there will be a five-minute bell.

The division bells rang from 1154 to 1159.


The Deputy Speaker (Mr Gilles E. Morin): Mr Duncan has moved second reading of Bill 87.

All those in favour of the motion will please rise and remain standing.


Agostino, Dominic

Crozier, Bruce

O'Toole, John

Arnott, Ted

Duncan, Dwight

Patten, Richard

Baird, John R.

Grandmaître, Bernard

Phillips, Gerry

Bartolucci, Rick

Gravelle, Michael

Pupatello, Sandra

Bradley, James J.

Kormos, Peter

Ramsay, David

Brown, Michael A.

Kwinter, Monte

Ruprecht, Tony

Christopherson, David

Lalonde, Jean-Marc

Sergio, Mario

Churley, Marilyn

Marchese, Rosario

Shea, Derwyn

Colle, Mike

Martin, Tony

Wildman, Bud

Conway, Sean G.

McGuinty, Dalton

Wood, Len

Cooke, David S.

McLeod, Lyn


Cordiano, Joseph

Murdoch, Bill


The Deputy Speaker: All those opposed will rise and remain standing.


Bassett, Isabel

Gilchrist, Steve

Munro, Julia

Brown, Jim

Grimmett, Bill

Parker, John L.

Carroll, Jack

Guzzo, Garry J.

Pettit, Trevor

Chudleigh, Ted

Hardeman, Ernie

Preston, Peter

Clement, Tony

Hastings, John

Rollins, E.J. Douglas

Danford, Harry

Hudak, Tim

Ross, Lillian

DeFaria, Carl

Johns, Helen

Sheehan, Frank

Doyle, Ed

Johnson, Bert

Smith, Bruce

Fisher, Barbara

Johnson, Ron

Turnbull, David

Flaherty, Jim

Jordan, W. Leo

Vankoughnet, Bill

Ford, Douglas B.

Klees, Frank

Wood, Bob

Fox, Gary

Leadston, Gary L.

Young, Terence H.

Galt, Doug

Martiniuk, Gerry


Clerk of the House (Mr Claude L. DesRosiers): The ayes are 34; the nays are 38.

The Deputy Speaker: I declare the motion lost.

The doors will be open for 30 seconds.


The Deputy Speaker (Mr Gilles E. Morin): Mr Wood has moved private member's notice of motion number 31.

All those in favour of the motion will please rise and remain standing.


Arnott, Ted

Flaherty, Jim

Murdoch, Bill

Baird, John R.

Ford, Douglas B.

O'Toole, John

Bartolucci, Rick

Fox, Gary

Parker, John L.

Bassett, Isabel

Galt, Doug

Patten, Richard

Bradley, James J.

Gilchrist, Steve

Pettit, Trevor

Brown, Jim

Grandmaître, Bernard

Phillips, Gerry

Brown, Michael A.

Gravelle, Michael

Preston, Peter

Carroll, Jack

Grimmett, Bill

Ramsay, David

Chudleigh, Ted

Guzzo, Garry J.

Ross, Lillian

Clement, Tony

Hardeman, Ernie

Ruprecht, Tony

Colle, Mike

Hastings, John

Sergio, Mario

Conway, Sean G.

Hudak, Tim

Shea, Derwyn

Cooke, David S.

Johns, Helen

Sheehan, Frank

Cordiano, Joseph

Johnson, Ron

Smith, Bruce

Crozier, Bruce

Jordan, W. Leo

Turnbull, David

Danford, Harry

Klees, Frank

Vankoughnet, Bill

DeFaria, Carl

Lalonde, Jean-Marc

Wood, Bob

Doyle, Ed

Leadston, Gary L.

Young, Terence H.

Duncan, Dwight

Martiniuk, Gerry


Fisher, Barbara

Munro, Julia


The Deputy Speaker: All those opposed will please rise and remain standing.


Agostino, Dominic

Kormos, Peter

Rollins, E.J. Douglas

Christopherson, David

Marchese, Rosario

Wildman, Bud

Churley, Marilyn

Martin, Tony

Wood, Len

Johnson, Bert

Pupatello, Sandra


Clerk of the House (Mr Claude L. DesRosiers): The ayes are 58; the nays are 11.

The Deputy Speaker: I declare the motion carried.

All matters relating to private members' business having been completed, I will now leave the Chair and House will resume at 1:30.

The House recessed from 1207 to 1332.



Mr Tony Ruprecht (Parkdale): For Canadians of Polish heritage, November 11 is Polish Independence Day. After the occupation forces were expelled from the Republic of Poland in 1918, a free and reunited, independent Poland was established on November 11.

For Polish Canadians, November 11 means freedom: the freedom to continue Poland's own destiny. Today we are reminded by the anniversary of Polish Independence Day that the price of freedom is eternal vigilance, in that true peace must be built on the principles of freedom, liberty and democracy for all.

Today we take pride in the accomplishments of Polish Canadians and we wish them Godspeed as they celebrate Polish Independence Day.

I would like to recognize the presence of Mrs Hanna Sokolski, the president of the Polish Canadian Congress, Toronto branch, who is in the gallery. She's inviting all members of this Legislature to Polonia's celebrations on the weekend. Please contact the Canadian Polish Congress for details of the weekend.

Remarks in Polish.


Mr Tony Martin (Sault Ste Marie): I want to be the first today to recognize the presence in the gallery of the Canadian Legion, and to thank them, particularly the branch in Sault Ste Marie, for the fine work they continue to do on behalf of veterans in our province and in so many other ways in our community.


Mr Tony Martin (Sault Ste Marie): I also want to bring to the attention of the House a concern that's been raised in my community by those people who are charged with looking after young children under the guise of child care.

I met last week with a very dedicated, hardworking and sincere group of child care providers at the Prince Township Parent Child Resource Centre, and they spoke to me of their very real concern about and interest in the paper that was presented to this House by the Minister of Community and Social Services, Mrs Ecker. They are worried, to say the least. Mind you, they're being very fair, I believe, and reasonable in raising their concerns.

They know that change needs to happen. They know the child care situation in the province is not the best and can always be improved, and they meet regularly to talk about that. But in this instance, they wanted to share with me their concern that the standards that have been built up and arrived at by them and governments over the last few years not be diminished in any way.

They're concerned about the safety of children. They're concerned that there be universal access by all families across the province to first-class day care and that it be available in all communities across the province.

I raise that today, bring it to your attention, and hopefully Mrs Ecker will be listening.


Mr Ted Arnott (Wellington): It's a great honour for me, on behalf of the government of Ontario, to congratulate this year's winners of the fire marshal's Public Fire Safety Council's fire safety awards.

Today the Solicitor General and Minister of Correctional Services presented awards to 15 groups and individuals in recognition of their outstanding contributions to fire safety and fire safety education. These award recipients included Ontario residents of all ages from many communities, including five children who received a Fire Safety Action Award because their response to fire emergencies reduced injuries and in some cases even saved lives.

To highlight just one award winner, eight-year-old Katie McCann of Brampton alerted her mother and father when she awoke to the smell of smoke and led her little sister and brother to safety, then ran next door to dial 911.

Other winners, some of whom are in the gallery today, include nine-year-old Robert Blenkarn and eight-year-old Jackie Blenkarn of Mallorytown; nine-year-old David D'Silva of Kitchener; eight-year-old Holly Guppy of Temagami; Dennis Chippa of North Bay; John Sinkowski and Tom Myerscough of Nanticoke; the Windsor Professional Fire Fighters Association; Loeb Princess Street and GTO 960 Radio, both of Kingston; the Orleans Lions Club; the Oshawa Motor City Kinsmen; Abbotsford Moving and Storage of Kanata; and the Original Bay News of Pickering.

I ask all members of the House to join me in showing their appreciation for the leadership shown by all these award winners.


Mr Jean-Marc Lalonde (Prescott and Russell): This week I am introducing a new educational program for grade 8 students of my riding. Students will have the opportunity to come and spend three days here in Toronto with me and my staff to learn more about the Legislative Assembly and Ontario politics.

Because my riding is more than 500 kilometres northeast of Toronto, this is the first visit to Toronto for many students. Therefore we incorporated a leisure component for after work hours, and the students will get an opportunity to visit some of the main tourist attractions here in Toronto.

J'ai donc le plaisir de présenter aux membres de l'Assemblée législative les deux premiers élèves à prendre part à ce stage de formation. Ils sont présents dans le galerie des membres. Il s'agit de Geneviève Duval et de Joël Charlebois de l'école Curé-Labrosse de St-Eugène, du Conseil des écoles catholiques de langue française de Prescott et Russell. Bienvenue, welcome, Geneviève et Joël.


Ms Marilyn Churley (Riverdale): Yesterday the Premier suggested that women should be at home in the kitchen. His comments are typical of a government that has undertaken a systematic attack on Ontario women. The latest front is agencies, boards and commissions. Let's look at the facts.

Last year the Ontario Municipal Board was chaired by Ms Helen Cooper. Now it's chaired by Mr Doug Colbourne. Last year the Ontario Human Rights Commission was chaired by Ms Rosemary Brown. Today it's chaired by Mr Keith Norton. It's the same at the Ontario Criminal Code Review Board, the Commercial Registration Appeal Tribunal, the Ontario Labour Relations Board and the Liquor Licence Board of Ontario. Capable women are being shoved aside to make room for Mike Harris's patronage appointments.

In the last year there has been a turnover of about 11 positions in the Circle of Chairs, a group of about 50 board chairs who meet monthly. In 1995 those 11 positions were held by three men and eight women. Now, in 1996, these positions are held by nine men and two women.

This is just a snapshot. This is just the tip of the iceberg. It's being played out under our noses. Welcome to the Mike Harris boys' club.


Mr Jack Carroll (Chatham-Kent): I would like to ask all members to join with me today in paying tribute to a young woman from my riding of Chatham-Kent.

In early February, Elaine Pomajba of Chatham was diagnosed as having Wilson disease, a rare genetic disorder that causes the body to produce an overabundance of copper, which then attacks the liver. Days later she received her transplant. Now a student at the University of Guelph, Elaine attended the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair's steer auction and offered her steer for sale, notifying the bidders that she intended to donate the proceeds to the University Hospital in London. She had named her steer Wilson, after her disease, but he's better known as Wide Willy due to his immense girth.

Thanks to the generosity of the bidders who kept buying and returning Wide Willy for further auction, Elaine was able to raise $14,000 for the transplant service. This 21-year-old, in gratitude for what she had received, found a novel way to give something back to those who helped save her life. She has earned our applause for her wonderful gesture.



Mr Michael Gravelle (Port Arthur): I want to direct my statement today to the Minister of Northern Development and Mines, who, as the alleged voice for the north in the Harris government, must publicly tell those of us who live in the north where he stands on an extremely important issue.

Minister, we know that you participated in the cabinet retreat last week where the Minister of Finance announced he'd make another $3 billion in cuts to be delivered in his forthcoming economic statement. An area of funding that I fear may be on the chopping block as a part of these cuts is the northern support payment that is a crucial need for all our northern municipalities.

Mr Speaker, as you know, these payments are not a handout or a subsidy. They are equalization payments that recognize that a large proportion of the revenues gathered in the north in mining, forestry and other related businesses go directly into the provincial treasury without being subjected to municipal taxation. The location of these activities in unorganized areas -- a phenomenon, I may say, that's not seen in all of southern Ontario -- requires that these funds must be returned to the north in order for our communities to maintain the level of services we require.

Minister, as the official northern voice in cabinet, I trust you fought to maintain the northern support payments and that you in fact will announce to the mayors and reeves gathering in Thunder Bay tomorrow that in the face of potentially huge transfer cuts our northern support payments will remain. Our municipalities cannot withstand the threatened 40% cut in transfer payments from the province, certainly not without this support. Minister, you're either with us or you're against us. Which is it?


Ms Shelley Martel (Sudbury East): Last Monday evening I had the privilege of attending the founding meeting of SOS, Securing Ongoing Support, which was held in Sudbury. The event was organized by a group of very courageous women who are concerned about the large numbers of families experiencing financial hardship as a direct result of the cuts to the family support plan.

In mid-August, this government laid off 290 staff and closed the regional offices. Women and children who used to receive regular support payments are now not. Payors who are making regular payments are discovering their money has not reached their families. They're having more money deducted from their paycheques to cover alleged arrears, even though the necessary payments have been remitted by employers to the family support plan.

About 50 people attended this meeting. The overwhelming majority of them were women who are experiencing tremendous difficulties in obtaining support payments. Again and again, I heard how these families have been receiving money regularly and then began to have problems after the cuts. Women are unable to pay their rent, their heat, their hydro bills, buy clothes for their children or put food on the table. These women can't come to Queen's Park and tell Charles Harnick directly about the impact of cuts on their lives, but they did agree to relate their stories on video and I want to give that tape to the Attorney General today.

These are moving and powerful accounts of what is really happening to women and children right now in Ontario. No one in viewing it could possibly deny that this Conservative government is responsible for creating the misery felt by these people. It's unacceptable that the government is financing the tax cut on the backs of these women and children.

An alarm clock was heard to ring.

Ms Frances Lankin (Beaches-Woodbine): Point of privilege, Mr Speaker: I do want to give --

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Member for Beaches-Woodbine, I would prefer just to finish the last member's statement and I'll come back to your point of privilege.


Mr Tony Clement (Brampton South): It is my great pleasure to announce to the House today that this Saturday, November 9, the Alliance for Children's Television will be honouring TVOntario's English-language network, TVO, with a special achievement award for its contribution to children's programming. Each year through their awards of excellence the alliance recognizes those who have made a special contribution to children's programming. This year marks the first time they will honour an organization rather than an individual with a special achievement award.

During its 26-year history, TVO has produced such critically acclaimed series as Bookmice, Join In!, Math Patrol, Readalong and Polka Dot Door. More recently, the network has produced and broadcast the hit shows TVOKids, Off the Hook --


The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Order. Members, this is a member's statement. Let's allow the member to finish it, please.

Mr Clement: Thank you, Mr Speaker. They have produced and broadcast the hit shows TVOKids, Off the Hook, Kratt's Creatures, and of course Polka Dot Shorts.

A lot has changed since TVO was first created 26 years ago. The broadcast industry has grown, matured and become more diversified, yet Ontarians should be pleased to note that as TVO changes in response to the evolution of the broadcast environment, it can compete and succeed. Let us celebrate TVO's successes, recognizing that continued success can only be achieved by adapting to Ontario's ever-changing broadcasting and educational environment.

I would like to invite all of my colleagues in this House to join me in congratulating TVO for earning this special achievement award. I would direct your attention to the visitors' gallery in offering a warm round of applause for our special guests Patty and Jo from TVOKids, and everyone's dear friend Polkaroo.

The Speaker: As you know, the member for Brampton South, it's out of order to actually introduce people through members' statements, but considering the eventful notice of the day, welcome to Polkaroo.

To the member for Beaches-Woodbine, before your point of privilege, the clock is a prop. It must go before I can hear your point of privilege. That's fine, thank you. If you could give it to the Sergeant at Arms. Now, member for Beaches-Woodbine, point of privilege?

Ms Frances Lankin (Beaches-Woodbine): Mr Speaker, I actually want to offer my apologies to you and to the chamber. My clock was supposed to go off at 5 o'clock this morning so I had time to get up and cook a hot breakfast. I don't know why it didn't go off at the right time, but my apologies.

Mr Bernard Grandmaître (Ottawa East): On a point of order, Mr Speaker: As whip for my party on the standing committee on general government this morning, I tried to get the Chair and also the members of all three parties to permit the presentation of MPPs who would like to address Bill 81, the redistribution legislation, and I was turned down. I find this horrible on the part of the government, to deny not only voters but MPPs --

The Speaker: Order. I trust that you took your point of order up with the Chair of the committee and I can only assume that the Chair ruled on your point of order. Having assumed that, making that assumption -- if I'm wrong, you may correct me -- that is a ruling made by a Chair of a committee and it's not appealable in the chamber.

I have a point of privilege, I think, from the leader of the third party.

Mr Howard Hampton (Rainy River): Mr Speaker, I scanned the government's list of ministerial statements. Is someone for the government going to apologize on behalf of the Premier for the insulting comments he made yesterday to working women?

The Speaker: Point of order, the member for Parkdale.

Mr Tony Ruprecht (Parkdale): Mr Speaker, I have a question for you, actually, because I understand that from today on, you apparently said it's quite permissible to have clocks ticking, animals in the Legislature. What kind of place has this become? I'm asking you, Mr Speaker, is this now permitted, that we can have signs, demonstrations and applause?

The Speaker: That was a really interesting point of order, but there's nothing I can say. I ruled the clock out of order, signs are out of order, and that wasn't a real animal, to the member for Parkdale.



Hon David Johnson (Chair of the Management Board of Cabinet and Government House Leader): Mr Speaker, on a more serious note, I think we would all in this House agree and I believe we have unanimous consent to have one speaker from each party caucus stand and pay tribute for Remembrance Day.

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Do we have unanimous consent to pay tribute for Remembrance Day? Agreed.

Mr Ed Doyle (Wentworth East): It is indeed a great privilege for me to rise before this House today and help pay tribute to those who so valiantly fought for our country. I see many of them up in the galleries and I welcome them here today.

I would like to pay tribute to those Canadians who lost their lives, to those who lost a part of themselves. We honour their spirit and their sacrifice on this upcoming Remembrance Day.

On Monday, November 11, everyone in this chamber will be at a cenotaph, school or park remembering the more than 100,000 Canadians who lost their lives in battle for the freedom of our country and in fighting for other countries as well. We also honour those who escaped death and survived. Many of them unfortunately suffered in that process.

Many here today, I suspect, were probably either too young to remember or were not yet born when the Great War happened and when Korea came and went. However, there are a few who remember what it was like. The memories are still vivid for those people and for the people in the galleries today, I'm sure.

However, as time has passed, too many in our society have become disconnected from the events that took place. They are images depicted in movies and books, isolated events and, to some, almost fiction. The knowledge that our children and grandchildren have comes from what they read in their history books or what they see on television.

Like everyone here, I pray that they will never know what it is like to experience the horrors of war, but they must understand that history is not merely a story. It is a series of emotions and events experienced, individual by individual, that could never be captured or accurately portrayed. They must also understand that war is never glamorous nor romantic. Friends indeed were lost and families were disconnected.

On Remembrance Day we gather to try to remember, to learn and to listen, and I mean listen, to those individual stories. It is only by doing this that we will understand the importance of not repeating history's mistakes.

Mr Gilles E. Morin (Carleton East): I'm honoured to have this opportunity to say a few words as we mark this day as Remembrance Day in the Legislature.

C'est un honneur pour moi, an nom de mon caucus, d'adresser la parole à tous mes collègues à l'occasion du jour du Souvenir.

Most of us only know about war from books and movies, and that's something to be thankful for. But to understand the real experience of war, we should listen to the voices of those who were there. We can learn so much from them about the meaning of honour, comradeship, sacrifice and the waste and devastation of war.

Charles Cromwell Martin is one of those voices. As company sergeant-major of Company A of the Queen's Own Rifles, Charlie was one of the first men on the beach at Normandy on D-Day. In his book, Battle Diary, Charlie remembers:

"There was just us and an awful lot of ocean.... All that remained within sight was our own fleet of ten assault craft, moving abreast in the early-morning silence in a gradually extending line facing the shore.... We had never felt so alone in our lives."

As Charlie said at our interview: "The boats don't reach shore all at once, only about two at a time. So this major invasion force really looks like just a few flies scattered around. The next boat over is maybe 750 yards away and may touch shore a few minutes later.

"Once you hit the beach, you don't stop for anything. Those who do pay a terrible price. You must keep moving, because if the enemy knows where you are, they bring artillery and mortar fire down and you suffer heavy casualties.

"Some of the fellows didn't want to go. But as long as you were going, they would go too. If you, as the first man, go down, then so does everyone else. Of course, then you have to get up again. That's the trick. But it's like slow motion. You don't see the enemy, or any big shells going over, not one battleship, although there were hundreds of them out in the Channel. Unlike in the movies, there was only one plane offering us air support."

Facing death creates an incredible bond between those who go through the experience together. As Charlie says, "Soldiers in combat are even closer than brothers, living and training together every day for four years, added to the knowledge that you must depend absolutely on each other."

As Charlie explains, "Men go into battle with the attitude, `If you can do it, I can do it, and I'm not going to let you down.' That's why I say there is no purer love than among comrades in battle."

Charlie continues: "The hardest thing to take during the war is that in every battle someone you know very well is always killed. At Boulogne, we had a very tough objective: capturing the church of St Martin's on the Hill. I was in the action with Jimmy and Steve, whom I had known at Camp Borden in 1940. Jimmy Young came from Toronto and Steve de Blois from Cochrane, Ontario. They were as different as chalk and cheese. Jimmy was a really smooth soldier, tall and good-looking, and he could handle his weapons well. Steve was a farmer and somewhat out of his element. But Jimmy was always there to help him. They were always together. Steve was killed on the road just at the top of the hill and Jimmy five feet away from him. It was so hard not to give in to despair, to move forward, to take up the banner and to get the job done."

In the years since the end of the war, Charlie has supported his family and has been an active member of his community. But he also spends a lot of his time in safeguarding the memory of his old friends. His memory is a treasure house for those families who have lost a father or husband or had a grandfather they never knew. Their gratitude for his stories is boundless. Because of him, the legacy of these men, gone too soon, will not be lost.

During the 50th anniversary celebrations of the end of the war, Charlie met many young people who were attending the ceremonies. He was struck by how much they reminded him of his comrades. He sees it in young people's eyes today, their desire to serve a common cause in battles that really matter in arenas where they can make a difference. Although we hope that the drive for war has receded into history, that spirit prevails and gives us cause to be proud to be Canadians.

Every morning on my way to Queen's Park I pass the soldiers' tower on the University of Toronto campus. Under the archway are inscribed the names of the students who died in the First and Second World Wars and one who died in the Korean conflict. I see their names and wonder what their stories are. These young men rose above their individual frailties to make the ultimate sacrifice, something most of us will never understand. Through our pride in them we can be proud of ourselves as Canadians and of our dreams for Canada and its place in the free world.

This year, as we give honour to those who served our country in the interest of peace, we might remember that today's soldiers carry the ideal in their own service. As time passes and fewer veterans are alive to give testament to the horror and waste of war, it is even more important that we absorb their stories into our collective consciousness. Their accounts all give us this caution: that misplaced pride and honour must never again override our reason to lead us to the brink of destruction. Our weapons are too powerful and our legacy of loss too real to allow us to march down that path again.


Finally, for those who have died and to those who came home, we express our appreciation and respect and a promise to bide by the lessons you learned, at so great a cost.

I'm very pleased that Charlie Martin is here with us today, and his war bride, Vi, who herself served four and a half years in the British Royal Artillery. Thank you so much for your service.

Mr Bud Wildman (Algoma): It's an honour and a privilege for me, on behalf of my caucus, to join with my friends the members for Wentworth East and Carleton East in paying tribute to those who gave the supreme sacrifice for our country in conflicts gone by, the Great War, the Second World War, the Korean conflict and all those who have served in peacekeeping activities since the 1950s in the Canadian Armed Forces.

Remembrance Day is always a day for looking back, reminiscing, thinking of friends who did not return, thinking of brothers and sisters, sons and daughters who went to Europe, went to the Pacific or served in other parts of the world and did not return home.

Some might say, what has a person like me, who was born after the Second World War, got to say on Remembrance Day, even though members of my family served in both the Great War and in the Second World War. I think all of us owe a great debt of gratitude to the people who gave the supreme sacrifice, but I think also of those who returned home who had seen things they would not wish to have ever witnessed, who had been wounded either physically or psychologically by what they experienced.

I also think of the parents and grandparents of people who did not return. A very wise person once said to me that when your grandparents or your parents die, you lose a piece of your past, but when a son or a daughter dies, you lose your future. It's a tremendous loss, and all of those people who are remembering this weekend children who did not return are experiencing once again an enormous feeling of loss, but I'm sure they're also feeling an enormous feeling of pride in what their children were able to do for all of us.

It's not just a time for looking back, though. I think if that sacrifice is to be worth anything, it's important for us to be looking forward and to be recognizing that the freedoms we have enjoyed and take for granted many times in this country are now just being striven for by many, many peoples around the world. We have young Canadians serving in peacekeeping roles today many, many miles from our shores, who are under enormous pressure.

A young person once said to me: "More people have died since 1945 than died during the two wars, in conflicts around the globe. Doesn't that mean that those sacrifices were in vain?" In my view, they were only in vain if we do not continue to strive to bring an end to war, to bring about peace, to do all we can as a wealthy, industrialized, modern society to help to rectify wrongs, to help to end injustice and inequality, to help to bring prosperity and democracy to all the peoples of the world. If we don't continue to strive for that goal, then perhaps the sacrifice was for naught.

But to all of those men and women who served Canada and who are here with us today and will be at cenotaphs across Ontario and Canada on Monday, I know deep down in their hearts they are as proud of those young women and men who are serving in peacekeeping roles in the Canadian Forces around the world to bring about that goal as we are of them and the people they left behind in Europe and in Asia.

The Speaker: Will the members please rise for a moment of silence.

The House observed a moment's silence.



Hon Al Palladini (Minister of Transportation): I rise today to introduce legislation that will help us get unsafe trucks and operators off our roads.

About a year ago we introduced an action plan for road safety that has become the blueprint for making our highways safer. We are building on that plan. Last spring, we brought in legislation that dealt with higher fines for truck drivers and the administrative driver's licence suspension program. Just last week we took another step in our plan by introducing a new education session for drivers 80 years and older which will replace the mandatory road test.

The legislation I'm introducing today is also part of the action plan for road safety, targeted at those who put others at risk. We are responding to some disturbing statistics that can't be ignored. Convictions for commercial vehicle safety offences have increased by 241% from 1992 to 1995. Convictions for brake-related offences increased by 48% over the same period of time. We are also responding to recommendations from several coroners' inquests that call for tougher measures against unsafe carriers.

It is for these reasons that this bill focuses on better and more efficient monitoring, earlier interventions, increased deterrents and incentives. This bill calls for the introduction of a rating system that would provide an accurate picture of a carrier's safety record. The rating will come from a company's commercial vehicle operating registration, which is a listing of convictions, accidents and on-road safety defects, and an audit at the carrier's place of business. The audit itself will include a physical inspection of the vehicles. Since these ratings will be available to the public, this information will be particularly useful to shippers and others who want to do business with a safe carrier.


The legislation gives the registrar of motor vehicles more authority. We want to take quicker action against bad operators before an accident happens. We will require that fleet sizes and distances travelled be reported so that we can step in sooner if a company starts getting a disproportionate number of violations.

We believe that better, not more, regulation is essential to road safety, and this bill gives us more flexibility in streamlining our own systems: by allowing one or two members of the Licence Suspension Appeal Board to hear uncomplicated appeals; by adding fax transmissions and courier delivery to sending out sanction notices; and by setting a court appearance for an unsafe operator at a location where a truck has travelled, not necessarily where a charge was laid.

We have talked to our partners in the trucking industry and with our stakeholders. They support our plans with one condition, and that condition is that the system be fair and applied equally to all.

This bill also includes some legislative amendments, some minor word changes to various sections of the Highway Traffic Act and other statutes.

This legislation takes us another step closer to safer roads by cracking down on those who put others at risk.


Hon Charles Harnick (Attorney General, minister responsible for native affairs): I rise to advise the Legislature of a potentially serious incident at the Downsview family responsibility office that was brought to the attention of the Ministry of the Attorney General this morning. The ministry has been advised that there may have been unauthorized access to files held by the family responsibility office. The ministry has been advised of the following:

(1) That a security guard heard noises at approximately 6:15 in the morning. A subsequent security check disclosed the presence of three individuals on the premises. I understand that the member for Welland-Thorold and the member for Sudbury East have identified themselves as two of the individuals involved.

Mr David S. Cooke (Windsor-Riverside): This is unbelievable, Charles. This is absolutely unbelievable.

Ms Frances Lankin (Beaches-Woodbine): Why didn't you have some security on the door? Why didn't you make the files secure?

Mr Bud Wildman (Algoma): Surely you're not serious.

Hon Mr Harnick: Completely serious.

Mr Howard Hampton (Rainy River): When people discover what you are up to, call the police and intimidate them, eh, Charles?

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): The third party, I'm asking you to come to order. The minister's making a statement. You'll have your chance to respond.

Mr Wildman: It's a shameful statement.

The Speaker: Member for Algoma.

Mr Hampton: It's a shameful statement -- absolutely shameful.

The Speaker: Leader of the third party, you'll have your chance to respond. I ask you to let him continue.

Hon Mr Harnick: Downsview is a secured-access facility. The ministry takes the confidentiality of the family responsibility office very seriously. For this reason, we have taken the following steps: The Metropolitan Toronto Police have been contacted and are conducting a criminal investigation into these allegations; in addition, the freedom of information office has been contacted to determine whether privacy rights have been violated. We've taken the appropriate steps to prevent any further unauthorized access at the office.

Mr Speaker, a point of privilege.

The Speaker: I would ask that the point of privilege be taken up after members' statements.

Hon Mr Harnick: I think it is more appropriate that I do it at this point.

The Speaker: I say to the Attorney General, we are in the middle of members' statements at this time. It would be better for me if we continued and completed members' statements, and if you have a point of privilege at that point, I would take it up.

Ministry statements? Seeing none, responses.


Mr Mike Colle (Oakwood): I'd like to respond to the Minister of Transportation. As you know, for the last year and a half, the minister has promised to crack down on unsafe trucks. Up until now, all we've had is promises.

The proof is in what's happening on our highways. Our highways are a war zone because of the unsafe trucks. A day doesn't go by when you don't see a truck that's tipped over, a tanker trailer, a transport trailer that's holding up traffic for six to eight hours, endangering motorists, endangering people's lives. Every day it's happening across this province, despite your promised crackdown.

These are more empty promises, because, Mr Minister, you still will not do what the OPP has told you to do. Officer Cam Woolley from the Truck Troopers has told you that your fines are a joke; they're still the cost of doing business. It's much easier to pay a $300 or $400 fine than to fix a truck's brakes or change its wheels. Your fines should be $2,000, maybe $10,000 or $20,000, because they're a joke. You are giving them a licence to drive our highways with unsafe vehicles. You are giving them carte blanche because you refuse to take serious action.

We've told you before there should be automatic roadside suspensions for unsafe trucks. They shouldn't be allowed to go on with a small ticket and to continue to operate for months and years to come because they can go on appealing and appealing and appealing. In fact, there's that one company that ran into a woman's home while she was doing the laundry this summer. That company is still operating and all its subsidiaries are still operating and we haven't heard anything about that tragic accident. Why does it take three to four months to find out why a truck ran into someone's home? Where are the answers?

The next thing you should do, Mr Minister, and you refuse to do it, is if a trucking company has had a record of unsafe trucks that go to 500 or 600 violations, they shouldn't be allowed to operate while they're under appeal, and that's what they're doing. These companies have records that go back four or five years; they're still operating. In fact, these companies still get government contracts. Why should a company with an unsafe driving record still get contracts with your ministry, with other ministries? Their contracts should be immediately torn up if they operate unsafely on our highways. This is condoning the unsafe operators by given them government contracts.

Mr Floyd Laughren (Nickel Belt): Charlie, who do you get advice from? You need some new staff.

Mr Howard Hampton (Rainy River): Desperate tactics when you get discovered.

Mr Colle: Mr Minister, it's very plain. The people of Ontario have no faith in you providing safety on our highways because these trucks are basically risking --

Hon Charles Harnick (Attorney General, minister responsible for native affairs): Ask Kormos what he did with the security guard.

Mr Colle: -- the lives of people on a daily basis. The OPP is telling you this. The citizens of Ontario are telling you this. Every night on television there is a tragic accident because of these trucks that you are condoning.

There has to be something done. This has become an epidemic on our highways. I implore the minister to listen to the OPP, to take these bad operators out of business, because what these bad operators are doing is in order to --


The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): The member for Oakwood, sit down. Stop the clock, please.

Mr Bud Wildman (Algoma): You called the cops on a publicity stunt.

Hon Mr Harnick: -- break into offices.

Mr David S. Cooke (Windsor-Riverside): Mr Speaker, on a point of order: I think the Attorney General just accused two members in this House on the record of breaking into an office. Could he withdraw that? Or is he as Attorney General not only launching investigations of members today --

The Speaker: Order. With the greatest respect to the member for Windsor-Riverside, I did not hear the Attorney General accuse --

Mr Cooke: Ask him.

The Speaker: I will do so. If the Attorney General accused two members of breaking and entering, if he would like to withdraw, I give him the opportunity.

Hon Mr Harnick: If that is what I was interpreted to have said, I withdraw it.

Mr Peter Kormos (Welland-Thorold): On a point of privilege.

The Speaker: I have a point of privilege coming up at the end of these statements. I'll be happy to entertain your point of privilege then. It will only be six minutes from now. If you bear with me, I will get the statements out of the way. And lastly, if you could take your seat please, member for Welland-Thorold.

I understand, the third party, you have some concerns and you have them addressed, but right now the official opposition is responding to ministers' statements and it's very difficult to hear.

Ms Frances Lankin (Beaches-Woodbine): We were provoked.

The Speaker: With all due respect, I think there was provocation on both sides. If we can just maintain order for six minutes, we'll deal with the points of privilege.

Mr Colle: Thank you, Mr Speaker.

There are over 100 bad operators on Ontario highways that have records as long as your arm in terms of safety violations. These companies are operating without any kind of sanctions because they play the appeal game through the courts, through their fancy lawyers, and they put motorists at risk, citizens at risk. In fact, they force truck drivers to take unsafe trucks on our roads because they tell the truck drivers, "You either take the truck or leave the job." That's what they're doing, because these bad operators are basically more interested in making money than in making trucks safe.

That's what the minister should be doing. He should immediately take action to suspend the licences right on the spot of these 100 companies, and he knows who they are. They should be published in the newspaper. List the 500 violations of some of these companies. There are over, as I say, 100 who are routinely risking lives in Ontario.


Mrs Marion Boyd (London Centre): In the absence of my colleague from Nipigon, who is our critic on transportation, I'm pleased to have an opportunity to respond to the Minister of Transportation today. We are certainly very supportive of some of the actions that are being taken in terms of road safety by this government and want the minister to know that it is really important for the ministry to be responding very promptly and vigorously to the kinds of problems we all have seen from unsafe trucks.

My colleague from Oakwood went through a lot of the history of these problems over the last few months and I'm not going to repeat that, but it is very, very important for all of us to recognize that these actions have to be backed up and done very vigorously. When even the Truck Troopers, the élite squad which is supposed to be investigating commercial vehicles on Toronto highways for the OPP, calls the level of fines a joke even after the increase that's been allowed, the maximums that have been allowed, it really is important for us to look at what's happening. We have a lot of people deeply concerned. We've had injuries and deaths that have been caused as a result of this problem. So it's important that the minister understand that we will be looking to him for much more vigorous action even than has been taken.

In response to the concerns around the appeal process, yes, we know that it's important for any kind of punishment to have some form of appeal, but it is also possible for people to be suspended during the period of the appeal, and we would urge the minister to respond to the repeated calls from law enforcement officers from the concerned communities that these trucks not be allowed on the road during an appeal process, particularly with the kinds of records that we see with 450 to 500 different violations.

The last issue would be that it is not appropriate for the government to be doing business with trucking firms that have repeat convictions of the kind we have seen, and I would urge the minister to urge on his colleagues a clause in any kind of tendering process that would allow the government to exact a different kind of financial penalty.


Mr Howard Hampton (Rainy River): I rise to respond to the statement from the Attorney General. What an outrageous statement. Let me give you the statement that the Attorney General should have given. He should have come in here today and he should have said: "I have been discovered. All the stories I've been telling women and children about computer glitches delaying their family support cheques, all the stories I've been telling about, `The thing is fixed,' are wrong." He should have come in here today and he should have said: "What's going on up in Downsview has been discovered. It's been discovered that there's no one working there; it's been discovered that literally thousands of files are lying around with no one to look after them. It's been discovered that there's inadequate security there. It's been discovered that there's no one at that office looking after women and children's files, looking after the delivery of family support cheques." That's what the Attorney General should have come in here and said today.


The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Order. Government members, please, the member has the floor. I would ask you for --

Mr Hampton: Instead of coming in here and coming clean, instead of coming in here and saying that the family support plan offices have been shut down and this office in Downsview that the Attorney General talks about all the time isn't even operating, is nowhere near operating, won't be operating for a couple of months -- instead of coming clean and telling people what the facts are, the Attorney General walks in here and threatens two members of the Legislature with a criminal investigation. Why, Speaker? Because they dared to hold him accountable. They dared to hold him accountable.

And then, what does he say in this House, the person who is supposed to administer justice in this province? He says these members are guilty of break-and-enter. He didn't say "alleged." He didn't say "might entertain." He's setting himself up as judge and jury. The minister who is supposed to administer justice in the province said these members are guilty of break-and-enter.

Speaker, the only person who is guilty here is an Attorney General who, when he is found out, when he is discovered, tries to intimidate people.


Mr Peter Kormos (Welland-Thorold): On a point of privilege, Mr Speaker: Our caucus received a copy of the Attorney General's statement to the House today some moments before the House resumed or began this afternoon, and the Attorney General, of course, read that statement in under the guise of a minister's statement.

I understand that the Attorney General has called the police. I understand from his statement that Ms Martel and I are the subjects of this criminal investigation. I understand that. I welcome a criminal investigation because, yes, I'm confident crimes have been committed.

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Member for Welland-Thorold, you must get to your point of privilege. This isn't statements or speeches.

Mr Kormos: Thank you. But then, within moments of announcing that, the Attorney General of this province announces in this House, heard by many, that they are guilty of break-and-enter into an office --

The Speaker: Member for Welland-Thorold, that was withdrawn.

Mr Kormos: No, no. That does not put Ms Martel and I in any different position --

The Speaker: No. I have great appreciation for that. The member --


The Speaker: Member for Welland-Thorold, I'm not suggesting that anything that has taken place today is not serious. I agree, but the fact remains that in this chamber you can stand and ask for a member to withdraw the comment. The Attorney General withdrew the comment. I don't know where the privilege begins and ends now. If you could get to it, I'd appreciate it. If you could get to the privilege --


The Speaker: Member for Hamilton Centre -- I appreciate the points that you're trying to make. If you could get to the privilege, I'd be very much appreciative.

Mr Kormos: If I may, my privilege was breached the minute the Attorney General uttered the words that he did to the effect that "they" -- clearly meaning Ms Martel and I -- were guilty of a criminal offence. That he can subsequently withdraw it does not sanitize it, doesn't erase it or eradicate it, doesn't change the reality of it. The Attorney General of this province has declared publicly that I'm under investigation and now that I'm guilty. It's a total violation of my rights --

The Speaker: -- as a member. I understand. That's why I stood. I directed it to the Attorney General. I asked him, if he made those comments, to withdraw.

Beyond that, I say to the member for Welland-Thorold, there's little, if anything, as Speaker, that I am allowed to do or liable to do. I obviously have a crew of points of order, I assume.

Mr Bud Wildman (Algoma): Point of privilege, Mr Speaker: This is a very, very serious matter. I draw your attention to Erskine May, the 21st edition, Parliamentary Practice, page 74, "Freedom from arrest." One of the most important privileges of a member of Parliament when carrying on his or her duties is the freedom from arrest.


Mr Wildman: Mr Speaker, I do not rise on a frivolous matter. I raise this very, very seriously.

What we have is two members of this Legislative Assembly carrying out their duties as members of the Legislative Assembly who have received a large number of calls from constituents over difficulties in dealing with a government office. They choose then to visit the government office with a security guard. They meet the security guard outside of the office, the door is wide open, the security guard accompanies them in, there's a videotape of the whole thing, and then the Attorney General --


The Speaker: There's no privilege. It's if it's in the precinct.

I would caution the member for Algoma only on one point. The point is that I, as Speaker, have the obligation and right and am duty-bound to protect the precinct and those areas that are designated as the precinct for members of the Legislature. This, as I understand, happened in a ministry office off the precinct and off the grounds over which I have any jurisdiction.

Now, I know the member for Algoma is very serious and you're very concerned, and I appreciate the point of privilege that you've made. But you must understand that, as Speaker, I have jurisdiction over the precinct, the precinct being this building and three floors of the Whitney Block. If actions take place outside of this precinct, those are actions that are up to courts, police beyond these corridors. I would appreciate it if you would understand the point we already made.

Mr Wildman: If I could, Mr Speaker, I just would draw your attention to one thing and then I'll move on.

The Speaker: Okay. One thing and then we'll move on.

Mr Wildman: I would ask that you refer to the principle that the King's servants doing their duty should not be impeded by litigation.

The Speaker: I appreciate that. I understand there are many points of privilege on this. I would ask that you be direct and very much to the point.

Mr Gerry Phillips (Scarborough-Agincourt): On a point of order, Mr Speaker, because I think we need your help on this: The Attorney General indicated that it was the government's intention to lay charges. We understand that that's his right. But during the debate he said that the members did break and enter.

I realize that you required him to withdraw that comment. My question, though, is this: Is it your opinion that his withdrawing of that comment -- he is the Chief Justice in the province -- is that sufficient in a court that the members have not in fact been judged today to have been guilty of break and enter? And I would ask you to perhaps not rule quickly on it, Mr Speaker, because it's important to all of us. I can understand the charge against the members, but for the Attorney General to say that he's reached a conclusion on it, I'm not sure that simply withdrawing the comment is sufficient.

The Speaker: I appreciate the point of order that you've made and I understand the concern and issue on the opposition benches, as well as the concern and issue on the government side. I think obviously there's clearly a difference of opinion, a very severe difference of opinion that's very important to settle.

I am prepared to reserve. I am prepared to take this back and report back to the Legislature a week Monday when the place reconvenes.

I understand the points of order you've made. You understand what I've said today. I am somewhat predisposed to the position with respect to the precinct. I appreciate what you brought forward. I give you an undertaking to review that and report back to this Legislature at the earliest time.

Mr David S. Cooke (Windsor-Riverside): Mr Speaker, I don't think there's ever been such a -- and I'm a little concerned, if I might, with all due respect to your 80% ruling on what I think is an incredible situation that we have seen here this afternoon. I don't believe in the 19 1/2 years that I've been here that I've ever seen the AG come into the House and announce a criminal investigation into the actions of two MPPs and then condemn them a few minutes later on interjection. I would ask you to just sit back and to listen to this one in its entirety and to think about this, because this is an incredibly serious situation that has happened here in the House.

I do have a reference in Beauchesne that I think makes it very clear that it's not just a matter of what happens in the precinct. On page 24 of Beauchesne, section 85, "Beyond the few exceptions made, a member is fully responsible in the ordinary courts for any offence not `within the scope of his duties in the course of parliamentary business.'"

I think that makes it very clear, and you know as well as I do that there has been debate in this place and there has been discussion now for several weeks about what has been happening with the family support plan. All of us, as MPPs, have had incredible numbers of inquiries. The members became aware of a particular instance where there were records that were not secured. It is their responsibility to investigate that and bring that information back to the Legislature. That's exactly what they have done. Now the result is that the chief law officer, who also happens to be our colleague in this place and a member of the majority, responds by saying, "I'm going to investigate you, put all the police on you and do a criminal investigation."

Mr Speaker, that is not something -- just relax for a couple of minutes. Mr Speaker, that is not something --

The Speaker: The member for Windsor-Riverside, why don't you relax for a couple of minutes. The member for Windsor-Riverside, firstly, I am taking this very seriously and you don't have to give me an argument about being fair and practical in reviewing. I am.

Secondly, I am relaxed, as relaxed as I plan to be. I would ask the member for Windsor-Riverside to summarize and then you can relax as well.

Mr Cooke: I've been very brief and it's a little difficult when the Speaker is sitting in his --

The Speaker: Do you want to debate with me, or do you want to --

Mr Cooke: No, Mr Speaker, would you let me finish?

The Speaker: The member for Windsor-Riverside, I will allow you to finish. I'm asking you to summarize. All the points you've made, I understand very clearly. I've heard them a couple of times. I'm asking you to summarize, please.

Mr Cooke: I would have been finished already if you hadn't interrupted in the last two minutes.

The Speaker: The member for Windsor-Riverside, take your seat, please. I'm afraid this is difficult. I understand. I'm just asking you to summarize and quit commenting on my ability to hear this. I'm doing my best under the circumstances, and I'm trying to move it along. I take it very seriously. Please summarize.

Mr Cooke: Mr Speaker, the point that is very clear is that the serious intimidation by the Attorney General of two members of this assembly has never occurred in the time that most of us have been in this House. Mr Speaker, I just ask you to ask the question of how can we, as members of the opposition, come into this place, investigate incidents that come to our attention, and then do that without fear that the Attorney General is going to come in here, announce criminal investigations and then, in addition, the additional incredible action by the Attorney General today of saying in this place that they are guilty of break-and-enter.

The Speaker: The member for Windsor-Riverside, I think you make some valid points of order and that's why I've given you my undertaking to reserve judgement on this until a week Monday. I appreciate your input and I think all the input's been honourable and I will consider it. Really, what I'm trying to point out now to the members in the opposition benches: I think you've made the arguments you're going to make; I think your points are fair points. I don't think there's anything new you could add. If there is, I ask for it. But if there isn't, I would much prefer to reserve on this and report back.

Mr Kormos: On a point of privilege, Mr Speaker: Please, Speaker, I understand your urgency to -- and, again, I'm not being critical but I understand that you want to see matters proceed. I think many of us are shocked by what has transpired and I speak to you, sir, about the breach of my privilege as a member of this assembly. It's going to be necessary, Speaker, to tell you in fact what happened. I tell you that Ms Martel and I attended at the Ministry of Transportation complex and walked through unlocked, unguarded doors and, as it was in the first instance, accompanied by a security guard who appears to have been hired by the Attorney General to conduct security there.


We had been warned about the state of affairs there. We went to confirm whether that was the reality. We discovered a shocking state of affairs. We discovered an absence of security. We discovered unsealed, uncontained boxes of FSP files in hallways accessible to any member of the public, as they were, yes, to us. We videotaped it. We blew the whistle. We held a media conference at 1 o'clock this afternoon where that videotape was made available to members of the press. I consider that one of the obligations of members of a democratic assembly and certainly an obligation of a member of the opposition.

In response to blowing the whistle and disclosing the sordid conditions in Downsview, we are threatened with criminal investigations. I understand criminal investigation and I understand the techniques that can be employed. I understand it means that with no further clarification, Ms Martel and I can expect to be subjected to search warrants in our home, in any other residences we might have in Toronto, in our offices both in our constituencies and here. I understand that a criminal investigation can mean that family members and neighbours and associates can be called upon to be interviewed by police. I understand that wiretap authorizations could be obtained in the course of a criminal investigation.

The reason I list those is to speak about the oppressiveness of that threat. Speaker, I say to you there has been a breach of my privilege as a member, Ms Martel's privilege as a member, by this heavy-handedness in response to candid, wide-open, transparent whistleblowing. I call upon you, Speaker, to use your power to intervene, to restore the privileges that are being denied us by this government.

The Speaker: I again tell you I reserve and --

Mr Howard Hampton (Rainy River): On a point of privilege, Mr Speaker: It is different.

The Speaker: The leader of the third party.

Mr Hampton: I want to make sure we understand the full breadth of the issues.

Speaker, what is so serious about this is that two members of the Legislature were attending at a government office after they had asked questions day after day in this House about the operation of that office, about why women and children are not receiving their family support plan cheques, about why they have to go to a food bank to get food because they're not receiving family support plan cheques.

They go to this government office, as I should be able to go to a government office, to make inquiries. They find when they attend at this government office that everything is in a completely insecure state.

The Speaker: Can you get to the "different" point of privilege here?

Mr Hampton: They find that everything is in a completely insecure state. They find that people's private records and files are open in the hallway, that anybody can have access to them. They find that nothing is being looked after in terms of those files. Then they come here, and in these premises, as part of their democratic responsibility, they hold a press conference to inform their constituents, to inform other people in Ontario about what is happening and they show a videotape of what's happening.

Then what is unbelievable is that the chief law officer, perhaps the second most powerful person in this province, the second most powerful person in this government, comes into this Legislature and announces that they are under criminal investigation. He announces that this government is going to use --

The Speaker: I need a new point of privilege now.

Mr Hampton: He announces that this government is prepared to use the ultimate sanction in a democratic jurisdiction: They are prepared to send the police after two elected members for doing their duty.

But that's not the end of it. It is serious enough, Speaker, that the chief law officer of the crown would threaten to send the police --

The Speaker: The leader of the third party, order. I ask you to take your seat. I appreciate your point. You're recapping very succinctly, but what I would like in the next few minutes is your new point of privilege, directly and to the point. Thank you.

Mr Hampton: Directly. So the first part is calling the police in an effort to use the police against members of the Legislature who are only doing their duty in a democratic society.

The second point, which is very important, is that the Attorney General is the administrator of justice in this province. The Attorney General is never allowed to comment on a case before the court. For the Attorney General to comment on a case before the court would result, ordinarily, in the dismissal of the charge, the dismissal of the case.

Now, the Attorney General walks into this Legislature and he declares that these two members are guilty of a criminal offence. This is absolutely the most outrageous abuse of government privilege, the most outrageous abuse of police, the most outrageous abuse of the criminal justice system that I think you could ever have in a democratic society. Speaker, you have to be concerned with that.

The Speaker: I appreciate the points of privilege. I understand them very, very completely. I appreciate the fact that you've taken the time now to explain them to me on a number of occasions. I understand them. I reserve; I will come back a week Monday.

Ms Frances Lankin (Beaches-Woodbine): During the course of discussions of these points of privilege, I, in discussion with others, pointed out what was happening to women and children in this province. The member for Durham East across, while he didn't say "Eff off" to me, in fact gestured it with a finger. I think that's entirely inappropriate in this Legislature. It shows that they don't take these issues seriously. I would ask that you request him to withdraw that.

Mr Cooke: We saw it, Mr O'Toole.

The Speaker: I didn't --


The Speaker: Order. To the member for Beaches-Woodbine, I'm addressing your point of order. I did not see nor hear that remark or gesture. I would ask the member for Durham East if he chooses to stand and withdraw if he did whatever.

Mr John O'Toole (Durham East): I deny completely that I made any such remark. I would ask that you withdraw your suggestion that I made any such remark. I am quite displeased with the --

The Speaker: Order. That's where we are at that stage: He denies he did it.

Mr Sean G. Conway (Renfrew North): On a point of order, Mr Speaker: I appreciate the situation that you are in. Again, I think the House has an obligation to assist the Chair in this matter. I have no information that allows me to pass judgement on what may or may not have happened at the Downsview family responsibility office, but we do know this afternoon as we gather here in the assembly that there are two members of this House who are currently under criminal investigation. That is rare, not unprecedented, but it is a very rare event in the history of this assembly.

What I am deeply concerned about is that one of our colleagues, the minister of justice, who is the chief law officer for the province, who has a very direct responsibility in these matters, has clearly indicated in the chamber this afternoon that these honourable members, who are apparently under criminal investigation, are in fact guilty. Now, he withdrew, apparently, the remark. But I say to you that the House owes it to the honour and the integrity of this place to assist you in a very difficult situation.

I would say, through you to the government House leader, that I think it would be an extremely useful thing, given the gravity of what the minister of justice has done, if before we adjourn at the normal hour of 6 o'clock today, not to return for 10 days, the minister of justice and the Premier of the province come to this House and give an accounting of themselves, because we simply cannot have a situation where the minister of justice, having announced that honourable members of this place are under criminal investigation, also indicates clearly that, in his view, they are guilty, having broken into government offices in Ontario --

The Speaker: Member for Renfrew North, you know full well that's not a point of order. The fact of the matter is it's completely up to the government, and those ministers are here, I assume, who are here, and those who are aren't, aren't.

The member for Algoma.


Mr Wildman: We have two matters. One I won't go into -- it's been dealt with at length here -- but the second one in a way is even more grave. The Attorney General, who has just returned, said in interjecting that these two members, who he had previously announced were under investigation, had broken in. As minister of justice, he is passing judgement in that kind of a statement on their guilt or innocence. He then subsequently got up and withdrew the statement, which in fact is an admission he made such a statement. How can we, as an assembly, operate if the chief law officer of the crown is passing judgement on something that is just under investigation? This is a very, very serious matter and the Attorney General knows the implication of that kind of a comment better than anyone else here. We would like to hear what he intends to do to rectify this situation --

The Speaker: Order. I really appreciate the points of privilege and points of order. I think they're exhausted. We can now move to oral questions. I say to the member for Algoma --

Mr Wildman: We can't leave this for 10 days.

The Speaker: Member for Algoma, that may make a very good oral question. I don't want to direct your party on how to work in this place. What I think we need to do now -- I understand the points of privilege and points of order. I appreciate the gravity of the situation. You must allow me the opportunity to report back to this Legislature. Now let us move to oral questions.

Mrs Lyn McLeod (Leader of the Opposition): Mr Speaker --

The Speaker: It's a point of order you're looking for?

Mrs McLeod: It's a point in terms of what I guess we now need from the Speaker. I wasn't present in the House when the interjection took place; I cannot verify what was and was not said. But I do think it's imperative that you make every effort as Speaker of this assembly to determine what was and was not said. If it were anyone other than the Attorney General, it might have different implications, but if there was any judgemental statement in the case of a criminal investigation made by the Attorney General, it's my understanding that there would be significant implications for the carriage of justice.

The Speaker: I leave you in no doubt that in the interim I will do just that.



Mr Dwight Duncan (Windsor-Walkerville): In the absence of the Premier and the Minister of Health, I'll address my question to the government House leader. Minister, this morning and yesterday Ontarians learned for the first time that Mike Harris's promise not to cut one cent from health care really, even more than we realized before, just doesn't hold any water. Your hospital closing commission said yesterday unequivocally that it's planning even deeper cuts to our health care system. Somehow that original $1.3 billion just wasn't enough.

Minister, your government is planning to close more hospitals. You're planning to lay off more nurses. You're planning to force more patients home when they should still be in a hospital for service after surgery or after delivering a baby. Minister, why didn't Mike Harris bother to tell the people during the last election that his plan to protect health care meant patients would be kicked out of hospitals just hours after emergency surgery and just hours after delivering a baby? How long will it be before we know the full extent of your cuts and what it means to people in communities throughout Ontario?

Hon David Johnson (Chair of the Management Board of Cabinet and Government House Leader): I would remind the member opposite, number one, the only government reducing funding in health care in the province of Ontario is the federal government from Ottawa -- some $2 billion in reduced health care funding in the province of Ontario over the next couple of years. This government, the provincial government, through the election agreed to allocate $17.4 billion to health care funding in the province of Ontario, and indeed this year we have exceeded that amount of funding -- some $17.7 billion.

This government is not laying off nurses; this government indeed did not close 8,400 beds since 1989 in the province of Ontario. Those closures of 8,400 beds came from the party opposite and the third party. Indeed, the restructuring commission in the province is investigating efficiencies within the hospital system and looking at reinvestments.

Mr Duncan: The minister has absolutely no credibility and the people of this province don't trust you or your government with their hospitals or their health care system. Everything you've said just doesn't reflect or even come close to what's being said by independent observers right across the province.

This morning the House leader wasn't here, but Conservative members of the Legislature attempted to defeat my private member's bill, which would have entrenched the five principles of the Canada Health Act in provincial legislation. To remind the minister, those principles that the Conservatives voted against were universality, portability, accessibility, comprehensiveness and a publicly administered plan.

Minister, knowing that the Canada Health Act is the only thing preventing you and your government and Harris from bringing in extra billing, imposing more American-style user fees and creating a two-tier health care system, can you tell me why members of your government and your caucus voted against that bill, which would have guaranteed in legislation the principles of the Canada Health Act in this province?

Hon David Johnson: What I can tell the member opposite is that this government has reinvested in health care in Ontario. This government has committed to $170 million in community-based front-line services to seniors in Ontario, which will create some 4,400 front-line jobs in Ontario. This government has invested in kidney dialysis services, in cardiac surgery equipment, in expanded diabetes care. This government has made investment after investment in Ontario. Where the expenditure reductions have come, where the cutbacks have come in health care in Ontario has been from the federal Liberal government.

Mr Duncan: One of your members was kind enough to provide me with a briefing note that was distributed to all Conservative members of Parliament before the debate on my private member's bill today. Let me read to you what the final point in that says. It says, "There will be an attempt to block the voting on this bill, thereby allowing it to die without going to committee." What you're allowing to die is public health care in this country. What you're allowing to die in this province is accessibility to public health care in this province.

What will you say when you began and continue to undermine our public health care system? Will you now acknowledge, as you did in the Common Sense Revolution, that it's not federal transfer cuts but in fact your own desire to impose an American-style user-pay health care system in Ontario? What will you say and how do you respond to your own government's notes that told your backbenchers how to vote and even took away their right as members to respond effectively and honestly to a piece of legislation that your government promised to protect?

Hon David Johnson: How I would respond is that indeed this province is fully in compliance with the Canada Health Act and that's why, for example, we reinstated the out-of-country coverage for seniors. This government, through the election and while in its term in government, has put health care as the number one priority for investment in Ontario.

I think that indeed if we were to ask most people in Ontario, given the fact that this government has set a budget of $17.7 billion in spending this year, more than any time previously, the people of Ontario would say, "That's a good investment in health care in Ontario." If we were to say to the people of Ontario, "We've invested $170 million or are about to invest $170 million in community care," people of Ontario would say, "That's a fine investment and shows a government that is concerned about health care in Ontario."



The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): I know you have the next question. I just would like to inform the members of the Legislative Assembly that we have in the Speaker's gallery today the honorary Consul General of the Republic of Kazakhstan, the Honourable Robert Caplan, and the member of the Russian Parliament and Chairman of the Parliamentarian Committee on Labour and Social Policy, Mr Sergey Kalashnikov. Welcome.


Mr Dwight Duncan (Windsor-Walkerville): I have a question for the Attorney General. Today is a very sad day in the Legislature. A number of very serious allegations have been alleged against colleagues and members of this assembly and against yourself. Attorney General, could you confirm what you said in interjections?

Hon Charles Harnick (Attorney General, minister responsible for native affairs): There was an incident today at the family support plan office in Downsview. It was a serious incident. The incident was assessed very carefully by officials who work within the family support plan and those officials, because of the gravity of what they believe has transpired at the Downsview office, contacted the police to advise them and the police are investigating. Beyond that, that is the information I have.

Mr Bud Wildman (Algoma): What did you withdraw in this House?

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Order, member for Algoma.

Mr David Christopherson (Hamilton Centre): They called the police all by themselves, Charlie?

The Speaker: And the member for Hamilton Centre. We are rotating in question period. The opportunity will arise.

Mr Duncan: Attorney General, we understood you to imply that the members who are alleged to have participated in a crime were in fact guilty. Is our understanding of that in fact correct, and if not, what in fact did you withdraw?

Hon Mr Harnick: I at no time in this House or outside have accused any member of anything. What I did say is that I had been advised earlier of a serious incident which involved --


Hon Mr Harnick: I had been advised of a serious incident which involved a potential allegation of a break-in at the family support office in Downsview. As a result of that, officials of the family support plan contacted police to investigate. There is a grave concern that people in the family support plan have that files that were there were viewed and boxes may have been opened. They are very concerned and have asked the police to investigate a potential break-in situation at the Downsview family support plan office.

Mr Duncan: Attorney General, the matter is now clearly focused on your interjection and, as the chief attorney in this province, the allegation that you've tried and convicted two members of this Legislature is very serious. Would you not now deem it appropriate to resign and step aside in order that a fair hearing of this can occur and in order that justice in this province be properly served? Will you resign until this matter is cleared up?

Hon Mr Harnick: I won't resign. What I said was merely in response to what someone else was interjecting and the response to that interjection was to say nothing more than what I said in my answers that I've just provided. I said that there was --


The Speaker: I caution the members opposite that the Attorney General is speaking. It's difficult to hear. I think you want to hear the answers and I'd appreciate being able to do that.

Mr Christopherson: Make him tell the truth.

The Speaker: Order. Member for Hamilton Centre, I'm afraid that is out of order. I ask you to withdraw.

Mr Christopherson: I withdraw, Speaker.

Hon Mr Harnick: I said, in response to an interjection, there was a break-in. That is precisely the information I have been given and that is precisely why, because that potentially is what occurred, the officials of the family support plan have called the Metropolitan Toronto Police to investigate. They are concerned, quite simply, because confidential files may have been looked at and viewed. I said there was a break-in. That is what I said. I said that in response to an allegation that was made to me, "Why did you call the police?" and that is what I said in response to another comment that was made.

Mr Howard Hampton (Rainy River): Hansard will probably show the details of the Attorney General's remarks, but there are some discrepancies even between what he's told us just now and what he says in his written statement. He told us just now that the officials at the family responsibility office called police, that officials at the family responsibility office looked into this and asked the police to get involved. But in his written statement, which he read in this House earlier today, he said, "For this reason, we have taken the following steps:" -- "we" meaning the Attorney General -- "The Metropolitan Toronto Police have been contacted and are conducting a criminal investigation."

The issue here is this: The Attorney General today was confronted with the facts about the family support plan office. He was confronted with the fact that it is not operating, confronted with the fact that the files are not secure. Then he comes in here and says, "We have taken the following steps," called the Metropolitan Toronto Police and had them conduct a criminal investigation. Then what he said was that two members are guilty.

The Speaker: Leader of the third party, I appreciate that. I think we can go to the Attorney General.

Hon Mr Harnick: Mr Speaker, I never at any time said the two members are guilty.

When the leader of the third party uses "we," of course it's "we." When the public guardian and trustee who is responsible for the family support plan office is advised by security people at that office of an incident that occurred that involved people who are in the office and are not authorized to be there early in the morning, and there was a concern expressed about the confidentiality of records, when the public guardian and trustee notified the police, that is something I, as the Attorney General, am part of because it's something that happens out of the Ministry of the Attorney General. That's quite simply the response and that's why the word "we" was there.

Mr Hampton: To go back to the words the Attorney General uttered in this House and withdrew, that does not take back the taint of what he said as the chief law officer of the crown. He said, in speaking to two members of this Legislature, "You broke in."

I want to ask the Attorney General -- it sounds to us as if you have already judged. You've already set yourself up as judge in this case. It sounds to us as if you've already set yourself up as judge. Do you think it's appropriate for an Attorney General to make those remarks about two people who you know, because you're involved, are under investigation by the police? Do you think it's appropriate for the Attorney General of the province to make those remarks?


The Speaker: Order. Government members, I appreciate this is an issue that's becoming more heated, but it's very difficult to maintain decorum. I would ask the members to realize that, please.

Hon Mr Harnick: This is an incident that involves the Ministry of the Attorney General. The Ministry of the Attorney General is concerned because people without authorization were in the building looking, potentially, at files. Because of that concern, officials at the Ministry of the Attorney General contacted the police. They did that because of what they perceived to have been happening at an office of the Ministry of the Attorney General where confidential files were kept. They have contacted the police. The police independently look into these allegations and they deal with the situation as they see fit without any interference from the Ministry of the Attorney General. The anomaly here happens to be that it was a building that the Ministry of the Attorney General occupied where confidential files were stored and we happened, through the assistant deputy minister and public guardian and trustee, to contact the police.


Mr Hampton: I want to ask the Attorney General one further question on this general area. If someone were under investigation, let us say for impaired driving, would it be proper for the Attorney General to say they were impaired while driving? Would it be proper for the Attorney General to say that? Because that's what you've done in this House. You have said something which totally changes the complexion of what may or may not have happened this morning, because you have tried to exercise the role of judge. Is it proper for an Attorney General to do that?

Hon Mr Harnick: The member puts an interesting question to me. The fact is that in those particular incidents the Attorney General has no role to play, just as the Attorney General has no role to play in this investigation. The Attorney General --

Mr Christopherson: You said they did it.

Hon Mr Harnick: But inherent in anything that I may have said was the fact that it was the Attorney General and I take responsibility for the fact that the public guardian and trustee, who's also the assistant deputy minister, called the police because we believed something had happened on a property and premise. When they phoned the police because there was a perceived break-in and there was a concern with confidentiality, that is a very --

Mr Christopherson: This is an abuse of power. It's outrageous.

The Speaker: Order. The member for Hamilton Centre, you're going to have to come to order. It's very difficult and I would warn you right now that you'll have to come to order.

New question.


Mr Howard Hampton (Rainy River): I want to get to the heart of the issues that happened this morning. Two of our members called at a government office and what they found is something totally contradictory to what you've been saying. They found that files, family support plan files, were lying in the open in the hallway. They found cases of family support plan files that can't be worked upon, aren't being worked upon. They found an office which you have told this House was going to be up and operating at the end of October which is completely non-operational.

Yes, we've got it in Hansard and we've got it in your response. This is what the Attorney General said on October 11 -- information to all MPPs. He said, "Until the Downsview site is fully operational at the end of October." That's what you said in your memo to all MPPs on October 11, 1996.

What they found is an office that is completely non-operational. Are you prepared to admit now that the reason why women and children across this province, hundreds of them, are not receiving their family support plan cheques is because the family support plan office there isn't operational, isn't able to do the work because you've shut it all down?

Hon Charles Harnick (Attorney General, minister responsible for native affairs): I can tell the member, if he's interested in the answer, that last week we processed $7.1 million of cheques. We are doing that work out of 55 Yonge Street. We have closed all of the regional offices, and four of the floors of the Downsview centre are now complete, the work stations have been built, the files have been brought in and the files have been unpacked and put away. There are still --

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Order. Supplementary, member for London Centre.

Mrs Marion Boyd (London Centre): Let's just talk about a case that we've talked about at great length in this House, the case of my constituent Wendy Taylor. Wendy Taylor from London, who never had any problems with the plan, has not received any payments since you decided to centralize it. Wendy is in financial distress -- I detailed that in this House -- because of her inability to access funds for family support, funds that have been deducted from her ex-partner's cheque.

On October 30, my constituency office staff were told by the family support plan staff that Wendy Taylor's files were in transit from the regional office and therefore they could not access the court orders and other documents relevant to this case, as well as many other cases. In fact, I have a printout in my office from the family support office stating: "We need to follow up. Need file to get contact person."

I don't think it's farfetched for me, as a member of this Legislature, to assume that the reason my constituent is not getting the dollars she needs to feed her children is because you have made such a mess of the family support plan, and her file is probably in those piles of files and is not accessible to whoever it is you have answering the phone --

The Speaker: Member for London Centre, come to order. The Attorney General.

Hon Mr Harnick: Mr Speaker, as I've indicated, four of the regional offices have now been completely moved into the Downsview centre. There are still --

Ms Frances Lankin (Beaches-Woodbine): Completely moved in? Charles, look at the video. There are boxes in the hallway. Women and children are not getting money because you won't take action to clean this up.


Ms Lankin: Janet, as a woman you should care about this. As Minister of Community and Social Services, you should be doing something to make sure that these women and children are getting their money. I don't need this from you; the women and children of this province don't need this from you.

The Speaker: Member for Beaches-Woodbine, come to order please. Attorney General.

Hon Mr Harnick: Mr Speaker, as I've said, four of the regional offices have now been completely moved into the Downsview centre. There is further work to do to complete the work to transfer the files from the other regional offices. We have endeavoured, through the office at 55 Yonge Street, to maintain the essential services during this transition. We are doing that, and as I've said earlier, we processed $7.1 million worth of cheques last week.

Ms Shelley Martel (Sudbury East): I'd like to say to the Attorney General that there is no transition; there is only chaos. The Sudbury office closed three weeks ago. Ten boxes of unopened mail was sent somewhere into Toronto to be dealt with by someone at some time. At the office today, we saw boxes and boxes of files still in the Allied Van Lines boxes. There's nothing going on at that office. It is complete chaos.

I want you to tell me what I should tell Linda Carter today about her case. She's got two children, two and a half and four and a half years old. She regularly got payments of $300 a month. Her last cheque was on August 20, 1996. We confirmed with the employer that indeed the money was remitted to the Sudbury regional office. We tried contacting FSP on November 1; they were going to follow up with the employer. We tried again yesterday; they were going to follow up with the employer. She still doesn't have a cent.

How can you justify the crisis that is happening in the family support plan now, due directly to your cuts in staff and the closures of the regional offices?

Hon Mr Harnick: As I've indicated to this member before, if she has a specific problem, I am prepared to take that to the --


The Speaker: Attorney General?

Hon Mr Harnick: As I have indicated to this House before, the family support plan has been a major problem in terms of the way clients --


The Speaker: Order. Attorney General?

Hon Mr Harnick: To conclude, I hope that the members opposite have the same passion for passing the bill that's now before the House so that we can correct the problems in the family support plan once and for all.


Mr Wayne Wettlaufer (Kitchener): I wish you'd shut up so we can hear.

The Speaker: Member for Kitchener, that's unparliamentary language. I ask you to withdraw.

Mr Wettlaufer: I withdraw.



Mrs Lyn McLeod (Leader of the Opposition): My question is for the Minister of Education and Training. Today a group of parents from Franklin community school delivered this letter to the Premier. Their letter expresses their concern with an incident which they feel constitutes a serious interference with the administration of justice.

These parents, on behalf of their parent-school association, had engaged a lawyer with funds which they raised through contributions from their own pockets. They asked the lawyer, who was another parent at Franklin school, to act on their behalf in raising concerns about the subpanel on education that was set up under the Who Does What committee. These parents were prepared to challenge the legality of the work of the subcommittee, the constitution of the subcommittee, and in fact were prepared to seek an injunction against the work of the subcommittee.

The lawyer whom they had engaged was subsequently asked by the chairman of his law firm, a leading law firm here in the city of Toronto, to withdraw from the case. He was also instructed to write a letter to Steve Lowden of the subpanel on education in which he would withdraw the representations he had made on behalf of his clients. This requirement that he drop the case and that he write this letter was made because a call had come from the province to a senior member in the firm.

Minister, I'm sure you would agree that this does constitute a serious violation of the rights of individuals to express concerns and to have legal representation. I ask whether you are aware of this situation and I ask whether your office made the call.

Hon John Snobelen (Minister of Education and Training): I want to thank the Leader of the Opposition for the question. However, this question deals with the Who Does What committee and I would defer this question to the minister to whom that committee is responsible.

Hon Al Leach (Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing): I could add some light to this question. Yes, the Who Does What panel did receive a letter indicating that the law firm of Cassels Brock was going to impose an injunction on the Crombie subpanel on education. The application seemed so frivolous that my executive assistant called Cassels Brock and said, "Are you serious?" They said: "We're not aware of this at all. We'll get back to you." We never heard any more about it until such time as we got a letter from the lawyer in question withdrawing the application. That's all we know.

Mrs McLeod: I must confess I am surprised we would so quickly get an admission from the minister that his office contacted the law firm. I trust he is now aware of the results of that direct intervention in legal representation on the part of a group of citizens who wanted to raise concerns about this government's actions, that this kind of direct intervention with a law firm has not only resulted in this particular lawyer being required to drop the case, but that these citizens have lost their legal representation because the lawyer was required to withdraw his representation on their behalf. These citizens have now been denied both their right to raise their concerns and their right to legal representation because of direct intimidation from your office.

Minister, these citizens believed when they came into this place today -- and they are here -- that they had been bullied into silence by your government. They asked in a letter to the Premier why this government believes it is free to manipulate the law. Do you not consider this to be a direct interference with the rights of citizens to be heard and to have legal representation? Is this not --

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Thank you.

Hon Mr Leach: That's even a stretch for that party. We made an inquiry as to whether this was a serious allegation. The law firm said they didn't know about it.

By the way --


The Speaker: Order. Order. I appreciate the fact that the member asked the question. I presume you'd like to hear the answer.

Hon Mr Leach: By the way, so everybody's aware, this is the law firm of the former leader of the Liberal Party, David Peterson. If anybody thinks we're going to call and try to intimidate a law firm like that, it is rather silly. There was absolutely no attempt to intimidate anybody. We made an inquiry whether this was serious. We didn't hear any more after that. What the law firm does is their business. If they're that easily intimidated they're not very good lawyers.


Ms Shelley Martel (Sudbury East): I want to return to the Attorney General with respect to the family support plan. To date in our office we have received over 80 enquiries on cases from women and children right across Sudbury East. We received all of our cases and we reviewed them last week, and I can tell you that the overwhelming majority of those cases involved women and children who used to receive regular support payments until you cut 290 staff and closed the regional office.

Three weeks ago 10 boxes of unopened mail left the Sudbury office to be dealt with somewhere in Toronto. No doubt, thousands of other files have also come to Toronto and were probably among the boxes that we saw today on the fourth floor, totally unsecured, all over the floor in a public area.

I want to ask you today: What are you going to do, since your office is completely non-functioning at this point in time, to ensure that the thousands of women and children across this province, who aren't receiving support because of your cuts, are going to get some money today so they can look after and support their own families?

Hon Charles Harnick (Attorney General, minister responsible for native affairs): The fact that we processed $7.1 million in cheques last week, and that we will in all likelihood process more than that this week and again more than that next week, belies the fact that the family support plan isn't working.

We have been going through this transition. We hope we will be through the transition very shortly. We've hired 160 people who will be working on the front lines to deal with client problems. We are working our way through this transition and hope to be in a position to deal with this in a permanent way very shortly.

Mr Bud Wildman (Algoma): Perhaps this is one of the cases that's lost in your files in the Allied Van Lines boxes in this office.

Patricia Dorn, Bruce Mines in my constituency, contacted the Sudbury office, sent the forms to the Sudbury office in May because the payee, her ex-spouse, was a month behind. It was not processed because the Sudbury office was getting ready to close as per your order.

Since that time Ms Dorn has had to get two jobs because she hasn't been receiving her payments. She's working at two part-time jobs. She has two children, 13 and 10, who are supposed to be supported. She's left messages on the answering machine. She hasn't received any answers. She says her children would like to have lunches when they go to school. That's what she said on the answering machine. That was two weeks ago. She has yet to get a response from your office.

What are you doing about all of those Allied Van Lines boxes that have the files stacked up in this so-called superoffice of yours?


Hon Mr Harnick: Every day people working there are taking the files out of the boxes and putting them on shelves in the proper places as we set up the office. But I can't comment directly on the individual the member refers to.

I can't comment directly on what the member says, but I do know there are a couple of interesting aspects to his question. One is that it's a case that's in arrears. So I don't know, from what he says, whether money is flowing in that case.

Mr Wildman: She hasn't had any money since August.

Hon Mr Harnick: I don't know whether money is flowing in that case.

The other thing the member said was that the office was closed in May. In fact, the office didn't close until September. I don't know about whether money is flowing, but I will say to the member that I will ensure that we look into the case to try to determine whether money is flowing.

Mr Dwight Duncan (Windsor-Walkerville): A point of privilege.

The Speaker: Pardon me. I would prefer that we deal with the point of privilege after question period. If it's anything you want to take up during question period, you may, but I prefer that points of privilege be taken up after question period and not use time on the clock.

Mr Duncan: I'd prefer that it be taken up now. It relates directly to what was just said.

The Speaker: I appreciate what you're saying, but I'd prefer to deal with it after question period.


Ms Isabel Bassett (St Andrew-St Patrick): My question is to the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing. My constituents in St Andrew-St Patrick and residents right across Metro are following with great interest reports on what's going to happen on the so-called supercity. Can you confirm for me the accuracy of press reports lately on whether you have given the six area mayors 30 days to come up with proposals on governance and the delivery of services in and right across Metro? How accurate is that?

Hon Al Leach (Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing): It is quite accurate. When the mayors wrote to the Premier a week ago and indicated they would like 30 days to prepare a report on how they could reduce the size of council by 50% and how they could increase efficiency and how they could integrate services, I indicated at that time I would be more than pleased to have them take that action and work in parallel with us. I indicated at the time that we would not stop our course of action but that we would work in parallel, and if they produced something that proved to be better than the proposal we're considering, we would certainly consider it.

Ms Bassett: Minister, can you tell us when I can inform my constituents --

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Order, the member for St Andrew-St Patrick.

A point of order?

Mr Dwight Duncan (Windsor-Walkerville): On a point of order, Mr Speaker: Standing order 21 says: "(a) Privileges are the rights enjoyed by the House....

"(b) Whenever a matter of privilege arises, it shall be taken into consideration immediately."

The Speaker: I'm sorry, I didn't hear the number.

Mr Duncan: With respect to standing order 21(b), "Whenever a matter of privilege arises, it shall be taken into consideration immediately."

The Speaker: With respect to the member for Windsor-Walkerville, I appreciate the point of privilege on page 14 that you outline. I myself have expressed my privilege in the past that points of privilege during question period take up time of question period; I prefer to have them deferred till after question period. If the member would like to take up his point of privilege and refer to the matter and deal with it specifically at this time, I can't stop that, but I can also say to you that if I take your point of privilege, I am almost certain there will be other points of privilege and we'll probably wipe out the rest of the time left in question period. Your point of privilege.

Mr Duncan: Pass.

The Speaker: Pass? Supplementary, the member for St Andrew-St Patrick.

Ms Bassett: Minister, to resume, if I could just pick up there, when are you going to inform us of your decision on this issue?

Hon Mr Leach: On November 30 when we receive the report from the mayors and when we receive the advice from the Crombie panel and take it through cabinet and of course caucus, I'll report as quickly as we can after that.


Mr Dalton McGuinty (Ottawa South): Earlier today representatives from each of the three parties spoke very eloquently and in a compelling way -- my question is to the Minister of Transportation -- in a compelling and moving way about the importance of hanging on to the memory of sacrifices made by previous generations of Canadians in wars. Behind me earlier today were 100 veterans who served in our wars, many of whom have gone home because of the length of time it's taken to come to this question, but none the less, they were here in support for the following question I put to the minister.

Minister, you will know that over a year and a half, I guess, or some 13 or 14 months ago now I raised this issue and I'm coming back to it today. In one way it's of no great moment, but in other ways of tremendous importance to our Canadian veterans. There's a highway that you're building between Ottawa and the 401; it's the 416. Canadian veterans are asking that you dedicate that highway to the memory of those who served in past wars. They want it to be called the Canadian Veterans Memorial Parkway. Will you do that?

Hon Al Palladini (Minister of Transportation): I certainly sympathize with the intent and sentiment behind the request and I want to assure the honourable member that this government certainly appreciates all the support from the veterans and we do support veterans and a gesture of that nature obviously would be something of great value. Colleagues on this side of the House have also approached me on that matter. I would like to say to the member, in due time, certainly we would give it consideration, but right now I really want to finish the highway, I want to build it so that we can get Ontarians on it --

Mrs Elinor Caplan (Oriole): Give it a yea.

Mr John Gerretsen (Kingston and The Islands): Just say yes.

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Supplementary, member for Ottawa South; and members for Oriole and Kingston and The Islands, thank you.

Mr McGuinty: First of all, I appreciate the minister is giving this some consideration, but really I see no legitimate obstacle in the way. The veterans themselves, as the minister knows, have offered to pay for any signage connected with this. There are 450,000 veterans throughout Canada in support of this particular cause. I have over 4,300 individually signed letters from veterans across Canada, which I will shortly deliver to you.

We heard earlier today representations made by members of all three parties about the importance of hanging on to the memory. Here is a way for your government to do more than merely talk the talk, you could walk the walk by simply saying that you are committing to dedicating the 416 to the memory of Canadian veterans by naming it the Canadian Veterans Memorial Parkway. Will you do that, Minister?

Hon Mr Palladini: Again, I really do appreciate the member's question and the validity and the importance of it, but the identification of a provincial highway is normally done by a number. This is an international standard and it's a Canadian standard as well. We will --


Hon Mr Palladini: I would like to put on Hansard the original answer that I gave the honourable member. I will stand by that answer.


Mr Howard Hampton (Rainy River): I have another question for the Attorney General. You were confronted today with some information about just how badly the family support plan office in Downsview is in disarray and in chaos, yet you came into this Legislature and your response was to announce that a police investigation is being conducted. Then you made some comments to two of my colleagues which you later withdrew. Will you tell us again what those comments were and will you tell us why you made those comments?

Hon Charles Harnick (Attorney General, minister responsible for native affairs): As I indicated before, what I said was that the police were called. They were called by the public guardian and trustee who is the assistant deputy minister. The reason they were called is because they believed there was a break-in. When I was asked, "Why were the police called?" I said it was because there was a break-in. That is why the Ministry of the Attorney General contacted the police in this instance.


Mr Hampton: We heard the Attorney General say in very clear language "because you broke in" with reference to the member for Welland-Thorold and the member for Sudbury East. The Attorney General later withdrew those remarks. I want to ask the Attorney General, does it not seem to you, as the minister of justice for this province, that you have in effect already judged these two members of the Legislature by a comment like that, and do you not admit that comment is completely improper within the bounds of the administration of justice of Ontario?

Hon Mr Harnick: It is not for the Attorney General to make those judgements. As I indicated, this case involved a break-in, or an alleged break-in, to a premise that was occupied by the Ministry of the Attorney General. Ministry officials called the police. In fact, we all know who was involved because they've admitted they were there. Quite simply, the facts are that the ministry called the police to investigate a situation involving people in a building that was occupied by the Attorney General.


Mr Bill Grimmett (Muskoka-Georgian Bay): My question is for the Minister of Education and Training. In my riding I've had the opportunity to speak to many groups and individuals about your anticipated reforms in education, and one of the greatest concerns people have is that it could threaten the size of classes. I overheard this week the leader of the third party who raised allegations about teacher reductions at the Atikokan separate school board. Have you investigated those allegations and, if so, can you inform the House on your findings, please?

Hon John Snobelen (Minister of Education and Training): In fact, I have had a chance to look into the Atikokan separate school board, the board that was mentioned by the leader of the third party yesterday.

The leader of the third party has had a lot to say today about accuracy. I was surprised to find, when we did some research, that this board did indeed have its budget cut by $10,000 and it did indeed lose half a teacher, but for the record, those cuts were due to the social contract that was imposed by the leader of the third party's party when it was in power. Moreover, in the interests of accuracy, this isolate board sets its own budget, and the principal is responsible to organize classes and staff allocation. This is very different than what was represented by the leader of the third party yesterday.

I would beseech the leader of the third party: This is twice in two weeks that he's been misled by his research department. I would ask him to get his research right and to be accurate in the House for fear of misleading the people of Ontario.

Mr Bud Wildman (Algoma): On a point of privilege, Mr Speaker: Would you ask the minister to repeat that again slowly.

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Order. Leader of the third party, you don't have the floor. Supplementary.

Mr Grimmett: Minister, one of the questions that's often asked of me by people in the educational institutions in my riding is, "Why is it really necessary for us to embark on reforms of education?" Can you provide an answer to the people in my riding to that question?

Hon Mr Snobelen: I thank the honourable member for the question. There are a number of reforms that are necessary in our education system if we're to create the kind of quality, the kind of affordability and accountability that we want and the people of Ontario want in the school system. But I can tell you that our burden in creating these reforms was certainly increased by the third party when they were in power because of the very deep financial concerns of the province and because of the financial problems within the school system.

I'm displeased to inform the member that despite the fact that the third party was in power for five years, we came to power and found a system of funding where there are second-class students in the province of Ontario, where in fact the spending differs by as much as 30% between students, so that some teachers in Ontario don't have the same materials and resources as other teachers. If you take the deficit that was left by the third party, divide it by the number of students in this province, you'll find that the third party left a $46,600 debt for every student in this province and it's up to this party to reverse that.


Mr Gerry Phillips (Scarborough-Agincourt): My question is to the Solicitor General. It has to do with Ipperwash and the behaviour of the Conservative member for the area, Mr Beaubien.

The Solicitor General will know that we've now had it confirmed that Mr Beaubien was at the OPP command post at least four times during this very tense situation. We also have had it confirmed that he told the commanding officer that he was in constant contact with the Premier's office and the ministries involved, including your ministry. We've had it confirmed that he told the commanding officer four hours before the shooting at this tense command post where the OPP was attempting to manage a very difficult situation -- Mr Beaubien was right in the middle of all of this tactical work and he said to the commanding officer that he had sent a fax to the Premier advising the Premier of his intentions and that he was awaiting a return call from the Premier on his intentions.

The question, Solicitor General, is this: Is this acceptable behaviour for a member of your caucus, or do you not believe that it is inappropriate for a member of the Conservative caucus to be at a sensitive police command post four times during a very, very difficult situation for the police?

Hon Robert W. Runciman (Solicitor General and Minister of Correctional Services): I think it's appropriate, if there was a crisis in any particular riding held by any member in this assembly, that the member would want to be kept apprised of what was occurring. With respect to this particular situation, I know the member is continually attempting to suggest that there was some sort of undue influence imparted by the member in terms of his presence at the police headquarters.

I want to say once again, which the Premier has said and others have said on a number of occasions, quite clearly, if there was a problem, the OPP have not indicated that. The commissioner of the OPP, following completion of the SIU investigation, stated quite clearly, categorically, that there was no attempt at influencing the operating decisions of the OPP on the ground.

Mr Phillips: Firstly, I think it is inexcusable that a member of the Conservative caucus was at a command post four times over a tense situation and was essentially saying to those people, "I'm in constant touch with the Premier, Solicitor General and the Attorney General."

I want to follow up on the comments you just made about Commissioner O'Grady's response, because I gather Commissioner O'Grady has looked completely at this situation. Can you confirm that Commissioner O'Grady has talked to Mr Beaubien, has reviewed what Mr Beaubien found out at the command post and has assured himself that Mr Beaubien did not find out anything was going on there of a tactical nature and he did not inform anyone else about what was going on there? Can you confirm that Commissioner O'Grady -- because this is important -- has interviewed Mr Beaubien and is satisfied that Mr Beaubien violated none of the principles that he espouses?

Hon Mr Runciman: I suggest that the member talk directly to the commissioner. The commissioner is an individual whom I have the utmost confidence in and respect for, who served under three different governments, and if there's a suggestion that the commissioner had somehow not thoroughly investigated this matter, I want to suggest that he take that up with the commissioner, because that's a slight on the commissioner of the OPP, a very well-respected individual in this province, right across this country, right throughout North America. He has indicated very clearly, it's on the record for everyone to see or read if they want to, rather than trying to make a political issue out of something that is not there, that there was absolutely no political interference.


Mr Howard Hampton (Rainy River): My question is also to the Solicitor General. Yesterday I requested that the Premier release the faxes that the member for Lambton sent to the Premier's office. The Premier responded, "I have no difficulty with that kind of information being public."

It is also our understanding that the member for Lambton sent the same faxes regarding the Ipperwash situation to the office of the Solicitor General. Minister, could you tell us what information was contained in those faxes from the member for Lambton that your office received, and will you release them publicly today?

Hon Mr Runciman: I'm not aware of the faxes. We'll certainly review this with my staff. I can only indicate that the member and I did speak on a number of occasions, and his concerns were centred around the concerns of residents in his riding, primarily with respect to break-and-enters that were occurring. In fact, in mid-September I travelled to the riding at the request of the member and met with a whole range of local residents and elected officials to hear their concerns on a person-to-person basis.

My knowledge of the member's concerns is that they were all centred around his constituents and that he was simply relaying the concerns of constituents to me, which is an appropriate thing for a member of the assembly to do.

Mr Hampton: I asked a simple question. I wanted to know about the faxes and if the Solicitor General was prepared to release them.

The reason I asked that is because in the OPP log it states -- it's odd that it would state this in the OPP log -- the log of September 6, 1995, 1842 hours, states that MPP Marcel Beaubien was meeting in the command post with Inspector Linton and Inspector Carson. It also states, "Marcel (Beaubien) advised that he had sent a fax to the Premier advising of his intentions and that he wanted a return phone call regarding his intentions."

This raises, I believe, the issue of political interference, whether it is real or perceived on the part of the police officers, who were well aware that the member for Lambton was communicating with the Premier's office and was awaiting a reply.

Will you inquire into these faxes? It seems strange that they would appear in a police log. Will you inquire into these faxes, when they were sent, when they were received and what they were about?

Hon Mr Runciman: I will.


Mrs Lillian Ross (Hamilton West): My question is to the Minister of Environment and Energy. As you know, this is Waste Reduction Week in Ontario. I would like to ask the minister how many communities are involved in this initiative and how significant this week is to Ontarians across the province.

Hon Norman W. Sterling (Minister of Environment and Energy): Waste Reduction Week is a very important week for over 150 communities across the province. This is a great testament to how far --


The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Order. Member for Welland-Thorold. Thank you.

It's an important question, I'm sure, to the member for Hamilton West, and I think we owe her the decency to listen to the answer.

Hon Mr Sterling: I'm glad that so many members are interested in Waste Reduction Week, because it is an important week for Ontario: 150 communities are participating in this. This is a testament to the programs we have had here in Ontario, including such things as the blue box program. This program itself diverts 500,000 tonnes of waste from our landfill sites. It helps to show us the tremendous difference that waste reduction initiatives can make.

Another important aspect of this is the partnerships that have come together to address this situation. As Minister of Environment I want to expand this partnership that has been developed in the past.

I just want to make one specific example of one of these new partnerships. The Canadian Battery Association has come forward with a proposal to implement a fully funded --

The Speaker: Minister of Environment, that's fine. I appreciate your response. I'm sure everyone appreciated your response.


The Speaker: Sit down. You've got to stand in line.

Mr Dwight Duncan (Windsor-Walkerville): On a point of privilege, Mr Speaker: In response to a question about the family support plan and the needs of members dealing with the fallout from the completely incompetent handling of the consolidation, the Attorney General's office set up a so-called hotline to get issues dealt with quickly. Just the other day I had a fax dealing with issues that were more than a month old and I wanted to point out that one of my constituents was evicted as a result of not being able to collect from that hotline.

The Speaker: I appreciate the comments, but it is not a point of privilege.

The Minister of Environment had a point of privilege?

Hon Mr Sterling: Mr Speaker, I don't have a point of privilege either.


Mrs Elinor Caplan (Oriole): On a point of order, Mr Speaker: I have a concern that I'd like to draw to your attention. Under the standing orders, the members of this House are able to table order paper questions and the government is obliged to respond; I believe under the standing orders it is within two weeks.

I want to bring to your attention that there are order paper questions dating back to May 1996. It is now November 7 and I'd ask that you use your good offices. I'm referring to one in particular, order paper number 348, an inquiry of the Solicitor General and Minister of Correctional Services: Would the minister respond to "each recommendation made by the Commission on Systemic Racism that affects the ministry." That was dated April 24, 1996, and there was an interim answer tabled May 8 with the approximate available information, but since it is still listed here in the orders I'm wondering whether or not it's reasonable for members of the opposition to expect that there will be additional information tabled.

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): I appreciate your point of order. Those should be responded to in a timely fashion and I will take it under consideration. Motions.



Hon David Johnson (Chair of the Management Board of Cabinet and Government House Leader): Mr Speaker, I move we proceed to orders of the day.

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): The government House leader moves that we proceed to orders of the day.

All those in favour say "aye."

All those opposed say "nay."

In my opinion, the ayes have it. There will be a 30-minute bell.

The division bells rang from 1558 to 1627.

The Speaker: Order. Members take their seats, please.

Mr Johnson has moved that we proceed to orders of the day.

All those in favour will please stand and remain standing.

All those opposed will please stand and remain standing.

Clerk of the House (Mr Claude L. DesRosiers): The ayes are 57; the nays are 17.

The Speaker: I declare the motion carried.

Mr Bud Wildman (Algoma): Point of order.

The Speaker: We're directly into orders of the day. I must proceed with that, then I will take your point of order.



Resuming the adjourned debate on the motion for third reading of Bill 75, An Act to regulate alcohol and gaming in the public interest, to fund charities through the responsible management of video lotteries and to amend certain statutes related to alcohol and gaming / Projet de loi 75, Loi réglementant les alcools et les jeux dans l'intérêt public, prévoyant le financement des organismes de bienfaisance grâce à la gestion responsable des loteries vidéo et modifiant des lois en ce qui a trait aux alcools et aux jeux.

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): The member for London Centre has the floor.

Mr Bud Wildman (Algoma): On a point of order, Mr Speaker: I would ask for unanimous consent to revert to debating Bill 82 rather than Bill 75 considering the Attorney General's desire today in the House that we should debate that legislation. Why not deal with it now and have this thing out right now?


The Speaker: I understand the point of order the member for Algoma has moved. I would ask, is there unanimous consent to proceed? No. There not being --


The Speaker: The member for London Centre has the floor.

Mrs Marion Boyd (London Centre): I'm glad that I have the floor because one of the issues that has arisen in this House today is similar to the issue that has arisen with respect to Bill 75. This government is playing fast and loose with the administration of justice in this province. This government said the reason that it was bringing in legal VLTs in this province was because it would solve the problem of illegality around VLTs. That is not the case. They now are claiming that they never intended to put VLTs in every bar and restaurant in the province. I wonder what Mr Oliver, who's the director of the Ontario Restaurant Association, would say about that, because he certainly had a different impression.

We should be doing Bill 82 here. We should be debating an issue that has arisen in this House, an issue that the government claims is important to us. We got a taunt from the minister, who has created absolute havoc with the administration of justice in this province this afternoon in this place, saying, "Then let's debate Bill 82." Since the government is not prepared to debate Bill 82, I move adjournment of the House.

The Speaker: The member for London Centre has moved adjournment of the House.

All those in favour, please say "aye."

All those opposed, please say "nay."

In my opinion, the nays have it.

Call in the members. It'll be a 30-minute bell.

The division bells rang from 1632 to 1702.

The Speaker: Order. Members take their seats, please.

The member for London Centre moved adjournment of the House.

All those in favour please rise and remain standing.

All those opposed please rise and remain standing.

Clerk of the House (Mr Claude L. DesRosiers): The ayes are 16, the nays are 50.

The Speaker: I declare the motion lost.

Mrs Boyd: I'm disappointed in the members of the government because I think they should understand that opposing starting Bill 82, given the mess their Attorney General has made of the family support plan, is not in their best interests. He taunted us on this side of the House about starting immediately on Bill 82, and you cannot claim we're not being cooperative because we are saying to you very clearly we want to debate Bill 82.

We want the people of Ontario to understand that not only in Bill 75 has this government ignored what they have heard from the people of Ontario, ignored the kind of amendments that have been brought forward by members of the opposition and the third party, you have absolutely ignored the ruination of what was deemed in the Ministry of the Attorney General's own plan as the best family support plan in Canada, indeed in North America. So you ought to be ashamed of yourselves for supporting your House leader and not going forward according to the wishes of his own minister who said he wanted us to debate Bill 82.

But since we are talking about Bill 75, I wish to continue in the vein in which I was dealing with this issue yesterday. This government said very clearly that the only reason it was bringing forward slot machines was to deal with the problem of illegal slot machines. The Minister of Finance is clearly, in his statement, only on that line: "This is the reason we are doing it." The Premier and the Minister of Finance have said time after time to the people of the province: "We don't have a revenue problem. The only reason we're doing this is to deal with the problem of illegal slots."

Yesterday, the minister who is responsible for the police, the Solicitor General and Minister of Correctional Services, and the Attorney General had the nerve, of course having called the press conference assuming they would get their way on closure on Bill 75 and it would already be law, to boast that they now, once they have the legal slot machines, are going to give them $7 million to have an anti-gambling squad. If that isn't flim-flammery, I don't know what is. These two ministers, your so-called ministers of justice, are calling the administration of the law in this province into disrepute every day with that kind of trick.

When the police questioned, when you were going through the cabinet process -- said very clearly that they needed the dollars to deal with anti-gambling, why weren't they given those dollars if that was the issue? Why didn't the $7 million go into the police way back when all of that was being considered so they could deal with the issue of illegal slots? I know why, and the police ought to be ashamed to be part of an announcement like that. They did it because they wanted to use the excuse of those illegal slot machines to get through a bill that allows legal slot machines. The police were being used by the two ministers who claim that they are the ministers of justice in this province.

Mr Peter L. Preston (Brant-Haldimand): That's a shame.

Mrs Boyd: It is a shame. It is very shameful. The nonsense that we saw in this House today is another such example. Again and again and again we see these so-called ministers of justice dealing with issues that call the administration of justice into disrepute.

We have the Ipperwash crisis, a shameful thing. We see the Premier and the Deputy Premier and the Attorney General and the Solicitor General, all of whom are implicated by your own member for Lambton as having been given running reports about what was going on at Ipperwash, and they stand up and say: "We didn't have that information. We knew nothing, and there was no political interference." I can tell you that Mr Beaubien, the member for Lambton, represents not only the people who are opposed to the native people in Ipperwash but the people of Ipperwash themselves. It is his responsibility to represent their views as well.

That's why we're asking the Solicitor General, the Attorney General and the Premier's office to release the faxes that Mr Beaubien sent and show to us that in fact there was no political interference with the administration of justice in this province.

It isn't just Bill 75 where these two ministers play fast and loose with law and order in this province. It's not only there but it's in the case of a tragic shooting. Then we have the Solicitor General and the Attorney General covering up an incident that occurs at the Elgin-Middlesex Detention Centre, very clearly refusing to release a report to the public or to the young people and their counsel who were involved, but releasing it to those who are accused of wrongdoing in the case, releasing that report to the very people who are accused.

It's a similar kind of thing that we see with Bill 75, just playing fast and loose with their authority as ministers of justice in this province. The situation is getting very serious. When you see a government that purports to be a law-and-order government, that ran on a platform that talked about respect for law and order, using the law to its own ends. That is what's happening in Bill 75.


Instead of heeding the very clear advice of the police and saying, "Yes," instead of cutting back on the Ontario Provincial Police, instead of destroying the anti-racket squad, which is what that Solicitor General has done, what we should do is give the police the resources to deal with the illegal gambling. We should be very clear that allowing legal slot machines is no way to prevent the kind of illegal activity that has been the great worry of police officers in this province.

I say to the members opposite, you need to question very clearly how this will all look in hindsight to people. The very excuse that your government used for releasing this blight upon us in Ontario, the blight that causes addictions -- and very clearly we had lots of evidence during the hearings that this is the case -- the very excuse you use is false. You had at your disposal the means to fund the police to deal with illegal slot machines. I think it's very embarrassing for you to be caught in a position where this bill is not yet passed, and yet your two so-called ministers of justice are out there announcing what could have been announced long ago. People are going to start seeing through this kind of behaviour, seeing through the kind of bullying that you do.

It's very important that you understand this is a deeply felt issue for many people, that the 62% of people who were surveyed who said they didn't want these machines available in their communities are voters. It is going to be very difficult for some of you, particularly those of you who said as the Premier did that there would be no expansion of gambling in this province unless the individuals in the communities agreed to it. You need to know that your government refused to accept amendments to this bill which would have made it necessary for a municipality to agree to have video slot machines in its jurisdiction. Simple matter. It goes right back to the Premier's argument about the local level being the most important level -- except, of course, in Metropolitan Toronto, where you seem to have changed your tune.

You also refused amendments that would have meant very clearly that these machines would not be put just anywhere in our communities. The Premier said, "We're not requiring that they be there, it's just permissive legislation." Permissive legislation is a very important issue, because it means anything goes once this bill becomes law.

Who's going to believe a Premier who says on the eve of the passage of this bill, which is very unpopular with those who are voters in this province, that these things will not be in bars and restaurants and amusement halls all over this province? His credibility is nil on this issue. He stood almost in my place again and again in this House and talked about how awful gambling was.

Quite frankly, I think given the fact that this government is not prepared to deal appropriately with the amendments to this bill, we must adjourn the debate, and I move that we adjourn the debate.

The Speaker: The member for London Centre has moved adjournment of the debate.

All those in favour, please say "aye."

All those opposed, please say, "nay."

In my opinion, the nays have it.

Call in the members. It will be a 30-minute bell.

The division bells rang from 1715 to 1745.

The Speaker: Order. Will the members take their seats, please. The member for Hamilton Centre, could you take your seat, please. The member for St Catharines as well. The member for Welland-Thorold, will you please take your seat. Thank you.

The member for London Centre has moved adjournment of the House.

All those in favour, please rise and remain standing.

All those opposed, please rise and remain standing.

Clerk of the House: The ayes are 15 and the nays are 51.

The Speaker: I declare the motion lost.

Mrs Boyd: I'm really sorry that the members of the House don't understand the importance of the issue that we're raising this afternoon. Bill 75 is going to go down in history as an infamous error on the part of this government. It is going to be seen by the people of Ontario as a canker at the heart of our community, because it will allow video slot machines to be anywhere that the government deems it necessary to put them, and that is indeed a sad thing.

The committee that travelled around the province to deal with Bill 75 heard from many groups and from many of those involved in addiction counselling how very serious the addiction to video slot machines is. I know the government gets impatient when people in the opposition and the third party talk about this as the crack cocaine of gambling, but it is. The reality is that people just keep pulling that handle again and again, to the detriment of their families and to the detriment of themselves.

Opening the door to this widespread availability of VLTs within our neighbourhoods will succeed in causing addiction to gambling for a lot of people who would never have tried it. May I ask the members of the government benches, how many people do you know who go to Las Vegas and tell you, "Well, I didn't really gamble, I just played the slots"? Those are the people who, if the slot machine is in their neighbourhood bar or restaurant, will try it, and would never have gambled otherwise. If these machines are only in places where gambling is already allowed, like racetracks, like the off-track betting establishments, like the two casinos that are currently available, that is a place where people have gone intending to gamble. But when we see these things in the neighbourhood bar, looking -- if people watched the film on television last night -- very much like an arcade game, it will attract a lot of people who would never otherwise gamble.

That is the issue the opposition and the third party have been bringing forward. You are opening the door to a lot of problems that you tried to close your eyes to and you're doing it on a false premise. You're doing it based on the misinformation provided in the budget that this is necessary in order to control illegal gambling.

Your two so-called ministers of justice yesterday, in their press conference, and the police officers they gathered around them, showed very clearly that the legalization of gambling has absolutely no positive effect on the illegality of these machines, and in fact may have a negative effect. The reason for that is, of course, that the payoff is bigger if it's an illegal machine. Once people become addicted, we know in other jurisdictions they drift to the illegal machines because the payoff is bigger.

The other issue, of course, is the issue of money laundering. I find it very interesting that no one in the government wants to consider the very serious and clear evidence that has been brought forward by the police around the money-laundering capabilities of legal slot machines. It is very difficult to track laundered money now; it will be that much more difficult when you have 20,000 legal slot machines out there. That has been the experience in other jurisdictions. You may want to pass this bill; we will continue to oppose it.

The Speaker: Questions and comments.

Mr Bert Johnson (Perth): In response to the member speaking -- I need the clock -- I don't agree.

The Speaker: Questions and comments.

Mr Sean G. Conway (Renfrew North): I want to make a point that the former Attorney General has made, that there are a number of pieces of evidence that abound to support the contention that this qualitative advance in gaming is very threatening to the social and economic fabric of Ontario.

I was struck a few weeks ago to read -- and I would recommend it for all members -- a series of articles in the Minneapolis Star and Tribune called "Dead Broke." That quite prominent American newspaper took one of its top investigative journalists and gave that individual, Chris Ison by name, a very substantial amount of time and resource to go and look at what gaming, particularly this kind of gaming, was doing in that part of the United States. I'm telling you, you cannot read this kind of a report and conclude that we want to follow down that path in Ontario.

I accept the argument that's been made that we've been in this business for some time. It was a great debate here when Bob Welch, the sainted Robert Kemp Welch, a pillar in the Church of England, brought forward 20 years ago the Ontario Lottery Corp, that very innocent first step, at which time, by the way, assurances were given that we would never get much beyond that. I'm sure if Bob Welch were here today he would be very, very hard-pressed to accept this kind of advance into what has been called the worst of gaming, the crack cocaine, these absolutely compulsive pocket-picking electronic slot machines. This is a different and qualitatively more dangerous kind of gaming, and Ms Boyd is right to point that out.

Mr Wildman: I want to congratulate my friend from London Centre who has brought to this debate her perspective as a former Attorney General and her concern about the approach particularly in regard to the proposed additional moneys for dealing with the policing requirements resulting from the social problems that are brought on by the use of slot machines. She was quite right in pointing out that obviously the government expected Bill 75 would have been passed in this House because of the motion that was put forward for closure the day before the Solicitor General had scheduled the press conference he had over at the coroner's building with the police officers to talk about what they were going to do in providing $7 million additional funding to deal with the social problems related to illegal slot machines.

It's significant I think that when they were discussing that in the press conference the question was raised, "If there are all these social problems related to the use of illegal slot machines, are there not similar social problems related to the use of legal slot machines?" The police officer who was asked that question had to respond, "That's not the question I should be dealing with; that's essentially a political question." In fact, the point is this: If there are social problems related to addictions related to these kinds of machines, it doesn't matter one iota if it's legal or illegal; they still exist.

Mr Jim Flaherty (Durham Centre): In response to the member for London Centre, I would remind all members of the importance of this legislation for the effective control of alcohol and gaming in Ontario.

The Speaker: Responses. I'm sorry. The member for --


The Speaker: No, responses. The member for London Centre.

Mr Peter Kormos (Welland-Thorold): On a point of order, Mr Speaker --


The Speaker: Pardon? The member for London Centre.


The Speaker: What's your --


The Speaker: There is no point of order. Everything's in order. The member for London Centre --

Mr Kormos: Let me explain what the rules say --

The Speaker: I know what the rules say. The member for London Centre.

Mrs Boyd: I'm not quite clear what was going on there.

I thank the members who commented on the speech that I made and who very clearly expressed their own point of view. It's very clear that this is a closed-minded government. Two members from the government stood up and gave no substantive answer, just said, "We disagree." And that's the way you're governing. You're governing this province with absolutely no attention to what is in the best public interest of the citizens of this province. You pay no attention to the advice that they bring you at committee. You pay no attention to the legitimate concerns that are raised. Why? Because you've got a determination to push a bill like this through because you're so desperate for the dollars that you need to fund your phoney tax cut. And that's what it's all about. In order to make a million bucks a day, in order to make up for the kind of dollars that you're passing out to your friends in terms of the phoney tax cut, you are prepared to not listen to the individuals in this province who have deep concerns about a deep social evil, a social evil that was outlined to you again and again. You would not even compromise to the extent of giving local governments the chance to say yes or no to these evil machines. That's not even in your idea, that you could possibly listen to those who have to live with this evil. You know best. And that's the way you're governing.

Mr Kormos: Mr Speaker, on a point of order, please --

Mrs Boyd: And, Mr Speaker, while I'm on my feet, I have a point of order.

The Speaker: There's nothing out of order.

Mrs Boyd: No, I have a point of order, Mr Speaker.


Mrs Boyd: Excuse me. I still had the floor.

The Speaker: Order.


The Speaker: Order. There is nothing out of order. The member for Renfrew North?

Mr Conway: I have a point of privilege, Mr Speaker.

The Speaker: Then, member, make it quick.

Mr Conway: I will, Mr Speaker. On a point of privilege, Mr Speaker: Because we are about to adjourn, you promised earlier today to take under consideration a very serious matter. Since the meeting of the House this afternoon, I have had a very substantial piece of information brought to my attention that I think is absolutely important that you take under consideration over the next little while.

The Attorney General this afternoon did something that was very, very significant.

The Speaker: I appreciate what the member for Renfrew North is bringing to bear here. The fact remains simple: I heard the privileges and orders of the time. I said I would report back on those come Monday. Now, I understand what the game plan of the Speaker is, and my job is to maintain order. The privilege is not in order.

Mr Conway: We have a very serious matter. Two members are under criminal investigation --


The Speaker: Order.

Mr Conway: -- and I have in my possession this afternoon information --

The Speaker: Member for Renfrew North, you're out of order. The member for Renfrew North.

Mr Conway: -- that a member of the press gallery has been to the --

The Speaker: I am warning the member for Renfrew North.


The Speaker: I say to the member for Renfrew North, you're out of order.

Mr Conway: He went all through that building, and there were no --

The Speaker: One more time, I will name the member for Renfrew North as being out of order. I give you the last warning.

Mr Conway: -- as well as from you, two members --

The Speaker: Last chance. The member for Renfrew North is out of order. I'm going to have to name you if you don't take your seat.

Mr Conway: We have two colleagues who are under criminal investigation --

The Speaker: I name the member for Renfrew North. I would ask that he leave the chamber.

Mr Conway: This is an intolerable situation. We cannot have members of this House under criminal investigation -- The Speaker: The member for Renfrew North, don't make the Sergeant touch you. The member for Renfrew North, I ask you to leave before force is needed. I ask you. I ask you to leave.

Mr Conway was escorted from the chamber.

The Speaker: The House needs to come to order. I hear you, the member for Brampton South. I can only have the House in order before I recognize you.

Mr Wildman: Mr Speaker, I have a point of order.

The Speaker: No, there is nothing out of order. There is nothing out of order.

Mr Wildman: I don't have a point of order. I have a point of privilege.


The Speaker: I ask the members to come to order. I hear you. I don't believe there's anything out of order. There is nothing out of order. The privileges: There's nothing that's been -- there's no privilege here. It's in order.


The Speaker: Order. Member for Algoma, I ask you to take your seat. Member for Oriole, I ask you to take your seat. The member from Cochrane, I ask you to take your seat.

Mr Wildman: Mr Speaker, with all due respect, you cannot ignore --

The Speaker: Order, order. I'm warning the member for Algoma, I'm going to name the member. I'm going to name the member.

It being 6 of the clock, this House stands adjourned till Monday, November 18, at 1:30 of the clock.

The House adjourned at 1803.