36th Parliament, 1st Session

l133 - Wed 4 Dec 1996 / Mer 4 Déc 1996

















































The House met at 1330.




Mr Jean-Marc Lalonde (Prescott and Russell): My statement is addressed to the Minister of Health and it concerns the continued job action by Ontario's doctors. Minister, Ontarians cannot be kept in the dark any longer. They deserve to know the status of your so far fruitless negotiations with Ontario's doctors. Ontarians deserve to know what you are doing to ensure their timely access to doctors' services.

I have with me 50 letters, mostly from women, pleading with the minister to settle the dispute with doctors so that obstetricians can continue to provide their vital services. I also have heard from several constituents who have been unable to get the health care they desperately need.

Mme Lise Desforges-Breau of Hawkesbury recently suffered an angina attack. She is in hospital and has been told that a cardiologist will not be available to see her until next April. Five months is much too long a wait for a patient in this condition. M. Jean-Marcel Morin, also from Hawkesbury, cannot get a much-needed appointment with an orthopaedic surgeon. The list goes on and on.

I have answered every one of these letters, Minister. I also hope that you will do the same. But more importantly, I hope that you will put an end to this very tragic situation that is causing unnecessary anxiety and frustration --

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Thank you.


Mr Len Wood (Cochrane North): I want to direct my statement today to the Attorney General. December has always been a month of celebrations and festivities, but this year, because of the government's incompetence, a large number of single parents and children in Cochrane North and across the province will not feel like celebrating.

Because of the cutbacks and changes this government has made to the family support plan and your inability to deal with the mess you created, single parents and children of this province are struggling day after day to survive. Those parents are struggling to keep a roof over their families' heads. Month after month, single parents, mostly women, are placed in the humiliating position where they have to go to their landlords to beg for an extension on their rent. Many of those parents cannot afford winter clothing for their children. To add to their despair, they cannot even get through to the plan's hotline to resolve their situations.

I am urging this government to act now and to guarantee that this tragic situation be resolved by Christmas to give the single parents and children the money they are entitled to and which they so badly need.

It's a disgrace to see this government dragging its feet the way it is and saying it's trying to correct this problem. They're blaming it on a computer glitch, but we know it's because they fired 295 workers in this province and shut down all of the family support plan offices and moved everything to Downsview. It's a mess. Everything is still sitting in cardboard boxes over there, and you can't plug cardboard boxes into the wall to make sure the computers work. It's a shame.


Mrs Brenda Elliott (Guelph) : Today I proudly wear red and gold, the colours of the Guelph Gryphons. It's my pleasure to announce that the University of Guelph Gryphons are the provincial champions of the Ontario University Athletic Association. They defeated the University of Waterloo to capture the prestigious Yates Cup, the oldest cup in football, dating back to 1898. It's their third Ontario championship since 1984.

As well, the Gryphon locker room has won a berth in the Canadian Football Hall of Fame and Museum in Hamilton for a display to be completed in May 1997. Nicknamed the Gryphon Lair, the room was chosen after a competition open to all of the teams. This display will depict the complete red-and-gold locker room and is decorated with many action photos of former Gryphon players and champions, including my colleague from Quinte, Doug Rollins. A six-foot gryphon is painted on the wall because as the players have headed for the field they have traditionally touched the front claw for good luck. Not only was the team victorious, but coach Dan McNally was also honoured as Coach of the Year for 1996.

Sometimes people jokingly refer to the University of Guelph as "Moo U" because of its agricultural excellence. Well, this university has a terrific athletic presence in Canada, and I congratulate everyone in the University of Guelph sports organization for their excellent representation of the university and of the city of Guelph.


Mr Michael Gravelle (Port Arthur): Earlier today in Thunder Bay, Health Minister Jim Wilson announced the details of just what his ministry is willing to provide to our community in the wake of the restructuring commission's final directives and the subsequent proposal made by the regional hospital related to a new acute care hospital in Thunder Bay.

While I am pleased that the minister listened to my call for an increase in the proportion of capital funding provided by the province, it is impossible to not be disappointed and frustrated that he will not allow the 70% provincial commitment to be used to build a new single acute care site in the city. I remain convinced that the minister, without any engineering or architectural reports, has grossly underestimated the cost of a refurbishment of the Port Arthur General site, and on the other hand has overestimated the cost of a new site, leading him to justify his decision on a faulty financial basis. Perhaps more importantly, I regret that the minister will not allow our community to have a choice in what or where their permanent acute care site for the long-term future will be. That decision should be ours.

As well, there are so many other aspects of the minister's announcement today that need to be addressed. We still remain gravely concerned about our bed numbers, the future of our psychiatric services and our long-term-care facilities and needs.

We'll be watching closely and working together as a community to ensure that all of these areas of concern are addressed. But for now this minister should know that we will continue to fight, because our lives depend on it.


Mr Tony Silipo (Dovercourt): I continue to receive letters and petitions from many citizens in my riding and other parts of Metropolitan Toronto who are upset about the haste with which this government is moving on amalgamation of cities within Metropolitan Toronto. I want to read out one letter that comes from a long-time supporter of the Conservative government and a constituent of mine, Donald C. Harrison, who writes:

"Dear Mr Harris

"As a lifelong citizen of the city of Toronto, and as a long-time supporter of your party, I urge you to proceed with great caution about amalgamating the city of Toronto with the surrounding sea of suburbia. It seems to be quite unclear that this will save anyone any money. It will result in a much larger and less sensitive bureaucracy. It will be too large for the ordinary citizen to know and have ready access to local municipal politicians. Toronto will lose its unique character as a series of different neighbourhoods. The downtown core of the city is the business and financial centre for all of Canada, and has its own particular problems, which simply cannot be lumped in with the problems of the dormitory suburbs.

"Certainly improvements in the present arrangements can and should be made. But what is all the rush about? The citizens living here in the city should have their say as to what should be done, and hard and hasty decisions should not be imposed dictatorially from the top down with little or no discussion or involvement. I urge you to make haste slowly, and only after fair consultation with those of us who live here and call the place home."

I know the words of Donald C. Harrison of Wychwood Park in my riding are reflected by many in the riding of Dovercourt and across the province in calling upon the government to go slowly on this very important issue.



Mr Bert Johnson (Perth): Members of the Huron-Perth District Health Council task force conducted an options information session in Mitchell recently. The purpose of this session was to announce the three hospital restructuring options established for the counties of Huron and Perth.

The task force established and considered a long list of options to reconfigure the hospital system in Huron-Perth. They have set their goal at eliminating duplicated services and excess capacity while accelerating the shift from inpatient to outpatient care, all the while maintaining or improving patient care. These options are by no means final. The options are in fact starting points for detailed analysis and consultation.

The next step being taken by the task force is to hold open house discussions across Huron and Perth. These sessions will be used to inform the people of Huron and Perth of the preferred option established by the task force and to obtain feedback.

I'm encouraging everyone in Perth to participate in this process and bring forth their ideas on how to meet their health needs now and in the future.

Well aware of the need for change, people in the riding of Perth are working together to come up with the resources and fresh ideas necessary to make quality, affordable health care a reality.


Mr Pat Hoy (Essex-Kent): Since taking office, this government has taken an axe to the budgets of every single ministry. Jobs and services have been cut, leaving crucial programs without sufficient staff to properly administer the needs of Ontario residents. Services have been privatized without due care and attention to safety issues, to administrative issues, to labour issues and to issues involving the protection of the privacy of personal information of Ontarians.

Just this week, one of my constituents has been the victim of the ineptness of the Ministry of Transportation and the company hired by the ministry to distribute licence plate renewals. My constituent received an envelope addressed to him, but inside that envelope was the plate renewal for some other person. His renewal, which gives vital personal information, has been sent to someone else. It includes his name and address, yet the ministry and the company refuse to take the steps necessary to retrieve his information. If you hire somebody to do a job, they should be competent to begin with and at least willing to correct their errors.

What kind of false economy is the government practising and how are my constituents' privacy rights going to be protected?


Mrs Marion Boyd (London Centre): The government's proposed closure of the Vanier Centre for Women in Brampton and the placement of all provincial women prisoners into a superjail is both foolish and costly.

The Vanier Centre is a dedicated facility for women which has developed programs specific to the needs of women. A woman's reality is substantially different from that of a man, due in large part to her perceived secondary status in society. Female offenders are almost invariably victims of male violence. They experience low self-esteem and have not developed the ability to act on their own behalf. Women offenders typically have depended upon men or society to maintain themselves economically. They are often caught up in destructive lifestyles that lack purpose and reason.

Vanier is a unique facility which provides specialized programs to deal with issues like physical and sexual abuse, lack of trust in relationships and low personal aspirations. Based on compassion and understanding between staff and offenders, the Vanier program provides support, role modelling, behaviour modification and problem-solving skills. Offenders in the Vanier program are 15% less likely to reoffend than offenders who receive no treatment.

The Vanier Centre is a facility whose success in preventing recidivism is proven. The cost of effective corrections at the provincial level must be balanced with the cost of recidivism if specialized programs are not provided. Shame on the government for even considering closing the Vanier Centre.


Mr Ernie Hardeman (Oxford): I rise in the House today to honour and congratulate two of my constituents, Martin and Olivia Streef. The Streefs were recently named Canada's outstanding young farmers at the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair.

This award recognizes young farm couples who exemplify excellence in their profession based on their achievements in conservation, agricultural production and community involvement. Earlier this year, the Streefs were named Ontario's outstanding young farmers.

Martin and Olivia operate Streef Produce Ltd in Princeton, where they grow potatoes, baby carrots, pickling cucumbers, along with yellow and green beans.

During the competition the Streefs had to present a speech based on the topic, "How would you improve your sector of agriculture in today's Canadian business climate?" I believe this passage from the speech is appropriate, "By taking care of problems one by one as they arrive and correcting the wrongs of the past, we will make our sector just a little stronger, fairer, more level and equal for everyone involved."

I would like to congratulate this couple on their contributions to farming and to the community of Oxford.


The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): The member for Essex-Kent rose on a point of order yesterday with respect to the Speaker's robes and wearing them in the assembly. I suggest to the member that it wasn't out of order specifically for the member for Perth, I think you were responding to, but having discussed this today at presiding officers' meeting, we will be more vigilant in the future and give you our undertaking that specifically that kind of instance wouldn't happen again. Thank you for raising it.



Hon Michael D. Harris (Premier): I wish to rise today to make an important statement regarding our government's agenda.

On May 3, 1994, I stood in the media studio downstairs from this House and launched the Common Sense Revolution. This plan was four years in the making. It was built upon hundreds of hours of consultations and dialogue with the voters of this province.

On June 8, 1995, after 13 months of campaigning on this plan, we were elected to implement the changes that would benefit all Ontarians.

The Common Sense Revolution, developed by Ontarians, is a plan to bring jobs and hope and opportunity not only for the people of Ontario today, but also for all of our children tomorrow.

This goal of a stronger, more sustainable future is built on five key principles: (1) lowering taxes to encourage more consumer spending and create jobs; (2) less government spending; (3) removing barriers to growth and investment; (4) doing better for less; and (5) a fully balanced budget.

Over the past 18 months, our government has already kept many of the commitments we made to achieve these principles.

We have cut personal income taxes, giving back to Ontarians more of their own hard-earned money. How Ontario families spend their own money will create far more jobs than government can ever create by spending it for them.

We're already starting to see the results. Retail sales were up a full point in September alone. Housing starts were up an encouraging 6.2% in the third quarter. Auto production reached an all-time record level, averaging 220,000 units in the second quarter of 1996. Consumer confidence in Ontario has risen by 19.2% so far this year.

We have cut payroll taxes, effective January 1, in an effort to reduce the cost of doing business in Ontario. We have cut red tape and we have moved to reform a number of agencies that have stood in the way of job creation. We have also ended corporate welfare.

The results? Since our government's first throne speech, 136,000 net new jobs have been created in Ontario, more than 60% of all the jobs that have been created in the entire country. I invite Ontarians to contrast this with 10,000 net lost jobs during the entire five-year period from 1990 to 1995.

We are particularly encouraged by the results we are seeing in youth employment. In the past year, October over October, youth employment decreased in the rest of Canada by 63,000. At the same time in Ontario, youth employment increased by 10,000, contrary to the trends in the rest of Canada.

We have ended unfair job quotas, thereby restoring the merit principle in hiring and promotion decisions. We have repealed job-killing labour legislation and we've restored a balance between labour and management in labour relations.

The results of these measures are clear: Businesses in Ontario are planning to increase plant and equipment spending by 11.9% in 1996. Nationally, 53% of businesses surveyed cite Ontario as the most desirable location, the most desirable province for investment and job creation.

We've already identified $5 billion on an annualized basis of the $8 billion we need to find in waste and overspending while maintaining, and in many cases enhancing, our priorities. For example, we are spending $300 million more this year on health care than we committed. We will spend $200 million more on child care, $5 million on school nutrition programs, $10 million on a healthy babies initiative, to name just a few.


The deficit will be slashed by 40% by next year and, as the Dominion Bond Rating Service, one of the toughest rating services, has confirmed, the deficit is fully on track to being totally erased by the year 2000-01.

When we took office the deficit was over $11 billion annually. The debt had tripled to nearly $100 billion, the equivalent of $46,600 for each and every school child in Ontario. Unacceptable.

We have set welfare rates at 10% above the average of the rest of the country. We have reformed the welfare system. We are making mandatory work for welfare a reality in Ontario. We have provided incentives to work by allowing welfare recipients to earn money up to the level of previous welfare rates without any penalty.

These changes, coupled with an income tax cut of more than 40% for low-income families and increased access to the Trillium drug benefit plan, are encouraging the work ethic in Ontario and providing incentives for individuals to work. The result? One hundred and ninety-five thousand men, women and children are no longer dependent on welfare today, down from 1.3 million in 1995.

Ontario is on the move again. For the first time this decade, Ontario is leading the country in growth, jobs and investment. We're nearing our goal of a better province for our people and our children. The momentum is there and the results are clear.

We still face an ambitious agenda and many difficult challenges, but we are on track to achieving the five key principles we set out in the Common Sense Revolution that will help us reach our goal of a better Ontario today and for our children.

It is not enough to just cut taxes to create jobs today; we must tackle the problems that led to those high taxes in the first place. We must not just cut government spending; we need to restructure government itself. No one would argue with the view that government in this province has become too big, too wasteful and too complicated.

To address this, we are leading by example. In addition to cutting MPPs' pay by 5% and scrapping the gold-plated MPP pension plan, we've brought in legislation to cut the number of MPPs at Queen's Park from 130 to 103, but we must do more at all levels of government. There is still waste and there is still duplication that can be eliminated.

For example, I have in front of me two stacks of what is 130 pieces of provincial legislation that tell municipalities exactly what they can and what they cannot do.

For example, when a family in North York goes to Earl Bales Park they might find any number of staff from two levels of government and a conservation authority, all working in this one park. In Metro Toronto alone there are 217 municipal politicians, including 111 school board trustees.

In education, we have begun to restore excellence and accountability to our school system by putting students first. We are setting clear, high standards for student performance and we're developing --


The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Order. That was the opposition. I'm having difficulty hearing the Premier. I ask that you come to order, please. Thank you.

Hon Mr Harris: We are setting clear, high standards for student performance and we are developing real, tangible methods of measuring a student's progress. While we are confident that we have the best classroom teachers in the world right here in Ontario, we do need to look more closely at the system, a system where the highest-spending school boards spend almost $2,500 more per student than some other boards in the province, a system where 47% is spent outside the classroom.

Since 1985, school enrolment has increased by 16%, inflation by 40% but operating expenses increased by 82%. These examples illustrate why we decided to establish the Who Does What panel earlier this year.

Just as we said in the Common Sense Revolution, we do not need every layer of government that we have now. Taxpayers deserve a restructuring of these cumbersome bureaucracies.

We asked David Crombie and a panel of distinguished Ontarians how we could make the provincial and municipal levels of government in Ontario work better for the taxpayers they serve by cutting the size and cost of government, by rooting out waste, by ending duplication and overlap and by doing better for less. Despite over 60 studies on municipal government in Ontario in the past three years and despite 22 studies on school boards, no action had been taken.

The Who Does What panel was asked to give us advice on how we could, once and for all, take action. Specifically, the task force had two main components: how municipalities are governed, and what each level of government should do.

This Friday, Mr Crombie will be releasing his advice on municipal governance. We will review his recommendations and bring forward our first piece of legislation before Christmas in order to ensure that changes can be implemented before the next municipal elections.

The task of reviewing governance also included schools in Ontario. Members will know that Mr Crombie delivered his recommendations on education on November 13. We will be signalling our intentions on this very important decision early in the new year, again in order to make changes before the next municipal elections.

The second task undertaken by Mr Crombie and his panel was to root out waste in government by ending duplication and overlap between the province and municipalities. This disentanglement process was started under the previous government. Ten letters of recommendation on this issue have already been delivered, with final recommendations from the panel and the wrapup expected within the next two weeks.

After receiving these final recommendations, we will bring forward the legislation necessary to ensure that the newly defined responsibilities will be in place for 1998, following the 1997 municipal elections.

In the meantime, starting tomorrow and continuing over the next few weeks, individual ministers will be confirming transfer payments for 1997. Spending by the province, school boards and municipalities totals now close to $80 billion a year.

We're confident that these decisions stemming from the Who Does What exercise, as well as our ongoing efforts within Queen's Park, will allow us to meet the fiscal goals we have set. We are confident that ending waste, eliminating duplication and overlap, reducing the size and cost of government will save the less than four cents on every dollar spent that we need to achieve by the turn of the century to fully balance the Ontario budget.

These are important decisions that require focused attention and require appropriate public input and consultation. That is why today we are calling for a special session of the Ontario Legislature to deal with the various pieces of Who Does What legislation.

Beginning January 13 and throughout January, February and March, we will have an opportunity to debate, to hold public hearings and to finalize the changes that need to be made to reduce, once and for all, the size and the cost of government in Ontario that will lead to savings for the taxpayers of this province.

This special Who Does What session will be busy, but it will go a long way in ensuring that Ontario truly turns the corner towards jobs, prosperity, opportunity and renewed hope for our children's future. I'm calling on all members on all sides of the House to lend their support and to lend their cooperation for this very special and this very important session.


Mr Dalton McGuinty (Leader of the Opposition): This gives me an opportunity to contrast my vision for our province with the one just put forward by the Premier.

It's interesting to note that "the goal of a stronger, more sustainable future is built on five key principles." I'm quoting from the minister's statement. He talks about the importance of lowering taxes, reducing government spending, removing barriers, a balanced budget, and generally doing better for less.

I think there's more than a fiscal test to be applied to government. The fiscal test is surely an important test, but there's more to government than that. It was Hubert Humphrey who spoke about the importance of a moral test. He said that it was important to ask ourselves how we're treating those in the dawn of life, our very young; how we're treating those in the dusk of life, our very old; and how we're treating those in the shadows of life, our sick, our poor and our disabled. I believe in the importance of applying the moral test to government, and that makes me different from the Premier.

There is no reference in this statement to the needs of the homeless or what this government might do to address those problems. There's no reference in this statement, in any real sense, to the special needs of women, particularly abused women, women in need in this province, or what this government might do to address those needs. There's no reference in this statement to poor children and their special needs and the special obligation this government has to address those needs. This government is doing nothing of any real substance to address those needs.

There's no reference in this statement to the special needs of the sick in this province. What we do know when it comes to the sick in this province is that this government is continuing to hack $1.3 billion from our hospitals. They're closing hospitals, they're shutting down emergency wards and they're taking 13 million caregiving hours out of the system. On top of that, they've imposed $225 million in additional, new user fees for seniors who try to buy drugs.

With respect to education, at a time when we ought to be doing everything we can to ensure that we have the best-educated, the most skilled population on the planet because we live in a global economy, because we all understand that if we're going to get ahead in the new economy, we're going to do it with brain power, at that time, what are we doing? We're slashing classroom spending. We're putting students in larger classrooms. We're closing school libraries. We're increasing tuition fees. We're making cuts to colleges and universities.

It's interesting to note that last year, 45 out of 50 American states increased funding to their public universities. What is it that they know that we don't know? We cut funding to our universities. They understand the importance of investment in education, of investing in their people.

But let's for a moment stick to the fiscal test. I don't believe this government is even going to pass its own fiscal test. The government believes it's important to introduce some business principles into government, and to some extent that has some truth. But I can tell you, if we were all sitting around a corporate boardroom table today and our finance person were to tell us that we were bleeding profusely, that we were losing money, and somebody else were to propose that we declare a dividend to benefit the shareholders or that we give all the employees a bonus, the rest of us would say, "We can't do it because we simply can't afford it."

The same applies with respect to the 30% tax cut. We're going to borrow $12 billion, at great expense, not only financial, but at great expense and great cost to the people in this province. Ultimately, that's what government is all about: We're not for bigger interests or bigger government or bigger business or bigger unions or bigger interests of any kind; we're for people. This government doesn't understand that. It's the people who are being hurt by its actions.

We had hoped that there'd be no more cuts to schools, that we'd have a plan here today to combat child poverty, that we'd have a new plan for jobs other than simply cutting and privatizing them. Unfortunately, for the sick, the old, the disabled, the poor and the unemployed, this Premier hasn't heard their message. Unfortunately, this Premier has failed to learn that as a government you've simply got to marry fiscal goals with compassionate concerns.

What the Premier is telling Ontarians is that if you don't like what he's done so far, if you don't like the cuts to schools or to municipalities, if you don't like closing hospitals and universities, you ain't seen nothing yet, you ain't seen the Who Cuts What session. It's a sad day for Ontario --

The Speaker: Thank you. Responses. The leader of the third party.

Mr Howard Hampton (Rainy River): Twice now in less than a week the people of Ontario have been treated to two spin-doctoring exercises; one by the Minister of Finance, who strives desperately to avoid telling people across Ontario where he is going to take the next $3 billion from, who strives desperately not to tell the people of Ontario who is going to lose their job, how much is going to be taken out of education, how much is going to be taken out of health care, how much is going to be taken from the disabled, how much is going to be taken from kids, how much is going to be taken from seniors. That is the issue that this government is confronted with.

We see yet again today an effort by the Premier of the province to somehow spin doctor himself away and around that. The Dominion Bond Rating Service two weeks ago produced their paper where they said that the government, in order to finance their phoney tax scheme, will have to cut another $3 billion now and very likely another $2.8 billion down the road.

That is the real issue that confronts Ontario. The fact of the matter is that health care is being cut, education is being cut, children are being cut, communities are being cut, seniors are being cut and the disabled are being cut in order that this government can finance its phoney tax scheme to benefit some of the wealthiest people in the province.

I just want to give a few examples of that. The Premier talks about jobs; the fact of the matter is that there are 57,000 more people unemployed in Ontario today than there were a year ago.


The Speaker: Order. Can I ask the government members to come to order. The member for Etobicoke-Humber, it's difficult to hear when you're heckling, and the member for Brant-Haldimand as well. Thank you. Leader of the third party.

Mr Hampton: The other fact is that the Premier talks about jobs. In the Common Sense Revolution, he talked about 725,000 new jobs over four years. If you take where the government is at currently, the government is going to miss its mark by at least 225,000 jobs. That means 225,000 more people unemployed as a result of this government.

The government talks about child care. They want to spin it for people that they're spending more on child care. How is it, then, that child care centres here in Toronto are closing, that thousands of child care spaces are being lost across the province? How is it that child care workers are going to be asked to take a $4,500-a-year pay cut by this government at the same time that this government gives bank presidents a $200,000 tax break?


Another example: Women's crisis centres are having to close their second-stage housing. They're closing down their counselling services. Women who have left abused relationships are having to return to those abused relationships because this government's cuts have left them no alternative. Children are being forced to go to food banks because this government shut down the family support plan, shut down the eight regional offices, laid off 290 of the staff, can't deliver the child support cheques any more. Children who are entitled to child support, legally entitled to it, don't get it any more in order that this government can give their corporate friends a large tax benefit.

It goes on and on. The Premier talks about his government's agenda for education. The only agenda we've seen from this government was to take $800 million from education last year, and it's going to take another $800 million this year. This has meant that children don't get special education any more, that children who need to learn how to read don't have access to the school library any more, because there's no one to staff it. This means that children are losing so that bank presidents can get a tax benefit from this government. Children lose.

I could go on, but let me just say this: We welcome a special session of the Legislature this winter. We're going to come here and hold this government accountable. We're going to ask this government how they can take $15 million from injured workers to give their corporate friends a further $6 billion; how the education system can improve when you're taking almost $2 billion out of it; how it makes sense to force things like ambulance services and homes for the aged down on to the municipal property tax base.



Mr Dalton McGuinty (Leader of the Opposition): My question is for the Premier. You are destroying health care in Ontario. You aren't restructuring it, you aren't reforming it; you're destroying it. Yesterday your hospital elimination commission rolled into Pembroke and closed Pembroke Civic Hospital. It shut down 55 acute care beds, more than one third of the beds in town. It put 300 people out of work. Premier, why are you shutting down 55 acute care beds in Pembroke and firing 300 caregivers?

Hon Michael D. Harris (Premier): The Minister of Health is not here, but I have some information on the Pembroke restructuring. I'm told it was pretty much in line with the district health commission, that the recommendations were consistent with what was developed locally. These are initial recommendations. As I said, it tends to confirm what the locals had decided would be in their best interests.

The ministry received the report I think late yesterday afternoon as well. We will review and study the report. I hope you will too, and perhaps the local member, and we'll all make our recommendations on advice on how we can deal with the health care system. It clearly has too many beds, many of them shut down by your government and the NDP government, but does not have enough money, unless we find savings where there is waste, to provide a number of the new services, the new technologies it's our goal to provide.

Mr McGuinty: Premier, the difference between you and me when it comes to health care is that you see health care through the eyes of an accountant. To you it's just something to cut. I view health care through the eyes of the community. A hospital is part of a community's soul. That's where your babies are born, that's where you take your kids when they're sick and that's where your parents pass on. How can you rip 96 years of history out of the Pembroke community? Why did you stop believing in communities and their traditions?

Hon Mr Harris: I have a media release here from the district health council. These are the local residents. This is from the chair of the Renfrew County District Health Council. Here's what the local people are saying, those who are involved in providing quality health care for those in the area. The district health council says it welcomes the report of the Health Services Restructuring Commission that was made public today. They believe that this will allow us "to serve people much closer to home" and will very much improve services in their own community.

There were, for the last 10 years, governments that cut the number of beds. I think between the Liberals and the NDP, a total of 8,000 beds were closed in the province but not one hospital. If we are able to find the real savings from those beds that you have shut down, then in fact we'll be able to help many more people, individuals, in their home, closer to home, more services, reinvestment, new technologies, ensuring the best medical services. It's what the people of Renfrew county want, the people of Pembroke want, and I would think that you would want to be supportive.

Mr McGuinty: There's an expression in law for what's just happened. The DHC is acting under duress; it's hardly acting of its own free will, and it certainly does not represent the views of the local community.

My view of a better health care system is one where people get all the health care they need when they need it and where they need it. Your view is a system that pleases no one but the bean counters. It's just a place to chop $1.3 billion.

Let me tell you what the people of Pembroke are saying. One nurse at the Pembroke Civic Hospital says, "I'm pretty devastated by the number of acute-care beds we're losing." Here's what a lab technician named Garland Wong has to say: "It's not a win-lose situation. Everybody lost. We're losing beds. We're losing staff. What more can the people do?"

Premier, isn't this the case in every community in Ontario? As you close hospitals, aren't you putting every community in a lose-lose situation?

Hon Mr Harris: I am really surprised at this member. On September 22, 1996, in the Kitchener-Waterloo leadership debate, Dalton McGuinty said: "I am convinced there is enough money in the health care system. I don't think we're spending it as effectively as we can." That is exactly the problem.

What the district health council in Renfrew said is: "We have enough money here. You have allocated us enough money, thank you very much, Jim Wilson, but it is not being spent as effectively and appropriately as it can." Accepting their advice, we are assisting them with the restructuring required so that they can use those resources to provide far superior, closer-to-home, seamless health care to the people of Pembroke and Renfrew counties.

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): New question, leader of the official opposition.

Mr McGuinty: I have never said there wasn't enough money in the system. On the other hand, I've never said we should be taking $1.3 billion out of it.


The Speaker: First off, government members, it's difficult to hear them. I warn you. It's question period. I understand the time is more valuable to the opposition. I want you to come to order.

You must direct your question, please.


Mr Dalton McGuinty (Leader of the Opposition): My question is to the Premier. One of the major concerns we've had with the events leading to the clash at Ipperwash, where Dudley George was shot dead and a police officer now faces charges resulting from that death, was the widely reported fact that someone in your government had said, "Get those effing Indians out of the park, even if you have to use your weapons."

Premier, you've investigated those charges now. You've reported that your investigation showed those comments were not made at cabinet, but you have not stated whether or not your investigation found that these comments were made at any other government meeting. Will you now state unequivocally that your investigation found that no government official made those comments at any time at any meeting?

Hon Michael D. Harris (Premier): Yes, that is exactly what I have said, and I'm happy to repeat to you today that from our investigation, that of the Attorney General and of my office on anybody who was at any meeting, including September 5, no statement by any government official, to the best of our knowledge, like that was made.

Mr McGuinty: This is very important. The Premier now says his investigation found that these comments were not made, not at cabinet, not anywhere. This is news, Premier. It's news because your lawyers didn't say the same thing.

Given that you now say unequivocally that those comments were not made, can you explain why your lawyers would not say the same thing? Why did your lawyers, working under your instructions, refuse to say those comments were never made?

Hon Mr Harris: The case is, as you know, there is a matter of litigation that is there. You are a lawyer; I am not. I can't explain how and when lawyers decide to divulge information, but you're free to ask the lawyers when they plan to divulge it.


Mr McGuinty: Premier, the reason this is important is because a man is dead. There's evidence that you and your office were involved in the decisions leading up to that death. Your executive assistant was at a planning meeting just prior to the shooting, the minutes of which you have refused to release. Marcel Beaubien was sending faxes to your office and talking to Bill King. You refused to release those faxes.

Premier, we need to know how extensive an investigation you conducted. Will you release all the documents surrounding your investigation, including details relating to who you spoke to and which meetings you looked at? Will you release all that information today?

Hon Mr Harris: I think you will know that this is a matter of litigation; it is before the courts. As a lawyer, you know we will take the advice of the lawyers as to when they would wish to release information. As far as any of the litigation, there is also a very serious criminal charge that has been laid as a result of this tragedy.

I might indicate that you indicated and said in this House that there is evidence. There's not a shred of evidence. You don't have it and you will not say that outside of the House with the immunity that you have here.

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): New question, leader of the third party.

Mr Howard Hampton (Rainy River): My question is also for the Premier. It concerns the Ipperwash incident. It is clear that the OPP handled the circumstance at Ipperwash park a year ago, in September 1995, in a different manner than they had been handling previous disputes with native communities. The OPP have historically taken the approach of trying to avoid confrontation.

Premier, if not for political interference by your government, why would the OPP have suddenly changed their long-standing historical approach when dealing with disputes of this nature? Why would they have gone from non-confrontation to an armed buildup but for political interference by your government?

Hon Mr Harris: The whole matter is obviously before the courts in a number of venues. I think it's a very huge stretch for you to suggest that the OPP did anything differently. It has been reported to me and accepted to me by the OPP. There has been absolutely no change in how they planned to handle this situation from other situations. Their first priority is peacefully with negotiations. They have reported to us that this was their modus operandi before we were elected, after we were elected and today, that that is how they had hoped and still hope in the future to settle any disputes of this nature.

Mr Hampton: The facts speak for themselves. Prior to June 8, 1995, the public position of the OPP was to avoid confrontation with first nations, to negotiate, to discuss, and at all costs to avoid confrontation and conflict. Right away after this government assumes office there is an armed buildup by the police at Ipperwash, and as a result of that someone died. So the facts speak for themselves.

Related to that, I have another question for the Premier. On May 29 of this year you said, "At no time...was there any direction given by any political staff or any politicians as to what the OPP should do or how they should carry out their job." Now we see that when a direct question is put to them, your government lawyers refuse to respond to a direct question about whether any government officials were involved.

Premier, do you deny categorically that directions were given to officers or representatives of the OPP by one or more of the Ontario --

The Speaker: Thank you, leader of the third party.

Hon Mr Harris: To the best of my knowledge, absolutely, categorically deny. Not only that, but you indicated that you felt when you were in government that the OPP would at all costs avoid confrontation. That is what the OPP report to us is their intention, was at Ipperwash, and is today in matters of this nature.

Mr Hampton: Here's the crux of the matter. Your officials, when the question is put to them about a September 6 cabinet meeting, clearly deny that anyone said, "Get the" -- expletive -- "Indians out of the park even if you have to use weapons." So they give a clear denial about the meeting that took place on September 6, but about the meeting that took place on September 5, they don't deny it.

Premier, do you categorically deny that someone at the September 5 committee meeting said, "Get the" -- expletive -- "Indians out of the park"? Do you categorically deny that some official, someone in the government, said that at the September 5 meeting?

Hon Mr Harris: I've been very clear on this. I was not at the meeting. Everybody I've talked to who was at the meeting categorically denies any of the allegations that you make in this regard, that quote and any of the other allegations. Quite frankly, in the case that is there, it's before the courts. I'm not a lawyer. You go figure. You guys are both lawyers, you two leaders. The plaintiffs clearly have drawn conclusions from responses to two separate questions in a formal exchange of the legal documents. All of the answers will come forward, all of the answers that you have there. We're in the hands of the lawyers. One of the most foolish things that somebody could do is pretend they're a courtroom or a legal expert and go over and take over this case.

I can tell you the facts as I know them, and I have shared the facts as I know them, but as long as you, and now the new leader of the Liberal Party, try to talk about widespread allegations, I have to tell you that to the best of my knowledge they are totally false and quite frankly tend to come --


The Speaker: Order. Premier, come to order, please.

Mr Hampton: My next question is also for the Premier. I would only say to you that there is an apparent contradiction between yourself and the government lawyers who are charged with handling this case.


Mr Howard Hampton (Rainy River): Premier, yesterday I asked the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing to hold a referendum on your government's plan to abolish local government, to abolish local democracy within Metro and create a megacity government. You said it wasn't appropriate to hold a referendum.

You are a great supporter of referenda. You've released a discussion paper on referenda and you have a committee that is pushing the issue forward about holding referenda. Premier, 75% of the people in Metro Toronto want a referendum before you proceed with a megacity. They don't think the question is too complicated, even if your minister does. They want a say in how they are going to be governed. Will you call a referendum on your megacity plan? Will you let the people have some say in how they're going to be governed?

Hon Michael D. Harris (Premier): First of all, I don't have a megacity plan, so let me be clear about that. When you get into restructuring and when you get into governance issues of this nature, there are a number of proposals that are on the table. So we could have a referendum on Golden. We could have a referendum on a number of things.

But referenda really suit, as you indicate, yes or no answers. We are not interested in what will not work. We are not interested in slowly over the next 15 years eliminating any of the 15 options. What we are interested in is coming up with the best option, and we believe the process that you began with the Golden report and we then were elected to conclude is the best consultative process to follow.


Mr Hampton: I want to follow up on that because I clearly heard the Premier say earlier today that the government's going to introduce legislation. I clearly heard the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing on the radio this morning saying that megacity is in the works and megacity is part of that.

Premier, I have a questionnaire here that you signed. It has your signature on it. It's a questionnaire that you filled out in the last election. It was from your friends at the Ontario Taxpayers Federation. I draw your attention to question 7 on page 9. You were asked about this statement: "If elected, would your party eliminate local municipalities and transfer their responsibilities to regional or county governments?" You said at that time no. You said you disagreed. Premier, you are breaking a personal promise. You are moving in the opposite direction. Will you admit that you have broken the promise you made at election time and will you admit that 75% of the people of Toronto --

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Leader of the third party, come to order please.

Hon Mr Harris: Since we've not made a decision on this process that your government began, it's really very difficult for me to admit anything. I can tell you this: It is not my intention, I have not been lobbying for it and no decision has been made. You've heard some of the preferences of the minister, but you have not heard me lobby for entrenchment of regional government or two-tiered government. I am really hopeful, when we come to a final solution, it won't be that form of government, as the questionnaire said.

Mr Hampton: The issue is, the people of Toronto, the largest city in Canada, want a say on how they're going to be governed. You didn't think it was too complicated at election time to simply answer the question yes or no, and that's what the people want a chance to have a say about now. They want to have a chance to say yes or no about megacity.

Premier, yesterday the mayor of Toronto wrote you a letter. She invited you to come to a public meeting next Monday night to discuss why you want a megacity. Even if you intend to ram your megacity plan through with no formal public consultation, even if you want to deny people the democratic right to decide for themselves how they're going to be governed, will you at least agree to attend the public forum sponsored by Toronto city council next Monday night to show that you are interested in hearing people's views? Will you at least go listen to people, Premier?

Hon Mr Harris: Before I answer your question -- I will answer it directly -- let me say that probably no matter on governance, of all municipalities but particularly Metropolitan Toronto, has had more study, more hearings, more open houses. We had them before we were elected, Golden had them, we had committees that had them. There has been more consultation.

Let me assure you of this: Whatever the final decision is that we make, it will not be made without having even an additional hearing process whereby before anybody -- right now, you're having hearings on what might be an option because maybe Howie Hampton said. That's a good bet it's not the option, by the way, because that's your track record. But let me tell you, when we know the direction we want to go in, we will ensure ample public hearings for the people of Toronto.


Mr Joseph Cordiano (Lawrence): I have a question for the Chair of Management Board. Minister, I want to ask you about your plans to hire outside consultants at $2,600 a day to advise you on how to cut the civil service immediately, which will result in eliminating more day care workers, taking money out of the classroom and laying off highway safety inspectors. Have you developed an overall plan for restructuring your government's operations? Will you table that today? Oh, and by the way, how much is it going to cost taxpayers for you to reward your friends with government contracts?

Hon David Johnson (Chair of the Management Board of Cabinet and Government House Leader): I can assure the member opposite that the procedures we're going through will guarantee that the taxpayers will pay less. This particular process to select consultants on one basis rather than on an individual basis will save about a third of a million dollars by itself. The whole process involves using the expertise in the civil service staff to maximum advantage, but then there will be occasions when consultants are needed and this list will provide that expertise.

I also would like to point out to the member opposite that we are attempting to control and reduce consultant costs. For example, in 1989 the government of that day, represented by the Liberals, spent $45 million on management consultants. This year, we have spent, as we come to the end of this year, well less than a third of that amount.

Mr Cordiano: Sure, and in 1989 we had a balanced budget. You have a deficit. You forget.


Mr Cordiano: That's right, the first balanced budget in this province for over 22 years.


The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Order, please. Thank you.

Mr Cordiano: It's obvious this minister hasn't got a clue. He's got to hire outside consultants to tell him what to do and he wants to do it real quick. He wants to cut all of these positions because he's got to fund his tax cut. It makes no sense, Minister, to go out and hire people at $2,600 a day to tell you what you already know: that you've got to reorganize and restructure the government. You've got to get people in your ministries doing it. You know that's critical. If it doesn't happen that way, it's not going to happen.

Furthermore, the minister knows that at $2,600 a day he's spending an awful lot of money. How can he justify that when he's laying off day care workers, when people are losing their jobs out there, providing real service for people who want that service, who need that service? How can you justify that? Are you so desperate that --

The Speaker: Thank you, member for Lawrence.

Hon David Johnson: This government intends to use all of the expertise, including the expertise within the civil service, to restructure this government, to make this government more affordable and to make sure that we have better services for the people of Ontario. Yes, on occasion, we will use outside consultants.

I will say, returning to the year 1989, it was in 1989 when the Liberal government was in office that the Provincial Auditor specifically expressed his concern that consultant fees had increased between 1985 and 1989 by 92%. The government represented by the member opposite had increased consultant fees by 92% within four years. Not only that, the number of people in the civil service had also increased by over 7,000 members.


Mr Bud Wildman (Algoma): I have a question for the Minister of Education and Training. I have a confidential government document from the Ministry of Municipal Affairs dated in October. It talks about removing so-called barriers to restructuring. It talks about extending this government's ban on successor rights to school boards and municipalities and about overriding contracting-out clauses in collective agreements.

This opens the door for privatizing school services, among other things. It means that school boards would be able to fire their school janitors, who keep the schools clean and safe, and replace them with temporary workers hired by private contractors. Does the Minister of Education and Training agree with removing successor rights and overriding contracting-out clauses in collective agreements?

Hon John Snobelen (Minister of Education and Training): I want to thank the member opposite. I don't have a copy of this so-called leaked document, but I can tell you that the member for Windsor-Riverside has represented --

Mr David S. Cooke (Windsor-Riverside): Don't blame me.

Hon Mr Snobelen: I'm sorry, my apologies to the member for Windsor-Riverside.

The member for Algoma has represented a great number of things as leaked documents, and this is typical. There's nothing on here that would indicate where this comes from or what it is. But I will tell you this: Once again, if anyone is considering scrapping collective agreements or overriding collective agreements, it must be on the template set by the member opposite's government, which did just that with the social contract, and now has the gall to stand in the House and ask me that question.


Mr Wildman: I don't know why the minister became so nonplussed. The document I sent over is dated in early October and it's from the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing. It's a briefing note providing for options on how to make it possible to take money out of the extended public sector by overriding contracts.

This minister has indicated that he wants to take at least an additional $600 million, a total of over $1 billion out of education in the province. The Crombie panel has said that school boards and municipalities will be operating physical plant. You want to slash and cut the education funding in the province. Apparently, this document gives you some ideas on how to do it.

The Premier has made his statement that there are going to be announcements this week, or coming before Christmas, on legislation. The question is, do you intend to extend the removal of successor rights to the broader public sector?

Hon Mr Snobelen: Let me say very clearly that whatever this is, it doesn't advise me of anything. This is someone else's document. It certainly hasn't been in my possession and it certainly wasn't created by my ministry. I quote, "I am looking forward in the coming weeks to making announcements that will improve the education system."

From the information or misinformation sheet sent around by the Ontario New Democratic Party, I quote this. It says, "The Crombie report has struck fear in the hearts of school board workers across the province." What strikes fear in the hearts of parents across the province is that your government, sir, was willing to have low standards of achievement for students in this province and this government is not. You, sir, were willing to send the children of this province a bill for their own education, and I can assure you, sir, as I have on previous occasions that this government, myself and my colleagues, will not do that.

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): I've got a point. Minister of Education, you can't claim a party is disseminating misinformation. You must withdraw that comment.

Hon Mr Snobelen: I'm sorry, Mr Speaker. I do withdraw that.


Mr Ed Doyle (Wentworth East): My question is for the Minister of Community and Social Services. There's been a great deal of media attention of course and questions about the program called Ontario Works. I wonder if the minister can give us an update on the status of Ontario Works and indeed what happened last night in my own area of Hamilton-Wentworth?

Hon Janet Ecker (Minister of Community and Social Services): I'd like to thank my colleague from Wentworth East for the question. Yes, I'm very pleased that last night Hamilton-Wentworth decided to join our expanding group of communities that are participating in Ontario Works, our work for welfare program. That's certainly good news for their taxpayers. It's certainly good news for those people in their community who are trapped on welfare.

This brings the total number of communities to 14 now that are moving ahead with our workfare plan. We had Northumberland county and Huron county join recently, as well as Waterloo and Halton. I look forward to more communities as they get into their workfare plans.

Mr Doyle: I wonder if you could tell us the kind of activities participants are engaged in in these programs in the 14 approved sites.

Hon Mrs Ecker: We've been very pleased and very impressed with the quality of the programs the municipalities are putting forward. Not only do we have individuals who are participating in employment support activities, learning job clubs, job résumé and job skills and things that they need as well, but they are also providing many opportunities for those on welfare to contribute to the community.

We have those employed working as a marketing assistant with a historical site, as community placements, as library assistants, learning how to be computer tutors in libraries, tour guides, research assistants, peer support group and resource centres, maintenance and housekeeping for a local church, working with a community service club to get a clothing depot up and running. The list goes on. We're very impressed and very pleased with the opportunities they are providing.


Mr Sean G. Conway (Renfrew North): My question is to the Premier. Before and during the recent election campaign you promised, often and solemnly, that if elected Premier you would not cut health care funding and you would not cut hospital funding. In fact you said, often and solemnly, "Not a penny will I take out of the health care budget."

Against the backdrop of those promises you made, what do you say to the people of Pembroke today who have been told in the last 24 hours by your commission that in the next 12 months they are to lose 40% of their hospital budget in the city of Pembroke, representing a net loss on an annual basis of $14 million in that community, representing 300 lost jobs in the health care community?

Hon Michael D. Harris (Premier): What I will say to them is this: I committed over a year before the election, during the election, yesterday, today, tomorrow, and going into the next election that not one cent will be cut out of health care in the province of Ontario. Second, I want to assure them that we have appointed a commission that has made a recommendation consistent with what their own district health council made as to how we can provide better health care services to the people of Pembroke, Renfrew county and indeed the province of Ontario.

We would still welcome more advice from the honourable member, from the people of Pembroke. The government will confer as well on Dr Sinclair's report. Then we will make a decision on how by reinvesting the savings, so there's not one cent of reduction, we can provide better health care to the people of Pembroke.

Mr Conway: You said in the leaders debate in the last campaign, "It is not my plan to close hospitals." You said elsewhere, "Not a penny will I take out of the health budgets."

In Pembroke yesterday you didn't take a penny; you plan to take on an annual net basis $14 million out of the city of Pembroke hospital budget. You are going to send 300 health care workers to the unemployment rolls, and your brutal surgery to the Pembroke hospital sector is going to put enormous pressure on the non-hospital sector to meet the patient needs in and around the city of Pembroke.

Premier, is it not obscene that you should ask the patients of Pembroke, the people of Pembroke and the health care workers of Pembroke to contribute on an annual basis $14 million so that you and Ernie Eves can make your voodoo economics, your crazy tax scheme add up, which we know it can't and won't?

Hon Mr Harris: The only thing that I would say is obscene when it comes to health care is the Liberal Party of Canada, through Paul Martin, slashing health care spending by over $2 billion to the province of Ontario. However, in spite of the fact that 98 Liberals in Ontario supported the Liberals taking $2 billion out of health care in Ontario, the kindly old soul to my right has cut not one cent out of the health care budget. He has found not only the $2 billion; he found another $300 million. Thank goodness, I say to the people of Ontario, for the Minister of Finance, the member for Parry Sound.


The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): New question.

Mr David S. Cooke (Windsor-Riverside): I also have a question to the Premier. You have referred this afternoon and in the previous question to the need for reinvestment. I'm assuming you're talking about reinvestment of the savings in capital and community supports.

This morning your Minister of Health was in Thunder Bay and he announced your capital expenditures as part of the restructuring of the health care system in Thunder Bay. Mr Sinclair has the responsibility of re-engineering the hospital system. He can only make recommendations on community supports and capital. Why did your minister make no commitment, and why has he still made no commitment, on community supports in Thunder Bay?

Hon Mr Harris: The minister was, or I guess still is, in Thunder Bay today announcing a significant capital reinvestment program. He will be announcing a program for the entire province before Christmas, but for Thunder Bay, 70% of the capital costs for redevelopment will be provided by the kindly old soul to my right to make sure that restructuring can take place.

As the member has indicated, that's not nearly enough. In addition to the backgrounder to the announcement that was made today, there are significant other community supports that need to be provided. There's a whole host of programs reinvesting in Thunder Bay and area because it is a regional hospital. There are a number of those reinvestments that have already been made and new ones that are coming: the regional cancer centre; lifesaving defibrillators; $150,000 to the northern Ontario health sciences network; $308,000 to expand supportive housing; $820,000 for dialysis.

I think there will be a supplementary, at which time I will attempt to complete the more lengthy list of reinvestments being made in Thunder Bay and northwestern Ontario.

Mr Cooke: I think the people in Thunder Bay and in other communities that are having their hospitals restructured are looking not to the kind of rhetoric that you just answered with but to specifics about community support programs that are absolutely essential if the restructuring of our health care system has any chance of working.

Can the Premier confirm that the reason there was no announcement this morning on community supports in Thunder Bay is because your government is going to offload things like long-term care to the municipalities? Does he not understand that Mr Sinclair, in whom you have a lot of faith -- and quite frankly, so do we -- said that if that happens, "It's 180 degrees out of phase with the philosophy; ours is an integrating philosophy; this is a disintegrating philosophy," referring to any plan to offload long-term care and other community support programs to the municipalities? Can the Premier assure the people of Thunder Bay that he will not be doing that, which, if he does, will destroy the restructuring of health care?

Hon Mr Harris: You're quoting from a "what if" scenario in a report and a comment that was made in reaction to misinformation that was printed in the Toronto Star, totally inaccurate.


Mrs Barbara Fisher (Bruce): My question is for the Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs. As part of this government's commitment to rural Ontario and to the agrifood industry, all members of the House remember that the Minister of Finance in his May budget announced the new $15-million Grow Ontario program. In my riding alone I know of two applications to such a program, one by the Market Grey-Bruce Committee and one by the Bruce Economic Development Corp. Can the Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs advise the House on how the industry has benefited from this program to date?

Hon Noble Villeneuve (Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, minister responsible for francophone affairs): I thank my colleague from Bruce for that question. The Grow Ontario program has been very well accepted by food producers and food processors of Ontario. It will help make them more competitive on the world stage, do more research and development.

We have announced $237,000 in support from the Grow Ontario program to launch the Ontario Soybean Growers' Marketing Board plan to double Ontario's soy exports from the current $140 million a year to $280 million a year in the next five years; developed Grow Ontario funds for a new fish product, $250,000 from the Grow Ontario program in a joint project, fish product innovation in Kingsville in southwestern Ontario, Pelee Treasures, Kingsville; asparagus growers; Grow Ontario to assist promotion of tobacco exports, $250,000, very well received by the food producers of Ontario, the Ontario Federation of Agriculture. It is good news.

Mrs Fisher: Could the minister tell the members of the House how many projects he could expect to be approved under this program and how the members of this House could actually participate in it?

Hon Mr Villeneuve: The good thing about the Grow Ontario program is that it matches funds from the province of Ontario. It is not, "The cheque is in the mail." It is a very good partnership with producers and processors. In the first wave, on September 1, we had over 50 applications. In the second wave, at the end of November, we had 77 applications, and the time is still open until January 1 for anyone to apply to the Grow Ontario program: $15 million to match the private sector. It is good news.


Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): I have a question for the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations. The last time I asked this, the most foolish answer I've heard came from the previous minister: that the private sector would be more secure in not providing liquor to minors than the public sector; in other words, the LCBO.

The LCBO provides a safe, secure and controlled way of retailing alcoholic beverages. It provides the best method of restricting the sale of liquor to minors in Ontario, has an excellent program of quality control of the product sold in its stores, provides a wide selection of product to its customers in modern, convenient stores, has moved forward with the times and is sensitive to the needs of its customers and clients.

Why would you and your government ever consider letting go a safe, secure, successful operation and turning it over to the risky operation of those who, understandably so, only wish to make a profit from the sale of liquor in this province?

Hon David H. Tsubouchi (Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations): Clearly the member across the floor hasn't paid much attention to the previous discussions. We have said, and we've been very consistent through the Common Sense Revolution and throughout our term of government, that we are committed to looking at the modernization of the LCBO. We laid out very clearly the several factors we would look at. One of them certainly was the priority we had on issues of control in public safety. These are some of the issues we are looking at. Our commitment is to make sure that this is going to be a good deal whatever way we go in terms of modernization for the consumer and for the taxpayer, and certainly we do have a keen interest in public safety.


Mr Bradley: The last time Norm Sterling, the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations in years gone by, was in --

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): It's the Minister of Environment and Energy, and it's not a member's name you use. Thank you.

Mr Bradley: I remember this person I mention used to be the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations, and when he was in Alberta he was extolling the virtues of privatization. Yet those who are involved in the grape and wine industry in the Niagara Peninsula and in other parts of this province are very concerned that if you turn liquor sales in this province along with wine over to the private sector, away from the LCBO, we lose the one tool we have, the best tool we have, to assist our farmers and to assist our wine makers in having a successful industry.

Will you assure the House today that you will not turn the LCBO and the operations of the LCBO over to the private sector, to your Tory friends who are lining up to take advantage of selling liquor and other kinds of booze to the people of this province?

Hon Mr Tsubouchi: I certainly don't agree with the assumptions the honourable member is making over there, but clearly the government recognizes the very special role that the Ontario wine industry and the grape growers play in this province as an industry. Certainly we're very supportive of them.

I may remind the member at this point in time, if we reference our comments to the Common Sense Revolution again and our consistency throughout our term in government, that point number 4 -- the last time I talked about point number 5 -- says that we acknowledge the special role of the Ontario wine industry. These are the factors we look at in terms of modernization. We recognize the special role the grape growers play. We are certainly supportive of the industry, and we have been consistent.


Mr Bud Wildman (Algoma): I have a question for the Minister of Community and Social Services. The minister will be familiar with native child and family services agencies such as Weecguttewin in the Fort Frances area and Tikinaugen in the far north that serve first nations communities in those areas and that are experiencing significant deficits. She will also be aware of a number of other native child and family services agencies that have been developing but have not yet been designated.

Could the minister indicate when she intends, on behalf of the provincial government, recognizing that a good portion of these moneys are recoverable from the federal government, to deal with the deficits of the established agencies and to designate and provide ongoing funding to the developing agencies?

Hon Janet Ecker (Minister of Community and Social Services): Thank you very much for the question. We've been working very closely with the native group because we want to make sure that if we are to make any change in responsibility and if they are to assume more responsibility for child welfare in their community, we have the supports and the arrangements in place to ensure that quality services and child protection services will be delivered in the best way possible.

Hon Mr Wildman: I appreciate that, but I don't think, with respect, the minister has really answered the question. Perhaps I could be more specific. The minister will be familiar with Gzaa-Gaah-Naa-Nig, which is an agency that is developing in the Parry Sound-North Bay area, serving a number of first nations in that area. She will know that her ministry announced in July to the agency that their funding was being cut, gave them four days' notice and told them they had $80,000 with which to operate for the rest of the year, $80,000 to cover staff, rent, overhead and all of the operations. There have been discussions with that agency.

Could the minister explain when this matter will be resolved? Will she meet with the agency, and will she in fact provide them with the moneys they require in order to carry out their services, which are so important for the protection of children and assistance to families in the native community?

Hon Mrs Ecker: As the honourable member knows, we have about $120 million that we are expending on aboriginal services and to support the services in their community, and there's no question that last year, to respond to the serious financial pressures we were under, many agencies had an across-the-board cut. No one was happy about that, no one wishes to repeat that, which is one reason why the restructuring exercises that this government has under way are so important in making sure that we can try to protect priority services.

I wish I had the faith in being able to rely on moneys from Ottawa. We have tried to do that in the past, and sometimes it is not as dependable for our groups out there as we would like it to be. We want to make sure before we make any change that there is funding in place and that, secondly, child protections and safety protections are there.

My staff have met with them before. If we need to have another meeting to resolve this issue, either I or my staff would be more than pleased to do so to try to resolve this matter.


Mr Dan Newman (Scarborough Centre): My question is to the honourable Minister of Economic Development, Trade and Tourism. Recently, I met with one of my constituents, Mr Derek Rosario. Mr Rosario is production manager with BCB Technology Group Inc, who are makers of PC DART digital recording and transcription systems. Mr Rosario's company is contemplating investment in the near future and is undecided as to whether it should invest in Ontario or in another jurisdiction. My question to the minister is, why should this company invest in Ontario today?

Hon William Saunderson (Minister of Economic Development, Trade and Tourism): I would like to respond to the question from the member for Scarborough Centre. There are four points I would like to suggest that he give to his prospective investor. First of all, Ontario is the high-tech province of this country, it really is. The second thing is that because of the statement that the Premier made today and all that that contained, Ontario obviously is the most business-friendly province in this country. Also, because of the speech that the Premier gave as well, there is an improved access to capital in this province. Finally, I'd like to say that because of lower payroll taxes and the reduced personal income tax rates in this province, I think this is the province for your company to expand in.

Mr Newman: Would the minister kindly outline for the members, who may be contacted by potential investors, what the Market Ontario initiative is and what we should tell our potential investors?

Hon Mr Saunderson: Further to the supplementary question, I'd like to say this about Market Ontario: Market Ontario is designed to convince businesses and investors to come to Ontario and invest here. We hope that because of Market Ontario, we will obtain a 2% increase in our share of international investment, and that would produce 240,000 new jobs in this province, which will of course be a great help to the employment record of this province.

It was going to cost us $17.8 million a year, which will be money well spent because of the jobs that will be created. We will be selling the province on its many merits regarding its business climate. Also, we'll be selling it based on our quality of life in this province.

We're bullish in Ontario -- we want to get that message across -- and we want business everywhere to know this. We want to say that we are open for business.


Mr Rick Bartolucci (Sudbury): My question is to the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing. Minister, a very significant partnership has formed in Sudbury between the Sudbury and District Chamber of Commerce and the Sudbury and District Labour Council. This new partnership is called the Partnership for Community Prosperity. It's chaired by businessman Gerry Lougheed Jr.

The mission of this partnership is to support and enhance the social and economic life of not only the Sudbury region but also of northern Ontario. Their immediate concern is the issue of the northern support grant, or what this group would like to be referred to as the northern resource revenue payment. There have been conflicting messages with regard to this particular payment. Minister, will you categorically deny today that that payment will be reduced or eliminated?

Hon Al Leach (Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing): I can advise the member for Sudbury that the municipal support grants are being developed and being formulated as we speak. I expect to inform the municipalities within a matter of days as to what grants will be available to them this year. I can assure the member for Sudbury that northern Ontario will be treated in a very fair and equitable manner.


Mr Bartolucci: In all honesty, we've heard that song before. We got stung last year, and we cannot afford another decrease. You know that the north has a lower economic assessment base and you know that any reduction has severe impacts on the communities of northern Ontario. We have a ministry that's assigned to protect the north, to speak for the north, to set policies for the north. The Partnership for Community Prosperity is advising your ministry that the Ministry of Northern Development and Mines should be responsible for the grants, rather than your ministry. Will you allow the Ministry of Northern Development and Mines to operate the grant as opposed to your ministry?

Hon Mr Leach: I'm pleased to see the member recognize the member responsible for northern affairs. He's in the north right now assuring the people of northern Ontario that they will be well represented when the grants are distributed this year.

The issue the member speaks about, having the ministry of northern affairs responsible for the northern grants, is something we have under active discussion. I'm sure that when my colleague gets back from northern Ontario, I'll take it up and discuss it with him.


Mr Gilles Bisson (Cochrane South): My question is to the Chair of Management Board. You would remember that a couple of weeks ago we had an exchange in the House in regard to the government's plans to privatize MTO road maintenance in the province. At that time, you indicated that the government would not be going forward, or at the very least would stop and look over the situation, if you were not able to prove that you could save at least 5% by going over to the private sector.

As it turns out, in the contract you gave in Chatham-Kent, the IMOS contracts, the saving turns out to be some 2.8%. If your policy is that you won't go forward unless you get a 5% saving, why did you go ahead with a contract where you only save some 2%?

Hon David Johnson (Chair of the Management Board of Cabinet and Government House Leader): What I said to the member opposite and I'll say again today is that the initial pilot project, which was in the Chatham area, was a learning process for us. This was an opportunity for us to deal with the private sector on a broader basis, although a good number of the services are already pursued through the private sector, but the level is being raised.

That particular experience has taught us a great deal. Yes, the savings were in the order of 2.8% or 3%. Our view is that we should do better than that in the future, that the savings should be greater. The benchmark we set for future contracts, having learned from the Chatham contract, was that future contracts should have savings of 5%, and if they didn't, we would not automatically go forward with them; they would have to be re-evaluated.



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

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

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

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

I've affixed my signature.


Mr Bud Wildman (Algoma): I have a petition signed by a number of residents of St Joseph Island. It is requesting that there be an installation of a flashing red light and a caution light at the intersection of Highway 548 and the Second Line Road on St Joseph Island. Also, they are requesting that street lighting be installed at this same location for safety reasons. I support the petition.


Mr John L. Parker (York East): I have a petition here bearing 56 signatures, including that of my good friend Willis Blair. It reads simply:

"We want East York to continue as is."

It is not technically in the form that's appropriate for submission to this Legislature but I wanted to do my friends the courtesy of reading it out at this time.


Mr Rick Bartolucci (Sudbury): This petition is in response to Bill 84, and it's to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario.

"Whereas the firefighters of Sudbury and Ontario are very concerned about Bill 84;

"Whereas we feel Bill 84 is unfair;

"Whereas we feel Bill 84 is discriminatory;

"Whereas we feel Bill 84 endangers the wellbeing of the people of Ontario;

"Whereas we feel Bill 84 requires extensive changes;

"Whereas we feel Bill 84 needs broad provincial public hearings before implementation;

"We, the undersigned, therefore petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to demand the Solicitor General to rewrite Bill 84 before being enacted into law and only after extensive public hearings across Ontario."

Because I agree with this, I affix my name to it.


Mr Len Wood (Cochrane North): I have a petition here signed by over 500 individuals and organizations across northern Ontario which reads as follows:

"We, the undersigned, strongly protest any plans to privatize TVOntario. The privatization of TVOntario would jeopardize Wawatay radio network's native language programming and Wahsa distance education services because both depend on TVO's distribution system."

I affix my signature to the petition as well. I agree with it.


Mr Bill Grimmett (Muskoka-Georgian Bay): I have a petition here signed by approximately 175 of my constituents. This petition relates to an objection to the increase in local water and sewer charges in the village of Port McNicoll. I file it today.


Mr John C. Cleary (Cornwall): Ms Alda Graham of Community Living has organized a petition that reads as follows:

"To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

"Whereas the Minister of Education has stated numerous times that integration of children with special needs is the norm in Ontario, inclusion is not;

"Therefore we, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to change the Education Act to state that inclusive education will be the norm and that the proposed amendments to regulation 305 be passed."

This petition has been signed by 369 residents of my riding and of S-D-G & East Grenville.


Ms Shelley Martel (Sudbury East): I have a petition addressed to the Legislative Assembly which reads as follows:

"Whereas Mike Harris and Charles Harnick promised to improve the family support program; and

"Whereas Mike Harris promised in the Common Sense Revolution that `government should concentrate its efforts on tracking down deadbeat parents and enforcing payment orders'; and

"Whereas the closure of the family support plan's regional offices have caused a decrease of quality services and lengthened delays; and

"Whereas cuts to the family support plan have eliminated community-based services, replaced enforcement staff with technology and limited communication;

"We, the undersigned, demand that Mike Harris reopen the regional offices and guarantee adequate staffing numbers to provide quality services to recipients and children."

This is signed by 22 people who live in Belleville. I agree with the petitioners and I have signed it as well.


Mr Tony Clement (Brampton South): A petition to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

"Whereas Mike Harris is considering massive changes to workers' compensation that would drastically reduce benefits and coverage to past, present and future workers;

"Whereas the proposals put forward in the government's discussion paper on workers' compensation released in January 1996 will place severe economic hardship on injured workers and their families (it will do this despite the government's commitment not to reduce benefits and services for disabled people);

"Whereas the discussion paper has not been widely distributed and most people are not aware of the impending changes that would dramatically affect their lives;

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

"We reject the current proposals and demand that full-scale public hearings be conducted into the workers' compensation system before any legislative changes are proposed or tabled."

I for one am looking forward to public hearings on this issue.



Mr David Ramsay (Timiskaming): I have a petition here.

"Whereas many of the area residents are very dependent on the services of the specialists in Sudbury hospitals; and

"Whereas the northern Ontario travel grant is paid for obtaining their services in Sudbury,

"Therefore, be it resolved that the Ministry of Health reassess the closure of two hospitals in Sudbury and follow the recommendation of the health council to close only one hospital in the next three years."

I affix my signature to this.


Mr Tony Silipo (Dovercourt): I have a petition signed by over 130 citizens of Toronto and I have affixed my signature to it as I agree with it. It reads as follows:

"Whereas the provincial government has not given the citizens of the Toronto area any opportunity to speak on the issue of amalgamating the six municipalities within Toronto to create a megacity of 2.3 million;

"Whereas studies reveal that amalgamation does not save taxpayers' money;

"Whereas Toronto was recently cited as the world's best city in which to live and work,

"Therefore, be it resolved that the provincial government undertake a public consultation process before proceeding unilaterally with the amalgamation."


Mr Mario Sergio (Yorkview): I have yet another petition with respect to the removal of rent control and I wish to read it to the Legislature.

"Whereas the government of Ontario has announced its intention to remove rent control from apartments that become vacant so that landlords can charge whatever rent they want; and

"Whereas the government's proposed law will eliminate rent control on new buildings, and allow landlords to pass on repair bills and other costs to tenants; and

"Whereas the government's proposal will make it easier for landlords to demolish buildings and easier to convert apartments to condominiums; and

"Whereas due to the zero vacancy rate in Metro Toronto the removal of rent control will cause extreme hardships for seniors and tenants on fixed incomes and others who cannot afford homes;

"We, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to keep the existing system of rent control."

I do concur and I will affix my signature to it.

Mr Alvin Curling (Scarborough North): I have a petition. They're coming in by the thousands from people all over Ontario. It reads:

"To Premier Mike Harris and the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing Al Leach and members of the Ontario provincial Legislature.

"We, the undersigned, protest this government's actions against tenants described below.

"The Rent Control Act protects Ontario's 3.3 million tenants. Rent control allows for security and stability in their homes and communities. Uncontrolled rent increases leave tenants, their families and Ontario communities open to eviction, personal distress, and contribute directly to social instability. We want this government to stop any action that would allow uncontrolled rents.

"Further, this government is considering changes to the Landlord and Tenant Act favourable to landlords for easier and faster evictions. This is unacceptable to Ontario tenants and damaging to Ontario's communities.

"This government also plans to get rid of public housing and has halted the creation of basement apartments and a new supply of affordable non-profit housing. These types of housing are necessary for low- and moderate-income tenants to obtain accommodation they can afford. The government must cease all actions that reduce the affordability and availability of these kinds of housing.

"This government has eliminated funding for United Tenants of Ontario, five municipal tenant federations and other important tenant services at a time when they're attacking all tenant rights. Funding for these groups must be reinstated so that Ontario's tenants and not just their landlords are able to bring their views to bear in government deliberations on tenants' rights and protection. A consultation process with tenants' organizations should be initiated immediately to develop a plan for sustainable funding for services to tenants."

I support this petition and affix my signature.



Mr Silipo from the standing committee on government agencies, on behalf of Mr Laughren, presented the committee's 27th report.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr Gilles E. Morin): Pursuant to standing order 106(g)(11), the report is deemed to be adopted by the House.


Mr Barrett from the standing committee on regulations and private bills presented the following report and moved its adoption:

Your committee begs to report the following bill as amended:

Bill Pr35, An Act respecting the Ottawa Civic Hospital.

Your committee begs to report the following bill without amendment:

Bill Pr40, An Act respecting the Association of Architectural Technologists of Ontario.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr Gilles E. Morin): Shall the report be received and adopted? Agreed.



Mr Grandmaître moved first reading of the following bill:

Bill Pr73, An Act respecting the City of Ottawa.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr Gilles E. Morin): Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry? Carried.



Resuming the adjourned debate on the motion for second reading of Bill 86, An Act to provide for better local government by updating and streamlining the Municipal Elections Act, the Municipal Act and related statutes / Projet de loi 86, Loi prévoyant l'amélioration des administrations locales en modernisant et simplifiant la Loi sur les élections municipales, la Loi sur les municipalités et d'autres lois connexes.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr Gilles E. Morin): Mr Patten had the floor.

Mr Alvin Curling (Scarborough North): I don't think he'll use the time.

The Deputy Speaker: Further debate?

Mr Bud Wildman (Algoma): I'm pleased to participate in this debate and recognize that there has been an effort made by the government to respond to the concerns my colleagues have raised in this discussion as we've debated Bill 86.

I think most who have read the bill have understood that there are a lot of good moves in terms of changing the way municipal elections are conducted; some innovative approaches to determining how people can exercise their right to vote, dealing with new technologies, making it possible for people to vote in elections in municipalities where they own property that in the past might have been difficult for them to do.

There are a couple of things that have raised some concerns. It has been suggested by our critic, the member for Fort York, that while we might understand the purpose in requiring a deposit for municipal candidates -- I recently saw a report on television which indicated that in the Vancouver city election for mayor there were some 50 candidates registered, one of whom was a clown. Of course, I suppose those of us in this business might find that people in the public sometimes call all of us clowns. There is some suggestion that perhaps we should have serious candidates and maybe one of the ways of doing that is to require a deposit. The question is how large a deposit.

Mr Ernie Hardeman (Oxford): Not too big.

Mr Wildman: The parliamentary assistant says "not too big." The problem with the bill is that it simply says it will be set by regulation. Essentially that means giving the Lieutenant Governor in Council, the cabinet, the discretion to set the level. It's easier to change a regulation, all of us know, than it is to change legislation.

I think members of the government party will understand that in a Parliament -- which is exactly that -- which is set up to ensure that the representatives of the people can speak and can exercise their responsibilities to represent their constituents by speaking in debate, it can indeed take a while to get legislation through. When the government has an enormous agenda, sometimes it's not as easy to get things passed as it might appear in the first place, even if the government has a large majority, because there are provisions made to ensure that there is proper debate. That's what makes our system stronger than most other systems of government in the world.

Oftentimes governments are tempted to put in legislation provisions that make it possible for the cabinet to set or make decisions by regulation, which of course then don't have to come before the Legislature. Eventually they have to go before a committee, I suppose, but essentially they are passed through by cabinet and there isn't full-fledged debate. It makes it easier.

So we are concerned about the possibility of a regulation being set that could in fact not be just not too big, as the parliamentary assistant has indicated.


One of the reasons that this bill might have been more difficult for the opposition and for some members of the public was that there was provision in section 79 to give the minister the power to intervene in community transportation by signing agreements with service providers. Now, this is something that has been discussed by the previous government as well as this government with interested parties, but the people who work in the transit systems in this province were particularly concerned about the provision of section 79.

The community transportation action plan foresaw legislation that would allow municipalities, school boards, hospital boards etc to work together to provide transportation solutions, to integrate transportation, to avoid duplication and save money.

However, the Amalgamated Transit Union, which was involved in those discussions, was concerned about the wording of this section and had indicated that it thought there should be some changes. They had suggested a number of possible amendments. Until we understood whether or not those amendments might pass or be accepted by the government or similar amendments introduced by the government or some action taken on section 79, we felt that we would have to debate this to the full length of the rules.

The Amalgamated Transit Union, I understand, did provide some suggestions, as I indicated, for amendments. They suggested perhaps we could amend subsection 79(6) of the bill to delete subsection (4) of the act and rename subsection (5) of the act; in other words, delete subsection (4). They also suggested another way might be to amend subsection 79(6) to insert the policy that the minister can only sign an agreement with service providers upon recommendation of the organizations within the area that purchase transportation services.

You see, what the transit union was concerned about was that the bill, as written, allows the minister, the Minister of Transportation in this case, to choose with whom the ministry would sign an agreement, and this could be done unilaterally. It could be done without the agreement of the service providers, all of whom have been involved in this process of trying to work out how we can avoid duplication. This might then make it possible for an agreement to be signed which would in fact abrogate the rights of the workers who are employed in transit.

I understand that the government has indicated that it is prepared, and I hope the parliamentary assistant can reconfirm this, if I have his attention --


Mr Wildman: I'm not sure how to get his attention. I hope the parliamentary assistant can reconfirm that in fact the ministry intends to withdraw section 79 from this bill and to have further discussions with the Amalgamated Transit Union over the winter to determine how the provision can be made in another piece of legislation to ensure that agreements can be made to allow municipalities, school boards, hospital boards and other agencies to work together to provide for transportation in the community which would avoid duplication and save money and yet protect the rights of the Amalgamated Transit Union workers, their members, and ensure that they will be part of the decision-making and will be involved in any agreements.

Is it correct that the ministry intends to withdraw section 79? The parliamentary assistant could simply nod if that's the case.

Mr Hardeman: I'm not quite in agreement with your total statement.

The Acting Speaker (Mr Alvin Curling): All I ask is to debate to the Chair.

Mr Wildman: No. I wouldn't debate with you, Mr Speaker, but I will direct my comments to you. All the parliamentary assistant has to do is confirm that the section will be withdrawn.

Hon David Johnson (Chair of the Management Board of Cabinet and Government House Leader): Yes, it will.

Mr Wildman: Good. The House leader has come to the aid of the parliamentary assistant. That is, in this case, showing that the government has been prepared to listen, and I appreciate that, because unfortunately in the past, even on bills like this, which in many parts deal with housekeeping on how we operate municipal elections and so on, this government hasn't demonstrated a willingness to listen. So I appreciate very much that in this particular case in order to facilitate the debate and the passage of this legislation so that we can get it in place prior to January 1, the government has listened.

I understand that the government is concerned about passing the bill before the end of the session because candidates can begin to register for the municipal elections next fall in January and can begin to raise funds. It'll help them run their election campaigns. So, there are a number of provisions in this bill that deal with municipal elections that the government felt should be in place.

I might raise two matters, though. Number one, I understand that the municipal clerks of Ontario have written to the minister and have said that the provision of this bill that allows them to reject candidates for municipal office is not a power that they wish to have. They do not want to have the responsibility for saying, "This person should not be able to stand for office." If that is the case, if the municipal clerks have expressed that view to the minister, why is it that the government continues to have this as part of the bill? Can we have assurance from the parliamentary assistant that this bill will not give the power to the clerks to reject candidates, because they don't want that power.

The other question is a larger one, and I know, Mr Speaker, you will indulge me if I digress somewhat. The Premier made a statement in the House today about the Who Does What, to whom, for how long, for how much committee. He said that Mr Crombie and his colleagues will be giving their final report, I believe, Friday and that the government intends to bring in legislation before Christmas. Now, we know that legislation will not be passed before January 1.

Mr Doug Galt (Northumberland): We can try.

Mr Wildman: Yes, you can try, and I'm sure that the members of the opposition will do everything to assist you in that effort. But I really do doubt, with the serious efforts of all of us, that the bill, whatever bill is introduced by the government, will become law before January 1. The member for Northumberland was being facetious, I think, when he said that they could try to have it passed before January 1, because I think even he would agree that whatever legislation is introduced as a result of the who does what to whom for how long panel is going to require hearings. It's going to require consultation across the province because I suppose it will mean substantial changes to boundaries of municipalities and to the responsibilities of municipalities, and perhaps even the taxing powers of municipalities. I suspect it will mean major change.


It is quite possible that we will have candidates registering in January for municipal elections next fall, which is the reason the government wants Bill 86 passed before the end of the calendar year. We will have these candidates registering to run in elections for municipalities that may not exist if the other legislation that the Premier is proposing finally does pass this House. You would have the very odd situation of candidates who have been registered and are raising funds, as per the provisions of this legislation and the Municipal Act, running in elections for municipalities that may no longer exist by the time the municipal elections occur.

I'm just wondering how the parliamentary assistant can explain that conundrum. Will it be that if the other legislation is introduced and passed, say, by the summer -- I don't know how long it might take, but let's say it's passed by June, if it is passed -- that legislation might then retroactively say that candidates who had registered would be deregistered and would pay back whatever money they had raised for their campaigns? Or would it reregister them, if they wished, for election in other new municipalities, new municipal structures? I suppose, conceivably, that the new legislation, if it's brought forward, might just change the registration date.

I'm trying to be helpful here. It's quite possible, I suppose, that the bill, when it's introduced, as the Premier has said, before Christmas might say that the registration date is not going to be January 1 but June 30, which would make for a very short campaign and raising of funds. But we're going to have a very short time to restructure the municipalities, if it's a major restructuring that this government is talking about, if the government is going to be serious about consultation with the people of the province. I suppose that's a big "if," because we've seen the honourable Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing and the honourable Premier both state in this House and elsewhere that they aren't really interested in hearing what the people of Metropolitan Toronto think about the possible restructuring of municipal government in this metropolitan area.

Even though this is a government that has said that it is in favour of referenda, that it believes in direct democracy and increasing the participation directly of citizens in the province on questions that are of importance to them, both the Premier and the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing have said that this is an inappropriate question for the citizens of Metropolitan Toronto. Somehow they think it's too complicated to be answered by a yes or no in a referendum.

It's passing strange, though, that the now Premier, when he was the leader of the third party running for election prior to June 1995, was able to answer a very similar question on a questionnaire with a simple yes or no and said that no, he was not in favour of eliminating lower-tier municipalities and giving their responsibilities to regional government. That was a yes or no question, and it got an answer from the now Premier. I don't understand why the Premier would be able to answer that question with a yes or no -- an emphatic no -- but doesn't want to give the same opportunity to the people who live and pay taxes and use the services in this municipality.

But we're here as an opposition, a responsible, constructive opposition, to assist the government to pass this piece of legislation prior to January 1 so that it can be in place for a municipal election that is scheduled for this coming fall in 1997. This will make it possible for candidates to register and to know the rules of election that will be changed by this legislation -- that is, if they're not rejected by the clerk for some reason or other -- even though there may not be a municipality in place that they are campaigning for once this other legislation is passed.

It might be reasonable to expect the government to do it all at once and have a proper consultation so that everybody could be involved and express their views, not only about the so-called housekeeping changes and some of the important changes about voting and regulations around municipal elections that are in this bill, but whatever the government is planning to do when Mr Crombie reports from his who does what to whom for how long panel.

Ms Frances Lankin (Beaches-Woodbine): And at what cost.

Mr Wildman: And at what cost, yes.

Perhaps the parliamentary assistant will be able to clarify this rather unusual situation for me. I just hope, with all due respect to the member, the honourable parliamentary assistant to the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, that he will be able to clarify these questions more easily than he was able to answer the question I put to him about section 79, because the government House leader is not present and it required him to assist the parliamentary assistant to answer the question about section 79.

I know, Mr Speaker, it's not parliamentary to refer to the absence of a member, but you'll understand that I was bringing this up simply because I had to explain my concern about whether the parliamentary assistant would be able to answer the question in the absence of the government House leader. I hope he will.

Why isn't this being done in a systematic way that will ensure that we can have proper consultation so that the citizens of the municipalities across Ontario will be able to express their views on changes in the municipal structures in this province, the responsibilities of municipalities, the services that municipalities will provide and how we conduct municipal elections all at once? Why is it we have this bill now that must be passed before January 1 when we may see major changes in a piece of legislation that certainly will not be passed before January 1?

I would just conclude by saying that I'm very pleased that the government has listened to the concerns raised about section 79, that in order to deal with the concerns of the Amalgamated Transit Union the government is prepared to withdraw section 79 and to have further discussions with the members of the union so that we can have a proper planning for transportation that will involve the municipalities, the school boards, the hospital boards in a community, that will take into account the concerns of the workers involved in the provision of public transportation in a community.


I'm very pleased that the government has done that. In agreeing to withdraw the section now, have further consultations to discuss how we can properly resolve the concerns and then move to legislation later on, it is going to make it possible for us to deal with this legislation now and have it passed as per the government's concerns and wishes prior to the end of the calendar year.

Would that the government were as forthcoming and willing to listen on all matters as they have been in this case. I guess the Minister of Transportation, the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing and the government House leader have just been caught up in the Christmas spirit and have decided to be cooperative and to listen and to respond in a way that I think governments should act all year round, not just at the Yuletide season.

I hope that in passing this legislation, the government will take into consideration the concerns also of other groups -- the municipal clerks on the mechanics of a number of the changes for municipal elections -- so we don't have a situation where we are bestowing on those officials powers that they do not want, don't desire, don't think they are capable of exercising. We all know that municipal clerks are the chief electoral officers for the municipalities. If they are giving the government advice in this regard, that advice should be listened to and responded to. I hope you'll respond to those concerns in the same spirit in which you've responded to the concerns of the Amalgamated Transit Union workers.

I conclude by saying thank you to the government for listening on this bill, Bill 86, by removing section 79. We are pleased as an opposition party to facilitate the passage of this legislation, as the government desires, before the end of the calendar year so that it will be in place before the municipal election this fall.

The Acting Speaker: Questions and comments?

Mr Hardeman: Just very quickly, we'd like to thank the honourable member for his presentation on Bill 86 and his strong support for the bill as it will exist with the removal of section 79. In terms of the member speaking about section 79, I would point out that we are withdrawing it, but the total rendition that went with his presentation about why and how and what would happen to it beyond that point was not something I would quickly agree with.

On the issue of the clerk and the responsibility, I want to point out that in the present legislation it is the clerk who is responsible for approving and deciding whether a nomination form is the appropriate nomination form and whether it should or should not be rejected. With the change in the legislation, the reason the clerks have some concern is that we are combining the nomination and the registration form, and as opposed to the nomination coming in on nomination day or the week prior it will now be available to come forward any time during the year.

The clerks have some concern about the fact that they would have to make decisions in January whether a nomination form would be appropriate for the election in November; they have some concern about a sufficient amount of information being available. The suggestion of removing that from the legislation becomes very difficult because, as the member mentioned, the clerk is the chief returning officer. Who other than the chief returning officer should make such decisions? Again, it is not that we are not listening to the clerks, but the appropriate answer is I believe what is in the bill.

Mr Mario Sergio (Yorkview): I am pleased to congratulate the member for Algoma on his presentation on Bill 86. I think the member has brought to our attention and stressed some of the points included in that particular bill, especially the powers to the local municipalities. He has mentioned quite extensively the concern I think municipalities will have and the implications as they evolve from the approval of the bill.

One particular area I want to stress is that especially next year, with a possible federal election coming up and the confusion that could be created at the local level as well -- as those who have municipal experience and are familiar with the municipal act know, if there is a by-election after March of an election year at the local level, there is no by-election. I should perhaps say that the local municipality has the option either of calling a by-election or not calling a by-election, but I'm quite positive that if it is after March of an election year there is no by-election. I think this would create quite a mess at the local level if this were to happen, and given what's going on with the possible federal election -- it could be in the early spring, could be late spring, could be in the fall -- this might well happen.

Why do we have these possibilities, this confusion? Because the government has not well thought out the content of this bill and has not given us directions. They are solely interested in pushing and ramming this bill through.

Mr Len Wood (Cochrane North): I just want to take a moment to comment on the excellent presentation the member for Algoma has made and also, at the same time, the excellent negotiations he has brought forward to make sure that section 79, which our caucus was very much upset with, is removed from the bill.

This is the type of negotiation that we've been hoping would have taken place over the last 16 or 17 months, and I am pleased to see that the member for Algoma was able to relay that in his message during the last 20 or 25 minutes.

It's a move in the right direction, and it shows that when there is cooperation, when amendments are suggested and brought forward, if there is cooperation and listening on the part of the parliamentary assistant and Management Board and the ministers -- I know the Minister of Transportation had some discussions with our leader as well as other ones. As a result, it's legislation that is going to move forward, and it will help the government, which seems to be very much disorganized and unable to bring forward a lot of the legislation that they should have been planning during the summer to bring forward so they would have their agenda in order by December 12. We heard the Premier saying today that we're going to have to meet later on after December 12, that we're going to have to meet in January and February. I guess during the summer and earlier fall they were doing other things and couldn't get their legislative agenda organized, so as a result we're in the mess we're in right now.


Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): This is an indication, this change of heart by the government, that we have been successful in persuading the government of the lack of advisability of including this provision in the legislation.

When this matter came to the House leaders' meeting, concern was expressed about certain provisions of the bill, and there was an indication given that the bill might take a longer period of time. Subsequently, in the debate in this Legislature, members of the opposition have expressed the view that the provision dealing with transportation at the municipal level and intermunicipal transportation was one which caused great concern because of the way in which it could be used. The government has responded to the concerns expressed by the two opposition parties in this regard, so positive things, from time to time, happen in this House.

There are, however, many provisions of the bill that cause some angst out there in the municipal field, particularly when they're taken together with the attitude of the government in other areas.

I know the member is concerned about the general transfers of payments to municipalities, because municipalities are now forced into the position of having to cut essential services or to bring about an increase in the municipal property tax, a tax which is regressive in that it does not take into account an individual's ability to pay.

All the people who are apologists for this government on municipal councils will be shaking their heads and perhaps hiding as they see the further transfer cuts which will be made when the government announces its $3 billion in cuts in a short period of time.

The Acting Speaker (Ms Marilyn Churley): Wrap up, the member for Algoma.

Mr Wildman: I understand that all can make mistakes. The government has recognized that they made a mistake and they've withdrawn section 79 from this bill. I'm just pleased about that.

I want to thank the members who commented, the member for Oxford, the parliamentary assistant, the member for Yorkview, the member for Cochrane North and the member for St Catharines.

I appreciate the answer from the member for Oxford about the municipal clerks and their concerns. I understand what he's saying, but it's still a problem, I think. He doesn't think so. We will see how it works, and I guess it'll all come out in the wash.

I appreciate the comments from the member for Yorkview and his concerns about the confusion that might occur with the election process, particularly as we see whatever comes out of what I've called the "who does what to whom for how long at what cost" panel.

The government has said that they intend to introduce legislation before Christmas, and it would seem to me that there may be major restructuring which will make a lot of this redundant perhaps.

The member for Cochrane North said that the government was listening in this particular case and we haven't seen too much of that, and I agree completely with him. I know he would agree with me that we would hope the government would listen with regard to municipal restructuring and would also listen to what the people have to say, not just MPPs, with regard to redistribution of provincial ridings. It's unfortunate that we would have a government that is just not willing to listen on these concerns and not willing to move. But in this particular case, the government has in fact listened, and as the member for St Catharines said, this is something we would like to see happen more often.

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

Mr Leach has moved second reading of Bill 86. Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry?

All those in favour please say "aye."

Those opposed, please say "nay."

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

Shall the bill be ordered for third reading?

Interjection: The resources committee.

The Acting Speaker: The resources committee? Agreed? Agreed.


Resuming the adjourned debate on the motion for third reading of Bill 81, An Act to reduce the number of members of the Legislative Assembly by making the number and boundaries of provincial electoral districts identical to those of their federal counterparts and to make consequential amendments to statutes concerning electoral representation / Projet de loi 81, Loi visant à réduire le nombre des députés à l'Assemblée législative en rendant identiques le nombre et les limites des circonscriptions électorales provinciales et fédérales et à apporter des modifications corrélatives à des lois concernant la représentation électorale.

Mr Len Wood (Cochrane North): It's a pleasure to continue the debate on Bill 81, which is a bill that is going to completely change the face of northern Ontario, where you are having a 33% reduction in the number of provincial members of Parliament from northern Ontario.

I attended a number of the hearings. I attended the one meeting in Toronto, where we had presentations and public hearings. I attended the one in Dryden, where public presentations came forward, and the one in Timmins. Not only I but a number of presenters were completely shocked that some of the members on the committee were not prepared to listen and were not prepared to get involved in bringing back the message to the Premier and to their caucus that Bill 81 is flawed, it should be withdrawn and it should be changed so that democracy in Ontario still exists, especially in northern Ontario.

We were in Dryden and during the break at lunchtime the CBC news carried the story that at least one and possibly two of the Conservative members were saying that it's basically a waste of time to have these public hearings throughout northern Ontario because they were not going to make any changes to the legislation. The legislation is going to exist exactly the way Mike Harris had wanted it, which was to put a political spin on it and bring a transport out in front of the Legislature and pretend that he's whisking away 27 members of Parliament and the chairs with it.

It was a joke. Some of the Conservative members pretended that they might be listening, but they were not prepared to stand up in their caucus and say that the bill was flawed.

We know that the new federal boundaries are going to take effect on January 7 and, as a result of the new federal boundaries, they're going to be reduced in northern Ontario from 11 to 10. The federal boundaries commission was flawed, as far as I was concerned, and most of the people in northern Ontario felt that it was very unfair for the Liberal government in Ottawa to take one member out of northern Ontario so that they could create four new ridings in southern Ontario. This is exactly what happened. The federal boundaries are not necessarily based on exact representation by population and the provincial boundaries will not be based on exact representation by population.

In Cochrane North, which exists right now, the riding runs from the outskirts of Iroquois Falls up the coast to Peawanuk, up the Hudson Bay coast. It's a huge riding that is there right now and it's going to be a lot larger as a result of the redistribution. In simple terms, so that those who are out there understand, what you have are three ridings in northeastern Ontario. One is represented by my good friend Gilles Bisson, the other one by myself, and a former NDP member who switched to the Liberals, David Ramsay, represents the other riding. After the next election, it will be a matter of myself and my good colleague from Cochrane South taking over the two ridings and making sure that they're well represented at Queen's Park.

As difficult as it may be to get around to these areas, I have never been arguing that redistribution shouldn't take place. All I am arguing is that no other ridings in southern Ontario or no other part of the province is being reduced by 33%, as northern Ontario is. We had presenters there from Smooth Rock Falls. Fred Poulin was the mayor of Smooth Rock Falls and he was representing 10 mayors and reeves in all of the communities from Hearst down to the outskirts of Timmins. He brought a strong presentation in, saying: "Look, what you're doing is very unfair. We depend on our MPP to get around and meet with us at least once a month, or more often than that. If he's going to do this with all the municipalities, with you enlarging the boundaries it's going to be very unfair for him, for his family and for any other person who might replace him."

We had the former mayor of Hearst, who was also a member of this Legislature for a little more than five years. He made a presentation on behalf of the chamber of commerce of Hearst, saying: "I was there. I know what the MPP has to do, and by enlarging the riding it's going to take a toll on that person's family." It doesn't matter if they're a Liberal, Conservative or NDP, you're making it that much more difficult for the person to get around and be physically in place.


Mr Bud Wildman (Algoma): Who was that, René Fontaine?

Mr Len Wood: René Fontaine, yes.

Mr Wildman: He knows the north.

Mr Len Wood: He knows the north. He had a lumber business there for a number of years. As I said, he was representing the chamber of commerce. He drove for close to eight hours, returning his wife from Thunder Bay to Hearst because she's ill. He went to bed at 3 o'clock in the morning, got up at 5 o'clock in the morning. The roads were full of ice, slippery, and he made sure he was in Timmins to make his presentation because he wanted his views heard. He was hoping that somebody was going to listen to him, but he left that particular meeting feeling the Conservative caucus members who were there were not listening.

The mayor of Timmins made a presentation. He's completely upset with the redistribution boundaries the way they are. We had the town councillor from Hearst, Donald Gratton, saying that he worked for a former MPP and he knows at first hand how difficult it is to cover a large riding of that kind.

As I said earlier, the federal boundaries commission, when it travelled through northern Ontario, took a number of years -- it started under Brian Mulroney and the Conservatives and then the legislation got held up in the Senate and then the Liberals made a commitment that they were not going to hurt the north, they were not going to reduce the representation in northern Ontario. Yet lo and behold, they weren't in government very long when they folded in and decided, "Well, we'll take one member out of northern Ontario and we'll put it in southern Ontario," and for no apparent good reason that was done.

In any event, it was done. We feel that the federal boundaries that are coming into effect on January 7, especially in northern Ontario, are flawed, they weren't done properly and the provincial boundaries that are going to mirror those boundaries are flawed. We've asked that Bill 81 be withdrawn. No number of amendments that could be brought forward by our caucus would have made the changes that need to be made to make sure the legislation was going to be fair to not only northern Ontario but to all of Ontario. That's the position we've taken; we still take that position. Why bring in legislation that is so badly flawed and make sure that the constituents are further and further away from their member of Parliament?

We hear some of them saying, "Why don't they use the technology that is available?" You cannot use computers or fax machines on party lines, and a lot of my area is represented by Northern Telephone. They haven't invested capital into making sure there are private lines. Even if somebody has a business and is out in a rural area and wants to get a private line in the northern part of the riding, they're talking about big bucks. You're talking about more than $60 a month for the monthly fee for the line.

That's not taking into consideration that there are so many long distance charges. It's not like southern Ontario, where you can phone halfway across southern Ontario with no long distance charges. In the north, every 15 or 20 miles you're talking about long distance charges. The new riding will be 760 kilometres from one end to the other. I'm just talking about the new Timmins-James Bay riding. That's a huge riding and there are a lot of long distance charges that people are going to have to pay. The cost is just not fair to be put on to these people who want to have personal contact with their local members of Parliament.

As I said earlier, there was no support for the legislation. I know the member for Algoma was in Sault Ste Marie. I don't know how much support there was there, but there was no support in Dryden, there was no support in Timmins, there was not that much support in Toronto for it, yet Mike Harris is saying, "I made a promise. I made a promise that I was going to give a 30% tax cut to the wealthiest people, the 10% upper-income people in Ontario. I'm going to go out and give them a tax cut."

By reducing the members of Parliament, they get $2.5 million or $3 million dollars from northern Ontario. They can bring that down and spend that on extra staff, if they want to, in the Premier's office, but it's not going to help northern Ontario. It's going to mean that the Premier's going to have more power, he's going to have more dollars to spend on that and give a tax break to the wealthy.

Now we find out that they're going to have to go out over the next four years and borrow up to $22 billion in order to give this tax cut to the 10% upper-income people. We're talking about people who are making more than $75,000 a year. It's going to be borrowed -- up to $22 billion -- in order to make sure of this. When the Conservatives took office, they had a debt of somewhere around $80 billion or $85 billion; now they're going to run it up way over $100 billion. It will probably be up at $130 billion or $140 billion by the time the next election is called in three years.

I know my time is very short and other people want to speak on this bill, so thank you, Madam Speaker.

The Acting Speaker (Ms Marilyn Churley): Questions or comments? The member for Oxford -- the member for Scarborough East.

Mr Steve Gilchrist (Scarborough East): That's better. Thank you.

I'm pleased to say a couple of words in response to the member for Cochrane North. First, I'm sure he was doing it innocently, but there was a tremendous mischaracterization of the interview that was reported on CBQ, and I would encourage him to get a transcript if he's in any doubt.

As the only Conservative member who was interviewed, and the subject of the interview to which he has alluded, I did not say there was no point to having the hearings. What I said was that our commitment to the principle of standardizing the boundaries, of honouring the promise of the Common Sense Revolution was not negotiable. We said it before, we said it during the hearings and I'm saying it here again today: We're going to keep our word.

What we needed to satisfy ourselves was that the process the federal non-partisan boundary commission went through was fair and equitable, and in fact had recognized, as their own report states, the different reality in northern Ontario.

Even today in your address, Member, there is no comment about problems in the south, the east, the west or here in Metro Toronto. Metro loses eight seats. I haven't heard one member -- not one member -- comment about the extra workload they will have. It's a different workload. Ours is not a problem of geography, it's sheer numbers. I talked to members in the north. I asked how many Ontario housing units they have. They have one seventh of the number in my riding. They'll still have a 40% smaller population than any member in Metro Toronto.

We had to satisfy ourselves that across the province those people who had made representations to the federal commission had in fact been listened to. We tried to reconcile their report with the submissions we heard in the south and in the north. I'm satisfied and my colleagues are satisfied that our only concern, that the federal commission had done its work honestly and properly, was in fact satisfied.

Mr Michael A. Brown (Algoma-Manitoulin): I'm always a little bit amused when the government stands up and says that this electoral commission of the federal government was fair and reasonable and everything was perfect. He might not be plugged in at all, but he will know that the House of Commons and the Senate thought about this for at least a year, about whether it was fair or reasonable or sensible.

I want to tell you that from the riding of Algoma-Manitoulin, we are at least pleased that the federal Parliament, the House of Commons, in a recent amendment, chose to adopt the suggestion of Brent St Denis, the MP for Algoma, and made the name of the federal riding Algoma-Manitoulin, which recognizes that two complete northern districts are in the new constituency: the entire district of Manitoulin and the entire district of Algoma. However, the members on the other side would also know that a significant portion of the district of Thunder Bay and a significant portion of the district of Sudbury are also included in the new riding.

The new riding will be approximately the size of Nova Scotia. It is the same as driving from Quebec City to Windsor. From Windsor to Quebec City is the distance on the roads of Algoma-Manitoulin. I'm telling you, this will be a significant challenge. The member who represents that constituency should be prepared to spend most of his life in an automobile. That is very unproductive work, to be driving from here to there, but it is the only way to do it.

The Liberal Party put forward an amendment in committee back in 1982 which suggested that 15 seats remain in the north. The government defeated it. They don't understand.


Mr Wildman: I wanted to congratulate my friend from Cochrane North on his speech last night and this afternoon. I noticed he wasn't quite as exuberant this afternoon as he was last night.

I do want to raise the point he made, which is a very important one, that the federal commission did not do a good job when it came to determining the boundaries in northern Ontario or in rural Ontario. We also must recognize that there are provisions they had to consider that are completely irrelevant to Ontario: provisions about guarantees of seats for Prince Edward Island in the House of Commons, guarantees of seats for the Yukon and the Northwest Territories, for Quebec and for the other Maritime provinces. These have nothing to do with Ontario and with the Legislative Assembly in Ontario, and those provisions determined the total number of seats that could be allocated to Ontario. So to suggest that by mirroring those seats we have done a good job I think is to ignore the realities of the commission's responsibilities to those other provinces.

I think it's important to recognize that the two federal members representing the area that my friends from Cochrane North and Cochrane South represent both objected in the committee in the House of Commons. Mr Reg Belair, the member for Cochrane-Superior, and Mr Thalheimer, the member for Timmins-Chapleau, both said that the boundaries as set out in that part of northern Ontario were wrong, were inadequate, were inappropriate, that the area was much too large. So why is it that this government accepts those boundaries when the MPs who represent that area themselves don't think it was a good decision?

Mr John R. Baird (Nepean): I enjoyed the speech from the member for Cochrane North. I enjoyed the first half last night at 10 to midnight and I enjoyed listening to the rest this afternoon. I would indicate to the member that I appreciate there are some concerns with respect to northern Ontario. As my colleague from Scarborough East has mentioned on previous occasions, there is a 20% differential allowed in the boundaries adopted by the non-partisan federal commission on electoral boundaries, and that's important to know. It actually gives northern Ontario an extra two seats.

I would also indicate to members opposite the quality rather than the quantity. In eastern Ontario, we lose five seats as well. People in my community were very excited to see the election of Dalton McGuinty as the new leader of the Liberal Party because in Ottawa we have on occasion over the last 50 years felt somewhat forgotten in Ontario.

We come as members, as my colleagues from Ottawa-Carleton would agree, and we see the Premier from northern Ontario, we see the Deputy Premier and Minister of Finance from northern Ontario. For the first year and a half, we looked at the members opposite and saw the Leader of the Opposition at the time from northern Ontario, the leader of the third party from northern Ontario, the former Treasurer from northern Ontario, the Honourable Floyd Laughren, Treasurer for five years, looked at the power that northern Ontario had in this place and we were jealous. Of course, we're losing five members as well in this process.

It's important that politicians lead by example, that we're not going to absolve ourselves. The Liberal Party in their election document, their red book, suggested, "Let's just fire political staff; let's just downsize with respect to political staff; let's keep the jobs for ourselves." Rather, we believe that if we're going to get ourselves out of the hole we're in with respect to deficits, we have to lead by example. We have to say that the leadership is going to start with a smaller cabinet and a smaller Legislative Assembly of Ontario, and that's very, very important.

Mr Len Wood: I'd like to thank the members for Nepean, Algoma and Algoma-Manitoulin for their comments on the speech I delivered last night during the debate and again today.

In response to the member for Scarborough East, some of the comments that were made on CBC radio, I didn't hear them, but the impression we got for the balance of that particular day and some of the media that were calling me was: "Why is this committee travelling around the province? Why are they going up to northern Ontario into three different locations, to Ottawa and London and pretending they're listening to the people?"

The word is out on the street that they're not going to listen, that they're just going to come back and ram the flawed legislation through as is, try to get it through before December 12 so that Mike Harris is able to say, "The transport I had out in front of the Legislature is going to take $2.5 million or $3 million with those 27 seats out of the Legislature; I've committed a promise," even though the promise might have been silly during the election campaign. They were going to 99 seats at that time. When the Liberals in Ottawa increased theirs to 103 he said: "Me too. If the Liberals in Ottawa can increase their representation in Ontario to 103, I'll change mine from 99 to 103."

No thinking went into this particular piece of legislation or the campaign promise that was made. It's the same campaign promise they made that they'll give back 30% of the income tax to upper-income people in the province. Now the wheels have fallen off the wagon, and Mike Harris announced today that he's going to have to keep the Legislature sitting all winter to find a way to solve the problem. Now that he's torn Ontario apart, how's he going to put it back together?

The Acting Speaker: Further debate?

M. Jean-Marc Lalonde (Prescott et Russell) : Je suis très heureux de pouvoir prendre la parole concernant le projet de loi 81, Loi visant à réduire le nombre de députés à l'Assemblée législative en rendant identiques le nombre et les limites des circonscriptions électorales provinciales et fédérales et à apporter des modifications corrélatives à des lois concernant la représentation électorale.

En premier lieu, je désire mentionner que je crois qu'il est bon de repenser la redistribution des circonscriptions. La population a beaucoup augmenté dans les régions urbaines, et certaines régions rurales sont trop grandes en superficie. Là aussi il y a eu des changements au niveau de la population.

Le fédéral l'a reconnu et il a augmenté le nombre des députés de 99 à 103. Mais une chose qu'on doit se rappeler encore une fois : nous nous apercevons que ce gouvernement est porté à négliger le secteur rural. Lorsqu'on regarde le secteur du nord, 87 % du territoire ontarien sera représenté par seulement 10 députés.

En 1896, il y a 100 ans, la population de l'Ontario était de 2,1 millions. Nous avions 93 députés à l'Assemblée législative ontarienne. Aujourd'hui, avec une population de 11,3 millions, nous allons réduire le nombre de 130 à 103. Avec le projet de loi 81, le secteur rural perdra une bonne partie de sa représentation à Queen's Park.

On a entendu parler longuement les députés du nord, autant des libéraux que des néo-démocrates, mais aussi des membres du gouvernement, qui, eux, sont portés à parler à l'extérieur de la Chambre parce qu'ils ont peur d'être mis de côté par le gouvernement, qui sont insatisfaits de l'élimination de cinq circonscriptions dans le nord. Mais dans l'ensemble, les régions rurales de la province seront moins bien représentées.

Je veux reprendre les commentaires que le ministre Noble Villeneuve a faits en 1985. Il avait dit qu'il ne voulait pas voir diminuer la représentation dans les régions rurales. Le projet de loi 81 aura pour conséquence de réduire la représentation dans les régions rurales. Noble Villeneuve, qui est aujourd'hui ministre de l'Agriculture, devrait se porter à la défense des gens, des agriculteurs de la province qui auront encore plus de difficulté à se faire entendre à Queen's Park.

Les organismes agricoles sont parfois mal informés, comme tout récemment, alors que le bureau régional, Farm Credit Union, n'avait pas été informé du programme d'investissement Grow Ontario. C'est notre bureau de la circonscription de Prescott et Russell qui les aurait informés. Ces derniers temps dans l'est de la province il y a des gens qui disent que Noble Villeneuve a beaucoup d'influence dans le Cabinet de Mike Harris, qu'il a de l'influence auprès des autres ministres. Si le projet de loi 81 devient loi, on pourrait dire que Noble Villeneuve n'a pas autant d'influence dans le Cabinet Harris, du moins pas autant d'influence qu'il voudrait bien nous laisser croire.


Lors de l'audience publique tenue à Ottawa le 15 novembre dernier, le maire de Cumberland, Brian Coburn, s'est prononcé contre ce projet de loi. Sa municipalité se rediviserait en deux. Je me demande combien de représentants de circonscription ici aujourd'hui aimeraient voir leur municipalité divisée en deux. Lorsqu'on parle de programmes provinciaux on doit aller à deux députés. Lorsqu'on parle de conseils scolaires, on doit aller parfois à deux députés parce qu'une partie serait desservie par un autre député. De toute évidence, Mike Harris et ses acolytes, qui prennent toutes les décisions à l'arrière-scène, n'accordent aucune importance aux convictions des ministres de son Cabinet ni à leurs loyaux supporteurs. J'aimerais bien savoir qui M. Harris écoute et pourquoi il veut réduire le nombre des députés.

Ce n'est pas parce qu'il veut tenir sa promesse incluse dans la Révolution du bon sens. Au cours des 18 premiers mois de son mandat, Mike Harris n'a pas tenu ses promesses au niveau de l'éducation et de la santé. Il a coupé le budget de ces deux ministères. On pourrait lire dans le document de la Révolution du bon sens que pas un seul sou serait coupé à l'éducation et à la santé. Mike Harris nous dit que la réduction de 27 députés représentera des économies annuelles de 11 $ millions. Mike Harris ne calcule pas les frais additionnels que cette réduction va occasionner pour les autres députés. Il ne calcule pas les coûts additionnels que les citoyens de la province devront encourir.

Dans ma circonscription j'ai deux bureaux et je dois en ouvrir un troisième. Avec la nouvelle redistribution je devrai ouvrir un quatrième bureau dans le comté de Glengarry. Je crois qu'il est important d'être présent et disponible pour nos commettants et commettantes. Je veux vous dire, en passant, que le secteur de Glengarry est définitivement un secteur rural qu'il me ferait toujours plaisir d'accueillir dans ma circonscription. Cela veut dire que je devrais embaucher du personnel additionnel, que je devrais couvrir un plus grand territoire et ainsi avoir des frais de déplacement additionnels.

Dans le nord de la province il y a des circonscriptions qui seront énormes et qui demanderont des déplacements du personnel additionnel. Heureusement que nous avons un député qui couvre une grande partie du nord dans son propre avion, autrement ce serait impossible. Lorsque le député se rendrait dans un secteur à l'extrémité nord, on penserait que c'est la visite du pape qui passe.

Je suis persuadé que Mike Harris ne calcule pas ces frais additionnels, puisqu'il affirme que le gouvernement ferait des économies de 11 $ millions par année. Mes calculs avec mes collègues, les économies sont au-delà de un demi-million, environ 475 $ mille. Je ne sais pas où on prendrait ces 11 $ millions. Maintenant Mike Harris compare le travail du député provincial à celui du député fédéral. J'ai beaucoup de respect pour nos collègues du fédéral. Ils travaillent fort, mais il faut se rendre en évidence que nos responsabilités ne sont pas les mêmes et que, pour cette raison, il n'y a pas de logique de baser la redistribution à partir des circonscriptions établies pour le gouvernement fédéral.

Nous n'avons qu'à penser aux responsabilités d'un député provincial. Nous devons regarder l'éducation. Dans ma circonscription je compte 52 écoles, 44 villes et villages, 19 municipalités. Qui doit répondre à toutes les coupures auxquelles nous faisons face en ce moment ? C'est le député. Je peux reconnaître actuellement que le secteur de Glengarry n'est pas bien desservi, et je dis bien que c'est parce que le député actuel, le ministre de l'Agriculture, n'a qu'un seul bureau, qui est situé à Moose Creek. Moi, je dessers ma circonscription ; les gens sont fiers d'avoir un représentant libéral qui les représente afin de répondre à leurs questions.

Lorsqu'on arrive dans le domaine de la santé, actuellement, avec toutes les coupures auxquelles nous faisons face dans le moment, les bureaux des députés sont débordés d'ouvrage. Je n'ai qu'à penser à mon bureau de Hawkesbury où on doit rester ouverts des heures supplémentaires afin de répondre à la demande de cartes de santé. Je ne sais pas combien d'autres bureaux en Ontario sont appelés à remplir tous les formulaires afin que nos personnes âgées reçoivent leur certificat de naissance et ensuite aillent chercher leur carte de santé pour pouvoir bénéficier du programme de médicament.

Dans les secteurs urbains ici je voyais tout à l'heure le nombre de députés dans Toronto métropolitain qui sera de 22 ; actuellement nous en comptons 30. Dans le grand secteur de Toronto nous comptons 48 députés et nous allons descendre à 41.

Mes chers amis, il ne faut pas comparer le secteur urbain avec le secteur rural. Ici à Toronto vous avez le transport en commun. Lorsque vous allez dans le secteur rural, si vous n'avez pas la disponibilité d'un avion, on oublie complètement et on doit souffrir sans avoir de services gouvernementaux.

Ici à Toronto, par exemple, lorsqu'on veut se rendre dans un bureau du gouvernement, on n'a qu'à sauter dans l'autobus et se rendre à ce bureau. Lorsqu'on regarde 30 députés dans Toronto même, comparativement dans notre comté de Prescott et Russell, par exemple, d'un bout à l'autre de petits villages, ici à Toronto nous comptons au-delà de deux et parfois même trois députés.

Mais lorsque nous regardons dans le secteur du nord, nous devons couvrir 87 % du territoire ontarien avec 10 députés. Est-ce que cela a du bon sens ? Je crois, lorsque nous regardons la documentation qui a été distribuée lors de la dernière campagne électorale -- on disait un gouvernement du bon sens -- ma réponse a toujours été, «C'est du non-sens d'arriver avec des calculs de la sorte.» Encore une fois nous avons complètement oublié d'analyser l'impact que nous aurons dans le secteur urbain.

J'ai mentionné tout à l'heure le ministère de la Santé. Dans Prescott et Russell nous comptons un hôpital situé à l'extrémité est de notre comté, qui est dans Hawkesbury. Nous avons un comté dans toute la grande province de l'Ontario qui n'a pas d'hôpital, et c'est le comté de Russell, le seul comté dans l'Ontario qui n'a aucun hôpital à sa disposition.

Lorsque nous regardons les soins à domicile, qui seront coupés, qui allons-nous voir ? Nous allons voir le député. Nous n'avons pas autre chose. Nous n'avons pas de bureau du ministère dans nos comtés, donc le seul endroit où nous allons, c'est au bureau du député. Mais ici à Toronto nous nous rendons voir le bureau du ministère. Nous avons les services en place.

Nous n'avons qu'à regarder : tout récemment nous avons fermé les bureaux de supports familiaux. Des «family support branch», qu'on appelle en anglais, on a fermé le bureau d'Ottawa. Maintenant nous ne parlons pas à une personne au téléphone ; nous parlons à un enregistrement, et le service n'est pas là. Mais ici à Toronto vous n'avez qu'à prendre l'autobus ou marcher quelques coins de rues et vous êtes immédiatement rendus au bureau de support familial.

Lorsque arrive le temps des médicaments, avec toutes les coupures que nous connaissons, qui pensez-vous que nous allons voir ? Nous avons pris les données qui nous ont été donné, fournies par le fédéral pour établir les revenus familiaux. Souvent ça porte à la confusion. Nous savons que lorsque nous avons un salaire inférieur conjoint de 24 000 $, nous sommes supposés payer seulement 2 $ par prescription.


Combien d'erreurs avons-nous connues dans le rapport ou dans les données qui nous ont été fourni ? À quel endroit doit-on aller ? C'est visiter le bureau du député provincial. Comme j'ai dit tout à l'heure, j'ai deux bureaux actuellement, et puis il faut en ouvrir un troisième et il faut travailler des heures supplémentaires. Le bureau de Hawkesbury, le bureau de Rockland, ils fonctionnent à pleine capacité et maintenant j'ai même dit à mes employés qu'il va falloir commencer à fermer le bureau des journées dans l'après-midi pour faire notre travail et faire la correspondance. Pourquoi ? C'est parce que le gouvernement a réduit les services aux citoyens et citoyennes de l'Ontario et en retour on vient voir les députés pour avoir des services additionnels, les services sociaux.

Quelle erreur dans le moment que nous avons procédé avec. Nous comprenons tous qu'il est important de retourner les gens au travail, de recycler les gens, de préparer les gens lorsque le travail deviendra disponible. Mais nous avons essayé de mettre sur pied un programme «workfare», retour au travail, mais avec aucune initiative attachée au bout. J'ai toujours dit que je suis d'accord de recycler nos gens, de préparer nos gens au retour au travail, mais pas de la manière dont nous fonctionnons. Le gouvernement a encore oublié que dans le secteur rural et le secteur urbain, c'est complètement différent.

L'aide sociale, les prestations familiales, les résidences des personnes âgées, dans le moment, avec les nouvelles politiques du gouvernement, lorsque vous êtes hospitalisé et que vous avez reçu une chirurgie, si vous voulez demeurer une journée additionnelle à l'hôpital, vous devez payer un montant de 40 $ additionnel. Mais souvent nos gens dans les secteurs ruraux, nous n'avons pas à notre disposition des personnes qui peuvent venir nous aider dans nos maisons. Est-ce que le gouvernement voudrait que toutes les régions rurales déménagent dans les secteurs urbains ? Lorsqu'on regarde la population du grand Toronto ici, nous parlons d'une population d'environ trois à quatre millions, comparativement à 11 millions à la grandeur de la province. Donc, encore une fois, nous avons complètement oublié l'importance d'analyser l'impact de toutes les coupures ou la réduction du nombre de députés que nous allons connaître à la prochaine élection.

L'impact sur le service qui sera rendu à nos citoyens et citoyennes sera tellement grand que maintenant ce ne sera pas une réduction des coûts pour les payeurs de taxes en Ontario. On dit toujours qu'il n'y a qu'un payeur de taxes. Bien oui, il y en a seulement un, mais avec les frais d'utilisateurs que nous allons rajouter afin d'aider les gens -- quand on dit «aider les gens», il faut s'entendre, je ne crois par qu'on va aider les gens. Ça va être des frais additionnels que nos gens vont encourir afin d'obtenir les services.

J'ai bien dit tout à l'heure que dans ma circonscription nous comptons 44 villes et villages. Nous avons une population de 126 000 actuellement. Nous allons réduire la population à 115 000. Le gouvernement a fait une grande erreur lorsqu'il a regardé le côté population au lieu de regarder le côté territoire. Je reconnais que dans le passé nous avions des territoires avec 19 000 votants. Dans ma circonscription, nous avions au-delà de 85 000 votants. Il y a une grosse différence avec 19 000, mais encore une fois, le gouvernement a manqué en ne pas analysant le secteur rural comparativement avec le secteur urbain.

Madame la Présidente, de plus en plus, nous voyons ce que le gouvernement essaie de faire. On nous dit en anglais que c'est un «tax scheme». C'est une approche gouvernementale afin de réduire ses dépenses, on pourrait dire, puis lorsqu'on va consulter la population pour voir si elle est favorable à la réduction des dépenses, tout le monde va dire, «Oui». Mais vous verrez en 1998 -- 1998 et non 1997.

J'ai dit avant-hier que la moyenne salariale des dames dans le secteur de Hawkesbury était de 19 750 $. Les dames dans le secteur de Hawkesbury vont bénéficier d'une réduction de 1,25 $ par semaine avec la réduction d'impôts dont on parle. Je parle bien d'un «tax scheme». Mais lorsqu'on sera appelé à tout payer les services d'utilisateur, on va avoir un moins de 14,69 $ ; j'ai fait les calculs. Je crois que le gouvernement n'a pas fait de calculs. Il a peut-être fait des calculs dans les secteurs urbains. Il n'a pas fait de calculs dans les secteurs ruraux.

Actuellement dans le secteur rural, lorsque nous regardons que nous avons une population qui vieillit au Canada, que nous avons en Ontario une population qui vieillit, qu'est-ce que vous pensez que ces gens-là vont être appelés à faire ? On ne veut pas prendre les grandes routes avec les autos ; on n'y est pas habitué. Donc j'ai un haut respect pour les personnes âgées. Ce sont les bâtisseurs de notre pays. On devrait porter attention à ces personnes-là.

Mais non. Ce qu'on va faire, on va réduire le nombre de députés et après ça on va dire, «Si vous voulez avoir des services, appelez à Toronto.» Lorsqu'ils vont signaler à Toronto -- lorsque vous attendez le répondeur, «Press 1, press this, press that», en français, «Appuyez sur le numéro 9» -- les personnes n'y sont pas habituées. On devrait reconnaître ça pour nos personnes âgées. Mais non, on veut tout automatiser et on oublie le secteur de nos aînés de la province.

Une chose qui s'en vient, et puis encore là les députés seront appelés à répondre, c'est que nous voulons encore réduire le secteur de protection civile. Nous parlons de transférer les services d'incendie. Nous allons encourager les municipalités à transférer les services d'incendie au secteur privé. Qui pensez-vous va recevoir les appels ? Ce seront les députés. Nous voulons transférer les services de police, de la sûreté provinciale, aux petites municipalités de l'Ontario. Encore là, avec toutes les coupures que nous connaissons, ce sera le député ou ces adjoints et adjointes qui vont répondre à tous ces appels. Encore là une fois, je crois que le gouvernement devra se pencher sur l'importance. Avant de réduire le nombre de députés, nous devons faire une analyse au complet et voir quel impact aura cette réduction du nombre des députés dans le secteur rural.

Dans Prescott et Russell, ou bien dans l'est ontarien, nous allons perdre au-delà de cinq députés. Nous comptons actuellement dans l'est ontarien -- quand on parle de l'est ontarien, beaucoup de gens pensent que c'est Ottawa sans aller jusqu'aux limites du Québec. Hé non, ça part de Belleville. Nous allons tomber de 22 députés à 17, une perte de 22,7 %, ou de cinq députés.

Lorsque je regarde Toronto, le GTA, excluant Métro, nous allons augmenter le nombre de députés. J'ai bel et bien dit tout à l'heure que les services sont à votre porte. Vous n'avez même pas besoin de prendre un autobus ; vous l'avez à votre porte. Mais on ne considère pas que dans le secteur rural on doit se déplacer.

La majorité des secteurs ruraux n'ont pas les transports en commun. Dans Prescott et Russell, pour un exemple, aucun transport en commun est en existence. Pourquoi ? Le gouvernement vient de couper les programmes qui avaient été mis sur pied par le gouvernement libéral en 1985. Donc, nous faisons du travail afin d'obtenir notre transport en commun. Maintenant, avec toutes les coupures fondamentales que nous connaissons, nous avons encore omis de donner un service au secteur rural.

Ceci conclut ma présentation. J'espère encore une fois que le gouvernement prendra en considération l'importance ou l'impact que la réduction du nombre des députés de 130 à 103 aura sur le secteur rural.


The Acting Speaker: Questions or comments?

Mr Len Wood: I am pleased to get up and comment briefly on the member for Prescott et Russell. He made an excellent and colourful plea to the Legislature here that the government members listen and take things seriously instead of bringing in and continuing to try to ram through Bill 81, which is a complete nonsense bill. We thought it was silly during the election campaign. We still think it's silly, along with the 30% tax break they're promising, as well as other cuts.

I'm sure the member for Prescott-Russell has the same headlines I have. Every week further announcements come out. "MTO Slashes Seven Local Jobs" with downsizing in the town of Cochrane. They're saying that within another year you can expect to have another 30 or 40 more. You're talking about towns with 4,000 or 5,000 people. You lose 25 or 30 jobs out of these communities from one ministry, then MNR cuts, and then the Minister of Northern Development and Mines is travelling around the province saying: "Well, we're going to spend money. We've got $210 million in the heritage board that we're going to spend in northern Ontario some time."

All they've done so far is to fire the 20 board directors who were there and appoint 10 of his own advisers to the heritage board. I believe in the last 16 months they've only announced that they're going to spend somewhere around $900,000 on six tourist information centres to bring in tourism. There's all that money out there that should be spent, and there are announcements coming out all the time: "Well, we have that money. We're going to do it."

Right now the people of northern Ontario are saying that it's a disgrace the way the Minister of Northern Development and Mines is representing people in northern Ontario and he should be replaced because he's not doing the job of protecting jobs in northern Ontario or creating new jobs through the private sector. This is not happening, and it never will happen under this minister.

Mr Mario Sergio (Yorkview): I'm very pleased to respond to the wonderful and passionate presentation by my colleague from Prescott-Russell. He has detailed very well what the problem with the bill is. In response to some of the comments from the government side, the member for Prescott-Russell has exactly identified the problems that not only the north will be experiencing on a larger scale, but even problems that we are experiencing down here in eastern and western Ontario. He has mentioned quite well the problems associated with transportation, delivery of services, representation and even the family support service that the government has cut.

I think what the member is trying to say is, how can we deliver better representation and better services when you are diminishing exactly that? What he's saying in a few words is that less indeed means less. He has exposed, for example, that an area like Prescott-Russell -- I'm not saying regions in the north; we will be speaking about that later on -- that even regions like Prescott-Russell are not easily serviced, as we are here in the GTA or Metropolitan Toronto.

What the member has been saying is that we are making it indeed much more difficult for those communities to be represented, to be serviced, not only by the local member -- as he said, he has two offices now servicing the region to capacity and he will be forced to open up another office so he can render the same service to those people he will be forced to absorb because of the redistribution. I congratulate the member again.

Ms Frances Lankin (Beaches-Woodbine): I'm pleased to have an opportunity to respond to the member for Prescott-Russell. I thought he made important points around the issue of representation. I'm thinking of the riding that he represents, the breadth of that riding, the diversity in that riding and the need for people to feel that they have accessibility to their local member of provincial Parliament. I've heard that theme woven throughout the comments of many members of this House.

I'm reminded of the member for Lake Nipigon, who talked about the redistribution of the mega -- this government's really into mega things, right, megacity, megaridings -- in northern Ontario, in which that riding will be bigger than some 30-odd countries in this world that he read off into the record.

It's not just an issue of big, it's an issue of process. How did we get here? To simply say that the federal government has got the boundaries right and that that makes sense for the province; in fact, the federal government took into consideration regional issues on a nationwide basis and ensured that certain areas had overrepresentation and then ended up with Ontario dividing up what was left. Within Ontario, surely we should be looking to areas -- and I'm not speaking of my riding, I'm speaking of areas in the north, areas in rural Ontario, areas where distance and geography make it important that the riding is of such a size that there is a reasonable opportunity for citizens to have access to their elected member.

I've thought often of what some of the members of the government have said about "Well, you don't need to meet your constituents; phones and faxes do it all." That's not good enough. That's not what representative democracy is about. I'm concerned with the nature of how we got to this bill, with this government's sort of blind approach on symbolism as opposed to content. I don't disagree that we should perhaps look at reorganizing ridings and that that might lead to fewer politicians, but let's do it in a rational way. This putting up of symbols all the time is not good government and this government is not providing good government.

Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): It was an excellent speech that the member delivered, and I know one of the concerns he would have is that there be a sufficient number of members in the Legislature to prevent the privatization of the LCBO. Because he would know, as others know, that the LCBO provides a safe, secure and controlled way of retailing alcoholic beverages in this province, that it provides the best method of restricting the sale of liquor to young people -- that is, to minors -- in Ontario. It has an excellent program of quality control of the products sold in its stores, and we can recall in other instances where that hasn't been the case that there have been cases of poisoning or other problems.

It also provides a wide selection of products to its customers in modern, convenient stores, and it has moved forward with the times, sensitive to the needs of its customers. If I may be parochial -- and this is where local representation comes in; we will be going from six members to four members in the Niagara Peninsula -- it is an important instrument in the promotion of Ontario-made wine. Wineries in Ontario and grape growers in Ontario are both extremely concerned that this government would do something else risky, like your risky tax scheme; that what you will do is turn over the LCBO, a proven winner -- I saw their annual report this year that said it was their best year yet -- that you want to turn that over to private operators.

Anybody who has observed private operators south of the border knows that you do not have the good control over the sale to minors, that there isn't the kind of quality control that we'd like to see and there isn't the kind of convenience that they have. I know the member was concerned about this during his speech but didn't have time to mention it.

The Acting Speaker (Mr Bert Johnson): The member for Prescott-Russell has two minutes to respond.

Mr Lalonde: I want to thank my colleague from St Catharines. Definitely, I didn't get to that point, it is true. With the amalgamation, the people are going to have less accessibility to their elected member. They will go to the MPP's office, especially when you look at the LCBO, for example, like he mentioned.

If this government privatizes the LCBO, definitely they will be looking at the dollar sign. Looking at the dollar sign, they won't even ask for the ID card. The VLTs are an example. This is the one thing that I've said all along: Who is going to control that? Already people were coming down to my office to report those illegal ones. They were illegal. Now they will become legal, so you're going to have a lot more people going there.

One other point that was mentioned that I want to come back to, especially in my district, is the fact that they have split a township in two. When it comes to provincial recreational programs, the urban sector was separated from my riding. The Orléans area, Queenswood area of Cumberland -- the specific address is Orléans -- was taken away from my riding, so that area is getting some programs that the rural areas are not getting. Again, the people are going to say: "We live in the same province. How come we cannot get the same services as the people from the Ottawa-Carleton regional government?" It shows that this government has to take a hard look at this bill.

Is it a good thing to cut down from 130 to 103? Apparently it is, but they should recognize that the rural sector should be taken into consideration.


The Acting Speaker: Further debate.

Mr David S. Cooke (Windsor-Riverside): I intend to vote against this bill because I stand firm with my Liberal colleagues in saying that the Chrétien government really messed up these boundaries. I had to say that.

Mr Bradley: It's in the water in Windsor.

Mr Cooke: Well, the water that's going to go private.

I can't support this bill, not because I don't have some agreement with the concept. I think all of us who have been members for a period of time understand that there's confusion about who represents what and what the boundaries are. If you're east end and you're in my city then you might be in one federal riding, you might be in another federal riding. There's some logic, although I hear some of the Conservative members saying that now people will, as a result, understand who's a member of provincial parliament and who's a member of federal parliament. I think that's being quite simplistic. If anything, there'll be even more confusion as to who is which level of government. I don't know how many times I've been at the Windsor airport and talked to constituents who have said, "Well, have a good week in Ottawa." There's always going to be that kind of confusion.


Mr Cooke: And then I got on the plane and I went to Ottawa and forgot that I was really supposed to be going to Toronto.

I guess what I object to in this whole process is the simplistic nature that it's being dealt with by the government. First of all, to say that you can come in here and that you've got a mandate from the people, that the people voted in favour of a reduction in the number of boundaries, I think is to misinterpret the mandate that you've got. There's no way that people voted in the last provincial election and said that they were endorsing everything that was in the Common Sense Revolution. You know as well as I do that very few people knew all of the promises that were made in the Common Sense Revolution. They bought into some of the concepts in it --

Mr Wildman: Did they memorize it?

Mr Cooke: I daresay there are even some of the Tory backbenchers who wouldn't be able to --


Mr Cooke: Well, I think the ones who had the highest profile, the ones who pushed some particular hot buttons, people bought into and they went for it, not understanding, quite frankly, all the implications, not understanding that this government wasn't even going to keep all of those promises. They bought, for example --

Mr Bradley: Not in hospitals closings.

Mr Cooke: Exactly. You come in here and say you've got a complete mandate to reduce the number of seats from 130 to 103 and that's a commitment that you made and you can't break that commitment. I daresay if I went and canvassed my constituents and I said to them: "Do you want them to keep the commitment to reduce the number of MPPs or would you prefer that they keep the commitment to reinvest all of the dollars into health care, not cut health care spending, maintain spending in our classroom education?" I think my constituents would say, "We don't care about the number of MPPs; we care about the services that our kids and our families have come to count on, namely, health care and education."

The other thing that I think is simplistic about this approach and I think reflective about the simplistic approach that this government is taking to a lot of things is that this plays entirely into the anti-politician, anti-government theme that this government has taken. They knew that there were people who were feeling cynical about the process, that there were people who were angry at politicians, and they decided to play into that. They played into it by saying they're going to reduce the number of MPPs, and they knew that for some people that would get some votes, for all of the wrong reasons, but it would still get them some votes.

They never talked about some of the other implications that I think need to be discussed. Again, the concept of it I don't have a big problem with, but I think we need to talk about the other things that need to go hand in hand. What are the financial requirements that are going to be needed for a northern member who's going to represent a riding, some of those ridings -- I know even now, and I don't pretend to know all of the problems of representing a riding the size of some of the northern ridings.

My riding is one of the most southern ridings in the entire country. To drive from one end of my riding to the other end of it would take me about 20 minutes, so it's not a very difficult riding to get to. There are other difficulties in representing an urban community, and I think that needs to be understood as well, but when Floyd Laughren tells me that to go from one end of his riding currently, under the current boundaries, to the other end of his riding takes him as long as it takes me to drive from Windsor to Queen's Park, I think that's something you need to consider.

I hear Tory members saying, "You can use technology." Len Wood has outlined some of the problems, but even if the telecommunications were in such a state in northern Ontario that you could, how could you use technology when at the same time you've cut back the budgets for MPPs? We wouldn't have the money either in central caucus expenditures or in individual MPP expenditures to be able to invest in the type of technology you would need in some of the large ridings.

If you're going to reduce the number of MPPs, I think you need to be fair and honest and say that some of those savings will be reinvested in large rural and northern ridings so that those people who live in those ridings can still continue to have the kind of dialogue and contact with their MPPs that they need to have. Whether it's a mechanism that for constituents in a part of your riding who might be 200 miles you could actually have teleconferences, whether Contact North can be more accessible to MPPs -- those types of things are necessary so we can actually have MPPs who maintain close contact with their constituents. That's never been talked about.

All we've heard is, "We're going to play to the feeling that's out there among people in the province that the fewer politicians the better." You could score even more points by saying, "Let's reduce the number of MPPs in Ontario to 25." There would be a lot of people out there who would support it. It's up to us to go out there and say, "This is what we need to keep in touch with you."

If we don't keep in touch with our constituents, we can't do a proper job here. We can't do a proper job here because we don't experience personally the same problems some of our constituents have. The only reason I understand what it's like for some of my constituents who live on very low income is because I sit down in my constituency office and talk to them and they tell me what they're going through, the pain, the difficulties. I won't know that, or some of the northern members and some of the rural members are going to have much more difficulty understanding the difficulties and the challenges their constituents are going through because it's going to be more difficult to represent them.

If you want to parallel the federal ridings, then I say parallel the federal budgets for constituency offices, for mailings and support. You've cut back the ability for MPPs to communicate even by mail. Now we can only do one mailing a year, and even that --

Mr Baird: Two.

Mr Cooke: If you take a look at what the budget is, it's going to be extremely difficult to be able to get two mailings out per year. We're now into a global budget and it's extremely difficult to do those two mailings.

I say it's worth the investment to do the ongoing communications with your constituents. Take a look at what we need to do to invest in technology. I would feel a lot better about this proposal if the government had dealt with those particular concerns.

I also think you have not considered the fact, as I hear from Tories again -- well, I used to hear it. Now they're talking about going to megacities and eliminating all sorts of lower-tier governments across the province. I used to hear that the most important level of government is the municipal government because it's the closest to people. I would argue that the second most important, if you want to use that argument, is the provincial government and the provincial Legislature and MPPs, because we deal with human services. The federal government doesn't. Quite frankly, the federal Parliament is dealing with fewer and fewer of those issues because of the devolution of responsibilities and funding to the provinces.

We deal with education, we deal with social services, we deal with health care. If you go to many fewer school boards across the province, which I personally would endorse and did when I was minister, and more responsibility with the Ministry of Education, there's going to be more need for MPPs to be in contact with parents and teachers to hear what's going on in the education system because we're going to have more responsibility at the provincial level.


Those are services that I think put this level of government much closer to the people, and can be an argument of why we should not parallel boundaries at all with the federal Parliament, that we need more MPPs because we deal with those human services that touch people every single day.

I've talked a bit about supports for MPPs in mailings and also staffing.

I also think it's important that you should be looking at the standing orders. I mentioned this very briefly yesterday. If we're going to have 103 members, why would we have the same number in the standing orders for a quorum that we have now, with 130 members? Why wouldn't that number come down? That, of course, would benefit the government. That would not benefit the opposition, that would benefit the government. But I think that's a rule that needs to be taken a look at.

Official party status is another one. You're going to maintain the same requirement for official party status in this legislation with 103 members that the federal Parliament has for, what, 295 members? That's ridiculous.

There's been no response and no offer by the government House leader. It would seem to me that when you're passing this legislation, you should have a parallel motion that passes amendments to the standing orders that strictly relate and only relate to the changes in the number of MPPs. You could put right in the motion that it would not come into effect until the first day of the next Parliament, because it would not be appropriate to have those standing orders changed until the next Parliament. But none of that has been responded to.

The number of members required to divide should be changed too. Currently it's five; it should probably be lowered to about three in order to divide. There's a whole series of standing orders that need to be reviewed to parallel the new numbers that are going to be in this parliament after the next election.

What it reinforces for me is that none of that was considered by the Conservatives when this party platform was being put together. It was a very simplistic position put forward that was just playing to the anti-politician sentiment that you knew would deliver some votes for you. That's all it was designed to do, and it's more complicated than that. It's always more complicated than the kind of simplistic platform you put together to try to get votes during an election. None of this has been discussed.

I think it was a relevant issue to raise that Morley Kells, the member for Etobicoke-Lakeshore, raised when he wrote an op-ed page for the Toronto Star. He said it needs to be discussed, that what this is doing is going to result in a significant shift of power away from older urban areas in the province to suburban areas. That may be the right thing to do, but it has an impact on government policy. It would be wrong to assume that governments are going to respond in the same way to public policy when they have larger numbers of their members coming from suburban areas than they do old urban areas. You're of course always going to be more sensitive to where there are seats. That's the nature of democracy.

I think Mr Kells was right to say, "What are the implications going to be for downtown Toronto?" What are the implications going to be for a community like mine? We're going from three seats to two seats. It's not that many years ago that we used to have three-and-a-half seats in the city of Windsor. We're going to go down to two. Even if I want to take a look at some of the specific boundaries in my area, we're going to have Windsor-St Clair and we're going to have Windsor West. My riding is the extreme east end of the riding, but about one third of my riding, which is the extreme east end, is going to go into this other riding called Windsor West, so you've got a riding that goes from the extreme west to the extreme east.

Some people may say that doesn't matter. One of the principles we always used to have in redistribution, which I think is appropriate, is that you have communities of interest within a riding so that an MPP can properly represent those communities of interest. I can see different ways of designing these boundaries. Maybe it doesn't matter as much federally, but it does matter provincially when you're dealing with human services, when you're dealing with services that are delivered to people in a much more concrete and day-in and day-out way than anything the federal government does.

If you want to decrease the number of MPPs, I think it is fundamentally wrong public policy to say that the simple way of doing it is to say that whatever the federal government decides in its independent commission is good enough for Ontario. Somebody said a few minutes ago that there were specific criteria in the federal commission's guidelines that talked about guaranteeing certain areas of the country certain levels of representation. PEI has been one of the examples, and there's a long history to that that goes beyond one particular commission. But if you want to go down to 103, I don't think we should just give that power to the federal government and to some commission, because there are different requirements at the provincial level.

Say you're going to go down to 103 and that one of the major factors an independent provincial commission should take into consideration would be communities of interest. One of the principles that would be considered would be the federal boundaries, but not necessarily all coterminous with the federal boundaries, because it doesn't always make sense. There are different needs at the provincial level.

What are we going to do the next time, 10 years from now, if a commission comes in at the federal level and the criteria it sets are completely and totally objectionable to Parliament here in Ontario? We're still going to have to follow those boundaries, and that's wrong.

Mr Baird: You could bring in new legislation.

Mr Cooke: So what you're saying is that this particular law is for this time around, but not necessarily for 10 years from now. Most of the arguments you've made have been, "We're going to save money on the commission." Well, how much money out of the $53 billion or $54 billion we spend at the provincial level? Democracy's something that's pretty precious, and sometimes a little bit of money to make sure it works properly is worth the investment. I think it's wrong to downplay that important investment.

I want to finish by saying that I think it's still essential that the government House leader come in here at some point very soon and say what the companion changes in government policy and in legislative policy are that are going to go along with this piece of legislation. I think it's been handled wrong. The member from Scarborough said a few minutes ago in response to my colleague from Cochrane North that this was a policy, and his point might have been misquoted by some of the press that the public hearings didn't mean anything, but his point was that this was policy and it was going to be done; it doesn't matter what the debate is in the Legislature, it doesn't matter what the response is.

Do you think everybody is just making this argument because they're interested in saving their seats? I don't think that's the case. I don't think that's the case at all. Why are chambers of commerce in northern Ontario, why are municipal politicians saying they're concerned about this, concerned that they're going to have a smaller voice, less of a voice, in the Legislature? When you say, "You're just trying to protect your own seats," I guess the argument is that MPPs are not allowed to debate this, that we shouldn't even debate it here because it's all self-interest. I don't believe that for a minute.

I think there is a solid argument, a point of principle and public policy that has not been properly considered by the government. Even though I have some sympathy for the concept, I don't think the total public policy package is here and I don't think it'll work because it hasn't been thought through. Therefore, I can't support this legislation as it's been presented. I think at this point it's shortsighted and will not serve the long-term interests of any of the people of this province. Again, I urge the backbenchers of the Conservative caucus to reconsider this and to ask that there be other aspects of the policy that haven't properly been considered by the government to be brought forward before we pass this for third reading.


The Acting Speaker: Comments and questions?

Mr Gilchrist: I'm pleased to make a brief comment in response to the speech from the member for Windsor-Riverside. I appreciate his point of view, and I appreciate his detailing some of the changes that will occur in Windsor.

I guess I'm somewhat confused at why the people who would have made representations in his neck of the woods to the federal commission would not have had the same sense of community, how you could suggest that the federal MP wouldn't have exactly the same problems if there were a natural barrier or there were dramatic differences in the demographics between different parts of his or her own riding or proposed riding, and why the people who made representations to the boundary commission wouldn't have said exactly the same thing if a provincial commission came around right now.

Presuming that the people who were selected, non-partisan -- these weren't politicians who sat on that federal commission -- and presuming we used the same standard to find unbiased individuals to sit on a provincial commission, why would we believe that two groups hearing the same submission would have come to different conclusions?

Mr Cooke: Different guidelines.

Mr Gilchrist: No, the guidelines are identical. They were identical, save and except the federal government has one additional guideline, that it can't deviate by more than 25% above or below the quota, the ratio if you divide the total number of seats into the total population. Therefore, the ability to gerrymander, the ability to have ridings that have six and a quarter times the number of voters, which is the case today -- for Al Palladini to have six and one quarter times the workload of Howard Hampton is utterly unacceptable, and no one in Rainy river defended that.

The greatest flaw in the argument about geography right now is the fact that Mr Miclash's riding, immediately beside Mr Hampton's, not only has five times the geography, it has one and a half times the population. So why does Mr Hampton's riding have only 19,000 voters? Why? Because nobody has had the courage to address these long-standing flaws in distribution. Our government has that courage, and that's what this bill is all about.

Mr Lalonde: I really appreciate the speech given by the member for Windsor-Riverside, but I'd just like to come back to some of the comments that were just brought in front of us.

It's impossible to try and compare the MPPs and the MPs. That's impossible. Federal MPs have very little to look at in the rural area. It's federal matters. Provincial matters are everything. You compare Minister Palladini with Mr Hampton. Definitely, we could refer to that, but the cost to have an office here in Toronto compared to the cost of having an office up north, you just can't compare it. Very often some of you people might have your own riding office right here in Queen's Park. We don't have that in the riding. So just don't try to compare the costs of an MPP in a rural area vis-à-vis the MPP from the urban area. It's impossible.

Once again, I appreciate the comments that were given by the member for Windsor-Riverside.

The Acting Speaker: Comments or questions? The Chair recognizes the member from Nipigon.

Mr Gilles Pouliot (Lake Nipigon): I appreciate your recognizing the member for Lake Nipigon, Mr Speaker.

The Acting Speaker: Lake Nipigon.

Mr Pouliot: In response to the statement by the member for Windsor-Riverside, suffice it to say that the Legislative Assembly of Ontario, the people of Ontario, beyond the privilege, have been blessed by his expertise. He's been a member here for 20 years. It's not a matter of doing everything possible to keep his seat, nor is it a matter of doing everything and anything possible for Mr Laughren, who's the dean of the House, also a member of our party, who's been here for 25 years.

What the member for Windsor-Riverside is saying is your plan of attack, your rationale, your substance, your database, the reason why you wish to go from 130 to 103, is really not addressed. We know that the tasks of a federal member and those of a provincial member differ to a large extent. For instance, they have no jurisdictional capacity at the federal level over municipal liaison, transfers with municipalities, over schools, over hospitals, health care, education. So our workload is somewhat different.

Let me remind what one of the members opposite, a member of the government, has said in answer to a question by the Ontario Federation of Agriculture. I'm talking here about Richard Simpson, government members' services, PC caucus. This is what he said in terms of what is being addressed here, the electoral realignment. According to him, the provincial government is focusing primarily on economic issues, and as such, he suspects that they probably will not move on this issue for about another year. He also mentioned that whenever they decide to move on this issue, whenever they do so, there will probably be a committee set up to examine how this would affect Ontario in terms of voter representation, cost saving and regional representation.

Mr Dan Newman (Scarborough Centre): I'm pleased to rise and speak on the presentation of the member for Windsor-Riverside on Bill 81, the Fewer Politicians Act.

He spoke about harmonizing ridings and what effect that might have. I think it's going to have a very positive effect in my riding of Scarborough Centre because half of my riding, the area south of Eglinton Avenue East, is in the federal riding of Scarborough West, and the area north of Eglinton is in the federal riding of Scarborough Centre. There's a lot of confusion on the part of constituents as to which area they're in, and I think this will settle this once and for all.

What I hear from all opposition members is that they're all in agreement with cutting the number of ridings but it's, "Cut ridings but not my riding." That's what I hear from people out there.

He also spoke about the global budgets and mailings. I would encourage him to be more creative perhaps in his approach to communications with his constituents. Looking at the budgets of many NDP members, they spent in excess of $240,000 last year. The people of Scarborough and the people of Scarborough Centre are in favour of reducing the number of MPPs, not only in Ontario but in Scarborough. They say that we are showing leadership by example, and I absolutely agree with them 100%. I'm proud to be part of a government that is showing that leadership in everything that it does.

He also spoke about there being an anti-politician feeling out there. I don't think it's anti-politician feeling on the part of this government. If there is indeed an anti-politician sentiment out there, it's probably due to the overspending and excessive taxation of the former NDP government.

The Acting Speaker: The member for Windsor-Riverside has two minutes to respond.

Mr Cooke: I don't want to say who's to blame over a period of time for why people are anti-government and anti-politician, other than to say that I felt it most from 1984 to 1993, when a guy named lyin' Brian was in power. I think that really got to people and really started the whole thing moving along. I don't want to --


Mr Cooke: I guess that really gets them going, eh?

Mr Terence H. Young (Halton Centre): That's in poor taste.

Mr Cooke: In poor taste? It's pretty accurate. You weren't elected. I know how my phones used to ring off the hook and the letters I used to get. Sure there was a lot of confusion; some of them thought I was a federal member and they could complain to me about Brian. We just gave them the direct number, but they could never get through.

I just want to make one point to the member for Scarborough Centre. The guidelines are not always the same. The guidelines that are set up between a provincial commission -- and I remember being involved in drawing up the guidelines of the government of the day in the early 1980s with the provincial redistribution that took place then. They aren't always the same and they don't have to always be the same. Is the federal government going to say that when they're doing their boundaries 10 years from now that provincial riding associations have just as much input as federal riding associations on the boundaries when they're reorganizing the boundaries? Of course not. They're obliged to report to the federal Parliament, not to the provincial Parliament.

I guess the other point is that the member for Scarborough Centre said, it's either this or it's the status quo. I am sick and tired of hearing that simplistic approach. It isn't your proposal or the status quo. There are other reasonable proposals that perhaps you should listen to.

The Acting Speaker: The member's time has expired. Just before we proceed with the debate, I want to mention that we don't refer to people in positions by their names. We would like to keep that parliamentary tradition, referring to them by their constituencies, their ridings, or perhaps their positions. I would like to just remind everyone that that's the type of thing I expect, and that would be particularly by those federal members as well, no matter what your personal opinion of a person is.


Mr Cooke: Mr Speaker, on a point of order: I think the traditions and the rules are fairly clear here that when I'm referring to another member of the Legislature, I have to do that, but the last I understood, the former Prime Minister was not a member of this Parliament, and I do not believe that anything prohibits me from calling Mr Mulroney his more commonly known name, "lyin' Brian."

The Acting Speaker: I'm sorry, that is not acceptable, and I would ask you to withdraw. I don't think that is showing the respect to those people, no matter what your opinion of them. I don't think it's parliamentary.

Mr Cooke: You are completely wrong on this, Mr Speaker. This has never happened before.

The Acting Speaker: I would like to clarify my directions to the member for Windsor-Riverside. My feeling is that it's completely unfair to refer to a person who can't defend himself by such a derogatory term as "liar," and I still stand by that. But if you stand by what you say, I will accept it and you may remain, but I would like to point out that I am in total disagreement with it.

Mr Cooke: Can we debate that?

The Acting Speaker: You may not. Further debate?

Mr Ted Chudleigh (Halton North): I'm pleased to stand here in the House today and support Bill 81, the Fewer Politicians Act. It's a constant and continual pleasure to stand in the House, to be able to stand here with confidence and acknowledge that every time I return to Halton North I can talk to my constituents and tell them that this is another example of us doing what we said we were going to do. I venture to guess that it's been quite some time since the members of the governing party were able to return to their constituencies and do just that.

We can all be proud in this House to say we reformed the pensions, we cut our salaries, we cut government spending internally and we are still reducing the size and cost of government, to name just a few.

Our plan has started to reap the rewards of prudent financial management. Our plan has started to invigorate the economy and create jobs. We created 127,000 jobs last year, 50,000 in August alone and 27,000 in October, I believe. Our plan listens to the people of Ontario and does what the voters want. When all is said and done, the people of this province know what is best. It's not about politics or about politicians; it's about hope and opportunity and jobs.

One of the arguments we have heard from those opposed to this bill throughout this debate is that the reduction in the number of ridings and realignment with the federal boundaries is in some way a power grab by this government. Let's explore this thinking for a minute. The contention is that the current riding elimination plan will favour the government in the next election. Really? How is that so? Let's say that those opposed to this bill believe that under the current plan fewer government members would lose their seats and therefore have an easier go at forming the next government, a majority one at that.

I hope their predictions are correct, but the evidence which supports their contention is nonsense and this is why: No one can predict the future. We can paint a picture of what we see as the future or explain our vision of what the future might hold, but in reality the future is always made unpredictable by variables that no one can control, and the same must be said of elections.

This is why I find those opposition statements odd in which they even consider our policy being a power grab falling within the realm of possibility. If what the opposition says is true, then they are telling this House they know exactly how the people of Ontario will vote in the next election. Having said that, I would ask the members opposite if this is some kind of mystic revelation that somehow came down from the mountain and enlightened all of them, or is this something they have known all along? Either way, as ridiculous as this opposition argument is, it does one thing, in my opinion: It insults the intelligence of the voters.

To even suggest that there is some predetermination in the way the majority of people vote is to suggest that they have been neutered with the new boundaries and have lost their individual right to influence the vote. If this is the case, as the opposition is suggesting, and their votes do not count, then why vote at all? A vote is a vote is a vote, where I come from. Every one of them counts. Everyone has the right to change their minds, as they have in the past and will continue to do in the future. Bill 82 holds up the tenets of democracy. No one can gerrymander or manipulate boundaries in today's society for their own benefit without the violent rebuke of the electorate. No, the voter, and the voter alone, will decide the next election. The boundary changes, even with the reduction of provincial boundaries, will not be the determining factor in the next provincial election.

The proposed changes will actually assist constituents and all of us in the Legislature to serve them more effectively. The new boundaries make it less confusing for constituents when they vote, when they need assistance or want to get together with more than one level of government. For instance, my current riding, the riding of Halton North, is served by two federal counterparts. With the changes, provincial and federal ridings will be aligned and provide more opportunity for more streamlined interaction between levels of government, something that I believe will be very important for the future. From a government point of view, it will be easier to schedule meetings on important issues affecting the riding. In addition, this act may make it easier still on municipalities when dealing with more than one level of government.

This might seem obvious, but I'll mention it so that all can understand. If these changes make it easier for levels of government to get together on issues which need many levels of responsibility in order to facilitate a decision-making process, then it has got to be good for constituents, and what is good for constituents is good for government and the governmental process. It all means faster service, more effective government and better democracy. Wouldn't it be nice to have a system of government that works better? This is of course a rhetorical question.

I would like to spend some time on what it means to keep your promises and stand by your word. There is something to be said about a party which promises in an election campaign to reduce the number of MPPs in the Legislature by 20%, knowing full well that this plan, if implemented in government, would no doubt affect many of your own members. This act affects many of us on both sides of this Legislature. It pits friend against friend and colleague against colleague in many areas of the province. My riding is no different. But such is the essence of living up to expectations. Such is the obligation of leadership. Such is the responsibility of keeping your word. If you cannot stand by your word, then what exactly can you stand by?

There's a lot of courage in this decision. It proves to the electorate once again that this government is serious about making tough decisions, even those that impact directly on ourselves. The voters will recognize that this decision is not about partisanship but about doing what is right and doing what we said we would do and keeping our word.

Savings to taxpayers begin with about $11 million a year saved in MPP and staff salaries and other costs associated with running Queen's Park and constituency offices. It is all part of the big picture in reducing the size and cost of government. It is about fulfilling another key election promise made in the Common Sense Revolution. The people of Ontario voted in favour of the plan and expect us to take action on this plan instead of, as some have suggested, to review it, determine its impact, find out what the people want and then lead in that direction. Just what we need: another commission on electoral boundary reform.


Further, to all those who are pretending to pander to the concerns of the north and trying to scare the people into thinking this plan somehow is directed at them and their right to equal representation, I have this to say: For once in your political lives, understand when you are politicizing an issue and opposing just to oppose and to gain political capital. The members of this Legislature know full well that this government recognizes the uniqueness of northern Ontario, and for this reason we support the plan. Even though representation is based on population, northern Ontario ridings will have smaller populations. In fact, under this plan, northern Ontarians will be allotted two more ridings than they would have under a pure representation by population system.

I say to the members opposite who wish to pursue this course of debate, stop insulting the people of northern Ontario with your partisan rhetoric and start giving them the facts. Our government is absolutely committed to creating a better, more prosperous Ontario where growth, hope, pride and opportunity prevail. Our plan has been consistent with this goal and we continue to reflect it. We still have a long way to go and much more work to do, but we are on the right track. We will not rest until we have accomplished what we have set out to do.

The Acting Speaker: Questions and comments?

Mr Sergio: Thank you very much. I will be responding at more length later on, during my presentation, but I am pleased to respond to the member and his comments. Perhaps he hasn't really dwelt on the changes the proposed bill will bring to the northern ridings. I have to point out to the member that while the changes may not affect in an adverse manner my riding or ridings in his area or in south-central Ontario here, there are many areas indeed that will be affected.

Let me say to the member and to the House what some of the people said during the hearings. "It is not how many people you are going to serve; it's what kind of service you're going to render to those people." I think this is the most important thing we should keep in mind. The member said, "Sure, we have increased the ridings in the north, but look, they're going to get less people." With all due respect, I think the members on the government side should take another look at the boundaries in the bill as it is proposed. It's beyond me; I can't see how we can increase territory and keep less people and less representation.

I think it's totally unfair to the people of the north to say: "We are going to make your area bigger. We're going to make it much more difficult to get representation from your member, whoever he or she may be. Therefore, we're going to go ahead with it."

We have heard time and time again, "It is not what we are doing now; we are doing what we told you two years ago." Well, isn't that wonderful, that they'd not even take into consideration the repercussions, the consequences. I hope they will do that before they finally vote on the bill.

Mr Gilles Bisson (Cochrane South): I listened quite keenly to the words from the member opposite, from the Conservative benches. He went on at length about the virtues of keeping one's promise once elected and how important it was to keep your word. Well, I have with me the Common Sense Revolution. I'd like to go through some of the key platforms and key promises that the government put forward, and let's just see if they kept their word.

In education, they said, "Classroom funding for education will be guaranteed," that they would not cut. Classrooms all over the province are having their funding cut. We're having teacher-pupil ratios increase, we're having dollars to the classroom cut, we're having student services cut. That promise has gone.

About health care you say: "We will not cut health care spending. It's far too important," and it goes on to talk about how you were going to protect health care. I can tell you, in the district of Cochrane you have cut $4 million from institutional care and the system of health care in the district of Cochrane, with a $400,000 reinvestment. I say that is a cut of $3.6 million. Is that keeping your promise? I would say no.

When we go through the rest of the Common Sense Revolution, we find other promises, that there is "only one taxpayer" and that they would not download on to municipalities. There's a whole section that says, "We will work closely with municipalities to ensure that any actions we take will not result in increased local property taxes." You have cut the transfer payments, sir, to every municipality in the province of Ontario. The community of Matheson is seeing its transfers over the next two years go down by 30%. How do you think they're going to undo the damage you're doing? They're going to have to raise municipal taxes. I say that is another broken promise.

When the member of the government side comes in here and accuses northern members of pandering to the people of northern Ontario for the sake of political gain, it just goes to show that you are the most arrogant bunch I've ever seen in this Legislature, to come here and try to make that particular claim. We come from northern Ontario to represent the constituents, and what we fear is that the reduction of five seats will make that job much more difficult.

Mr Derwyn Shea (High Park-Swansea): I have to rise and say how pleased I was to hear the member for Halton North give an insightful, thoughtful presentation indeed on this bill that's before us now. I can understand the concern of members of the opposition. There are 27 members in this House who will not be returning, and I know it's painful to have to deal with that decision.

But let me pick up on the point that the member for Halton North was trying to make. I'll use my own riding as a case in point. In addition to the dollar savings and so forth that this bill represents -- and that's not unimportant to the taxpayers of this province -- it's more important that we understand the politics of our ridings and who represents whom. The fact is that in my riding, I have three members of Parliament who serve the same geographical area along with me, two Metro councillors, I have four city councillors, four public school trustees, one French trustee, two separate school trustees, for a total of 14 politicians. We may be the only ones who are committed to holding hands as much as we are. Frankly, the people in the community are getting sick and tired of not knowing who represents what area any longer. Neighbourhoods are being divided, and that's most inappropriate.

This bill tries to give some consistency. It says an area is an area, and within that you'll know who your representatives are, you'll know how to access the power and the responsibilities of government much more effectively. Surely this is the kind of bill that all members of this House and indeed all taxpayers would be applauding. It finally makes sense out of a process and a structure that right now are totally incomprehensible to everybody.

In the last seconds remaining to me, I did not even indicate the number of PUC delegates who are elected in the same area, which confuses the issue even further.

I think this bill is worthy of support. Congratulations to the Halton North representative.

Mr Rick Bartolucci (Sudbury): I'd just like to offer my opinion on the member's statement and his delivery. I want to congratulate him for, in a number of ways, illustrating what the Common Sense Revolution is all about. I don't agree with it and I will fight it, but I do congratulate him for telling the people of Ontario that once again the north isn't important.

The member is a very successful businessman who knows the importance of making sure that inclusion rather than exclusion takes place, because that's one of the keys to successful business. I also think it's one of the keys to successful democracy, so it surprises me when the member says this government, the Common Sense Revolution government, is giving the people of Ontario what they want. I only wish the member for Halton North was very familiar with A Voice for the North. I know he is familiar with the Common Sense Revolution, and in the Common Sense Revolution, no question, they said there was going to be a reduction of seats. But many people on your side of the House campaigned in northern Ontario and really promoted the document A Voice for the North. Nowhere in the document, absolutely nowhere in the document, was there any reference to the people of the north being denied the democratic right to fair representation.

I'm suggesting to the member that because of the natural size -- and I know he understands that the riding boundaries are going to increase so the riding sizes are going to increase so the representation, because of distances, isn't going to be as great and as good as it is now -- that he reconsider and, before this is passed, read A Voice for the North, in which you promised a bigger voice, not a smaller voice.


The Acting Speaker: The member for Halton North has two minutes to respond.

Mr Chudleigh: I was interested in the comments from the member for Yorkview and the member for Sudbury, particularly the member for Sudbury when he said the north is not important. I think everything this government has done has shown that we believe the north is important. In fact, the north is a key to Ontario's success in the future with its richness in natural resources.

The member for Yorkview mentioned that representation by population somehow didn't hold water in Ontario quite the same way it does in the rest of the world. You can go back to the Magna Carta, where representation by population is the very essence of parliamentary democracy. It's important to our democratic process, and in my view, it is very strange to stand in this House and listen to someone argue against the concept of representation by population. The member for Yorkview did some of that.

The member for Cochrane South -- I knew he was listening to my speech, listening very closely, because his mouth was open most of the time throughout -- was informing me of the way we keep our promises. I know that the people of Ontario, when we go back to them with the five promises we made them during the last election, the promises of the Common Sense Revolution will be recognized by the people of Ontario. I feel very comfortable in returning to Halton North, to the towns of Georgetown and Acton and Milton, and describing to those people how we have fulfilled those promises.

I appreciate the member for High Park-Swansea's kind remarks regarding our simplification of the system.

The Acting Speaker (Mr Bert Johnson): Further debate?

Mr Mario Sergio (Yorkview): I'm pleased to join the debate on Bill 81 and make my contribution. Before I do that, I would like to say, since we are live, I was supposed to be in my riding at this time as there is a WCB meeting called by my NDP colleagues and I would have liked to be there as well. For those people who are watching, I hope to join them later on if I have time.

Mr Steve Gilchrist (Scarborough East): A problem of a southern member: You can go to meetings of the WCB.

Mr Sergio: I'm always very appreciative when members on the government side interject, because I can stand here and they can continue to make fools of themselves. I have absolutely no problem with that.

Before I make my comment, let me say I have no aversion to change. As a matter of fact, I think sometimes changes are not only good but important and necessary. The only problem I have, as do many others who have spoken before me, is that the bill as presented does not have any changes from the way it was introduced on October 1.

As I move along with my comments, let me throw a little challenge to the members on the government side and see if they can recall, if they have read the Common Sense Revolution at all, where it says that this is the Common Sense Revolution, no hidden agenda, no juggling, just the straight, unvarnished facts. I'll come back to that at the end of my presentation and I would like see which of the members sitting in the House this afternoon are able to tell me where they can find that particular phrase in the Common Sense Revolution.

I would like to give them time as well and go over the title of the bill as it was introduced in the House. I'm not going to say the unparliamentary word that it's misleading, because I know then I will have to retract that, but I would --

Mr David Turnbull (York Mills): That's not good enough.

Mr Sergio: That's not good enough? I'm glad they listened to that, because now that I've got the House leader's and the members' attention I would say please do yourselves a favour. I'm pleased that I have risen to the occasion and they have raised that point. I'm going to insist that you please go back and read the title of the bill. In case you haven't read it, I'm going to read it to you. This is what Bill 81 says:

"An Act to reduce the number of members of the Legislative Assembly by making the number and boundaries of provincial electoral districts identical to those of their federal counterparts...." So far, so good.

Mr Gilchrist: Absolutely fine.

Mr Sergio: Absolutely. What they have forgotten during six days of public hearings and all the debate in this House here: Not even once has any member of the government side mentioned the second part of the title where it says "...and to make consequential amendments to statutes concerning electoral representation."

We had clause-by-clause the other day. This government did not introduce one change, one amendment. If my word "misleading" was incorrect, I repeat: Read the heading of the bill again. It doesn't only stop at making the ridings the same as the federal ridings; that's fine and dandy. Now we are delving into that and debating that, and yes, the government is totally ready to move and approve it. But what about the second part of the title? Have you forgotten? Too bad. I saw Mr Harris before. I wish he were here. Perhaps he could jump in and say, "You're wrong." Well, if you're listening, wherever you are, Mr Harris, go ahead and read the second part of the title of your bill, where it says to make consequential changes concerning statutes and electoral representation. I think it's an abominable shame that the government introduced a bill that says to do certain things and they don't. They absolutely don't.

Mr Douglas B. Ford (Etobicoke-Humber): Is that the red book?

Mr Sergio: I'm coming to that and I love it. I've got the Speaker's attention. Thank you.

We had six days of public hearings on Bill 81. It was introduced on October 1. Hardly two months have gone by and they already want to have it approved. They are rushing it. They want to steamroller it. They want to have it approved.

Interjection: They're bulldozing it.

Mr Sergio: Thank you very much for reminding me of bulldozing it. That's right. It's wonderful what I hear from the members on the government side. We want to steamroller it. Let me say to the member, because I know that people from the north and from southeastern and southwestern Ontario are watching what you're going to do with this particular bill, that I think it is a total disgrace; it's a total waste of time; it's a total waste of money. I'm repeating what some people have said during the public hearings, although I share exactly the same sentiments, and I'll tell you why.

I have attended five full days of hearings. Do you know what I find most irresponsible and shameful? That we, a committee of 18 members and some six, seven, eight staff people, travelled five days and one day here in Toronto. This is what happened.

Mr Jean-Marc Lalonde (Prescott and Russell): How much did it cost?

Mr Sergio: Yes. My colleague asks how much it cost. This is the unfairness of the system. This is how unfair the government is being to the people of Ontario. Especially where those changes affect them in a very serious manner, how unfair it is.

We went to London, Ontario, and to Ottawa and to Timmins and to Sault Ste Marie, and I missed Dryden. Just to give you an idea, in London, with a committee of 18 plus some six or seven people on staff, we managed to listen to about 13 people all day long. Can you imagine that? Can you call that a fair representation? Eighteen members on a committee travelling from here to London to hear some 13 people? I don't have to tell you that among those 13 people were people belonging to the various political parties. If there were real people, they weren't there. That was on a Saturday. In Ottawa on November 8, again with a full committee of 18 people, some six, eight staff, we listened to approximately another 13 people. Was it worth it?

Mr Ford: Ask the people.

Mr Sergio: Yes, ask the people. Isn't that wonderful? I think we should ask the people where that makes a difference, the people up north. Isn't that something? We had one request from someone, some group in the north, that wanted to go and make a presentation in Dryden. They had to travel some 300 miles to get to the hearing and they needed some travelling assistance. We had to fight tooth and nail to get that particular family or group to go and make a representation to the committee 300 miles away. Finally, they caved in.

I find it incredible that we tend to get rhetoric from the government side that "We told you so." These are the members who went to those hearings and heard deputant after deputant saying practically the same thing: "We don't mind the changes, but this is not southern Ontario, this is not Metro, this is not the GTA. This is northern Ontario." We had 18 members here, and they are all here, most of them.

Just to refresh the memory of some of the members who were there and for those who didn't have the opportunity to be up north -- and I have to confess to you that I enjoyed immensely travelling to those northern regions. It really enlightened me as to the huge, huge space of the north and those northern ridings. I truly admire -- it doesn't matter which colour they come from -- the members who represent those very northern ridings, with the difficulties they have not only of the people getting good, fair representation, but the efforts those members must make on a daily basis, on a weekly basis, on a monthly basis, to try and give some representation, to hear some of those people in those most remote areas.

When we hear that some of the northern ridings are as big as from Niagara Falls or Windsor all the way to Quebec City, I wonder how we can not sympathize with the members who have to do that, service those areas on a regular basis. I wonder, if they are getting good representation now, with some difficulties, how they can get the same fair treatment, the same equitable representation when some of those ridings will double.

Let me say for the benefit of the members some of the comments of those people. These are not our words; these are the comments of some of those people there. This comes from the president of the Sault division, District 30, Ontario Secondary School Teachers' Federation.

"Why should this be a concern? After all, it is intended to create a cheaper" system, but is it better? "Is it more democratic? Or are these issues even being considered by this government?" From what we hear, they are not being considered by this government.

"The so-called commonsense but anti-social offensive in Ontario has become infamous for reducing all issues to budgetary considerations: whether this or that will save money from the treasury so that savings can be channelled into servicing the debt or paying for a tax cut. No other consideration is allowed; not the people's education, health, social services, not even, it seems, the political process. Nothing escapes this simple-minded exercise, no matter what the damage to the society."

One of the local MLAs said this. As stated by one MLA: "It doesn't really matter whether you're a Tory, a Liberal or an NDPer. The physical requirements of being in a number of places all at the same time cannot be solved, regardless of what party you're with."

Making the ridings larger simply exacerbates that problem. With Algoma going from 36,000 square kilometres to more than 70,000 square kilometres, it becomes one of the largest constituencies, certainly the largest with a highway network. Can you imagine? Can we envisage a riding of some 70,000 square kilometres?

It's too bad that the member from Scarborough leaves at the most appropriate time.

Interjection: It's not appropriate.

Mr Sergio: It's not appropriate. It's very true, yes indeed. I wanted the member to hear. It's not a slight, just some of the things that people up north have said. I'm going to read it for the benefit of the rest of the members.

"The reality of the north is vastly different from that of the south. There are no freeways, and there is no reliable air service." He says a correction: "What air service there is is reasonably reliable; there just isn't air service into many of the communities, period.

"There are enormous distances to cover if the citizens are to be properly represented. A visit to the communities in one's riding can take literally weeks to accomplish, and add a northern winter" to the mix to further complicate matters, and it takes about 12 hours to cover the distance from one end of Algoma riding to the other on a good day. Certainly we have to bear that in mind, we have to take that into consideration when we deal with it.

As we have said, the members on this side here, sure, some changes are good, but we also said that the representation of the north must be preserved.

"Unlike their southern counterparts, our northern members outside the few larger cities have to drive all day to attend events in their riding or to meet with a group of concerned citizens.

"We in the north often get the impression that as far as most people at Queen's Park are concerned Ontario ends somewhere just north of Highway 7. This is a very narrow and parochial view of the province, but I feel it's alive and well in this piece of legislation."

As you are well aware, "the roles are not the same." I'm saying this because we heard some of the comments of other members that the people are the same; it's just north and south. The people are the same. The issues are the same. I just want to read to the House some of the comments that the people from the north are saying to show: "We are not the same. We don't have the same problems."


"The roles are not the same. MLAs deal with the micro-issues," rather than the macro. "They deal with the municipalities" and many more personal matters and local issues than their federal counterparts, including family support, social assistance, day care, housing, OSAP for students, birth certificates, Workers' Compensation Board, environmental issues, drivers' licences, etc.

It concludes with this: "This bill would redistribute the power that those seats represent while disfranchising the voters of the north. This is a refutation of the claims of inclusion made by this government when it came to power. The Premier says this bill constitutes leadership by example, but it really seems to me an example of a naked power grab." We have to agree.

"The real issue would seem to be, as one of the Liberal MLAs said, that it's about downsizing democracy: `All you want to do is eventually replace all of us with 1-800 numbers.'

"Well, there's a price to democracy. Sometimes the price is paid with lives. We've just finished commemorating the sacrifice by Canadians in two world wars to protect democracy. At other times, the price of the democracy is much less dramatic. In fact, it may just come down to dollars, and this is one of those times" -- unfortunately.

We heard practically the same litany wherever we went. In the city of Timmins, again it was a full committee of members of this House, plus staff. We flew. Some of the presenters were hoping we would find a big storm to meet the members of the committee, and I have to say we did. We landed in a terrible snowstorm and of course there was a big hush in this small plane. That gave me one particular feeling. Not only do the members of the House who come from the north do that on a daily or weekly basis; it is that not even that particular service is available to most people in those communities.

What it said is that you can only appreciate the huge distances, the huge difficulties that those people in the north live on a day-to-day basis. What we are taking for granted in the big cities, in the GTA, down here in Metro, they don't even dream of. In most of the northern areas, they are lucky if they have one telephone line, and if they have to make a long-distance call they cannot go beyond 32 kilometres.

I don't have to tell you the difficulties those people have. They have harsh weather conditions for practically six, if not eight, months of the year. Roads are anything but highways, as we call it down here. Service, at the best of times, is either unavailable or nil. Motor transportation is practically non-existent. Rail transit has been curtailed to a snail's pace, and still we keep insisting that it doesn't matter, that those people living in northern communities can still be represented the same way because today we have better communication. Can you imagine? Some of those people don't have a TV set, neither colour nor black and white. They don't have fax machines, they don't have computers. They would be lucky if they could see their member once a month.

These are the things we heard up north. These are the things in the heading of the bill that the bill should be taking care of, to make those changes to those statutes and those representations.

We know, we don't need any other member to tell us, that there is a difference between north and south. I used to think that Barrie was up north.

Mr Bud Wildman (Algoma): Well, it is.

Mr Sergio: Yes, but in terms of the northern people, Barrie is way, way south. I heard also that the north is so huge that it's delineated on a different scale. I wonder how many students, how many people, how many members on that side are familiar with that. It just boggles anybody's mind that a riding can be, let's say, 300 kilometres long, or that it takes 12 hours to travel, one way, from one end of the riding to the other. That wouldn't be too bad if you had, say, maybe a nice two-lane highway. But we know better. There are too many isolated communities that are lucky if they have four, five months a year with a good, clean gravel or dirt road.

Those are the things that the bill does not take into consideration. Those are the things that the members of the House are not talking about. They think: "Oh, everything is fine. We haven't heard anybody complaining down here." I forget which member said, "No one has called me or no one has come into my office who doesn't like it."

With all due respect to every member of the House, we may not get any complaints individually in our office -- I didn't have any complaints myself in my office, and I am one of those few members who's gaining some 20,000, 25,000 people. It's okay. No problem. We'll survive. I'll manage. I will serve. But that's composed within, I don't know, maybe five, six square miles. On a good day I can walk from top to bottom and east to west of my entire riding. I can cross my entire riding by walking.

It is unthinkable that we cannot stop and think, "How the heck are those northern members who will have to represent those people up there going to manage to visit some of those people, represent them on a number of issues, attend some of the functions" -- and don't we know how much we want to attend some of those local functions: Christmas parties, birthdays, anniversaries? Wouldn't that be nice? You know, we scramble to send out cards and attend and make phone calls.

After the two-day trip up north, I have really developed a very sensitive view of how harsh is the north and how difficult it is to service it and how those people must endure. They must think that we down here really don't care. It must come down to exactly that. You know why? It's got to be so difficult for a new person who wants to break into the political arena in those areas up there.

Time, unfortunately, is not on my side. My time is almost up, but let me throw this in. For anyone who may feel unsatisfied with his or her representation and want to break into the political arena, it will be almost impossible. It will be impossible financially and otherwise, which means that whoever the incumbent up there is, they may be there for a heck of a long time. That may be the reason the Conservative government, Mr Harris and Mr Eves, have given up totally, completely on the north. Otherwise, let me tell you, yes, they would have allowed the total 15 numbers of representation.


I think the north does need representation. I haven't got time to read the quotes by the various now ministers, from the Premier, from Mr Runciman, from Mr Villeneuve, when they said: "Don't touch the ridings in southern Ontario, the rural ridings. Don't even dream of touching of them." So what happened today? Yes, we are losing some ridings down there, so why don't they speak for those people nowadays?

In 57 seconds, what else can you say? And I had prepared myself for three hours. But let me end on this note, and I'm addressing myself directly to the members of the government side: This is not the best gift you can give to the north at this particular season. At this time of the year, they expect some compassion, some understanding, some good common sense. The people up north don't have a TV to watch one of our debates. Can you believe that? They are missing all of that. In certain areas they don't have radios to pick up the comments we make down here; a lack of newspapers as well. I would say to the members: Think about it, and I hope you will accept at least some of our amendments, which you have refused.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr Gilles E. Morin): Before we go to questions and comments, I would just like remind the House that when we refer to a member we should not refer to him by name. Here's why: We're talking to about 400,000 people across Ontario. If you say "Noble Villeneuve," it doesn't mean anything. But if you say, "The member for Stormont-Dundas-Glengarry & East Grenville," it does mean something for the person who lives in that area. I know we all make the same mistake, but please, if you refer to the Premier, it's not "Mike Harris," it's the Premier of Ontario. If you refer to the Minister of Labour, it's not "Elizabeth Witmer," it's the Minister of Labour. We just have to think about it.

Ms Frances Lankin (Beaches-Woodbine): On a point of order, Mr Speaker: I just want to say in defence of the member for S-D-G & East Grenville that if you said "Noble Villeneuve," I am sure, for the constituents of his riding, it would mean something to them.

The Deputy Speaker: I agree with you, but at the same time, there are procedures that exist that we have to follow.

Questions or comments?

Mr Wildman: Thank you very much, Mr Speaker, for your advice and counsel. I would just say in regard to the exchange between my friend from Beaches-Woodbine and yourself a moment ago that perhaps, considering the backflip the member for S-D-G & East Grenville has made on this issue, they may not think he means much any more. But that's another matter.

I just want to comment on the remarks of the member for Yorkview. I want to commend him for his attempt as a member from an urban Toronto-area riding to come to grips with the concerns of rural and northern Ontario. I really commend him. I would say that most of my constituents -- not all, but most -- do have radios and TVs, but they may not have cable television. For instance, where I live, I can't get cable television. They may not get the parliamentary channel. In my home, I can't get the parliamentary channel. You're correct in that regard.

I think it's significant that the member for Yorkview, as a member from an urban riding, who I'm sure works very hard for his constituents, recognizes that while he may have many, many more constituents in his riding, the problems for rural members and northern members are quite different. He said he could walk around his riding easily. Well, it would be quite a feat for someone to walk around my riding. It would take some months, I would think, for me to do it. At any rate it would take me a day now, with the current boundaries, to drive from one end to the other and it would take somewhere close to 12 or 14 hours with the new proposed boundaries. That's the difference.

Mr Doug Galt (Northumberland): I was quite taken by the presentation of the member for Yorkview, particularly his last few comments. I actually came to, and I was quite startled to find that the legislative channel is not available in the north. I guess they don't have things like cable up in Thunder Bay or Sudbury or Sault Ste Marie.

Mr Wildman: Not where I live.

Mr Galt: Ontario must be far larger than I thought it was because the satellites can't even reach up there, the Q band satellite, the satellite dish. A lot of people would be able to get the legislative channel in the north, I'm sure. I'm just surprised that somebody from Toronto wouldn't realize those availabilities in the north.

I'm reading here that one of the members of the Liberal Party can't believe they can't even get cell phones up there, but she thinks they will be able to get them within another couple of decades. I certainly hope that some of the centres like Thunder Bay will be able to use a cell phone in a couple of decades. I can't believe this kind of thing is in Hansard and that this kind of comment would have been made about the north. Certainly things are much better in the north than is being presented here.

I think it's interesting to note the concerns that are being expressed here about numbers. If the previous government had realigned the boundaries consistent with the previous numbers we would have had 151 members in the House at this time. We're not only cutting from 130 to 103, we would have been at 151, and for the life of me I don't know where we would have put 151 members in this chamber. We're looking at a 30% reduction in numbers, and I think that's very significant. We in this government have been setting an example of reduction and looking after our expenses.

M. Lalonde : C'est vraiment plaisant de voir qu'un député du Toronto métropolitain peut reconnaître les difficultés auxquelles les gens du grand nord sont appelés à faire face tous les jours, surtout lorsqu'on reconnaît que les services ne sont pas aux portes des gens du grand nord. Je veux le féliciter à ce moment-ci d'avoir reconnu qu'un bureau de député dans la région ou dans sa circonscription est très important puisque le transport en commun n'existe pas.

Si en ce moment le Cabinet du gouvernement pouvait prendre le temps de voyager et se rendre dans le grand nord, il pourrait réaliser qu'il est impossible d'essayer de réduire le nombre de circonscriptions à 103 et d'avoir une moyenne de 107 000 de population.

Donc ce député du grand Toronto, métropolitain reconnaît même, il l'a mentionné, qu'il peut marcher d'un bout à l'autre de son comté. Je l'ai mentionné plus tôt. Actuellement, comme le député du grand nord vient de le dire tout à l'heure, ça lui prend 12 ou 13 heures pour voyager d'un bout à l'autre de son comté.

On reconnaît que des personnes comme mon ami le député de Kenora -- heureusement qu'il détient un avion. Autrement ce serait impossible pour lui. Ça lui prendrait des semaines pour se rendre d'un bout à l'autre de son comté. Il m'a dit l'autre jour que pour lui, partir de Toronto et aller en Floride, c'est plus vite que se rendre d'un bout à l'autre de son comté.

Encore une fois je veux féliciter mon collègue le député de Yorkview pour les points qu'il a soulevés.

Ms Lankin: I'm pleased to respond to the member for Yorkview and his comments. I know that the members for Cochrane South and Cochrane North are watching this and that they would agree with my comments in response about northern Ontario.

I was stunned, floored, to hear the member for Northumberland, in response to the member for Yorkview, dispute the fact of the reality in many communities in northern Ontario outside of the urban centres, like Sudbury and Sault Ste Marie and Thunder Bay, that there is not access to cable, that there is not access to the parliamentary channel, and the member from one of the Scarborough ridings heckled and said, "You know, there's satellite." These people across from here really amaze me. They think everybody has satellite dishes, that everybody has expensive technology and all the toys you may have -- that you may have bought from your Canadian Tire store, I don't know -- in your backyard, but certainly many citizens in this province don't have access to them.


The member for Algoma lives just 20 miles outside of the city of Sault Ste Marie. He told you directly that he does not have cable access to the parliamentary channel. For the member for Northumberland to stand up and dispute that when northerners are telling you about the lack of access to watching the parliamentary channel in the north is beyond belief.

I think the member from Yorkview, like many of us in southern urban Ontario, strives to understand what the challenges are. I would say to the member from Northumberland that we don't know. If you don't live it, you don't know it. I certainly am not aware of all those challenges. But having had the opportunity, as a minister of the crown, to travel frequently in northern Ontario to meet the people, to hear from them directly, I understand the immensity of the problems. I can tell you that as this committee travelled, northerners told you this bill was not good for the north. I just wish you would listen.

The Deputy Speaker: The member for Yorkview, you have two minutes.

Mr Sergio: I'll take the two minutes to say thank you to all the members who have so kindly contributed to the presentations here, especially the members for Northumberland and Preston and Russell, my colleague here, and the members for Algoma and Beaches-Woodbine.

We hit the road to listen to the people. That was the intent. We are in the House commenting, making our presentation strictly, solely on that. We have notes and presentations. Those people have said: "Look, this is our situation here. You are cutting our services and now you are cutting our representation as well. These are our living conditions here up north. It's not like the south." My colleague said before: "Sure, you can walk outside and get on a bus. You can walk outside and walk to a store. You can go to a clinic within walking distance. You can pick up the phone and call for assistance or speak to an assistant of a representative, if not to the representative himself." Up north many areas don't have cable TV, don't have telephones. As I said before, one of the deputants said: "I'm only able to get one line. I don't have a hold button that I can go to the second line. We do not get a second line. We cannot make a long-distance call to my brother's or sister's family, to friends 50, 100 miles away -- not beyond 32 kilometres." Those are the things I think we should understand, and I hope they will take that into consideration when this comes to a vote. Thank you.

The Deputy Speaker: Further debate? The member for Algoma.

Mr Wildman: I'm pleased to be able to participate in this debate on Bill 81, which has been dubbed the Fewer Politicians Act by the government.

I must say it is rather frustrating, as a member representing a large northern riding, to have to sit and listen to the debate and hear the gap in understanding that we get from the other side. The member for Northumberland just demonstrated it once again.

Then the member for Halton Centre made the comment that the north is a good place, that it's a beautiful area, that there's not much crime and so on --

Mr Terence H. Young (Halton Centre): And not much traffic.

Mr Wildman: -- and not much traffic. That's all true. That's one of the reasons I live in northern Ontario. I like northern Ontario. It's a good place to live, and most northerners would say that. We don't expect to have all the services that you have in a large urban centre, obviously, but we do expect in a democracy to have the same opportunity to have input and influence what happens in the Legislature that passes laws that govern our society as people who live in other parts of the province. It's just basic to a democratic system.

Unfortunately, trying to explain this to the members of the government party has been like talking to a wall. It's impervious. They don't hear anything. They aren't interested. Some of them even treat the whole thing as a joke. Those who do respond often respond in a most inappropriate way. Some of them who are trying to be sympathetic -- very few -- see the argument simply as MPPs concerned about whether they're going to have too much work to do under new boundaries. That's not what this debate is about, and it isn't about whether an MPP has to travel a long way or whether an MPP has the capacity to do the job. This is about basic democracy.

The members across the aisle have said repeatedly in this debate, and when the committee went out around the province briefly to listen to the concerns of the people, that we must have representation by population and we must have redistribution. I want to make crystal clear that there is no one on this side of the House who has disputed the need for redistribution. We have never questioned the need to ensure that areas of the province that are growing in population should have more representation. When we say that, though, the members on the other side almost invariably say, "But you're talking about increasing the size of this Legislature to 150 or so." That's not what we're talking about either.

Mr Gilles Bisson (Cochrane South): On a point of order, Mr Speaker: I would note that the government members are not keeping the quorum here in the House. We don't appear to have a quorum.

The Deputy Speaker: Would you please verify if we have a quorum?

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

The Deputy Speaker ordered the bells rung.

Clerk Assistant and Clerk of Committees: A quorum is now present.

The Deputy Speaker: The member for Algoma.

Mr Wildman: As we all recognize, it is the responsibility of the government party to maintain a quorum in the House. I'm glad that my colleague was able to encourage members to come out and to listen, and I hope they will listen.

As I was saying, invariably when it's suggested that there should be redistribution and that there needs to be an increase in the number of seats in areas that are growing in population, the government members say: "You're talking about increasing the number of seats in this Legislative Assembly by so many that it'll be too crowded. We'll have far too many and it doesn't make sense. You're talking about 150 or so." We have never suggested that. In every redistribution that I am aware of in the time that I have served in this assembly there have been limits put, and it's quite conceivable that the government could say, "We'll have five more members as a limit. That's it," and then divide it up equitably. But you can't simply divide the number of ridings, whatever that number is, on rep by pop pure and simple, because it doesn't work.


Mr Bisson: They did it in my speech.

Mr Wildman: Who?

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

Mr John R. Baird (Nepean): Don't heckle your own member. It's pretty sad when you heckle your own members.

Mr Wildman: The members across the way really don't take this too seriously, and they didn't when we went in the committee hearings.

Mr Baird: Unlike the Liberals. They take this very seriously.

Mr Wildman: Well, perhaps those of us from northern Ontario take it seriously. I hope people from rural southern Ontario take it seriously. It's been suggested that we're just whining, I guess. The member for Scarborough East even suggested at one point that downtown Toronto is losing more seats than are being lost in northern Ontario so therefore we don't really have an argument. That is so ridiculous a comment. To suggest that when you lose five out of a total of 15 that's equivalent to the loss in downtown Toronto -- sure, they are losing seats in downtown Toronto because suburban areas are growing, but it isn't equivalent.

In northern Ontario the number of seats is being decreased by one third, 33%, and across the province they're being decreased about 20%.

Mr E.J. Douglas Rollins (Quinte): Even 50% in my area.

Mr Wildman: Well, then I'd like to hear you in this debate defend your area. To sit there and acquiesce to the changes that will mean that rural Ontario will have less representation is to abdicate your responsibility as a member of this House representing your constituents.

Government members have said: "Wait a minute. It really didn't make much sense for us to have hearings or even to have this debate because we as members of the Conservative Party promised this in our Common Sense Revolution document. Everybody knew we were going to do it. We consulted with people in the election campaign and therefore it should be acceptable and everybody should just live with it."

What they promised in the Common Sense Revolution was that the provincial government would mirror the federal boundaries. It's been debated and mentioned in this debate a number of times that this doesn't make any sense. The guarantees to PEI, to Quebec, to the other maritime provinces, to the Northwest Territories and the Yukon in the House of Commons have absolutely nothing to do with the number of seats that you should have in the assembly of Ontario. It makes absolutely no sense.

No other province does this. There are four members of Parliament in Prince Edward Island and no one, even on the Conservative side in this debate, has suggested that if they're going to have a Legislative Assembly in the province of Prince Edward Island they should only have four members. They have 27 members in the Prince Edward Island Legislature. I don't know whether that's the right size or not.

Mr Bisson: They just reduced by 15%.

Mr Wildman: They've reduced from 32 to 27. I don't know whether it's the right size or not, but no one has suggested that you should only have four simply because there are only four in the House of Commons.

I don't understand why this government says they must keep the promise because it was in the Common Sense Revolution.

Mr Young: Integrity.

Mr Wildman: The member says "Integrity." I will say to that member that he should visit some of the classrooms of this province and then talk about integrity, talk about what this government is doing to classroom education. When the Conservative Party ran in the election campaign, it said it would not harm classroom education. We know that the classrooms in this province have gone up in number. There are more kids in each classroom. There is less --

The Deputy Speaker: Keep on topic. We're not talking about education.

Mr Wildman: We are talking about integrity and keeping promises. That is one of the reasons presented by this government for this bill. I'm just pointing out that they haven't done the same in other pieces of legislation and other commitments that they made in the election campaign. I think it's quite relevant and on topic.

Mr Baird: You want to challenge the Chair?

Mr Wildman: No, I am not challenging the Speaker. I'm debating with you.

The Deputy Speaker: Order. I would ask you to be on topic, and whenever you address the House, you address it through me.

Mr Bisson: He is on topic.

Mr Len Wood (Cochrane North): But he's being heckled by the Tories.

The Deputy Speaker: The member for Cochrane South, the member for Cochrane North.

Mr Wildman: Thank you for your helpful advice, Mr Speaker.

The government has not kept its other commitments. The government has cut special education programs, the government has not kept its commitments with regard to health care, yet they say they must keep this commitment.

The government has said there was an independent federal commission that had consultations and came up with this proposal. We've already said that of course they had to take into account other considerations in other provinces that have no relevance in Ontario. But even be that as it may, it is a heroic assumption for the Conservative government in this province simply to say that because a federal commission came up with a proposal, it was a good one. There are very few other federal initiatives that this government just accepts holus-bolus as if they're good and right.

How does one deal with the complete lack of communication and understanding on the part of the government about northern Ontario? It was suggested in committee that we should provide some sort of formula, suggest a formula for the differential: What should be the range in the number of people per riding? When we didn't provide it, the government members said, "You're not making any suggestions." Then at the same time it was clear -- and I must give credit to the government members that they made this clear -- that they said: "We made a commitment before the election. It doesn't really matter what anybody tells us, we're going to do it."

It was even suggested by some of the government members on the committee that geography is irrelevant. They didn't use the word "irrelevant" but that's what they meant. It was suggested that it is completely unfair for one riding to have 100,000 people and another riding to have 50,000, and I understand that argument. I understand the argument of one person per vote, that each vote should be equal in Ontario. I understand it. But no other redistribution has worked that way -- never in Ontario.

The member for Mississauga South in previous debates on redistribution in this House has talked about the need for effective representation, and frankly, I agree with her. A couple of months before I arrived in this place there was a commission that was set up by the then government of Premier Bill Davis. The commission was headed by Dalton Camp. It had a representative of the federal CCF-NDP and a representative of the Liberal Party on it. They travelled around the province and they had consultations about redistribution and what was fair in terms of a differential between rural, northern and urban centres.


That commission reported and said, "We must do everything possible to get as close to representation by population as possible, but we also must consider community of interest and geography," and in every redistribution since, that has been the approach. The member for Halton North seems to discount that. I don't know why, if it was good in other redistributions, we shouldn't be considering community of interest and geography in this redistribution.

I'm not just talking about northern Ontario; I'm talking about rural Ontario which the member for the united counties and East Grenville defended in this House when he brought forward his private member's bill in 1992.

If it takes an urban member -- driving through much heavier traffic, I concede -- half an hour to get to a meeting in that constituency, but it takes a rural member or a northern member five or six hours to get to a similar meeting, through less traffic but over poorer roads and poorer conditions --

Mr Bisson: And longer distances.

Mr Wildman: -- well, if it takes five or six hours, it's because it's longer distances -- then that's something that has to be taken into account. To suggest, "You don't need to do that; you don't have to go to the meeting, you can use new, modern methods of technology for communicating with your constituents," well, all of us want to be as up to date as possible, but I have yet to figure out how I can fax myself to a meeting.

All of us recognize, as members of the assembly, that we have to attend community events, and more important than that, meetings with constituents about issues. That's part of our job. That entails travelling. None of us in the north complains about the travel, but we're just saying it has to be taken into account in determining an optimum size for ridings. And it's not just us who are saying that, our constituents are saying that. Our constituents said that in the committee. It's not about the amount of work that an MPP has to do. That's not the issue. The issue is whether or not the constituents in a riding get proper representation by their members and whether they get adequate representation.

As an example, I received just yesterday a letter from Ryan Connolly, the president of the Algoma Federation of Agriculture. It's addressed to the Premier, re reductions in the number of MLAs in northern Ontario. He says:

"We do admit that the demonstration of removing 27 seats by truck from in front of the Legislature is a very impressionable way showing cost savings. We wish however to implore that there are much wider ramifications than can be shown by a good afternoon's media coverage.

"The gross cost cut will clearly be matched by a diluted service of MPPs to constituents. It will also increase the expenses of the remaining MLAs in their efforts to reach clients. This is especially so in northern Ontario, the part of the province hardest hit on a percentage basis by your planned seat reductions.

"We will lose five out of 15 seats. Some of the remaining ridings north and east of the North Bay-Parry Sound area will have excessively large geographic areas. For example, the Algoma riding would extend from White River to Killarney" -- actually, it's from Manitouwadge to Killarney, but it's in the same vicinity; it's only 60 miles farther -- "That is a full day's drive. The MLAs are involved in the delivery of many social programs. This will undoubtedly suffer in the north.

"It can be argued that each riding should represent a similar number of people. However that would result in the GTA having such a dominant number of seats that the northern voice would be insignificant. This would be a very regressive step, considering that the majority of the natural resources that have been essential for the development of Ontario's economy come from the north.

"The northern voice must be heard and in sufficient numbers in order that Ontarians who gain both their livelihood and live here can adequately express what is an essential voice for the future of this province.

"Yours truly,

"Ryan Connolly, president, Algoma Federation of Agriculture."

I don't think anyone would consider Mr Connolly, whom I've known for a number of years, as being a partisan of my party. He's representing the agricultural community in our part of the province and he's concerned that they will not get adequate representation.

The suggestion has been made, and this really, frankly, perplexes me, by members of the government party that if the federal MPs can serve ridings of this size in northern Ontario, then the MPPs should. Even some MPPs from the Conservative Party have said, "Well, if you don't like it, get out of the way and let somebody take over the job who can do it." No one has ever suggested, I would say in honesty, whether they have supported me or not politically over the last 21 years in Algoma, that I shirk work. I was quite nonplussed by that suggestion. The point that that ignores and that many members on the other side don't understand is that the northern MPs were not happy with the results of the federal redistribution either.

I pointed out in this debate before that Réginald Bélair, the member for Cochrane-Superior, and Mr Thalheimer, the MP for Timmins-Chapleau, both appeared before the committee and said that the ridings were too big, that geography hadn't adequately been taken into account. To suggest that if those federal MPs are concerned, we should not be concerned I think is to ignore the fact that they understand the geography of the area because they've had to serve it.

The Conservative members of the committee who travelled to the north I don't think heard what was being said to them. I don't understand that. I don't understand why they came. I guess they came simply because somebody in the whip's office said, "Well, we need some members up there. Better go and attend the hearings," but their minds were elsewhere. On those few occasions when they responded to representations that were made that were critical of the redistribution they tended to get quite angry at some of the people who were criticizing the proposed boundaries.

I've already read into the record a letter I received from a constituent, Edward Sadowski of Desbarats in my riding, in which he talked about MPPs Gilchrist and Young, where he says, "MPPs Gilchrist and Young of the committee failed to understand that my complaint was with the process."

Then he says further on: "The Premier of this province states that he wants to consult with citizens of this province. Yet when I accept his invitation, my access to important information is restricted. When I point out these problems to committee members, I am verbally chastised for doing so. The government members only offer asinine explanations which are totally unrelated to what is being discussed.... These arrogant and insulting statements coming from the government members clearly show total disrespect by the government to the citizens of this province and it calls into question the Premier's true intentions regarding the process of public consultation with the citizens of this province."


I regret to say that I think Mr Sadowski is right when he talks about the committee process. The committee process was not one that was intended by the government to actually listen to people's concerns and then to respond by making amendments. There was no intention to make any amendments. We continued to hear the mantra that "this had been stated in the Common Sense Revolution document; everybody knew we were going to do this and therefore it must be done without any change or modification."

I reiterate that this is not about my concern about whether I'm going to be able to travel around a riding and have any time at home. That's not my concern. It may be my family's but it's not mine. My main concern is the fact that I don't think I will be able to do the kind of job that every member of this House wants to do for her or his constituents if it takes the kind of travel that it's going to take to service some of these ridings. The new riding of Algoma-Manitoulin is not as big as some of the others that other members are going to face.

Mr Bisson: Timmins-James Bay.

Mr Wildman: Timmins-James Bay.

Mr Michael A. Brown (Algoma-Manitoulin): Kenora.

Mr Wildman: Kenora-Rainy River. Kenora-Rainy River is one third of the land area of this province. It is completely beyond me how anyone can't understand the logistical problems in that kind of situation. It doesn't matter what the party is of the member, whether the individual is a New Democrat, a Liberal or a Conservative, it's going to be very difficult. To suggest it's going to be very difficult for members who have a lot of constituents, a much larger number of constituents, may be true, but it is a very different kind of difficulty.

To suggest you can communicate by fax, you can communicate by telephone, you can communicate by the Internet, is to frankly ignore the fact that we do not have digital technology in most parts of the north. We may at some point -- I suspect we will -- but we don't now. That was the problem Mr Palladini had when he suggested you could just use cell phones. Cell phones don't work in my riding. They don't work between Sault Ste Marie and Sudbury and they don't work north of Sault Ste Marie. That is my whole riding. Sure, if you get into the immediate vicinity of Sault Ste Marie they work, but Sault Ste Marie isn't in my riding. It's a silly argument anyway, so why get into it?

The point is every redistribution that takes place when there's a new census, up to now, has taken into account growth areas in the province needing to have more representation. These redistributions have involved input from people across the province and they've taken into account community of interest and geography. This is the first one that has not taken those latter two into account. You can't tell me that the feds did it, therefore they took it into account, because I tell you emphatically the federal government did not take it properly into account or they wouldn't have ended up with ridings of this size in northern Ontario. Frankly, I think that may be true in some parts of southern Ontario and rural areas. I don't know that, but I think it may be the case.

Why do we compound the errors of the federal Liberals by copying them? I don't understand it.

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

Mr Gilchrist: I'd like to respond to the member for Algoma and his comments about Bill 81, the Fewer Politicians Act. Let me just start by saying I agree with him completely, and I appreciate that on the road and back here he has taken the position that redistribution is an appropriate thing to do. He has stated here very directly a few minutes ago that there should be an increase in the number of seats that addresses the extraordinary growth that has happened in certain portions of the province. I don't know if he named them, but the 905 area is the euphemism that has been given to those high-growth areas.

However, that's where we deviate. While he accepts the premise that those areas are extraordinarily underserved today, he then has difficulty translating that when we apply across the board, across all regions of Ontario, the same reduction, after you've taken into account the growth, the reduction obviously is not equal between north, east, south and Toronto because, as you've just said, some areas have grown at a different rate since the last census, since the last redistribution. Otherwise the reduction would be identical. But since population growth is not identical, the reduction is not identical. Toronto loses eight seats of its 30. The east loses five seats. Even Windsor loses one of its three seats.

The reality is that every person in this House will be called upon to work harder and to work smarter. The member perhaps should better clarify what he means by the north, because again the urban centres were not seen as a cause for concern, so that leaves us with only four ridings, and throughout all of this debate it is centred on four of the proposed 103 ridings.

We heard the problems. We said there will be remedies. There is technology that will help address that. But the bottom line is we're the provincial government for all the province and we have to pass bills that address concerns across this province.

Mr Michael Brown: I always appreciate the comments of the member for Algoma. One of the things I think the member for Algoma probably meant to say and hasn't had the opportunity yet in his speech, so I'll prompt him a little bit, is when we were in Sault Ste Marie, we had a very good presentation on the political science of all this. We had a presentation that said what this really is about is to make the executive, the cabinet, the Premier's office more important and the Legislature, the people's representatives, the people who are here in this Legislature less important.

That's really what it's all about: it's about growth of bureaucracies; it's about bigger bureaucracies; it's about 1-800-NOBODY-HOME numbers. We know that throughout this province now the services that you expect from government are just not there. It is increasing the need for representation at the local level because you just cannot get answers from the ministries of the government any more. Therefore, the people need to speak to their local representative and we spend much of our time, a great deal more of our time, I should say, lately, intervening on behalf of the family support plan and many other bureaucratic bungles that the government has come forward with. My office, for example, is far busier.

The second point that I think the member for Algoma should think about -- and one of the things is we don't have that many politicians in our part of northern Ontario. Much of the area doesn't have any politician at all but the provincial member. We are it in terms of talking. There is no local council. There are unorganized areas and those areas call us. They don't have anybody else to call.

Mr Peter Kormos (Welland-Thorold): I should indicate that here we are, at 7:08, in rotation. I understand a Liberal member is going to be speaking, but then Ms Churley from the riding of Riverdale is going to be speaking and I'll be addressing this issue later this evening.

Obviously there are more than a few issues of concern here. One is very much the northern issue. That has been addressed by several of our members very eloquently, most recently by Bud Wildman, the member for Algoma. But there are issues in other parts of the province, there are issues down in the Niagara region that I'm going to be speaking to later this evening.

One of the problems here is I'm not sure that the government members, or the majority of them at least, understand the role of the MPP in the same way that folks down in Welland-Thorold have as far back as the days of Ellis Morningstar, a long-serving Tory member succeeded by Mel Swart. Ellis Morningstar set a standard for constituency work in Welland-Thorold that Mel Swart built on, amplified, to an exceptional level and that I've been struggling, I tell you, to achieve.


I've got a feeling that a whole lot of the new members here don't understand that level or type of service and intimacy with the riding and with the constituents in their riding. I've got a feeling that the government members have been prepared to simply dismiss the north. They don't understand it, to begin with. They don't understand the distinctiveness of it, the fact that it's a special part of Ontario, very different from southern Ontario. I've got a feeling that some of these members think that you've gone up north once you've gone to Barrie, and that's a problem that a whole lot of southerners have.

I'm looking forward to the chance to address that. I'll be listening carefully to what Ms Churley has to say, and I know you will, along with all the people watching on their television sets at home.

The Acting Speaker: Comments and questions? The Chair recognizes the member for Scarborough East.

Mr Gilchrist: I appreciate the opportunity to share a few more observations arising from the comments made by the member for Algoma.

Mr Michael Brown: He's been up, Bert.

Mr Bisson: He's been up. You can't comment twice.

Mr Gilchrist: My apologies, Mr Speaker.

Mr Bisson: On a point of order, Mr Speaker: I would ask for unanimous consent to give the member for Scarborough East the opportunity to respond in another two minutes.

The Acting Speaker: Is it agreed? No, I'm sorry, it is not unanimous. The Chair recognizes the member for Nepean.

Mr Baird: I listened with great interest to the speech from my friend the member for Algoma. We always do enjoy his remarks. I was surprised he didn't mention something in his speech. I'm surprised he didn't mention the red book, because in the red book they talked about public cynicism and they stated: "Public cynicism is not without foundation. When many promises are made and few are kept, the public becomes cynical."

This was a clear promise made in the last election campaign; in fact it was made a year before the election was even called. It was not something that was dreamed up on a campaign bus, written on the back of a cocktail napkin, which is the stationery of choice for the campaign manifesto of some of the members opposite, and it wasn't reflected in that at all.

The red book also went on to state, "When government talks about restraint but does so little in its own backyard to demonstrate it, the public has a right to charge `hypocrisy.'" Just to show how non-partisan this debate is, I agree with Lyn McLeod's statement in the red book when she said that. Regrettably though, when they talked about in the Liberal red book, and I was surprised the member didn't mention it in his remarks, "Smaller government starts at the top," they talked about cutting the number of political staff and reducing spending at Queen's Park, cutting services to MPPs. I know the members are concerned about services, but the Liberals had planned much the same thing with respect to reducing the number of newsletters they could send out.

I think the public would have every right to say that if you're going to reduce public expenditures, if you're going to try to get hold of taxing and spending and debt, if you're going to try to create more jobs and balance the budget, restraint would start at the political level. It would start with a smaller cabinet, with a smaller number of parliamentary assistants and with a smaller Legislative Assembly. That's something that certainly we on this side of the House very much agree on, that it is important to ensure that public cynicism declines and ensure that people keep their campaign commitments, and we're very pleased to do so in this piece of legislation.

Mr Toby Barrett (Norfolk): Leading by example.

The Acting Speaker: The member for Algoma has two minutes to respond.

Mr Wildman: I thank the members for their comments. I must say I'm a little bit surprised at the member for Nepean. Why on earth would I want to talk about the red book? The Liberals don't even want to talk about it. I don't agree with the red book and I never did.

The suggestion being made, though, by other members of the House that we should be reducing government and reducing staff I think ignores the fact that the number of staff in the Premier's office has increased substantially. I think that unfortunately many people on the government side ignore the fact that as MPPs one of our most important roles is to hold the government accountable, to hold the executive branch accountable. That is our responsibility, and the member for Algoma-Manitoulin mentioned that this is our role. That is one of our most important roles in a responsible government system. By limiting the number of elected members we are giving more free rein to the executive. They will be less accountable, and that is not healthy in a responsible system of government.

My basic disagreement with the member for Scarborough East is that, in my view, five out of 15 is not equivalent to eight out of 30. The basic difference is that while I agree with redistribution, I don't necessarily agree that it should mean a reduction in total. The fact is that we could have increased the total number by five and then worked it out across the system, and that wouldn't have made a tremendous increase in cost. We need redistribution. The suggestion that in the north he hadn't heard from urban ridings -- obviously the urban ridings aren't affected. I make no apology as a representative of one of the large rural ridings in the north for defending the interests of my constituents.

The Acting Speaker: Further debate? The Chair recognizes the member for St Catharines.

Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): Thank you very much, Mr Speaker, for the opportunity to speak on this bill which I did not speak on in second reading. There is a bit of an opportunity to offer a few thoughts about it.


Mr Bradley: The chief government whip, my friend the member for York Mills, tells me that's unusual, and perhaps it is, but with some of the speeches I made previously on other bills there may be a bit of a continuity in this particular one, and I know he insists that be the case.

This is a significant piece of legislation. There are other pieces of legislation which are equally or perhaps even more significant in the long-term ramifications for the people of the province, but I want to look at motivation, first of all, for this particular bill.

I haven't heard anybody in the province who's involved in the political process from the three political parties suggest that governments should be in the process of expanding significantly the operations of government. I've listened to everybody say that efficiencies are something that everybody has to look forward to.

The New Democratic Party, which could never be accused of being fiscally conservative in years gone by, even went through a difficult process where Premier Rae had to make some significant cuts to public services, and I know he and the members of the NDP caucus were not pleased to have to do that. When they raised tuition fees by some 32%, even though in their platform it said that there would be free tuition eventually, that wasn't because they were being mean-spirited -- and that's the case -- they were simply facing a difficult economic challenge at the time, that being a very deep recession. When they imposed the social contract, which abrogated every collective agreement in the public service, that wasn't aiming at those who were employees of the government and the public sector; again, the Premier in his judgement believed that it was necessary for the challenges they were facing at that time.

But what we're seeing is something far beyond that. I didn't notice that the government was -- at least many members of the caucus of the New Democratic Party in those days -- particularly delighted about doing it. Yes, from time to time they talked about efficiencies in government, but there wasn't that great enthusiasm out there for chopping employees -- and there were employees who lost their jobs in those days -- or for reducing their wages or salaries. It was done with feeling, with depth of feeling, I believe.

But today we're seeing a circumstance where this government wants to go further than all of that. One of the pictures they wish to paint, and it appeals to the Reform Party crowd, is that somehow the problem is elected representatives. I can assure you, and if the members of the government caucus could say something without being drummed out of the government caucus, they would express their lament about the amount of power that resides in the Premier's office.


This is not unique to this government. This is a trend which I notice all too much in our society today, a trend towards the concentration of power in, say, the Prime Minister's office, whoever happens to occupy that, or the Premier's office in any province, whoever happens to occupy that, and not enough in the elected members, regardless of how many elected members we have, not in the hands of elected members.

Though I find myself in disagreement from time to time, perhaps very often, with members of the government caucus, I would much rather try to reason with and discuss matters with members of the government caucus unfettered by orders from the Premier's office than I would try to deal with unelected people who advise the Premier, whether they're from the political party that's in power or they're actual people who are hired by the Premier's office or they're that selective group who seem to be much more powerful than even cabinet ministers. I don't think that's healthy for democracy, and those people certainly would want to see a reduction in the number of elected members.

It's a bit of a fallacy out there when we try to portray this as being a substantial saving compared to savings that can be made in other areas. To be fair, there is something to be said for setting an example, and I think members of this Legislature over the years, particularly the recent years, have demonstrated that example by not having pay increases when others in our society were. Mind you, many were not as well, and many had lost their jobs. I don't think members of this Legislature have had an increase since 1989, if my memory is correct, and in fact have seen two decreases, one under the social contract of the NDP and a further one that was effected by legislation agreed to by all parties. In each of case, there was not opposition to that; there was a recognition of the importance of that. At least, if there was, it was not overt in this assembly or in the precincts of Ontario. There was a recognition that we faced special economic circumstances, and those have not disappeared yet.

My quarrel with the government, and I have talked about this on many occasions, is with, if I can use the word, the degree of the change taking place and the rapid movement towards that change, because as I recall, Conservatives I've known over the years have been cautious people. Seldom did they move quickly without assessing the ramifications of what was happening. Now zealots who are unelected and who go south to Republican conventions and find out what's happening in New Jersey and North Carolina and so on are more inclined to want to move quickly through the process than members such as the member for York Mills, who has been in opposition and is now in government in a senior position and knows the importance of assessing the ramifications of government policies. He knows that with fewer elected people, and sometimes we're going to face that, there are going to be fewer people to challenge those who are all-powerful in the province or in any other jurisdiction, and I do emphasize that.

I know one of the items the government of Prince Edward Island, which was recently defeated, had in its platform, one of the things it did, was reduce the number of members to the Legislature on that occasion. By the way, I should also mention to government members that they also closed hospitals and schools in small communities. I saw Sally Barnes writing in the Toronto Sun, saying isn't it too bad they paid a price for doing what she thought was right.

But the people aren't wrong. It's like at election time, the day after the election: Those of us who are not on the winning side of government tend to second-guess the electorate, but the electorate makes a judgement based on the facts presented to it, perhaps the record of a previous administration and what other parties have to offer, and so we come to this Legislature accepting what the electorate has dealt in terms of the hand -- I'm not a gambler, but if I can use that phraseology.

Now, the government no doubt feels the opposition takes too long debating bills -- the chief government whip would most assuredly agree with that -- and some days it must appear to the government that it is tedious. Better that, I say, than rushing legislation through. I'm delighted we're coming back in January to debate bills further, because what has happened in the past is we come up to the Christmas break and we get a lot of bills thrown into the hopper at once and we're expected to debate them and get out of here, as they say, until mid-March. So those of us in the opposition who have been saying for the past several months that we would like to sit in January and February are going to have our wish granted, and I know just how much ministers of this government are eagerly looking forward to question period every day during that period of time. I know, having been a minister, how eagerly I would look forward to that.

There are important pieces of legislation. I have seen an example. I want to compliment the government, because we in the opposition perhaps don't do that enough, for a change they made on Bill 86, which was a municipal bill. The opposition parties had expressed concern about a provision that dealt with public transportation, and the government recognized that that was a major block in that piece of legislation going through. I think members noticed this afternoon when that impediment was removed, the legislation moved rapidly through this House and will go to the committee setting.

One of the other concerns is the -- we used to say "manning" -- I guess you'd say peopling of committees that we're involved in. I'd like to see larger committees dealing with various subjects. I think we have, what, eight government members, three Liberal members, two New Democratic members on each committee and a committee Chair. This allows for good input in the committees, because from time to time members are pulled out of the committee into the House or other places, and it's good to have a sufficient number of people available to work on those committees so that the work of the committees is indeed meaningful. With the diminishing of the numbers to this Legislature, that will prove to be more of a challenge.

The House itself, as well, must look at the fact that the government is cutting back. Whether people agree or disagree, and I happen to disagree with how far the government is cutting back and how quickly, but putting aside that disagreement for a moment, I think one of the realities we have to recognize is there is going to be considerably more work in terms of offices at least for MPPs in the future than there was in the past, because when the government cuts its services, people tend to come to their member of provincial Parliament more readily and at an earlier stage than they might otherwise. If the resources are not commensurate with that increase in volume of work, then the service will not be provided to people in this province.

I have a very busy constituency office. The telephone is occupied almost all of the day. There are people coming in and out of that office. There are volumes of correspondence, and it's so hard to keep up with that. I'm sure all of us face that dilemma of trying to keep up with correspondence while we are working here. I see that problem increasing. I feel particularly bad for the people who have huge geographic ridings, because while I represent an area of the city, the north end of St Catharines, that has a fairly large population, that population is concentrated in one area. While there are more people to deal with, they can have better access to my constituency office than people -- I hear of ridings such as Lake Nipigon, and, Mr Speaker, even your riding of Perth has more territory to cover than my riding would have. It's a wonderful riding, as well. I've been to it on many occasions, a wonderful place in the province. But there are people in Monkton and Mitchell and Stratford --

The Acting Speaker: Brunner.

Mr Bradley: -- and Brunner who would be around this province. I'm sure Hansard will get that. I don't know if you can accept interjections from the Speaker though; I don't know if that's legal or not. He's going to write it down and send it to me.

What I am pointing out is there are some different challenges when you have these larger ridings. I heard Mr Conway the other day say there were 36 municipalities he was going to deal with in Renfrew North, the county of Renfrew, and that presents a special challenge. So while I know this is popular -- and listen, if I went and knocked on the doors on my street and said, "Would you prefer to have a smaller Legislature because it will save you some money?" I suspect, at first glance, most people would say yes. So if the government believes it's doing something unpopular, it is not; it will be popular.


But very often, the best judgement of a government is when it does something -- and sometimes you'll do this and we'll be opposed to it -- but when you do something unpopular because you know it's right. You'll make that judgement and we in the opposition will pass whatever judgement we see fit. But this is one area where what you're doing will be very popular. I'm not entirely convinced that it's going to be better, though heaven knows we always need redistribution because that takes into account the shifts in population, and that's only fair.

I would guess then that Mr Cousens, who is now the mayor of Markham and has expressed some views about government policy recently, will have an additional member in that area to bring those views to this Legislature because I know he's concerned about the development changes that are being made by this government. He along with many of my other Conservative friends in the greater Toronto area, Hazel McCallion -- I'm a long-time admirer of Hazel's -- and Eldred King and other people are concerned about this, that the government has caved in to developers and will force municipalities to raise their taxes to provide the same services. That's why we have elected members.

I mentioned in a two-minute response to another speaker that in our area we're going to need all we can get to prevent the government from closing hospitals, because the government has now withdrawn some $38 million for the operation of hospitals in our area.

I know I'll be able to count on my friend the member for St Catharines-Brock and the member for Lincoln to tell the government that we don't want our hospitals closed; that with a generally older population than most communities in the province, with people who have to sit two and three days in the hallway because they can't get an acute-care bed or with the many services that have been provided in our hospitals, I know those members will join me, standing shoulder to shoulder with the hospitals that this government is going to try to close. That's why it's important to have that contingent.

I was looking at some notes on this bill and it mentioned, for instance, the -- I'll call it the Hamilton-Niagara area. It indicates that we go from 12 seats down to 9 seats. That includes Wentworth but not Halton. So my good friend from Wentworth East who is here and acted so ably as a Speaker for a short period of time in the House would not doubt be worried that the clout that we have, and I say that in the best sense, in the Hamilton-Niagara area will be diminished and the good health care that we need may not be there if we don't have the numbers and the will to make the case.

I also mentioned the other day that the minister who is now minister for seniors' affairs went across the province to conduct and develop a report on the Workers' Compensation Board and the services provided. I know he heard from many people that the workers' advisors offices are very valuable services for people in our communities, because those who require those services will come to the offices of MPPs. We have to deal with a variety of subjects, a variety of challenges, a variety of problems and don't always have the time that would be necessary to deal with items that a workers' advisor would.

So I agreed with the report. As I read the report, I gleaned from this that there was a role to be played by workers' advisors and I hope the government listens to the provisions of that report where it points out that particular aspect and to people in our area. I'm sure again my colleagues, who are concerned at the potential closing of the workers' advisors office in Thorold, which deals with the Niagara region, would join me in this. If you have your six members in the region to make that case, that's just a little more powerful, just a little more compelling than when you have only four members to deal with a matter of this kind.

I notice as well that when I say the power is shifting from elected people -- those of you who went through an election campaign -- to appointed people and that the government is hiring consultants -- Mr Speaker, you and I are in the wrong business -- at $2,600 a day. It is going to hire these consultants to say how it should reduce more people in government. Again, we already have people. We have some good people elected to this Legislature who may have some good ideas on restructuring of government, but here we are hiring people at $2,600 a day to do so. Again, that's a startling figure. The Chair of Management Board admitted that in the hallway. He thought that was a lot of money.

I guess the point I'm trying to make as much as the money is that, once again, we're taking something away from the Legislature and giving it to the so-called experts who are outside of this field. They're going to make some good money on it. Maybe they're good people, I don't want to prejudge that, but on the other hand, I think we bypass far too much the resources we have within the Legislature.

There are people of different backgrounds here. I see my friend the reverend from High Park-Swansea, Derwyn Shea, a person who's had considerable experience at the municipal level of government and has many contacts in his community. I'm sure he could provide some good advice that wouldn't cost $2,600 a day to the government on potential restructuring. He's had some experience in that field, as have others here, either through their business experience, previous experience in government or perhaps municipal experience. That's why I think the shift of power from elected people to unelected people is quite unhealthy.

I looked in the Common Sense Revolution -- that's what you called your document -- about the balancing of the budget, because part of the motivation for this is to save money. So I thought if the government's saving money, it must be going to postpone any tax cut until it balances the budget, and that is across the board.

I understand they raised taxes on cigarettes, and that's a tax that's going to go up and down. I understand there are going to be some other tax increases from time to time, and some decreases. Governments will do that with each budget. But I'm surprised that having analysed the situation and having listened to conservative economists and people with true common sense, the government would get into a position of borrowing more money to finance the tax cut and thereby have to bring in a number of bills they perhaps wouldn't have brought in otherwise or perhaps wouldn't have made the changes to the degree they are because they have to finance a risky tax scheme, a tax scheme which will cost the coffers of the government, the revenue flow to the government, $5 billion a year with the full implementation of the 30% tax cut.

That means the government has to borrow that money, that means there's going to be interest paid on that $5 billion and that means, when the government completes its term, Mr Speaker, as you well know -- a person with some business experience yourself and some knowledge at the local level of government -- that at the end of that time, the debt is going to be about $20 billion higher.

Not all of that is due to this government -- I want to say that; I'm fairminded enough -- but the $5 billion additional is unnecessary, and some of the members of your caucus have said that. On many occasions they've said that.

Mr W. Leo Jordan (Lanark-Renfrew): Can't you see the return on that though?

Mr Bradley: The member interjects and I'm going to respond because that's how you get it into Hansard. The member for Lanark-Renfrew says do we see the results of it. I do see the results of it: I see further cuts being made in services. I'm sure that's what he was referring to when he interjected.

Mr Jordan: No, no. Here, I'll send them over to you.

Mr Bradley: He wants to send his glasses over, I should note, for those who cannot see this.

What is happening is that the government's borrowing far more money. If you said at the end of the time, "Look, we've balanced the budget, we're well on our way to reducing the debt and we think there should be some tax decreases," I think more people would agree with you at that point.


Others would prefer to have government services. They would like to have the driver training centre not for the people of Welland and Wainfleet coming to St Catharines, where they're not familiar with the roads, they would like to have it in Welland where they're used to the streets. I know people will say, "Isn't that a frill?" No, I think it's part of the quality of life that we Ontarians have been proud of for many, many years, back to previous Conservative administrations.

What are we seeing as a result of the tax scheme, the tax cut which largely benefits the richest people in our society? We're seeing far deeper cuts in government services and the borrowing of $5 billion a year to finance the tax cut. I look at good commonsense Conservatives, some who I know well and I respect, who in their own minds must be thinking, "Why, oh why, did we get into this situation?"

We'll help you out, of course. We've helped you out with advice. I know you've already postponed the tax cut. I had a Conservative tell me the other day -- and this Conservative will be with you people all the time -- "Why don't you get up and ask the government why they didn't implement the tax cut when they said they would, at an early point in time?" and I said: "Well, they are showing some common sense for once by postponing it. They're listening to what the opposition says and they are postponing it." I know it's a broken promise, but I am not going to rise in this House and point the finger at the government for breaking that promise on the tax cut, because I think the government is wise to postpone it and probably should postpone it until we have a balanced budget in this province, a goal that all of us have.

Mr Rollins: We want some people back working too.

Mr Bradley: I know the very richest people -- I heard the interjection -- will be able to take that second trip to Aruba or to Spain or somewhere else.

Mr Rollins: Is that where you're going?

Mr Bradley: No, I get to go to Port Colborne and Oakville -- I've been to Oakville; my friend from Oakville is here -- and places like that. Halton Hills is a real treat for me. I like all of those places. I know the people who are at the very top end don't necessarily take their holidays there. They sometimes go beyond the borders of North America even and this will allow them an opportunity to go further. This will allow for more Mercedes Benzes to be purchased. This will allow for a lot of things. But we're going to cut services, good services that some of the members who have been here a while know are worthwhile for government.

I used to listen to some of the critics. The former education critic, the member for Burlington South, is here this evening. He used to make some very good cases, I must say. He was a good education critic and made some good cases for clever expenditures, good expenditures in the field of education. He must be beside himself. I don't expect him to get up in the House and say he's beside himself, but he must be beside himself when he sees some of the changes that are being made to the classroom itself, some of the effects on the classroom. I remember he used to ask some excellent questions in this House on special education and the need for special education, which all critics do. Mrs Cunningham, the member for London North, did the same. They're seeing the effect of what's happening with the government's fiscal policy.

I know the Premier got up in the House today and everybody was supportive of him -- as you should be publicly supportive of the Premier on the government benches -- but I can't help feel that when you get into that caucus room there are some people who are questioning the speed with which the government is moving, the drastic cuts that are being made, rather than just moderate cuts, and the timing in terms of it being motivated or changed by the tax cut that you're implementing that benefits the richest people the most.

The member for Wellington has come into the House this evening. He may use this in his campaign literature, but he is one of the moderate voices of the government on the government benches. I always thought he should be in the cabinet. The Premier has decided otherwise so far and all of my comments about him don't advance his case. I understand that. I remember he was a person who questioned publicly the tax cut -- probably more the timing -- and also the fact that so many services would have to be cut. He worked with Jack Johnson, who was a wonderful member of this Legislature, his predecessor, a great guy. Everybody liked Jack Johnson --


Mr Bradley: -- and there's appropriate applause. Jack Johnson understood the need for services for people. He was a Conservative, he was cautious and he was a true commonsense person. But he recognized as well that there were needs for services for people who are unable to fend for themselves, people who don't have the same opportunities as those who are born into privilege or born into wealth.

When I look at this bill we have before us this evening, I see one which is popular, I see one which you can certainly sell to the population, particularly those who are of a mind to support the Reform Party federally. This bill will pass, but I simply ask government members to continue to challenge those who want to take away authority and power and jurisdiction from elected people, the people whom everyone in the population can get at and judge, and to send that power or convert that power to those who are unelected and often don't have the feel of the community that so many in this House have.

I appreciate this opportunity to share those thoughts with members of the assembly.

The Acting Speaker: Questions and comments?

Ms Marilyn Churley (Riverdale): As always, I enjoyed the speech made by my colleague the member for St Catharines. I'm wondering if the member for St Catharines has recently read an article by the member for Etobicoke-Lakeshore. I have a number of them here. I noticed that the member referred to the centralized power that's happening over there in the Conservative government, and I find it interesting because there are some who say that with the member for Etobicoke-Lakeshore it's sour grapes because he didn't get into cabinet and that's why he's doing this. I would say it's because he's freed up. He knows he's never going to make it into cabinet now, so he is speaking his mind.

To the member for St Catharines, I'm going to read you a quote from an article by that member, written on July 12, 1996, in the Toronto Star: "At Queen's Park power is centralized in the office of Premier Mike Harris and very little is shared with the cabinet." Then in another article, even more stunning, written on Friday July 21, 1995, by the same member, the member for Etobicoke-Lakeshore: "`We won this by ourselves, and we owe nothing to anybody and are beholden to nobody.' That's a quote, senior Harris team member Bill King, June 22, 1995. The above statement was volunteered to me and my wife in the presence of another MPP in the PC caucus office a few days prior to the swearing in of the new cabinet." The member for Etobicoke-Lakeshore goes on to say, "The thrust of this assertion obviously reduced mine and some others' campaign efforts to zero importance in the mind of the Harris camp."

I would say to the member for St Catharines that this is why the members opposite aren't speaking out. They still hope to make it into cabinet, I guess.

Hon Cameron Jackson (Minister without Portfolio [Seniors Issues]): First of all, I want to comment on my friend and colleague the member for St Catharine's reference to -- I'm trying to figure out how he was bringing education and health care into this legislation. He knew that my daughters attend a school outside of their father's riding, and that was really what he was trying to suggest in his comments. Of course, my children attend a school outside of their riding because in this Legislature, back in 1985, the then-Liberal government of the day was ramming through redistribution for the province of Ontario. I recall it well.

I remember Warren Bailie, a wonderful public servant, a great servant to the citizens of Ontario, sat along with the Chief Justice of the courts of Ontario and oversaw a process where a couple of Liberal members decided that maybe this little sliver of Burlington on the east end should be hived off and form part of an Oakville riding and somehow, in doing that, would enhance the electoral prospects of the member. Of course, it did work. The Tory seat was lost to a Liberal, and not only that, but my mother, who lives there, was quite disappointed she couldn't vote for her son any longer.


However, why I share that story and why my colleague from St Catharines reminded me of it so vividly when he made the reference was that this is a process which will now force both levels of government to work cooperatively to eliminate, where possible, this process of the politicians intervening with their hidden agenda of where it best suits them. We have an independent process. We had some problems with the way the federal government handled this, but this will be the first occasion, once this legislation is passed, the first time that both levels of government will work in the best interests of the citizens of Ontario to make sure those riding boundaries are appropriate and fair.

Mr Rick Bartolucci (Sudbury): I'd like to thank the member for St Catharines for his excellent presentation. He covered a variety of issues but I think they all boil down to one thing. What he's trying to do is tell the government that it's all about service, and Bill 81 robs the people of Ontario of quality service. I think that's what he was trying to say when he brought in a variety of examples from different areas of the province, a variety of examples from different ministries in the government. What he was trying to get the government to understand is that you have to commit yourself to providing quality service.

We are in the service industry. It is important for us to provide the opportunities to maximize the quality of service that politicians should render to their constituents, and clearly that's not going to happen with redistribution. It will be impossible for the member for Algoma to make sure that his constituents -- because it will be so broad -- gets the same service as, say, the member for Wellington. Oakville South's representative will be able to access the problems of his constituents far quicker than the member for Rainy River or the member for Kenora. That's what the member for St Catharines was saying.

Certainly it's important for this government to reconsider its priorities. It was clearly illustrated today. The member for St Catharines said it tonight, but earlier on today, when the Premier gave his address and our new leader gave his, the priority for the government, the bottom line for the government, is numbers. The bottom line for the official opposition, as defined by our new leader, is people. We would hope that the government remembers that people are most important.

Mr Kormos: I appreciated very much the comments of the member for St Catharines, whose former students refer to him as Jim Bradley, because he brought the issue -- as I indicated in response to the member for Algoma's speech -- from the northern perspective, which is a unique one, down into the Niagara perspective. Niagara loses two representatives in the Legislative Assembly -- Niagara, one of the largest regional municipalities in Ontario, being dismissed by this government.

One has to question how effective the four Tories among the six representatives of Niagara here in the Legislature are when they've been unable to maintain for Niagara not even five representatives. They've acquiesced to the proposition that Niagara, one of the largest regional municipalities, and a very important part of Ontario industrially, economically, a border area, is having stolen from it by this government two of its six representatives here.

When the member for Riverdale spoke about the articles in the Toronto Star she mentioned them being authored by the MPP for Etobicoke-Lakeshore. I didn't quite get a handle on it until I realized it was the same series of articles that included the observation of the rigid imperialism being applied to the operation of this new Harris government. It was the member for Etobicoke-Lakeshore, but when the article was published in the Star they used his name. That's Morley Kells, a politician of some great experience, who condemns this government for its rigid imperialism, which is displayed and is inherent in this legislation. Reference has been made to the sovietism of this government; its tendency to centralize and rule solely from the top; its disdain for elected members. This legislation represents that disdain.

The Acting Speaker: The member for St Catharines has two minutes to respond.

Mr Bradley: The one person I can think of who would be delighted with some of the direction the government is moving in is the former member for London South, Gordon Walker, who was a distinguished member of this Legislature and is in the gallery at the present time. Gordon is a friend from way back. We served together a number of years ago. I might note that his views in those days were about where the government is today, so he was before his time.

I want to thank the member for Riverdale for her observations and her quotations from Morley Kells, as he's called in the Toronto Star -- we call him the member for Etobicoke-Lakeshore -- who has always been independent-minded, who has always spoken his mind and, by the way, who has always been a good writer. I remember he wrote for the Urban Development Institute newsletter, and while I didn't always agree with what he wrote in there, he is a very good writer. He is a very good observer, very perceptive of the scene, and I think a person who recognized that there was a diminishing of power of elected people and that others who are unelected were receiving more power.

The member for Burlington South points out something that's important, that is, that whenever we establish the electoral boundaries they should be done without partisanship. They should take into account community interests, because some of the lines drawn by those totally independent make no sense to communities, but they should never be subject to partisan analysis and change.

The member for Sudbury recognizes that it is about service, the kind of service we're able to provide from the resources we have as members.

The member for Welland-Thorold understands fully that the Niagara Peninsula needs all the representation it can get to stop such things as the closing of hospitals and the cutting of funds to schools in our part of the province.

The Acting Speaker: I would just like to formalize the recognition of Mr Gordon Walker, the former member for London South, and welcome him. Thanks to the member for St Catharines for pointing that out to us.

Further debate? The Chair recognizes the member for Riverdale.

Ms Churley: Thank you, Mr Speaker. Now I can quote some more to you from the articles by the member for Etobicoke-Lakeshore, and I'd be happy to provide copies after my speech to those who are interested. I'll check with the Speaker, but given that this is an article from the Toronto Star and that the author of this article is Morley Kells, I know it's a little awkward given the rules around here, but in the context of quoting from a published article I believe it would be appropriate to use his name.

I read just one tiny quote at the beginning, and let me repeat it: "At Queen's Park power is centralized in the office of Premier Mike Harris and very little is shared with the cabinet."

This article is about the member for Etobicoke-Lakeshore's concerns about the impact of this so-called Fewer Politicians Act on the Toronto area in particular. I'm quite impressed by the fact that the member for Etobicoke-Lakeshore has been willing to go public with his concerns, because it's quite true, as a member mentioned earlier -- it might have been the member for Scarborough East -- that we haven't heard a lot from Toronto members, from any side of the House, about their concerns with this. I think part of it is because the biggest areas of concern and the biggest problems will be felt in the north and rural areas, for all the litany of reasons we hear time and time again throughout the speeches we've heard in the House and that members heard on the committee. Those concerns have to be taken very, very seriously.

But I do want to talk a little about my riding of Riverdale and some of the concerns I have about the impact on Toronto. Again I would say that I think the member for Etobicoke-Lakeshore was quite brave to come out publicly and express some real concerns about the implications to Toronto. I believe it's important for all the members from the Toronto and Metro area, from all sides of the House, to represent the interests of Toronto, notwithstanding that I agree with many members who spoke here that the idea of fewer politicians seems like a good one to most people these days and you may be taking a bit of a risk in this area to say you don't agree with it.


I, for one, and I believe every single member either from the north or from rural areas who spoke to this bill, said they believe that the time has come for redistribution. Population shifts, and it should be done every 10 years or so. I don't think one person has said it shouldn't happen. What people have objected to is the way in which it was done, and that is just taking the federal boundaries and not having any real public hearings and any real non-partisan analysis of the impact it will have on the members and their constituents. That is the concern that's been expressed.

To go back to the article again by the member for Etobicoke-Lakeshore, he goes on to say: "The only prevailing counterbalance is the Progressive Conservative caucus when it unites on an issue or coalesces around a geographical concern. That is why we have a Conservative rural caucus." Although, to unquote for a moment, if that's a word, I haven't heard any rural members speak up for rural Ontario in the context of this bill from that side of the House. I wonder why, but that brings us back to the quote I've read a couple of times here today:

"At Queen's Park power is centralized in the office of Premier Mike Harris and very little is shared with the cabinet."

To quote Mr Kells again: "The only prevailing counterbalance is the Progressive Conservative caucus when it unites on an issue or coalesces around a geographical concern. That is why we have a Conservative rural caucus." That's where I digressed, because we're not hearing from them. "But there is no urban caucus and this situation will get worse for Metro after the next election. I should tell the members that in the NDP, all four of our Metro members meet once a week. We do have a caucus.

"Harris's Common Sense Revolution promised to reduce the number of MPPs to that of Ontario MPs and to use the federal riding boundaries. As a result, the number of Ontario Legislature ridings will go down from the current to 130 to 104 in the next provincial election."

This is interesting. He says, "This means a total change for the province's electoral map, and it has set the 82-member Conservative caucus aflutter with anxiety -- a disruptive situation for any organization, let alone one perched precariously along the learning curve." We must recall that this was written back in July.

Then he goes on to say: "More explosively, these changes herald a major shift in area representation as reflected in the population surge outside of Metro Toronto's borders. This bodes ill for Metro at a time when wise and forceful leadership is vital to its survival as an internationally recognized banking and growth metropolis."

He goes on then to describe why this is so. "The new riding configurations will cause political power to move from the 416 calling zone to the 905 region. The north will be a big loser, too -- not good news for a revitalizing" -- this is quite interesting -- "New Democratic Party with its northern Ontario/downtown Toronto power bases."

He goes on to say, "In the next election, there are to be only 41 ridings in the GTA with three straddling it, for a total of 44.

"This is not just a reduction of five ridings. It will create a...shift of power. The new ridings will equate to one member for every 100,000 residents, but because they will reflect federal distribution, they won't recognize the special histories surrounding the inner city, urban and rural riding formations.

"I see the following shifts of power:

"Toronto loses three ridings, the rest of Metro loses seven, for a total loss of 10 ridings.

"Peel and Durham regions gain one riding each, York gains three, Halton stays the same, for a total gain of five ridings.

"Thus, the Harris plan will cut Metro's representation from 30 members to 20, while the other four regions will have 24. Tory power will reside away from the heart of Toronto."

I should thank the member for Etobicoke-Lakeshore for writing half my speech for me, because I couldn't have said it better myself. Some of the concerns of the member for Etobicoke-Lakeshore are of particular interest now, given what we expect. Certainly the Premier seems to be in some kind of denial, but the Minister of Municipal Affairs has made it clear that he wants to reduce the number of politicians within the Metro area and to form a mega-government, get rid of all our smaller regional governments. That is despite the fact that 75% of people within the Metro area want to hold a referendum. I find this very interesting that the Premier of Ontario, Mr Harris, is saying no to a referendum at the same time that his government is coming forward with legislation on referendums in Ontario.

Here we have a perfect example of a question that has great significance to the people of this region, and it actually can be a very simple question. I believe the Premier said, "It's too complicated; it has to be a yes or no," so now we seem to be defining what kind of questions can go on this ballot. It certainly is true as well that there was a refusal by the government to hold a referendum on Hydro. Hydro was formed by a referendum 90-odd years ago. So far we've had two very important, big issues that are of great concern to the people of Ontario and this government has said no. One wonders just what the real intention is for referendum legislation in this province. Is the government only interested in having referendums on issues they know they can win?

But I fail to understand in this particular circumstance, when we know already that 75% want a referendum, when people from the regions are very concerned about losing their local governments and they can't have a say, that this government says it's going to do what it's going to do. It reminds me of the quote I read that the member for Etobicoke-Lakeshore said was said to him: "We won this by ourselves and we owe nothing to anybody and are beholden to nobody" -- Bill King, June 22, 1995.

I believe that quote sums it up. That's what's happening in the context of almost all the policies and cuts that are coming forward, including this bill that we're debating today. The people are not having a say. The opposition is not being listened to. I see my colleagues the member for Cochrane North and the member for Cochrane South here tonight, and they were here last night. They've been out on committee, they've been meeting with people in their constituencies, and they have been telling members of this Legislature that they're not trying to hold on to their seats. I think they can work that out. I haven't heard either of them complain about that.

They know that whoever wins, be it a Conservative or a New Democrat or a Liberal, certainly we hope it's a Liberal -- oops, that was a Freudian slip of some sort, wasn't it? I'm wearing my blue jacket today, so I don't know what happened there. We certainly hope it's a New Democrat, but no matter who wins, it is going to be a big problem for these members.

I see the members for Scarborough East and Nepean and others, who have heard these arguments time and time again, and I see them constantly --

Mr Baird: He's York Mills.

Ms Churley: The member for York Mills? I know all of your ridings, although from time to time I forget. I don't know all the names.

You have heard these members from up north, and surely you must have heard from some of your -- do you have any northern members? Mr Speaker, do they have any northern members?

Interjection: No, there are no northern members at all.

Ms Churley: That's why. You don't have any northern members, but you have rural members. Mr Speaker, they have rural members. You're a rural member. You should be listening to these people. Not only do they know what it's like to try to be a representative from a huge northern district and rural areas, but some of them have been around longer, frankly, than some of you, and they know perhaps a little more. I think that you should listen more closely to what they have to say.

I sincerely hope there is some possibility that the major concerns about a few ridings in particular up north -- that amendments can be made to deal with some of the most massive ridings that are going to be created by this bill. Because I see some of my colleagues now from the northern area, how much they drive, how much they travel, how little time they have with their families --


Hon Mr Jackson: At 39 cents a kilometre.

Ms Churley: I don't know, 39 cents a kilometre or whatever it is. I think it's rather irrelevant.

Mr Len Wood: It's 29.

Ms Churley: It's 29. We want to get this fare on the record. I don't think we should reduce this to talking about money though. They should be compensated for the money they spend on their travels. All I know is that I don't envy them. I would not want to spend the amount of time my colleagues spend in a vehicle, on airplanes, away from their family, away from their friends, and then when they are at home, they spend almost the entire time out doing constituency work.

Coming back to my riding of Riverdale, this riding has been represented by the NDP, I'm proud to say, for over 30 years. There is a very high standard that's been set in Riverdale for their MPP, and anybody who wins in Riverdale -- I know my boundaries are changing. I don't have a problem with that. In my riding, I don't know if I can win it or not. I hope I can, I think can. The member for York East is not here. I may be up against him. I don't know how that's going to shake down. I'm not worried about it. I always take each election on a daily basis. I will fight the next election on whatever exists and that's the way it is. I'm not worried about it. If I lose my seat, I lose it. I hope to win it again, and I believe my constituents think I'm a very hard worker. I don't know about Conservatives, but I know some Liberals support me in my riding because they see me as a hard worker. I'm out there all the time fighting for my constituents and working with my constituents.

The expectation, because I don't have to leave Toronto -- I live 10 or 15 minutes from here by car; 20 minutes on my bike; 30 or 35 by foot, so I'm really lucky.

Mr Baird: I hope you don't get mileage for your bike.

Ms Churley: Yes, I should try to get mileage for my bike, the wear and tear. One of the downsides, in a sense, of being in your riding all the time and being that close is that people expect you to be there all the time, every night of the week, at everything. I don't mind that, but it is a reality. I rarely have a night to relax during the week. I go to meetings, gatherings, events. I try to keep up. I have a large Greek constituency, large Chinese and Vietnamese constituencies, an East Indian constituency and a whole mixture --

Mr Baird: Conservatives.

Ms Churley: Even some Conservative constituents; not many, although they did come second. Much to everybody's surprise the Liberal came third in the last election. It's usually one-on-one. I must say I appreciated that because it's always one-on-one, a tough fight, but this time the three-way race made it a lot easier. I still won handily, I want you to know.

But I work hard and I think that is known and appreciated. Now I will be working harder and I'm not complaining about that. My family might complain about that, but I know that I will have more meetings and more events to attend, more people to get to know, more issues to deal with. I have no problem with it and I am not complaining about the boundary changes in my area. I think it can work, given the configuration, fairly well. I would say in the context, even without the analysis that is so badly needed, that this one probably makes sense.

My worry is that this government is now about to form a megacity. I represent a Toronto riding and my provincial riding is going to now go way up into East York. In fact there's a meeting tonight. My colleague from Beaches-Woodbine has gone because I couldn't; I'm here in the Legislature giving this very important speech. There's a meeting tonight in East York with the mayor and a lot of other people who are very concerned about -- I have the notice here -- that municipality disappearing. I can tell you that the citizens of East York feel very strongly about their community and do not want to lose their identity.

This notice for the meeting tonight says, "East York Fights Back." It's a "follow-up to the East York rally...meeting with Dave Johnson, MPP and Chair of Management Board" -- I'm reading here so I had to say his name -- "more cuts to health and education in the next provincial budget...municipal democracy versus megacity amalgamation...building the East York Action Committee."

This is a big coalition, the East York Action Committee. It's a coalition of individuals, community groups and labour unions who have come together and are concerned about a lot of the things this government is doing to East York. They're saying the fight back has just begun. I can tell you that I'm happy to start working closely with those people in East York. We have a group in Riverdale called Riverdale Against the Cuts, which is a very active group doing great work, and I think we can join forces together and actually bring this government down in the next election.

I'm not at all concerned about taking on a portion of East York. I know many people who live and work in East York and admire the communities there and the ways they work together and the community spirit. I appreciate the fact that they're fighting to keep their municipality. I'm also fighting in Toronto to keep the municipality of Toronto. The identities to us in our communities are very, very important.

I don't know if members here know about this or even care, but I think I should say it because sometimes there's a lot of disdain for people from Toronto.

Mr Baird: No.

Mr Galt: No, they are not.

Ms Churley: Northerners, rural people -- Toronto gets beaten up all the time. I'm used to it.

Mr Baird: We are doing it to suburbia.

Ms Churley: But I'm elected as a Toronto member and I can tell you something really interesting about Toronto. Toronto is made up --

Mr Rollins: Toronto is the best city in the world.

Ms Churley: It is the best city in the world. You guys are going to ruin it, but right now it's the best city in the world.

Toronto is made up of a lot of small communities with their own identities. This is what I was going to tell you. I grew up in Labrador. Now, Labrador is a really small, isolated community. Hey guys from the north, if you want to talk about being from the north, we had no roads. The only way out of Happy Valley, Labrador, where I grew up --

Mr Bisson: It wasn't so happy in that valley.

Ms Churley: It was actually; it was a happy little valley. We had no roads out. In the summer you could take a boat and in the winter the only way out was to fly; very tiny communities. I understand the value of communities and the value of people working together and living together and having a sense of identity. Ever since I left my home of Labrador, I have sought out community. It's still important to me. I sought it out in Toronto and I found the community of Riverdale, which has become just that to me.

I expect that most, if not all, of the members here, no matter where they're from, know what I'm talking about when I talk about the importance of community and how we need as individuals, as humans, to be able to identify with that community, to be a part of that community, know our neighbours, feel that we have something in common and that we have some control of our destiny.


I'm extremely concerned about the kinds of activities, the kinds of policy changes this government is making without consulting with the people from my riding, the people from East York, some of whom I hope will be in my riding after the next election, the people of Toronto who are very concerned about losing its ability to be a community and have a say in its own affairs.

Coming back specifically to this bill, I agree with the member for Etobicoke-Lakeshore that there are some real concerns about the impact on Toronto at the same time that David Crombie is having his behind-the-scenes, secret deliberations, which are all happening behind closed doors; once again people are not being consulted. This is the trademark of this government, which is one of the problems I'm addressing here. Changes need to be made. We all made that very clear. Our government commissioned the Golden report. I know we're not debating that bill, but it's connected in a way. We're talking about governance, and this bill is about that and so is the who does what to whom panel.

One of the biggest concerns I have is that it is being done in secret, behind closed doors and without consultation with the public. You've heard me raise this example before, and I'm gong to raise it again: the finance subcommittee of the education panel, which is part of the who does what to whom panel. This little subcommittee met in secret behind closed doors to discuss the entire issue of the refinancing of education in Ontario. There was not one Metro expert from the educational field on that subcommittee panel. This is a major issue to the parents and children and educators in Metro Toronto, extremely big. We're talking about redistributing Metro dollars into other areas. The fact that nobody from education was on that panel is a disgrace.

Then some parents in my riding from Franklin school got together and hired a lawyer, Brian Donovan, whose kids go to Franklin school. He worked for a big law firm and decided to take on the case for the parents. What should happen but the executive assistant of the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing phoned up that law firm and referred to -- we don't know exactly what was said but I can tell you what Mr Brian Donovan said was in that conversation, and it was different from what we're hearing over there.

This EA phoned up, and magically, do you know what happened? Talk about bully-boy tactics once again. There was a threat of an injunction in this letter. The parents were asking some very serious questions about this panel, and there was a threat: "If we don't get answers to this question there could be an injunction to keep them from reporting." Guess what? After this phone call was made, the big law firm pulled Mr Donovan off the case.

In the process of that happening, this subcommittee reported, so it was too late for them to go back at it, get another lawyer and get answers to their questions. They never got answers. They pulled him off the case and that was the end of it. It isn't the end of it. I have launched a complaint to the Integrity Commissioner. We'll see what happens. I think that kind of behaviour, and I don't know what's going to happen with that, is despicable, and at the very least it is bully-boy tactics that this government has shown time and time again.

To end my speech I want to read you something from the Common Sense Revolution under the heading "Less Government. Canadians are probably the most overgoverned people in the world" -- it goes on a bit around that. "We must rationalize the regional and municipal levels to avoid the overlap and duplication that now exists.

"The example being set by a Harris government, of a 24% reduction in the number of MPPs and a 20% cut in non-priority spending, will set the benchmark for municipal politicians and trustees." Listen to this: "We will sit down with municipalities to discuss ways of reducing government entanglement and bureaucracy with an eye to eliminating waste and duplication as well as unfair downloading by the province."

They have not sat down with the municipalities to talk, and they say they're not going to download. This government is moving ahead, restructuring everything in sight, not consulting with the municipalities, downloading like crazy on the municipalities.

Another example we hear about sounds like the government is now saying it's not going to privatize our water, that instead it's going to download it, give it to the municipalities. We know the municipalities aren't going to have the money, so what are the municipalities going to do?

We're not going to be able to trust that our water is good, clean water any more. There will be environmental problems and they'll probably be forced to privatize it.

This government is making massive changes to how things are being done in Ontario. They are not consulting with the people of Ontario and they are not listening to the members in this House who know better than they do about the problems of running a northern constituency.

What do they do? They make fun of them; they laugh at them. It's an arrogant response to some very real problems, and I hope that from now on, as other members speak, the government members will listen more closely, with more respect.

The Acting Speaker: Comments and questions?

Mr Gilchrist: I'm pleased that we've finally had some comment and feedback from an urban Toronto member and I appreciate the comments of the member for Riverdale. I note that throughout the course of her comments she did not touch on the issue of workload. I'm sure she would agree with me that she, being from an urban riding -- and I and our other colleagues -- would have an infinitely greater demand for things like Ontario Housing or Metro Housing. There is none, or very little, in some of the rural ridings in the north. If there is no provincial housing, there clearly cannot be any constituent who speaks to that problem.

She would also agree with me that we have a very high percentage of people on government assistance. We have a greater population, and it stands to reason that every Ontarian would likely have the same odds of requiring the services of an MPP. It has to follow from this that if one riding has 19,000 people and another riding has 129,000 voters, the second member will get six and one quarter times the phone calls, the faxes, the letters, the requests for a personal visit. It doesn't matter where in the riding that question or concern arises; the constituent, I agree, has a legitimate need and the member has a responsibility to address those concerns. But if the workload is six times as great in that riding as it is, say, in Rainy River it cannot follow. The sheer reality of geography would offset such an incredible disparity in workload.

We have already heard in the committee hearings that contrary to some of the submissions here today, the north is equipped with many resources they need to handle the difference.

Mr Bartolucci: I'd like to thank the member of the New Democratic Party for her excellent presentation. I think she alluded to the Reform movement in her talk. That's exactly what this government is all about, the Reform movement: less representation by people, fewer politicians, less opportunity for people to interact. "Let's do everything by referendum. Let's not involve people in the process at all. Let's not involve politicians at all. Let's try to find every reason in the world why not to have representative democracy. Let's try to do everything by paper."


We had a great example of that in committee this afternoon when we started to discuss referenda. We suggested that referenda would be great if we could get all-party agreement on what items should be topics of referenda. We thought the megacity question would be an excellent item but the government wouldn't agree. We thought the closures of hospitals would be an excellent opportunity to have referenda but the government didn't agree. We thought it would be very important for referenda to be used only under very special circumstances, so special that we would get all-party agreement. Of course the vote was taken and the government disagreed. The government isn't interested in having people being represented by politicians. They're only interested in using referenda and the political process to their own end.

That's the Reform agenda. That's what it's all about. The Reform agenda doesn't have anything at all to do with allowing people fair representation. Bill 81 is all about unfair representation.

Mr Bisson: I want to take this opportunity to congratulate my colleague from Riverdale for again delivering what I think was a very good speech about what the content of this bill is all about with regard to how it affects not only northern Ontario but people in urban Ontario and various parts of Ontario.

I also note that she drew allusions to how, as a member in Toronto, she has different requirements on her time than I would as a northern member in Cochrane South. Specifically she talked about the member for Scarborough East, who was in Timmins at the committee hearings along with my friend Len Wood and other members of this assembly, to hear what northerners had to say about this particular piece of legislation.

I know you would want to know that the vast majority of presenters who came before this committee from across northern Ontario -- about 80% of them, and 90% in Timmins -- were opposed to what this government was doing through this legislation. The member for Scarborough East said a number of times in that committee, and he did it again today in the House, that in places like Scarborough he has far different caseloads and he has to worry about taking care of issues like social housing, which we don't have to take care of in northern Ontario. I would say to the member for Scarborough East that we have social housing in northern Ontario. We have quite a few units of social housing in Timmins, some 700 within the Timmins Housing Authority. But even better, we have houses in northern Ontario. Maybe that's what you were trying to allude to, that maybe we don't.

I say to the member for Riverdale, again comments well done. She talked about how the government is trying to report that they're doing this because they're keeping their promises and they're doing what they said they'd do and that they were just on target. The Common Sense Revolution, signed by Michael Harris, the Premier of Ontario, has broken about half the promises in the Common Sense Revolution. They've cut funding to education and health care and they're downloading on to municipalities, all things they promised they wouldn't do.

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

Mr Galt: It's interesting to hear the various presentations, particularly that of the member for Riverdale. I heard a lot of talk in the rebuttals about representation and the problems with it and I don't see what the concern is.

There's going to be really good representation. It's certainly very adequate for the federal members. There will be 103 seats. We can go to referendum on rare occasions, if necessary. I don't see that this is the way we're going to rule or the way we're going to govern the province. But when you talk about democracy, I can't think of anything more democratic than for the public to have the power to put a question for referendum on the ballot. To me, that is a step towards the democratic process.

This particular bill is very consistent with the bill we have for municipalities and looking at how municipal councillors and trustees are elected. I think it's great that the boundaries are now going to be coterminous as we move down the road. Politics is an awful lot to the people in this House, and yes, we follow it and understand it and appreciate it, but an awful lot of the public in Ontario do not have the same enthusiasm for politics that we do and they find it very confusing. I think anything we can do to simplify it is really going to be helpful: they vote in the same location, the polls are the same size, whether it be federal or provincial, and I personally would like to see that go one step further, that the polls would be the same municipally. It would certainly simplify it and people would understand the direction that we are going in.

In summary, I thank the member for Riverdale for her comments but I still see the real advantage in going ahead with this bill, having the boundaries coterminous and getting the number of politicians reduced from the present 130 to the 103. We'll then have adequate space in this legislative building.

The Acting Speaker: The member for Riverdale has two minutes to respond.

Ms Churley: Now we know the real reason why they want to reduce the numbers: They're hoping they're going to come back with such a big majority. They're not, but they're hoping to. They want to keep them all over there next time. Now we know the real reason for this.

To the member for Scarborough East -- and I appreciate the comments from people -- he must have not heard me, but I did speak about workload for quite a while. I was talking about how hard I'm expected to work in Riverdale, and there are lots of issues. I can tell you one thing, when people want to see me, they want to see me. They don't want a fax from me, they don't want to hear the answering machine, they don't want to see me on TV; they want to sit down and talk to me.

Again, I think the member for Scarborough East is making these judgments about how we work: "We have more work in Toronto because we have more of this and more of that." I don't think that's true. There are all kinds of issues they have up north that we don't have, and again, the greater distances. I think that's really disrespectful of our northern members. It's different -- some the same, some different -- but they have to work just as hard as we do to represent their constituents. I know my constituents, like theirs, expect me to be there in person a lot, and I try to do that.

To the member for Sudbury, I appreciated his comments. I think he reiterated what I said already, what this government is up to.

To the member for Northumberland: Every province -- I believe it's every province; I'd have to check this, but if not every, almost; in fact, I'll say it's every province -- has more provincial members than federal members. There's a reason for that. Unfortunately this government has not looked at why, again "one size fits all," not worrying about the difficulties.

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

Mr Tony Ruprecht (Parkdale): I'm delighted to add my thoughts to Bill 81, the Fewer Politicians Act, which will reduce the number of Ontario MPPs from 130 to 103.

Our party recognizes the need for smaller government, but we would try to ensure --

Mr Baird: Isn't Tony clever? He's got the Dalton badge on.

Mr Ruprecht: There's considerable debate on the button that I'm wearing. I'm proud to wear the button of our new leader, Dalton McGuinty. I think we're going to wear this button until the next election and we're going to win.

The Acting Speaker: Order. You're pushing my limits. I don't have any objection to your wearing it, but it isn't part of the bill we're discussing and I'll not let you include it in the debate.

Mr Ruprecht: Believe me, Mr Speaker, I appreciate your comments, but as you can see, this is red-baiting. They see the red sign and they can't keep quiet because they know the next election is lost. That's why there is considerable backbench revolt. They don't like me to wear this button. But I agree with the Speaker that if it bothers you that much, if you can't look at this button of our new leader, that he stares you in the face, then I will take it off. But you haven't asked me that question, Mr Speaker, and neither have the honourable members from the Progressive Conservative Party. I know they don't like to see this button, but as long as I stand here today, unless I have the request to remove it, you'll have to look at this button. You don't have to look at it; you can look at my eyes if you wish.



Mr Ruprecht: My goodness, Mr Speaker.

The Acting Speaker: Order, please.

Mr Ruprecht: Thank you very much for the compliment. They would rather look at me, Mr Speaker. Isn't that great? Thank you very much. You don't know how delighted I am that you want to do that. That gives me a great deal of pleasure that you want to look at me. That's terrific.

Back to business. We think that, yes, there is need for smaller government; there's no doubt about that. But at the same time, let there be no mistake: You know the figures and you know the land mass of Ontario. Mr Speaker, you know that the latest geographic representation of Elections Canada, right here -- I don't want to cover up my button -- shows you right there the riding of Kenora-Rainy River. In case you don't know --

Mr Gilchrist: That's got to be, what, 8 1/2 by 11 inches?

Mr Baird: It's more than 10 square inches.

Mr Ruprecht: I will oblige the members --

The Acting Speaker: That's a prop. You know it's not allowed and I'll not allow it to be used in debate.

Mr Tony Martin (Sault Ste Marie): On a point of order, Mr Speaker: It is so important that the people in this place have some visual understanding of what this bill --

Mr Ruprecht: It was all right, because it's important, Mr Speaker. Do you want to help me with this map?

Mr Michael Brown: I certainly will.

The Acting Speaker: I've asked the member not to use props. I thought you had the experience --


The Acting Speaker: I'll not allow it, and if you'd like to proceed in debate along with the rules that are allowed by the House, then I would welcome that. Otherwise, I wouldn't.

Mr Ruprecht: I will take this map away that I think --

Mr Michael Brown: On a point of order, Mr Speaker: I'm wondering what your --

Mr Baird: Challenging the Chair.

Mr Michael Brown: No. I just want this for information.

The Acting Speaker: I'm sorry. There are two of us standing up, and only one of us should be. When I take my seat and you rise, then I would like the opportunity to recognize you.

The Chair recognizes the member for Algoma-Manitoulin.

Mr Michael Brown: A point of order, Mr Speaker.

The Acting Speaker: Your point of order, please.

Mr Michael Brown: I understand the rule about props. What I'm having some difficulty in is understanding what exactly a prop might be. In this particular instance, the member for Parkdale is talking about a redistribution bill, about a boundary bill. It seems to me that when you are talking about a boundary bill, it would almost be necessary, to intelligently discuss it, to have a map.

The Acting Speaker: I take with great seriousness the member for --


The Acting Speaker: Order. I take with a great deal of seriousness your point of order and I appreciate it, but the rules of this House are that we express ourselves verbally and that we are not allowed the accommodation of props, and that is my ruling.

The Chair recognizes the member for Sault Ste Marie.

Mr Martin: On a point of order, Mr Speaker: I would like to say that I agree with the comments of my colleague from Algoma-Manitoulin that in this instance, when we're talking about dividing up the province in the way that we are and the changes that are being proposed and what's going to happen to the north in particular, it would be most helpful --

The Acting Speaker: Could I just clarify if it's the same point of order as I've just explained to the member for Algoma-Manitoulin? To me it is, and I'm ruling that is no longer a point of order and there's nothing wrong in this House. The member may proceed if he wishes.

Mr Ruprecht: I guess I may proceed without the map. Mr Speaker, I will take the map away, but I want you to know that I share the discussion and the points that have been made by the two members that it is really essential that we show to the public and in this House how these districts and new zones of representation are being cut up and divided.

But I would expect that you would obviously permit me to read from the Elections Canada book, that there's no problem with this book. Is this considered a prop, Mr Speaker? If it isn't, then I will proceed. If it is, then you will have to make another ruling.

The Acting Speaker: This is not question period and I don't intend to answer questions that you should have both the experience and ability to know yourself. I think that you should be able to assume that when you have the floor to debate, then you have it quite willingly, with the willingness of your colleagues in this House and mine, unless you find that isn't so, and then you should think otherwise.

Mr Ruprecht: It makes no difference, Mr Speaker. Thank you very much. I'm looking here at the map of Kenora-Rainy River, and this district. That's why we think, as Liberals, there is a design here in terms of reducing the numbers of politicians in a smaller government, but it's got to be done within the context of taking into account certain variables. One, of course, is geography. That's the reason why I'm looking at Elections Canada right now, and what I see in this Elections Canada book is very interesting. I see that there are a number of ridings here that are larger than many European countries. This one specifically, Kenora-Rainy River, even the old riding, goes from Hudson Bay all the way to the United States of America, from Manitoba all the way to Timmins. Think about this riding being so vast that it could include over 80 million people in Europe, and yet we have a population here in this riding of 76,000 people, 19,000 of whom have a right to vote.

So, yes, there is a difference; there is a distinction. But certainly, as I said earlier, what have to be taken into account are at least a number of variables. One is community of interest and the other is geography. As you can see, this particular map is so big, so vast, that certainly the MPP in that riding would be unable to service this riding. It would be almost impossible.

Mr Kormos: How many countries are smaller than that?

Mr Ruprecht: There are a number of countries that are a lot smaller, even European countries. As I said earlier, Mr Speaker, it would be impossible for you, as a representative, to get around to service those kinds of communities. Now, I could be much more specific but I'm mindful of the time.

So, yes, there has been reference made earlier by the member for Etobicoke West, who has put out this booklet, and certainly he has indicated that there is a movement of concentrating a great number of powers into the hands of the Premier, certainly into the Office of the Premier.


We know that when we used to be in power under the previous leadership of Premier Peterson, there were a number of complaints that the Office of the Premier was too big and the staff was too large; there were too many people hanging around and too much work to do. Then of course there was a change and the NDP came to power under Bob Rae, and again, what did Bob Rae do? Instead of cutting back, he added to. In other words, the weight and influence of government is being enlarged instead of being reduced.

Today, under the new leadership of the Progressive Conservative Party and Mike Harris, we find the same trend continuing. In other words, more people are added to the payroll. And yes, there are so many people added to the payroll who are not elected and consequently not accountable to the very people of Ontario who have a system in place that seeks accountability to the government in power, but the very system that is organized to be accountable is then thinking about what's called an imperial premiership, imperialism meaning concentration of power in the hands of one person or of an oligarchy. If anybody in Canada had the experience of having one oligarchy in place already many years ago -- that's why in fact Mackenzie started the revolt in Canada, because the power was concentrated in the hands of the Family Compact, and the Family Compact made the decisions without being consulted, without the people having a direct voice in its deliberations. That was the reason why there was a revolt in Upper Canada, because of the very idea that centralization does not speak of accountability.

While history is repeating itself today, we can say now that there may be a new Family Compact being established, not necessarily by family and blood ties but certainly by power ties, certainly by party ties, certainly by ideological ties. What we wish to prevent is to split up, and to make a government accountable to its people. So we may talk about the new Family Compact. What is it? What does it look like? What is its face? When we look at this government, we are today staring into the face of the new Family Compact. We're staring into the face of a new imperialism. We're staring into the face of a new concentration of power. If there's one thing we want to avoid today, if there's one thing we want to avoid under Bill 81 -- we want to try to ensure that there is some accountability for the people of Ontario, and it is this accountability which is at stake today.

I'm asking the members of the Progressive Conservative Party, especially the backbenchers who are here today, have you been consulted lately about any decisions that this government has made? Have you been consulted? I'm listening to the answer and there is dead silence.

Mr Michael Brown: There's nobody home.

Mr Ruprecht: Do you know why there is dead silence and why there's nobody home upstairs? Why is the light not on? Why are they not yelling, "No, we have not been consulted"? Because in truth we know what it is: They have not been consulted. You have not been consulted, Mr Speaker, although I shouldn't say that because you are in the Speaker's chair. I'm sorry about that. I will take that back.

The members of the Conservative Party have not been consulted. How do we know that they have not been consulted? How do we know that? We know that simply because their own members are telling us they are not being consulted. The power of the imperial presidency in the premiership of Ontario is alive and well.

We not only have to take the written comments of the member for Etobicoke-Lakeshore into account when he says overconcentration of power, no consultation. I'll tell you something today. Not only have the backbenchers not been consulted, but even, I would guess, and I'd have a strong guess, the members of cabinet have not even been consulted on some items. You know how I know that? Because some of the members of the Premier's staff -- I will not mention any names, but at least one member has indicated to me that the cabinet is not into all the decision-making, does not have the ear of the inner cabinet, the inside track of those who make the decisions.

Here we have a new imperialism, and if the members are honest tonight, especially on the side of the Progressive Conservative Party, they will say yes, we have a point, that there must be and there should be more accountability, and there isn't. How do we overcome that? Do we overcome that by slashing the ridings, by crossing boundaries, by not thinking about geography, by not taking into account geographic and community interests? Is that the way to get around it? No. We have to get around it by slashing those who get $2,600 a day when we talk about private consultants. Yes, Mr Speaker. What we have to do today is to make some reductions, but these reductions must start at the top. Let the Premier make the reductions in staff. Let it start at the top. Let the Premier make these reductions and have greater accountability and communicate with the backbenchers a bit more, as has been the request by a number of backbenchers today.

So yes, we talk about boundary changes, but it reminds me quite well when just yesterday the mayors of Metropolitan Toronto came and spoke to the various caucuses: the PC caucus, the NDP caucus and the Liberal caucus. It reminds me that the underlying philosophy that the mayors are fighting within Metropolitan Toronto, because we're talking about the megacity, the underlying philosophy and slashing and burning and cutting and reducing has a similar ring to the underlying philosophy we're being subjected to under Bill 81 today. It's the same thing.

Are we doing it because it makes sense or are we reducing because it looks good? Yes, I remember the member for York Mills. I was in his riding the other day. In fact, I had a happy time with him, because he was speaking Spanish over at the consul general in his riding, who was from Brazil. I was there. We had a nice discussion and he said to me that maybe next time I should tell him when I come to York Mills. I said, "That may be true." The next time I go to York Mills, I will call him up and say that I'm coming into his riding. But I would expect the same courtesy extended to me when members of the PC caucus are coming to Parkdale. I would like to have that same courtesy extended to me.

But it's the underlying philosophy we're talking about, and what is it? Is it because it makes sense that we're cutting or is it because it looks good? We're doing it, I suspect, because it looks good. You know why I know that? I'll tell you the theatrics. I was not permitted today to show the map of riding redistributions, but certainly the Premier is permitted to be in love with a flatbed truck. Do you know how I know he's in love with a flatbed truck? Because he brings it up all the time. Before the election he brings it up before Queen's Park with 27 chairs on this flatbed truck. He brings it up throughout the election, this flatbed truck, and he brings it out even after the election, this flatbed truck. And you know what? He brought it out three weeks ago when he introduced Bill 81. He brought the flatbed truck back again with the 27 seats.

Are we cutting because it looks good or because it makes common sense? The reason is simple. We're doing it because it looks good and at first blush it sounds great: "Cut the damned politicians. They're no good anyway." The people are cynical, except when you sit down with them in your own ridings. You sit down with them in your own ridings and they'll say the same thing to you: "We appreciate when you come to see us. We appreciate when you shake our hands and explain your policies to us. We appreciate when your office is open and we appreciate when you're accessible." That is the secret behind maintaining some of the boundaries and taking into account geography and specific interests, because that's at stake and that's what's going to be lost.


Do you want to know something interesting? Do you want to know the truth, what some members of the PC Party really believe about riding boundary changes in Ontario? Let's look at what they were saying before the last riding boundary change. Let me quote some. Noble Villeneuve, what did he say? I quote page 855 in Hansard. He says: "As many of the previous speakers addressing this have mentioned, we do not want to see the rural part of Ontario further underrepresented."

That's interesting. Then Noble Villeneuve goes on to say:

"I personally feel, because of the location of Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry and the structure and makeup of rural areas, we must retain the status quo intact. It is a situation that was addressed by a number of my colleagues and I certainly agree with them. Rural Ontario must have more, not less, representation."

That's a quote from the member who is today a minister.

Do you want to know what Bob Runciman said about redistribution? Let me tell you what Bob Runciman said earlier. He says:

"In terms of the criteria outlined for the commission, when it was arriving at the boundary changes -- perhaps it is the fault of the Legislature, but I do not think it took a close look at rural ridings in respect of the number of municipalities a member representing a rural riding is responsible for."

He goes on to say: "I have 15 municipalities in my riding, and the changes will add another four municipalities. I think the workload perhaps is not adequately recognized by the commission."

What does he say? He says he's only adding four municipalities. When we're looking at the new riding boundary changes, he will not only get four, he will get many, many more. That's Bob Runciman talking.

Second, he says: "There is also a question of travel. Many of us have to travel long distances to get around our ridings to attend events. The member for an urban riding does not have to contend with that."

It is obvious to me that this change was not necessarily made because of efficiency, of better service; it was made because it looks good. That's the reason it was made.

What about Mississauga? What about Margaret Marland? What did she say about riding boundary changes? Let me quote.

"The representation a member of the Legislature makes on behalf of his or her constituents is the aspect that I think should be considered by the election commission. If the people of Ontario are serviced to the maximum ability of the elected representatives because the boundaries of their ridings facilitate the service of those people and the equity of the distribution of population as far as possible, then those are the aspects the electoral boundaries commission should consider. I feel very strongly that whether I gain 6,000 people in Mississauga South and Mississauga East loses those 6,000 people is not nearly as big an issue or concern to those 6,000 people as is the question of how they are represented."

Quality of representation. That's what Margaret Marland talks about: quality of representation.

What about Ernie Eves, the Treasurer? Do you want to know what Ernie Eves says about boundary redistribution? Ernie Eves says:

"The commission has clearly recognized, as a result of the resolution, that we should also consider other factors such as community and diversity of interests, means of communication, varying conditions of representation between urban and rural ridings, special geographic considerations and traditional riding boundaries."

That's Ernie Eves, and he says, "I would submit the commission has somewhat neglected these equally valid considerations, choosing instead to focus almost entirely on the issue of population."

If Ernie Eves were here today and we were to ask him, "Ernie, what do you think about the new riding boundary changes, when you said earlier in previous riding boundary changes" --

The Deputy Speaker: Order. Could you take your seat. This afternoon or late this evening I made a ruling to the effect that if you refer to a member, you should not refer to him as "Ernie" or as "Mike" or as "Tony." Say "the member for Sault Ste Marie" or "the member for Algoma-Manitoulin." It becomes too personal. Okay?

Mr Ruprecht: I appreciate that. The reason I was mentioning this person by name is because I'm quoting from the Hansard, but I understand what you're talking about, so we'll just say the member for Parry Sound.

The member for Parry Sound says quite clearly today, "I would submit the commission has somewhat neglected these equally valid considerations, choosing instead to focus entirely on issues of population." Here we have it. Here is the member for Parry Sound saying that other considerations have been thrown out of the window and have been neglected. If we should trust anyone in this Legislature it certainly should be the Treasurer, and if the Treasurer says to us that there has been neglect in terms of other considerations, I take that to be quite serious, and I would expect that maybe there would be new considerations.

Finally, let me talk to you about a quote from the Premier himself, the member for Nipissing. I know that all of you like to hear what the member for Nipissing had to say about riding boundary changes and what he thinks about them. This is a quote from Hansard, pages 2641 to 2642. This is now the Premier of Ontario speaking on riding boundary changes, nothing else.

"What would happen with the new changes? It would split up some of the areas of Springer, Field and Caldwell townships and separate them from the town of Sturgeon Falls and from the town of Cache Bay and from band 10 of the Nipissing Ojibways."

Mr Michael Brown: Did Mike Harris say that?

Mr Ruprecht: Mike Harris said that, and he also said: "I ask the commission to consider the concerns of these communities. Although the numbers may warrant this change and the proposed ridings may parallel the federal ridings, I ask whether those facts are not offset by the commonality of the communities."

Here is the Premier himself saying that what has been neglected is other considerations. Community of interest, travel, effectiveness of representation, changes of boundaries, separation of communities have not been taken into account.

If the Premier were here now, we would have to ask him, "Mr Premier, what do you think about these riding changes?"

The Deputy Speaker: Your time has expired.

Mr Ruprecht: Mr Speaker, I would like to speak a little more. I would beg the indulgence of the House because I was cut back by five minutes earlier.

The Deputy Speaker: Unanimous consent? No. I thank you for your cooperation, and I think you understand the message I tried to communicate.

Questions or comments?

Mr Kormos: It's unfortunate that the rules of the House prevented the member from displaying the map with the electoral boundaries, a huge map which would have demonstrated in a very visual way the impact of the riding boundary redistributions, especially in northern Ontario.

I'm going to be speaking to the bill shortly, and I'll speak about Niagara region and the six ridings and how they get placed under attack down in Niagara region, but people have to realize that there's incredible impact here in the north, that there's a real abandonment of northern Ontario, a real failure to recognize how northern Ontario is different from southern Ontario. It's distinctive, it's special.

If we as Ontarians are committed to the north, we have to be prepared to go the extra mile, as northerners do on a daily basis. We're talking about vast, vast pieces of land. As the member for Lake Nipigon last night related, he listed the number of countries that have incredibly smaller territorial breadth than his riding will have once it suffers from so-called redistribution. The north is losing five of its northern representatives. The north is a special part of Ontario, one which I believe most Ontarians are committed to, but it loses its strength here in the Legislature. That's not to say that it has any domination now. The north always seems to be at the end of the line when it comes to being dealt with. The north will, in parliamentary terms, all but disappear after this attack on northern representation by this government.


Mr Michael Brown: I too appreciate a great deal what the member for Parkdale had to say. I think it's unfortunate that he was not able to show Ontario the redistribution map. This is a bill that is totally about boundaries. This is a bill that's totally about geography. This is a bill that obviously needs some understanding by the people of Ontario about what these boundaries actually mean.

One of the things that has upset northern people for a long time is the fact that Ontario roadmaps show northern Ontario on one side and southern Ontario on the other. You say, why does that upset us? It's because the scales are different, the scales are totally different. It makes it appear as if southern Ontario is the same size as northern Ontario. The fact is that northern Ontario is nine times as big. To be clear, what it means, if you look at that, is that under this new redistribution bill, 10 members will be expected to represent 90% of the land mass of the province. And in that reduction from 15 to 10, the five ridings that are lost are the rural ridings; the north loses 50% of its rural representation. We in the north, who supply huge flows of revenue to the treasury of Ontario emanating from our resources, whether it's forests or mines or agriculture, just cannot understand why a government would reduce representation to five members from 90% of the land mass.

Mr Martin: I also wanted to comment on the speech given by the member for Parkdale, and to say that he made some very valid and interesting points. I was intrigued most by his comment about the flatbed truck and the analogy he was trying to make. It took me a while to figure it out, but I think he was saying that because of flatbed trucks getting in the way, Mike Harris is not able to see the real Ontario out there and what's happening to people.

The last time he had big trucks out in front of this place was to make a point about breakfast clubs for children, after he took 22% away from their parents so that they could no longer feed them; that he's going to put breakfast programs in schools. There were these huge, big flatbed trucks, and when they moved, lo and behold, standing in front of the Premier -- and it was really interesting, because the Premier on his own would not have chosen to have been there -- were about 1,000 firefighters who were equally ticked off at the Premier because of what he's going to do to them down the line. They know what's in that package of legislation that's coming before this House in the not-too-distant future, that bullet. This is another Trojan horse. Firefighters across this province are going to be demolished.

He can surround this place with OPP officers in flak jackets, he can surround this place with flatbed trucks or half-ton trucks or whatever it is that he wants, but sooner or later the camouflage comes down and he's got to see what's going on. Hopefully, at that time either he'll change his mind or the people of Ontario will turf him.

Mr Len Wood: I just want to add a few comments on the member for Parkdale. He made an excellent presentation over the last half-hour on why this piece of legislation doesn't make any sense, and he gave a number of graphic examples.

I was paying attention to the member for Algoma-Manitoulin pointing out that the northern Ontario roadmap is on one side and southern Ontario is on the other side. It tries to give the impression that southern Ontario is just as big as northern Ontario. If we wanted to move the Legislature to the centre of Ontario, it would actually be moved to the town of Hearst. Hearst is the actual geographical centre of Ontario. That would make just as much sense as the fewer politicians legislation that is brought in here.

We know that both the Premier and the Treasurer, and a number of people, have consistently talked against this legislation until they decided that they were going to use a few slick words in their election campaign and make promises for fewer politicians and a 30% tax break for the wealthiest people in the province.

Today we listened to the Premier make a statement in the Legislature saying: "I'm in trouble. I'm going to have to extend the Legislature further before Christmas and we're going to have to bring the Legislature back in January and February because we've made all these promises out there." Now it's like a farmer, where the wheels fall off the wagon. We've seen Mike and Ernie and everybody, all the cabinet ministers, they've torn Ontario apart, they've scattered everything all over the place and now they're saying, "We're desperate."

The only good thing about coming back -- I don't mind coming back in January -- is that we're going to have more question periods so we can get questions from the government answered.

The Deputy Speaker: The member for Parkdale, you have two minutes.

Mr Ruprecht: If we proceed with this legislation, you will create a number of anomalies. One of them of course is going to be that one riding alone is larger than 75 countries in the world. Can you imagine that, Mr Speaker? It's an impossible situation.

I then went on to tell you essentially what is the underlying philosophy of this government to proceed with this bill. Is it because it is efficient and it makes sense or is it because it looks good? I propose today that we're proceeding with this -- and I've indicated to you about the anomalies -- because it looks good and has dramatic effect when you talk about flatbed trucks coming in front of the Legislature.

Third, what this goes to the bone to ensure -- that's the rhetoric of the Conservatives today: "We want to ensure we do more for less and we want to ensure that there will be sufficient service." Mr Speaker, the question today -- and you will have to answer it yourself -- is, are you creating sufficient services and providing them to the citizens of Ontario or are you cutting for the sake of cutting?

What I say to you today is that the services are going to be reduced; no doubt about it. Not only are they going to be reduced, but you're shifting the burden of payment totally from one population to another. You're saying, "Seniors, pay two bucks extra for every prescription." You're saying to the kids, "Pay for the swimming pool if you want to use it." You say to everyone else: "You want to go to the library? Pay for it." You say to the police: "You want the car towed? Pay for it." You say to the fire department: "You want to come and have a look at a fire? Pay for it." The services are not going to be there.


The Deputy Speaker: Further debate?

Mr Kormos: Here we are, midnight sittings, as is usual in the last two weeks, it's 9:18 in the evening --

Hon Mr Jackson: I thought they were your favourite.

Mr Kormos: Yes. Let her go. Let's do it all night.

I should tell people, because I know people are watching the legislative channel, that right now on the CPaC channel, the Canadian Parliamentary Channel -- it's channel 21 here in Toronto and I think it's channel 21 down in Niagara as well -- there's a rerun of the Liberal leadership convention. So if you folks think this is boring, switch over to CPaC and you'll really find out what boring is, because there's hours and hours of blank screen. I don't know whether this is the case, but I'm told one of the leadership candidates allowed himself to be wired with a mike during the course of the evening.


Mr Kormos: No. That happened to a New Democrat in 1990 out in Winnipeg. Who was the New Democrat leadership contender? Was it Simon --

Hon Mr Jackson: Simon DeJong.

Mr Kormos: Simon DeJong, who provided some of the best moments, at least in terms of television coverage, of that convention. I could have had a misrepresentation made to me, but I'm told that Dwight Duncan was wired.


Mr Kormos: It's confirmed. Okay, they had a boom mike following him around. Bear with me for 28 minutes, because Duncan's best moments aren't until towards the end of the convention.


The Deputy Speaker: Order. You know what I mean. Good.

Mr Kormos: The member from Windsor-Riverside, and he was trying to help me all along. That's right.

The member for Windsor-Walkerville, who ran as a leadership candidate, his signs didn't say, "Elect the member of Windsor-Walkerville to be leader of the Liberal Party." Anyway, the member for Windsor-Walkerville, who ran under the name of Dwight Duncan for the Liberal leadership campaign, I'm told was being following with a boom mike. But as I say, there's no need to change channels because the best moments don't come until the few moments preceding the final ballot. Those are the ones -- and no disrespect to any of the speakers on this issue -- I'm going to try to catch on TV outside the chamber here. It should be interesting.

As I told you, there's been a whole lot of focus paid to the north, and not inappropriately so. The north loses five members here in the chamber. I've heard the member for Scarborough East stand up with a very Toronto perspective, not inappropriately so, I suppose, but not understanding the fact that Ontario is not Toronto by any stretch of the imagination. I've got to tell you, I don't envy Toronto members, because my sense of Toronto -- maybe it's because I'm not as familiar with Scarborough East as the member for Scarborough East is, but I think members in Toronto miss some of the opportunities of representatives like those from the north or those from the Niagara region, be it the member from Niagara South-Erie or the member for St Catharines-Brock, or the member for Niagara Falls, or the member for Lincoln, or myself, or the member for St Catharines. I almost said Jim Bradley, Speaker, and if I had you would have stood up and said, "Don't refer to him as Jim Bradley, refer to him as the member for St Catharines." I'll admonish myself. I'll acknowledge that referring to the member for St Catharines as Jim Bradley is entirely inappropriate and I withdraw that.

Most of our communities are relatively small communities. I've been very fortunate in Welland-Thorold because the riding of Welland-Thorold has logically been the two total communities of the cities of Welland and Thorold, with a total population of somewhere around 65,000, 70,000 people. At the end of the day, I notice, from our very own parochial points of view that the member for St Catharines and me -- I don't have to refer to myself as the member for Welland-Thorold, do I? Of all the six members in the region, our respective ridings suffer the least by this redistribution. The whole of the city of Welland remains in the riding which will be called Niagara Centre. The city of Thorold -- and why did the feds do this? Why? They shaved off the east side of Thorold, Thorold south and Port Robinson and made them part of the Niagara Falls riding.

I know already from having been down in Port Robinson at the Port Robinson volunteer fire department Remembrance Day, which was on November 17, a week after -- you see, what happens is that these communities understand each other. They're side by each. So Thorold has a Remembrance Day and they try to coordinate it so that their Remembrance Day ceremonies aren't the same as Welland's. Port Robinson adjourns it for a whole week so it's the Sunday after the Remembrance Day that is celebrated in Welland and Thorold.

I was down in Port Robinson. That's over on the east side. That's east of the new canal. I just want you to understand the area I'm speaking about. It's east of the new canal, and it's the very south end of Thorold. What happened was that the bridge got knocked down a good 20 years ago on the Welland Canal by a laker that was travelling through. It did. The bridge master hadn't raised the lift bridge in time for the boat to pass under it, and the lift bridge was knocked down. What happened is the feds abandoned Port Robinson. Port Robinson had been East Port Robinson and West Port Robinson, connected by the bridge. The feds reneged entirely.

Mr Baird: The Liberal government?

Mr Kormos: Yes. As it was, it was Liberals.

Mr Baird: I thought so; sounded like it.

Mr Kormos: Then when Tories were elected, they wouldn't rise to the occasion either, frankly.

Mr Baird: They don't clean up Liberal messes.

Mr Kormos: Well, it was a shipping mess.

Interjection: Where were you?

Mr Kormos: I wish I was there with a video camera, because I'm not bad with a video. But I missed the collision with the boat and the bridge.

What happened is that Port Robinson has been divided in two. Port Robinson has remained very isolated, to the point where even travelling there by car is a little circuitous. Thorold South has similarly been isolated from the rest of Thorold. It has very much its own history, but it recognizes itself as part of the city of Thorold.

These two communities, Port Robinson and Thorold South, are no longer going to be a part of the riding of Welland-Thorold. They're going to be a part, entirely inappropriately and illogically, of Niagara Falls riding. They have nothing in common with the city of Niagara Falls. Their boundary is there, but it's not a boundary where people are living side by each.

Mr Baird: Bart Maves will take care of it.

Mr Kormos: Bart Maves has a problem too. He made me do it, Speaker. I withdraw that. Of course it's not Bart Maves; it's the member for Niagara Falls. Now, the member for Niagara Falls, Bart Maves, has to share a new riding with the member for St Catharines-Brock, who was Tom Froese before he became the member for St Catharines-Brock. The riding of Erie-Lincoln is one which assumes generous proportions, because it stretches all the way from Stoney Creek south, Grimsby, Vineland; east --

Interjection: He's going to be in Hamilton East.

Mr Kormos: That's right, and what does my friend say about that? It stretches east all the way across through to Fort Erie. So, you've got communities like Grimsby, Vineland, Lincoln, traditionally, now joined up again in that L shape across the bottom of the Niagara region, communities with very little in common.

I understand, because when I look at the data this riding of Erie-Lincoln still has a smaller population than the ridings of Niagara Centre, than the riding of St Catharines or than the riding of Niagara Falls. But even to get the approximate number -- because it has 91,000 as compared to 99,000 in Niagara Centre. So we've got a riding that has still a lower population but starts to cover some pretty big territory, some pretty big geography.

You've got a riding where people can't identify with each other inside the riding. The people in Fort Erie have nothing to do -- it includes the town of Dunnville. Again, good enough people in their own right and worthy of representation, but issues that are very different: Dunnville on the Grand River; Fort Erie far east of it on the Niagara River. Fort Erie, a border town; Dunnville very much a historical, traditional, agricultural, commercial centre.

These people have nothing in common. They don't want to be represented by the same member. I really believe that. People in Dunnville identify very much with the western part of what will be Erie-Lincoln riding, perhaps more so going up northwards towards Stoney Creek and Hamilton, which is where Dunnville people tend to go. For instance, they go up to the Lime Ridge Mall and those malls up on top of Hamilton Mountain. They identify more with Hamilton than they do with east of them, along Lake Erie, along the way through Port Colborne through to Fort Erie. Who is the member for Hamilton Mountain?

Mr Trevor Pettit (Hamilton Mountain): Trevor Pettit.


Mr Kormos: Oh, he wants a hit. Trevor Pettit told me that he's the member for Hamilton Mountain. I don't know what happens to his riding.

Mr Pettit: It gets bigger.

Mr Kormos: His riding gets bigger. Whose riding does it consume?

Mr Pettit: It consumes a portion of Hamilton West.

Mr Kormos: Whose riding is that?

The Deputy Speaker: This is not questions and comments yet.


Mr Kormos: It's just a little bit of interjections. Whose? Mrs Lillian Ross.

The Deputy Speaker: No, please. The member for Welland-Thorold.

Mr Kormos: Mr Speaker, I appreciate you containing the government backbenchers upon whom I've been relying for some information about the nature of their riding redistribution up in Hamilton. They all want hits. After I'm finished they can rise, and a couple of them have monopolized the two-minute responses, hoping that people are still tuned in here rather than to CPaC. I'm confident that by now people have tuned into CPaC, notwithstanding that they anticipate it will be far more boring than what's happening here.

You've got members here who have been monopolizing the two-minute responses, but I've noticed that the Conservative backbenchers have stopped participating in the debate by way of making speeches, by way of making comment on their bill, Bill 81.

Mr Gilchrist: To afford you more time.

Mr Kormos: No, the problem is that I wish we could have more time. I could use more time, but we've only got 30 minutes. The last government, it seems, wanted to avoid the phenomenon of one member monopolizing huge blocks of time hour after hour.

Mr Baird: We could use more time.

The Deputy Speaker: The member for Nepean, please.

Mr Kormos: I think these government members should enjoy the fairness that was generated by those rules restricting comment speeches to 30 minutes. That gives them a chance to join in the debate too, and Lord knows, the government's going to move closure on this soon enough. They've got to jump in and get involved in the exchange now, before their own government effectively squeezes them out of the debate by virtue of a closure motion or a time allocation motion.

I think the constituents in Niagara South, the riding that handles Port Colborne and Fort Erie, would dearly love to know how the members for Lincoln and Niagara South are going to resolve the fact that not both of them can run as Conservative candidates in that riding.

I'm sure the people in Niagara-on-the-Lake who are represented by their representative now, who is the member for St Catharines-Brock, want to know how the member for St Catharines-Brock is going to resolve the conflict that's going to arise with the member currently for Niagara Falls.

These ridings are finding themselves disappearing, not just expanded to. Again, Welland-Thorold, short of the fact that the people on the east side of Thorold, Thorold South -- the people in Port Robinson are mad as all get out and told me so when I was down in Port Robinson; at the Remembrance Day parade a couple of weeks ago, they told me so. They don't identify with Niagara Falls. They belong to the community of Thorold.

I re-read, because I received around three of them at my door in the provincial election, the Common Sense Revolution. They were the glossy versions. I've got a newsprint version here that's been kept in reasonably good shape. They did announce, in the Common Sense Revolution, their proposition for fewer politicians. They announced that they were going to enter into discussions with the federal government to ensure that the new boundaries are fair. They even bought into the 99 ridings, because at the time they published their blue book they were still under the -- again, legitimately so -- belief that there were going to be 99 new ridings as a result of the federal redistribution. As it is, there are 103.

Where they failed the people of Ontario, though, was to ensure that the new riding boundaries have any sense of fairness. Had they gone down to Niagara, they might well have heard support for Pelham being brought into Niagara Centre riding, the old Welland-Thorold as it is. There is nothing in itself illogical about that, other than increasing the population that one has to service, and that's a different issue. But they certainly, as well, would have heard from people in Thorold who live in Port Robinson and in Thorold south who say: "No, we don't want to be part of Niagara Falls riding. It's unreasonable for us to be a part of that association."

In the same section in the Common Sense Revolution, the same part that talks about new riding boundaries so as to create fewer politicians, one of the problems with the fewer politicians is the fact that -- you'll remember it was Pierre Trudeau some time ago who said that once a backbencher is but 15 minutes away from Parliament Hill, he or she is a nobody. I've got a feeling in this government, even when those backbenchers are sitting in their seats in the Legislature, in the chamber, they are but nobodies.

I'm concerned. I'm concerned about what I read from authors like Morley Kells in the Toronto Star about the Soviet nature -- that's my word, not his -- but the Soviet nature of the imperial rule, this top-heavy centralism, and again, I'm not unfamiliar with it. I know that it can become very oppressive at times. I also know that it can be overcome, that the backbenchers can make themselves relevant to the parliamentary process if, for instance, they participate in debates like this debate right now; if, for instance, from time to time when their government is wrong, they tell their government it's wrong; if from time to time they respond to that Diogenic search.

The Common Sense Revolution purported to say that fewer politicians -- that the sole reason was to spend less money on MPPs and presumably their offices and support staff. I don't know what the authors of the Common Sense Revolution understood by way of what MPPs do in their ridings, but I know what we do down in Welland-Thorold. As I mentioned earlier, it was a standard that I acknowledge was set years ago by Ellis Morningstar, who was a long-time Tory member -- a real Tory, mind you, not a Reform-a-Tory -- a long-time Progressive Conservative member who sat with Davis, sat with Robarts and I believe sat with Frost as well. He set a standard for constituency work that was unparalleled at the time.

Mel Swart, who got elected back in 1975 as the member for Welland-Thorold, expanded on that constituency work that Ellis Morningstar did, and as I indicated earlier, with all candour, I've been working as hard as I can to meet the standard that Mel Swart established, that threshold.

I'll tell you what we have. Our budgets are becoming increasingly limited, and I tell you with candour that yes, my constituency office and my office here at Queen's Park use the resources that are available to us so that we can hire staff. We've got three good staff down in Welland: Peggy Dobrin, Marilyn Bellamy and Claudette Therrier. They work hard and they work long days. They process the applications for birth certificates but they also do, very actively, workers' comp work, hearings and appeals; they do Canada pension plan hearings and appeals; they do Unemployment Insurance Act hearings and appeals; they do immigration work. They've struggled for the last three or three and a half months with a family support plan that's been all but shut down. It's a real from-soup-to-nuts sort of advocacy that those people do, and our resources are totally utilized with the communities of Welland and Thorold.

Look, we'll take on the issues of the people of Pelham, no two ways about it, because as it is now, we more often than not get calls in from other parts of Niagara or other parts of the province, for whatever reason. I'm not criticizing other MPPs' riding offices, but we take on their work too. I try to take the staff and say, "No, we've got to stop doing that," and we try to for a couple of days but then the calls come or the letters come and we get drawn into it. We do a heck of a lot of insurance work, people involved in mediation and arbitration. We have a complete gamut of things.


Here in Toronto, again the budget only allows for one staff person. That's Ezia Cervoni, who works long days, nine, 10-hour days minimum, handling all sorts of advocacy work, dealing with legislative matters and dealing with stuff both from the riding and beyond. I make no apologies for utilizing the relatively modest resources that are made available to an MPP by virtue of his or her election.

So the Common Sense Revolution said that "cutting the number of MPPs by 24% will set an example of cost-cutting to be followed by all levels of government.... As well, we will end the sweet deals politicians have created for themselves." The words are very important: "We will end the sweet deals that politicians have created for themselves." "The sweet deals."

"The tax-free benefits paid to politicians will also be abolished. They will be paid a straight salary, just like ordinary Ontarians."

Do you know what this government did when it purported to end the pension plan and eliminate the tax-free portion of salaries? They gave each and every MPP a pay increase. They gave each and every member of this Parliament a pay increase, after they had promised to end the sweet deals that politicians make for themselves. They tried to tell people that they were merely converting the tax-free portion into its equivalent taxable portion.

Let me tell you, the base salary of MPPs now is $78,005 a year, at least that's what my salary is. I acknowledge it, and I'm the lowest-paid member in the assembly. There are a few of us who receive but the base salary, not in the government benches, but here in the opposition benches there are more than a few of us who receive but the base salary.

Figure it out for yourself. How was this a pay increase? Well, simple math. What was the base salary before? It was $42,000 and change. What was the tax-free component? It was $14,000. Let's assume, just for rough figuring, that you convert it at a 50% taxable income rate, so that turns the $14,000 into $28,000. You're still only at $70,000. The taxable equivalent of what we were receiving was only $70,000, and this government passed legislation that pays $78,000 as a base salary to MPPs.

Mr John L. Parker (York East): How about per diems?

Mr Kormos: What was that heckle?

Mr Parker: Per diems.

Mr Kormos: Per diems are gone. Some of us didn't take them even when they were there.


Mr Kormos: You had a choice. Either you agreed with them or you didn't. I made my position clear in committee work that I did after this government was elected that this government talked about attacking the weakest and the poorest in our society and I was going to be goldarned if MPPs should be taking a per diem when this government is cutting away at the poorest, at the sick and at young people and students.

This government gave its members a pay increase, notwithstanding that it promised in its Common Sense Revolution that they would "end the sweet deals that politicians have created for themselves." Well, that pay increase was the sweetest deal that could ever be created, and that's added on to the plethora of perks that accompany, as often as not, being in government benches.

People are understanding more and more clearly that your effort to reduce the number of MPPs has nothing to do with saving money, because why would you up the salary and then announce that you're reducing the number of MPPs?

Mr Bradley: Did the salaries actually go up?

Mr Kormos: The salaries actually went up.

Mr Bradley: I thought I got a pay cut.

Mr Kormos: Member for St Catharines, at the end of the day you enjoyed approximately an $8,000-a-year pay increase as a result of this sweet deal that the Tory government gave themselves and its backbenchers. And they're talking about saving money by reducing the number? What they're talking about is reducing the amount of activity that takes place here at Queen's Park and across the province by representatives of people, representatives of communities like Welland-Thorold, Pelham, St Catharines, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Port Colborne, Fort Erie, Lincoln, what have you.

We're looking at a government that is telling boards of education: "Begone, we don't need boards of education. We've got a Minister of Education here at Queen's Park who can make decisions for local boards." Yeah. We've got a government that's telling city councils: "Merge. Be prepared for megacities. Don't have direct representation." Run the risk, with their proposal for a megacity here in Toronto, of having a regional chair, or whatever the title of that regal role will be, who may well end up being appointed by Queen's Park, not even elected by the people of the community that is being led by that person. We've got a government here that refuses to use parliamentary committees in such a way that input is received and appropriately translated into amendments, where criticism is shunned and ignored and held in disdain.

We've got a government here that scripts its members, some scripts being better than others, and uses, I suppose as whips are wont to do, the ruses and incentives and all the angles it can to whip its members into shape, other than the occasional member who takes a walk, I must say, from time to time, like members took a walk on Bill 75, the slot machine legislation, like members have taken walks on Bill 26. But we haven't got, among these ranks, a member yet who will stand up and not only speak out perhaps in his riding, where it's convenient, but come here to Queen's Park and vote according to what he or she believes in or has expressed in the riding.

There may well be a need for redistribution, for new riding boundaries. I don't dispute that. This government promised that it would engage in dialogue and consultation with the federal government during the course of their setting the new boundaries to ensure the new boundaries are fair. It's already been said many times that even from a federal perspective the new boundaries, more often than not, are just plain nuts, entirely unsuitable, that they fail to take into consideration the need to balance between territorial range and population, that they are more Toronto-oriented.

Once again small-town Ontario and Ontario outside of Toronto get the shaft while Toronto gets the gold, because a model that's very Toronto is being applied to places that are oh, so unlike Toronto, like northern Ontario or Niagara region.

Mr Bradley: Even the Standard said it.

Mr Kormos: The member for St Catharines, Jim Bradley, who taught school for a good number of years in St Catharines and spoke well with respect to this issue, gave me an editorial from the St Catharines Standard, October 2, 1996. You've got to understand that this is a Conrad Black newspaper. Barbara Amiel undoubtedly spends a lot of time with the fax machine screening editorial content before it ever gets to the print room. Babs could be up right now, at this very hour, in London or wherever she's hanging her hat tonight, screening what's going to appear in tomorrow's Standard. The St Catharines Standard says, "Downsized Legislature Could Hurt Representation." The editorial condemns, Conrad Black condemns, the proposition of downsizing for the sake of attacking electoral representation.

The Deputy Speaker: Thank you.

Mr Kormos: By God, Speaker, are you sure I can't go on longer? There's so much more to say.

The Deputy Speaker: Your time has expired. Questions and comments?


Hon Mr Jackson: I was delighted to listen to the contribution made by the member for Welland-Thorold, but part of his revisionist history lesson this evening was to reference the issue around the reduction in the number of politicians that this government is committed to, the exposing and opening the windows and letting the light in to show all these perks and tax-free allowances.

I think the member got so confused in his rhetoric that when he started talking about a pay raise he must have been referring to the fact that he has, as he referred to, an overworked assistant who's sitting here in this building working all by herself, doing much of your work at your constituency level while you're not only here contributing as the MPP but also still actively engaged as a lawyer in Ontario. I think part of the member opposite's confusion must be that he's still a practising lawyer, and he gets confused from time to time about just how much money he really does make or how much he is contributing to the tax coffers of the province.

I was pleased with his reference to Mel Swart. He was a very colourful and highly respected member of this Legislature. I enjoyed working with Mel for quite a few years. I remember a quick story, and the time is not going to let me finish it. I recall him standing up in a committee I was on with him when we were examining drug legislation. The then Liberal minority government had decided they were going to offload and that some of the cash-paying customers for drugs in Ontario would be subsidizing ODB recipients. Mel, once he realized this, rose to his feet and objected strenuously, and within 20 minutes the member from Windsor, his House leader, came and extricated him from the committee hearings, and that was the last we heard from Mel. It was a sad commentary indeed on the heavy hand of the leader of the third party of the day.

The Deputy Speaker: Thank you. Your time has expired.

Mr Bradley: I heard the member speak of the Conrad Black empire, in terms of the ownership of newspapers and how this relates to the coverage in who is for and who is against this legislation.

I was wondering what his view was of the attempted closing of the Pelham Herald, which had been in operation for almost 40 years and provided excellent service to the people of Pelham. The Pelham Herald also was making a profit and doing well, providing a public service in the area. There was an announcement that since Conrad Black had taken over the Southam chain, the Pelham Herald would be terminated. There was a great outcry from people in the community and from some of the local politicians, and I understand that they may well have relented and decided to keep the newspaper open.

I wonder if the member feels perhaps there is some hope that this gigantic empire, with one individual controlling 58 out of 104 daily newspapers in Canada, if that's healthy for all of us, if indeed Mr Black will be looking for pay cuts from the people who work for his newspapers, like about a 25% pay cut -- and whether he feels that the new contributors to the St Catharines Standard, Barbara Amiel and Andrew Coyne, add to the newspaper.

Anyway, this was an excellent editorial to which the member made reference, October 2, 1996, and the Standard said:

"...the downside lies in the increased clout that MPPs from the area surrounding Metro Toronto will exercise in the Legislature and the reduced muscle of rural and northern districts. And let us not forget that Niagara's voice -- like many `outer areas' such as Windsor -- will be weakened when its representation is reduced from six MPPs to five."

Mr Len Wood: I'm pleased to be up for a couple of moments to comment on the member for Welland-Thorold. He made an excellent presentation on how Bill 81, the Fewer Politicians Act, is going to hurt the province.

I was listening to him intently when he talked about when you have flawed federal boundaries and the province comes around under the leadership of the Premier and says, "Well, maybe the federal boundaries are flawed, but we're going to continue to ram this legislation through the Legislature."

Here we are at five minutes to 10 at night and we still haven't heard any message back from the House leader or from the whip or from the Conservative cabinet saying they're going to make the changes that are necessary to make this legislation work. There are going to have to be rule changes here for how many people are needed for a quorum. A lot of changes are going to have to take place.

When we travelled up through the north -- I know the member for Welland-Thorold wasn't there, but I was on the committee -- and there was no support whatsoever for this legislation. Ninety per cent of the presenters from municipalities, chambers of commerce, different individual groups that made presentations, were opposed to it, with the exception that in Dryden we had a defeated Conservative candidate who came forward and said that if she had been elected instead of our leader, Howard Hampton, she would be supporting this legislation. Of course, she got beaten in the last election. I was surprised she even came forward to make a presentation, but she did.

That was about the only support there was. All the newspapers carried headlines that it's a shame that the Conservative government is going to ram this through the legislation the way they are without having a committee set up.

Mr Martin: Mr Speaker, I want to share with you and others my great enthusiasm for the comments of the member for Welland-Thorold. He always speaks so eloquently about the needs of those who are most marginalized and most in need in our communities, has a great empathy for that group of people. As a matter of fact, we've made him the critic for poverty in our caucus, and it's precisely because of his understanding of that that we have done that. Tonight he presents to us just exactly what's going to happen to the poor and the marginalized and the vulnerable in our province by way of this legislation and other legislation and initiatives that this government is passing off as good medicine for all of us.

It's important to understand that all the things this government has done in the last year and a half have targeted primarily and almost solely in our communities those who are most in need, those who are most sick, those who are older, those who are most marginalized and vulnerable. This legislation, because it's gerrymandering in the most devious of ways, is going to enshrine in stone that which they've done. After they've put this legislation in place, with the realignment of boundaries that will happen and the increase in the number of members in the 905 belt, which at this point in our history primarily wants to vote for this group of Tory members, that will in itself ensure that what we have now will be around for a long, long time. We've got to fight really hard to stop it.

The Deputy Speaker: The member for Welland-Thorold, two minutes.

Mr Kormos: I really don't want to use my time addressing this, but I feel compelled to, because I've known the member for Burlington South for too long. I find it unfortunate that he would use a two-minute response to somehow suggest that I was doing something other than being an MPP. For him to suggest that I am engaged in the practice of law is an absolute falsehood. It simply isn't true. I have no association with any law firm, I have chosen not to --

The Deputy Speaker: Member for Welland-Thorold, you know the word "falsehood" --

Mr Kormos: I withdraw.

I will tell the member and everybody else what I do from time to time. Yes, I'm a lawyer, and I do pro bono work not only for constituents in Welland-Thorold but for people across the province who have asked me to assist them in courtroom litigation. I do it sparingly because it's time-consuming and also because it requires that I pay into the errors and omissions insurance out of pocket when I do it. Since I'm not charging for the work, I have to be very careful about when I do it and how I do it.

Hon Mr Jackson: It surfaces on your income tax form, a few little deductions in there.

Mr Kormos: It doesn't constitute any sort of income tax deduction. The fact is, yes, I do pro bono work from time to time. I've been pleased to accept referrals from people in the government caucus who have asked me to assist their constituents, from the Liberal caucus who have asked me to assist their constituents, and from my own caucusmates who have asked me to assist their constituents and use whatever skills I might have as a lawyer to assist people who aren't eligible for legal aid and who can't afford to hire private counsel.

I think this was an interesting new low for the member for Burlington South. It's unfortunate that he would stoop to that depth with such a cheap shot.


The Deputy Speaker: I would really appreciate it if the debates would not become personal. It's an irritant for everyone. It's embarrassing. It doesn't create a good atmosphere.

Further debate?

Mr Michael Brown: It's important that I speak to this bill this evening. I see this bill as an attack on public servants. I believe that elected public servants are honourable, decent and hardworking people. This bill is just an attack on public servants, elected public servants, and in that manner I find the very title to be offensive.

Members should recognize, need to recognize, that this redistribution is unlike anything Ontario or any other province has ever seen. This redistribution is merely the adoption of federal boundaries. As members would know, after every census the federal government, as Ontario used to, appoints an electoral commission to review the boundaries and set the new ones. The federal government does this in the context of Canada, not in the context of Ontario.

In Canada, there are some anomalies. Provinces like Prince Edward Island are guaranteed, by the British North America Act, four seats in the House of Commons. Under normal rules, they would probably get one member of the House of Commons. Instead they have four. In the Northwest Territories and in the Yukon we have similar situations of guarantees of seats. The population in no way even comes barely close to warranting that number of MPs.

So we have a federal electoral commission that sets the boundaries across Canada on the basis of some preconceived, constitutionally entrenched anomalies. The province of Quebec, for example, is guaranteed 75 seats. Everything else that is done across the country by the federal government and its electoral boundaries commission takes into account the anomalies in the system, by constitutional guarantee. It is not representation by population. That is nonsense. It has never been the Canadian tradition. It is not in the American tradition. It is not, as far as I know, in any tradition in any democracy in the world.

However, the government often tries to sell this as representation by population. That's an interesting argument, but the Conservatives themselves did not believe that, at least not the old Conservatives, the Progressive Conservatives. Leslie Frost started this with electoral commissions. Leslie Frost set up a non-partisan electoral commission to set the boundaries, as did John Robarts, as did Bill Davis. That was the tradition in this province. It was followed by and even enacted by a Liberal government that finally, on the basis of I guess the 1981 census, put new boundaries in place for 1987.

They would also have us believe over there that the federal process was without controversy and that the electoral boundaries commission set up by the federal government just made a nice report and everything was nice and hunky-dory, swell, that everybody felt warm and fuzzy about it. But that was not the case. If members will remember, the Senate of Canada blocked the redistribution bill. There was quite a period, I think of almost a year, where this bill was hung in limbo between the House of Commons and the Senate. So to say that this is something that happened and it was fair and square and everybody agreed -- nonsense. It was also done, as I said, within the context of Canada.

What do we get? We get a political party that promises in their election document, in the revolution document, that they will have discussions about boundaries with the federal government. I ask you, did those discussions take place? The answer clearly is no, there were no discussions, zero, not a one. They didn't talk to each other. They just adopted the easy sloganeering of the revolution. So what did that mean?

Hon Mr Jackson: Oh, no, there's a difference. They thought you were going to win the election. They had no idea that Mike Harris was going to win the election.

The Acting Speaker (Mrs Margaret Marland): The member for Burlington South is out of order. No interjections, please.

Mr Michael Brown: Thank you, Madam Speaker. The election commission set the boundaries and this Conservative Party did not have any discussions whatsoever. The member for Scarborough East admitted as much. He said there were no discussions with the federal government. So that never happened; there was never an accommodation between the province of Ontario and the federal government as to what those boundaries might be -- never, didn't happen.

We're presented with a bill. We're presented with a flatbed truck outside with 27 seats. That's politically popular; it was good theatre. Man, who couldn't be in favour of getting rid of 27 seats? But those seats are not the seats of Mike Brown or the member for Windsor-Sandwich or the member for Timiskaming or the member for London Centre or any of the other members. Those are the seats of the people we represent. We are, at best, temporary occupants of those seats.

I'm telling you that the entire concept of what the government is doing is based on just sloganeering. I understand that it's popular. I understand that I'm probably saying things that the public by and large doesn't want to hear. They probably believe that the cause of all the woes in the world is that we've got too many politicians, because politicians rate somewhere after --

Mr Bruce Crozier (Essex South): Used car salesmen.

Mr Michael Brown: Or lawyers -- in terms of the public perception. We're right at the bottom of the list. If you call yourself a politician, in the public's view you're not a great guy, or woman, for that matter. So this is about politics; it's not about reality.

But let's look at the reality of what you're doing. It should be interesting to see who's not doing well in this redistribution. First of all, we're going from 130 seats to 103. We're downsizing the Legislature by 20.7%. The north will lose five seats, from 15 to 10, a drop of 33% of its relative strength in the Legislature. A third of the seats are gone and of those five seats that are gone, they're all the rural north, five rural northern seats, seats that represent people on 90% of the land mass of this province.

Mr Crozier: And that shouldn't happen.

Mr Michael Brown: It's incredible that this would happen. Back in 1983, as we started through the throes of redistribution in this province on the basis of the 1981 census, there was an agreement. One of the stipulations that the electoral commission had to deal with was the fact that the Progressive Conservative government of William Davis demanded that there be a guarantee of 15 seats in this place for those who represent the northern region of this province -- a guarantee of 15 seats. Before you even start, that was there. There were going to be 15 seats for northern Ontario regardless of the population.

Do you know why that is? That is because northern Ontario, if it were a province on its own, would be the fifth-largest province in terms of population. It would be about the fifth-largest province in terms of gross domestic product. It is in every way an important contributor to the Canadian economy and certainly a huge contributor to the Ontario economy. Its distances, its geography, define the north and it needs adequate representation to speak for those people who have interests in the resources of Ontario and have interests in living in the small communities of the rural north. There are many of us, and we are proud to live there, exceptionally proud to live there. We have a per capita gross domestic product that makes much of the province blush. We are not whining. What we're saying is that we have every legitimate reason to feel betrayed by a government that doesn't understand northern Ontario.


As a matter of fact, that was the view of Mike Harris back in 1985. Mike Harris said: "What would happen with the new changes?" -- he was discussing the proposed changes at that time to the redistribution, and this is with a guarantee for the north -- "It would split up some of the areas of Springer, Field and Caldwell townships and separate them from the town of Sturgeon Falls and from the town of Cache Bay and from band 10 of the Nipissing Ojibways. I ask the commission to consider the concerns of these communities. Although the numbers" -- this is important -- "may warrant this change and the proposed ridings may parallel the federal ridings, I ask whether those facts are not offset by the commonality of the communities."

Quite a difference from December 19, 1985, to now. The slogan is unbelievable; it is terrific -- fewer politicians. But the reality is the Mike Harris of 1985 I think understood what northern Ontario is really about.

During the election campaign -- I think this is interesting. I have read the Common Sense Revolution. I know the Speaker would be very interested to know I had a look at it. One of the things I noticed was that you were going to take five northern seats away from us and I actually put in my literature that that's what was going to happen if you elected a Conservative government. I even bought a few television ads to say that would happen if you elected a Conservative government. I'm sure some of the other members campaigning for one of the other two parties also put that in their election literature. I'm sure none of the Conservative members put it in their own personal literature up there, but the opposition members picked it up. Do you know what? We returned all opposition members from northern Ontario with the exception of the Premier in Nipissing. That's it.

Northerners understood what this meant to their representation. They understood what this government was all about. They understood that this government has offloaded millions upon millions of dollars to industries like the forest industry, to the communities that are around the forest industry, that are supported by the forest industry, to mining, to mining towns. Many of those expenses have just gone to them and at the same time -- I see the Minister of Natural Resources here -- increased the stumpage rates, increased the flow of revenue from our resources south. So they're putting in a huge amount of fewer dollars into northern Ontario and sucking millions upon millions of dollars from northerners.

Mr Martin: You can actually hear it.

Mr Crozier: You can hear the sucking sound.

Mr Martin: You can hear the sucking sound. You can.

Mr Crozier: It's coming from over there.

Mr Michael Brown: Thank you.

Our economy is strong and northerners are strong. We don't mind paying the bills for the city of Toronto and we don't mind paying our fair share in this province of Ontario. We're quite willing to do that. But we would at least appreciate a consideration that recognizes the contribution the north makes to this province. There is no understanding of that contribution. The contribution is just to take the money from municipalities, to take it from the resource industries, to take it from our hospitals, to close two hospitals in Sudbury, to downsize in Espanola, to downsize in Elliot Lake, to downsize hospitals on Manitoulin.

To tell you about the efficiency of this government for a second, because this happened and this is why local MPPs are important, I would suggest. Thursday afternoon we received a phone call from the administrator of Manitoulin Health Centre. He said: "Mike, we have sent in a request" --

Mr Crozier: Mike Brown.

Mr Michael Brown: Yes, Mike Brown -- "to the Minister of Health back about the first of July. We have asked the Minister of Health to approve that we spend in the neighbourhood of $90,000 to do relatively minor renovations to our hospital at Mindemoya to accommodate physicians that we have at that hospital." Now, this $90,000 didn't come from the government. They weren't asking for any money. They weren't --

Mr Martin: Speaker, I don't think we have a quorum in here. Mike, your comments are so good that I think we should have a quorum.

The Acting Speaker: Clerk, is there a quorum present, please?

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

The Acting Speaker ordered the bells rung.

Senior Clerk Assistant and Clerk of Journals: A quorum is now present, Speaker.

The Acting Speaker: The member for Algoma-Manitoulin has the floor.

Mr Michael Brown: As I was saying before the government members were here, and I should repeat it because many of them have now come in, on Thursday afternoon, we had a call from the administrator of the Manitoulin Health Centre. He wanted to know what had happened to his application that he had sent to the Ministry of Health on or about July 1. His time was running out. In four days, it expired.

The renovation he was requiring was a $90,000 renovation to accommodate physicians at the Mindemoya Hospital. The administrator is not one who likes to take the political route. Fortunately, we were able to contact the minister's office and on Monday the approval was there. They received an approval on Monday to convert part of the hospital to physicians' offices and dispense their own $90,000.

They hadn't asked the government for any money. They had asked the government for permission to spend the hospital's money, the money that the hospital raises through many different fund-raising events etc and through their own good management.

The new constituency that I will inherit or be challenged to run in combines the constituency of the present Algoma-Manitoulin, which as members I'm sure would know comprises the proud community of Killarney on the eastern side of Georgian Bay, the entirety of the district of Manitoulin, the great island -- it's 110 miles long and 50 miles wide -- a great deal of the district of Sudbury, and over to Algoma Mills and Algoma and includes the great success story of Elliot Lake. That's the present constituency. The constituency is fairly large.

The new constituency will take the entire district of Algoma. It will also include part of the district of Thunder Bay. The neighbour of the member for Algoma-Manitoulin will be a member from Thunder Bay. It also includes fine places like Chapleau that are presently in the Nickel Belt riding.

The differences involved, so that members understand, is the equivalent to driving from Windsor to Quebec City to get from one side of the riding to the other. That will be a challenge, a challenge I would welcome and a challenge that I would believe is not good for the constituents of the area. All the members in the Legislature that I know work very hard, regardless of their partisan politics: New Democrats, Conservatives, Liberals. We spend 70, 80, 90 hours a week doing what we do. It's not possible to spend any more hours doing it. What that means to the constituents is they see you that much less.


In the northern communities, in the communities that will be in the new Algoma-Manitoulin, the vast majority are communities with populations of less than 2,000 people. They're very small. They appreciate and need the intervention of the MPP.

You say, what's the difference? In southern Ontario there are county governments. No such animal in northern Ontario. We're talking about districts. There is no tier. Much of what I represent is crown land. Much of what I represent is what they call -- this will be news to government members -- unorganized townships. That doesn't mean there's no people in them. Au contraire. There are people in those unorganized townships, or at least in many of them. The reason they're unorganized is they have so few people in them, in most cases, that it just could not possibly support a municipal government.

Who do they deal with when they have a problem that anywhere else would be a municipal problem, a county problem? They call their member of the Legislature because he is the only elected official they have who deals at the municipal or provincial level. You're it. You look after the concerns that in Toronto would be handled by a city councillor or maybe a Metro councillor or by any of that kind of bureaucracy, or if you're in a county of Ontario by your township reeve or one of his councillors or by the warden or county council. There are no such people. There is no such government. It is different.

We often talk about the imperial authority of the Ministry of Natural Resources because in much of the north they are the government. It's the Ministry of Natural Resources that makes the land use decisions. It's the Ministry of Natural Resources that decides where a road will go. It's the Ministry of Natural Resources that decides where you're permitted to have a camp, or a cottage as they call them in southern Ontario. It's that reality I'm talking about.

I look across and people are amazed. They don't know these things. That's what the difference is between being a rural northern MPP and being a southern MPP. There are real differences in what we do, in what we need to do, and it's compounded by the problem that we seem to spend half our lives in cars getting from one place to the other.

In the new constituency, as presented, I will be dealing with bureaucracies from social services, none of which will be in the riding I represent. They will be in Sudbury for one part of the riding, another part of the riding will be in Sault Ste Marie, and another part of the constituency will come under Thunder Bay, if you can believe it. Can you imagine any of the members sitting here having to deal with just the basic normal problems that come before the Legislature, in recognizing that you have three distinct provincial bureaucracies operating and you have to know the people in them, you have to know who to contact, you have to be able to do the work on behalf of those people. I tell you, it's different.

For me or for whoever represents this constituency, a constituency larger than Nova Scotia, in this constituency the representative will have more difficulty in achieving the kind of constituency work that needs to be done.

What kind of voice will they expect in the Legislature? I'm sure there's a commonality of interests between Manitouwadge, halfway across Lake Superior, and a community like Killarney, almost on the other side of the world, on one side of Georgian Bay, I'm sure there are some things in common, but I would suggest to you there are many things that are totally different.

I would ask any member down here -- I think this constituency would be larger than southwestern Ontario, and most of it is populated. It is not a remote area in terms of, perhaps, the absolutely unmanageable constituency of Kenora, in terms of space. This one has people in small communities all through it.

I'm suggesting to you that there are some real difficulties in making sure you can look after the people of South Baymouth and Meldrum Bay and Manitouwadge all at the same time. It will be difficult. I see the Speaker is absolutely bewildered by the size of this constituency. The Speaker, at one time, spent some time with me in Manitouwadge. I recall that.

Mr Crozier: Tell us about it.

Mr Michael Brown: I think she was amazed. It was my first visit to Manitouwadge, back in 1988, when we were touring Geco mine. It's a fine community, but it is a long way from Sudbury.

I also want to discuss a little bit about what's happening to rural representation in general. We know the north loses 50% of its rural seats. Rural seats go down -- let me just find it here -- or maybe I won't talk about that. I will. Rural seats across the province drop considerably. The east drops from 22 seats to 17, the west from 25 to 20, the Niagara-Golden Horseshoe area from 12 to nine, the central part of the province from eight to six. The GTA, called the 905 part of the GTA, increases -- it's the only increase there is -- 5.5%. Compare these against the norm of 20; you can tell why northern people are upset. They are truly upset.

Just to bring you some thought: At the Sault Ste Marie hearings, we had a presentation from Ron Bonnett, the district director of the Ontario Federation of Agriculture. He says:

"Northern Ontario often feels that southern Ontario has no concept of the time and distance involved in travel in our area. Some southern politicians believe they can fly into a northern community and understand the issues of the north. This is not true. Our communities are scattered, our roads are substandard, our weather is unforgiving, and our map is on a different scale than the rest of Ontario. I think the only way to put things in perspective is to take you on a drive across the new riding. Starting in our home community of Bruce Mines we decide to travel to the new eastern boundary of the riding. Assuming we have good weather and no traffic we can be in Killarney in about three and a half hours. Here we stop and visit the residents for an hour but we must leave because we have a lot of riding left to visit. We travel back to Espanola, head down to Little Current on Manitoulin Island, slide over to Gore Bay, on to West Bay, trek across to Providence Bay, drive on to South Baymouth and slide up to the Wiki reserve. We stop in each community for an hour, eat our meals in the car, and only stop for emergencies and gas. We have now been on the road for 15 hours. If we were to continue on we would visit Massey, Blind River, Thessalon, Richards Landing, Hilton Beach, Echo Bay, Wawa, White River, Hornepayne, Manitouwadge, Chapleau. In total our driving and stopping time will be nearly 80 hours. We have not stopped to eat, we have not slept, we have not had any trouble on the road. We have covered a land mass larger than some countries and we have visited only a portion of the communities."

From Mr Bonnett's presentation you can take the attack that northern people and rural people all across the province feel about this wrongheaded redistribution that, as I demonstrated at the beginning of the speech, came from a process that was never intended for Ontario.

I should conclude my brief remarks this evening by talking about what I think should happen, because I believe this. I believe we should have a redistribution. I believe that's necessary. I believe it should happen. I should think it would happen along the lines that Leslie Frost and John Robarts and Bill Davis suggested, with an electoral commission. I believe there should be a guarantee for northern seats, and I was shocked and dismayed as the arrogant Tory majority on committee defeated that very basic right of northerners to 15 seats.

I think we should have a redistribution. We may in fact be able to do with fewer politicians, with fewer public servants, but I would suggest to you strongly that the government forget about this, get a made-in-Ontario solution based on made-in-Ontario parameters.


Mr Len Wood: It's a pleasure for me to make a few comments on the member for Algoma-Manitoulin. He is a northern member representing a large riding, and he's explained to the government members what this bill is all about, as we all have been doing over the last couple of nights. It's now 10:30 at night, and we still haven't got any message from the government that it's going to withdraw this bill and correct it and come in with a new piece of legislation or set up the proper boundary commission that will go out and do the boundaries right in the province of Ontario, the way they should be, rather than just mirroring the federal boundaries, which are flawed.

We know that when the new federal boundaries come into effect on January 7 they are flawed. The Liberal government in Ottawa took one member out of the north so that it could create four new ridings in southern Ontario. There was no plan or strategy in doing these boundaries. It started under the Conservative government in Ottawa and then it got tied up in the Senate and, as a result, they just imposed the new boundaries.

When we were having hearings up through the north, we heard all kinds of people who made presentations to the election boundaries commission for the new federal ridings, but they didn't listen; they went ahead and brought it back to Ottawa and imposed the boundaries. Now we end up with flawed federal boundaries and in Ontario we're going to end up with flawed provincial boundaries. It's unfair to the constituents in the province of Ontario, especially when you see that northern Ontario is going to lose 50% of rural members and 33% of overall members. They're going to go from 15 members down to 10. The constituents who want to talk to their MPP are very upset at this legislation.

Mr David Tilson (Dufferin-Peel): I must say I always enjoy hearing the member for Algoma-Manitoulin. He has wonderful stories about the north which he always seems to put into his speeches. But I must say he made his presentation tonight as if this is something new. This isn't something new. This was discussed and debated in the last provincial election. I can tell you, we won, you lost. I remember debating it. We debated it during the election campaign. It was an issue that was debated. I debated it with my NDP and Liberal friends, and I must say that my impression was that the people in my riding supported it.

I can tell you the reason we're doing this, of course, why the Conservative government is doing it. Yes, one of the reasons is because we're being forced to do things like this. We are making a smaller cabinet. We're doing all kinds of things. We've got rid of MPPs' pensions. We've got rid of the tax-free allowances. We're reducing internal government administration. There are all kinds of things. Most of the things we're doing you don't like, but we have no choice but to do it with the debt that we have in this province.

One of the things is getting rid of provincial politicians. We've got too many of them under the circumstances. You started in the last minute of your comments to indicate what you would do. My interpretation as to what you would do is that you would increase the number of politicians. If the member followed the old formula that was used in bygone days, we would have about 153 members. We can't afford 153 members. We can't afford the things that you've suggested over the years, and that's why we are being forced to do these things.

The member has commented and, as I say, I always enjoy his arguments about the north. You are being well looked after in the north.


Mr Tilson: The issue with respect to population, you are getting more members proportionately than the rest of the province. However, the member's speech was interesting none the less.

The Acting Speaker: I ask the member for Timiskaming to withdraw his comment that he made a moment ago.

Mr David Ramsay (Timiskaming): I withdraw, Madam Speaker.

The Acting Speaker: Thank you. You're doing a question and comment now?

Mr Ramsay: Yes, I am. To the member for Dufferin-Peel, I wish he had listened to what the member for Algoma-Manitoulin said, because he said he was not against redistribution of seats and he wasn't against the reduction of MPPs. I share that view. What we're against is that you have accepted holus-bolus a federal template and applied it on Ontario for its representation at its capital here at Queen's Park. That's what we object to, because the needs and concerns for Ontario in regard to Ontario politics and policies are different from what the national scene requires for national representation at our capital in Ottawa. That's what we're talking about.

What I would do is that we would form an Ontario commission to study it. You could give the guideline, even if you said the same number of seats, but I would like to have a discussion in Ontario based on Ontario representation.

You say this was discussed before the election, but I remind you that the people of northern Ontario rejected this policy because they didn't elect one of you at all north of the French River. This was one particular reason why: They knew that if the Harris government got elected, they would lose representation here at Queen's Park, and that's exactly what you're doing. We are having our representation reduced by 33% and northerners resent that. The rest of the province is being cut by 20%. Again, we're seeing a diminution of northern representation here in the capital of this province.

Northerners built this province. They generated the wealth of this province that you enjoy in affluent southern Ontario. I have lived in both parts of this province and understand the gut feeling of northerners that we have brought that wealth here. Now, over the last 30 or 40 years, we've had a lot rougher time in northern Ontario. We'd look to our province for that representation, and what you're doing is cutting: cutting all the services in northern Ontario and, finally, you're cutting the representation that we sorely need to continue to build our case from all sides of this House.

Mr Bisson: The member for Algoma-Manitoulin made the point, and I think it's clear, that the government members in these speeches time and time again have tried to say how they're doing things for northern Ontario, how they're working on behalf of northerners and how they're making sure that things are going to be better in the north. But it is the Conservative government of Mike Harris that is actually putting an axe to northern Ontario. How do we know? Because we come from there and we live there.

Here are some of the things they've done: norOntair, gone. No longer is norOntair in place. They've sold it off, they've privatized it, but the interesting part is that they put in Bearskin air services, a private airline, and they're paying $5 million in subsidies to the private sector for something that used to be done by the public sector. That's the fact; that's what you have done.

You have cut road maintenance throughout all of northern Ontario. Now highways through northern Ontario are in treacherous condition in the winters. People in northern Ontario have noticed this, have commented to all of the northern members, New Democrats and Liberals alike, about the conditions of our highways because of the cuts in road maintenance.

You have cut funding to hospitals in communities like Matheson, Iroquois Falls, Timmins, Sault Ste Marie, Smooth Rock Falls and Hearst. The list goes on.

The fire stations are being shut down. The only place where we haven't shut down fire stations is in the riding of the Minister of Northern Development and Mines, who doesn't even reside in northern Ontario. The forests are up north; they're not down where he is, yet they have shut down the fire stations in northern Ontario.

We look at communities like Cochrane. Cochrane has been devastated by this government. This government has closed down more ministry offices, has laid off more ministry staff in the town of Cochrane. It would be equivalent to people in Toronto coming and shutting down all of the major employers in the city.

So when members stand in this House and say they are doing things in northern Ontario, you are doing things, all right. You are wrecking the northern part of this province, and people will not forget it.

The Acting Speaker: The member for Algoma-Manitoulin has two minutes to respond.

Mr Michael Brown: I appreciate the comments from all members from all sides on my particular intervention.

I find it really quite offensive for a southern Ontario member to lecture us about what was said in an election document that was totally rejected by the people of northern Ontario; an election document that, by the way, they have never fulfilled the promise of in terms of representation. The discussions never took place between them and the federal government that they promised in the Common Sense Revolution. They said, "Oh, well, some low-level civil servants talked with the federal government," but the discussions never took place. They said: "We're happy with that. We're happy that you've redistributed the boundaries on the basis of a Canadian context. Why would we care?"


I said to the parliamentary assistant -- Mr Gilchrist, the man carrying the bill -- "Look, if what this is really about is saving money, then what you will do is subcontract all elections in Ontario to the federal government." You will. You will harmonize every rule we have in Ontario with regard to elections with the federal government and you will hold the election on the same day as the federal government so that all you need to do is to print a little longer ballot. That would save you money, but would that be democracy? No. It's the same principle.

This is nonsense, this is absurd. You should be ashamed. This is about democracy. It's about making sure the people's voices are heard in the entire province.

The Acting Speaker: I remind the member for Algoma-Manitoulin and all members that when you refer to other honourable members, you do so by their riding and not by "that man" or "that person" or their personal name.

It's my understanding that the third party is forfeiting the rotation and you're now going to the member for Windsor-Sandwich. You have the floor for further debate.

Mrs Sandra Pupatello (Windsor-Sandwich): I do want to take some time. I was able to speak to this bill on second reading. After that second reading of the bill, the Fewer Politicians Act, I also had the opportunity to travel with committee and hear submissions from real people out there.

I spent a day in London, in fact, with some of our colleagues in the House and got to hear what the people on the street think about the Fewer Politicians Act. We were certainly in for a surprise there. Today I want to review with the House my comments in general that surround the comparison of the bill, the Fewer Politicians Act, supposedly aimed at saving money for the Conservative government, with the increase in the Premier's office, which is obvious and which has yet to be denied by any member of the Conservative side, and the transfer of power that is the result of the increase in the Premier's office.

I'd like to speak to what this bill does to agriculture, to areas of the north. I'd like also to mention the negative effects of Bill 81 on the francophone community in Ontario, the comparison of our ridings -- what they are today, what they will be -- to the federal ridings and what effect that has. I'd also like to give a couple of examples that were of particular interest, and those were submissions made to the committee while we were travelling; pay some small time on the actual name of the bill, which is offensive in and of itself. We have a couple of comments as well from members of the news media, who don't even come from parts that might be affected by the bill but I think the House would find them of some interest.

I'd like to speak specifically first to the office of the Premier, because much has been said that this bill is about saving money and that you might save some $11 million by reducing the number from 130 to 103 in Ontario. The reality is that in the office of the Premier -- and this form, actually this list, comes from the Premier's office. This list, these facts, these numbers had to be submitted to the estimates committee. The Premier's office had to make its submission on the estimates of its costs, what they were and what they are going to be, and here is the reality for the Conservative members in this House to note.

In the year 1995-96, the estimate of the Premier's office was $1.887 million. Now that compares to the estimate for 1996-97, and that figure is $2.716 million. I defy any Conservative member in this House to stand up and reference this figure. The reality is that while we are busy cutting elected voices in the House, here at Queen's Park the Premier's office has the gall to increase expenses of the Premier's office by 44%. That, my friends, is very political.

The outcome may not be so obvious. What really happens when the Premier's office increases expenses by 44%, a number, my friends, given to us by the Premier's office -- this is a figure that you can't hide. Much as the Premier will find ways to shove expenses to this ministry, shove expenses to that ministry, the Premier's office is increasing expenses by 44%. What does it mean while they cut 130 to 103? Not so much in many parts of Ontario, but a significant amount in other parts of Ontario, because the wielding of power becomes centralized where? Where they have 44% more in their budget, a 44% increase in the Office of the Premier to draw more power to the Premier's office so that the staff of the Premier's office wields all that much more power. Against whose voice? Against the voice of rural Ontario, against the voice of the agricultural community. That is what is happening.

We've seen quite a bit of that already. The northern members have spoken very effectively today that their numbers are being reduced. When Mike Harris said so during their campaign, the northerners rejected that and the northerners rejected the Conservative candidates. Why? The northerners understand how critical it is for them to have a voice here at Queen's Park, and so do the rural areas.

Let's look at what the people from rural areas had to say. Those rural areas most of the time represent the agricultural community. So when we were doing our tour, we talked to people involved with the agricultural community. Specifically, Middlesex county sent representatives from their federation of agriculture. Jeff Verkley, the president, spoke to us. He said that simply maintaining a rural voice was critical. This is the president of the Middlesex Federation of Agriculture telling us, "The proposed change to the electoral map in Ontario may diminish the capacity of rural MPPs to move rural and agricultural issues to the forefront in the minds of government officials." Our Minister of Agriculture must be cognizant of this. He must know the worry in the minds of all of the various branches of the Ontario Federation of Agriculture that they are losing a voice.

The Minister of Agriculture has caused much of this himself. Since he took office after June 8, 1995, the Minister of Agriculture, the big proponent of agriculture for the Conservative Party, cut agriculture programs by $83 million. He has the nerve to stand in the House day after day and tell us that that is not the case. My friends, the members who work and live with the programs of agriculture through the Ministry of Agriculture know full well that they have been cut by $83 million. They are doing the thing they said they would never do. It is therefore incumbent on the provincial government to stop making cuts to OMAFRA's budget, something which the government promised to do in its policy document the Common Sense Revolution.

Minister of Agriculture, you have been found out. The members of the agricultural community are speaking loudly. They are prepared publicly to say indeed you have made cuts there and indeed we do need voices for agriculture.

Il y a une autre chose avec la communauté francophone. Il y a un grand effet de la Loi 81 pour la communauté francophone, parce que nous devons poser la question, «Où vit la communauté francophone ?» Il n'y a pas un effet direct, mais vraiment il y a un grand effet indirectement avec la Loi 81, parce que la plus grande partie ou la majorité de la communauté francophone vit dans les zones rurales. Alors, si la Loi 81 va passer, il y aura moins de voix pour les zones rurales. Alors, c'est la même chose pour la communauté francophone.

C'est une grande distinction pour le ministre des Affaires francophones, l'homme qui est aussi le ministre pour les causes agricoles. Ce sont les mêmes personnes qui n'auront pas la voix, la communauté francophone.

I would urge all of the francophones in Ontario, if you have yet to speak with your minister of Affaires francophones, to ensure that he knows that this is the same minister that is diminishing the voice of francophones across Ontario.


Je dois dire la vérité pour tous les francophones, non seulement les francophones dans ma circonscription, dans la ville de La Salle, mais aussi pour tous les francophones partout dans la province de l'Ontario.

There are many other areas that we have to make specific mention of. Why is it so critical for Ontario to have representation in the north? When all of these changes have been happening so far, they have had grand repercussions in the north. There have been meetings among the northern reeves and mayors like never before. They have gotten together, they've banded together to say: "We've got to stop the Tory bulldozer. It's cutting across the north."

They've reacted swiftly, their press release from the city of Sudbury says, to the lack of northern representation on the province's newly formed Who Does What panel. By the government's and the Premier's own admission, this panel is going to bring such fascinating change to the influx and outflux of funds in the province, and yet that panel doesn't have one member from the north.

Were they concerned? Absolutely. Did they want representation? Absolutely. And if we wonder why, we know that there are things that are different in the north, and yet when the committee travelled to the northern municipalities, some of the Conservative members spent some of their time doing interviews with local media there.

Let me tell you what a laughingstock some of those Conservative members made of themselves. They in essence said on radio broadcasts in the north that really the only difference between living in the south of Ontario and living in the north is that it's colder. You don't need to come from the north to understand that there are more significant differences than that, that living in the north simply means something different, that municipalities, townships in the north have a very different role to play in keeping their communities alive. There are differences in costs that the northern communities cannot collect from their local tax base. That was always the impetus for previous governments to institute things like northern transfers that were special to northern communities.

Winter control costs are 23% higher. Storm sewer costs are 46% higher. Parks and rec service delivery is 15% higher. Health service costs -- and this is critical to anyone in Ontario. In the north, health service delivery is 57% higher. Given that that is the case --

Mr Gilchrist: What nonsense.

Mrs Pupatello: This is documented in the newspapers of the north.

Mr Gilchrist: That must make it true.

Mrs Pupatello: For the member for Scarborough East to say that that is ridiculous, I would challenge this member to go back to Sudbury and speak with the leaders in the health community so that you can find out why in fact health costs are higher in the north. The reality is they simply are. Perhaps if you had members from the north in your caucus, you might know the difference, which in fact makes our argument. It's quite simply that.

Since the members across the way are so quick to speak about the comments that I make currently during my discussion of Bill 81, I would like that member, in particular that member, to stand up and rationalize to this House and to Ontario how the Premier's office could spend 44% more money this year over last year while you are busy cutting the representative voice in this House.

This member in particular has a penchant for saying things that are totally inappropriate anyway, but let me tell you, there is not a Conservative member here who sits on that side of the House who will rationalize to any member or any constituent, where I come from or anywhere else, a 44% increase in the Premier's office while the rest of us are being cut, while the elected voice of the people is being cut here in this House. That, Mr Member from Scarborough, is totally inappropriate. I'd suggest he spend more time outside of Liberal conventions than in them while I'm at it. Not only do you not have to come from the north or from rural areas to know that there's a difference when you pass a bill like Bill 81, but let me tell you what the people of St Catharines and the Niagara region have to say about Bill 81. They will see not nearly the same effect as they find in the north, and yet the people who are the most thoughtful about the true meaning of government elections and the true meaning of democratic representation here at Queen's Park in Toronto say:

"However, the downside lies in the increased clout that MPPs from the areas surrounding Metro Toronto...will exercise in the Legislature and the reduced muscle of rural and northern districts. And let us not forget that Niagara's voice" -- in this case it's a paper from Niagara, the St Catharines Standard -- "like many `outer areas' such as Windsor, will be weakened when its representation is reduced from six MPPs to five."

What does that mean for Essex county, where we're going from five down to four? It means that in my riding in particular, the lion's share will become Herb Gray's federal riding; that La Salle will be carved off to the other part of a rural Essex county. But at the end, all of our ridings become larger.

When you make the comparison between the federal House and the provincial House which this government has tried to pass off, the reality is that when you divide the number of constituents per riding, the divisible number when you're looking at a federal map, the bottom number is bigger, and when you're talking about Ontario, the bottom number is smaller. So the reality is that every MP with their new riding will represent, on average, 98,000 people, a reduction of 2,000. The feds are going down, not up. But in this House we're going up. In an Ontario Legislature reduced to 103 seats, each member will represent 107,000 people.

I can tell you that when we are under the burden of a Conservative government that has had the kind of effect it has had on Windsor-Sandwich, yes, we will be able to sustain the increased workload; we will do it. And I can tell you that I hope every member can, because I am beginning to realize it has very much to do with the government policy of the day to see exactly how active each member must be in his or her riding to take care of those problems.

I will tell you that if we want to discuss family support as one issue alone, you have got the phones ringing off the hook not just in my riding, like they're trying to say, but in every riding across Ontario.

If we want to talk about the issue of obstetrical care in my riding, where I still have 70 women who do not have obstetrical care, why is that? We've always had a shortage of doctors because this health minister, who sat for five years as a health critic, who knows what the game is in health services in Ontario, still, after 16 months as the health minister, doesn't know what vision he's going to hold for health care in Ontario. He still doesn't have the answer for health care in Essex county, because he floats the idea of a prenatal clinic; then that's gone. He floats the idea of rostering or rationalizing doctors' services; then that's gone. This minister doesn't have a vision at all.

You don't have to sit in this House long to understand that if you do not have a health vision for Ontario, all of these little piecemeal moves are simply going to send us in the wrong direction. Quite frankly, that is simply the case, because all of the piecemeal moves that he has made so far have been detrimental to health care in Ontario. The people of Pembroke found that out today, because they've lost their hospital.

I made comparisons today during the Legislative Assembly committee, where we discussed the referenda that may or may not come to Ontario. The reality is that that bill, which surely is going to this House one day, is part of and comes hand in hand with this bill, the Fewer Politicians Act. There was some contention that the Premier made the last time we had this debate on second reading that we're not going to need as many MPPs because we're going to institute referenda in Ontario -- not to talk about the cost of what that will be, not to talk about historically what has happened in other jurisdictions around North America when they have instituted referenda, and we'll give you lots of examples of those as I hope to do during committee. The reality is that even those who seem to share the same thinking as the Conservative government are quite concerned about this bill in particular, Bill 81.


There was one submission made by the London-Middlesex Taxpayers' Coalition -- I expect some people to perk up on the other side -- and what he said was: "Will 103 seats be appropriate? There is always the risk that fewer seats result in a more concentrated government with power wielded by fewer persons."

I'd like you to argue this point, because this point was made by the people representing the London-Middlesex Taxpayers' Coalition. I thought they were on your side. The reality is that when we pushed him during questions after his submission in London that day, we asked him what the outcome might be if the northern ridings were so large that the people couldn't find their MPP in a day's drive. What would they do then? Well, he said that really you can't make any exceptions, even for the north.

Then we asked, as many of the people who contact us are not necessarily affluent, what do you do when it costs long-distance charges for them to call their local MPP? Is it appropriate for ridings so large that your constituents get long-distance charges to reach you? The respondent said, "If the issue is important enough, I guess they'll pick up the cost."

This is just one more example of the downloading. As has always been the case so far with your government policy, you've moved the costs of supporting the local member's riding and riding office to the very people who can least afford it. If have a look at the kind of people who call me on a regular basis, they are not the ones who will make a long-distance call to me, who really need the help.

You really need to understand, as I do, that you surely will pass this bill, but when you do so, you need to make some dramatic changes in how our offices are run. You need to take those kinds of things into consideration, that not all of us can find our way to our MPP, and now you've made that more difficult.

You need to keep in mind that the francophones in Ontario are an integral part of our history and that you must keep their voice alive too in this House. When you cut the rural voice, because so many of our francophones live there, you are, as sure as the day is long, cutting the voice of francophones. For the Minister of Agriculture, who is also the minister of the francophones for Ontario, that, my friends, is shameful and should simply be stopped. This is the same minister who in 1985 swore that the rural areas needed more representation and not less. Il est le meilleur exemple d'un ministre qui changé totalement sa chanson avant l'élection et après l'élection. And that is something that the rural people and the francophones in Ontario will not let that minister get away with.

M. Bisson : C'est un flip-flop.

Mme Pupatello : C'est un grand flip-flop, oui, c'est vrai.

I'd like to close by saying very simply that the name of the bill, the Fewer Politicians Act, is an affront to everyone who comes to this office with dignity and respect for the position. To suggest to the population of Ontario that fewer politicians is a good thing, my friends, you are playing into the hands of a populist theme, as this Premier is wont to do; that cutting taxes is the only way and so popular, despite what that cost will be and despite the kind of quality representation you can have from your elected officials. To pass a bill that's named the Fewer Politicians Act is simply an affront to everyone who truly comes to this job with the purpose of doing something good for the community they're representing.

The Acting Speaker (Ms Marilyn Churley): Questions or comments? The member for Scarborough East.

Mrs Pupatello: I dare the member to talk about -- you've got so much mouth over there.

The Acting Speaker: Order. The member for Windsor-Sandwich, take your seat.

Mr Gilchrist: Given that the member has invited some commentary, I would indeed be pleased to comment about the very group she herself alluded to, the London-Middlesex Taxpayers' Coalition. They said in part:

"In this day and age we're not having our representatives travel by Model T Ford and horse and buggy. We're totally overlooking in this debate the impact of technology today. The advancements that computerization" --

Mrs Pupatello: On a point of order, Madam Speaker: The member for Scarborough must address the 44% increase in the Premier's office.

The Acting Speaker: That's not a point of order. Take your seat.


The Acting Speaker: The member for Cochrane South, come to order.

Mr Gilchrist: To repeat what I'd started off with, this is the first of the two points I'd like to address to the member opposite. From Mr Stevens of the London-Middlesex Taxpayers' Coalition:

"In this day and age we're not having our representatives travel by Model T Fords and horse and buggy. We're totally overlooking in this debate the impact of technology today, the advancements in computerization, in teleconferencing and that type of thing. It would be nothing for vast geographical districts to have satellite offices whereby the constituents could access technology available to access their MPP." I agree completely.

Let me address here again today, as we did in London when the member raised the spurious argument, that somehow this bill could be related to spending in the Premier's office. The last year the NDP were in government, they told the people of Ontario they would spend $1.8 million to run the Premier's office. They didn't tell you they would hide three quarters of a million dollars by hiding Premier's office staff in other ministries. Their true estimates for the final year were in excess of $2.6 million.

We, on the other hand, were up front in our accounting. We have fewer staff than the previous Premier and, at $2.7 million for 1996-97 for the Premier's office, that includes the increase for the social contract ending and therefore 5% that would have been added to the more than $2.6 million spent in the last year by the NDP government. For their last fiscal year, the NDP budgeted a total of nearly $20 million to run the Premier's office and supporting ministry, the cabinet office. We're budgeting one third less, which is roughly the same reduction we're asking all ministries to make in their operating. At $12.8 million, we're doing better for less. Those are the facts, member.


The Acting Speaker: Order, please.

Mr Ramsay: There's a really rowdy group over there. I don't know what they're so exercised about, but having watched on television the great speech my colleague just made, I can understand why they're a little exercised, because of course everything she said was correct and true, as always.

The member for Scarborough East had the opportunity to travel the north. Unfortunately, we weren't able to travel by road throughout the north, and I think that's something you really have to do to experience the north. That's something we should make sure all members are able to do.

It was so ironic when I heard the member talk about videoconferencing and teleconferencing, using new technology to keep in touch with our constituents when we've got 500-by-600-mile constituencies. I just have to tell the member again that one of the differences between northern Ontario and southern Ontario is that a great number of my constituents don't have touchtone phones at all. Many of them are on party lines, so it's basically impossible to plug into the new, wonderful, wired world we have. While we advocate very strongly for that, because all the northern members are very strong advocates of the new technology, it's very difficult and very expensive, with the vast distances of northern Ontario, for our utility companies to get us all wired up as quickly as has happened in the very densely populated and affluent areas of southern Ontario.

You're really talking about a different environment, and this is why we're saying that when we don't have that high-tech world, we need more of a high-touch type of operation in our constituencies, that we have to be able to sit down with people in the various towns and go to the 50th anniversaries and visit the folks and see them in person and understand what their needs and requirements are. They can't just pick up the phone and call the government, like you can here in southern Ontario.


Mr Kormos: I appreciate the comments of the member for Windsor-Sandwich. The fact is that the member for Scarborough East, with his obsession -- there's almost something pathetic about this obsession with fax machines and the Internet and high-tech. As the member for Timiskaming just said, he doesn't know what it means to go to church basements for church dinners on a Sunday afternoon or on a Saturday evening. He doesn't know what it means to go to 50th wedding anniversaries. He doesn't know what it means to visit real communities and to keep in touch with people, like the kind of folks from Welland-Thorold who expect that of their member of the Legislative Assembly, like the folks in Welland-Thorold who demand that.

You see, that's how you make the real contact with people. That's how you keep your ear to the ground and understand what people are really thinking and feeling and what they have as their goals and ambitions. You don't get that off a computer screen. You don't get that through the Internet.

This government's got $450 million to blow on a phoney, fraudulent workfare scheme that's not going to create one job. It's got $17 million to blow on its fraudulent, high-tech, Internet, Mike-Harris-marketing-Mike-Harris scheme. It's got $22 billion to blow on a tax break for the very rich friends of these Tories. But it doesn't have money to invest in our children, in our sick, in our seniors, in the infrastructures of our communities, in our educational system. Quite frankly, it doesn't care about those constituencies. It doesn't want to be in touch with them. It doesn't want to visit them and have contact with them. That's why it wants fewer MPPs, because it doesn't have any need for members of the Legislative Assembly. This is a machine that's imperialistic in nature, that's soviet in design and that brings new levels to centralist imperialism.

Mr Galt: It was an interesting presentation made just a few minutes ago by the member for Windsor-Sandwich. She was making reference to knowing so much about northern Ontario. I notice in the Hansard from the November 9 standing committee on general government, to quote the member for Windsor-Sandwich:

"What was so striking about it was that the northern communities really hadn't reached the level technologically to even afford a cell phone in that area. That's why it was a bit strange, because I think that may come in a couple of decades, but I don't think it's there now."

That was in Dryden, and that very day in the Dryden paper there was a report about building the towers for cell phones. This was a very small town, so obviously it's in many of the others. Maybe she'd be interested in knowing this information and just being kind of up to speed on what is happening in northern Ontario. I hope that information will be helpful for her in the future when she is up north. She might even take her cell phone and, when she's in Thunder Bay or Sudbury or places like that, turn it on and it may actually ring and work. That's just so she's aware.

The member should also be aware that our government is leading by example, with a cabinet that's a third smaller than the cabinet of the NDP government was. We've got far less staff for each minister, reduced by two thirds. We got rid of the gold-plated pension plan. We got rid of the tax-free allowance. We did not take the social contract back, and we further reduced our salaries by 5%. This is a full 10% reduction, and you should be aware that we are leading by example, not trotting up to the trough, as the previous government was doing.

Mr Howard Hampton (Rainy River): You are leading nowhere but back to the past. That's where you are leading.

The Acting Speaker: Leader of the third party, come to order please. The member for Windsor-Sandwich, you may sum up.

Mrs Pupatello: It's always interesting for me to sit and listen to the response of our Conservative members when we are simply stating the facts in this House. There has never been a time that I've used numbers other than the figures made available to me by the government, because they must be the most credible numbers available. The fact of a 44% increase in the Office of the Premier from last year to now is simply unacceptable, unacceptable when we talk about the wielding of power out of the Premier's office.

The Conservative members simply can't find the argument to support that, for a very simple reason: There is no argument other than the transfer of power. If you have children who follow the Star Wars series, there was a character in Star Wars called Jabba the Hutt. He was this great big blob, and he had a huge vortex for a mouth in the centre and he just drew everything into the mouth of the centre, into the vortex.

That, my friend, is the imagery of the Premier's office, the fat-cat office at Queen's Park with an increase of 44%, while you dare to lessen the voice of rural Ontario, of northern Ontario, of francophone Ontario, which is the greatest insult of all given that you have a minister who's francophone himself.

The reality is that the cabinet ministers don't have the power that the public perceives they do. Why is that? Because a 44% increase in the Office of the Premier takes the power right along with it, away from cabinet, away from members of the House of the Conservative Party, and puts it right in the Office of the Premier. The greatest joke that the Premier plays on the province of Ontario is that he says he does it for the simple fact of saving money.

The Acting Speaker: Further debate?

Mr Hampton: It's with pleasure that I take part in this debate. Let me say first of all that the Conservative members in this Legislature don't understand that "technology" does not have the same definition as "democracy." As I listen to some of the Conservative members, you would think that the availability of the long-distance telephone somehow makes democracy irrelevant. They consistently confuse the fact that people can make long- distance telephone calls with democracy.

But this is not surprising; it's not surprising that these Conservative members don't understand democracy. They don't understand people collectively coming together to make decisions about how they're going to be governed and how their lives are going to interact. The reason they don't understand that is because, frankly, these people don't believe in government. They don't believe in government and they don't understand government.

They don't believe that government can provide good education services despite the fact that public education has in fact created the middle class. They don't understand that government can organize and create one of the best health care systems in the world. They don't understand that government provides the basics for people coming together in civil society. They just don't understand that. They somehow think that because you now have the telephone you don't need democracy any more, you don't need the capacity for people to debate and discuss and decide upon how their lives are collectively going to interact.

That's the problem. These people don't believe in government. They don't believe in collective decision-making. They think it's better to go out and hire a bunch of consultants at $2,400 a day to make your decisions for you, which was just disclosed today. Imagine that: a government that says they want to reduce the cost of government and then they go out and hire a bunch of bozo private consultants at $2,400 a day to tell them how to make decisions. That in itself is a tremendous exhibition of how little these people understand about government.

But let me go a little further. This government says that this is about cost saving. The truth is that democracy does cost money. Democracy costs money. If people are going to come together, if people are going to exercise collective decision-making, if people are going to debate and discuss in an intelligent way, it costs money. It does, it costs money.

Mr Galt: Can't you hear you.

Mr Hampton: Well, I'm trying to get through to some of you. I suppose I should just give up because it is a lost cause to get through to most of you.

You see, this government doesn't understand somehow that Canadians, that Ontarians value democracy, that Ontarians have in fact fought for democracy. Rebellions were waged in this province for democracy. Ontario sent people to two world wars to fight for democracy. Ontarians understand that democracy costs money, that exercising democratic decision-making, that involving people in how they are governed, that involving people in debate and discussion and arriving at decisions costs a little bit of money. People in Ontario do understand that. Conservatives don't understand that people in Ontario respect that and admire that.

Mr Turnbull: You lost the election. This was an election plank. Have you forgotten? Have you got amnesia?

Mr Hampton: Now we have the Conservative whip. His understanding of democracy is that you hold an election every four or five years and that's it: Winner take all. That's his understanding of democracy. He doesn't understand the need to consult. He doesn't understand the need to discuss. He doesn't understand that there are minorities, that there are different points of view. His view is: one decision every five years. That's all. Winner take all. That's his definition of democracy.

I want to tell the Conservative whip that people in Ontario don't agree with you, that people in Ontario have a longer, more historical definition of democracy and a far better definition of democracy than you have.

Mr Turnbull: Hey, Howie, you lost. It was an election plank.

The Acting Speaker: Member for York Mills, come to order.


Mr Hampton: The Conservative definition of democracy is: "Get yourself an adding machine, pick a number out of the air and then divide by that number." That's their definition of democracy.

Mr Turnbull: Sounds like your budgets: pick a number out of the air.

The Acting Speaker: Member for York Mills, come to order.

Mr Hampton: Where is this leading? That's the question that needs to be answered. What's being created here by this government is a centralized, large, remote, nameless, faceless bureaucracy. That's what's being created by this Conservative government: a large, remote, centralized, nameless, faceless bureaucracy in Toronto which claims to be able to make decisions for the whole province. What you see happening across this province is government offices being pulled out of communities, even large cities. You see government offices being pulled out of regional centres. It's all being centralized here in Toronto and it's all being put in the hands of the upper bureaucracy and in the hands of the Premier's office. Any rights of review, any rights of appeal, any rights to have decisions examined are being taken away by the likes of the Bill 26 legislation.

This government is creating that kind of nameless, faceless bureaucracy, and they confuse that with democracy. They think the whole province can be run by a few superbureaucrats, with the help of a few $2,400-a-day consultants, and all the decisions can be made here in Toronto.

It shows how little these people understand about this province. It shows how little they understand about the regional diversity of this province; how little they understand about the ethnic diversity of this province; how little they understand about the urban and rural diversity of this province; how little they understand about the north and the south; how little they understand about the diversity of the economy of this province.

They believe that by setting up a large, centralized, nameless, faceless bureaucracy in Toronto, all the decisions can be made here. Again, this is their definition of democracy -- their definition. I don't think there's anyone in Toronto who agrees with that definition of democracy.

Where else is this leading? Well, I'll tell you: It's leading to all kinds of regional alienation. I have not heard in 20 years so much talk about people in northern Ontario, for example, saying they want a separate province, they want to leave Ontario. I have not heard so much discussion about that in 20 years as I've heard in the last year and a half. People are saying: "What, have we suddenly joined the Third World? We no longer have air service in many of our communities. What, are we no longer entitled to safe highways? Our highways are ice-covered more than they're travellable. Our transportation and traffic by road is cancelled by the OPP in some communities more often than it is open." People are openly saying, "Why do we want to belong to a province of Ontario when we've got a government that thinks all the decisions can be made in Toronto and there is no need for any discussion or consultation other than by long-distance phone call?"

That is again this Conservative government's definition of democracy and it is leading to more isolation, more alienation among people out there, and that is not good. That does not take this province in a good direction. It's not good for democracy.

What's more, this government doesn't seem to understand what it means to represent a constituency. They don't seem to understand that there are all kinds of people out there who want to take part in government. They actually want a real, live MPP they can go to and talk to and say: "Look, I have problems about this government's deregulation of the environment. I don't think we can trust pulp and paper companies to regulate themselves. The last time pulp and paper companies tried to regulate themselves they polluted the hell out of all kinds of lakes and rivers."

They don't understand that there are people out there who want to come and talk about this government totally deregulating the mining industry, saying to the mining industry, "You can regulate yourselves." They know, because they've lived it. They've lived in the past when mining industries literally polluted not just water bodies but whole communities. They don't understand a government that says: "Oh, no, these things aren't important. They're not important enough that you want to talk to a real, live political representative about these kinds of problems." They don't understand and they don't care about those aspects of democracy.

But the worst sin about this government is that they don't even care enough about democracy to put this decision to an independent commission. They believe that decisions about how people should be represented, about how people should be organized in terms of votes, about how people should have input to democracy, should be decided by a government on the basis of partisan politics; that there should be no inquiry, no commission, no opportunity for people to be heard even on that point.

This is a betrayal. This government is betraying 40 years of political tradition, of governmental tradition in this province in the 1950s, in the 1960s, in the 1970s and in the 1980s, where decisions were made about how people were going to be represented, where decisions were made about how people would be organized into constituencies, about what kind of voice people would have. It was done by an independent commission that actually went out and talked to people, that actually went from community to community and said to people: "What's your concept of democracy? How should we be organizing democracy? How should community of interest be dealt with? How should regional differences be dealt with? How should remoteness and distance from Toronto be dealt with? How should all of these things be factored into democracy?" This government doesn't care enough about democracy to do even that. Even that, they don't care enough about.

I am opposed to this bill. I am not opposed to redistribution. I am not opposed to examining the question of how people ought to be represented and how people ought to work into democracy. But I am opposed to a bill which runs fundamentally against democracy, which is fundamentally an assault, an insult to democracy. This bill is a sham. It is a sham. It is bad for democracy. It is bad for good government. It is bad for the people of Ontario. This government is an insult to all those people in Ontario who believe in democratic decision-making, who believe that people should come together and exercise collective discussion, collective debate on how they should be governed and how decisions should be made. This bill is a disgrace and it is no wonder that people in different parts of this province are frankly saying this is unworthy of the traditions of democracy in Ontario, unworthy of Ontario's democratic institutions.

This bill ought to be withdrawn. Any government that had any respect for democracy would withdraw it, would start the process over again and would involve people in those very essentials of democracy in determining how they'll be represented, determining how they'll take part in debate, determining how they'll make decisions about government institutions.

But this government isn't listening to the people of Ontario. It frankly doesn't give a damn about what the people of Ontario think about democracy. They want to pass it off as some phoney sham about cutting costs when, as we already heard, the Premier's office spent 44% more than premiers' offices in the past. I rest my case. Thank you.


The Acting Speaker: Thank you. Questions or comments? None? Further debate? The member for Sault Ste Marie.

Mr Martin: In an edition of the Catholic New Times of September 8, Ted Schmidt quotes Ralph Lapp: "We are aboard a train which is gathering speed, racing down a track...leading to unknown destinations. Nobody is in the engine cab and there may be demons at the switch. Most of the society is in the caboose looking backwards."

I just want to focus, in the short few minutes I have tonight, on a couple of things. There is so much in this bill that I think is destructive for the people of Ontario, destructive to democracy. It's taking us back to a time that all of us, if we knew of the reality of that day, would not want to go to.

We heard the leader of our caucus a few minute ago talk about the fact that there has been no precedent in this jurisdiction for the way this government is ramming legislation through the House, particularly this piece of legislation, which has such fundamental ramifications for all of us and for democracy. This evening I just want to talk for a few minutes about the fact that this bill is being put through the House at such breakneck speed, breaking with tradition in this place and in this jurisdiction, with this act of redistribution which we've all, on this side of the House, said we have no difficulty with, but we respect the traditions and the way we've always done things and would like to see us continue down that road. We know that from time to time it's important to take a look at the number of people who reside or choose to reside in Ontario and come together collectively and make decisions about how we should represent the different geographic areas, the highly populated areas, the less populated areas, the vast expanse of northern Ontario.

In preparing for tonight and in preparing to participate in the discussions that happened across this province for six short days about this piece of legislation, I did a little research. There are literally volumes of books in libraries with information and records of discussions that happened in prior years about the question of redistribution, reports of commissions to this House, discussions that happened in this House about those reports, and decisions that were made through the very important and involved dialogue that went on between people and the government of the day to finally decide on numbers, on the way we might represent each other in this House.

It shouldn't surprise us, because this government is taking us down a path that is destructive, that is mean-spirited and that is not going to be in the best interests of all the people who choose to live and work in Ontario.

This piece of legislation is about a shift in power. It's about taking away from the people the opportunity to participate in the decision-making of this province and turning it over to a smaller executive body that answers to the corporate world of Ontario, Canada and the world.

We don't have to look very far to see where the agenda of this government is leading us. The exercise we're about here, this redistribution, this Bill 81, is casting in stone the very negative, narrow, mean-spirited agenda of this government and imposing it on us for the next five or 10 years in such a way that it will take us a long time to reverse the trend that will be set in place. If we look at what's happening out there in the world today and what this government is trying to cast in stone in Ontario, it is quite distressing.

I read for you, because the folks across the way may not believe or accept what I have to say because I'm a New Democrat, I'm a politician who they claim may have a conflict of interest in this whole question, but I quote for you a speech that was made by Ted Schmidt to a group only a couple of weeks ago, and he says this:

"What we must understand here is that Mike Harris is a mere spear carrier in a globalized world of pecuniary values, a loyal and unreflective soldier doing the bidding of transnational capital. Similarly, the federal Liberals appear to have jettisoned their defence of the average citizen in their rabid embrace of the market economy. Both have succumbed to the overriding idea: We are no longer a culture but part of a broader economy. So to counter this surrender the average citizen must be aware of exactly what is happening -- and do what he or she can to raise up clear-eyed" citizens "to be critical thinkers because" there's a huge fight ahead of us.

"Once again...a deadly serious attempt is being made to cram the sacramental nature of human life, the holiness of humanity...into the law of the market. World capitalist development, accelerated by computer-based technology in the midst of a new international production system has resulted in too many workers chasing too few jobs. The result we see:

"In the free-market countries the gap between the rich and the poor becoming greater;

"A depression of wages for working people which results in:

"Longer hours to pay the bills and stay even which results in:

"Less time to reflect and analyse this disturbing trend;

"An assault on the integrity and importance of the family, scattered and driven apart by these market forces, working split shifts, strange hours and never breaking bread together;

"This increased mobility epidemic in today's volatile labour market weakens the relationship with the people who socialized us.

"With the powerful persuasive tools of mass marketing it overwhelms and empties sacred symbols of their power; and

"Encourages the young to adopt a prefabricated identity where material goods become visible symbols of inner worth;

"In general, we see a loosening of the bonds of the human community, a decrease in the solidarity we owe each other;

"A heightening of individualism and defensive vulnerability where each feels he must solely defend his own territory in Darwinist fashion."

The Africans have a saying which describes this new reality: "In times of drought the animals around the watering hole begin to look at each other."

As the leader of our caucus said a few minutes ago, this will create regional disparities and conflict between regions. The agenda of this government, which is being enshrined and cast in stone by this legislation, will create division between individuals, families and communities for the scarcer and scarcer resources that are being passed on to them.

We don't have to look much further than the United States of America to understand what the agenda of this government is about and what this government is trying to put in place in this jurisdiction: to diminish the ability of the people out there, who are concerned about it or who oppose it, to have a voice in this place so that some of these decisions can be turned around or tempered in some way.

You'll remember that there was a series of articles in the Toronto Star not too long ago that spoke about the jurisdiction of New Jersey and what was happening there. In New Jersey the governor, one Christine Todd Whitman, implemented a lot of the same kinds of initiatives this government in Ontario is doing at such a rapid pace in this place.

"Walker quotes the rookie governor, `one of the hottest politicians in America today and a possible vice-presidential nominee this fall,' as positively ebullient about her great achievement. `There are many people who said it couldn't be done. But we promised we could cut taxes...it puts my favourite group first: the taxpayer of New Jersey.'"


Mr Schmidt goes on in this article to say:

"It almost makes you want to move to New Jersey -- until you read about the shocking urban blight. The city core of Camden, Jersey City and Trenton are described as `crime-ridden, drug-stricken, boarded-up war zones where most middle-income suburbanites fear to tread after nightfall.'

"Now in order to get this fantastic windfall of a tax break, Whitman had to lay off thousands of workers, cut health and social service programs, privatize nursing programs, cut drug benefits for seniors and the disabled, kick welfare recipients off the rolls after five years, and install workfare. Governor Whitman did all this before breakfast. Before lunch, she slashed funding to municipalities and school boards which caused property taxes to go through the roof."

Does this sound familiar?

"Now, there is no doubt the schools in New Jersey could afford this hit. Too much money was being spent on schools like Pyne Point Junior High in Camden, home to 650 students, 98% of whom are black or Latino, located on a verdant plane, `equidistant from a paper plant, a gelatin factory and an illegal dump site,' according to writer Jonathan Kozol."

Mr Turnbull: Tell us about the gelatin factory. What was that, lemon or strawberry?

Mr Martin: Let me tell you about the school. "Half the children have no books" in this school. "The Olympia typewriters are 10 years old -- there are no computers; the ceiling tiles which absorb sound are missing in many classrooms; the school has no sports equipment; the school's fire alarm has not worked in 20 years; 20% of the children will not go on to high school."

This is what we have to look forward to in Ontario. This is where you're taking us. This is where you're leading us in this province, and this is what you're casting in stone by passing this piece of legislation, by reducing the number of politicians in this province in a way that will ensure that you will win the next two or three elections so that you can continue the job you started, and some of the stuff I've mentioned so far that's happening in New Jersey, you've already done in Ontario.

It goes on: "The inner cities of New Jersey (which number five of the poorest 10 cities in America) are laboratories of despair for the young. A comparison between their schools and suburban schools caused a class action suit by concerned parents in 1981. The court concluded that `there would be revolution in the suburban districts if they were as barren as the course of study in inner cities.'"

That's not what I want for my children. That's not what I want for the citizens of Sault Ste Marie, the constituents I represent.

Let's look at California, another jurisdiction that is often held up in this place as a model of the neo-conservative approach to life, of all that's good and right about the neo-conservative agenda.

"California," Mr Schmidt goes on to say, "is even more instructive in the absolute folly of tax revolts. Since millionaire real estate mogul Howard Jarvis began this assault on the commonweal in 1978, two thirds of the beneficiaries have been corporations, landlords and so on. Cities have been paralysed. Hospitals, libraries and mental health facilities closed down, roads left unrepaired. Schools have become overcrowded, and more money is being spent on prisons than on education."

More money is being spent on prisons than on education. Does that sound familiar? Does that sound like something that's happening here in Ontario as we, every day in this place, challenge the minister of education about the cuts that he's imposing on the schools and the children of this province, and he denies it every time it's raised, and we know when we go back to our jurisdictions, to our constituencies and we talk to people that the numbers of kids in classrooms are going up and that more and more kids are having to pay for some of the supplies we took for granted they would have.

This government is about destroying government. This government doesn't believe in government. This government believes that all government is bad and that all that is private and corporate is good.

If they took the time to see beyond their noses and to read some of the material that is being produced today by some of the more progressive thinkers in the world of management consulting, they might learn different. They might learn that some people have begun to see that we need some balance in the way that we do business in North America, in Canada and in Ontario.

I share with you, and with the House tonight, an article that was written by one of the world's leading management thinkers who refutes the argument that the private sector can serve as a model for society and that government should be more businesslike. He claims, and I agree with him, that there are things that government does that are good and there are things that the private sector does that are good, and that the government, yes, can learn from the private sector and that the reverse is possible as well, that the private sector has a lot to learn from government.

But this government, the government we have before us today in Ontario, does not believe that for a second. We're left with, in my mind, a terrible dilemma and the dilemma is: How do we stop this? Because we know from everything else that you've done so far in this House that there is no stopping you.

When we went out to the communities that the committee on general government visited to hear from folks on this piece of legislation, you simply said, when asked why it is you're doing this, "We said we were going to do it in the Common Sense Revolution." That was the answer; that was the simple answer that we got, that it wasn't very complicated. There was no attempt to explain why in previous exercises of this sort commissions chose to look at things like community of interest, to look at things like the geographic nature of particular areas of the province, to look at things like distance and to consider travelling and weather and the impact that has on people's ability to attend meetings and to meet with their member. There was no reference to that.

There was no giving in to the possibility that might be something that would be worth considering. It was a rather arrogant response, actually, in most instances, to the overwhelming number of people who came before the committee to tell us that they disagreed with this, that they disagreed with the way this was being done and that they disagreed with the end result being so predictable.

They disagreed, as my leader has said here tonight, with the approach to politics this government seems to have adopted in coming to power in Ontario, and that is, "We spent 30, 35 days, 40 days on the hustings sharing with people through the Common Sense Revolution what it is we would do if we were made government and now that we've been made government, we're just going to go ahead and do it." No impact studies, no concern for the fact that life changes and evolves, no listening to the opposition who were also elected on platforms they spent a lot of time developing and felt strongly about, and hoped that when they got to this place, they would have a chance to share and to see reflected in some of the legislation and the work of this place. No, none of that.

The only answer we ever got to why it was you were going to do this in the way you are was, "We said we were going to it in the Common Sense Revolution and so the people out there in Ontario want us to do it and damn the consequences." I say to you, Speaker, this also is a break from the way we've always done business in this place.

I remember in the short time I've been here, and the member for St Catharines who's been here a lot longer will probably remember, that the way you do things around is you bring legislation in, it's introduced for first reading and second reading, and then during the intersession when you have lots of time you take it out to the people of the province and you hear what they have to say. You hit as many communities as is possible. You come back to this place for further hearings. You spend a fair bit of time on people bringing in amendments on clause-by-clause and discussing that. Then you bring it back into the House after you've had sufficient debate and input, after you're sure as a government that this is something that's going to be good for the people of the province, that this is something that the people of the province understand and know what it's going to mean for them in their communal and personal lives and be willing to roll with it.


But no, that's not the approach this government wants to take. They're going to impose this on us whether we like it or not, whether it makes sense or not. They present the argument -- we've heard it here on a number of occasions as they've taken the opportunity to get up and speak to this, and as they took the opportunity to challenge and to respond to folks who presented to them when we were in places like Sault Ste Marie, Dryden, Timmins, London and Ottawa and here in Toronto -- that they want to save money by cutting back on the number of politicians who serve here in Toronto.

That's very shortsighted because the money you may save up front, I suggest, will cost you more in the long run, and in more important ways than just bottom line re your budget because as has been said before in this place, we in Ontario, we in Canada take democracy very seriously. We have spent a long time at it. We have made a lot of effort to make sure that democracy, as we know it, includes as many people as possible. We who live in Ontario pride ourselves on the fact that we are a diverse community, that we are a community of people that has welcomed folks from across the world to come and live with us and share our standard of living and our quality of life, and we want to make sure that what they bring with them they are able to, even in our political institutions, share so that we will all be enriched and made better.

That's not what's going to happen. We have a government here that's intent on moving this piece of legislation through, as it has so many of the other pieces of legislation that it has introduced in this House over the last year and a half. In a short period of time, in contravention of the traditions of this place, they have chosen not to set up a commission, as has been done over the years, to go out and talk to people and find out what they think, to put in place those things that we've over the years decided were important to the people of Ontario.

We had the Ontario Federation of Agriculture come before us when were on committee on two or three different occasions to share with us how concerned they are with the loss of representation that they feel they will experience under this act.

We also know that with this piece of legislation it is gerrymandering, whatever you say, that this government is going to structure the way people are elected to this place in such a way that they will be able to enshrine, will be able to cast in stone the agenda they think is going to be good for all of us.

I've shared with you here tonight in the very brief few moments that I've had what this agenda has done in other jurisdictions. I talked about New Jersey; I talked about California. We could talk about New Zealand. There's another example of a country that went down this neo-conservative, right-wing road. If you take a look or if you were fortunate to be able to listen to a program on CBC not so long ago, you would have heard some of the folks from New Zealand talk about the health care system there which the neo-cons hold up as such a success. Here's a senior from New Zealand talking about that program:

"What happens here now is you pay your doctor. The one I go to, I pay him 20 bucks and then I have prescriptions. Each one is $3 for that. It's been quite good until they started more user pay for everything. Some people have been getting a repeat on their prescriptions, and especially if you have sleeping pills and things like that, you used to be able to get a three-month supply at one time, but now you don't. You have to go every month, so each month you go, you're paying another fee to the doctor." Does that sound familiar? Does that sound like a pattern that's setting itself in place here in Ontario?

Here's another senior talking. He says: "You pay your tax, all these sorts of things, and it rather stinks. I think it does. If you're a crook, you should go in the hospital for nothing. You pay your tax. There's poor old people dying."

Mr Ford: High standard of living on somebody else's money.

Mr Martin: "I'm not worried about myself, I am quite fit, but I look at other people and I can see that happening." People are dying in my community because of what you're doing to the health care system, Mr Ford.

"Now I'm waiting for a CAT scan. Well, I had a letter from the hospital last year saying that there had been a seven- to eight-month waiting list, so this year, same date in November, I rang and they said there is now a waiting list of 16 months. But mine is not an urgent case, so I'll probably go back further on the list."

Mr Ford: Who is going to pay back the debt, you?

The Acting Speaker: Order, please.

Mr Martin: Is that where we're heading in this province? Is that what you want to enshrine in stone in this province? Is that what you want for your kids? Is that what you want for the people of this province for the next 10 or 15 years?

If you get away with this, and you probably will, you're going to enshrine in stone things that we thought we would never see in Ontario. We thought we were a society that was civil and decent and caring, but that doesn't seem to be the way any more.

Mr Ford: Borrowing and borrowing and borrowing. You call that civil and decent?

Mr Martin: "Borrowing and borrowing," yes, right. That's an easy and simple answer to everything.

Mr Ford: I know it is always simple for you.

The Acting Speaker: Member for Etobicoke-Humber, come to order please.

Mr Martin: I rest my case. I think I've put my points as succinctly and clearly as I could. I certainly am not going to be supporting this bill. It's not in the best interests of the people of this province and it will in the long run do us all great harm.

The Acting Speaker: Comments or questions?

Mr Bradley: I enjoyed the speech very much. It's now five minutes to 12 at night, in case people are wondering. I am pleased the member brought up so many points that are not necessarily directly found in this bill but are interesting nevertheless, particularly some of the experiences from other countries.

I know that somewhere along the line, although I wasn't able to listen to every minute of the speech, he probably mentioned the tax cut. Before we retire this evening I want to ask the member whether he can possibly believe that a Conservative government which was so concerned about the deficit, and justifiably so, when the full 30% income tax is implemented would borrow $5 billion per year to give all of us a tax cut, in particular the bank presidents and others who make a lot of money, the most money; if he can believe that a Conservative government would be doing that, that is, borrowing money, adding to the debt to give a tax cut.

Of course the second thing I'm wondering is if he realizes that one of the reasons they want to put video lottery terminals in every bar, every restaurant and every neighbourhood and every street in Ontario is because they are desperate for money because of the tax cut and are going to prey on the most desperate and the most vulnerable and the most addicted people in our society.

Third, did he believe the Treasurer last spring when he said after his budget there would be no more cuts made to government programs? We're having $3 billion in cuts to important programs and projects.

The Acting Speaker: Further questions or comments? The member for Sault Ste Marie, you can sum up.

Mr Martin: I would like to thank the member for St Catharines for raising those issues because he is absolutely right. All of those negative things that are being imposed on the people of this province as good news, as the salvation, as the answer to all that ails us is what's going to be enshrined in stone if we pass this piece of legislation. If we allow this government to reduce the number of MPPs in the way that's suggested here, we'll see this government set themselves up so that they will have less difficulty being returned to this place as government in the next election.

That should scare the pants off everybody who cares in this province, because the agenda that they want to enshrine is an agenda that the American people just said no to in the recent presidential election. It's an agenda that was imposed on Britain and the United States under Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan, and we know what happened there. Those countries are a perfect example today of the gap that is growing between the rich and the poor. There is no other jurisdiction in the world today that has as big a gap between the rich and the poor as Britain and the United States of America.

In the States, when they had a chance through the democratic process, they turfed Mr Reagan and they brought in the Democrats. In Britain, they're about to turf John Major because of the effects of his program and his continuing the program of Margaret Thatcher. If you want more of this, if you think this is good stuff for the people of Ontario, then vote for this bill.

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

Mr Johnson has moved third reading of Bill 89. Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry?

Mr Turnbull: On a point of order, Madam Speaker: I believe we have unanimous consent to have a recorded vote on this tomorrow immediately following question period.

The Acting Speaker: Agreed? Agreed.

It being now 12 o'clock, this House stands adjourned until bright and early, 10 o'clock tomorrow morning. Good night.

The House adjourned at 2402.